August 30, 2002
Tribute to Chick Hearn

You ever look back at your childhood and come up with people that shaped your life, faces that you found comfort in, and voices that you still hear today? I do all of the time (call me a sentimentalist) and there is one voice in particular that still awakens the Purple and Gold within. That’s right, the late Chick Hearn began announcing for the Los Angeles Lakers in 1964 all of the way through my first 23 years as a fan. Sadly enough, he finally hung up his microphone for good just a couple of weeks ago, passing away after a fall at home.

Chick meant a lot to me growing up. He told me the distance of Byron Scott’s jumpers – the first announcer to estimate distances in basketball ever. He punctuated the jam’s of James Worthy with his signature “Slaaaam Dunk!”- Chick was the announcer to coin that phrase as well. He let Magic know when the “mustard was off the hotdog” (a fancy play that had been fouled up), accentuated Kareem’s signature shot by deeming it the “Sky Hook”, and called out the “bunny hop in the pea patch” (traveling) on command.

Still, my favorite was when Chick let the entire Laker nation know when the “refrigerator door is closed. The lights are out, the eggs are coolin’, the butter’s getting hard, and the jello’s jigglin’.” Or in other words, the game is over.

Chick had the privilege of calling games that featured Elgin, Jerry, Wilt, Jamal, McAdoo, Worthy, Magic, Kareem, Kobe, and Shaq, among others. And until just a year or so ago, Chick had called games including these personalities consecutively, meaning that he held the longest streak in broadcasting for making it to every game. Talk about a work ethic.

So how did Chick affect my life? He gave me hope that I would one day be a Laker by giving advice on the air to the “youngsters out there.” He brought an added stroke of color to the nightly edition of “Showtime” playing on my television. And most importantly, he was the grandpa that millions of Lakers fans knew and loved simply because of his modest and humorous nature.

Chick has left us know – just days after I ordered a TV package to see the Laker’s home games up here in the Bay Area. I ordered the package partly to see my favorite sports team, and partially because I love basketball. But the biggest reason was so that I could hear Chick again after an absence (of mine) of over 4 years from his regular broadcasts.

I won’t be able to tune into those broadcasts and hear Chick’s play by play this year. Of course, I still hear him every time every time I take my ball out to the playground… “boy, the mustard is off the hot dog.”

We’ll miss you, Chick. Thanks for the memories.

Posted by alex at 06:27 AM
August 25, 2002
Cravings

Growing up, I always learned that there were wants and needs. You need food, medicine, and a roof to live under. You want magazines, stereos, and televisions. Apparently my education both at home and in school neglected the third level of desire – which goes by the name of “crave”.

I was originally skeptical of the actual existence of the word. After all, “cravings” have been wielded as one the most unforgiving weapons against men since the beginning of time. I was sure that the word had been created by women as a cruel joke to husbands and boyfriends the world over. But alas, I looked-up crave in the dictionary and one definition was:

2) To need urgently, require.

Ouch, this was a direct blow to my theory. There was indeed a level of desire beyond wants or even a basic level of needs. It was true, cravings were somewhat of an emergency need. But, wait, there are two more definitions. I scanned the first next:

1) To have an intense desire for.

Ahh, so this definition downgrades cravings to a level of desire beneath needs and above wants. But I am still unsatisfied. I mean when was the last time that you were sitting around a bunch of guys and heard the words “I am craving french fries right now”? Guys don’t crave ice cream, chocolate, candy, or fattening foods – they just want them, and eat them. Simple as that. And after all, isn’t an intense desire just that, an intense desire? There’s no need to make up another word for it. But to women, cravings are omnipotent and undeniable. You never know where one will strike.

The third definition:

3) To beg earnestly for; implore

Exactly! Cravings are not desires, they are excuses to eat junk food and make it all seem OK. They are mandates that send many guys off of the 3am-Jack-in-the-Box-run plank. Next time I hear the word used… I’m not buying it. I’ll let her make the trip to Safeway for pickles and peanut butter.

Posted by alex at 02:34 AM
August 21, 2002
Miscommunication

Miscommunication

When I was in school, people used to chuckle at those in pursuit of a Mass Communications major. It was deemed as an easier road than the Sciences. The subject matter was supposed to be inferior to even Political Science or English. I myself am not quite sure what exactly was covered in those popularly attended classes, but I am a bit confused by one thing…

Why has communicating with one another become such a science that we need workshops, seminars, and college level courses to be successful at it?

Now I am not knocking the Mass Comm majors, I am after something much bigger here. Let’s start with the dreaded job search. Many students spend hours on end proofing their resumes at the career center, and all to decide if they should use the word “created” or “constructed” (ed. Note: I always preferred “made appear”). To make matters worse, entire business classes were dedicated to the interviewing process. I had friends that agonized over what to wear, things to avoid saying, and possible answers to give when asked “if a tree falls in the woods…”

Or how about once you get the job? At work you are expected to wear a suit and prepare colorful Powerpoint presentations in order to relay information between one another in an accepted manner.

To me it is all a game. I don’t know who created it, or when I got signed up for it, but I don’t want to play. I would like to put on my resume, “I plan to write my thesis for a couple of hours this afternoon, why don’t you come down and watch me work.” Or how about telling the interviewer, “What’s my worst trait? At about 5pm I get pretty itchy to check my Fantasy Baseball team, but you can bet that I’ve done more work from 9-5 than Mr. Last Guy to leave the office over there.”

OK, so these forms of communication aren’t practical – but are the types that we currently use very realistic? I think it is easy for us to become programmed in life. You have to preserve an image for certain people to pay attention to what you are saying and you have to follow certain rules to communicate. But I think that it would be better if we said a little more of what was on our minds, and if the people we were talking to really knew where we were coming from.

My solution to the problem is admittedly oversimplified, but it is a step in the right direction: Whether it be an interview, a work meeting, or any other formal meeting – there should be a tradition that time is spent bullshitting. Sure it would be time consuming, but the length of the “formal” parts of the communication would shrink. Each person would gain a base level of mutual understanding that would either galvanize the relationship or terminate it. Either way, the net efficiency of the communication rises dramatically, even as the individuals are acting more naturally.

There is more to explore on this subject, but I am out of time… but hey, don’t tell your boss I said it was OK to wear the “F*** you” neck tie to work, OK?

Posted by alex at 09:47 PM
August 20, 2002
Self Defense and Religion

In my mind, there are three reasons for “murder” in the natural world: Defense, Conquer, and Sustenance. Take a wild dog, for example. He will kill if threatened. He will also kill to gain the right to a female. And of course, he will kill to feed himself.

As Darwin himself might have put it, we are not too far removed from these happenings in nature. Murder in our society stems from one of these three base desires in a majority of cases (I do think that severe psychological ailments make up a fourth cause, separate from the three mentioned). And the Sustenance angle can be down-played because the killing does not occur in order that the killer be able to eat his prey, rather it occurs to obtain food of some other sort. A case can then be made that the murder was committed in order to survive, or in Defense of one’s life.

This is the background that I want to use to explore religious turmoil in the world and why, in my mind, organized religion is one of the biggest causes of cold-blooded murder in society. Now, before going any further, I want to submit that this is not an anti-Religion writing. On the contrary, this is a writing of how human nature interferes with the intentions of religion to produce a dangerous reaction – the likes of which humanity has witnessed since the beginning of recorded history. Furthermore, this piece is only designed to address the concept of Self Defense in religious belief, leaving the Conquering half aside in reverence for brevity.

The Defense Theory
Though I haven’t read these thoughts elsewhere, I posit that they may be old hat to historians and theologians alike. Nevertheless, many of the killings in the name of religion are more appropriately categorized into the Self Defense bin. In most major religions, followers have a notion of existence after death, whether it is reincarnation, life in heaven, or final enlightenment. The individual’s view of these events is a safeguard or reassurance against death – the very outcome against which his/her human body is programmed to fight. Our primary biological goal as human beings is self-preservation, and as we all understand our own mortality, the idea of life beyond this life eases our tensions both mentally and biologically.

Now imagine that your neighbor tells you that your beliefs are wrong. He thinks that it is OK to disagree, people do so all of the time. The only problem is that he has, in an indirect way, threatened your life. The believer’s entire foundation for survival into the future has been attacked. This kind of attack in nature nearly always produces a violent reaction. In humans the reaction is often a very sharp and stubborn anger towards the offending party. In the extreme cases, the reaction is murder.

I admit it is a leap to connect self defense with differentiation of opinion, but most religious arguments and that I have observed bear the distinctively evil anger saved only for the most desperate of circumstances. If you try to disprove my religion, I retort with an error in yours. The problem is that in regions such as the Middle East, it has become routine to permanently silence the opposition through murder. As if somehow, by taking away the dissenting voice, the individual regains confidence in his/her beliefs, and thus a renewed sense of security in his/her future survival.

Conclusions
Unfortunately, I do not have the time necessary to develop this thought further in this particular article. However, I have drawn one conclusion from my thought process, a conclusion that is a bit on the fatalistic side: I don’t think that turmoil and the Middle East and between other warring religious factions can be solved. Though there are many other political issues wrapped up in these regional struggles, the initial hatred was born and fostered by religious tension. Humans on both sides of the battle cannot quit themselves of the basic need to preserve themselves and to see themselves existing into the future. To do so would contradict their very own biological programming. Of course there are political measures that can and should be applied to the individual situations to help ease tensions. Unfortunately, the political solutions are only fingers plugging holes in the dam.

Posted by alex at 11:44 PM
The Water Welcome

Go get a glass of water. Any kind, as long as the glass is clear – no writing or pictures on it. Set the glass of water down to your right, but not too close to your computer. I am not going to be responsible for your new Dell.

Now, what color is the water? I am not waxing philosophical here; I am serious. Mine is grey, red, black, purple, and a little bit green. Mine is not blue. My guess is that most people’s glasses of water are not blue.

What’s my point? We all know that the sky is blue, the grass is green, and tree trunks are brown. Yet none of them really are. If you look closely enough, you’ll find 10 other colors that really define each subject. Once you start looking at things around you this way, it becomes contagious. You notice things that other people see too, but aren’t prepared to fully take in. You come up with random thoughts and wonder if anyone else has noticed, or even cares.

That’s what this particular section of AO is all about: The interesting perceptions I make that likely range anywhere from worthless to whimsical. They say that geniuses are tortured by their thoughts. Well, I guess that my not being a genius allows me to be entertained by mine. I look forward to others’ reactions to the postings in Random Walks, Left Field Thoughts, and hope they are at least entertaining as well.

Now if you will excuse me, I think my basketball is talking to me. AO

Posted by alex at 10:41 AM