I sleep with the radio on. I’ve done this my whole life. Since my wife isn’t cursed this way, I use a “pillow speaker”, which allows me to hear the radio without bothering anyone else in the room. My bedroom radio is a Squeezebox Internet radio that gets stations and podcasts from around the world, along with Pandora and Spotify and such. There are a half-dozen preset buttons on the front that I use so I can reach up in the middle of the night and switch to a favored station. I’ve got a couple of sports stations, BBC World Service, a comedy channel … no music, using the radio and the pillow speakers together means I miss one channel of the stereo output, so music sounds goofy while talking usually works OK.
When I went to bed last night, I thought I’d turn on the replay of the Giants game from earlier in the day. The Giants had won, and it felt like a nice way to drift into the sleep zone, catching an inning. It’s never more than that … I fall asleep before things get rolling. But when I lay my head on the pillow speaker, I found that the replay had reached the point where starter Ryan Vogelsong was knocked out of the game, and that wasn’t what I needed to go to sleep, so I started hitting the preset buttons. Which is how I ended up on NBC Sports Radio. I have them on my presets because I enjoy Brian Kenny, who has a morning show during the week.
The host of the show at that early hour of the morning was someone named Jason Page. I admit I hadn’t heard of him … outside of Kenny, the hosts all run together for me. I figured to let him jabber … I think it was the beginning of his nightly stint … while I fell asleep.
Then Page got my attention.
You can listen to the first ten minutes or so of last night’s show here.
Page said he wanted to talk about a quote from former NFL coach Tony Dungy, regarding Michael Sam, the recently-drafted member of the St. Louis Rams, who is gay. Dungy was one of the best coaches ever (he’s a TV analyst now), and was the first African-American coach to win the Super Bowl. In an interview, speaking about drafting Sam, Dungy said “I wouldn’t have taken him … Not because I don’t believe Michael Sam should have a chance to play, but I wouldn’t want to deal with all of it. It’s not going to be totally smooth … things will happen.”
Page then said he wanted to tell two stories. The first was about football player Michael Vick, who did just under two years for his participation in illegal dog fighting. Page detailed some of the things done to the dogs … I admit I was close to dozing off, the story was interesting but to me, it was just part of my nighttime ritual of falling asleep. But I was awake enough to hear the connection Page was making … when Vick got out of prison, Tony Dungy worked hard on Vick’s rehabilitation and reintegration into society and the NFL.
Then Page began telling the story of another person, a person he knew well, who, some years before, was a closeted gay man who struggled to find a place for himself. The internal conflicts that came with living in the closet eventually overwhelmed the man, and one night, he put together a package of pills and prepared to take them all at once. He prepared to take his life. Just before he took the step, he got a phone call from a friend who convinced him not to do it, that it was time to come out of the closet, which he proceeded to do over the course of the next couple of weeks.
Page had my attention. He was being an effective storyteller … he had also moved the story beyond what I’d expect from a late-night sports-talk show.
And then came the punch line: that suicidal young man was Page. “That person was me.”
He spent the next few minutes talking about why comments like Dungy’s could be harmful, but again, I wasn’t being the best audience member. The points Page was making had less of an impact on me than the fact that the sports-talk host had slipped into a personal mode … things had turned “real”.
I don’t suppose I need to mention that this is not the kind of thing I usually hear when I happen upon sports talk radio.
I knew I couldn’t sleep until I made some small effort. So I climbed out of bed, went to Twitter, and sent a tweet to Page: “just heard your story, connected to the Dungy quote. Had to get out of bed to tweet support.”
A small effort, to be sure. But Page had broken through my attempt to fall asleep, and I had to thank him.
How did the World Cup impact my life? I went to one movie and one play and one baseball game, sent my regrets to a couple of invites, and watched 64 soccer matches. I also missed a lot of blog posting. Correction: this blog suffered, but I managed daily posts on my World Cup blog, some of which I’ll link to at the bottom of this one.
So, time for a quick TV catch up.
Emmys: Tatiana Maslany didn’t get nominated, so there’s nothing more to say.
The Bridge started Season Two. I gave Season One a B+, but in retrospect, I probably liked it more than that, and I’m glad to see it on the schedule again. This is a quickie catch up post, so nothing detailed, but if you haven’t seen it, Season One is a worthwhile streaming binge, and Season Two is off to a good start.
Rectify is back. Fittingly, I haven’t said anything about it yet … I never got around to writing much about Season One, either. It is a much better show than that suggests, and I promise to write about the S2 finale, at least. In the meantime, with the caveat that it is among the slowest-moving series ever, I highly recommend it.
Longmire keeps rolling along. I guess everyone should have one series that harks back to earlier TV times. This is a solid show that tends to pile up on the DVR. But I’m never given up on it.
I haven’t said anything yet about The Leftovers, an intriguing show but one that I think needs a few episodes to sink in. I’ll get to it eventually.
Lots of new stuff began last night, which we postponed so my wife could go to bed. Season Two of Masters of Sex is reported to be excellent, while The Strain is getting mixed reviews, not on quality issues (most reviews are positive enough) but on the seeming lack of importance. It’s supposed to be a “good summer show”. Looking forward to this one.
OK, life is back to some approximation of normal. For those of you who ignored my World Cup blog, here are a few highlights:
June 25, “Greece”
July 1, “Belgium-United States”
July 2, “Names”
July 4, “Quarterfinals, Day One”
July 10, “National Stereotypes”
July 11, “Has the World Cup Been That Good?”
July 13, “Germany-Argentina”
July 3, 1980: Willie McCovey played his last home game with the Giants. I played hooky from work to attend.
The opponents were the Cincinnati Reds, who included future Hall of Famers Johnny Bench, who played, and Tom Seaver, who didn’t. The Giants had one future Hall of Famer (McCovey, obviously). McCovey, hitting cleanup, came to the plate four times. In the first inning, he grounded out. In the third inning, his single scored Jack Clark to give the Giants a 3-1 lead. After that, he struck out and grounded out.
He came out to first base as the Giants took the field in the top of the 8th. Then, he was replaced by Rich Murray, and took a final curtain call from the fans, who numbered 26,133. Murray, a 22-year-old rookie, was the brother of Hall of Famer Eddie Murray. Rich played 57 games in the majors, all with the Giants.
This photo, taken by John Storey, showed kids at the park for that game:
“What are you thinking about?”, she asks.
At this point I lie. I wasn’t thinking about Martin Amis or Gérard Depardieu or the Labour Party at all. But then, obsessives have no choice; they have to lie on occasions like this. If we told the truth every time, then we would be unable to maintain relationships with anyone from the real world. We would be left to rot with our Arsenal programmes or our collection of original blue-label Stax records or our King Charles spaniels, and our two-minute daydreams would become longer and longer and longer until we lost our jobs and stopped bathing and shaving and eating, and we would lie on the floor in our own filth rewinding the video again and again in an attempt to memorise by heart the whole of the commentary, including David Pleat’s expert analysis, for the night of 26th of May 1989. (You think I had to look the date up? Ha!) The truth is this: for alarmingly large chunks of an average day, I am a moron. …
None of this is thought, in the proper sense of the word. There is no analysis, or self-awareness, or mental rigour going on at all, because obsessives are denied any kind of perspective on their own passion.
-- Nick Hornby, Fever Pitch
As Brazil 2014 begins, what better way to throw ourselves back in time than by celebrating that great Brazilian, Xuxa!
If you want to know about Xuxa, you can check out the Wikipedia page, although, as it currently states, “This article contains translated text and needs attention from someone approaching dual fluency.” If you need some connection to soccer, note that Xuxa and Pelé himself were an item in the early 80s (she was very young).
I’ll get to the reasons why I’m including her in the throwback meme in a second. But first, I wanted to note something from that Wikipedia page that seems incredible, although ultimately, I’m not surprised.
Xuxa, who is now 51 years old, is worth $500 million.
I'm not sure I trust that figure, but still ...
OK, like I say, look at her Wikipedia page, or Google her. What does she mean to us at the Smith-Rubio residence? She was the host of a children’s TV show. The first was in Brazil, and called Xou da Xuxa. In 1991, she added a show in Spanish, El Show de Xuxa, which came out of Argentina. This is when we first discovered her, as the program was broadcast in the U.S. by Univision. It was exquisitely weird:
An English-language version followed that wasn’t as successful, called simply Xuxa:
All very fun and goofy. Dare I confess that I had a membership card in the Xuxa fan club? I was 40 years old, give or take.
This is from the Bad Subjects days, when we would work and edit in a computer room on campus. Can’t place a date on this … someone will help me out. Early 1990s, at least. That’s Charlie and Ron in the picture.
And here, from Issue #6, May 1993, is the first essay I wrote for BS that kicked ass:
Tuesday night, Geoff, Nikki and I attended a soccer match between the USA Men’s National Team and Azerbaijan. It was held at Candlestick Park, which will thankfully be destroyed in the near future. Here’s a photo of us at the match:
(Note the cold-weather gear for a match in late May.)
For this week’s Thursday, I take us back almost fifteen years, to Candlestick Park on September 30, 1999, when the Giants played their last game at that miserable dump:
(Note the warm-weather gear for a game in late September … Candlestick was funny that way.)