you can’t teach that

For the first time in a while, I’ll be teaching again this weekend. Before you start congratulating me for re-entering this most noble of professions, it’s not like I’ll be teaching about the towering figures in modern literature, or advances in higher mathematics, or, really anything with practical value. I teach stand-up comedy.

There are some problems with this as a way to make money. First, I’m not sure why anyone would take a stand-up comedy class, since the stand-up ‘boom’ ended in the early 1990s. It seems rather like studying to be an apothecary, or a blacksmith. Yeah, there are still comedy clubs, and a few hundred dive bars that might have a ‘comedy night’ in which they move the karaoke machine out of the way for an hour and a half (“You guys have to be done by 9:30, because the Metallica tribute band needs to set up”).

But it’s not like it was in the eighties, when every town with a sewer system offered a place to perform in front of a faux brick wall to an audience of drunk twenty-somethings. Sadly, the golden days of stand-up ended when it got over-exposed on TV and—sorry, I almost turned into an old vaudevillian bemoaning how radio killed his career.

More to the point, although I’ve taught comedy classes in the past (even taught ‘advanced stand-up’—and what the hell is that? Really complicated jokes? Longer…segues?), I’ve never been convinced you can actually teach stand-up comedy.

I think you can teach someone how to hold a microphone, and you can teach some tricks about putting jokes in a certain order (‘Don’t end your set with a joke about abortion,’ or ‘Don’t open by mentioning the Holocaust’), but you cannot teach someone to be funny. You need to bring funny with you to the first class.

However, I guess there will always be people lured by the prospect of a fifty-dollar Thursday gig in Dickinson, North Dakota, and for these brave souls, I offer four two-hour sessions, culminating in a three-minute performance at one of the local chuckle joints. The real problem is that if you want to be a comic, you should be at a comedy club, not in a classroom. You should be showing up at open mics trying out your shit in front of an audience (I’m really not selling my class very well—must learn how to market myself better.)

See, comedy’s different than other forms of ‘art,’ say, violin playing. You would never hear a violinist at Orchestra Hall say “This is something I’m just kinda trying out—it’s new–not sure if it’s gonna be any good.” But with standup, the ONLY way to know if something is funny is to say it in front of an audience—you can’t practice it in front of a mirror or say it into a tape recorder (are there still tape recorders? must update references…).

So the demographic that would sit at home and think “I want a more theoretical approach to the whole comedy thing, and I want to learn in an environment that’s entirely unlike any place comedy might actually happen” are people who, by and large, aren’t toting a lot of funny around with them. They’re taking my class for the same reason they might take a class in bungee jumping, or macramé—something they always thought about trying, because it could be fun.

In my experience, there are certain types of people who take Introduction to Stand-up Comedy.

The Frat Boy Type: believes he’s funny because he can make his ‘bros’ laugh at a kegger by doing a drunk impression of his boss followed by armpit farts—sadly, this doesn’t always translate in front of a real crowd

The Cubicle Guy: wants to try something different to shake up his nine-to-five life, but prior performing experience limited to emceeing the raffle at the company picnic, during which he attempted part of a Bill Cosby routine

The Hipster: watches too much Comedy Central, thinks he could do comedy because ‘they’re just saying a bunch of random shit anyway’

The Saucy Mom: has read a lot of Erma Bombeck, and now that kids have moved out, finally is trying what she ‘always wanted to do,’ but mostly wants to say inappropriate things and swear a lot

The Comedy Writer: has none of the personality required to be a performer, but has a chapbook filled with wacky ideas, most of which are only funny to him

The Toastmaster: Unclear on the distinction between public speaking and stand-up; would ideally prefer to read from note cards at a podium (tells people what he’s going to tell them, then tells them, then tells them what he’s told them)

Another challenge in teaching the ‘rules’ of comedy is that almost by definition, comedy is about seeming like you’re breaking the rules—saying those very things that you’ve been trained to suppress since fourth grade when you were sent home with a note saying ‘cuts up in class—always disrupting lessons with jokes.’

Of course, there will always be the stand-up student who simply wants to be like whoever the hot comic is at the moment, and I essentially have to beat that out of them so they find their own comic voice, and so the world isn’t overrun with clones of Dane Cook. But every so often, I come across students with a spark, that ineffable flair that makes you want to listen to whatever they feel like talking about.

It’s what my beatnik friend Eugene used to call ‘the thang.’ And though I try my damndest to give every student the tools they need to pull a few laughs out of increasingly jaded audiences, it’s that one in twenty, the one who has that ‘thang,’ who makes me want to teach comedy. Just don’t expect me to teach you to be funny.

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fifty is the new forty-five

When did I become that guy?  Seems I was this…other guy for a lotta years. But now I’m that guy. And it’s not like I miss being that other guy, the guy I was in my thirties and forties, it’s that I don’t even recognize him—it’s hard to realize I ever was that guy. There are things I did when I was younger that I can’t imagine doing now, not because they’re all that wild, but because just remembering doing them makes me tired.

So I’m that guy now. I’m the guy who…

says he’s been “sitting too long”—How is that even possible? Sitting is not an activity—you can’t do it ‘too long’!

hears a song on the radio and says “but you can’t understand what they’re singing”!

has so many body parts that pop and crack that when I get out of bed it sounds like an Afro-Caribbean percussion section

goes to a restaurant and says “I need to order something bland”—Seriously? I used to go to a Sri Lankan restaurant in Minneapolis and order level four spiciness , dammit! Level four, do you hear me people?! Now, what,  I have to make sure the mashed potatoes don’t have any…basil because that might not agree with me?

Somehow, I’ve acquired a bunch of twenty-something and thirty-something friends, which definitely makes me feel younger. Although I don’t think they find me cool or hip so much as–intriguing. “He’s really talented…but kinda troubled too…wonder if he’ll snap some night when we’re just hanging out…”

I’ll party with the kids, but it’s different now. I can drink as much as I used to, but I don’t recover as quickly. And I forget this when I go out—maybe bars should require you to check your own ID so that you realize how old you are before you start drinking.

So, the night of my birthday, a group of the ‘kids’ threw me a party at a local Thai restaurant attached to a mall (I know—I’m out of control—pad thai level one all around!). And I was home by the age-appropriate hour of 11:30. Turned on the iTunes, opened a box of cabernet, and realized that I was sitting in a one-room apartment drinking cheap wine and listening to merle haggard, and that I had in fact turned into a country song.

Don’t misunderstand here—I can still rock…I’m just choosing not to. Some cable channel I’d never heard of and didn’t know I had was airing the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies from a couple years ago. The highlight had to be Iggy Pop, who was introduced by Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day (quick aside to Billie Joe—if you can write a three minute song, maybe you could write a three-minute speech? I swear he mentioned every band that ever recorded an album as being influenced by Iggy). Anyway, Iggy comes out, still visceral, raw and shirtless at 63. I’m only 50, and I catch a terrible chill if I don’t wear my AARP hoodie—meanwhile Mr. Pop is rolling around on stage without a shirt—that’s a good way to catch a cold, mister!

Not sure why, but the other significant act in this year’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame class was Abba. Iggy and Abba. Headlining for eternity at the Opposites Club. Now, as creators of the kind of sterile pop fluff that sticks to the brain like Cheetos dust sticks to your fingers, I love me some Abba, but the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? That’s like giving Jerry Bruckheimer a Lifetime Achievement honor at the Independent Film Awards. The drop-off in rock and roll credibility from Iggy Pop to Abba was vertigo-inducing. But at least the members of Abba kept their shirts on.

I haven’t been to many live concerts, and now I suppose I’m relegated to seeing age-appropriate music acts. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the Fleet Foxes or Vampire Weekend, but it might feel a little weird to go to one of their shows. Somehow I feel like I’d be harshing everyone’s buzz, like they’d all be looking at me as if I were a chaperone, or a faculty advisor. “You kids get this gym cleaned up if you want to have any more dances.”

A couple years ago I went to see Foghat at the State Fair, and it was none of the same people—I’m pretty sure it was just four guys who happened to own Foghat albums. Last year I actually saw Styx, REO Speedwagon, and Survivor. I haven’t seen that many paunchy white guys in the same venue since the last Republican convention. And that was just on the stage! Thank you–good night! Sorry…I had a little standup flashback there.

So, I’m that guy now. When did I become the sitting-too-long, bland-food-eating, comfortable-music-listening-to guy? I’ll tell you when–a few days ago, when I looked at my ID and remembered that somehow, despite my best self-destructive efforts, I had passed fifty. I actually made it. Sure, I don’t get around like I used to, but on the other hand, I feel like now I’ve got a license to dispense unsolicited advice to everyone I see, because, well, I’m fifty. I may not do a lot anymore, but I damn sure know a lot. And for what I don’t know, I can always just quote Styx lyrics–their stuff was deep.

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madness

I’ve lived through times when my situation was kinda precarious.  Maybe not Jack Bauer precarious, but certainly at least MacGyver precarious. Sometimes I felt like like one of those plate-spinners you would see on the Ed Sullivan Show–juggling job-hunting, payment arrangements on my bills, calls to the landlord, emailing potential leads, working on my resume, managing my anxiety and depression…what I’m saying is, that’s a lot of plates.

During one of my worst times, my escape was the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. First of all, the nickname is great: ‘March Madness. ‘ Sort of implies you might actually see something really insane, like a player belting out a show tune after a dunk, or an entire team putting on big floppy hats in the last two minutes of the game.

But from a marketing perspective, the name March Madness could be a lesson for other sports. People who wouldn’t normally watch the World Series as the ‘Fall Classic’ just might tune in if it were called, say, the ‘Fall Fandango.’ Or imagine if the NBA Finals were called Tall-a-palooza. Americans might even watch more soccer if the World Cup were called…nah, Americans will never watch more soccer.

That’s because we’re conditioned to expect that during a sporting event, something will…happen. Anything. For god’s sake, I watched a soccer match between–i don’t really remember–some European colonial power and one of the countries it used to subjugate, and the final score was 1 to 0. My leisure time is too valuable to spend three hours and watch only one thing happen.

There are sixty-five teams chosen each year, which means there are a lot of players wearing ridiculous-looking ‘but-they’re-not-really-short’ shorts to watch. But now I hear there’s support for the idea of expanding the tournament to…what, maybe…524 teams? I could be exaggerating, but my point is, sixty-four is probably plenty.

If the tournament expands, here are some suggestions:

  • allow the worst NBA team to go ‘back to school’ and compete in the tournament
  • have the final twelve American Idol contestants field a team–monster crossover marketing potential, plus Simon Cowell might be the next Bobby Knight
  • let trade schools enter–think of the excitement if the DeVry Institute could somehow beat Kentucky (Game times would have to be flexible, allowing for the DeVry players’ work schedules)
  • set the first round in the playgrounds of New York, and require lower-seeded teams to stand around the court and call ‘next’
  • first round–everybody plays ‘H-O-R-S-E’ to see who advances
  • include a public option in the health care system and stop propping up insurance companies who are only interested in profits–wait–sorry, that has nothing to do with basketball

Every year there are surprise teams that make you think, ” I didn’t know that place had a basketball program” or, “I didn’t know that place had…schools.” And you get to learn all the team mascots. Except for Marquette, which, according to a typo in the ESPN online bracket has a team but no nickname. Being a Marquette cheerleader must suck–“Go…..You Guys!”

There are usually at least three Tigers and three Aggies, which doesn’t seem right–you should have to choose your own name. Granted, it might be like signing up for a new email address today with all the good ones taken (“that name is already in use–try michaeldanecomedywriter3885653“).

There are Bulldogs and Gators and the less fearsome-sounding Miners (I think UTEP players should have to wear the miner hat with the flashlight on it), and of course, nobody could forget the Northern Iowa…uh…Northern Iowans?

This year the oddest team name I ever saw in the tournament was the St. Mary’s Gaels. ‘Gaels,’ it turns out, were Irish warriors. Good thing they didn’t play the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame, or it would have escalated to car bombs.Wake Forest must offer a degree in oxymorons, since they’re the Demon Deacons. Cornell, the rare Ivy League school to have success in sports, rallies behind the oddly blue-collar sounding Big Red.

Sam Houston College roots for the rarely-seen and incorrectly-spelled Bearkats, but the most obscure mascot might be the Catamounts of Vermont (sounds like a rich couple being introduced at dinner). Apparently, they chose ‘catamount’ because mountain lion, mountain cat, puma, panther, and cougar were taken, because they’re all the same freakin’ animal.

I’m sure this trivia has been compelling, but let’s get to the important stuff. Even though I only follow basketball for two weeks out of the year, I will now give you some insight into how I pick winners in the tournament with hypothetical examples:

  • Normally, I root against religious-affiliated schools–somehow seems unfair to bring God on the team bus with you to the game. Unfortunately if both of these teams have God connections,  as in Baylor vs. St. Mary’s, well, Baylor doesn’t tell you it’s religious (Baptist), whereas with St. Mary’s is up front about it (the ‘Saint’ part), so I would go with the St. Mary’s Gaels.

  • If a team from a well-respected liberal-arts university (say, Xavier) goes against a team from a state wone of the most backwards school boards in the country (for instance, Kansas), root for the smart team.

  • One year, Butler played Syracuse, and here’s how I broke down the matchup–Indianapolis, home of Butler University, and Syracuse, New York, are two of the dullest cities in the country, so they’re evenly matched. But Jim Jones of the People’s Temple went to Butler, and to my knowledge, no murderous deranged messianic cult leaders ever graduated from Syracuse, so I give the edge to Syracuse.

  • Duke vs. Purdue: Purdue Boilermakers–well, that’s a drink, and I like to drink. Also, I’ve always had an inexplicable hatred for Duke. So…Purdue.

  • Kentucky vs. Cornell: Let’s see. Cornell has produced forty-one Nobel laureates and 28 Rhodes Scholars. Kentucky produces moonshine. I realize I maybe oversimplifying here, but I like Cornell.

  • Washington vs. West Virginia: I’ve been to Washington, and I’ve never been to West Virginia. For this and so many other reasons, Iwould go with Washington.

  • Tennessee vs. Ohio State: Follow the logic here–Al Gore is from Tennessee, and voter fraud in Ohio may have cost John Kerry the White House. So, if you factor in the fact that Tennessee hosted the Tea Party convention and Ohio’s Democratic Blue Dogs (who might be in the tournament next year), look for Ohio State to win after a long recount.

So, there you have it–the complex algorithms you need to fill out your brackets and win that office pool.  Now, to be honest, the year the above matchups happened, I was wrong on every single game. Gotta love all those upsets.

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i need a quirk

I’ve come to an important conclusion—I need to be famous.Not sure why I didn’t think of this before, but being famous would really help my career. I used to think that I wanted that fame to be the result of my work, my craft, my artistic vision.

But the clock’s ticking, people—at the end of the month I will have bounced around on this plane for half a century. It’s time to get noticed, and, though you might find this surprising, posting a seven hundred and fifty word comedy piece every couple weeks hasn’t made me famous.

 So I wanna be that guy. You know, the guy with that one weird quirk that has nothing to do with his talents but still makes him memorable? For example, there’s an artist in Minneapolis who, during the winter months, wears all black, and during the summer, he wears all white. And then, from what I can tell, he walks around the city, from coffeehouse to coffeehouse. That’s it. Not even sure if he paints anymore, but…everybody knows him. As affectations go, it’s fairly simple. But I’ll tell you this–people I know who know NOTHING about art know that this guy is an artist.
You need to decide on a weird thing to do, and commit to it. If you do something weird enough, often enough, with no apologies, people assume you must have artistic credibility. We expect our artists to be freaks.

I already walk with a cane, but that doesn’t count as an affectation, because I need the cane to avoid falling down. If I tricked out my cane to look like a wizard’s staff, that would be an affectation. Or if my cane had a hollowed out interior that could hold a pint of vodka and I drank from my cane, that would work. The key is to pick something that nobody does, and ideally, something nobody else wants to do. Because you really don’t want a bunch of hipsters just copying your affectation—then all of a sudden you become a cult leader, and that’s a whole different deal.

 So I’ve narrowed down the list of possible quirks to adopt, and I figure there are a few ways I can go:

 A Strange Hat

 I could be The Guy Who Wears A Bowler, or alternatively, The Guy Who Wears A Pith Helmet. Not sure if I would need an entire outfit to go with the strange hat.

An Unusual Pet

 It can’t be a reptile. We’ve all seen the guy with the iguana at the coffeehouse—it’s been done. And if you’re going the bird route, it can’t be a parrot—done. Now maybe, if I got a heron, and took it for walks around my neighborhood…
 
Communicating Only In Show Tunes
This affectation requires a lot of rehearsal, and risks annoying one’s existing friends. Not recommended.
 
The Monocle

Now we’re talking! Henceforth, I will be known as The Guy With The Monocle. It has everything I’m looking for in an affectation—pop culture cachet (Mr. Peanut, the Penguin, Colonel Klink), implications of wealth, and vague connotations of evil.

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fill ‘er up

So, after this Chilean earthquake, I’m browsing around the web looking for fodder, and the headline at MSNBC says “Pope To Pray For Chile.” Now, I think it’s great for Benedict to take a break from repressing women and spreading misinformation about AIDS, my problem is that it was a headline. As if it were…news.

Obviously the Pope is going to pray for Chile, given the fact that he is…leader of the Catholic Church and Chile is predominantly…Catholic. It’s his job fer chirssake—literally! News would be a headline saying “Pope Snubs Chile—Opts to Not Include Victims In Prayers.”

Edward R. Murrow would spin in his grave–while smoking a cigarette–if he were to see what passes for journalism today. In any given half-hour tv news broadcast, I would say an average of 86.3% of the stories aren’t really news. News should have two ingredients—it should be new, and it should be sorta…important, and to more people than just someone’s immediate family.

 

The problem of course, is filling the half-hour, or filling up the web page. With three major online news portals and a gazillion ‘aggregators’ (‘we don’t investigate the stories, but we do group ‘em all together for you!”), not enough actual news happens to satisfy them, hence—filler news. We wouldn’t tolerate this in a restaurant—“The chef only has a half portion of the chicken marsala left, so we’re going to fill the rest of your plate some microwave popcorn.”

News filler usually consists of ‘human interest’ stories. Which begs the question—what type of beings are the other stories aimed at? Is there a section of ‘panda interest stories’? In theory, shouldn’t every news story be of interest to…humans?

And for the love of Cronkite, stop interviewing family members of people who have died! It’s not news!

“I know this is a difficult time for you…with your entire family having been killed in the blaze that destroyed your ancestral home, what are you feeling right now?”

“I’m very sad.”

“We’ve got a scoop! Rush this footage to editing!”

They should give anti-journalism awards, like the Razzies they give for worst movies. They could call it the Mister Peabody.

Used to be, tv news was fifteen minutes. Now, there are fifteen minutes of graphics before a breaking news story. Sure, the times were simpler, but the times were also filled with fewer Octomoms. Oh, Octomoms might have existed back then, but we didn’t feel they warranted above-the-fold reporting.

 

I get my headlines online from MSNBC, because yes, one of my goals has always been to destroy the newspaper industry and eliminate the jobs of hardworking print journalists. Now, since MSNBC is a “joint venture of Microsoft and NBC,” you’d think there would be someone at one of those giant companies who would notice this stupid shit.

 

But no, at one point last year the headline on their home page was “Osama Still Not Found.” This just in—nothing! That’s not news! It’s—anti-news! It’s bad enough to print ‘news’ about something trivial that happened, but now you’re putting up a story about something that hasn’t happened!

 

This week in the news we learned that the earthquake in Chile shifted Earth’s axis. Every report about this quoted ‘NASA scientists,’ which I suppose would be more reliable than ‘NASA janitors.’ Anyway, as a result, every day will be shorter by 1.26 milliseconds, which sucks, because I’m really busy at the moment and cannot afford to lose that kind of time.

There was one ‘human interest’ story this week that genuinely touched me. Seems the woman who wrote the first book about crockpot cookery (a bestseller in 1975, in part due to its compelling title, ‘Crockpot Cookery’), died at the age of 88. Mable Hoffman was interred in a late-morning ceremony. Onions, potatoes and chopped bell peppers were added a couple hours later, and she was ready by late afternoon. Thanks—you’ve been a great crowd! Tip your waitresses! Good night!

separation of church and sport

I consider myself a spiritually-minded man, even if I’m only occasionally religious. Now I believe that God CAN be everywhere, but I’m not sure God SHOULD be everywhere. Or wants to be. Sometimes I think it’s useful to think of the universe as a big company, with God as more of a…chief executive officer. Makes sure things are running in the black, but kinda removed from day-to-day operations. When I look at the universe this way, I’m struck by a profound realization–people pray way too much.

Just as you wouldn’t constantly pester your CEO with suggestions and special requests (do office employees at Apple constantly call Steve Jobs’ direct line with requests for more paper clips?), I don’t think humans should be bothering God with every detail of their own lives. I’m pretty sure God, if there is one, is too busy with the big picture stuff to address a lot of the things we’re calling about.

C’mon, you know there must be times when God thinks “Stop bugging me. Handle it.” In my conception of the universe, God wants us to at least try to handle our own shit. Or at least go through middle management first (not sure who ‘middle management’ is in my metaphor, but it’s my metaphor, so indulge me). What I’m saying is, we need to stop annoying God.

Which brings me to the Super Bowl (dizzying how I got there, isn’t it?) Apparently, during one Super Bowl, millions of drunk, Doritos-engorged football fans had to endure a thirty-second ad from a Christian organization called…not sure if I have the name right…Focus On (An Incredibly Narrow Homophobic Misogynistic Definition Of)  The Family.

One of their ads a couple of Roman numerals ago featured Tim Tebow, wunderkind quarterback from Florida. Now Tim is really into the whole God thing, to the point of inscribing Bible verses in his eye-black (and seriously Tim—if someone is close enough to you to read what’s written under your eyes, they’re probably planning to tackle you, and aren’t really gonna take the time to reflect on whatever wisdom might be found in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians).

Another interesting thing about Tebow, and I guess the point of the ad, is that he wasn’t aborted. Well…congratulations? Me neither, Tim! We’re like…related! My point (and yes, I’m a little winded with how long it took to get there too) is that EVEN IF your God tells you the issue needs to be addressed, you’re not gonna change a lot of minds during the third quarter of the biggest sporting event in the western world!!! When that game goes to commercial, I’m probably gonna be grabbing another beer and swearing about the refs—I’m not in the most philosophical place!

American culture has cruised along just fine for decades because of one fundamental understanding–that on Sunday, you either went to church OR you watched sports on TV. Why risk tearing apart our cultural fabric? God does not care who wins a football game.

The players are as much at fault as the fans. It’s nothing new—Sandy Koufax was an observant Jew and wouldn’t play on the Sabbath. But it’s not like he had ‘Shema Yisrael’ written on the bill of his cap, and he didn’t try to convert anyone. I don’t mind the occasional prayer in the end zone, because it’s like a touchdown dance—silly, pointless, but it doesn’t last long. It’s the post-game interviews that bother me.

Kurt Warner of the Arizona Cardinals used to refer to God so often after games it didn’t’t look like reverence, it just looked like he’s sucking up. Mercifully, God commanded him to retire. And by the way–if you’re gonna give God credit for what goes right during a game, why don’t players ever blame God for bad games? “I wouldn’t have thrown that interception if God hadn’t wanted my team to lose a playoff game.”

As a sports fan, I don’t WANT players on my team to be really ‘religious.’ Football used to be filled with tough sons of bitches like Lombardi. I’m sure away from the field, he was a deeply spiritual guy, but I can’t imagine Vince Lombardi praying during the game. I don’t want my middle linebacker to be particularly Christian—what if he has some epiphany and decides to forgive the nose tackle for blocking him? Christianity is about peace and love and a lot of admirable, but kinda…squishy, feelings. Nowhere does Scripture say ‘the meek shall inherit the Super Bowl trophy.’

I watched my Vikings play the Packers at Green Bay this year, and there was that guy. Big foam block of cheese on his head, no shirt, and scrawled on his chest was ‘John 3:16.’ Is this guy really the kind of messenger God wants? True enough, God created Wisconsin. God even created the ‘frozen tundra of Lambeau Field.’ And then God left and moved on to bigger things.

All I’m saying is that religion and the average sports fan have different agendas. As a fan, I want to be able to yell “Kill that bastard–and then rip his head off!” without being confronted with moral dilemmas, and I don’t want my cleanup batter to suddenly love his enemy, the pitcher. I leave my soul at the stadium gate–and my God is O.K. with this. I’m pretty sure My God actually wants to smite the people who hold up signs that say ‘John 3:16’—it sorta trivializes the message if the messenger takes the form of a fat guy in a rainbow-colored wig trying to do the wave without dropping his bratwurst.

So if you’re an athlete or a fan, do take the time to go to the church or synagogue of your choice. Sign up for missionary work in Zaire. Donate your entire salary to the Sisters of Mercy. But do me and God a favor–once the whistle blows, just play the fucking game and let me enjoy a three hour break from the brutal things in the real world that actually warrant calling on God.

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