We’ve never looked at television host Larry King as an oracle, at least not until his death at the age of 87. Only then were we made aware of a quote attributed to him that could be the simplest explanation of how to navigate the vicissitudes of life.
“If you have passion, a chip on the shoulder, a sense of humor, and you can explain what you do very well, it doesn’t matter if you’re a plumber or a singer or a politician. If you have those four things, you are interesting.”
Perhaps Larry was only referring to whether you’d be a decent subject for one of his interview programs. But in this salient nugget of wisdom, he could well be stating what all the monks, priests, scholars and philosophers have spent centuries and volumes trying to define as a “life worth living.” Let’s break it down to it essentials, shall we?
- Like Ishmael, what is your great white whale? Do you have a strong and barely controllable emotion about something in your life? Whether it be the arts or fiduciary accounting, pursue it until your EKG reads “zero.”* Even if there is little chance of success that your single apple seed turns into a full-blown orchard, the Sisyphean climb up your mountain will produce plenty of strong memories and interesting fodder for psychiatrists, sociologists and yes, talk show hosts to study.
- Believe in yourself. No matter how uncertain, insolvent, or unbalanced you are, put that chip on your shoulder and don’t let anyone knock it off. Who are they to question your love of ice baths? Like Larry quoting Lenny Bruce, tell them to go unfuck themselves.
- Laugh long and hard, and at your own screwups most of all. For those who can chortle at the absurdity of the world tend to live until at least 87 years of age.*
- Get a story and stick with it. Even if you have many interests, many side hustles, and many dreams, formulate a simple narrative about yourself and repeat as often as necessary. In Larry’s case, that started with his name.
*Despite many people thinking Larry had died ages ago, he actually just kicked the bucket on Saturday. Utilizing his own four point system detailed above, he managed to beat the actuarial table by a good 8 years.
The following is a special wild-card weekend editorial.
Ask any citizen of the United States and their answer will be the same: our country is in big trouble. Whether it’s white nationalists raising holy hell based on their latest conspiracy theories, billionaire technocrats deciding where to draw the line on free speech, or the gaping inequality between rich and poor growing more grotesque by the paycheck, our current situation looks grim indeed.
Nowhere is this disintegration of humanity more in evidence than in our nation’s capitol, stoked by a professional class of elected leaders too fearful of losing office to protect our democracy (recent post-riot speeches excepted). Given the lack of willingness to compromise displayed by party leaders and the ideological rift between the two dominant parties, some experts say America is heading towards a second civil war — quite possibly before the next presidential election.
So is there a more positive way for Washington to govern, for red and blue states to agree on the fundamentals, and for the populace to rally around their leaders for the good of all? We say yes! And it involves the most American of objects, an oblong leather-bound ball with laces that unites the nation every Sunday (and in the case of wild card playoffs, Saturday as well).
Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Green… whatever their party affiliation, Americans can’t get enough of football. We sacrifice things like better schools and public libraries to build massive stadiums to honor our local teams, and the high price of NFL game attendance — tickets average around $150 — doesn’t stop all classes of people from rubbing shoulders as they fill these fishbowls to near capacity each Sunday (not counting Covid season).
So how can we marry the much-adored game of football with the unwieldy, uncooperative workings of Washington? Simple. Form teams from the three branches of government along party lines. The winner of a game of football between D.C. Democrats and Republicans could decide if a bill winds up in the trash can or enshrined as a law. It could determine if the Supreme Court hears an argument against Arctic Drilling, or leaves it in the lower courts. Even allowing for a few hours for the losing side to complain about the refereeing, the fate of any important issue could be decided in just a day or two!
If laws were decided through football, the American people would be more engaged in civic processes than ever. For one thing, it would make the process of governing fun to follow. As much as we talk, text and tweet our opinions about politics, the day-to-day activities of each branch are extremely boring and nearly unwatchable. It feels like divine intervention when CSPAN leaves a poorly-attended House debate to cover a Presidential motorcade, but that’s not saying much. Now consider the audience for a show that combines sports talk with political commentary. Through the roof!
Right now, fans act like game day is a matter of life or death when all that’s at stake is their parlay bet on DraftKings. Think of how much they’ll care when their actual lives are on the line. “TOUCHDOWN! THAT MEANS MORE IMMIGRANTS, BABY! TAKE THAT, REPUBLICANS!” They’ll be cheering for teams representing their city or state with an even greater passion, and with football as the focus, the American people would write and call their representatives more readily with complaints about their play-calling and performance, and show up en masse on election days to ensure their team has the best possible players.
Football would also be a healthier outlet for our heightened aggression, the gridiron providing the perfect location to settle simmering feuds among our elected officials. Imagine Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the trenches against Ted Yoho, the Republican who called her a “f***ing bitch,” ready to unleash a pancake block when the ball is snapped. Or “Mean Mitch” McConnell responding to Biden campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon’s smear of the right with an open-field tackle to prevent a certain score. Just because the play has been whistled dead doesn’t mean the vendetta is settled. Who could resist watching Rashida Tlaib lay a late, cheap hit on Texas Republican Bill Flores, incurring a penalty of lower taxes and increased defense spending in the process?
As more and more Congressional leaders age into dementia while holding on to their seats, football would also nudge the country to send younger, fresher talent to D.C. While the jobs of any of the three branches of government are demanding, they tend to exercise the brain a lot more than the body. With legislative business determined by playing smashmouth football, there would be need for field generals to exhibit strength in their quads and hamstrings, not just their ability to raise piles of PAC cash. So if players from the greatest generation can’t shape up, they’d quickly lose re-election to new blood that could ram their party’s legislative agenda into the end zone. Meanwhile, the power players throwing, catching and running the ball would be freshmen representatives or baby-faced SCOTUS clerks.
Given America’s insatiable appetite for the sport, football can bring the country together at a crucial time, fusing our love of scrambling quarterbacks and defensive schemes with the process of governing that will be embraced by conservatives and liberals alike. And then? We export our pigskin politics to the rest of the world — so our conflicts in the Middle East and our stalemates with Russia and China can all be solved peacefully on the gridiron, rather than the battlefield.
Governance through football: May it lead us forward as one nation, indivisible, with liberty and slant patterns for all!
Special thanks to University of Michigan sports writer Jack Whitten for co-authoring this editorial.
Brand new year, same old pandemic. With no end in sight for social distancing, lockdowns and work/eat/study/everything-from-home, how can you survive countless more months before your vaccine is ready with your sense of wellbeing — and humor — in tact?
We’re speaking, of course, about getting your groove on. Sure, dancing might not be the first thing that comes to mind when pulling off the covers and facing another Blursday, especially if you’re not 16 years old and monitoring TikTok 23 hours a day. But just because you’re a decade (or more) out of high school doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dust off your best moves and take every opportunity to go full out to the music.
To start, think of the positive effects on your body. According to Dr. Nick Smeeton from the University of Brighton, when you’re doing The Whoa, The Swagg Bouncee or The Cosby Walk, you expend more than 300 calories every half-hour, equal to a run or swim. All of that starting, stopping and changing directions burns a ton of fuel even though you’re not covering a lot of ground. The up-and-down and side-to-side movements of dance may likewise activate and train many of your body’s little support muscles and tendons.
The psychological benefits are also impressive. Research dating back to the 1980s supports the idea that dancing can curb anxiety. Some shrinks have prescribed dancing as an effective therapy for those who suffer from social anxiety or fear of public speaking.
The idea: if you can loosen up enough to do The Renegade in front of strangers, you’re a lot less likely to feel self-conscious when hanging out or speaking in front of an audience. Posting a video of yourself attempting to follow Charli D’Amelio’s moves is a good way to ease into the practice.
NOTE: In truth, any music that makes you tingle in a good way contributes to SuperOptimism. Except for ballet. It’s hard to be SuperOptimistic in overly tight shoes.
Its been 283 days, give or take, since our lives went into pandemic mode. At this point, you can’t blame family or friends for getting antsy, anxious, or even going batshit* crazy over never-ending social distancing. So what can you do to help their situation? Aside from radical acceptance and understanding, here are some gift ideas designed to lift their spirits and/or shake them out of their Covid disgruntlement.
1. Think a member of your household is slowly going mad from isolation? Why not get them the gift that helps probe their unconscious and get at their deep-seated feelings? You never know what might emerge from this couch time.
2. Looking back, it sure would have been good to know what was coming in 2020. Why leave next year to chance? Turning to a trusty Ouija board to communicate with the spirit channel may help uncover what new challenges — and opportunities — await.
3. As Todd Rundgren surmised, it’s hard to be anxious and depressed when playing the drums. No room in the studio apartment for a 16-piece kit? Bongos are just the thing. Need an instructor? How about world-class percussionist Sheila E. According to “E,” she’ll have a student grooving so fast, a job as a touring musician may be on the horizon once the pandemic’s over.
4. Nothing sends out good vibes like an authentic SuperOptimist t-shirt. Here’s one that offers a positive greeting to all those fortunate enough to come into contact with the wearer, even if it’s just family, zoom meeting colleagues, or pet iguana. Plus it’s accented with a pineapple, the most historically valid symbol of hospitality of any fruit or vegetable.
5. If the receiver of your gift has had it with the digital domain, what about a good book to while away their hours? “Sironia Texas” by Madison Cooper is one of the longest novels ever written at 1,731 pages. For a slow reader, this two-volume set about a small town during the early 1900s should provide enough distraction to make it clear through April.
6. And don’t forget yourself, as you settle in for another evening of Netflix, Prime, Hulu, Peacock, Youtube, Disney+, HBO Max, Sling, Twitch, Crackle, and Crunchyroll. A Danny DeVito pillow to hug to your chest when you realize it might be another 40 weeks until it’s your turn for the vaccine is just what you need to meet the moment.
Until next time, we wish you and yours glad tidings of great joy, no matter what the circumstance!
*BONUS SELFLESS GIFT: Bats have had a tough 2020, taking some of the heat for the virus that’s caused a world of hurt. But it’s not their fault that the Chinese handle them with such disdain. The fact is, it’s human interference with these helpful creatures that’s at the root of the problem. Hundreds of plant species rely on bats for pollination and insect-eating bats save farmers billions each year by reducing crop damage. Show these creatures vital to our ecosystem that there’s no hard feelings by giving a donation to batcon.org in your loved one’s name.