Thursday, August 22, 2013

Who Let the Dogs In?

It seems like stories about "rescued" dogs or dogs that need "rescuing" are taking up an increasing amount of space on my Facebook and Twitter feeds. "Rescue" has become the watchword for dog lovers, but I've found that my definition of rescue is quite different than theirs.
It's easy to wanna rescue this guy...

Here's what I picture when I think of someone rescuing a dog:

A dog and a man go skydiving. After jumping from the plane, the dog's parachute doesn't open. Apparently the dog didn't pay attention during the mandatory training course because it's not even reaching for its emergency chute. Realizing the dog is in peril, the man darts down, grabs the dog, pulls his own ripcord, and holds the dog until they both land safely on the ground.


A woman stands in the middle of a long hallway. At one end sits an adorable puppy. At the other end stands Michael Vick. The woman sprints and scoops up the puppy, somehow outrunning the fleet-footed, dog-abusing quarterback down the hall. Still on the run and about to get caught from behind, she launches the puppy through an open window and safely into the arms of Sarah McLachlan, who happened to be standing outside... and singing Angel.


At long last, a dog-loving housewife has booked an appointment for her and her Pomeranian to see Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer. Halfway through the session, Cesar reveals he's actually a Cylon and, in addition to wanting to kill all humans, wants to also rid the planet of canines. The housewife somehow evades the Cylon, hurries home, watches the entire Battlestar Galactica series on DVD, learns how to kill Cylons, drives back to Cylon Millan's office and takes him out, saving the Pomeranian's life.

Those are some terrific examples of rescuing a dog.

The following is an example of the "rescue" stories I read online:

I saw a dog in the park and he didn't have a leash so I was like "OMG, this dog is homeless. I gotta rescue it." So I coaxed him into getting into my car with a dog treat and took him home, but my husband is allergic to dogs so I can't keep him. Can someone please rescue this poor pup? He's super cute and only 150 lbs and even though he doesn't exactly understand the difference between dog food and human flesh, he's a sweetheart... as long as you don't get him around other dogs... sometimes he eats other dogs. So please rescue this sweet puppy before my husband goes into anaphylactic shock and dies. Me and BWAAAAAAAARG would really appreciate it! :) 
P.S. - I named him BWAAAAAAAARG after the cute sound he makes when he's chasing my toddler around the house. lol

Sadly, that's not even that much of an exaggeration. A good half of the rescue stories I see on Facebook are people who take home strays, realize they can't keep it, then try to pawn the dog off on someone else. I understand dogs can be cute and it's great to have a sympathetic heart and to want to help animals, but you can't just take in every sad-looking puppy you see on the street.

... but what about BWAAAAAAAARG?
I've got good news though -- you don't have to!

Dogs happen to be animals and animals happen to be... wild! This means they don't need humans to take care of them. They can feed themselves. They can find their own shelter. They can even get exercise by running around on their own... without a leash! Pets are pets for the owner's sake, not for the animal's. Animals could get along fine without humans -- I mean, have you seen DuckTales or Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers? Sure, maybe without you as an owner your dog might start hanging with the wrong dog crowd, pick on innocent little cats, and blow his shot at getting into a good dog school, but it would find its way.

Obviously, I'm not much of a dog-person, but I'm not really this heartless. I know dogs can be fun, loyal pets and I think it's great that dog lovers enjoy their dogs. Still, the whole "please rescue this dog" thing is getting pretty tired. Dogs can fend for themselves, be happy on their own, and sometimes even solve crimes with a gang of meddling kids -- they rarely need to be rescued.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Sports: A Love Story

This is my 200th entry in this blog. After 2+ years of Black History, Hipster Santa, and lots of randomness, I decided to mark this occasion by writing about something near and dear to my heart: sports.

It's easy to become disillusioned with anything, even something you love. I love sports, but with all the steroids and money and illegal activities and egotism and media involved, even someone like me, who truly enjoys sports, can get a little cynical. When the best players are cheaters and the best teams are the ones with the most money and the best programs are the ones that "recruit" the best, it's not hard to fall out of love with sports -- and sometimes I almost do -- until I realize one important thing: that's not what sports are all about.

I'm as guilty as anyone when it comes to letting ESPN cloud my perception of sports. Watching sports television can quickly make you lose sight of the essence of sports and view it as an unfeeling business full of overpaid clowns. Even though that's not a completely inaccurate description, it is an incomplete one. The essence of sports is competition and hard work and will and overcoming adversity and all that good stuff you can find on a motivational poster. It's corny, it's cliche, but it's true.

Though it's fun to watch LeBron James dunk over a defender, or see Miguel Cabrera launch a 450-foot home run, or witness Tom Brady throw a 60-yard touchdown pass, that isn't what sports are to me.

It's spending weeks breaking in your glove until it feels like an extension of your own hand.

It's not leaving the gym until you hit five jumpers in a row.

It's getting hit so hard that it actually feels good.

It's catching a ball in the gap that you didn't think you had a snowball's chance at getting to.

It's knowing the basketball's going in as soon as it leaves your hand.

It's when scrappy and persistent defeats talented.

It's turning the ball over, then hustling back to make a play on D at the other end.

It's the chubby guy struggling to run a mile on his neighborhood streets, but never quitting.

It's the undersized kid that works and wills his way into the starting lineup.

It's playing your heart out, not just for you, but also for your teammates.

It's beating my dad in one-on-one after hundreds of losses and knowing it's the first time he's glad he lost at anything.

It's a million personal, intangible moments you experienced on the practice court or the playing field that aren't just memories, but part of who you are.

Sometimes I ask myself questions like, "why does it matter so much to me that the Braves win?" When you get down to it, it's just a bunch of grown men playing a game. I think it's because, at some level, everybody on that team and every athlete on any team also loves sports. They could read this story and know exactly what I'm talking about, how I feel. They were also kids who liked the smell of the diamond and the feel of the bat in their hands. They're like me, just way better at baseball.

Call me crazy, but I think God loves sports too. I honestly believe He put that spark inside us that fuels competition and drives us to be better, to endure, and to overcome. It's like Olympian Eric Liddell says in Chariots of Fire: "I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure." I think loving sports is embracing something God put inside of me and I honestly feel that, in a way, sports can give us a better understanding of the Lord -- and that's something worthy of a 200th blog post.

Thursday, August 8, 2013


The other day I stumbled upon a series the A.V. Club is doing called HateSong. Essentially, the website invited writers, comedians, and musicians to contribute little blurbs about a song they hate and why. There was a piece on "Thrift Shop" by a father who dislikes the song because it has inspired some awkward questions from his children; one about "Semi-Charmed Life" by a music producer who had an unpleasant personal encounter with Third Eye Blind; and one concerning Katy Perry's "Firework" by a comedian who, well, just seems to hate everything.

Don't listen to that mean man, Katy
I don't dislike any of those songs. I liked "Thrift Shop" fine the first 200 times I heard it. I think Third Eye Blind is actually an underrated band and singling out all the subtle drug references in "Semi-Charmed Life" is a favorite pastime of mine. And don't get me started on Katy Perry -- anyone who knows me will tell you I have a great affinity for all things Teenage Dream, including "Firework." Still, it was fun reading about why these guys hated these songs and it got me thinking about what my HateSong might be.

Not a fan of the 80s. Believe it.
I toyed with the idea of picking John Mayer's "Your Body Is a Wonderland," but I decided I like some of his other stuff enough to where I didn't want to do that. I also thought about "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey, but that might incite a riot from the millions of people who only know the first few lines of the song and sing it loudly then taper off until it gets to the part about cheap perfume, then taper off again love the song. I could pick just about any country song, but I would have a hard time picking just one and anyway, this isn't HateGenre, it's HateSong. Finally, I settled on the offender:

"Bleeding Love" by Leona Lewis

I went big and picked the #1 single of 2008 as my HateSong. I think many of the songs we end up hating are ones that we liked to some degree initially, but grew old as we heard them too often. This isn't the case with Bleeding Love -- I never liked it. I'm not exactly sure what it is about the song that rubs me the wrong way, but it does. Maybe it's the constant bleeding or the overexposure or the alliteration of the artist's name -- who knows? Maybe if I break it down, I can make like Summer Sanders and figure it out.
Maybe it's the lyrics. Bleeding love -- what does that even mean? I don't think it's a good idea to bleed anything, even something as pleasant and reputable as love. And when you are bleeding, it's probably a good idea to close the wound, not sing about it... repeatedly. Still, lots of song lyrics don't really make sense. Jimmy Eat World has a song about bleeding ("Bleed American") and I like it despite its ambiguous, blood-related lyrics, so it's not that.

Maybe it's the singing. I'm not the biggest expert on pitch and tone and all that stuff the American Idol judges are always harping on, but it seems to me that Leona Lewis is a pretty talented singer. Just in case, I googled here (wow, that feels dirty when you type it) and it turns out that she won the UK version of The X-Factor, so I guess that eliminates any doubts of her talent. (I also found out that she's black, which worries me. I wouldn't want anyone to think this is a HateSong Crime.)

Maybe it's associative. Maybe I was in a bad mood the first time I heard the song and I dislike it because I associate it with that memory. Sadly, I don't remember when I first heard Bleeding Love and can't relate it to any bad time in particular. I guess we'll never know -- unless I can get my hands on a time machine and go back in time to the first time I heard the song. Of course, I could also use the time machine to prevent the song from ever happening-- and to warn myself not to draft Ryan Braun in the first round of fantasy baseball this past year.

The McClincher
So what is it about Bleeding Love that makes me turn the station every time it comes on the radio? It's not the singer, it's not the lyrics, it's not association. Is it possible to just not like something for no reason at all? Maybe. But I decided to resort once again to Google, this time to look up the song itself. That's when I saw it: the reason I hate the song.

Jesse McCartney.

I can't believe that kid and his beautiful soul being are responsible for one of the biggest hits of the last decade. You're already a famous, good-looking singer and actor, you don't get to be talented too. I think, on some level, I could tell Jesse McCartney wrote Bleeding Love... and I think maybe that's why I hate it. Regardless, Bleeding Love will forever be on my bad side -- and never on a single one of my mixtapes.