Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Classic card of the week


Hakeem Olajuwon, 1991 Skybox

When I was a kid, yeah –- basketball was cool and all. But what I was really interested in was how well or not-so-well the basketball players that I liked dressed when they weren’t playing basketball. Fortunately for me and other kids of my ilk, GQ Magazine –- a must-read for every 10-year old boy –- aligned forces with the Skybox brand of basketball cards in order to reveal to us which basketball players dressed especially well.

For example, I bet you thought that Hakeem Olajuwon just played basketball. Well, wrong! He wore clothes, too. And he wore them well. For further evidence of how appropriately Hakeem Olajuwon dresses, let’s find out what impartial New York Knicks’ announcer John Andariese has to say:



“Knicks announcer John Andariese kids that Hakeem ‘is a good dresser, but everything is lizard.’

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! Lizard. John Andariese kills me. Also, I don’t get it. His clothes are made of lizards? As opposed to Andariese himself, who only wore alligator boots and endangered woolly mammoth parkas? But hey, that’s John Andariese for ya’! Besides being able to call basketball games, he was king of the fashion-conscious insult. He once quipped during an actual game that he wouldn’t wear John Stockton’s shorts with Bea Auther’s hips.

But let’s find out more about Hakeem Olajuwon’s outfit:

In this elegant look, though, Hakeem could crash the boardroom any day.”


Indeed, he could. Especially if, in the boardroom, everyone was discussing how they could transform the Cosby sweater into a line of ties. Wow, that was catty on my part. I feel like one of those people who comment on E! during a red carpet event and make ridiculously mean-spirited comments about people they do not know under the guise of “humor.” I’m sorry, Hakeem. You should not bear the brunt of early 90s fashion by yourself.

When all is said and done, we will remember, most of all, that Hakeem Olajuwon made GQ’s “NBA All-Star Style Team.” We will marvel at how this occurred before the David Stern induced dress code, and that Hakeem wore his fine –- albeit lizardy –- clothes voluntarily.

And that is an accomplishment you can hang your Kangol on. The championships were cool, too.

Did you know?

You could crash a boardroom naked as long as you are carrying a dozen donuts.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Fiesta Bowl: a fiesta indeed for those in charge

Note: This column appears in the 12/30 issue of The Glendale Star, and the 12/31 issue of the Peoria Times

Finding out about corruption within the seedy world of college football is like –- hmmm, what’s a good analogy here? Oh! –- finding out about corruption within the seedy world of college basketball. Yes, that will do.

So hearing about alleged political “contributions” from Fiesta Bowl employees was less than shocking. But because the Fiesta Bowl is local, right here in Glendale, and because it plays a major role within the local economic structure, my interest was slightly piqued. And I don’t know if I was naïve or indifferent, but delving a little further into this mess was an eye-opening experience for me, and should be more than that for the city that hosts this annual charade.

To quote from the Arizona Republic, which broke the story: Over the past decade as the Fiesta Bowl worked to maintain its elite position as one of the top postseason college-football games, employees made contributions to politicians friendly to the bowl, including some donations that may violate campaign-finance laws.

Let me start by stating that the Fiesta Bowl is, in essence, a football game. To discover that it has a corporate structure similar to that of a Fortune-500 company was a surprise, as “Fiesta Bowl employees” had, to me, connotated those people who sell hot dogs at the Fiesta Bowl. Boy was I wrong. Instead we have a football game that has a CEO. This would be like me saying that I am the vice president of the Suns-Rockets game next Wednesday. (Which, by the way, I am.)

Also, “politicians friendly to the bowl?” Ya’ know, my father was friends with a bowl once. It did not end well. That’s all I’m saying.

The alleged contributions are separate from the, apparently legal, $4 million that the Fiesta Bowl has spent since 2000 to wine and dine the officials in charge of the Fiesta Bowl. So basically, for a decade, the Fiesta Bowl has spent $4 million taking itself out to dinner. No wonder this bowl has so many friends.

Possibly most damning is the Republic’s allegation that the employees responsible for the donations were reimbursed by the Fiesta Bowl. Of course, donations that are reimbursed cease to be donations, and while Fiesta Bowl CEO John Junker is denying any wrongdoing, there is too much money changing hands here to honestly believe that everything is on the up-and-up.

I don’t think there’s any better evidence than this of why there is no college football playoff system. Too many old rich men would lose money. Bowls would be left friendless, roaming the streets.

Three years ago, the Fiesta Bowl proved to be one of, if not the most thrilling college football game ever. And while we can always talk ourselves into the purity of the actual game, these latest allegations -– though certainly not shocking –- do highlight the corrupt structure of the landscape itself.

So what will the city do? Probably the coin toss. The city and the Fiesta Bowl are, after all, friends. And not just on Facebook.

But come this Tuesday I think I’ll take my own little stance, which will be: not watching. Besides, I have a lot of work to do for this Suns-Rockets matchup. These games don’t play themselves, ya’ know.


Tostitos! There's a party in every bag! There is also $4 million.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Classic card of the week


Placido Polanco, 2001 Stadium Club

I realize that the baseball season is either long gone or very far away, depending on how you look at it. But all of this hot stove talk has me excited enough to dip back into my stash of pointless baseball cards a few months earlier than usual. Plus, as mentioned ad nauseam over the past few months, my treasure trove of worthless non-baseball cards is dwindling.

(That is, btw, yet another hint to all four of my loyal readers out there. Send me something. Please.)

I have to admit that my heart skipped a beat while flipping through this deck of cards, for I had thought –- for one split second –- that I had found an Albert Pujols rookie card lost in my shoebox-shaped island of misfit players. But alas, it was only a picture of Placido Polanco doing what Placido Polanco is wont to do, which is: hitting the ball the other way so as to move a runner over or some other thing that will produce either one, or more likely zero runs, but surely at least one out -- an accomplishment for which he will be lauded by the announcers, his teammates and other people who enjoy outs.

That was very harsh. I am obviously taking it out on Placido Polanco for not being Albert Pujols. I apologize, Placido. To make it up to you, allow me now to mention some of your ANALYSKILLS, which -– as we all know –- are a complex system of skills, analysis, and the analysis of those skills, which are analyzed. With skills. Of analysis. Here:



ANALYSKILLS: Extremely valuable and unsung

In 2000, the year before this card was released, Placido Polanco slugged .418 and was 50% in stolen base attempts. So I would like to reword his first ANALYSKILL, if I may, to read: Somewhat valuable and properly sung.

(I would also like to mention something. Many baseball fans are aware that Polanco has –- for lack of better phrasing –- a fairly large domepiece, a fact that I was not going to mention here due to its pettiness and irrelevance. But I went on his baseball-reference page for stats, a page that is sponsored by an entity called “The Fightins.” Well, they have an invitation for you:

For all the news concerning the size of Placido’s melon, head over to The Fightins.

Baseball-reference, I had thought, was like, a legitimate source. Now am I not so sure. Furthermore, how much breaking news is being released with regards to the size of Placido Polanco’s head? Is it getting larger? I am scared to find out.)

Anyway, more ANALYSKILLS:

…Rarely whiffs…

I realize that this is very childish, but if “whiffs” means “farts,” then that ANALYSKILL is not only hilarious, but evidence of Polanco’s aforementioned extreme value. In which case: I stand corrected.

…Able to come off the bench…

Far be it from me to question the inherent validity of ANALYSKILLS, but it would seem that most, if not all, major league baseball players would possess the ability to physically remove themselves from the bench and then insert themselves into a baseball game. It could also be argued that a player that possessed a more refined set of ANALYSKILLS would not find himself on the bench in the first place.

But again, far be it. From me.

Did you know?
The Fightins were the first to break the story of Sammy Sosa’s face.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Mall Santa an initiation for every parent

Note: This column appears in the 12/23 issue of The Glendale Star and the 12/24 issue of the Peoria Times

Last weekend we took our hopefully-soon-to-be-daughter (this is how she will be referred to for the time being) to see Santa Claus.

We had heard that Santa would be making an appearance at Walmart, and so that was our initial plan, for no other reason than it was the closest stop on Santa’s world tour. But when I called ahead to make sure, I was told that he was there last weekend, and had since returned to the North Pole Walmart. In the end this was probably good news, as I wouldn’t have to resist the temptation to ask Walmart Santa if he was receiving proper health benefits. More importantly, it saved us a trip to Walmart. A little piece of me dies every time I have to go there.


Whatchu mean you ain't got no Santee Clauses?

Unfortunately, this forced us to acknowledge the inevitable: we were going to the mall. On a Saturday. Just before Christmas. To see Santa. I wasn’t exactly thrilled about this, based on my vast experience of walking past the mosh pit that is the mall Santa area and thinking to myself, “I am so unbelievably happy that I am not in that situation right now. I think I’ll get a pretzel.”

Even with the dread of the impending holiday mall crowd, there was never even a consideration of not going to see Santa. My wife even mentioned that she didn’t care about the pictures -– she just wanted her to see Santa. I had to remind her that part of the allure of meeting Santa Claus is getting the proper documentation, especially when you’re dealing with a three-month old who wouldn’t know the difference between sitting on Santa’s lap and sitting on a pile of dirty laundry.

Even as we pushed a stroller down the endless mall parking lot and then weaved our way through the indifferent and inconsiderate human traffic of JC Penny, I was oddly excited. When we got to the mall and discovered that the line to see Santa Claus was eight miles long, I didn’t care. In fact, I was happy. Standing in line in a hot mall amidst a flurry of foaming-at-the-mouth children just so you can have your own child -- who will either be haunted by the experience or not remember it at all -- sit on the lap of a total, albeit jolly, stranger is a rite of passage for parents. And I think that’s what made me so happy.

I felt like a parent.

She met the big guy, and we have the pictures to prove it. Our hopefully-soon-to-be-daughter slumped over in the middle of Santa’s lap, with her big brown eyes wide open, seemingly marveling at the wonderment of Christmas, but in reality just reacting to the loud toy the camera girl was shaking to get her attention. She won’t remember it. But we will.

Another thing I’ll remember is to never go near a mall food court, especially on a Saturday during the holidays. Mall food courts make Walmart feel like a Hallmark store. I almost got killed just passing Sbarro. Stupid parents.

Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Classic card of the week



James Worthy, 1992 Topps All-Star

Is that the look of an All-Star, or is that the look of an All-Star? I doubt we even need the “All-Star” designation on this card to deduce that the man in question is, indeed, a star among others in his chosen profession of basketballing. Besides, the All-Star uniform is a dead giveaway. As are the oversized goggles, shin-high and scrunched-up tube socks, short shorts, and the knee braces placed ever so slightly below the knees, so as to protect the knees from something that might land just below them.

Of course, we kid with James Worthy because we love him. In fact, this is his record third appearance on Classic Card of the Week. Amazingly, none of the aforementioned appearances have been solo, including this one, which is unnecessarily shared with the uber-intense Kevin Willis -– no stranger to Classic card himself -– who is only not uber-intense when he’s pretending to play defense during a meaningless All-Star Game. But alas, such is the plight of one James Worthy, who has always toiled in the formidable shadows of other peoples’ classic-ness. Don’t believe me?



For the Los Angeles Lakers, he has toiled in the formidable shadows of such players as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson,

Toiling in formidable shadows is a fate that I share with James Worthy. I sit here right now penning awesome lines about random James Worthy cards, yet I can barely see as a result of the dark shadow cast by James Worthy, who is literally standing behind me right now and making sure that I don’t make fun of his goggles again. Nevertheless, let us continue:

but James is more than

Wait! Lemme guess…”deserving?”

worthy

Oh. Makes sense.

of his seven consecutive NBA All-Star Game selections.

I must inquire: How does one escape the all-encompassing and formidable shadows to earn seven straight All-Star Game selections? Are the shadows transparent? Or is James Worthy’s toiling just too good to go unnoticed, regardless of its inferiority when placed against the toiling of his most immediate peers?

Whatever the case may be, I commend James Worthy for both his toiling and its recognition by others. And may I also add: nice goggles, dork.

Ow!

Did you know?
"Formidable are
The shadows you toil in
An All-Star shines through" is a haiku that I wrote in 90 seconds.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas spirit comes better late than ever

Note: This column appears in the 12/17 issue of The Glendale Star and the 12/18 issue of the Peoria Times

It hadn’t really felt like Christmas.

For one thing, my wife and I decided weeks ago that we wouldn’t be going back east for the holidays this year. Knowing we wouldn’t be with family subconsciously and adversely affected our Christmas spirit.

Having to return our two foster kiddos just before Thanksgiving didn’t help either. And all of the chores, purchases and appointments that we’d avoided in the past months as a result of being too busy had kept us too busy to notice the holidays were, in fact, here.

(It should also be mentioned that, in my annual attempt to force myself into the Christmas mood, I started listening to the “Christmas music only” radio station way too early yet again. If I hear another version of “Jingle Bell Rock” I am going to bash my car radio with a baseball bat.)

But all that changed last Monday. We had a storm come through here that brought overcast skies, rain, wind and cold (at least by Arizona standards). I was off of work that day and my wife didn’t have to go in until the early afternoon. Our television was tuned to the holiday station and we had our coffees and all of our decorations were up.

None of those things however, served to explain why it finally felt like Christmas. Because the best part of that day was spending it with the three-month old baby girl who we hope to call our daughter one day very soon.

Allow me to explain. The week our foster kiddos went back we received the amazingly great news that we were chosen to be the prospective adoptive parents of a baby girl. The process that ensued served to explain why the holidays had gotten away from us. Of course we were thrilled at the joy this Christmas could bring, but we were also anxious to meet her and find out more about her and have her in our home.

It had been a whirlwind of car rides here and there, meetings, phone calls and paperwork. Everything felt right to us from the beginning, but meeting her was better than we ever could have hoped for. And while nothing is quite official and won’t be until at least the middle of this upcoming year, there’s no going back now. It’s already too late. There was no going back when we first laid eyes on her.

We brought her home on Sunday and last Monday was her first full day in her new home. The wind howled outside and the rain pounded the windows, but for most of the day she slept peacefully in her boppy on the couch. When my wife left for work I had her all to myself, and we played and I fed her and we watched bad Christmas movies on TV until she would doze off again.

All of a sudden it felt like the holidays more than it ever had back in the cold and snow of New Jersey. And even though we won’t be back east this year for the first time in our entire lives, it turns out we’ll be spending Christmas with our family after all.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Classic card of the week


Issiac Holt, 1992 Collector’s Edge

You probably have noticed that I have many, many cards from this set – the ‘92 Collector’s Edge.

The reason that I have so many cards from this set is unbeknownst to even me. That I continued to buy packs of this set after seeing just one card from it is proof of not only my youthful naïveté, but also of my suspect investment practices. The reason that I continue to post so many of these cards is because of their aforementioned awfulness. An actual good sports card cannot attain the sarcastic label of “classic.” I am also running out of football cards.

I had always thought that the 1989 Topps set of baseball cards (or the Bowman 1990 set) was the worst and most boring set of sports cards ever produced. But the more cards I find from this Collector’s Edge edition, the more I am convinced of its unparalleled pointlessness.

Take this card. Please! Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!!! Whew. That was awesome. But seriously. What is going on here? And more importantly, why am I looking at it? Which player is Issiac Holt? And why do I care?

The thing is, almost all of the cards from this set are just throwaway snapshots of random and irrelevant NFL moments. The pictures weren’t taken – I would hope – with the intent of creating a football card. They were just taken. And hey, it just so happens that Issiac Holt is in this one. So…wala! And Issiac Holt football card. Cross him off the list. Let’s throw it in a pack and charge a dumb kid $2.50 for it.

Sure, I enjoy the pseudo-Heisman mid-air pose. And the unintentional yet strangely homoerotic and desperate reach-for by an anonymous defensive lineman who has just failed at his job. But these things are all happenstance. I feel patronized by the lack of visual evidence with regards to Issiac Holt’s football-playing abilities and/or ability to pose and look me in the eye.

And what about Issiac Holt the person?



Okay, so he has a mustache. Cool. Nothing else? Does he have kids? Why does he spell his name in that roundabout manner? Does he like the Beastie Boys? Can he cook a mean beef steak provencale?

I want my money back.

Did you know?
A 1993 backyard barbeque-off between Issiac Holt and Howie Long ended in a draw after Long’s shish-kabob medley was disqualified for plagiarism.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Please truck, come home for Christmas

Note: This column appears in the 12/10 issue of The Glendale Star and the 12/11 issue of the Peoria Times

When I lived back east I drove a pick-up truck and appeared, on the surface –- with my facial hair and, ya’ know, pick-up truck -– like a man who knew a thing or two about motor vehicles. But that was a front that was easily exposed when anyone asked me how many cylinders the truck had, to which I would reply: “many.”

So when I moved here to Arizona I wanted something simple and cheap and fuel-efficient that would get me to work and occasionally to Old Navy. I settled on a Subaru Impreza, and so for the last few years, on the road, I have appeared as what I truly am: a vegetarian man who drives a small car and listens to soft British rock. The good news? Nobody asks me about cylinders anymore.

(It should also be mentioned that the irony of me being the only person in Arizona that doesn't drive a truck is not lost on me.)

Things were moving along fine until I recently noticed what appeared to be some paint splattered on the passenger side of the car. I took the car to get washed but the paint remained. So I took it to the detail shop of the car wash and had them look at it. They could not get it off. Also, it wasn’t paint. It was stucco.

Now my car has the same exterior finish as my house. I do not know how this happened, but I imagine that it occurred while I was driving through one of the 26 construction zones I pass through on a daily basis. Believe me that if I owned this car there’d be a better chance of me stuccoing the rest of it than getting what’s on there removed. Because I don’t care. But the car is leased.

Which leads me to another issue. When I leased the car I managed a 12,000 miles-per-year agreement. They had originally offered me 10,000 miles annually, and so I walked out of there feeling like a true negotiating genius. Little did I know at the time that my job was 80 miles from my house. So now with one year remaining, I will be over the mileage like, tomorrow.

Then the other day I got a letter that began as such: We would like to thank you for selecting a 2005-2008 Subaru Forester or 2005-2007 Impreza with a 2.5 Liter engine (non-Turbo). So sincere! But it turns out my engine is not turbo, which was disappointing, though not shocking.

The letter goes on to explain that I need to take my car in for service immediately because the one-way fuel valve in my vehicle’s fuel tank is faulty and may damage my catalytic converter. Also, Merry Christmas.

So now I am driving a small car that is caked in stucco and that is already over the allotted mileage and that has a catalytic converter (?) that could spontaneously combust at any moment.

I realize only now that I took my truck for granted. Sure, I had to fill it with gas every six hours and it was so out of alignment that when I took my hands off the wheel I did donuts. But I miss being perceived as a man. I mean, if I had a truck with a ton of miles on it that was splattered with foreign substances, John Mellencamp would be signing about me. And trucks don’t even have catalytic converters.

See? If I drove a truck you would have believed that. Sigh.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Nitpicky item of the week

Jerome Bettis has a column featured on the homepage of Sports Illustrated today, with the tagline:

What's wrong with the Steelers?
Tough to pinpoint their problems.


I'm sorry. But why -- other than the fact that it is authored by literary marvel and former running back Jerome Bettis -- would I click on that link? I mean, it might as well read:

What's wrong with the Steelers?
I don't know.
- Jerome Bettis


I mean, this is the kind of stuff that often forces me to remove myself from the presence of all sports-related media, which has exceedingly become an unstoppable avalanche of nothingness.

Now granted, I didn't actually click on the link, so it may very well contain an in-depth and accurate assessment of what is ailing the Pittsburgh Steelers and a viable solution, the toughness in pinpointing this information notwithstanding.

Wait. I clicked on it. It doesn't. But it does include the line:

I wish I knew the answers, Steelers fans.

No worries, Jerome. We can't all have the answers when it comes to the age-old question of: Why have the Steelers lost several football games in a row? The point is that you tried. Kind of. But not really.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Classic card of the week


Larry Bird, 1993 Upper Deck FaniMation series

Perhaps you are familiar with “FaniMation,” a process by which a particular athlete who boasts many fans -– in this case, Larry Bird –- is transformed into an animated superhero and then placed onto a confusing basketball (?) card for the purposes of alienating both sports fans and comic book fans alike.

Today’s FaniMation installment -– there will be no others -– features a person who looks nothing like Larry Bird shooting over a team of undersized robots during what appears to be the apocalypse. All I know is, I hope the green team wins, because it looks like there’s a lot at stake here.

Back of the card?



Name: Larry Bird
A K A: Birdman


Clever. Again though, it appears as though they took some liberties in making Birdman appear like a genuine superhero and not like an awkward white dude from French Lick, Indiana. I’m just saying.

Special Gear:

Tube socks, mullet.

Sorry.

Series XX Argotec Ball-Tracking Device with guidance capabilities;

Oh snap! One question though: Why wouldn’t a Series XX Argotec Ball-Tracking Device have guidance capabilities?

The Claw (classified)

Wait. But you just told me about The Claw. How is it classified? I want to see The Claw. Now!

But first, there’s more:

Birdman is a living legend in the NBA.

Well, Larry Bird is. Birdman? Most certainly not.

His Argotec ball-tracker tells him where the ball is at all times, giving him an advantage on defense.


Weird. I also have a device that tells me where the ball is at all times. It’s called “my eyes.” Although I did once did use an Argotec ball-tracker during a game back in high school. By the time it had processed where the ball was, my guy had scored 83 points.

Once he steals the ball from the evil Droids, he uses his Argotec guidance system to put up three-pointers.

What the hell is going here? Can I get a back-story or something? Why is Birdman playing basketball against the Droids? And why would the Droids even play against Birdman if they obviously have no chance? And why is everything “Argotec?” It sounds like a Columbia-brand winter jacket.

He is also equipped with “The Claw,” a top-secret device that he uses to manipulate the ball while driving to the hoop.

I thought that information was classified! You are compromising the integrity of this operation! What if the Droids find out that Birdman uses The Claw to manipulate his balls?

That’s it. I’m calling the Super Globetrotters.

Did you know?

In their franchise's long and storied history, The Droids have only one victory, which came against the 2009 New Jersey Nets.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Good news mixed with bad news means no news at all

Note: This column appears in the 12/3 issue of The Glendale Star and the 12/4 issue of the Peoria Times

Whenever I hear a statistic regarding some thing that seems impossible to measure -– i.e.: 43% of Americans believe that Lady Gaga is an alien -– I am skeptical. Whenever I hear a statistic released by some branch of federal or state government that attempts to accurately reflect some aspect of this state or nation, I am skeptical. Whenever I hear a statistic released by some branch of federal or state government that is seemingly in direct contrast with a different statistic they have released, I am skeptical.

So you cannot blame my skepticism at the news released a couple of weeks ago that Arizona is steadily gaining jobs…while the unemployment rate continues to rise.

Arizona is watching its employment and unemployment rate rise simultaneously. I mean, what’s the confusion? You’re hired! But you’re also fired.

According to the Arizona Department of Commerce, the unemployment rate has risen from 9.1 percent to 9.3 percent over the past three months. In that span, the state has also seen an increase in jobs, mostly in the private sector. When asked to elaborate, Frank Curtis, director of data systems for the commerce department said, “Seasonal hiring is much better. It was almost nonexistent last year.”

One explanation: seasonal hiring. I am left to assume that “seasonal” jobs are simply ignored by those tallying unemployment statistics. You’re Santa Claus? Pfftt. Doesn’t count. Consider yourself unemployed. Also, considering that these statistics range from August through November, I am left to believe that Arizona witnessed a huge boom in its Labor Day workforce for 2009. How apropos.

Nevermind that the explanation of “seasonal hiring” also contrasts a feature from the Arizona Republic stating that Glendale and Peoria businesses in particular are altering their holiday strategies this year. A strategy that includes hiring less help. Quote: “{The adjustments} include earlier holiday sales, a wider selection of lower-priced goods and fewer salespeople working showroom floors.”

So, to recap, Arizona is gaining jobs. But Arizona is also losing jobs. But the reason we are gaining jobs is because of seasonal hirings. But seasonal hirings are down. Smiley face :) Also, frowny face :(

I believe that statistics like unemployment rates and hiring percentages and the like are researched and computed and released as a means of giving the general public some kind of feel of what is going on. I don’t know about you, but I have no idea what is going on. The data has failed us. It’s like that time I discovered that 90% of Snapple facts are false.

To me it seems like, as a result of the current economic climate, we’re often grasping at straws for some good news and statistics to back it up. Only thing is, that data usually includes some caveat that things really aren’t that great after all. This renders almost everything we’ve heard pointless and irrelevant.

Kind of like this column. Regardless, happy Labor Day!