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Sunday, January 12, 2003

Popcorn Notes


By Woodrow Williams


One might think that professional communicators would be very familiar with their Mother Tongue. It is not so.

The Inigo Montoya "I Do Not Think That Word Means What You Think It Means" Award. Former Notre Dame head coach Bob Davie gets the coveted "Inigo" for his description of New Mexico’s "3-3-5" defense during ESPN’s broadcast of the Las Vegas Bowl on Christmas Day.

After saying the defense was "en vogue" and listing almost ten schools that run the defensive formation, he capped his description by saying "it’s a unique defense."

All I can say to that is "INCONCEIVABLE!"

Coach, if more than one school runs it, it ain’t unique.

"Unique" must have been on Coach Davie’s "2002 Word-A-Day" calendar, because he continued to use it. Incorrectly.

Moments after describing New Mexico’s defense, Coach Davie described a particular play as "very unique."

"Unique" means "one of a kind." Coach Davie must have seen a play that was VERY one-of-a-kind. Inconceivable.

From the Department of Repetitive Redundancy: Steve Levy, welcoming viewers to ESPN’s second Christmas Day bowl game, "Welcome to the first ever inaugural ConAgra Foods Hawaii Bowl."


Wrangler. If there is anything more annoying than the misuse of words by people who should know better, it is the misuse of music by advertisers who just don’t give a damn.

Wrangler Jeans is running a spot where they equate wearing their pants with being a good American. Okay, that’s fine, even if a bit crass.

But the song they use to demonstrate this equation is "Fortunate Son" by Creedence Clearwater Revival. John Fogerty, the man who was CCR, sold the rights to the songs he wrote long ago, so he is not the one that sold the song to Wrangler.

If Fogerty were dead, and he’s not, he’d be generating enough torque in his casket to power the Las Vegas strip and all ten schools that run the unique "3-3-6" defense.

The commercial shows people with nice asses wearing Wranglers while the song’s guitar lick plays. The commercial then shows an American flag flapping in the sun while Fogerty sings

"Some folks are born made to wave the flag,
Ooh, they're red, white and blue."

The insinuation is that wearing Wranglers, being born made to wave the flag, and being red, white and blue all go together and are all good things.

But Fogerty’s lyrics don’t mean that at all.

The song continues, but the commercial does not,

"It ain't me, it ain't me, I ain't no senator's son, son.
It ain't me, it ain't me; I ain't no fortunate one, no."

The song is not about being a flag-waving patriot. The song is about hiding behind patriotism for personal gain. The song is about hypocrisy.

Perhaps the song is appropriate after all.

Subway. On a lighter note, Subway sandwich shop is running a spot where two hot blondes, obviously close to one another, each orders her favorite sandwich.

They both want their sandwich spicy. One of them explains, very helpfully, "because we like it hot."

Maybe it’s just me, but she says this a little too seductively to just be making conversation with the unseen sandwich maker behind the counter.

Next up to the counter is a handsome man. He simply says, "I’ll have what they are having," and throws a glance their way. The hot babe with the saucy haircut, not to mention the hot sandwich, is caught in midchew but still manages to give him a little flirty nod and a coquettish smile.

That nod and smile speak pages. We all know what happens next, but the commercial comes to an end and leaves the unspoken truth unsaid, and, unfortunately, unseen.

The advertisers are telling us that Subway is a good place to pick up hot, bisexual babes. If you order the right sandwich, your desert is recreational sex with two sexy blondes.

I’m ready for a sandwich right now.

Diamonds. There is a jewelry commercial running where a man and a woman are in an exotic European location. They are in a public square, and the man embarrasses the woman by yelling "I love this woman!" several times very loudly.

Her embarrassment quickly subsides when he whips out a huge diamond ring. She is overcome with love. She hugs the guy and says, quietly, "I love this man."

The message? Even loud, obnoxious guys can get an attractive woman to love him if he has enough money.

This, of course, is a sad truth. It also explains why a certain loud and obnoxious writer is currently getting divorced, but, once again, I digress.

The moral of these spots? Sandwiches equal sex, money equals love.

Coors Light. Coors Light is running a series of very popular and effective commercials. One of them shows a bunch of good-looking young people having all kinds of fun at all hours of the day and night in all kinds of locations. Drinking Coors Light.

I can appreciate a good time for the sake of a good time with the best of them, but one guy in this commercial needs a big gangsta-slap upside his beer-addled head.

This is the guy who thinks it is a hoot to climb up on the kitchen sink, grab the spray nozzle, and turn it on his fellow party goers in the kitchen.

Sorry, dude, but your party is over.

Somebody has to clean that mess up, and when that time comes I bet you’ll be singing "it ain’t me, it ain’t me," and trying to catch a ride to Subway for breakfast.

Before that time, I’m confiscating your water gun and kicking your can-can-can out the door.

Popcorn Notes

By Woodrow Williams

January 2, 2003

Please, don’t hold it against me, but I attended law school.

I graduated in 1992 and have practiced law with varying degrees of intensity ever since. Some would say, even at the height of my full-time practice, that my intensity rivaled that of the new moon. On the other side.

I had never met a group of people with a higher sense of self-worth, and with as little reason, as attorneys.

Until, that is, I started hanging around sports writers.

I have never been a fan of Texas Tech basketball coach Bobby Knight. The man is an outright punk. He preaches discipline and demands it from everyone except himself.

He got it right, however, when he told a group of sports reporters, "All of us learn to write in the second grade. Most of us go on to greater things."

He has also said that all sports writers were failed athletes and failed writers. That’s why they became sports writers.

He’s a punk, but an astute punk.

Rookie Detriot Lion quarterback Joey Harrington was once asked what percentage of sports writers were cool. Without missing a beat, he immediately said, "three."

He said that one word, "three," with bemused contempt, as if he were being very generous on the poor souls.

At the time I heard this on ESPN Radio, I was a full-time sports writer for the Asheboro Courier-Tribune, and I was personally hurt. I was wounded. I had been insulted.

ESPN Radio ran the clip over and over as a promo, so I had the chance to hear it again. And again. It hurt me every time.

But then I started doing the math in my head. Surely I could name three out of a hundred cool sports writers. I could only name one guy. And I was giving him the benefit of the doubt. Me.

Harrington was right. He had been generous.

Most sports writers are miserable human beings.

If you ever have the misfortune to walk accidentally into a press box at any major sporting event, you will be reminded immediately of the cantina scene in the original Star Wars. This is a frightening looking group, and there is more than one Jabba the Hutt.

Over half of these guys should be at a 12-step program for eating disorders.

The first step is admitting the problem. Back away from the buffet, fellas.

Overeaters’ Anonymous wecomes all:

"Hi, my name is Dave, I’m a sports writer, and I’m fat."


Of course, they knew you were a sports writer immediately after you complained about how bad the free coffee was.

I’m not making gratuitous fat jokes. I’m making gratuitous sports writer jokes.

They deserve it. Every last one. Without exception. Except me. (I’m still giving myself the benefit of the doubt.)

These guys grouse and grumble and complain while getting paid to watch sporting events others shell out good money to see: "These guys suck. I can’t believe I have to watch this lousy game."

These guys grouse and grumble and complain while parking in a free lot close to the arena while others shell out cash to park in the next county. "Sheesh, you mean I have to walk to the next gate from here?"

These guys grouse and grumble and complain while eating free food others shell out good money to eat. "Who made this crap? They expect me to eat this? The popcorn is too salty and the bottled water is too warm."

These guys grouse and grumble and complain while walking to the private restroom, while others wait in line down on the concourse. "Why’d they put the bathroom all the way down this hall? I might miss some of that lousy game and my free cookie misses me."

They will find something to complain about.

During the Carolina Hurricanes’ run to the Stanley Cup last year, a writer actually bitched because a playoff game went into overtime. It was cutting into his deadline. Cry me a river, Scoop.

This guy had become so jaded, he had lost so much perspective, he could not just enjoy the game. A sports fan gets excited about overtime. He certainly doesn’t whine about it from his free seat while his car is in a free lot while his free hotdog sits on his free plate.

Other jobs exist. Like pulling tobacco and pressing bumpers.

And deadline pressure? Keep those tears flowing, fat boys. Try finishing a legal document before the close of business that affects the outcome of someone on death row.

That hockey story really ain’t that big a deal. Perspective is an important commodity.

They need to relax. They need to enjoy the game. Most of all, they need to lighten up.

We all learned to write in the second grade.