Thursday, September 17, 2009

Of celebrity, earned and unearned.

UPDATE, 9:18 p.m. OK, I was willing to go with this story to a certain point...but...come on now. "Little girl who tossed baseball talks"?

People...please...get hold of yourselves...stop this...

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So under the Chesley Sullenberger theory, I guess next up will be a book on parenting (or maybe baseball? or both?) from this guy. He and his little girl are an overnight national sensation.

Watch for How I Caught That Ball...and What it Means For You, in bookstores this Christmas.

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Was watching Jeopardy! last night. And when two of the three highly knowledgeable contestants blew the all-important Final Jeopardy Answer ("Sonja Henie"), I was reminded once more of 2004, otherwise known as The Year of Ken Jennings. Jennings, of course, won a remarkable 74 consecutive games
that year—not to mention $2.5 million, in $30-$40,000 nightly increments. Every weekday evening for six months, spanning two Jeopardy! seasons, fans turned on the show and there was Jennings' nerdy-but-somehow-cool visage. At a certain point he sort of became part of the set. Given how difficult it is to win that show even once, and all the things that can go wrong en route, remarkable may be nowhere near a strong enough word; inconceivable is more like it. Or let's put it this way: If one sufficiently broadens the definition of "sports" to include the likes of Jeopardy! (which seems reasonable inasmuch as ESPN now covers the National Spelling Beeand even golf!), I'd have to rank Jennings' feat as the most astonishing achievement in sports history, surpassing Joe D's 56 games, Wilt's 100 points and/or Michael ("The Roach") Phelps' eight gold medals. It was so inconceivable that I still can't quite persuade myself it was legit.

Just amazing.

15 comments:

renee said...

Oh, FFS, as a colleague of mine likes to say. (For F___'s Sake if you need a clue.)

For years, my theory has been that anyone with half a brain - or a third of a brain - could create an inspirational book out of anything you could name and people will buy it. I'm not kidding.

Exmaple: the shelf holding up the books in your family room.
On it's own, a shelf doesn't serve much purpose. Only when it's displaying books or objects of any kind does it really become useful.
Lesson: We need connect to something or someone be really purposeful. If we are isolated and don't contribute what we can according to our talents, we are as useless and empty as shelf that holds nothing.

Example: an orange.
Yes, it's tough on the outside and seemingly can withstand a lot; but open it up and you can find section after section of wonderful nourishment that isn't nearly as tough as it appears from the outside.
Lesson: People are complex and interesting and sensitive. Sometimes you need to break through that outer layer before you discover the intricacies of their personalities. They need every single part in order to be whole!

Quilt:
Many pieces, many stitches, many patterns...do I need to go on with this?

Honestly, it's kind of amusing. You can do this all day and never run out of inspiration.

I don't even want to get into the baseball.

Steve Salerno said...

Those are excellent points, Renee. They really bring a lot of this stuff into focus. And let's not forget that a shelf, when overloaded, can sometimes fall on your foot and hurt you. I'll leave that open-ended, so each reader can deduce his or her own "moral" to the story. :)

But just as a test of memory (mine), weren't you one of the folks who argued on behalf of Sullenberger and his right to profit off his accidental destiny? Or am I misremembering, again. Or do you see Sully as being more in the category of a Ken Jennings.

renee said...

I probably did defend Sully, bc regardless of where anyone falls on the "does or doesn't he deserve the book and accompanying money" scale, he did an extraordinary thing. (Kind of like Jennings I guess.)

Sorry, I just don't think that's open to debate. And he didn't demand the book deal, he was approached and he took it. Like many of us would in the same situation.

Will I buy it? No, but that's just me. However, many people will, and as my Dad (also called "Sully" by the way) used to say, "God bless." I think those two words helped my dad lead a more content life in many ways.

RevRon's Rants said...

Loved your examples, renee. Reminded me of a class I took during a quest to enter the ministry. The instructor passed an apple around, and each student was supposed to describe a spiritual lesson centered upon the apple. As you'd expect, there were some pretty off-the-wall (IMO) "lessons" offered. When it came to me, I ate the damn thing, which really irritated the instructor. Said he had a specific "lesson" that he had intended to give when the others were finished. He asked me (in a clearly imperious tone) what *my* lesson was. I responded that the apple provided much more nourishment when it was eaten than when it was intellectually dissected, and in the same way, life is meant to be lived, rather than merely discussed. Class liked it. Instructor pouted. And the apple was delicious.

Maybe I oughta write a book. :-)

VW = elatedl... I kid you not!

sassy sasha said...

steve!!! just wanted to say i think the blog is unusually good lately, lots of good topics. keep it up! ;)

sasha

Cal said...

I swear I've seen the baseball scene a thousand times where a fan who catches a ball gives to his kid (it's usually a male parent and a young boy) and the kid throws the ball. Was the big deal this time because it was a little girl? Or was it because the Dad hugged the girl after she threw the ball? I'm not trying to be sexist, as the kids speak these days --- "I'm just sayin'".

I just didn't think I needed the replay shown on every national and local TV broadcast, which I did.

As far as Ken Jennings, I think it was on "Pardon the Interruption" after he lost that Michael Wilbon or Tony Kornheiser thought the Final Jeopardy! question he lost on would have been suspiciously easy to him. And Jennings was a guy who knew the ingredients of most alcoholic drinks, and he was a teetotaler.

The woman who beat him did not even win a second time. I know whoever beat Jennings did not ensure some sort of winning streak like he had, but it just seemed that the person would win at least a second time.

That said, I do believe Jennings' run (and loss) was legitimate. It was just interesting that Steve mentioned it.

Steve Salerno said...

Cal, I hear ya (about the parent giving the kid the ball). Yeah, I think the spontaneous hug was what put this one "over the top." Still, this thing got more coverage than just about anything except ACORN--and it's still getting more coverage today, I think, than Obama's decision not to go ahead with that European missile shield. Well, at least we have our priorities straight.

Yeah, I always suspected that Jennings threw the final game, too. Maybe it was like, "enough already." We'll probably find out when Trebek (whose arrogance/overall demeanor is the one reason why I sometimes have to force myself to watch the show) writes his (insufferable) memoirs.

renee said...

Ron -
Well, there it is. Your apple, my orange and the outline has practically written itself: Life Wisdom from the Produce Section.
Sadly, if this proposal came from a chef on the Food Network or a luminary in the organic movement, I could see it getting serious consideration by an editor somewhere.

Anonymous said...

As far as oddball sports streaks go, it's hard to top the Brandon High School wrestling team's streak: They never lost from 1973 to 2007 - 439 consecutive dual matches. This streak is in a sport with few college scholarships and zero professional contracts to the winners. The over 100 kids had to keep that streak going over 34 years - with no academic suspensions, cheating or rules violations.

Oddly enough, a documentary filmmaker shows up and films the team when they are suddenly defeated and the streak ends. The documentary wound up on ESPN2.
http://www2.tbo.com/content/2008/apr/29/na-espn2-documentary-reveals-emotion-pride-surroun/

Steve Salerno said...

Anon 10:16. The Heisenberg Principle (as it's colloquially understood) in effect: The filmmaker changed the team by observing it!

Elizabeth said...

OMG, Steve! Are you against little girls?! ;)

Cute kids, puppies, sex, and murder are always good for the ratings. And scandal, in any rendition.

Watch for How I Caught That Ball...and What it Means For You

LOL! Sounds like the opening of every news program on network TV in the US.

Steve Salerno said...

Actually, Eliz, you've just summarized the plot of my forthcoming book: a scandalous tale of a sexually indiscreet puppy who murders cute little girls. I figure it's got all the ingredients, as outlined... I'm just having trouble working in an uplifting, self-help element.

Anonymous said...

Steve, where's your brain, man? The puppy discovers wholesome, nutritionally balanced organic food, gives up junk food, turns his life around, and becomes a guide dog for the blind!

Steve Salerno said...

You've got a good point, Anon, but remember: There are no "blind" in today's world of endless universal empowerment. They proper term is "alternatively visually abled."

Elizabeth said...

The vicious puppy falls in love with one of his intended victims, gets reformed, and they live happily ever after.

It'll be a movie too. I can't wait! (ironing my hankies).