Monday, February 16, 2009


Last year, on November 13th, I posted a “Stuffs” installment about the addiction to the television sitcom “Frasier” that my brother Napoleon and I had developed. Not long afterwards, my buddy Ol' Warrior Poet (a.k.a. GreenO), sent me an e-mail in which he informed me that the actor Dan Butler who played Bulldog - the skirt-chasing, supertestosterone-charged sports radio talk show host on “Frasier” - had publicly admitted to being gay. Whoa! Neither I nor my supertestosterone-charged brother Nappy had seen that one a-comin’.

Well, just a week or so ago, I received another e-mail from Ol' Warrior Poet (a.k.a. GreenO) in which he told me he had just seen the actor Dan Butler in another television role. After Ol' WP (a.k.a. Ol' GO) and I exchanged a few e-mails on the subject, it dawned on me that what we’d written to each other might make a pretty decent Blog entry. And so, with Ol' WP’s permission (and Ol' GO’s, too), I’m posting our e-mail remarks below. Rather than post everything fully and in chronological sequence, I’m going to “intercut” our subsequent repartee within the initial e-mail as I go along. I think you’ll be able to follow it just fine . . . unless yer lost already? To Ol' Warrior Poet, I have assigned the color red since I also call him Ol' GreenO. (Makes sense?) My “voice” will remain in black. Got it? And now let’s journey on. That-a-way! Giddyup, y’all:

A quick story...The other day I was at the house of one of my sister's spending some time with the family. After dinner, I was crashing on the couch as my other sister and my eldest niece began watching one of those "made for TV movies" that women like. I believe it was on Lifetime (no shocker there).It turns out the movie was about a gay teenage boy who grows up in a household with a very "devout TV christian" mother (played by Sigourney Weaver, but this ain't no Aliens). Now that I told you the plot, You can probably guess the entire liberal, christian-bashing script.

ME: >>[You give me the impression that you think there’s some kind of agenda being advanced here…]<<
WP: >>[Sometimes it's just soooo much more obvious than others. This was one of those times.]<<

ME: >>[…Like there’s some sort of master plan behind this sort of TV programming. Next thing I know, you’ll be trying to convince me that there’s some sort of underhanded conspiracy to subvert the U.S. Constitution and replace it with a global government based upon the Marxist Model. You Black people are whacked!]<<
Long story short, the kid ends up killing himself because of his mother’s inability to accept his lifestyle. The mother then goes on to become the leader of one of those "Parents of Gay Children" groups. The entire thing was so ridiculously filled with anti-christian bias that I almost choked, but I digress..At the boys funeral the minister proceeds to basically tell everyone at the service that he's in hell, burning because of his "gay sin" and subsequent suicide (because you know that's what ministers do at funerals, bash the dead and mentally torture the family).

ME: >>[Of course. It’s happened at every funeral I’ve ever attended. Takes some of the fun out of a funeral, if you ask me.]<<
WP: >>[heh-heh. : ) ]<<

Poor Sigourney is unable to deal with the guilt of somehow making her son gay, then making him kill himself and burn eternally in hell because of her unacceptance. She stumbles on an "alternative christian" church where she learns that her perspective on homosexuality has been wrong all this time, and the very cool, openly gay pastor shows her this in the Bible.

ME: >>[How come it’s not in MY Bible? What, did I get an edited version? The Reader's Digest Bible? I want the entire Word Of God, damn it! (Note that very important comma there!) ]<<

WP: >>[Weird huh? I couldn't find it in mine either.]<<

ME: >>[I think we got ripped off. (But not in a bad way.) ]<<
And here's where you come in STM, guess who played the gay pastor? BULLDOG baby! Well at least he's still getting work. How'd Nappy take the news? :)

ME: >>[Oh, our old friend Bob “BULLDOG” Briscoe from “Frasier”? Actor Dan Butler? So, he found a part a little closer to home, eh? Well, good, it probably saved him gas money.]<<
WP: >>[I haven't seen him in anything since Fraiser, and since we were just talking about him I found it eerily humorous.]<<

ME: >>[When I told my Brother what you had said about Dan Butler being off his leash, out of his doghouse and out of the closet (like, gay), Nappy experienced a few moments of 'Shock And Awww… Sh#t!' But then he said, “You know, now that you mention it, I think I can actually see that a little bit.”]<<
WP: >>[Everybody always says that when they find out someone's

ME: >>[Well, not me. I still say it was some darn fine acting. I think Butler should take a lot pride in the performances he gave as Bulldog. Not “Gay Pride”, you know, but just regular pride. He pulled the pink wool over my eyes.

But ya know, in reality, one must always be a tad suspicious about some of those “Gonzo Guys” like Bulldog. We’ve both known the type. When you’ve got a dude who puts on too much of a “macho” production, “the lady doth protest too much, methinks.” Like, is this manly dude perhaps hiding a skeleton in his closet? A skeleton named Bruce?

Along these lines, I’ve always cast an inquisitive eye (not a “queer eye”, just an inquistive eye) at the writer Ernest Hemingway. All that hunting, fishing, and bullfighting stuffs makes me a shade suspicious. You know, like suspicious? It strikes me that he was laying on all that machismo a bit too thick for comfort.]<<
WP: >>[Ernest Hemingway huh? You know, now that you mention it, I think I can actually see that a little bit. ; ) ]<<

ME: >>[When a guy really is naturally masculine he seems nonchalant about it – not inclined to draw undue attention to the trait. The way MANNY FERNANDEZ is. Remember Manny Fernandez, the defensive lineman for the Miami Dolphins during their glory days?

I have a DVD set titled ‘America’s Game: The Super Bowl Champions - Miami Dolphins Collection 1972/1973.’ There’s a brief segment of footage included which shows Manny Fernandez with a cigarette dangling out of his mouth while - with his bare hands - he’s catching an alligator in a Florida swamp. Ha! Imagine that. But Manny is so casual about it that I didn’t initially notice the cigarette in his mouth. Remember A-DogG from the days? He’s the one who pointed it out to me after he had rented the discs, and so I immediately watched my DVD again. Had to see it with my own eyes, but – Hokey-Smoke! – he really was smokin’. Oh, that poor alligator’s ego. Talk about adding insult to injury. Most authentic (and humorous) display of “REAL MAN” I’ve ever seen! Just Classic Stuffs, WP! You know, like Classic Stuffs? It reminds me of those lyrics in Jim Croce’s song “Rapid Roy (The Stock Car Boy)”. . .

Yeah, Roy so cool
That racin’ fool,
He don’t know what fear’s about
He do a hundred thirty mile-an-hour
Smilin’ at the camera
With a toothpick in his mouth

Now me, I’d barely have the stones to smoke a cigarette. Forget the alligator!]<<
WP: >>[Well I was a smoker for almost 10 years. Both the regular and whacky tobacky during my wilder days living and tending bar in NYC, but I ain't an alligator huntin type of guy. I guess that makes me only half the man Manny is/was.]<<

ME: >>[I don’t know nuttin’ ‘bout “wilder days” – I’ve always been a choirboy.

I didn’t know you had tended bar in NYC. I actually graduated from a bartending school in L.A. in preparation for my move to Prescott, Arizona. I knew that finding a decent and respectable job might be difficult at first but figured bartending would keep me “afloat” for awhile. Didn’t learn until after making the move that there are NO decent and respectable jobs in Prescott, nor that the bar owners/managers wouldn’t hire anything but females to tend bar. I could have tried “faking it” but nylons just make my legs break out.

I’ve smoked no more than ten cigarettes in my life, and none since the height of my drinking days (1983). Have never purchased a pack of cigs. I guess this makes me only one-fourth the man that Manny is. He puts the “man” in Manny the way I put the “fun” in funeral.]<<
~ Stephen T. McCarthy

Saturday, February 14, 2009


My good friend The Flying Aardvark very recently introduced me to another website and I got sucked into it faster than you can say "Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder." I sent her an e-mail the other day in which I said, "Dang you, Aard! Dang and Double Dang you! You had to show me that danged Cheezburger site and now I think I’m addicted to the place."

Well, the full name of the website is I Can Has Cheezburger. A very dumb name for a very cool place. The site provides thousands and thousands of photographs to which visitors can add their own captions. Create a free account there and all of your photos and captions will be saved on your Profile Page. There's also some kind of voting thang involved in this but I haven't figured it out yet because I'm not much interested in that aspect of the system; I just enjoy letting my imagination run wild while writing captions for photographs of... oh, you name it: dogs, cats, celebrities, politicians, rubber duckys, etc.

And I'm also intrigued by seeing what sorts of captions other folks placed on the same photographs that I have selected. There are plenty of creative, witty people playing there, and it's neat to see how their various minds approached the same photograph.

I'm posting at this website under the pseudonym "ProvDog." Surely you get that right? It's a name inspired by my most frequently quoted Bible verse . . .

"As a DOG returns to his own vomit,
so a fool repeats his folly."
~ PROVerbs 26:11

Hokey-Smoke, I haven't had this much fun since Napoleon (my Brother) and I were in Martiniville. But with my obsessive personality, I'm a little concerned that I could find myself spending every free minute over at Cheezburger and fail to get anything else done in my life. I can only hope that the thrill dies down after the novelty of it wears off. As it is, I've already created 32 photograph captions in a couple of days. Doh!

Anyway, I'm only letting you (my two Blog readers) know about this so you'll understand if you don't find me tending to my Blog much in the coming decades. If you're looking for me (and I don't know why you would, 'cause I'd get the hell away from me if I knew a way) but you don't find me here, you might want to check over at Cheezburger.

And, say, if you don't find me here at my "Stuffs" Blog, nor at "Cheezburger", then chances are that I'm over at JOLLY JACK'S, having a Bloody Mary and watching Twinkie give Cranium his Daily Azz-Whuppin' at billiards. Feel free to come on in and join us. We'll always be glad to see ya, especially if yer buyin' the next twelve rounds.

Here's a link to my ProvDog stuffs at Cheezburger:
ProvDog Stuffs.

Check it out if you have time and no life to absorb it.

And the next time you run into The Flying Aardvark, please tell her for me that I said: "Thanks for my new Heroin Habit!"

~ Stephen T. McCarthy
Postscript: I also added a link to my "ProvDog" stuffs in the column at the left side of this Blog under the category "Some Other Stuffs To Check Out And Stuff." That way you'll always be able to get there from here without getting lost. See how considerate I am?

Friday, February 6, 2009


“Upon further review”, I’ve come away with a slightly different perspective of Super Bowl XLIII. A day or two after the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 27 to 23 win (some have said, “Zebra-given gift”) over the Arizona Cardinals, I kind of replayed the game in my mind. This time it didn’t take as long because I mentally removed all of the ridiculously overhyped and overrated TV commercials as well as Bruce Springsteen And The E Street Band’s halftime Shoutfest. (Thank God that Clarence Clemons didn’t suffer a “wardrobe malfunction.” Nobody wants to see THAT!) It has often been said that “football is a game of inches.” Let there be no doubt about it.

It is now apparent to me that Pittsburgh did not really win by 4 points; they won by much less than that. Go back with me to that final play of the first half, because that is where this game was really decided: The Cardinals are at the Steelers’ one yard line with just 18 seconds left in the half. They have enough time to take perhaps two shots at the endzone for six points and, barring success, then settle for a nearly God-guaranteed three-point field goal.

Believing that Steelers linebacker James Harrison is blitzing on the play (a reasonable assumption given the circumstances and where he is located on the line of scrimmage), Warner attempts to connect with Anquan Boldin on a short pass. Bad move. Harrison, who was actually playing the pass - not blitzing - intercepts the ball and then lumbers one hundred yards down the sideline for a Pittsburgh touchdown as time in the half expires. This is the very worst sort of play that can happen to the offensive unit on a football field because it’s not just a turnover that costs your team certain points, but it’s a turnover that costs your team points AND gets converted into points for your opponent. The ol’ Double Whammy. Ouch! Damn, that hurts!

But here comes the real crux of the situation - the point of this post: Arizona receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Breaston gave chase after Harrison intercepted the ball, and they managed to catch him and haul him down at the very front of the endzone, but not before Harrison and the football broke the plane of the goal line for a Pittsburgh touchdown. There was no time left on the clock at the conclusion of this surprising play, so the first half ended with the score, Pittsburgh 17 – Arizona 7. Cardinals’ head coach Ken Whisenhunt later said of Harrison’s ‘Pick Six’: “Gosh, dog, it was one of those things that seemed to happen in slow motion.” All the better to torment you with, my dear!

If regulation football fields were 101 yards long, rather than 100, the first half would have ended with Pittsburgh leading 10 to 7. Or to put it the other way: If Fitzgerald and Breaston had been able to tackle Harrison only one yard earlier, the Steelers would not have added those 7 points to their score, for the first half would have ended with the ball on the Arizona one yard line. Take 7 points off the board for the Black and Gold and what game-ending score do you come up with? Arizona Cardinals 23 – Pittsburgh Steelers 20.

Some observers have erroneously stated that the interception return for a touchdown was not the most important play of the game since Arizona did eventually overcome that deficit by staging the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history during the fourth quarter, only to fall behind again in the final minutes. But without that freakish, one-in-a-million play at the very end of the first half, the Cardinals would not have NEEDED to produce the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history.

No, sir. Make no mistake about this - not only was that interception return for a Pittsburgh touchdown a play that we will be seeing in highlight films for the rest of our lives, it was also the play that ultimately decided the outcome of the game. But it would have been reduced to nothing more than a footnote to Super Bowl XLIII if Fitzgerald and Breaston had been able to catch up with Harrison only a yard earlier. The bottom line is that this was the decisive play of the contest. The Arizona Cardinals did not lose the 43rd Super Bowl by 4 points; they lost it by just a single yard of green turf. In the entire game, the Cardinals actually outgained the Steelers 407 yards to 292. But only ONE of those 292 Pittsburgh yards separated Arizona from victory. It was gained midpoint in the contest with no time left on the clock. How close was this Super Bowl? The Arizona Cardinals gave up only one yard too many. "Missed it by THAT much."

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

Monday, February 2, 2009


“You may glory in a team triumphant, but you fall in love with a team in defeat.”
~ Roger Kahn

There is no sight sadder than that of a bowl of brown guacamole in your living room the morning after your team has lost the Super Bowl. Had the Arizona Cardinals won Super Bowl XLIII last night, I’m sure I would have cleaned up the living room after the game, but when you lose a nail-biter like that, somehow you just can’t bring yourself to straighten up the mess right away. (Did you know that more avocados are sold in the United States on Super Bowl weekend than at any other time in the year? It’s a chips and guacamole thang.)

The final score of Super Bowl XLIII was Pittsburgh Steelers 27 – Arizona Cardinals 23. But that hardly tells the story; that doesn’t paint you a picture of the E Ticket ride this game turned out to be. Forget about anyone saying after the game “I’m going to Disneyland” as I’m not so sure this game wasn’t PLAYED at Disneyland. If I told you that one quarterback completed 31 of 43 passes for 377 yards, with 3 touchdown passes to 1 interception, you would say, “Wow!” If I then added, “But he was the quarterback for the losing team” you would say, “No way!” Yes, way! Those were Kurt Warner’s numbers. That’s what sort of game this was. It was arguably the most exciting Super Bowl ever played. (Remember when the games used to be Super Blowouts? Well, we’ve had some instant classics in recent times.)

Despite the fact that the Cardinals lost Super Bowl XLIII in the final minutes, the red birds should hold their beaks high because they were "overwhelming underdogs” (to borrow a phrase from Yogi Berra) and they did indeed “Shock The World.” In fact, I’ve never been prouder of them. I went out this morning and bought a Cardinals Super Bowl XLIII T-shirt and, with God as my judge, I would NOT have made this purchase if the team had won the game. I’m not exactly sure why that is, but it may have something to do with what Roger Kahn wrote in his book "The Boys Of Summer":

“You may glory in a team triumphant, but you fall in love with a team in defeat. Losing after great striving is the story of man, who was born to sorrow, whose sweetest songs tell of saddest thought…”

I think the best thing I’ve ever written was a review of the baseball book "Diamonds Are Forever", and it was in that publication where I encountered the Roger Kahn quote. I always thought it was a great line, but to be honest, I never fully understood it because - up until last night - whenever it has been most important to me, the teams that I rooted for have won: The 1972/’73 Miami Dolphins; the Los Angeles Raiders in Super Bowl XVIII; the 1988 Los Angeles Dodgers; the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks; the Anaheim Angels in the 2002 World Series; the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII (on behalf of the Miami Dolphins, ya understand). So, until last night, I never mentally grasped Roger Kahn’s observation. But I get it now. And I’m almost as surprised the Arizona Cardinals lost Super Bowl XLIII as I was surprised they got in it.

Before the game yesterday, I played a Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers song for good luck: "Even the losers get lucky sometimes." Ah, yes, Tom. Sometimes.

Shortly after moving to Arizona from Los Angeles in 1992, I became a Cardinals fan. I caught on right at the end of the Joe Bugel era when Steve Beuerlein was quarterbacking and my favorite player, Larry Centers, was making wonderful catches coming out of the backfield and displaying some of the greatest body control and balance I’ve ever seen. Somewhere I still have the Larry Centers autographed photo that my Pa picked up for me one special promotion day at the Turf Paradise horse racing track in Phoenix. I even packed the Cardinals in my heart and carried them to Los Angeles when I moved back there in 1994. Those Cardinals could score on any team, but they just couldn’t stop the other teams from also scoring. I felt they were just one or two defensive players and an attitude adjustment away from being a real powerhouse. When the Cardinals organization replaced Bugel with defensive mastermind Buddy Ryan, I thought that the last piece was now in place. Little did I know that, in actuality, it was the last straw. Uhp! I’m an idiot.

Over the next couple of years I saw the pattern. I saw how the Cardinals’ players who were becoming premier performers and expected to be paid what they were worth, were let go or traded away. I unmistakenly came to believe that winning was not all that important to Bill Bidwill and I came to understand why this was, and always had been, a losing organization. I felt that the prestige of owning a football team was enough for Bill Bidwill, and that owning a WINNING NFL franchise was not the goal. So, I got rid of my bloody red Cardinals shirt and moved on.

When Michael Bidwill took over the day-to-day operations of the team, I sensed a more competitive spirit in the organization, but nevertheless, I believed this was still the “Same Old Cardinals.” That is until I saw what they did to the Carolina Panthers. That’s when I knew it was true, that somehow - from the start of postseason play - this team had transformed itself, reinvented itself and developed determination, desire and grit. True grit. And I’ve always loved Kurt Warner. Did you see him interviewed after the game? A sharp-dressed man, patient and gracious, still smiling in defeat. Not a Cardinal – a saint.

I’ve never seen so much enthusiasm in Phoenix as I did during the two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl. It was the first time in 14 years that I felt a true sense of “community” in Phoenix – a city that I hate in a state that I hate.

Minutes after the Cardinals defeated the Eagles in the NFC Championship Game to win a spot in Super Bowl XLIII, my Brother, Napoleon, and I walked to some secondhand store in our neighborhood (Nappy wanted to buy a football to throw around). Coming home, we saw three little girls, one little boy and their mom, all wearing Cardinals shirts and standing on a street corner, holding up pro-Cardinals signs and shouting with joy. I yelled across the avenue, “Super Bowl, Babee!” and they went nuts. It was one of the sweetest sights my eyes have ever embraced and it is one of the few nice memories I’ll pack and take with me when I leave this town someday.

Last night, shortly after the Super Bowl loss, I took a plastic Super Bowl logo ring off one of the cupcakes that my Sister had brought over to the house and I put it on the ring finger of my left hand (I can do that ‘cause I’m unmarried) and I walked a few blocks south to that same spot where Mom and Her Kids were celebrating exactly two Sundays earlier. I just wanted to stand there for a minute under the street light, alone, and feel the Ghost of Joys past.

At one point during my little postgame walk last night, I saw a tall, grey-headed man coming toward me. Even in the darkness I could make out the large Arizona Cardinals symbol on the front of his shirt. I’m something of a loner by nature and not generally inclined to speak first to strangers, but just as we were passing each other, I said to the fellow, “It was a hell of a game though.” He upped a first-class laugh and answered, “Oh, I KNOW!” Those were the only words exchanged as we passed like sad ships in the night.

Super Bowl XLVIII contained a few disappointments beyond just the Cardinals coming up a shade short on the field of play. I felt that it was an egregious mistake on the part of the officials that they didn’t immediately eject Steeler James Harrison from the game after flagging him for unsportsmanlike conduct against a Cardinal. I mean, Harrison looked like a Central Park mugger beating up on a bespectacled tourist named Wally! That was beyond “unnecessary roughness”; that was "battery.” I was also disappointed (but not surprised) that Deion Sanders attended the Super Bowl after having said earlier in the postseason that he wouldn’t attend the game if the Arizona Cardinals somehow made it that far. But then Deion always has been 94% mouth.

Although (as Nappy has been known to point out) the most commonly heard complaint from the losers on a little league baseball diamond is “The Ump cheated”, I am not one to groan ‘n’ moan about the officiating. My philosophy has always been: You’d better play well enough to overcome one or two bad calls from the officials or else you really don’t deserve to win the game. And therefore, other than a few very rare occasions when referees blew calls so badly that I wondered if perhaps the fix was in, I don’t grouse about errors in judgment from the zebras. However, I felt that the final call of the game was highly questionable. If it was a matter of whether or not quarterback Kurt Warner’s arm was moving forward (as if to pass) at the moment the football was knocked loose from his hand, then I believe that even the Pinball Wizard (a deaf, dumb and blind kid) knows that this was an incomplete pass and not a fumble. If the officials had made the call correctly, the Cardinals would have been left with about 5 seconds on the clock and a chance to attempt one last Hail Mary. And with the “miraculous” season they'd had, who knows?...

But regardless, no excuses; no shouts of “foul” from me. Game over, both on the field and in my mind. And today the sun does not shine as brightly as usual in Phoenix because last night I fell in love with a team that broke my heart.

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

Link: My review of the baseball book “Diamonds Are Forever.”