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Tom has questions about men and movies, UA football and--God help us--home schooling.

Questions I need answered before I go out and start my Christmas shopping some time early next week:

· Why is it that when a guy is channel surfing, and he comes across a movie he's seen dozens of times, he'll stop and watch it, even though the movie's half over, and he can recite the whole thing by heart?

This phenomenon is pretty gender-exclusive and applies to a whole bunch of movies, including The Longest Yard, Rocky I through IV and Blue Streak. I mean, who can resist hearing Martin Lawrence say, "Tengo el gato (en) mis pantalones?"

Perhaps the greatest example of this phenomenon is The Shawshank Redemption, which, to my eternal delight (and my wife's undying exasperation), AMC showed about 50 times during the past two weeks. Who can resist watching Tim Robbins crawl through that sewer to freedom? Heck, every time it rains, I feel like going outside to stand in it, arms outstretched, eyes skyward. And when he coolly marches into that bank to steal the warden's ill-gotten money É

Plus, there's that scene at the very end, the one that makes all of us feel a little bit gay and darned proud of it, when the two lovers--uh, prison buddies--see each other on the beach. Makes me smile every time.

Anyway, I asked that question so I could ask this one:

· Why is it that even though guys own many of the aforementioned movies on videotape and/or DVD, they'll almost never pop them into the machine and watch them all the way through, even though they will consistently and unapologetically watch them in bits and pieces until their dying day?

And then:

· When you're watching an NFL or college football game, and you see a wide receiver or a defensive back drop an easy pass (which happens with shocking regularity these days), don't you automatically assume it's because the pansy is wearing gloves?

Football has always been my favorite sport to play and watch, but I hardly ever watch the NFL any more. Back in the day, the NFL was full of tough men who played a hard game. Now, the league is just full of steroided fairies who wear gloves.

I've actually written the NFL and asked why they let people wear gloves; I got no response. It seems to me that if the gloves helped players catch the ball (which they obviously don't), they should be illegal, because that would be distorting the game. And if they don't help players catch the ball, then they're just a fashion statement. Either way, they should be banned.

Now, they're commonplace in college and have trickled down to the high school ranks. I saw some gloved Sunnyside kid drop an easy pass in the state title game. The worst thing is that there is no way a pair of gloves can be as good as a good pair of hands. There is nothing like fingertip control to catch a football.

I've been thinking about coaching high school football. If I ever get my own team, the only people wearing gloves will be the cheerleaders. But only if they really want to.

· Were all of those people who were screaming for John Mackovic's head this season the same doofuses who had been booing Dick Tomey three years earlier? And didn't they immediately miss Tomey once he was gone?

I remember listening to people complain that Tomey's teams were boring because they "only" won by scores like 17-10 or 13-3.

Real football fans appreciate defense, while the casual (read: the average Arizona) fan wants to see lots of points scored. By my best recollection, Dick Tomey's teams got blown out twice in 15 years; Mackovic's suffered three consecutive blowouts this past season. Tomey's teams played great defense; they were in every game; and they won more games than they lost. What's not to like?

Longtime season-ticket holder Alex Raptis says he never understood why they got rid of Tomey in the first place. "I used to love watching those teams play. The defense was beautiful. There was that time Washington came here ranked No. 1 in the country, and the Desert Swarm almost shut 'em out." (Arizona won, 16-3.)

Raptis has stayed with the Cats, but it hasn't been easy. He hopes that new coach Mike Stoops will be able to turn things around but also realizes that it could take three years or more before Arizona returns to respectability. "When Tomey was here, a 'bad' year was 6-5 or 5-6. This year, we lost 10 games! We're the laughingstock of America.

"And, the bad thing is, it didn't have to be this way."

· Isn't it amazing that as soon as Mike Stoops was named head coach at Arizona, the team for whom he was coaching, Oklahoma, suffered its first loss of the season?

Apparently, the stink on the Arizona program transcends state lines and time zones.

· President Bush is big on anniversaries of events. Is he going to go on TV and announce that it's been a year, and we still haven't found any "weapons of mass destruction?"

Apologist Sean Hannity was on TV the other day saying that since U.S. forces had found "some evidence" of "paperwork" that "suggests" that Iraq was "working on" something, that's good enough for him to conclude that Bush did the right thing by invading Iraq.

Yeah well, Sean, when they search Bush for colon polyps, if they find "some evidence" of your tongue having been there, it'll be enough for me to conclude that you're a whimpering buttlicker.

We can only hope so.

· Finally, has any home-schooled kid ever flunked?

Somehow, I doubt it.

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