Thursday, January 31, 2008

Go Long...Go Red

The Big Game is coming up on Sunday. You know, "Super Sunday", the NFL Championship. Alright, the S---- B---. No, I don't have any bitterness about the day in question [despite the fact that, as a native Buffalonian, my hometown team was on the losing end of four straight match-ups]. The problem is the NFL itself. Here in a blog, I'm perfectly free to refer to the game like most people do, the Super Bowl. In my role as a radio broadcaster, however, I am NOT allowed to use that particular phrase. It's a copyrighted trademark of the NFL, and they can, and do, control who can use it. For instance, official sponsors of the game are permitted to use the words when mentioning their participation. Non-sponsors are not [unless they spend money to purchase the right to do so]. In recent years, the NFL has been very protective of their trademark, forbidding advertisers from using it unless they have a legal right to do so [in theory, they also have the right to prevent broadcasters from using team names; ex. "Bills", "Patriots", "Packers". In practice, this distinction is usually ignored, although the current banner atop the league's own web page (

does not use team names [this gets confusing when you realize that New York City has two teams in the NFL (although neither of them currently plays its home games within New York City, or New York State, for that matter), and only regular followers of the league realize that the Giants are representing Gotham on Sunday].

If you think I'm bringing up some obscure rules, be aware that some stations I've worked for over the years have received "cease and desist" orders from the NFL concerning the use of those copyrighted phrases [while we're on the subject, be careful how you use the slang word "three-peat", referring to a three-time champion in sports. Yes, it's ALSO copyrighted (either Pat Riley or Phil Jackson, both three-time champion coaches in the National Basketball Association, owns part of the rights; I forget which, and a search for further information has proved un-helpful. Maybe one of you out there might know?), and unauthorized use can be punished with fine or confinement].

(For the record, I suspect New England will put the capstone on their undefeated season by defeating one [or possibly, both] of New York City's NFL teams)

On another front, February 1st [Friday} is, "Wear Red For Women" Day in the United States. Women [and men, too] are encouraged to wear red, in hopes of increasing awareness that heart disease is the number 1 killer of women (and men) in the US. I've got my red shirt picked out for Friday, and, if you're in the United States, I hope you do, too. Have a nice weekend...

-Mike Riley

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Altered Reality

I have a confession to make: I don't always understand what goes on in the world. I don't usually lose a lot of sleep over this fact, mind you. I don't agonize over what I would like to make sense of. But sometimes the Brick Wall Of Perplexity is, as if by some dark magic, dropped right in front of me, and I usually slam into it quite hard. I frequently end up [at least psychically] bruised, and shaking my head.
Case in point: I understand why those who are deformed from birth, or suffer grievous injuries in an accident, would seek out the services of a plastic surgeon. I even "get it" when it's a case of an over sized nose, or perhaps an unfortunately-placed birthmark. But what do we make of the subject of the following item [from MSNBC]?
(Please, take a minute to read this. I'll wait...)
Glad you're back. There are more than a few things in that piece that disturb. First of all, can all that surgery even be good for someone? After all, the human body, like many pieces of machinery, operates best as a sealed system. Constantly opening the package CAN'T be good! Further, what is the cumulative effect of multiple surgery on someones body? (Anyone who's tried to patch an automobile or bicycle tire knows where I'm going here) Will there be a surgery that won't take hold, because the skin around the area to be operated on has lost elasticity, or the bones won't adapt to the new procedure? What will the mental effect be when this woman is confronted with the fact that surgery can't fix everything? When your whole life is built around appearing youthful, what happens when things that can't be repaired or improved age?
A final concern: the article mentions that many poor people in Brazil get plastic surgery, putting themselves in debt for appearance's sake [one hopes that they are not disappointed in the final result]. I'm not saying that people shouldn't aspire to looking good. But at what cost?
- Mike Riley
PS: Hello to all my EntreCard visitors!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Amish Bread Scheme

Although I couldn't see myself living it, I find much to admire in the Amish lifestyle. Their deep devotion to God, their wilful withdrawal from society, the self-reliance of their communities; all of these, and much more, are worthy of praise and respect. But there is one element of Amish life that can bring terror to the strongest soul [which mine most certainly is not]; I speak of Amish Friendship Bread.
Oh, it starts innocently enough. A friend, neighbor, or co-worker hands you a food-storage bag, filled with a colorless semi-liquid goo. It comes with instructions: "Day 1: mush the bag. Day 2: mush the bag. Day 3...", but you get the idea. Midway through its 10-day birthing cycle, you're called upon to "feed" the mixture [for the record, it lives on flour, sugar and milk. Sounds like one of the insects in Through The Looking Glass]. All in all, though, it's a fairly entertaining process [and good physical therapy if you ever dislocate your elbow. Trust me on this one...].
Day ten arrives, and you feel pride that you've followed the simple instructions that came with the bag. You happily add more flour, more sugar, more milk. Then a dawning realization kicks in, as you read the instructions again: "Pour one cup of the mixture into each of four food-storage bags. Three of these should be shared with friends or neighbors, with one kept for yourself". Think about this for a minute; it's one thing to offer someone a loaf of home-baked bread. But you're offering them 10 days of commitment, followed by a desperate scramble to find three more players in this never-ending game, followed by another 10 days of commitment, searching for three new players, etc.I don't know that the Amish invented the pyramid scheme, but they certainly have perfected it!
Let it be said that the bread is delicious, if a bit over-sugared [I'd cut back on the amount used in the baking stage; I think the "feeding" instructions are not to be modified]. Let it also be said that, if my sister the Mathematician were here, I'd ask her how quickly and how far the chain could travel in 10 days, a month, six months (I suspect the numbers would hurt my head...). Then again, there are worse "viruses" to be spread than warm bread [more of a cake, actually]. And there are certainly worse things the world could be covered in than home-baked treats.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Interesting [if a little depressing] statistics...

Sometimes the widgets a blogger adds to a site tell you a lot about that person. And sometimes they tell me some things about you. Case in point: the "WorldVisitors" gimmick on the right side of this blog. It's been up for about a month now, so I think it's safe to make some observations based on it.
Most of my readers live in North America. No surprise there, except the fact that only about 30 people from the US and Canada [and possibly Mexico, for all I know] have stopped by. Well, I'll try to provide my selective audience the best in blogging goodness.
Some of the non- North American visitors come from surprising places. I mean, I only have one reader in all of the United Kingdom! [Whomever you are, sir or madame, I celebrate your good taste] There's been one visitor from all of Oceania {New Zealand, to be specific; I don't know what Australians read], and one, surprisingly, from Finland [I don't resemble the President, like Conan O'Brien; maybe its the photos].
The rest of the world couldn't give a rat's behind about this blog. Somehow, THAT fact isn't too surprising.

Well, anyway, having been humbled and intrigued all at the same time, I can only promise to do what I do best. Whatever that is...

- Mike Riley

PS: Scroll down a little further on the right-hand side to check out our newest feature: "Video Of The Week", taken from the vast collective files of YouTube. You'll probably see a lot of cartoons here, but I'm not limiting myself to them. - MR

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Writer's Blo...

Hello again, friendly readers. If you check the date stamp on the last essay to grace these pages, you'll no doubt note that it's been almost a month since last I wrote. It's not for lack of trying, or even a lack of interesting potential topics. In my own life alone there was a fall on Thanksgiving that dislocated my right elbow [and I'm right-handed, of course; otherwise there's no joke there] and the holidays came and went [usually good for a posting or two].

On the news front, the US Presidential race is gearing up, Britney went bonkers [AGAIN! (In connection with this latest melt-down, let it be noted that abuse of Oxycontin, known in the legal trade as "hillbilly heroin", is being thrown around as a possible cause. Between Britney and her newly-knocked-up sister Jamie Lynn, am I the only person who sees any story about the Spears family tagged "trailer trash"? I didn't think so...)] and the writer's strike continues [turning the People's Choice Awards broadcast into a highlights show, and the Golden Globes into a news conference (albeit a well-staged one)].

Nothing. Like the old vaudevillian, I can start 'em, but I've got no ending, I tells ya. There's a pile of "stubs" in my files, desperately waiting for an ending. Any ending. Even "Then everybody left" [Alright, maybe not that ending, but you know what I mean]. So I'm thinking, maybe a column of quotes on writer's block. Start it off with an illustration of wb in action [I chose this picture after noting how much he looks like me. Except the hair. He has some, I don't. Call it my "fantasy me".]. Then some well-researched quotes on writer's block. Only problem with that is, most of them run along the lines of, "Writer's block is to swordfish,, er, it's a real pain!" It doesn't seem worth my time to write it, or yours to read it.

So here we sit, broken-hearted. Tried to write,, that's not going to help, EITHER! Now what? Well, look at the bright side. This may not be the best post I've ever written. But I do have a finish, finally -

Good Night, Everybody!

-Mike Riley