If you’re like most people, studying history in school was crazy boring. All you ever heard about was kings and wars and snooze-inducing stuff like that. Seldom did you get to learn anything really interesting – like, how come we wear underwear, and where did it come from?
Mankind is amazing. Only our species could take a basic life skill — like running away from a saber-toothed tiger — and turn it into a competition: “Hey, Ugg – I bet you five rocks I can run to the volcano faster than you.”
Every year, when we switch from Standard Time to Daylight Saving Time (DST), we change the time on our clocks by one hour. Or that’s the idea, anyway. What really happens is that we don’t, and then we walk around for a day or two half asleep and repeatedly checking our watches. More…
The 2006 NAMM Summer Session finds itself in a new and most appropriate setting – Austin, Texas, the self-proclaimed “live music capital of the world.” More…
In Texas, we like to brag that “we’re like a whole other country.” Our neighbor to the north has gone a step further – it’s like a whole ‘nother planet. A planet with too little oxygen in its atmosphere.
Now that cockfighting is illegal in Oklahoma, a state senator has come up with a great way to help the state’s gamefowl industry and at the same time preserve a part of Oklahoma high culture.
Sen. Frank Shurden is suggesting that fighting roosters be given little boxing gloves so they can duke it out without bloodshed. This gem of an idea is in a bill the Democrat has introduced – apparently with a straight face – for the legislative session that begins Feb. 7.
To the absolute amazement of anyone who knows anything about Oklahoma, voters there banned cockfighting in 2002. That development seemed about as likely as the state banning tractor pulls or requiring nutritional information on Indian tacos.
To no one’s surprise, cockfighting is still legal in Louisiana and New Mexico. I have always heard that a person is known by the company he keeps, and I think that truism also applies to states. Have Oklahoma voters thought this through? Do they really want to be mentioned in the same breath as Louisiana and New Mexico?
The motto on Oklahoma license plates used to be “Oklahoma is OK!” Now it reads, “Oklahoma Is Not Louisiana or New Mexico!” It would be a real shame if they had to change this ringing endorsement of the Sooner State.
Speaking of the Sooner State, there is absolutely no truth to the rumor that the motto is derived from the statement, “I’d sooner be dead than living in Oklahoma.”
But back to Shurden’s idea. The senator was quoted as saying, “Let the roosters do what they love to do without getting injured.” If he really wanted to let roosters do what they love to do without getting hurt, he’d issue them little condoms, not little boxing gloves.
In his search for a new way to let the roosters do that he says they love to do, Shurden learned about a company in California (where else?) that promotes a non-lethal form of cockfighting.
The company is supposedly trying to patent equipment that will score the ‘hits’ of these sparring live gamefowl, much as fencers score points without actually running someone through or carving a big “Z” on their opponent’s chest.
Under this unlikely scenario, the roosters would wear sparring muffs, which are padded gloves placed over their natural spurs.
What’s next? Headgear? Little satin shorts and robes? Will the state’s big promoter of non-lethal cockfighting be Don a la King?
I can see a whole new batch of jokes spurred by the sport. “Why did the chicken cross the road? He was getting in shape for a scheduled 10-rounder with Rhode Island Red at the VFW.”
Shurden was quoted as saying, “Who’s going to object to chickens fighting like humans do?” Well, to begin with, anyone with an IQ higher than room temperature. Which means his bill has a real good chance of passing the Senate and is an absolute shoo-in in the House.
One of Shurden’s arguments for the bill is that it will keep the chickens from getting hurt. I don’t think this is a valid argument. Human boxers wear gloves, but look at Muhammad Ali. He got hit in the head a lot less than most boxers, but now he’s the poster boy for Parkinson’s disease. His motto today is, “Float like a butterfly, shake like a leaf.”
So what happens to the chickens that take one too many shots to the head? Joe Louis became a greeter in Vegas but this really isn’t an option for a punched-out pullet. They might end up as Sunday dinner; instead of having Kung Pao chicken at your local Chinese eatery, you could opt for Kung Fu chicken.
These chickens would also be ready for frying, since they’ve already been battered.
But I think the most appropriate place for these animals – animals that start life with a brain the size of a pea and then have their mental capacity diminished through a life in the ring – is with their intellectual peers.
In the Oklahoma state Senate.
Feb. 4, 2005 – my first column
(STEVE, a senior in high school, enters a kitchen where two middle-aged men, DAVE and BARRY, are standing at the sink washing dishes and chatting.)
STEVE: Hey dad … dad … what’s up?
DAVE: Oh, just doing the dishes …
BARRY: … What’s up with you, June bug? I know that look – something’s bugging you, huh?
DAVE: Stevie, if it’s about your Martha Stewart Living subscription, I’m sorry I let it lapse. It’s just that I’ve been so busy with the Opera League …
STEVE: No, dad — it’s not about Martha. This is something really important.
BARRY: Well, if it’s about the new Jimmy Choo store, that’s old news. I heard that at the salon last week.
STEVE: No, guys, could you shut up for a second and listen? This is really big and it’s really tearing me up inside.
BARRY: Son, I’ve never seen you this upset – not even when you got ballet lessons instead of a go-cart for Christmas. What’s bugging you, guy?
STEVE: Well, there’s something we need to talk about.
DAVE: (mock seriously) I’ll say there is! Just look at those eyebrows! (winks at BARRY). Would it kill to you to pluck them just a little?
BARRY: OK, what’s so important that we’re missing “Glee?”
STEVE: Well, there’s … I … uh … well, I haven’t been really open and honest with you.
DAVE: So it was you who trashed my Adam Lambert CD? And here I’ve been blaming your dad.
STEVE: Well, I know you guys have raised me with certain … well … expectations … and … oh you are gonna be so disappointed in me – even worse than that time I wore brown and black together.
DAVE: Disappointed? How could we ever be disappointed in you, son?
BARRY: Your dad’s right. C’mon – what’s bugging you?
STEVE: OK, then — I guess the best thing is to just come right out and say it. Dad … dad … I’m … well, I’m not gay!
(DADS GASP AUDIBLY – THEN, STUNNED SILENCE. Finally, BARRY speaks)
DAVE: What … what did he just say?
BARRY: Holy shit! I never saw that coming!
DAVE: Oh you didn’t, huh?
BARRY: Hell, no – never in a million years would I have guessed my son …
DAVE: Excuse me — our son.
BARRY: Right – our son would turn out … you know …
STEVE: Straight? Is that the word you’re looking for?
BARRY: Well, I wasn’t going to put it that way but …
STEVE: But that’s what you’re thinking, isn’t it? Isn’t it?
BARRY: Steve, gimme a break, huh? This is a hell of a surprise. And I gotta say, for a straight guy you’re sure a drama queen!
DAVE: Oh, so you’re surprised, huh? Never saw this coming, did you?
BARRY: What? Of course I’m surprised! What are you saying?
DAVE: Oh nothing. Just … who brought him home in a blue blanket? To a blue nursery? And blue onesies?
STEVE: Hey, I like blue! I mean, I like pink too, but blue’s cool!
BARRY (To Steve): Honey, you know pastels make your ass look fat. (To Dave): And who insisted he get a baseball glove and not an Easy-Bake Oven?
DAVE: Oh, please! Don’t try to pin this all on me!
BARRY: Well, if the Pradas fit, honey …
DAVE: Well, if we’re dredging up ancient history here, who surprised him with a BMX bike — when we had both agreed on drama camp?
BARRY: Yes, and who insisted he be allowed to play football in junior high – and not even soccer, but AMERICAN FOOTBALL!
STEVE: Hey guys – remember: a football scholarship is sending me to UCLA …
DAVE: Stevie, please – your dad and I are talking. Yeah, OK, I sorta pushed him into football. But who bought him a BB gun for his birthday?
BARRY: Listen, I had a BB gun when I was a kid and …
DAVE: Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard all this before. “I had a BB gun when I was a kid and look how I turned out – gayer than a purple Miata. Blah blah blah.” Spare me.
STEVE: (Laughing) Gayer than a purple Miata?! That’s fucking hyster …
DAVE: Stevie?! Talking here!
BARRY: Stevie, listen – this is probably just some kind of crazy phase you’re going through. You know, when I was your age I fooled around with one of my sister’s friends. But that didn’t mean …
DAVE: You what?
STEVE: You did?
BARRY: We’ve talked about this …
DAVE: Like hell we have!
BARRY: Well … look – I was 13, horny as hell, and this girl had snuck some beers out of her parents’ house …
DAVE: Oh my god – please! Spare me the details!
STEVE: My dad banged a girl? Did I wake up in Bizarro World?
DAVE: Stevie? For the last time, hun …
BARRY: You know what? This whole argument is fucking stupid. I have nothing to prove to you. And you seriously need to get a grip.
DAVE: Get a grip? Did you just tell me to get a grip? Do either of you have any idea of what’s going to happen when this gets around? What our friends are going to say? And I can sure as shit kiss my seat on the symphony board good-bye.
STEVE: You know, I can’t believe I’m hearing this! The two people I love most in the world worrying about what people will think when it gets around that their son’s not a little light in the loafers.
BARRY, DAVE: What?! I don’t …
STEVE: I can’t fucking believe this! My parents … Mr. and Mr. Anything Goes free-thinkers … are closet heterophobes! Sorry, guys, but I’m out of here.
DAVE: Well, hun …
DAVE: Looks like we may end up as grandparents anyway.
BARRY: (Heavy sigh): Yeah, looks like. Good thing I kept that leftover blue paint.
DAVE: Don’t you start on me!
This sketch was written for and produced by The New Movement Theater