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Number 45 (Vol 2, No. 5).  This edition is for the week of January 29--February 4, 2001.
The aftermath: Super Bowl XXXV is over....sort of.
By now, everyone who gives a damn is aware of the outcome of Super Bowl XXXV, so I won't bore you with details covered sufficiently elsewhere. The Ravens won over the Giants 34-7, the "Trent Dilfer factor" is being mercilessly exploited by the local media (can't blame them), the half-time show was unusually...uh...big...(tho some complained it was oversold), and generally a good time was had by all. The weather cooperated (always a minor miracle) and Gasparilla went without a hitch. All fine and good.

What you may be surprised to know that we here in Tampa are still not quite through with Super Bowl XXXV even yet! There are vendors in "tent city"--the 4-corner area of the stadium catering to carnival-style merchandising--that will continue to operate, selling souvenirs, T-shirts and the like, for upwards of TWO MORE WEEKS!! Not so surprising is that they're still making a bundle! After-the-fact T-shirts, banners, flags, posters, you name it, are going for half-off. People from out of town are especially easy pickin's, seeing as they don't want to leave empty-handed, if they were so already.

Admirably, there was very little stalling at Tampa Int'l Airport the day after the event, as TIA handled a near(?) record-breaking flow-thru of passengers with aplomb.

Predictably, after such success with such a huge event, the "city father's" sights are now set a little higher: to win as host city for the 2012 Olympics.

It's been suggested that having the Olympics in your town is like having a Super Bowl every day for 15 days. The big question: can Tampa realistically handle something like that? Trying to head off possible objections, $300 million has been earmarked for road construction/improvements in the downtown area alone. Millions have been spent on artist's renderings, architectural overhaul visuals and traffic management, to say nothing of wheeling and dealing over new hotels going in over mowed-down project areas. (Get a local commentator started on that!) For any naysayers on possible hotel under-capacity, Tampa plans to import a dozen or so luxury liners to act as temporary hotels sitting out in the Garrison channel. (For out-of-town TV viewers: the Garrison channel is where you saw the pirate ship "José Gaspar" enter the port of Tampa on Gasparilla.) With some irony, it's been put forward that besides our weather, our proximity to Orlando is our best selling point. (If you ask why not just have it in Orlando, you're reminded that 3 Super Bowls took place here and the subject is abruptly changed.) In any event, the host city will be announced in 2004. Altho I have friends who are repulsed by thoughts of the upheaval something like this will bring, personally, my fingers are crossed.

I used to wonder what it would be like to host a World's Fair when they used to have them. Now I think I get the idea. Hey, at least we still host the Florida State Fair!

Junior tech-head dept.- Hopefully my new navigation bar downloaded into everyone's browsers without too much hassle. I designed, scratch-built and hand-coded that thing myself and I'm very proud of it. It's a snazzy javascript rollover trick I'm trying and I hope it works on your screen as well as over here. I stopped at 4 active buttons because the trick is memory-hungry and I was afraid of crashing everyone's browsers! As it is now, it should be OK and maybe later I'll add more buttons. The lower section is usefully changeable anyway for adding and subtracting links easily if I need to, so I'd just as soon keep that like it is. If I get complaints right away about everyone's browsers slowing down, I'll restore the original nav bar and slink back to the drawing board!

The domain thing. Yes, I said 2 weeks ago my domain name would be announced by now, but, I'm still codifying the living sh*t out of the darn thing! Every time I think the new homepage is done, I let a couple days go by and suddenly it looks lame. Strangely, I'm having more satisfying luck on these AOL pages, probably because my confidence is higher here. And I get to try out many experiments here (i.e., the javascript nav bar, see above), but some I can't (Perl scripts and CGI--not allowed). My domain site still lacks the proper attitude, and until it reeks of attitude, it won't go on the web. Plus there's stuff about managing a new webspace that's still Greek to me!  I'm still relatively new at this, OK people? Anyway, please be patient, it won't be long now.---code-head Nolan.


Matt's Rail     by Matthew Drinnenberg
Hello all...shall we begin?!
13 AND LIFE
By now most of you have probably heard of the 13-year-old black child who, because of juror brain discombobulation, was just found guilty of first-degree murder. I have been thinking about this ever since it first appeared on CNN, and I, like others no doubt, have been trying to make sense of it all, and hoping to find someone to blame. It's quite obvious to me and pretty much everyone I've spoken with that the blame cannot fall to this poor kid. True, a very young child has lost her life at the hands of this kid, but how any court of law in this country can construe this as anything other than a total misguided action on the part of someone too young to understand the consequences of that action is beyond me. Let's take a good look at this. After all...someone has to. The jury sure didn't.

We have an impressionable juvenile with a strong affection for the WWF, an an equally strong physique (for a 13-year-old). He's known in school as not being too bright, but has NEVER gotten in trouble before. Not ANY. We have a young fragile little girl, who is NO MATCH for this imposing 13-year-old. Still, they're friends, and like to play together. How tragic that their playtime may send him to jail for life, all because the censors have forgotten how to do their jobs, and allow a sexist, chauvinistic, violent, fake, uneducational, senseless, and hate-filled program to not only be GEARED for his age group, but shown on television at prime child-viewing hours. I honestly can say that this bothers me AS MUCH as the OJ Simpson (a.k.a. the Brentwood Slasher) fiasco. Just as he was OBVIOUSLY guilty of murder, this kid OBVIOUSLY did not intend to kill his playmate. This is one of those things that just sickens me. We watch the entertainment media filling the heads of youngsters with hatred, revenge, sex, and vindictivness and then shake our heads and ask why these things happen, when its relatively easy to understand.

Hopefully, the judge in this case, who can pretty much fix this MASSIVE ERROR, will do so. One last thought on this: I'm very surprised (and disappointed) in Jesse Jackson's obvious absence in this. I've thought for years that he was a self-serving egomaniac who was fortunate enough to hang with someone as wonderful and intellectually superior as Martin Luther King Jr., and because of this association, has raked in the money at the expense of his race. Too bad it seems I'm right on about this...because anyone who has time to incite a riot in Florida over a ballot that has been found "LEGAL", and no time for a young black boy about to be screwed by life, is, in my book, a SCUMBAG. Of course, we are now all learning of this truth.

HOSTAGE'S FREED
Yes...the American Hostage Takeover by the Clinton Administration is, praise God Himself, OVER!!! Mr. photo-op himself is now living in the great state of NY. I don't for a minute think that's the last we'll see of him, however, as today on CNN they gave 20 seconds of airtime to President Bush and his cabinet and 90 seconds to Clinton playing with his dog. Go figure. SUPER BOWL YAWWWWWWWWNNNNNNNNNN! That pretty much sums it up. I was disappointed with the weak commercials, too. Although I did like the Yasssuuuupp with the aliens. As for the game itself.... it was cool seeing home boy Trent win a Super Bowl. Keeping alive the tradition of the Bucs....grooming someone else's future Super Bowl QB. I was also quite impressed that after all he's been thru, he has no bitterness. He 'does' profess to be a Christian. It looks like he's showing the correct attributes of one.
Well, that's it. Till next...Take care and God Bless,
Matthew
   Whew! One of the most powerful Matt's Rails to come down the pike in a long time! After hosing down my computer screen with the fire extinguisher, I tried to come up with some thoughts to address many of the heated points made here.
   First of all, and I want to tread carefully here, even tho I sympathize with the criticism concerning immoral and violent television programming, the fact remains, of everyone exposed to WWF Wrestling or whatever, it's exceptionally rare that anyone is stupid enough to think any of that is real and kills or gets killed trying to imitate it. (Distressingly, way too many young boys get seriously HURT while trying to imitate it with other boys in a misguided attempt to prove "badness".) The main logic being most people know that TV is FICTION. And WWF wrestling is a REHEARSED FICTION in the guise of a sport. It's obscenely popular and it's performed by professionals--but accidents happen there, too.
   I understand that the boy has mental retardation/developmental problems, whatever (you said he was just "slow"). And I agree that being tried as an adult and earning a life sentence is stiff for someone only 13 years old (I doubt that sticks anyway). But, I have to disagree with you on one important point: 13 is old enough to know better. The fact remains other 13-year-old boys watch TV, but don't go around trying out ill-conceived plans of pop culture machismo on little girls. If he's slow, he wouldn't necessarily understand the gravity of that, that's true. Why wasn't he institutionalized instead of imprisoned? Only the jury heard the evidence, we can only speculate.
   I remember being 13 years old. I remember some school mates who were dangerously twisted--family problems or whatever--and I believed even then that they shouldn't be out loose. Not in jail, maybe, but controlled somehow. Where were/are the parents? What did the parents of your 13-year-old have to say?
   Coincidentally, just on the news earlier tonight, a story came on about some boy who wound up in a Shriner's hospital with third-degree burns trying to SET HIMSELF ON FIRE after he saw the stunt performed on TV. His friends helped him do it and they've all been arrested. All are about 13 or 14 years old and all are clueless as to why this stunt didn't work!!
   When I was a boy, the worst thing you'd hear is the oft-repeated odd story of kids putting on bath towels as capes and trying to jump off buildings like Superman. At any age, as badly as I wanted to fly, and I wanted to BADLY, I knew jumping off a building was NOT the answer!!  (Later, it was speculated that much of that story's "epidemic" nature was exaggerated by the press or perhaps had more to do with drug intoxication.) And don't even get me started on the "Beavis and Butthead " thing...
   Obviously, you've struck a major nerve here. Kids today need some kind of help, but censorship is not the answer.---Nolan.

Mike's Rant     by Michael A. Smith
Hello gang! Hope you had a warmer week than I did. Here we go:

HELLO, BRO!
Great to see my big brother Mark Drinnenberg add his name to our growing list of visiting columnists. I'm probably going to sound like Larry King here, but a finer man you will not meet. I hope he continues to write in with his thoughts.

OUCH
Caving in to international pressure, the Islamic court I wrote about last week decided to reduce the punishment it leveled on a 17-year-old girl who was found guilty of having premarital sex. The original 180 lashes with a cane was reduced to 100, which the girl lived through. Thank God she didn't get pregnant!  (Yes, thank God, or have any more sex!  Tell me, was the guy she had premarital sex with also 17 years old, and, if so, how many lashes did he get?---N)

PUT THE BLAME WHERE IT BELONGS
For once, I actually got to read Matt's Rail before submitting my own piece. I'm glad I did. For those of you that may remember my "parental guidance" rant regarding movies, you know I have to say something here: YOU CAN'T DEPEND ON ANYONE TO INFLUENCE YOUR CHILDREN BUT YOURSELF!! I was going to mention the group of kids that set their friend on fire this week after watching the MTV show "Jackass." I'm glad that Nolan already brought it up. To blame television for running wrestling in "prime time" for the senseless killing in Florida is like blaming NASCAR for car wrecks. Before I start, let me say now that I'm sure I'm not the best parent in the world. I trust my 16-year-old son implicitly and will do so until he gives me reason not to. Neither his mother nor I allow him to watch "whatever he wants" on television. We do our best to see that he watches programs that aren't too "over the top." We're not prudes. I enjoy the occasional "When Good Pets Go Bad" special as much as the next guy. But, I don't go out the next day and try to lure the neighbor's cat into attacking me. Matt, I sympathize with your ideas. However you can't depend on the government to protect the children of today. And don't go looking for Jesse Jackson anytime soon. He's got enough problems!  (LOL!!!...riot---N) You will find that Jessie picks his fights carefully. And unless someone starts the "Davy and Goliath" channel anytime soon, we are stuck with the crap that pretends to be quality television. If parents are looking to blame someone for their children's behavior, they need look no further then the closest mirror.  (Here, here!---N)

SUPER BOWL STUFF
I must admit that I have mixed emotions about this past week's Super Bowl. I was proud of how my hometown looked on television. I was proud that the team from my old homestead of Baltimore won. But I was sickened that Ray Lewis was the MVP. Of course, I have been sickened by Ray Lewis since the last Super Bowl. For those of you with short memory spans, after last year's Super Bowl in Atlanta, Lewis and some friends were involved in an altercation that ended with two young men stabbed to death. The accused guilty parties sped off in Lewis' limousine. Lewis cautioned everyone in the car not to say anything if they were questioned by police. At the hotel, he discarded the clothes he was wearing. When the police confronted him (after tracing the limo license plate), he denied having anything to do with the crime, even going so far as to say he didn't know the other two men who were being questioned. After being charged with murder (along with his two friends), Lewis cut a deal and pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in exchange for having the murder charges dropped. He then delivered a joke testimony for the prosecution who had hoped Lewis would help them gain a conviction. Instead the two men were acquitted, with the jury saying that they didn't know who to believe. Since that time, Lewis has never shown any remorse for the crime. He hasn't even contacted the families to say he was sorry he was even remotely involved in this tragedy. This week, after facing many questions from the press on this subject, Lewis went so far as to liken himself to Jesus Christ. In Lewis' words, Jesus, too, was persecuted for his actions. NFL Commissioner Paul Tailgate even went so far as to praise Lewis, likening him to great Middle Line Backers like Mike Singletary and Dick Butkus. Perhaps in his dreams. Kudos to Disney and General Mills for not rewarding Lewis by making him their pitchmen. No "I'm going to Disney World" for Ray. Disney is letting the public know that they won't be rewarding Mr. Lewis for his lack of compassion and remorse. Too bad the NFL won't follow their lead!

Have a great week!
   I share your grief. Not being a big sports fan myself,  I have never understood society's turning a blind eye to capital offenses of over-valued sports-heroes, just because of the money and/or popularity involved. At least, in the Ray Lewis case, it only seems to extend to the NFL, but that's where the money is, so screw General Mills and Disney, right?
   O.J. Simpson is about the only case where an aquittal didn't really help resume a career. Mike Tyson has been in many many scrapes with the law, all involving violence, AND guilty verdicts, and it only serves to make him MORE popular. When it comes to million-dollar sports contracts, some of us are more equal than others, I guess.---Nolan.

"Matt's Rail is ©2001 by Matt Drinnenberg.   "Mike's Rant" is ©2001 by Michael A. Smith.   All contents this page are ©2001 Nolan B. Canova

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