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© St. Petersburg Times, published November 24, 2002
I love Spam.
When, as a wee lad, I learned that our World War II GIs were dining on Spam, I couldn't get enough of it myself. I still fall on my knees at breakfast and thank Hormel for creating this food of the gods. (Rumor is, there are some folks out there who don't share my sophisticated palate. I guess it is an acquired taste.)
So I deeply resent sullying the word Spam by using it as a sobriquet for junk e-mail. When first I got a computer, I was thrilled whenever that smarmy announcer's voice said, "You've got mail." Now I know it only means I have a tedious deleting session ahead of me. AOL doesn't tell you about that in their commercials, do they?
Then there are those pop-up ads, right when I'm in the middle of something. Don't they know that I'm online for a reason? That I'm busy? It's like having a discussion at a party and some fool sticks his head up between the two of you and starts yammering in your face. How rude can you get? Even those unpardonable telemarketers don't intrude on you until you're off the phone -- although they would if they could.
(Did you see where the Dutchman who invented pop-up ads was murdered recently and that his coffin, repeatedly buried, keeps turning up above ground? It's true. Must be somebody's sick idea of a pop-up joke.)
But I digress. Back to the spam. If the U.S. Postal Service brought me that much junk mail, they'd need a pack animal to get it from the curb to my porch.
These pushy peddlers word their headings as though they're from some old buddy of mine eager to get in touch. But I know better. Anybody who calls me "Donald" isn't anybody who knows me.
And don't they do any market research to pinpoint their prospective customers? Talk about a scattergun approach. For the record, spam spewers, I don't want to buy Viagra online, get out of debt, check out your exciting mortgage rates, learn a new trade, earn money at home or leer into your co-ed dorms. I'm not looking for a new car, more insurance, old school chums, hair replacement therapy, a mate, airline tickets, a degree, psychic counseling or any CDs, DVDs, BVDs or any other VDs. Nor do I care that my prize is waiting. Nor do I want to enlarge any of my organs. I already have a big heart.
-- Underheard: "The good news is, foolish people who vote foolishly get what they deserve. The bad news is, the rest of us get it, too."
-- The following is for football buffs in particular. The rest of you might want to go check out your horoscopes or something at this juncture.
For years now I've been chewing on this theory. I call it the 2-K Theory. No, it's not about the new millennium or repeating kindergarten. It's the theory that the toughest guys in football all have a K in their first and last names.
The four pillars of my theory are grid greats Bronko Nagurski, Chuck Bednarik, Mike Ditka and, of course, Dick Butkus. If these toughies are the four tires of my truck, then Clarke Hinkle, no marshmallow himself, is the spare. (Knute Rockne, though best known as a coach, was as tough as a poorly made conch fritter.)
"Is it genetic?" asked my distant research assistant, Lizz Schaffner, up there in Hernando County. Well, maybe so. A lot of these names smack of middle-European ethnicity -- what we used to call "sturdy peasant stock." I know Bronko was of Ukrainian heritage.
I wish I could include nicknames among my examples. Such a long list would lend a lot of weight to my hypothesis: Alex "The Mad Duck" Karras, Ted "The Mad Stork" Hendricks, "Bucko" Kilroy, "Zeke" Bratkowski, "King Kong" Kahn, "Socko" Szakash and "Mink" Kresky. One supposes Ray Nitschke and Larry Csonka, with one K each, count as half an example each, combining to make one. See how scientific I am?
Ex-players like Chuck Knox, Doak Walker and Jack Kemp were fine gridders to be sure, but not up there in the Bednarik brutality bracket. (Hmmm. Three examples of my theory not holding up.)
And who could ever forget that old pro, Frank Gatski? I, for one.
I invite my scholarly peers to examine and replicate my findings. (No, Aunt Phoebe, we can't count Jack Armstronk. Go to your spell-check, dear.)
-- I received a rant in the mail last month from a fella whose main theme was the tired old "love it or leave it" cop-out. Rather than engage critics, he wants them to shut up and go away.
He closed his essay with, "If you agree with this message, pass it on. If you don't agree, pass it on anyway. This is AMERICA, after all.
Whoa up there, citizen. You want me to do your legwork for you?
Let's see if I got this straight. If you disagree with what I say, I should leave the country. If I disagree with what you say, I should help you say it. (While I'm out of the country?)
Sounds fair enough. This is AMERICA, after all -- the relevance of which escapes me here.
Some people just can't wave a flag and think at the same time.