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Wednesday, October 3, 2012


They have finally reached a deal to replace the replacement referees in the National Football League, and NO ONE is more upset about this than I am. I was watching the game on Monday night, and the calls by the officiating crew at the end of the contest were so comical that I actually laughed out loud. I was guffawing! I woke up the cat, the dog and the eel, which may have already been awake; it’s hard to tell. Good comedy is hard to come by on network TV, and this was good.

It was the last play of the game, and Seattle was down by 5 points since Green Bay had tried an unsuccessful 2-point conversion earlier. You have two choices in that situation: 1.) you can go for a running play where you combine the games of “Keep Away,” “Hot Potato” and “Kill the Carrier.” The person with the ball waits until he is about to be hurt very badly, then throws the ball at the last minute to someone else who notices that he is also about to suffer bodily harm, and this goes on for ten or fifteen minutes while the team with the ball moves steadily in the wrong direction, since you are not allowed to throw the ball forward, only backward. Or, 2.) try a “Hail Mary” pass, where you throw the ball 50 yards into the end zone, where 20 people have gathered to try to catch the ball, some not even on the team.

If you are a person named “Mary” sitting in the bleachers you stand a statistically equal chance of catching the ball for a touchdown as anyone on the field, given a margin of error of three percentage points.

So the quarterback makes his desperate heave, and everyone queues up in the end zone to try to catch it. Everyone is there except the two replacement officials, one of whom is doing his taxes and the other is watching a cat video. Meanwhile as the ball is in the air, the players are all engaging in bad behavior. There is some name-calling, some pushing, some disorderly conduct, some aggravated assault, and even some on-line bullying and troublesome tweets. NONE of these things are allowed, and at the last minute the Seattle player simply shoves the defender out of the way while one of the referees is busy lining up three beanbags. The offending Seahawk doesn’t even catch the ball with more than one hand and part of his chin. The Green Bay guy has two hands and an ear on it for the apparent interception, and they hit the ground like a pair of Siamese twins. Ten players are on the ground with the twins trying to perform that difficult operation that may save their lives, where they extract the ball without anesthesia.

By this time the zebras have galloped into the area- one referee waves his arms over his head for a touchback, and the other hikes them straight in the air for a touchdown. Even as they are making these signals, they are two feet from one another, looking into each others’ faces and thinking, “YOU A-HOLE! You have just cost me an official’s job that I never officially had had!”

One year at the TV network where I work, the stagehands went on strike, and we management personnel had to fill in and do their jobs. We schlepped scenery, we dressed sets and we adjusted lights. I was told to man the catwalk, and I thought I was going to get to model something. We got yelled at by directors, lighting directors, and goofed on by Connie Chung.

We were useless enough, but I remember thinking, WOW- what a lot of pressure to be management personnel at a hospital during a doctors' strike. I just know I'm going to drop that goddamn gall bladder on the floor and look like a total dipshit. What about when the hookers go on strike? That is NOT going to have a happy ending.

The NFL during this infamous period has taken on the flavor of a high school math class with a substitute teacher. The players were all pushing the envelope of unacceptable conduct, trying to figure out exactly what they can get away with.

They held, they encroached, they ran into the kicker. Why would you run into a kicker? It's almost suicidal unless you run into him with your car on the way out of the stadium. They falsely started, they roughed the passer, and they illegally used their hands. Mind you, these football players aren't just flagged for using their hands against the rules of football; whatever they are doing with them is actually ILLEGAL! God only knows what mischief four fingers and a thumb can get into. They deliberately batted or punched a loose ball. Enough said there.

And they got away with just about all of it.

Whenever my high school had a teacher’s illness they would call upon the ever-vigilant Mrs. Levy, who seemed about 100 years old, but in reality was only 90-something. Usually if there was a substitute teacher you would just skip the class, but you would NEVER skip Mrs. Levy’s entertaining appearances; you might miss something good.

I remember one time we pulled the old “bee swarm” routine, where someone pipes up a subtle buzzing sound, and one-by-one the rest of the class picks up the cue, until an ersatz plague of biblical proportions engulfs the room. That was the day we found out that Mrs. Levy was pretty close to completely deaf. We continued to attempt other minor assaults on her remaining senses, and finally concluded that she was completely senseless. Still, you couldn’t get away with much. She seemed to have eyes in the back of her head, but it turns out her wig was on backwards.

Meanwhile, Green Bay refused to come back for the kicking of the extra point, and had to be coaxed out with a dog biscuit. The crowd was definitely abuzz, but it could have been the old “bee swarm” gag, who knows?

Incidentally, there have been many labor actions that have changed the course of history, and others, not so much. There was an actors’ strike in 2001, where those filling in the roles were only acting actors. In 2008 there was a communications strike in India. For one magic day, people could understand how to fix their computers. The city of Leeds in England saw a refuse workers strike in 2009. The city asked for them to come back to work but they refused.


  1. Flag on the play!
    Unsportsmanlike Conduct: Piling On

    Melen is assessed a fifteen yard penalty for piling on along with the other crybaby wha-whah cheesehead armchair good-for-nothin'-but-beer-burps sobbing losers of the helter-skelter pseudo-macho fraternity of cretins who consider themselves to be consumate sports officials.
    Shared possession goes to the receiver, numbnuts!
    And laces out . . .always laces out, like you're supposed to . . . Die, animal boy!

  2. Quite the opposite! I found them most entertaining! I had no dog in the fight other than that I like cheese....

  3. mrs levy and DR yagod were the same person

  4. They certainly did have the same figure....