Off Key!

By Bob Frederickson

From Filling the Stands to Taking a Stand

BUC’ing a Trend?

While most NFL teams are worried about whether there will be any fans returning to their stadiums this fall, what with the fallout from the Coronavirus epidemic, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are banking on a big increase; so much so that the team is even reportedly considering raising the price for new season ticket sales. The reason for the team’s confidence? One name: Tom Brady.

Since the six time Super Bowl winning QB announced his signing with Tampa Bay, it’s been like Ugly Betty getting asked to the senior prom by the most popular star athlete in the class around team headquarters at One Buc Place in Tampa.

So why did Brady decide on Tampa? Well, according to sports analyst Colin Cowherd it wasn’t money, or even the prospect of pairing up with the team’s standout wide receivers, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, rather it came down to a matter of respect.

Or as Aretha put it R-E-S-P-E-C-T!

According to Cowherd, the decision was likely rooted in an interview conducted by ESPN, the Magazine with Patriots’ front office personnel and at least one of the team’s ‘up the food chain’ coaches. That piece plainly expressed the sentiment that the Patriots thought they could win super bowls with multiple quarterbacks.

Brady had won six championships with the team. He had taken pay cuts to help sign other players and he hears that kind of gratitude from the organization he has worked so hard for, for so long?

As Cowherd put it, the bottom line is that just like the rest of us, Tommy just wants to be appreciated.

Considering A Career Change…

I understand American Sign Language about as well as I do Swahili, which is to say not at all. But I have to say I’ve been intrigued watching the now ubiquitous ‘Signers’ do their part to translate important information for deaf viewers tuned in to the endless briefings from governors and assorted other state and local officials as our national lock down continues. I mean these are usually pretty dull affairs, so to see these folks up there really getting into it as they try to pass along whatever is being said is, well…admirable.

And entertaining too. I mean, they really seem to love their jobs, with their broadly animated gestures and expressions, which I suppose are part of their training to get whatever point they’re trying to make across. But to me it’s like watching some bizarre reality show where everybody on stage is wrapped way too tight, except for this one guy (or gal) rockin’ out to their own beat, stage left.

Or maybe I’m just jealous that these folks get to leave the house and do something productive given the mind numbing boredom of my own house arrest.

Sometimes I’ll mute the sound just to see if I can get a sense of what they’re trying to ‘say.’ (This is a work in progress which to date has failed to show any progress).

At one point it occurred to me, what if they’re not really saying anything at all?

Remember the guy who climbed up on the stage with Obama when the latter was delivering a eulogy at the memorial service for Nelson Mandela in South Africa back in 2013?

Turns out the dude was a total imposter.

If he ‘said’ anything it was totally by accident.

Wilma Newhoudt, the first deaf individual elected to the South African Parliament, was in the audience that day. She had this to say:

“Shame on this so-called interpreter! What is he signing? He knows the deaf cannot vocally boo him off. Shame on him!”

“Honey Badger Don’t Care…”

There’s just something about these folks that just screams “Hey, I don’t Care how I look! I’m Just Up Here Doing My Thang!”

I think I missed my calling.

Making a Name for Itself…

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (FDEO) is the state agency responsible for processing unemployment claims from citizens who have lost their jobs. But to an increasing number of Floridians sucker punched by the hit to the economy caused by the Coronavirus pandemic the state agency has become The Department of Utter and Complete Futility. Many have reported spending hours on hold while trying to apply for state benefits that rank among the lowest in the nation (topping out at $287 weekly) and more importantly, staking out a place in line for the greater benefits of $600 per week from the Federal government authorized by the Paycheck Protection Act passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump recently.

We should have seen this coming with the snafus surrounding last year’s ‘upgrade’ of the statewide SunPass toll collection system implemented by the Florida Department of Transportation. The changeover from the old system to the new and improved model was delayed for months, leaving gaps in user billing statements resulting in larger than usual balances due when the system finally went live again and leaving workers seeking reimbursements from their employers without documentation for tolls paid while on the job.

For some reason, when it comes to government implementing technology, it’s like grandma trying to call you on the new smart phone you bought her.

So it came as no surprise when the folks in charge at FDEO came up with a high-tech work-around to the meltdown of their unfortunately named “Connect” claims processing network (a name fully disconnected from the reality of its performance). Instead of using the vaunted new mega million dollar online system, they now suggest simply printing out an application on paper and sending it in by mail.

Yup, that’s right, here in Florida, Snail Mail is the next big thing.

More Good News from Florida Government…

In other Florida news, state officials have decided that the WWE should be deemed an ‘Essential Business.’ That’s right. ‘Professional’ wrestling, known for its campy, faux drama is essential, but developing a workable system for paying unemployed workers the benefits they’re entitled to? Not so much…

A Work in Progress…

What can presumptive Democrat party presidential nominee Joe Biden do to smooth out his stilted, gaffe prone speaking style while on camera or addressing live campaign events?

Lawyer and political analyst Emily Compagno has an answer:

“Hire a ventriloquist.”

“For What, A Little Bit of Money?”

Today the Chinese Coronavirus has forced the citizens of this nation to take refuge in their homes. But early on in the last decade another Chinese export was forcing many Americans out of theirs. That export? Defective Chinese drywall. Remember that debacle? It hit nationwide, but here locally buyers of homes built by mega builder U.S.

Homes were especially hard hit. Many buyers complained of headaches and other more severe illnesses related to a pungent odor traced to gases given off by the faulty Chinese wallboard which had by then replaced long-standing American made gypsum wall board products that had been used without incident for generations since being introduced at the start of the post World-War-II building boom fueled by GIs returning from Europe.

Later there were stories of pets getting sick after folks brought home Chinese made dog treats, chew toys and bags of pet food?

Did we learn anything? Apparently not.

It has become clear over the past few weeks that we’ve become far

too reliant on China for essential supplies, especially medicines and medical devices.

Why?

To save a little money? And for many in business and government, to make fortunes.

But have we traded our birthright of freedom and independence in a Faustian bargain?

It reminds me of the ending of the Coen Brothers movie, Fargo many readers will recall. The homespun, rural North Dakota Sheriff Marge Gunderson has just managed to capture one of the two suspects she’d been tracking down in a murder/kidnapping scheme after she happened on one of the perps disposing of the body of the other by feeding his corpse into a wood chipper outside an isolated, rural cabin where the two had been holed up. Seems the guy going into the chipper had set his partner-in-crime off by talking too much while the former was trying to relax watching some TV.

Anyway, Marge, heavy with child, somehow manages to arrest and cuff the surviving perp and then get him into her cruiser. As she’s driving him to the lockup in Fargo, in the middle of a sub zero, mid-winter white out, she looks up at her rearview mirror and says to the guy:

“That must have been your accomplice in the woodchipper.

And those people in Brainard? And for what? A little bit of money?

There’s more to life than a little money, ya know.

Don’t ya know that?

And here ya are. And it’s a beautiful day.

Well, I just don’t understand it.”

(Me either).