It took 75 years, but I have come to the conclusion that I am a superficial, utterly unsophisticated, morally bankrupt man with a virtually worthless value system. I have probably realized this fact from the beginning, but when you are young you feel compelled to impress your family, friends, enemies and especially yourself with the quality of your existence.
When you suddenly wake up one day to find that you’re no longer young or of significant importance to anyone other than a rapidly shrinking circle of friends and family, you care less. of the image that we present to a world that evolves without it. Let me tell you what I’ve been doing since the world, as we knew it, disappeared in March of this year.
If you read my stuff regularly, you already know that sports have always been a big part of who I am. The fact that I know who Johnnie LeMaster, Rolando, Earl Anthony, Buster Crabbe, Tonya Harding, Ricky Barnes and Greg Louganis are – and yet I don’t remember the name of a 20 year old colleague when I see her in a grocery store – should tell you where my priorities lie.
When the pandemic hit the world several months ago, one of the first victims of my life was not being able to follow college and professional sports on my precious 55 inch flat screen TV.
Things got worse a few weeks later when my grandsons ‘first baseball seasons were canceled, followed closely by the fact that my granddaughters’ football days were a thing of the past. I never realized how much I really loved football until it was no longer part of my life.
In order to get my dose of sports, I actually watched cornhole matches on TV; While I learned that Eddie Weese is the current world cornhole champion, watching a cornhole match is pale compared to watching his granddaughter Sam give him the best of a rainy spring morning on a field football in Yreka.
When watching sports in person or on TV suddenly became a thing of the past, I turned to reading. I’m the kind of reader who will go months, if not years, without picking up a book, unless you count Sports Illustrated, which I first subscribed to in 1966. When I decide to read, however, I Rarely puts a book down after I start – and most of the time I finish a book within days.
My good friend Tom Hanks wrote the first pandemic-era book that I devoured. A collection of short stories, “Uncommon Type” was interesting and seemed to reflect the experiences and values associated with his upbringing in northern California, including Tehama County.
I read a second time, “Be quick – but don’t rush” by Andrew Hill. Much of this book is about the teachings of coaching legend John Wooden, who was a personal friend of my dear friend Doug Sale, and a role model for all that is good in sport and in life.
I also completed a book I had been reading for a few years, written by a leading athletic orthopedist, detailing the cause and effects associated with young athletes who throw a baseball way too hard and too often. Although I am an exceptional athlete, I found this book boring.
The few books I have read in the last few months have been written by John Grisham. I like Grisham’s stuff, but for the most part, if you’ve read any of his books, you’ve read them all. Often located in the South, they mostly involve poor people who are falsely accused of murder or mayhem and it takes 400-500 pages of details for a struggling young lawyer to get them out of their traffic jam. As predictable as his writing is, I generally enjoy reading John Grisham.
Unfortunately, my life during the pandemic took a turn for the worse when I decided to expand my knowledge base that comes with signing up as a member of the Netflix family. This is where my personal story turns out most badly.
Because “everyone else is doing it” I first watched “Tiger King,” a Docuseries where an idiot resembling David Spade from the South runs a morally bankrupt tiger rescue operation and continually threatens to kill another. equally depraved rescue lady not killed her former husband. The series ends with the Tiger King going to jail and the female Tiger having recently signed with “Dancing with the Stars”… .only in America.
Things might have gone downhill from there (as if it could) when I watched “Ozark”. Although I’m a fan of Jason Bateman, I’ve never heard so many F words or seen so much violence in my long, long life. I can’t wait for the next Ozark season to begin.
After watching the Ozark franchise for 20 or 30 episodes, I found “The Ranch” starring Ashton Kutcher, Debra Winger and Sam Elliot. While I can take or leave Kutcher, I’ve been a fan of Sam Elliot for decades, as I’ve long believed that he looks a lot like me in appearance, in action, and in deed. Sam Elliot is a cool guy for sure.
My most recent binge-watching series on Netflix was “Schitt’s Creek” with Eugene Levy, an assortment of other family members and Chris Elliot, who at one point was featured as “The Man Under the Stairs” in The Tonight. Show with Johnny Carson. In fact, I found this series to be well written, entertaining, and enjoyable to watch, but don’t even think about watching it because I did. Compared to the rest of the shit above, even “The Bachelor” would look good.
Dang, I wish this pandemic would end. I want to come back to life as I knew it a short time ago. Stay well everyone.
Bill Cornelius is a permanent resident of Red Bluff, retired Chief Probation Officer, State Theater Champion and outstanding athlete. He can be reached at [email protected]