Saturday, May 30, 2009

Five Reasons--Wichita Wingnuts

Five Reasons why the Wichita Wingnuts of the National Baseball Congress has the GREATEST team name ever:

1. Alliteration—Wichita Wingnuts. It rolls off the tongue. All great teams need alliteration: The Philadelphia Phillies, The Los Angeles Lakers, The—um—Manitoba Moose.

2. Multiple Mascots—Every excellent team these days has more than one mascot. First, we have the actual Wichita Wingnut, found on ball-caps, T-shirts and various logo-ized merchandise.

Isn’t it soooo cute? It’s a baseball wearing a wingnut like a little beanie cap. Awwwww. And it looks so angry, too—maybe the wingnut is screwed on a little too tight.

If beanie-wearing fuming baseballs aren’t your thing, then you might enjoy the second Wichita Wingnut mascot—the child-friendly Spinner. How’s that for adorable? (Just ignore those chicks draped on each arm—those are the Diamond Doll dance girls. Ugh.)

3. More mascots!—If those two don’t float your boat, check out all these other sorts of characters you’ll see at the ballpark. Crazy!

4. Hometown Connection—As Wichita is the “Air Capital of the World” (since the Kansas landscape’s pretty darn boring), the Wingnuts take their namesake from the aviation industry in the surrounding area—at least as long as those companies stay afloat.

For those of you not in the know, a “wing nut” or “wingnut” is a steel nut having two flat, widely projecting pieces such as it can be readily tightened with the thumb and forefinger. Now, I don’t know if wingnuts are used all that extensively in the manufacturing of airplanes anymore—not since the days of Orville and Wilbur, maybe—but I do know you need a lot of steel to hold those birds together. And since jets have wings, the name is all that more appropriate. Wichita Wingnuts. Sounds a lot better than Wichita Butterfly Nuts or Wichita Thumbnuts.

5. Clever Play on Words—Go Nuts! Between every inning, the MC tells us to yell that one the count of three. Ready? Try it . . . one, two, three . . .


Wasn’t that fun? And, of course, the whole enjoyment of said rally cry is the duplicity of its meaning—1) Yes, we are supporting and rooting for you, Wingnut baseball players; and 2) WeEHAAA!! Let’s go crazy! WhooowoOOH!

Naturally, the fans walk around in T-shirts claiming membership in the “Nut House.” I didn’t see any particular zone in the stadium where these “Nut Housers” congregated, but I like the idea. Let’s put all the most obnoxious fans in one section—kind of like a mosh pit. Works at the college level—and most of those fans are underage.

Unfortunately, there already is a Nut House in Wichita. It’s the Nifty Nut House, a wonderful store that sells candy and nuts. Best in town. Check it out: Maybe the Wingnuts and the Nifty Nut House can do some sort of joint marketing. I can already see free peanuts and sunflower seeds for all the players. Maybe the fans, too? I’ll take some dark chocolate covered Brazil nuts. They’re good for the prostate.

One drawback (?) of such nut nonsense is some people are bound to snicker at the name and revert to their middle-school mindset. (Nuts. Kee-hee.) Grow up. But maybe that’s what the PR people like. Beats me.

I DO know that if they ever need another promo, the Wingnuts should milk the first part of their name. Give out free Buffalo wings for each home run. Have some sort of wing-flapping cheer to go along with “Go Nuts!”

Go wild on this. Call me, people. I’ve got tons of ideas.

So there you have it. Wichita Wingnuts. Fun minor league distraction. Brilliant team mascot and marketing. Don’t even have to like baseball.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Star Trek Ears

In honor of the revived Star Trek movie franchise, I've posted a brief essay below. I wrote this over ten years ago, and recently revised it for everyone's viewing. Enjoy!


Here’s one for all you fans of psychology, psychiatry, cinematography, and/or otology (look up that last one):

When I was about six years old or so, my dad took my older brother Greg and me to a movie in the one theater in town. We saw the sci-fi flick (or as they sometime call them, “space opera”) Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. For younger readers, this was the original Kirk/Spock (Shatner/Nimoy) era of Star Trek, way before Trekkies and non-Trekkies alike would ever believe a bald man could captain the USS Enterprise.

Anyway, the aforementioned Khan ("Khaaaaaaaan!") was a bad-dude super-human from 300 years in the future’s past, as revealed in his first Star Trek appearance 20 years prior in one of the original television episodes. It all had to do with Khan being a criminal awoken from a cryogenically-frozen sleep, and some other techno-jumbo about which I had no clue. All I knew was Khan was the bad guy. And this was no Fantasy Island.

= ?

Back to the movie. In one scene, Khan and his bad-guy flunkies capture a couple of Starfleet crewmembers. (You know how it goes: the never-ending supply of nameless victims in Star Trek stories, although I believe one of these two was Mr. Chekov—poor Russian squirt.) So now, Khan’s got his human prisoners and wants to do something with them.

"Hmmm . . .” he broods, “It is time for me to do something evil.”

Naturally, Khan goes and gets a hold of some slimy finger-sized scorpion/eel type-creatures. These parasitic beasties take over their hosts’ minds. That’s not bad. But here’s what’s bad. They get to the victims’ brains by burrowing through their EARS! Eeuuwww!!

Granted, I’m sure we all have seen plenty of nasty stuff. However, for this six-year-old sitting in that cushy theater seat, the scenario scarred me for life. I’m talking major psychological damage here. Both Greg and I (and Dad, too, come to think of it) were pretty much grossed out for the rest of the movie.

That night when I went to bed, I feared deeply for my ears. I had to do something to protect their well-being. I’ve never been one to pull the covers over my head. I always feel like I’m going to suffocate under the heavy blankets. So I came up with a much more efficient, yet effective technique. I wrapped the spread up just barely over my ears, leaving my nose to have free access to open air.

Today, of course, I notice some flaws in this strategy. My nose, mouth, and eyes were utterly defenseless. The bad guys could do whatever they wanted with them. But not the ears. They were key.

In the thousands of nights to come in my childhood, I continued to get in the ear flap position before I would feel completely safe to slumber off into dreamland. I’m 22 years old and I still do this at night. I truly can’t get comfortable unless I’ve got the ears covered and safe from any nighttime invaders. And this all started from watching that creepy movie. Thanks, Gene Roddenberry. (I'd spit on your ashes, if they weren't orbiting Earth in outer space.)

Anyway, that’s just my own analysis of my condition. In all these years since, I’ve never again viewed that scene in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. I wonder if the burrowing brain suckers really are that disgusting.

Better be safe and not find out. I’d rather not bring back any post-revulsion shock still buried deep within my consciousness.

If anybody’s out there with a license to handle such idiosyncrasies, give me a call. You could get a couple of counseling sessions out of me. I welcome your diagnosis. Dig into my brain.

Just don’t mess with the ears.


Post Script: Ten years after first writing this essay, I can proudly say I no longer require blankets over my ears in order to sleep peacefully. Instead, I insert a mouth guard to avoid grinding my teeth. I'll leave that story for another day . . .