Sunday, December 31, 2006

Geography Quiz

"That's the Eiffel Tower, that tall one over there."

This was most recently uttered by:
(A.) A social studies teacher showing slides of European capitals to her seventh graders.
(B.) Clark Griswold in National Lampoon's European Vacation.
(C.) Me, when I worked as a Parisian tour guide for the blind.
(D,) The man in seat 8C, while taxiing LaGuardia with a view of the midtown skyline.
(Answer provided in the comments.)

Friday, December 29, 2006

Auld lang syne, you fool

I know the saying that New Year's Eve is for amateurs, a cliche grounded in the erroneous assumption that professionals take time off.

New Year's Eve, like St. Patrick's Day, has evolved into an event with specific traditions and rituals. The amateurs pay inflated cover charges and get sloppy; we pack refrigerators, write some new rules, raid K-Mart's toy section, and get sloppy. Please don't spend New Year's Eve overdressed or paying covers or shouting over a bunch of bankers and the women who love them.

Dec. 31, 2002

Where: Apartment party at the home of Blog Perv Danielle, which was attended by approximately 400 people.

Who: Me; Flop; Danielle; the Watchman; a high school friend who had recently left the Marines; every spiky-haired fraternity alumnus from Long Island

Memorable Events: Attendees take refuge in Danielle's bedroom, therein avoiding frat hell. Flop and the Watchman engage in a heated argument about who is the bigger dictator when it comes to selecting bars. The night later ends at Raccoon Lodge on the Upper East Side.

Lessons learned: Massive parties are difficult; don't fight with Watchman.

Dec. 31, 2003

Where: South Pasadena, Calif., at the home of a college friend. The following day, Michigan plays USC in the Rose Bowl.

Who: Me; Flop and his then-girlfriend Chuggy; Evil Girl and her boyfriend; our host and his future fiancee; numerous other luminaries from college, high school and the workplace.

Memorable Events: Flop demolishes a sawhorse with a shovel; I take joyrides in a wheelchair and spray guests with a garden hose; a middle-aged guy crashes the party to tell us how much he loves the University of Michigan; some low-key romantic intrigue.

Lessons learned: Surprising props, creative destruction, and a crowd limited to friends are essential to a New Year's party.

Dec. 31, 2004

Where: The apartment of Flop's once-and-future roommate Brian.

Who: Me; Flop; Brian; HMQ2K5; other dignitaries.

Memorable Events: Flop and I spend $50 at K-Mart on silly string, plastic swords, balloons, and a tiara for the ladies. Shortly before midnight, we crown HMQ2K5, thus beginning a tradition of granting one lucky lady a royal title for the succeeding year. At around 2 a.m., Brian's then-roommate and I stand on the roof and shout greetings to pedestrians below.

Lessons learned: Every lady wants to be treated like royalty. Never underestimate silly string. When cheerfully greeted by strangers two floors up, some pedestrians feel honored and others grow angry.

Dec. 31, 2005

Where: My apartment.

Who: Me; Flop; Brian; HMQ2K5; Blog Perv Danielle and her boyfriend; various A-listers.

Memorable Events: Bulk purchase of toy guns that shoot ping-pong balls and rubber darts leads to q nightlong shootout. Blog Perv Danielle is crowned Queen of 2006, leading to abbreviation BPDHMQ2K6. A lime fight and the massive release of silly string requires surprisingly difficult, still-ongoing clean-up efforts. Scenes like this:


Lessons learned: Silly string and lime wedges can get behind your bookshelves, petrify, and stay there forever. Flop should have no contact with firearms. Girls like to have their names engraved on trophies.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Year-end review

Roaringest Radical Resurgance

Living With War, by Neil Young. It was a sledgehammer protest album released at the key moment in the zeitgeist, an anti-Bush, anti-war wolf whistle that happened to rock hard. Neil's dreary 2005 release "Prairie Wind" sounded like the twilight of a great artist content to fade away. In its ragged glory, "Living With War" showed an angry legend rage against the dying of the light. It brought his career, politics, and music full circle.

And for those who considered it too blunt: fuck subtlety. Sometimes, metaphor can sound like an apology. This was Neil's year to thrash.

Best Reason to Go to Minor League Ballparks

Because they're Bob Dylan's summer tour venues of choice. As I wrote at the time, there's something irreplaceable about "watching him in an infield the size of Webster Hall, looking up during 'It's All Right Ma, I'm Only Bleeding,' and seeing the Big Dipper overhead."

Best Show that Has Zer
o Gimmicks But Nails it Completely


Friday Night Lights.

If you don't love this show, we have less in common than I thought.

Best Show that Nobody Watched


Sons & Daughters on ABC was the heir to Arrested Development. The show died an early death, and now all I have are episodes saved on Tivo that I watch once a month and refuse to delete.

Best Show Ever


The Thick of It on BBC America. Angry bureaucrats who want to kill each other shout expletives behind closed doors. Sabotage and betrayal are ways of life. In these respects, it depicts the workplace more authentically than either version of The Office.

Best Movie that Nobody Wanted to See

United 93. Not to kill the mood or anything, but in addition to being a damn fine piece of filmmaking, it was a major cultural moment to see the events of that day depicted without kitsch or sloganeering or sentimentality. Less exploitative than anything you'll see on network news or the History Channel. Makes you want to be a better person and an angrier person and to care deeply about things. It is superb and grueling and indispensible.

Best Novel of 2006


The Road by Cormac McCarthy. At some point in junior high I started reading Stephen King. Ever since, I've been waiting for a book that kept me up until 3 a.m., leaving me with nightmares, causing me to wake the next day feeling bleak and tired and just a little bit scared. The Road did that, and then left me reeling for entirely different reasons. It's a book about the end of the world, as cross-bred with The Old Man and the Sea, As I Lay Dying, and The Plague. Man against nature? Check. Questions about civilization? Yes. Poignant depiction of a father and son? Yes. That, and starvation and cannibalism, mercy and cruelty, and a landscape so deftly described that I believed it in full.

It freaked out my inner thirteen-year-old and then gave me one of my best reading workouts since college.

Best Novel of 2006 That I Didn't Want to Read


The Emperor's Children, by Claire Messud. A book with a terrible title, a plot that sounds like a weak Jay McInerney imitation, written with too many adverbs and adjectives, about people that are intensely unlikeable. But like Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time, Claire Messud's novel draws a panorama of ambitious writers, thinkers, socialites and businessmen, letting their clashing agendas and egos leisurely burn themselves out in a series of social gatherings and romantic indiscretions. Powell's characters became a part of the world with World War II, and Messud uses 9/11 to similar effect. Her portrayal of September 11 isn't totally persuasive, but it's serviceable, which is better than any other novelist has so far mustered.

Best Novel of 2006 That Was Cruelly Overrated, Thus Setting Up the Writer to Be Later Condemned as a Disappointment


Special Topics in Calamity Physics, by Marisha Pessl. Sometimes talented young writers publish good first novels. Anxious for hope in the future of literature, critics and readers hype the book's quality beyond reason. Rather than being lauded as talented authors with potential, the young writers instead are compared to Pynchon and Nabokov and Salinger. They publish subsequent novels, which are received as disappointments and cannibalized. The young writers never had a prayer.

This year's victim was Marisha Pessl, who gave us a perfectly entertaining and thoughtful novel that overexcitable critics have tried to ruin through overpraise. Nabokov? Not even close. An ambitious mixed success written by a likeable and promising voice? Yes, and that's good enough.

Best Working Band Since the Stones Released Sticky Fingers


The Hold Steady burned itself so deep into my brain that on a recent night stumbling out of a bar, I blurted lyrics ad naseum and continued sputtering them for blocks.

Sure, I think that their fall release Boys and Girls in America fell just a tad below the standards that the band set in Separation Sunday and Almost Killed Me, but it still creates a lyrical epic of lost love, moments of clarity and all the flashpoints where everything simultaneously goes so right, so wrong, and so drunk. Over three albums, they've assembled a singular and persuasive cast of characters and drawn a roadmap to the United States -- comparable to Bob giving us Desolation Row, the story of Highway 61, and Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts.

Best Description of The Hold Steady by a More Objective Observer

Courtesy of Jeff Weiss:
The Hold Steady are a cult. Like Scientology. Or Kaballah. Or Cory Kennedy (No Vincent Gallo). Except that they don't want your money, your time, or your ability to make Cobrasnake's site traffic spike. They just want you to have a good time. That's all. They offer everything you could want. Boozy anthems for the frat-boys, introspective lyrics for the ladies, relateable tales for the teens, literary leanings for the book dorks and enough substance abuse references to satisfy Mel Gibson. Boys and Girls is the Hold Steady's best album yet, a complex and articulate collection of 11 short stories of growing up in America. Inspired by a Kerouac quote about "boys and girls in America having such a sad time together," they too will live on like the deceased novelist. People will always need things to make them a little less sad.
Best Excuses for Going Hoarse

Photo taken from GRW's photostream.

The Hold Steady's 2006 shows at Warsaw and Irving Plaza.

I think you're old enough to know that if you're lucky, once in a decade you'll experience a show where the performers and the crowd are synchronized, and your arms go sore and your voice gives, and there's a flash of intensity and comeraderie usually limited to a stadium at the moment of your team's biggest triumph. This year we got two of these.

In summary, I consider this band enjoyable.

Best Reasons Not to Throw in the Towel

Ohio: For once, not ruining the country.

Senators-elect Bernie Sanders, Jim Webb, Sherrod Brown, Claire McCaskill and John Tester.

Never happy with New York's two senators, for the last few years I've thought of Barbara Boxer and Patrick Leahy as my own two. But in addition to restoring my faith in the Republic, this fall brought a crop of tough, no-nonsense, populist progressives to the U.S. Senate. Any one of them alone would be enough to celebrate.

Sure, some may turn out to be disappointments, but for the first time in my adult life, candidates that I love won.

Three More People You Should Try to Meet in Heaven* (2006 ed.)

Ann Richards, Bo Schembechler and Gerald Ford.

*Secular atheist version.

Best Unexpected Side-Effect of Attending the Michigan-Vandy Game

Accompanying a five-month-old baby to her first college football game. Because there's nothing like watching LaMarr Woodley flatten some prissy Southern- awwwwwww...


If you've never experienced it, going to a game with 110,000 of your best friends and enjoying four hours of pageantry and ass-kicking is a pretty visceral experience, and - awwwwwwww...

Best Use of Numbers

Michigan 47, Notre Dame 21.



Worst Unexpected Side-Effect of Whupping Notre Dame

Getting so drunk that you believe you're in Ann Arbor even though you're in a bar on Second Avenue. Hectoring friends about how you want to go hang out in a dorm that nobody liked in the first place, and then licking their faces when they decline.

Waking up the next day surprised that you managed to walk home without getting in a fight or getting arrested.

Best Sports Photo of 2006


Best Way to Work Through the Pain of Losing to Ohio State

Hold a ladies' arm-wrestling tournament in the kitchen.

Best Bar For Getting Mooned by Ass-Chicks

Loreley.

Blog-Related Honors

Best post by Flop that No One but Me Liked: Fun with mascots

High-Concept Posting Series that Failed: Excitable Young New Yorker. I entertained myself, but confused and/or pissed off the rest of you. A pompous, vulgar, needy, self-absorbed, moderately racist, clumsy, overemotional twentysomething? Yeah, I guess she wasn't as far-fetched as I thought. Sorry for the confusion.

Anticipated Fanboy Political Crush of 2007: Al Gore.

Mea Culpa: Duke Lacrosse. Yeah, I was pretty wrong. I guess I should have learned by now always to assume the worst of people in power. Is it possible that I should be even more cynical?

Most Surprisingly Successful Experiment with Live-Blogging: Hoot!

Best Trend in Late-Night Noisemaking


Hooting. Elegant in its simplicity, a little rooftop hooting cleans the soul. With a beer in hand, look up at surrounding towers and unloose a long, steady, "Hoot!"

Awesome.

Best Trend in Late-Night Aggression

Tie: head-butting; face-licking.

Second place: headlock.

Third place: punching in the forearm.

Best Excuse to Hold an Impromptu College Reunion

Turning 30.

For an immature asshole, I get to have a lot of friends.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

93 years is a long-ass time to live


Gerald R. Ford was our kind of unelected president. From the Associated Press:

Even after two women tried separately to kill him, the presidency of Jerry Ford remained open and plain.

Not imperial. Not reclusive. And, of greatest satisfaction to a nation numbed by Watergate, not dishonest.

Even to millions of Americans who had voted two years earlier for Richard Nixon, the transition to Ford's leadership was one of the most welcomed in the history of the democratic process -- despite the fact that it occurred without an election.

***

On Aug. 9, 1974, after seeing Nixon off to exile, Ford assumed the office. The next morning, he still made his own breakfast and padded to the front door in his pajamas to get the newspaper.

***

Lynette ''Squeaky'' Fromme, a 26-year-old follower of Charles Manson, was arrested after she aimed a semiautomatic pistol at Ford on Sept. 5 in Sacramento, Calif. A Secret Service agent grabbed her and Ford was unhurt.

Seventeen days later, Sara Jane Moore, a 45-year-old political activist, was arrested in San Francisco after she fired a gun at the president. Again, Ford was unhurt.

Both women are serving life terms in federal prison.

Asked at a news conference to recite his accomplishments, Ford replied: ''We have restored public confidence in the White House and in the executive branch of government.''

As to his failings, he responded, ''I will leave that to my opponents. I don't think there have been many.''

Ford spent most of his boyhood in Grand Rapids, Mich.

***

Ford played center on the University of Michigan's 1932 and 1933 national champion football teams. He got professional offers from the Detroit Lions and the Green Bay Packers, but chose to study law at Yale, working his way through as an assistant varsity football coach and freshman boxing coach.

Hey assholes. Can I emphasize something? He may have been a U.S president, but before that, he was something more important: a University of Michigan football player and a two-time national champion. Priorities, please.

In conclusion, I invite nytimes.com to suck my fat cock. Ford's library is in Ann Arbor, MI, and his foundation is based in Grand Rapids, MI. Neither has a relation to Austin, TX. I write that from his mother country.

So fuck you, Texas. Stop trying to steal our center, RIP.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Stranger than fiction

This is not about the movie of the same name (which I thought was smart and funny, although a bit lacking in character development for everyone but Will Ferrell. Still, it had heart, and it charted a course between cynical irony and mushy sentiment. Anyway).

Instead this is about a caper dreamed up by one of the dumbest Republican staffers on Capitol Hill. I came across it on Talking Points Memo, as I imagine some of you might have too. But I felt it warranted mentioning here because I was so stunned at the ridiculousness, I wouldn't have believed it was true if it hadn't been confirmed.

It's like something that would come out of a creative writing workshop led by Carl Hiaasen (which would probably take place during a grouper fishing expedition).

So there's this hill staffer, and being the good little hill kid that he is, he's ambitious as fuck, and thinking ahead to grad school. But his undergrad grades aren't up to snuff for Kennedy. How to deal? Well, there's always the felony route!

So our hero goes to a website and posts a message looking for someone to do some illegal hacking for him. Two guys respond and everything's going great until they post all the e-mails on their website. OMG! PWNED! (And I didn't even explain the bit about how they wanted him to take a photo of pigeons in Fort Worth, but settled for squirrels in D.C.)

Now I'm sure the public shaming he's going to have to deal with won't approach that of, say, a young and pretty girl who dares drink at the age of 20, but it probably should. That said, I'm thankful for people like this. If everyone just addressed their crappy undergraduate grades in their personal statements, the world would be a much more boring place.

Feliz Navidad

The 'Notes family does not rush to clear the table.

Before I drag my ass out to LaGuardia, I want to wish each and every one of you motherfuckers a most blessed and wonderful Christmas.

(In truth, I like Christmas a lot. Click here for a recap of last year's adventures. Have fun and try not to bust an ankle when iceskating.)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Marxy Christmas

Today I reinterpret some classics.

There's a resemblance, you see.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

Serfs up.

A petty-bourgeois patriarch obsessed with lighting (Clark) is shocked when a distantly related serf (Eddie) upends class distinctions. For years, the now-itinerant serf and his family relied on a worm farm as their sole means of livelihood. Now the serf is so destitute that he disposes feces into a common drainage system.

Yet the petty-bourgeois partriarch is, himself, forced to confront the exploitation of labor when a great industrial capitalist refuses to grant him full payment for work, therein attacking the labor theory of value. In a gesture intended to ignite revolution and assume control of the means of production, the serf violently kidnaps the great industrial capitalist.

The industrial capitalist recants and agrees to more equitable distribution of wealth, which the petty-bourgeois partriarch plans to waste on a swimming pool.

A Christmas Story

An agent of capital commits exploitation.

A young boy (Ralphie) grows up a son of the manufacturing middle class, yet behaves as the wholesale agent of capital. He singlemindedly pursues the acquisition of a firearm -- most likely as a utility for control over the proletariat -- and exploits others for his own amusement, specifically when he encourages a child to destroy his tongue on a flagpole. Later, when confronted by an outraged member of the proletariat (Scott Farkas) the agent of capital unleashes violence and profanity, thus discouraging proletarian children from rebelling.

Yet as he gradually accumulates personal property -- including a bunny suit and a fraudulent decoder ring -- the agent of capital begins to recognize that transitioning into the petty-bourgeoisie will come at the cost of dignity and personhood. He brandishes the cherished firearm and is promptly injured in its discharge; thereafter, a pack of feral dogs destroy the humble meal of the manufacturing middle class.

At the film's conclusion, we are left to wonder whether the agent of capital will continue to climb into the petty bourgeoisie, or, alternatively, whether he will assume a place in the revolutionary class.

Miracle on 34th Street


A cautionary tale in which capital exploits a mentally ill old man (Kris Kringle) in order to perpetrate its control of the means of production while simultaneously indoctrinating the young into a syndicate of hegemony. Capital enslaves an elderly man and attributes mystical powers to him. In return, the old man tells parents to buy toys for their children. Appeasing his masters, a corrupt judge refuses to imprison the blatantly disturbed man. At the film's conclusion, at least one child (Susan) is brainwashed and two individual bourgeois manufacturers celebrate by purchasing an estate.

It's a Wonderful Life

Industrial Capitalist.

Petty Bourgeoisie.

A tale intended to inspire the proletariat and lower strata of the middle class -- which is, paradoxically, premised on transfer of wealth from the exploited to a member of the petty-bourgeoisie.

As with most populated regions, a great industrial capitalist (Mr. Potter) exercises tyrannical control over the village of Bedford Falls. In order to maintain shelter, the lower strata of the middle class and the proletarians rely upon an ineffectual benefactor (George Bailey). When the great industrial capitalist robs Bailey of his funds, Bailey experiences a series of false religious hallucinations, which dissuade him from suicide.

The proletarians and the lower strata of the middle class then shower Bailey with money -- tellingly, so does a distant industrialist who perpetrates the means of control. The film offers false hope to the struggling masses insofar as shelter is concerned. As Marx himself wrote, "No sooner is the exploitation of the laborer by the manufacturer, so far at an end, that he receives his wages in cash, than he is set upon by the other portion of the bourgeoisie, the landlord, the shopkeeper, the pawnbroker, etc."

A better film would have concluded with the proletarians destitute and starving, therein speeding labor's conflict with capital and hastening the inevitable revolution.

'Twas the Night Before Christmas


A story where eight tiny reindeer represent a proletariat that lives only so long as it finds work. St. Nick represents the slavery of machine capital, and the narrator and his family represent bourgeois values.

Shortly after the poem concludes, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen reject inequitable divisions of labor and demand that St. Nick pull the sleigh. He can't fly, and the nine perish when they crash into a garment factory manned by child laborers.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Why you are the person of the year

Excerpts taken from Time Magazine's online defense for naming you Person of the Year.

What Time Wrote:
The "Great Man" theory of history is usually attributed to the Scottish philosopher Thomas Carlyle, who wrote that "the history of the world is but the biography of great men." He believed that it is the few, the powerful and the famous who shape our collective destiny as a species. That theory took a serious beating this year.
What Time Meant: This article was written by a man with a liberal arts degree. As he learned in college, the first thing you do in an essay is cite an authoritative source, preferably a European intellectual. Edmund Burke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau are the best choices, but we thought we'd mix it up a bit. This way, we sound serious and credible. Follow this rule, and you can write whatever you want but still sound impressive.
What Time Wrote: A vicious skirmish erupted between Israel and Lebanon. A war dragged on in Sudan. A tin-pot dictator in North Korea got the Bomb, and the President of Iran wants to go nuclear too. Meanwhile nobody fixed global warming, and Sony didn't make enough PlayStation3s.
What Time Meant: Holy shit this is a seriously tragic messed up world and man alive don't we know it. Wow we are just all tiny meaningless specks in a cycle of hatred and violence that never will abate but it doesn't really matter because global warming will lead to planetwide remigration and famine and drought.

OMG, Playstation 3!
What Time Wrote: But look at 2006 through a different lens and you'll see another story, one that isn't about conflict or great men. It's a story about community and collaboration on a scale never seen before. It's about the cosmic compendium of knowledge Wikipedia and the million-channel people's network YouTube and the online metropolis MySpace. It's about the many wresting power from the few and helping one another for nothing and how that will not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes.
What Time Meant: A professor at San Fernando Community College once wrote an article in Funky Chicken: A Journal of Ideas. It was about how the internet democratizes our understanding and redefines conventional boundaries of community, and argued there is no meaningful difference between the self and the world. It's weird, because up until then, we thought the internet was just about furtive masturbation and buying Star Trek figurines off E-Bay. Here at Time, our understandings have evolved. Wikipedia is highly reliable -- also, cosmic (i.e., it has a lot of stuff). YouTube has funny videos of cats doing silly things and freshman boys lip-synching to Taylor Dayne in their dorm rooms. MySpace has allowed Rupert Murdoch to mediate our most basic relationships.

We are all equals.
What Time Wrote: You can learn more about how Americans live just by looking at the backgrounds of YouTube videos—those rumpled bedrooms and toy-strewn basement rec rooms—than you could from 1,000 hours of network television.
What Time Meant: People don't clean their room. Some people have toys in the basement. We know that you're a pack of douchelords who watch too much televsion in the first place. And it's important, what you're doing -- to see the dirty bedrooms of others, to see toys in basements. Obviously.
What Time Wrote: And we didn't just watch, we also worked. Like crazy. We made Facebook profiles and Second Life avatars and reviewed books at Amazon and recorded podcasts. We blogged about our candidates losing and wrote songs about getting dumped.
What Time Meant: We secretly masturbated to every cast member of The Brady Bunch. We were sweet at Dungeons & Dragons. We ate whole sticks of butter -- butter tastes good. You know that baby cage you built using chickenbones? We call it folk art.

No, really. Tell us more. We're not patronizing. We're serious. This is a think piece -- Thomas Carlyle and whatnot.
What Time Wrote: Reuters is carrying blog postings alongside its regular news feed.
What Time Meant: We've all given up. (This is underscored by our use of passive voice.)
What Time Wrote: Sure, it's a mistake to romanticize all this any more than is strictly necessary. Web 2.0 harnesses the stupidity of crowds as well as its wisdom. Some of the comments on YouTube make you weep for the future of humanity just for the spelling alone, never mind the obscenity and the naked hatred.
What Time Meant: We don't want you to think that we're exaggerating or anything. Let's keep this in perspective.
What Time Wrote: There's no road map for how an organism that's not a bacterium lives and works together on this planet in numbers in excess of 6 billion.
What Time Meant: There are fewer than 6 billion ants and mosquitoes.
What Time Wrote: But 2006 gave us some ideas. This is an opportunity to build a new kind of international understanding, not politician to politician, great man to great man, but citizen to citizen, person to person.
What Time Meant: Also, about that Lebanon thing? Wouldn't have happened if Israel and Hezbollah became MySpace friends.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Guest post, Part II: Excitable Young New Yorker experiences new people

[Editor's Note: I previously agreed to let Excitable Young New Yorker do a second guest-post recapping her Saturday adventures. I'm not proud of that decision, but I'm a man of my word, so here's her unedited report on the evening. I doubt that you'll be seeing her here again. -CrimeNotes]

[Note from EYNYer: This post has been corrected to satisfy one of my many fans.]

Pay $30 for all the Midori-and-Jack on the rocks that I can drink, while simultaneously hanging out at a super-selective party attended only by the most elite New York bloggers? Now that's my idea of a good time!

So I went to Blogmukkah, which commemorates the anniversary of the time when all of the bloggers rose up and to win a battle against their mothers' basements. It exceeded my expectations in all respects but one.

At first I was really excited to meet CrimeNotes because he invited me to guest-post and because he's super-hot. But the first thing he said to me was, "Wow, you're a chick. I always assumed that you were a high-strung gay dude."

I took offense at that because there's nothing wrong with being gay. Because I'm polite, I tried to change the topic and asked him if he likes Ugly Betty. He said that it's fine but then started talking about football, and then he asked me if I get flack for blogging at work and whether it ever made me nervous to say so much about myself online. I asked him what that was supposed to mean.

"Look dude," he said, "all I'm saying is that someday you'll probably regret saying so much crazy shit about yourself." And I said, "First of all, I'm not a dude, I'm a woman, and second, I live my life without regret, and I pity those who regret." What I really wanted to say is, "CrimeNotes, I love you want to vomit and stab." He isn't very sophisticated.

He kept talking to Brian RYAN from Pissed and Petty because Brian RYAN has this plan for all the bloggers to build homemade hovercrafts so that they can get to Ellis Island and take pictures of each other. He was showing us tidal charts and talking about the times he fought with the Coast Guard and NASA. I told him that I'd participate, but actually I won't (sorry, Brian RYAN!) because I'm scared of open water (pollution, sharks, etc.) and because I'm not an immigrant (thank God). I told Brian RYAN that us bloggers should pool our resources to make a fleet of homemade helicopters so that during summers we can all chopper out to our summer shares in the Hamptons. Brian RYAN said that he doesn't go to the Hamptons. Maybe he was being ironic?

And then I met Idiot and talked about balding. Fellas, if you're going bald, you need to use Propecia.

But best of all is Flop. He does all kinds of funny dances and he gave me a McDonald's cheeseburger. I told him that he has very womanly hips but that I could deal with that. "Thanks, baby," Flop said. "Wanna make out?" So we did (make out) for awhile (underneath the beer pong table) until I had to go to the bathroom (bad) and when I came out he was distributing more cheeseburgers. Sigh ...

He has this roommate, Her Lease, that annoyed me at first because I wanted to start relationships with some of the boy bloggers, but they were all talking to her instead. Still, Her Lease seems kind of sweet once you get to know her. I wish her luck in relationships.

It was all like Sex and the City but cooler because it's real. I went out to have a cigarette with the drunk brunch girl, who was wearing a scarf made out of sponged intestines. "Don't you sometimes feel like your life is just so exciting and fascinating, and that you're so lucky to be a part of this great big world of blogs and New York?"

"I feel all that," she said, "and more."

In short, except for CrimeNotes, who is fine I hate, it was really nice to make so many new friends. The best of friends, really.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Guest Post: Excitable Young New Yorker is on beverage probation

[Editor's Note: Via a lapse in judgment by people who don't realize how poorly socialized we are, Flop and I received an e-mail invitation to Blogmukkah. We're not traditional New York bloggers or active in the blogging community -- aside from the occasional neighborhood reference, this haphazard operation could just as well be run out of Kentucky. We still haven't figured out whether we'll make the party. Still, to get in the spirit of this blog-related holiday, we thought that we'd invite up-and-coming new blogger Excitable Young New Yorker to guest-post about the subject of his (or her) choosing. Enjoy. -CrimeNotes]

So first off, I'd like to thank the Cole Slaw Blog guys for inviting me to guest post today. I didn't go to some dumb football school, I'm not from Cleveland and I don't like to read, so I'm not going to bore you with some long ramble about team rankings or iron ore or whether a book is good. Instead, I'm going to write about my recent misadventures. You know, something that normal people are actually interested in? (Just kidding, guys! Your asscrack post inspired me to enter blogging!)

It all started last Friday morning when I woke up early to go to Duane Read. I had to buy some hair gel because I had a big day ahead. It took me forever to find the right kind of Dep, and it didn't help that some guy was just standing there, staring forever at all the different hair gels, and separating me from the Dep.

That's the thing that sucks about Duane Reade. If it's not some incredibly slow person who probably dropped out of high school taking forever to ring up your toilet paper while she talks on the cell phone and fiddles with her fake nails, it's some middle-aged guy just standing there, in the middle of those narrow aisles, coming between you and your product of choice.

Work was no better. They made me go to some seminar about how not to sexually harrass and what happens if you're sexually harrassed. (Query: Did it ever occur to them that blowjobs in the supply room are a fun thing? I'm just saying ...) So there I am, sitting in this room with all these ugly people who couldn't get laid to save their life, and I can barely keep awake because I'm still hungover from my late night at Monkey Bar the night before. So I'm drinking lots and lots of coffee, so bad that I have to get up to pee twice in an hour. So after going to the bathroom I come back and go to pour myself a cup of coffee, and when I go to sit down, I put my coffee down wrong, and it spilled all over the conference table.

"Excitable Young New Yorker," my boss said, "consider yourself on beverage probation."

And I was thinking, "WTF? Beverage probation? Is this high school?" But I need the job so I just said that I was sorry (again!) and that I'd be more careful with my beverages, but what I really was thinking was, "I need to work someplace where my talents are appreciated."

Don't even get me started on what happened when I went to get my lunch at Urban Pain. You don't even want to know.

But still, I was in a good mood, because it was Friday, and I was going to the Glamourama Glaucoma Gala that night. My friend Hank, who went to college with me, was getting me in free because his company is a sponsor.

I spent all afternoon reading blogs. Work on Friday afternoon? Not me. I read all the blogs and thought about my own blog and drafted a post about what it's like to wait in line at Cosi (I don't know why Gawker refused to link to it) and then I left 20 comments on [redacted] about how awesomely hilarious he is -- the perfect person.

The next thing I knew, the day was over.

So then when I finally get to the subway platform, there's some homeless guy standing halfway down the station, taking a shit by one of the girders. It was the most disgusting thing I've ever seen, and my only regret is that I lost my camera phone so that I can't post a picture on here for everybody to see. I mean, taking a dump. In the subway station. I haven't done anything like that since the Siren Festival a couple summers ago, and that was only because I couldn't hold it anymore, and at least I was ashamed. I certainly wouldn't do it in a subway station, and it sucks that I don't have any photographic evidence to show you what it looks like. (I want a new Razr!)

So then I got on the 6 train, and I'm sure I don't have to tell you, being on the 6 during rush hour is like being in the twelfth circle of hell. Can I just say that I don't care how many jobs you work, how many kids you have, or how ethnic you are: there is simply no excuse for a woman to have a big ass. So hit the gym more often, ladies, because I don't want your big middle-aged asses bumping into me while I'm on the 6 train, okay?

Suffice it to say, I arrived at the Glamourama Glaucoma Gala in quite the unglamourous mood. Bret Easton Ellis read from his pretend fiction about real-life D-list celebrities while the very same D-list celebrities walked down a runway wearing all the latest fashions from today's hottest designers. It was for charity, which made me feel worthy and self-aware. I also felt completely in over my head at this event, but isn't that why we all come to New York? To be a part of things like this, that you can't go to anywhere else in the world? It was really cool to be there, sipping my signature drink (Jack and midori on the rocks) while celebrities were mingling around me. I don't want to be indiscreet by repeating what I learned about my new friends, but let me just say this -- methinks that Elizabeth Hasselback probably doth have an interesting cooter.

I promptly got trashed and danced the worm with Sam Champion. The pictures are probably all over Flickr.

After the Glamourama Glaucoma Gala, Hank and I met up with Mark, Peaches and Sandy at a dive bar. I love dive bars. We took over the Mp3 jukebox and partied for awhile, and then went to Sandy's apartment to watch some "To Catch a Predator" episodes that Sandy saved on Tivo.


"To Catch a Predator" always makes me think of relationships. I don't know why everything has to be this hard, and I mean everything. Especially relationships. Sometimes relationships make me so upset that I sit in my apartment drinking Jack-and-midori and chainsmoking, and then I ball up my fists and pound the coffee table until I cry. And then I feel better, because I love being self-aware. Why does everyone I date hurt me in the end? Oh well, such is life.

By the time we left Sandy's, I was so wasted that I was singing Poison's "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" during the cab ride home, which is kind of embarrassing, except that I'm pretty sure the driver didn't speak English, so for all he knew I was singing a hymn, which would be embarrassing, too.

Needless to say, I woke up the next morning hungover, which was a problem, because I needed to meet Aunt Vadge for brunch.

Anyway, my Aunt Vadge (Vadge is short for Virginia) is pretty cool, a real role model for what I'd like to be when I get older. My whole family is a bunch of drunks very outgoing and social, but not in the way where you drink Corona out of the bottle next to a bodega that's classless. Aunt Vadge once got sick on Bloody Marys at brunch. Fortunately, we were sitting outside, so she just leaned to her right and puked over the rope, right onto the sidewalk. It was very smooth. I don't think anybody caught it. When the manager came out and started yelling at us, Aunt Vadge pointed to some homeless guy across the street and said that he did it, and that she was disgusted and offended to be accused. The manager ended up apologizing, the homeless guy got arrested, and we got a basket of pastries on the house. Gotta love Aunt Vadge.

Anyway, I showed up for brunch on the Upper West Side. Aunt Vadge and her boyfriend Max were arguing about the Times crossword puzzle.

"Excitable Young New Yorker," Aunt Vadge said, "it looks like you had a late night. You need a cup of coffee."

"I can't have coffee," I said. "I'm on beverage probation."

She didn't get the joke.

Reader, I bet you can guess what happened next: I got so worked up talking to Aunt Vadge about relationships that I spilled coffee on myself.

Beverage probation indeed.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

It's been a bad week for understanding Cleveland

At least when the New York Times gets stuff wrong about my hometown, they don't think Cleveland's below the Mason-Dixon line.

I just saw a commercial for a compilation album called "Goin' South." It's filled with appropriately Southern favorites, like "Sweet Home Alabama" (the copyright to which I thought was owned by Yum! Brands, presenters of the Kentucky Derby and colon-wringing diahrrea) and hits by Molly Hatchet and The Band.

It also includes "Rocky Mountain Way" by Joe Walsh.

Now, the Rocky Mountains aren't really anywhere near the South. So maybe Joe Walsh is Southern. I mean, he did have a song called "Mississippi Queen," right? Sorry. Joe Walsh is from that noted Dixie town of Cleveland (Virgil, quick, come see! There goes Ulysses S. Grant!).

The only way that song makes sense in "southern" context is if this compendium of classic rock was thrown hastily together by Canadians crocked on Sortil├Ęge and dreams of Quebecois secession. Or maybe it was done by the geographically challenged Urban Meyer, who apparently didn't take advantage of Ohio State's many "Your Ass From A Hole in the Ground: Comparative Studies" electives when he was getting his master's there.

You know, Freedom Rock would never have pulled this shit.

Just make sure my petard has a safety line attatched

So a couple months ago, I was all set to pen a snarky post about people who say they can't like The Hold Steady because, well, Craig Finn doesn't exactly have a voice like a nightingale. Or even a bar-band singer, really. His vocals (let's call them "distinctive") are such that one acquaintance referred to The Hold Steady as "that band with the guy who kind of rants instead of sings."

Grr. Much like Jackson Pollock is that guy who just throws paint at the canvas instead of paints, I guess.

The post was going to be a towering display of sarcasm. It was going to feature some out-loud musings about these people. Are they the same ones who refuse to read James Joyce because, I'm sorry, but I need real quote marks OK? Or if they would shake their heads and cluck their tongues at all those bendy curves that Eero Saarinen used. Seriously, buy a ruler, dude. I even was going to slip in a crack about how they were the spritual heirs of all the people who disdained Benny Friedman because he just loved to throw the ball forward all the time when everyone knows real men twirl in the backfield and hand it off.

I think you get the point.

But then a friend _ and reader _ recommended several songs by Pavement, a band I have long been interested in, but never enough to give them a real listen (save your comments; I didn't see Return of the Jedi until college, either and am well aware of my status as That Guy). As soon as I started listening to some of their stuff, I immediately remembered that post I had scratched out notes for, but never gotten around to writing.

Yeah, about that. I'm worried I might have a problem with their lead singer's voice. It's just ... so high and reedy, I guess. Also, it reminds me of a friend of mine from freshman year in college, who eventually turned into an obnoxious hipster egotist whose company I couldn't stand. He loved Pavement, and he always sang along in that same register. So it'll take a while before I can start enjoying Pavement on my own terms. I think from what I've heard and what I know about myself, I'm going to eventually end up liking them to some degree. But while I'm getting over all my silly little hangups, I'm also going to have to be swallowing a decent amount of pride.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Alternate spellings: A list of alternate spellings for common names that either should or should not be attempted by new parents

(Apologies to McSweeney's lists.)

1. Alysen
2. Pterrance
3. D'Knees
4. Jeph
5. Mle
6. Tailor
7. Wrebecka
8. Bobb
9. Alecks
10. Gye
11. Zavier
12. Geothro

Should be attempted: 1, 2, 5, 7, 8, 12.
Should not be attempted: 3, 4, 6, 9, 10, 11.

I'm just saying, is all

I recently read a New York Times' article about surfing in Cleveland. As a Clevelander, it's not exactly news to me, but I can understand that it is to a lot of people, and not even the kind of people who are surprised that they can't see across the great lakes.

One sentence in particular screamed out to me, though, that this was a bit of parachute journalism.

Given its industrial past, Cleveland largely turns its back to Lake Erie, lining the coast with power plants, a freeway and mounds of iron ore to feed its steel factories.

I'm filled with questions, author Christopher Maag. Why does fading industrial glory make a town "turn its back on its most beautiful natural feature? Would now be a bad time to bring up all the times I went swimming or sailing on Lake Erie, or one time I walked out on the ice? Or all the sunsets I've watched there. Or the time I tailgated less than six feet from the lake itself before a Browns game? Because if that's going to make this awkward, I'll just keep my questions to myself.

Wait, one more. About those highways and waterfront power plants. I wonder what that means for the Los Angeles area, where on a recent visit I drove past power plants on the Pacific Coast Highway? Admittedly, there were no piles of iron ore, but there aren't any on the Lake Erie coast, either.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Reason 532 not to get married

Because I don't have a little Captain in me. If my wife goes out of town for the wedding of her cousin the bitch, and I don't want to go, I'll refuse to lie about being sick. But if I do lie and end up at a bar with friends, I don't want to be in a situation where fellow bar partrons join me in an elaborate ruse to deceive my wife into believing that I'm watching TV. I will not allow these strangers to impersonate newcasters, commercials and sitcoms, just so the lies that I tell my idiot wife may amplify. Honey, what's that smell? It's not the smell that happens when Jimmy tries to cook a turkey in the dishwasher. It's the smell of a failing marriage between two dysfunctional adults, you dumb, rum-drinking drunks. It's the smell of a terrible spiced rum (the actual smell of which does, in fact, make me want to boot, due to the rum-related nightmares of my late teens) that ruins every liquid it touches. Do I want a little Captain in me so that I can authenticate the unnecessary lies I tell to my dumb wife? I politely decline.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Reason 531 not to get married

Because instead of going to see Blood Diamond, I'll end up walking around some stupid shopping mall with a Zale's bag, high-fiving other white douchelords in sweaters about our gem purchases, while the piano overture from a terrible, whispy pop song plays in the background.

This is similar to the reason that I don't believe in saving for retirement. I don't want to end up owning some house on a beach. Spend my golden years worrying about sand erosion and sunburns? No thank you.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

At least we won't wake up in Ybor City

If they say we partied,
then I'm pretty sure we partied.

It may be tres speedy and throw killer parties, but we don't need the Outback Bowl. We get the Rose Bowl, which is great. A few days of monkish meditation have led me to the following conclusions.

This is a pro-Michigan case for Florida playing in the national championship game.

Observation 1: There is no meaningful way to distinguish these teams' strengths of schedule. A win over Notre Dame, a perennial toothless tiger, contributed something to conference strength -- a nonconference opponent who'll finish at 10-3 in the 15-20 ranking range is nothing to scoff at -- but let's not exaggerate. Wisconsin, 11-1, was tested only once all season, by Michigan. We won't know about them until they play Arkansas. The biggest bonus point goes to playing a close game toward Ohio State, on turf that resembled a sinkhole. There's no point in braying about the closeness of that game, but it was hard-fought, manful and mildly flukey. Any schedule-strength reservations implicit in the fact of a loss are outweighed by Ohio State's overall quality and its unwieldy facilities. Wasn't exactly going up against the Miz and Abe in a Real World-Road Rules Inferno, but the schedule strength was solid.

Florida? The best win was against LSU. Respect the Arkansas win, but Arkansas clearly is an idiot savant: its running game can perform complex string theory calculations but the rest of the team spills Kool-Aid on its trousers and carries a druel cup. It had the inglorious loss to 10-2 Auburn, but there was the win on the road against Tennessee early in the season, just after Tennessee crushed Cal and looked like it might be a hegemon.

LSU (10-2), Tennessee (9-3) and Auburn (10-2) were tougher as a trio than Notre Dame (10-2), Wisconsin (11-1) and Ohio State (12-0). Michigan made up the margin because the second-tier Big 10 teams -- Penn State (8-4), Iowa (6-6) and Minnesota (6-6, but worse) -- are a hair better than this year's second-tier SEC teams -- Georgia (8-4), South Carolina (7-5) and 'Bama (6-6, but worse). (Disagree? Fair enough. I'm not being absolute. We'll have better answers once bowl season wraps.) As my friend the Watchman pointed out, one of Michigan's non-conference creampuffs, Central Michigan, went on to win its conference. Yes, it was the MAC, and there's no point in exaggerating the merit to that, but it's not hot garbage, either.

Point being, Florida's best opponents were overall a little better than Michigan's, which were solid overall, but Michigan's second-tier opponents were a little better than Florida's, which were solid overall, and while you can argue along the margins, there isn't a clear-cut case to be made for either side. More numbers: As pointed out by commentor Tommy O, Florida's 12 Division I-A opponents had a combined record of 89-57. Michigan's 12 opponents had a combined record of 84-61. Difference: Marginal. Sagarin strength of schedule rankings: Michigan 13, Florida 19. Difference: Marginal.

You don't have to buy my argument in full. Maybe you think one team had a slightly harder schedule, but I suspect that, after an honest, detached assessment, you have a hard time arriving to a strong conclusion either way. If it's not on one hand, it's on the other, and this is not the stuff to make for a convincing fight.

Observation 2: There is something to be said for style points. They don't tell you everything and they're not absolute, either. OSU in 2002 didn't have style points, they just won a lot of close games. That doesn't denigrate that team's legacy. Likewise, if Florida somehow beats Ohio State, no one's going to care about what happened against South Carolina. People will just remember Florida as the team that beat Ohio State.

Urban Meyer spent time arguing against the consideration of "style points." That was a nifty piece of Frank Luntz-like wordsmithing that downgraded the concept of quality wins into a beauty pageant category. The issue isn't style points, it's quality of wins. Meyer's framing invites you to conclude that a one-point win arising out of an opponent's missed field goal equals a 26-point win on the road against a team then ranked No. 2 in the country. Or, to draw from a different sport, to conclude that a pitcher who throws a perfect game is no different from one who allows seven runs but has an offense that scores 12.

There's a reason that most pro-Michigan arguments arise under this framework: Michigan dominates it, the way it dominated every non-Ohio State team this season. Before Ohio State, no Michigan game in 2006 was ever close, ever. Penn State scored a fourth-quarter touchdown on a fluke, after Michigan administered concussions to its first- and second-string quarterbacks. The 34-26 Ball State score has been a source of cheap shots looking to knock the Michigan team, all of which neglect to recognize that Michigan -- playing a season without a single bye week -- elected to pull its starting defense in order to save its reserve and give the second- and third-stringers some playing time. It was, at worse, a risky human resources decision. Michigan's full season record is here.

Florida? There was the November 11, 18-17 win against South Carolina that arose only because South Carolina kicker Ryan Succop missed a field goal. Or three. September 16: A 21-20 win on the road against Tennessee. October 15: a 27-17 loss at Auburn. November 4: An anemic 25-19 win against Vanderbilt, which outgained Florida and happened to be a team that Michigan throttled on Labor Day weekend. November 25: a lackluster 21-14 win against a craptacular Florida State team, in a game that was tied 14-14 going into the fourth quarter.

There is certainly nothing wrong or disturbing about these wins. I watched the South Carolina, Tennessee, Auburn and Florida State games. Only in the Florida State game did it occur to me that Florida fields a wobbly team, but it wasn't a revelation, just more of a murmur. These games often turn on tight margins and are dictated by unpredictable variables. Observing that Florida often won ugly, while Michigan played roughly comparable teams and dominated them, isn't a bash on Florida. The only obvious yardstick is Vanderbilt, a team so shaky that it's unfair to use it as a platform for drawing comparisons.

For all we know, Michigan could have struggled against these teams. But the point is that they didn't struggle. Once. All season. They arm-wrestled 12-0 Ohio State through the final possession. Florida arm-wrestled through the final possession against 6-6 Florida State and 7-5 South Carolina.

Observation 3: Despite Observations 1 and 2, Michigan did, in fact, have its shot, and it failed. I don't know why this argument doesn't have more salience for my fellow Michigan fans. Any re-match would be a fluke, not a birthright. If the shoe were on the other foot, we'd be arguing that we defeated an extremely talented team, and that it's substantively unfair and procedurally incorrect to be forced into a rematch. See also Double Jeopardy.

I know the BCS rules don't forbid rematches, but that's not the point. The rules don't forbid a 5-7 team from being voted number one, either. As much as I think Michigan trounces Florida in a "style points" debate, the broad Michigan-Florida parity and the fact that Michigan had, in fact, lost to its prospective national champinoship opponent are enough to justify voting for Florida.

Most Michigan fans tend to be highly critical of their team -- when something goes wrong, the first impulse is to blame yourself. Here, we can't complain about injustice when we didn't win the first time. The outcome was under Michigan's control, and, by the thinnest of margins, it went the other way. Good night and sleep tight.

Observation 4: Ultimately, Florida was the least-painful alternative. So, I understand why a detached voter would choose Florida above Michigan. The standard reply to my argument so far would be, "The BCS is supposed to pit the number one team against the number two team. Your position relies too much on aversion to a re-match."

A.) See Observation 5, below.

B.) How many times have you voted against a candidate, as opposed to voting for one? How many times have you watched a Thursday night MAC game because it's better than Friends? People make choices based on many variables. When two teams are as relatively close on paper as Michigan and Florida, avoiding a rematch between the Big 10 teams (or, as Meyer would phrase it, giving Florida its chance) strikes me as a perfectly fair and equitable consideration. This would not be the case if we were talking about two-loss LSU, or mid-major Boise State. But that's not what we're talking about. And for the reasons set forth at Observation 5, it's not just because of some ineffable notion of justice.

Observation 5: There are strong merits behind a final non-conference test. I don't understand why the key argument for Florida supporters isn't the following: Sure, it's tough to decide between these two teams, but for the sake of the integrity of the title determination, isn't it important that both Michigan and Ohio State are tested by a non-conference opponent? It isn't so much that a rematch is per se bad or somehow violative of competitive spirit. (Consider a rematch in a conference title game. Team B beat Team A in early October. In the conference championship, Team A beats Team B. No one should contest that Team A is the conference champ.) The problem is that you'd have two teams who haven't been tested by elite non-conference opponents since September. Without a test from a non-Big 10 team, you have no clear way of judging that Michigan and Ohio State are superior to this year's other elite teams. Instead, you have a somewhat incestuous scenario where Michigan ranks number two because it played a close game against its own intraconference rival.

If Ohio State beats Florida, it helps Michigan's legacy as a quality team. If Michigan beats USC and Ohio State somehow loses, the result strengthen's Ohio State's legacy. If, as I suspect will happen, both Michigan and Ohio State roll over their opponents, we can be confident that they were the two best teams all along. But if they merely re-play each other, there will be a slight hollowness to the final outcome, regardless of the result. We simply would not have any outside calibration for their quality.

In conclusion, rematch avoidance is the right thing for both Michigan and Ohio State.

And my final thought is this: As fun as it would have been to see Michigan beat Ohio State in Glendale, imagine the asterisk that would be against that title. History would not treat it as legitimate and unambiguous, and for good reason. We have virtue and fact on our side in the 1997 debate. We wouldn't have them this time.

Observation 6: Playoffs are for pussies. Every word of this column is fucking correct.

Observation 7: Michigan doesn't beg. Similarly, every word of this post is correct. Do you know what would disturb me more than Michigan going to the Rose Bowl? Having a coach who acts like Bill O'Reilly. Having a coach who feels the need to lobby aggressively for his team instead of seeing it judged for its play on the field. Urban Meyer embarrassed his program. He acted like a politico at an 1890s party convention. It was an appalling spectacle, and if that's the price of admission to Glendale, I'd be just as happy to shut down Michigan football, sell all the assets, and dump that money into the endowment fund.

Hopefully, Meyer will get the comeuppance he deserves. For 3 1/2 hours, I'll be pulling for Tressel like he's one of my own.

Epilogue. I now have a new hierarchy of hated programs.
1.) Notre Dame. All of the traits that some people hate about Michigan, plus 1.) it's a private university, 2.) me hate the weekly NBC jizzfest, 3.) the sports media spreads lies about its quality, and 4.) wow, I just hate that program so bad.
2.) Any program infected by Urban Meyer. Fuck you, you fucking fuck.
3.) Ohio State. I hate them far less than other Michigan fans. I think of them as a worthy rival in a deathmatch that will last until the end of time. In my ideal season, Ohio State is undefeated until they play Michigan, and Notre Dame never wins a game.
4.) Tennessee. My 1997 grudge against Phil Fulmer and the Peyton-for-Heisman campaign runs deep.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Strange days

Let me start off by saying that I'm OK with the result. We'll play USC in the Rose Bowl (always awesome, even under these circumstances) and Florida's getting a shot at the national title. That's fine, even if Michigan is a better team than Florida.

And it is: We paved fools and lost by three in the depths of Columbus. Florida kept a lot of its opponents in games until the end, except for a close loss to Cotton Bowl-bound Auburn. Michigan is demonstrably, if not decisively better, and yet not playing for the national title because it would look awkward to the rest of the country.

(It helps keep my bile in check that I like Florida and its fanbase, at least one member of which I know personally. If, say, Tennessee were the beneficary of this bullshit, I might not be so charitable.)

All of those nice things having been said ... it's pretty clear that Michigan got screwed. I mean, if the only change in Saturday's results was that USC won, would Florida have jumped Michigan for the No. 3 spot? It seems remote.

So you can be sure that some voters, at least, were attempting to avoid an awkward, potentially controversy-brewing rematch between Ohio State and Michigan. Which I can understand. I would have mixed feelings about a rematch. Half the time my brain would be saying "Wooo! Natty C!" And the other half would be thinking "Um, I know we just played them, but I guess they didn't win by enough so ... yeah, OK."

What irritates me is the fundamental silliness of the BCS, which these circumstances have served to highlight rather nicely Clearly, the voters in the Harris and Coaches polls don't take their duties as part of the BCS seriously. The purpose of the BCS is to match the two best teams, right? This is how it was sold when it was first conceived as the love child of the Bowl Alliance and the Polish Sejm.

There is nothing in there about preventing rematches. There is nothing in there about having to win one's conference. There is no clause allowing the nation's third-best team to be selected if the matchup between the two best teams is not aesthetically pleasing.

And yet, these _ and not Florida's OMG dominance and super-hard schedule _ are the reasons that this matchup has been selected. It's up to the Gators and (greatly relieved) Buckeyes to take what they can from their good fortune. This is making shit up as you go along. This is half-assing it. I think college football deserves people who take their duty as voters seriously, at least in rankings that determine a champion. No one can seriously argue that this is the case _ take a look at some of those Harris Poll votes. The coaches, who usually farm the task out to a beleagured flack, aren't exactly a disinterested groupd _ one of them couldn't even bring himself to vote! Dude.

Like Orson said, it's squirrels on waterskis.

But so be it. There are greater injustices in the world. If I could, I would accept an eternity of BCS bloody-mindedness in exchange for the repal of the Military Commissions Act or universal health care, or anything like that.

Michigan got hosed, and I'm upset at the unfairness of it all. But the result of that unfairness is still a matchup against USC in the Promised Land of Pasadena. Sure, it'll be the AAARGH Bowl for both teams, but it's still brimming with awesomeness. Or it would be if we had arrived at this in a sane way. so I could be all Hoot! and Woo Football! and spending my morning reading up on Dallas Sartz and Oscar Lua instead of writing screeds about moronic voters and fundamental serious.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A fine whine

I've just upped the difficulty level in NCAA Football, and am re-learning the passing game as a result. I've been trying to slowly wean myself from the gunslinger mentality, in which I figure I can force the ball into the tiniest gaps, because I'm sweet like that.

I just threw an interception right at a linebacker I meant to throw the ball over. Why? I read the safeties wrong. Or, rather, I didn't put enough air under the ball because I thought the umpire was a safety, even though that guy was distracted by the three freaking wideouts I had to that side. Alas, it's now SMU ball, first and 10.

Um, also, I re-read Nick Flynn's Some Ether last week, lest you think I'm a mouthbreathing meathead, posting about video games while my co-blogger puts up essays about recapturing youth under Latin headlines and long treatises about dactylic hexameter.

Also, Seamus Heaney is the tits, I met him once, and I was very happy to see him show up on EDSBS. Which is also the tits.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Good luck with that

I don't know why this story hasn't caught on.
He may be a certified lame duck now, but President Bush and his truest believers are about to launch their final campaign - an eye-popping, half-billion-dollar drive for the Bush presidential library.

Eager to begin refurbishing his tattered legacy, the President hopes to raise $500 million to build his library and a think tank at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Bush lived in Dallas until he was elected governor of Texas in 1995.

***

Bush loyalists have already identified wealthy heiresses, Arab nations and captains of industry as potential "mega" donors and are pressing for a formal site announcement - now expected early in the new year.

***

"It's a stretch," said another source briefed on the plans. "It's so much bigger than anything that's been tried before. But the more you have, the more influence [on history] you can exert."

The half-billion target is double what Bush raised for his 2004 reelection and dwarfs the funding of other presidential libraries. But Bush partisans are determined to have a massive pile of endowment cash to spread the gospel of a presidency that for now gets poor marks from many scholars and a majority of Americans.

The legacy-polishing centerpiece is an institute, which several Bush insiders called the Institute for Democracy. Patterned after Stanford University's Hoover Institution, Bush's institute will hire conservative scholars and "give them money to write papers and books favorable to the President's policies," one Bush insider said.

Pretty much summarizes what we've all come to expect.

Other targets of SMU fundraising:

  • The Rosie O'Donnell Cocksmanship Foundation.
  • The Ron Mexico Chair in Women's Studies.
  • The Mel Gibson Judaica Center.
  • Rumsfeld School of Human Rights Awareness.
  • The Dahmer Culinary Institute.
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd Aviation School.
  • The NBC Endowment for Integrity in Notre Dame Reportage.
  • The Dead Horse Center for the Study of Non-Redundant Amusements.

A book report about how Dido was the world's most spiteful girlfriend

I was assigned to read The Aeneid twice in college, and I read it both times. It seems like The Aeneid is the only epic poem that anybody likes and remembers. Nobody stays up late reading Homer.

On Virgil days the professors were in top form. A frat guy I was friends with wrote a play using Aeneas as a main character. Like the Inferno and Gatsby and As I Lay Dying, The Aeneid was one of those books that everybody seemed to like.

Comic book synopsis: Aeneas was a Trojan warrior who made his debut in The Iliad. About 800 years later, Virgil writes a sequel about how Aeneas founds the Roman empire. After the fall of Troy, Aeneas and has crew knock around the Mediterranean. They spend some time in Carthage, where Dido falls in love with him, and then kills herself when Aeneas leaves for Italy. Aeneas travels to the afterlife to talk to his dad and hear some prophecies. Then, Aeneas, his son Ascanius, and surviving crewmembers land on the western shore of Italy. They fight a bloody war with the locals, Aeneas kills his arch-rival, and the stage is set for the Roman empire. The end.

Aeneas is a great guy, much more vivid and real than what Homer cooked up. He works hard. He's a family man -- a good dad to Ascanius, and during the fall of Troy, he carries his own dad on his back until they get to safety. He's also a great friend: he was about to let his enemy Turnus live, when he remembered how Turnus killed his buddy Pallas: "Decked in the spoils you stripped from the one I loved -- escape my clutches?" Aeneas says. "Never -- Pallas strikes this blow, Pallas sacrifices you now, makes you pay the price with your own guilty blood!"

Aeneas was the first action hero, and all-around awesome.

I reread The Aeneid over Thanksgiving. I hadn't read it since fall of '98, and the new translation was a good excuse.

One thing I forgot: Dido was a lunatic. She was the queen of Carthage and a stone fox, what Elizabeth I would have been if she'd looked like Pam Anderson and Tommy Lee were a Trojan. Aeneas and his team are on the way to Italy when their ships land at Carthage. "His looks, his words, they pierce her heart and cling -- no peace, no rest for her body, love will give her none." After a few days: "Dido cares no more for appearances, nor for her reputation, either. She no longer thinks to keep the affair a secret, no, she calls it a marriage, using the word to cloak her sense of guilt."

Still, Aeneas needs to go found Rome. The gods feel worried, so they remind him not to hang out in Carthage too long. Aeneas doesn't tell her this yet, but Dido still goes crazy. "You're running away -- from me?" she says. "Thanks to you, my sense of honor is gone, my one and only pathway to the stars." She complains to Aeneas that, "thanks to you, the African tribes, Numidian warlords, hate me."

To be clear: Aeneas has done nothing wrong. His hometown has been destroyed and he's been at sea for years. He didn't lie to Dido. She looked at him, flipped out, then accosted him until he banged her. The whole relationship is summarized in The Hold Steady line, "Guys go for looks. Girls go for status." Aeneas explains to her that he's responsible for his son and his people, and that he'd love to stay in Carthage with Dido. Her measured response: "She breaks off in the midst of outbursts, desperate, flinging herself from the light of day, sweeping out of his sight, leaving him numb with doubt, with much to fear and much he means to say."

What does Dido do next? I bet you don't remember all of the details. She tells her sister Anna to build a fire, and tells Anna to burn all of Aeneas' clothes. After that, burn her bed! "I must obliterate every trace of the man, the curse, and the priestess shows the way!" says Dido, shrieking her psychotic little heart out.

Shortly thereafter, Dido throws herself on one of Aeneas' old swords. She dies screeching.

You may think that I'm being too tough on Dido. I mean, I wish that was the case. I wish that she had redeeming qualities. But in Book Six, when Aeneas goes to the underworld, he runs into Dido. He sees her and feels terrible. He says a bunch of nice things and says that he feels bad that she died.

Imagine that you're a dead Carthaginian queen, and that you killed yourself because you lack self control and perspective. Now you're dead. The underworld is boring. Wouldn't you be excited for any company, let alone this guy you were, like, totally in love with?

No. After Aeneas says all of this great stuff, she refuses to speak to him. She glares, looks at the ground, and walks away.

I know this is not a fashionable spin on Dido's behavior. I remembered Dido as this really hot, sad queen that got shafted by Aeneas. That's probably how my professors taught the book. But that is not Dido, who was, in reality, the precursor to Coral from the Real World-Road Rules challenges.

How the hell could you not like The Aeneid? I just described 1 1/2 chapters of a 12-chapter book. Elsewhere in the poem, Euryalus and Nisus become the charter members of NAMBLA, Aeneas explains the Trojan Horse from the Trojan perspective, everybody badmouths Odysseus, and Virgil provides pages of splattered brains and split skulls.

And then Virgil throws in all the right details, like his sketch of the battlefield death of "Menoetes who, in his youth, detested war but war would be his fate. An Arcadian angler skilled at working the rivers of Lerna stocked with fish, his lodgings poor, a stranger to all the gifts of the great, and his father farmed his crops on rented land." And then you think to yourself, Shit, Aeneas is in this for the glory, but a guy like Menoetes, who only wanted to fish in his stream and lead a simple life, is the one who pays for it.