Friday, March 30, 2007

Tournament of Everything Round 3: Cleveland Region

At Jacobs Field

9 Procrastination vs. 5 Rushmore

I think I would have appreciated Rushmore as much as I do at almost any time in my life. I am forever falling for women who I'm I can never be with, and I've almost always feel that I'm simultaneously ahead of and behind the curve. It should be obvious enough by now that I enjoy focusing on the little extras, rather than the heart of the matter; founding and running several clubs while getting crappy grades at a top school is just the kind of stupid shit I'd do.
Rushmore also provided me with two great fantasy baseball names, although the Rushmore Beekeepers and Max Fisher Players never quite lived up to the high standards set by their founder.

But The Tournament of Everything is not just about personal preferences. Rushmore also is the best movie Wes Anderson has made. It paved the way for Bill Murray to take on funny, yet unwacky, roles, (albeit with varying success, although Lost in Translation more than offsets the utter nothingness of Broken Flowers). It also manages to make unrequited love funny and kind of sad and sweet all at the same time, as sometimes it actually can be. And in the end, the guy doesn't get the girl (I'm not giving anything away, honest), and that's perfectly OK.

Heady stuff for Procrastination to deal with, but somehow, this bully can manage.
I really don't know anyone who is a better procrastinator than I am. My "ability" borders on pathological. But sometimes, it's kind of fun. You can get blog reading done. You can join your hallmates on an impromptu trip to Meijer that suddenly ends up having five people in the car. You can get a text message to go see the Elephants march down 34th Street. But Procrastination is a sneaky bastard. It demands that you pay attention to it, feed it and finally, that you vanquish it.

Yes, I said vanquish it. Procrastination is about putting off, not about abstaining. Eventually, shit gets done. And Rushmore is happy to take out the trash. Rushmore 88, Procrastination 83.

6 Kari Byron vs. 10 Prague

If you were to ask me, based on all the evidence available, I'd say that Kari Byron is probably from that small subset of women so incredible you can scarcely believe that they exist. She's smart, capable, quirky, game for almost anything, confident and both sexy and cute. She also got her current job by serving as a butt model. Also, when she's not sculpting, she makes a living by disabusing people of erroneous notions and faulty received wisdom. Few people on TV don't contribute to the dumbing down of America _ she's actually ensmartening us. Prague, of course, is unbelievable in its own way. Twisting, medieval streets wend their way between buildings spanning six of seven centuries. The beer is indeed cheap, plentiful, sweet and cold, like water from the well on a hot day. The women can be drop-dead stunning. There's a giant modern-art pendulum ticking away across the Vltava River from the old town, meant to remind people that all regimes must come to an end. It was inspired, of course, by the Velvet Revolution.

Prague has already bounced one incredible woman from the tournament, but Kari Byron's job as myth-buster kept her in this one for longer. Did we mention that she fences and throws knives? Yeah, well, in Prague they throw people -- out windows. Prague 114, Kari Byron 111, 3OT.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Tournament of Everything Round 3: International Waters Region


At Tyson-Secretariat Arena

1 Sumerians vs. 4 Industrial Revolution




Although my co-blogger has a strange, Doc Brown-like distaste for roads, citing them as part of the Industrial Revolution's aflictions in his previous writeup. I have to agree with him on most of those. But I think with some common-sense regulation (yes, I know corporations always implicitly have society's best interests at heart and regulation is a sin, but just bear with me here, Objectivists), a lot of these are manageable. The Industrial Revolution also led to increasingly efficient and expedient travel, an increase in leisure time, and ... our modern global economy, as well as the current state of our globe. It's a mixed bag, isn't it? Meanwhile, the Sumerians invented beer. Did I mention that? They also invented writing. Since this blog came about as the result of a couple nights at the bar, (and is made up mostly of writing,) I think it's safe to draw a straight line from ancient Sumeria directly to Cole Slaw Blog. But then again, blogs might never have existed without the Industrial Revolution, either, due to the concomitant rise in leisure time. Even if the world were populated entirely with yeoman farmers, I'm sure CrimeNotes and I could reasonably entertain our peers with the scrolls we tacked up in the village square or meeting house. But this match will not be decided on our own blog aggrandizement. It could be, but it doesn't need to be.

The Sumerians gave us the rule of law. The Industrial Revolution gave us Social Darwinism. Which would you rather live under? This one's a blowout. The Sumerians 99, Industrial Revolution 72.


14 Jacques Cousteau vs. 10 The Office (UK)


Both Jacques Cousteau and The Office have made it to the Sweet 16 of the Tournament of Everything because they have legacies. Each was great during their active stages, but had they faded away, they probably wouldn't have made it this far. Aside from his role in the development of SCUBA gear, Cousteau spread his love for ocean life and his concern for the environment around the world via the Cousteau Society. Without his efforts there might be even more trash, pollutants and radioactive waste littering the seas.

Then there's The Office. It managed to be hilarious and heartbreaking all at once in a way that might not ever be equaled, but that doesn't mean people aren't trying. The U.S. version of The Office is reasonably enough well done in its own way, even if it is a paler version. David Brent is probably as well known as Basil Fawlty and Benny Hill in Britain, even if he hasn't translated as well here. Of course, Hollywood still shits out a couple "According to Jim" and "How I Met Your Mother" clones every season. But that's OK. If all TV tried to be like The Office, it would still probably be intolerably Hollywoodified. The U.S. version is always right up against that line as it is, which is probably why I don't mind that my DVR keeps mysteriously not recording it.

On the other hand, is there any better analogy for a lot of the dreck on TV than, say, a giant, slow-moving gyre filled with rubbish from all points? We can turn off the TV, but there's no real substitute for, you know, oceans.

In conclusion, I'm sorry this is such a boring game,and I'm sorry to see The Office go. But this is what happens when two lovable double-digit seeds make it this far. Jacques Cousteau 54, The Office 49.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Tournament of Everything, Round 3: Devil's Lake, ND

At the DevilDome

14 Estes Kefauver v. 2 Animal House


I found myself behind schedule with this post, not because I've been busy with other things but because the Estes Kefauver/Animal House match-up requires deep consideration.

On the one hand, Estes Kefauver could be a proxy for Dean Wormer. He was a white male authority figure who hit his peak in late-middle age. He might have gone after the Delta House to the fullest extent of the law, with superior effectiveness and prosecutorial efficiency. Estes Kefauver wasn't going to take no guff from no ruffians. Take, for instance, the voice-over introduction that Senator Kefauver provided to the 1955 movie Mad at the World:
When young people become angry and violent, it affects the whole community -- your town and mine. Anger breeds anger, until finally it sweeps over all age groups. Here now, is a story of how one police department in a great American city fought to bring this destructive human fire under control.
He prophesied the end of Animal House 20 years early. Would Eric Stratton have been intimidated or amused?

There's Animal House, a favorite movie that after 20 viewings still seems to have untouched surprises and pleasures. Kefauver was antithetical to Animal House values: A beacon of good order, the rule of law, adult responsibility and earnestness.

Like the Delta House guys, though, Estes was known as a bit of a drinker. He liked to hit the sauce. He was on the vanguard of anti-segregation Southerners: He might have liked Otis Day and the Nights.

Like the Delta House guys, he raged against the machine. As Estes said, "I may be a pet coon, but I'm not Boss Crump's pet coon."

I hate Boss Crump.

If this site had its genesis in something other than a late-night brain fart that I thought would last for five posts, it might have been esteskefauver dot blogspot. He's a conversational mascot -- the best thing to come out of Tennessee on a shortlist limited to our friend Bitey and a song by Arrested Development. Otherwise this is a state that whose noteworthy contributions include gumless banjo pickers, Philip Fulmer, a numbskulled Peyton-for-Heisman campaign that still exists ten years ex post, Bill Frist, the massively retarded Andrew Johnson, Graceland, and some song called "Walking in Memphis." Take me to another place, take me to another land. How Kefauver managed to rise from this blight is anyone's guess.

But I am still thirsty.

At the close of regulation: Animal House 66, Estes Kefauver 66.

It looked like Animal House was about to pull away. The foodfight scene would leave Estes confounded and immobile. He would be mortified at Bluto's voyeurism.

Remember at the close of the movie, where the credits roll and the leading players' futures were described? Bluto went on to become a U.S. Senator. While he was a great frat brother, he was not cut from Senatorial cloth. Kefauver could have ran parliamentary circles around him. The late Senator rallies.

At the close of 1OT: Animal House 84, Estes Kefauver 84.

This is no longer a battle between the Delta House and the late Tennessee bad-ass. This is a contest between Estes and his inner Kefauver. Who is he? Is he the aspiring presidential candidate who battled organized crime and promoted rigorous antitrust enforcement, or is he the quirky populist who wore a coonskin cap and defied convention by resisting segregation and machine politics?

Estes pours himself a glass of bourbon and puts on a toga.

2OT: Animal House 100, Estes Kefauver 99.

1 Sistine Chapel v. 5 The Enlightenment


A few things about the Sistine Chapel. First, it has basically devolved into a tourist trap. A visitor takes a long trek through numerous spectacular galleries (the map room was my favorite) only to be disrupted every five feet by a glass counter manned by employees selling kitsch (hooray, more postcards) to German tourists. The whole thing has the feel of the Epcot Center, plus 500 years.

Then there was the restoration of the frescoes, which took some great old paintings by Michelangelo and defaced them into ultra-pastel Pixar-type reproductions. (I realize this is arbitrary.)

So okay, there are all of those problems, but still, there's the kind of overpowering stimulation and just the plain weirdness of the damn thing. I mean, it's weird, the same way that so much great art (Inferno, Guernica, Full House) is weird. It's wall-to-wall naked Bible art. Try getting away with that on Justice Sunday.

One of the Enlightenment's major breakthroughs was its rejection of religious orthodoxy, true. If this just came down to personal preference, the Enlightenment would win in a rout. I fucking love the Enlightenment. Separate that church from that muthafuckin' state, bitch, and hurry! My ass would prefer Montesquieu, Kant and scientific method over Bible art any day of the week.

The Tournament of Everything doesn't work that way. The Sistine Chapel is a subject of enduring popular fascination, and probably for good reason. It's kind of good. Sistine Chapel 78, The Enlightenment 76.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Some pleasing images

For all the Jules Winnfields out there who find pork on a plate just a horrible, horrible sight.

Go to your happy place!


Awww, SUPER CUTE! Look at them frolic and gambol.

Sometimes you're the bug

Monday was a bad day. And you know what helps redeem a bad day? Looking in the refrigerator and seeing you've got a couple slices of bacon and some beer.

Tomorrow is another day. Assuming my arteries stay clear.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Tournament of Everything, Round Three

Ann Arbor Region
(at Dominick's)


9 Loreley Beer Garden vs. 3 Bob Dylan

A couple weeks ago some friends were commenting on the way that a given album will remind you of highly specific places and times. This is true, but the observation doesn't work for great artists.

I hear pop acts like Oasis or Dave Matthews Band and feel deep yearnings for freshman year of college, but when I hear Dylan I'm not reminded of high school, when I first heard "Highway 61 Revisited" and my friend Jack and I sat around the basement playing the cassette on repeat.

The album never dated. It is always immediate. It's been 42 years since "Highway 61" and "Bringing It All Back Home." I write that and think, "Shit, has it been that long?" as if I'd been there from the beginning. I was born after "Desire," and only have, at most, 15 years of Dylanphilia under my belt.

It doesn't matter if I'm in a lame bar or sitting at my desk clicking around the iPod. When "Like a Rolling Stone" breaks out, with that first hit of the drums like the burst of a firework, everything becomes a backdrop for the song's post-Beat reckoning of bad love, class boundaries, and being young and confused in America. Great songs rewrite themselves.

He is our Whitman. He's an artist that forces you to fall in love with his work over and over again. When Chronicles was published and when Martin Scorsese did the PBS documentary about him, I spent hours replaying his catalog afterward. He is infinite. He only gets better with time. He grows up with you. It continues into adulthood.

This is in many ways the opposite of a great New York bar. New York bars are doomed love affairs. They are intent on growing away from you. You find a place, you drink it dry over years, and then one day it's something else. The place you took ownership of years ago becomes the stomping ground of NYU kids and ne'er-do-wells looking for an adventure in the city. Or else someone renovates it and ruins it forever, and you're left to remember the old bar like it's a lost friend.

It's not that no bar could have provided competition for Dylan. There's that one place that might have pushed this contest into triple-overtime. Nothing against Loreley: It just comes from a weak conference. Bob Dylan 88, Loreley Beer Garden 80.

2 Rose Bowl vs. 5 Boogie Nights




Sometimes a good team can show up to play but the opposition is so sweeping in quality that a person forgets how good the losing team was in the first place. A casual fan scratches his head and says, "How the hell did Boogie Nights get into this tournament? I bet this blow-out wouldn't have happened if the Rose Bowl played the Federal Reserve or Rodin's 'The Thinker.'"

This kind of thinking is always a mistake. As we observe Boogie Nights's unceremonious departure, let's reflect on its strengths. It is at once deadly serious and extremely funny, and the two moods don't defeat each other. Every actor in that movie did the best work of his or her career in it. Its soundtrack is spectacular. It adopted the tones of Pulp Fiction and Goodfellas but used them in the service of a high-testosterone drama -- about the porn industry. And then there is the raunch, depicted in ways that are exciting and upsetting at once. It's probably in a handful of the great movies made in the last 10 years.

Still, against this competition, Boogie Nights is a sacrificial lamb.

The Rose Bowl is the greatest tradition in all of American sports. America's best achievements are its sports, its music and its novelists. Ergo, the Rose Bowl is the best thing about one of the three best things about America. The Rose Bowl 94, Boogie Nights 69.

Tournament of Everything: The Sweet 16

This is your Sweet 16, everybody. As you can see, the seeding committee did a bang-up job. Six of the top 16 seeds made it through -- next time, we won't do the seeding while working our way through a six-pack of Old Speckled Hen and the one part of Grand Theft Auto where you can steal the helicopter. Priorities.

As you have probably figured out by now, the winnner of the Cleveland Region will play the winner of the International Waters region for a spot in the Championship of Everything game against the winner of either the Ann Arbor region or the Devil's Lake region. The Champion of Everything will receive the coveted Anniversary Trophy, in honor of Cole Slaw Blog's second anniversary. Friday night marked baby turning two. How did we celebrate? I went out and drank crappy, but cheap, beer all night and macked on one of my roommate's friends. CrimeNotes yelled at people on the sidewalk below his apartment, then slammed the window and tried to read his Paris Review in peace, goddamit. It was a massive night.

So, anyway, here's the bracket. You're welcome.

CLEVELAND
(At Jacobs Field)

9 Procrastination vs. 5 Rushmore
6 Kari Byron vs. 10 Prague



ANN ARBOR
(At Dominick's*)

9 Loreley Beer Garden vs. 5 Boogie Nights
3 Bob Dylan vs. 2 Rose Bowl



INTERNATIONAL WATERS
(At Tyson-Secretariat Arena)

1 Sumerians vs. 4 Industrial Revolution
14 Jacques Cousteau vs. 10 The Office (UK)



DEVILS LAKE
(At the DevilDome)

1 Sistine Chapel vs. 5 The Enlightenment
14 Estes Kefauver vs. 2 Animal House



*Weather permitting. In case of rain, games will be contested at Ashley's Pub.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Tournament of Everything Round 2: Devils Lake Region

At Fiesole, Italy
I swear this is the first Google Images result for Wikipedia.
1 Sistine Chapel vs. 8 Wikipedia
The Sistine Chapel is more than just a pretty ceiling, you know. It's got walls. And a floor. And parts where the roof is slanty and you're not sure if it's a wall or a ceiling. I guess you could tell by if it's painted or not. I like the Sistine Chapel. I've never been, but I've heard it's really nice. I've never been to Japan either, but I love Japanese history. I read about how the Jesuits helped some Japanese peasants rebel against their kings, or "shotguns" as they were called in Japan. It was beacuse the Jesuits converted them to Catholicism. The Jesuits were always tight with the Roman power structure, so they were kind of like the Pope's palace guard, except they also went out to convert heathers. Sistine Chapel 44, Wikipedia 28.
5 The Enlightenment vs. 4 Pint of Bass Ale
Well, let's see. The Enlightenment sure has taken a beating over the past six years or so, hasn't it? Global Warming and Evolution are highly controversial theories, on a par with the "Second Spitter." Science is just another brand name to slap on propaganda. The Constitution is just a game of Frogger to the Cheney administration. Yeah, the Enlightenment's lookin' real good. But then again, without it, George Bush could piss in a pint glass and tell you it was delicuous Bass Ale, and you'd have to believe it, because hey, who's to say? And then, as if you hadn't suffered enough indignity, some bunch of assholes would remind you what a great guy the dude who pissed your pint glass was, and how great he would be to be around while you drank his warm, strangely hoppy, urine. And because you'd have no recourse to emprical facts, you'd drink it and never be able to imagine a day when things like liberty, freedom and truth were more than just cudgels and cruel jokes. The Enlightenment 86, Pint of Bass Ale 76.

At Windhoek, Namibia

6 Summer F. Sanders vs. 14 Estes Kefauver
Sweet lawdamercy, if this isn't he most towering tilt in all of tournamentdom, I'll go to a habderdashery, purchase myself a fine felt homburg and then eat that hat of mine which I had recently just purchased, all to prove my point. That point being, that this is one hell of a matchup. Almost worthy of the title game. Almost, but not quite. Because someone's going home today.
On one side, you have a dispenser of Giant Tennessee Boost Up Your Ass. A crusader for civil rights, a friend of working Americans and a foe to exploitative, monopolistic business. On the other side, you have not only the most astounding physique and cardiovascular system ever encased in lycra (circa 1992), but also the foxiest. Back in that day, a more innocent time, Summer Fucking Sanders peered out of the pages of Sports Illustrated into my teenaged heart and made it thump. Estes Kefauver, no matter how many trusts he busts, no matter how many would-be Enrons are stamped out by that Giant Tennessee Boot, could never have done that.
But, hey. Bareclona was a long time ago Miss Fucking Sanders. Those tan muscles don't ripple quite so seductively anymore, do they? Those chlorine bleached lashes no longer flutter for me. And who watches NBA Inside Stuff? Not I And anyway, if Natalie Coughlin -- make that Natalie Fucking Coughlin -- could travel in time back to the early 1990s and challenge you to a race, she'd be listening to Nirvana tapes on her Walkman Sport and sipping Nestea in a chaise longue before you even did your last flip turn. Summer Sanders, I'm so over you. Estes Kefauver 87, Summer F. Sanders 70.

10 Contact Lenses vs. 2 Animal House
I'm not in anything resembling good physical shape. I've got fucked-up sinuses. My lower teeth are a bit wonky from that time I went over my handlebars and landed on my face. If I ever appeared on Jeopardy! I'd list my interests as eating, hooting, and blogging. I've got an ugly scar on the front of one of my shins. But goddamn if I don't have awesome vision. I'm the first one to make out signs on the highway. If I want to make a recipe I found online, I just put the laptop up on the counter, safely out of the way and I can read it fine from over here by the stove. On the subway, I don't have to lean to read over someone's shoulder _ not even when they're on an express and I'm on the local. When I was a kid, my eye doctor called me "Eagle Eyes." I think I have 20/(minus 20) vision. Yeah, yeahg, I know it won't last my whole life. I know someday, I'll probably need reading glasses. I might even need contacts one day _ they're a hell of an invention. But even so, I'm a sucker for girls who wear glasses. But until then, I'm watching Animal House on your 19-inch Toshiba ... from five blocks away!!!1!!1!! Animal House 68, Contact Lenses 52.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Tournament of Everything, Round 2: International Waters Region

At Disputed Zone

1 Sumerians v. 8 Hungary



My seventh-grade social studies teacher would be proud. You're a teacher in small town in the sticks and you stand in front of a class full of ignorant 13-year-old pricks, talking about the Hindu-Kush and the Nubians and the Sumerians, making the poor dumbasses memorize every country on the map. Lo and behold, 17 years later, all of that hard work pays off and a former student is writing about this stuff on his lame blog.

To borrow from former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neil, writing about the Sumerians and Hungary is a little like being a blind man in a room full of deaf people. While I've never been to Hungary, I'm aware that HMQ2K7 hates it, and that one of her friends was almost shot at a bar in Pest. Something about it appealed to Flop's shaggy-chic style, so he came back talking about a balcony in his hotel room or some such shit.

I'm also aware of goulash. Whatever.

My seventh-grade social studies teacher taught me that Sumeria was the cradle of civilization, and for that, we later got stuck with things like A.P. calculus and laws. Also, they wrote; they wrote Gilgamesh.

This is a little like watching a game where one team dominates a conference that you're barely aware of (Boise State, say) and they come out on top of a 1-AA school that they probably shouldn't have been playing in the first place. It's kind of interesting to watch the game, but it's hard to give a shit. Sumerians 81, Hungary 54.

5. Winged Helmets v. 4. Industrial Revolution


Twice on every fall Saturday, I have a conversation that goes like this:
Person A: "Wow, School X's new uniforms really suck."
Me: "Who gives a shit?"
Person A: "That's outrageous! Why aren't you incensed that they look like an arena football team?"
Me: "I care about the game, not fashion. Stop being a priss."
True, Michigan's winged helmets are distinctive but not garish. They've been around forever, and there's a certain superhero-logo quality to them. (If forced to discuss this subject, I'd also acknowledge a fondness for Nebraska's plain-red-N-on-white helmet.) But goddamn, it's a helmet. It's there to prevent a defensive end's skull from breaking apart when he gets pummeled by a 300-pound lineman. There can be aesthetic qualities that come with function, but in the end, it's like praising a beautiful nail. That nail is there to get pounded.

The Industrial Revolution has given us global warming, acid rain, income inequality, ravaged landscapes, black lung, oil dependency, roads, Amtrak and Tess of the D'Urbervilles. We could have done quite nicely without any of these things. So I guess this is a contest between affliction and an aesthetically pleasing nail. Winged Helmets 61, Industrial Revolution 63.

At Macao

6 Eggs v. 14 Jacques Cousteau



Eggs benedict's round-one loss to "All Things Considered" was not without consequences. Egg enthusiasts at a Shawnee's outside of Columbus, Ohio took to the streets in drunken riot, where they torched effigies of Michelle Norris and Mellisa Block. "Fuck NPR!" they shouted.

With their eggs now in one basket (ha!) and a heightened security presence, rowdy egg supporters taunted Cousteau with chants of "Water sucks!" and the ever-insulting "That's all right, that's okay, you'll be eating us someday!" The unfazeable Monsieur Cousteau, flanked by high-profile supporters including Phish, Jethro Tull and the band Aqualung, was impervious. He declared tuna fish to be the chicken of the sea, set up a film projector, and silenced his critics with beautiful and peaceful footage of sea life. The egg-lovers quieted. They were stunned by nature's majesty and harnessed to its yoke. Eggs 67, Jacques Cousteau 81.

10 The Office (UK) v. 2 Breasts



Is the U.K. version of The Office the greatest series in television history? It would make decent fodder for a late-night bar argument. It feels less like a TV comedy than a twelve-chapter, episodic novel that lulls you with raucous, eye-watering humor before knocking you to the floor in a concluding chapter that portrays work, optimism and love as illusions that people fabricate to pass time. It's like if Raymond Carver had written the final chapter of A Confederacy of Dunces. Then you realize that you were not merely watching a scaldingly funny comedy for grown-ups, but a deeply felt meditation about -- yowzer! -- the pitfalls of modernity and the minefields of being human.

There have been other great TV programs in the last 20 years: Seinfeld, Cheers, Arrested Development, Curb Your Enthusiasm, South Park, and the dramas like Twin Peaks, The Sopranos and Six Feet Under. None of them are as disciplined and tightly paced as The Office.

One of our female commenters has been vigorously contending that breasts are overrated, particularly when it comes to jogging. I'll take her word for it.

But look at the pretty lady!



Unfortunately for breast afficionadoes, the No. 2 seed isn't "nice racks." One thing that the Tournament of Everything has revealed is that sometimes the general is weaker than the specific. If, instead of the Internet being seeded No. 1, the entry were for "left-leaning political blogs," No. 9 seed Procrastination may not have won.

"Breasts" are not the same as "nice racks." Breasts include this:



And this:


This?



Don't think of this as denigrating breasts or the unshapely. Think of this as reflecting on humanity. As The Office (UK) can teach us, it's all fun and games to enjoy those nice breasts and have a laugh with them, but some day those breasts are going to get old and saggy, and force the kind of spare reflections that only come with time. At a certain point they're going to lose their firmness and appeal, and what you're left to fall back on is personality and resilience. O! life is bittersweet. The Office (UK) 94, Breasts 88.

Friday, March 23, 2007

It's What's For Dinner (Lenten version)

Flounder and greens, both from the Union Square greenmarket. Catholic (fish on Friday) and environmental (locally caught, locally grown) guilt, held at bay ... at least until tomorrow's hung-over Hummer races.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Tournament of Everything Round 2: Ann Arbor Region

At Hikone, Japan
1 Potable Water vs. 9 Loreley Beer Garden


Potable Water: Hi, everyone, look at me. I'm Potable Water! I'm an essential ingredient in civilization anywhere. The Romans kicked ass because they could build aqueducts to bring me into their cities and rehydrate them after trips to the vomitoria. Ever wonder why all the ancient Egyptian cities were on the Nile? That's right, me. (You're welcome for Moses and the pyramids, by the way. No trouble at all!) You know, it's not an accident that the Cradle of Civilization is between two rivers, is it? That's right Sumerians, I'm talking to you. You're nothing without me. Everyone wants me! The United States is willing to drain the entire fucking Colorado river to grow lettuce for their Big Macs in the Imperial Valley, and the entire West is eyeing Lake Superior like it's the last bit of steak on their girlfriend's plate. Israel and Lebanon could go to war over me. The Russians tried to fuck me over in the Aral Sea, and what do they have now? The world's giantest fucking sandbox. They learned their lesson. Fuck oil, if the world goes to hell in a handbasket, it's just as likely to be over me than it is oil. That's right _ me! Me! Me! Me!
Loreley Beer Garden: OK, who needs a drink? Thought so. Loreley Beer Garden 78, Potable Water 74.


6 Exile on Main Street vs. 3 Bob Dylan

If this were a matchup between the Stones and Bob Dylan, it would be a knock-down, drag-out, classic for the ages, albeit one that would be accompanied by the sound of snapping pelvises and the distinct scent of liniment. As situated, however, it's one great album up against the whole of Robert Zimmerman himself. And musician-poets from Minnesota are not to be trifled with. Bob Dylan 91, Exile on Main Street 75.

At West Egg, N.Y.
5 Boogie Nights vs. 4 The Federal Reserve

I assume that the first time CrimeNotes laid eyes on Alan Greenspan, his reaction was much like that of Philip Seymour Hoffman getting a gander of Dirk Diggler's Peacekeeper-like dong: gulping, swallowing hard, goggle-eyed _ the whole bit. Meanwhile, the actual Federal Reserve is a kinda-sorta governmental system of entities that isn't exactly transparent. (And you know a guy like Jack Horner is all about transparency in government and open-records laws.) The Fed is dry and arcane and doesn't include a shirtless Heather Graham at all, not even under the best of circumstances. Also, I once paid the equivalent of $18 for Chinese food in London because £1 is almost two bucks now. Thanks, Federal Reserve. Boogie Nights 72, The Federal Reserve 56.


10 All Things Considered vs. 2 Rose Bowl

By happenstance, two things from my childhood have met here in the second round. When I find myself explaining my childhood in Ohio, I explain my crosscutting football allegiance thusly: "When I was a kid, I was obsessed with the Cleveland Browns. I only watched college football twice a year. I'd watch Michigan play Ohio State [pause] and then I'd watch Michigan in the Rose Bowl." (It usually takes Ohio State fans that extra second.) What I don't talk about, because no one asks, is that I also remember listening to NPR's All Things Considered anytime I was in the car with my mom. I developed a deep and abiding love for the show and all things NPR that ... apparently had little impact, because I basically never listen to it these days. It's not that I don't like it, it's just that I don't ever bother to listen. Meanwhile, when I was walking through leafy Pasadena streets on the way to the Rose Bowl, my girlfriend at the time (an Ivy League grad who cared little for college football; no, we're not together anymore) thought I was unwell because I kept bouncing up and down, walking too far ahead of everyone and generally tugging at the leash like a puppy smelling a far-off barbecue. I think I acted reasonably calm, consider I was on the cusp of my first in-person glimpse of The Promised Land. Meanwhile, the most excited anyone's ever gotten for All Things Considered can be seen in the video below. Rose Bowl 97, All Things Considered 81.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Tournament of Everything, Round 2: Cleveland Region

At Nullarbor Plain, Australia

1 The Internet vs. 9 Procrastination



It's kind of hard to remember how procrastination worked before the Internet. There was TV and video games, yes, and I suppose there was talking on the phone about whatever dumb shit happened at school that day. I probably did some very nice drawings, too.

Now procrastination is possible because of web sudoku, lame blogs like this one, and google chat. If that's all there was, the internet might cruise to victory. The team has unruly talent. It also has hot-garbage players like MySpace, the Drudge Report, fat-people porn, child predators and Nigerian internet spammers. As soon as MySpace came off the bench and an oil heir asked the ref for his bank account number, the team collapsed.

Go a day without the Internet and you'll be just swell. Go a day without at least five hard-earned bouts of juicy procrastination and you're going to contemplate suicide. Procrastination 78, The Internet 71.

5 Rushmore vs. 13 Caffeine


There are several moments in Rushmore when a person feels struck by how sad, funny and hopeful everything can be all at once. That scene at the birthday party where Bill Murray lights the cigarette, climbs to the top of the diving board and cannonballs in? I did that at work today.

Dirk Callaway singlehandedly reintroduced "handjobs" and "Frenching" into the lexicon. Totally commendable.

I never imagined that the phrase "one dead fingernail" could be so powerful.

Caffeine is not subtle and inspiring like Rushmore. Caffeine is a vicious drug. I drank eight cups of coffee today. This was not unusual. This was a weekday. After pounding cups all morning I'm barely functional by noon. Coffee? Cigarette. Coffee? Cigarette. Want to talk procrastination? Coffee? Cigarette.

Never forget what this fucking drug did to Jesse Spano.



Looks pretty accurate to me. The Mormons got one thing right, the no-fun bastards. Rushmore 85, Caffeine 71.

At Bushwood Country Club, Florida

6 Kari Byron vs. 3 Muppets



I've never heard of Kari Byron and I've never seen her show Mythbusters. (I never would have heard of Mythbusters but for the fact that Flop periodically gets drunk and hollers about it.) It appears to be a show where a couple of dorks in beards run around and lecture people about fake stuff. Meanwhile, Wikipedia has this to say about the lovely Ms. Byron:

Art and sculpting are important aspects of her life, and she has claimed that she creates some form of art every day, stating, "I would go crazy if I didn't." Some of her preferred sculpting materials are polymer clay, various found objects, acrylic gouache, wood and metals.

Right.

The Muppets, on the other hand, are a beloved childhood memory. They broke an early and seemingly insurmountable lead, until the lovely Ms. Byron started busting some myths.

"Have you ever thought about how romance between a frog and a pig could actually function?" she said.

"Sure," I said. "It proves that true love can overcome fundamental differences."

"I'm speaking strictly from biological terms," said the lovely Ms. Byron. "It's not possible that a frog could penetrate a pig, for instance. I'm confident that the pig's labia would engulf the frog, suction it up, and likely suffocate it. The dead amphibian would find itself inside the pig, likely infect it, and lead to serious, if not fatal, suffering by the pig."

"You're missing the point," I said. "This is a wonderful children's show with plush puppets. You can't apply some sick biological analysis to Kermit and Miss Piggy."

"My show is called MythBusters," she said, "not the Puppet Validation Hour. Stop being a sentimental pussy and grow up."

Kari Byron 102, The Muppets 101 (2OT).

10 Prague vs. 2 HMQ2K7



Prague: Home to Kafka. Setting of Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Title of a mediocre Arthur Phillips novel, which is, in fact, set in Budapest, but all of the characters wished they were in Prague, so the book is titled Prague.

The premise of the following line of dialogue in Noah Baumbach's reassuring Kicking and Screaming: "Oh, I've been to Prague. Well, I haven't been-to-Prague been to Prague, but I know that thing, that, stop shaving your armpits, read The Unbearable Lightness of Being, date a sculptor, now I know how bad American coffee is thing..."

I too have never been-to-Prague been to Prague, but I know that thing, that, everybody comes back and raves about it thing, that great-beer-on-every-corner thing, and I think that I need to get my ass over there.

HMQ2K7: A friend since freshman year, when she yelled at me for saying mean things about the Greek system. A friend of the dumpster. A girl who loves football and basketball. A girl who's a pervert but a prude. How good is she? So good that she was named the Queen of 2006 -- and then beat back the competition to retain her crown.

Unfortunately, she didn't create Kafka and beer doesn't spill out of her. Prague 72, HMQ2K7 71.