At Nullarbor Plain, Australia
1 The Internet vs. 16 All Your Base Are Belong To Us
One was the new hottness of 1994. The other was the new hottness of 2001. But the All Your Base Are Belong To Us phenomenon was only possible because of the Internet. This is known as ownership. These 1 vs. 16 games are almost always bloodbaths, unless a plucky group of Ivy Leaguers catches a behemoth at the right time. This is not that time. The Internet 92, All Your Base Are Belong To Us 50.
8 Alton Brown vs. 9 Procrastination
I was always a bit of a precocious child. But when I found school too easy, rather than get all my work done and show everyone just how good all two of my shoes truly were, I chose to play fast and loose with my schoolwork. I'd wait until the last minute, then pull off a Spaceman Spiff-like three-point landing. As a result, my second-grade teacher recognized both my early faculty with the language and my crappy work habits and taught me the meaning of procrastination. Unfortunately for all involved, I took the word and the act and made them both part of my identity. I even had a college girlfriend tell me once "Oh, [Flop], you're always just fuckin' around." It's true. Why else would I have a blog that's ostensibly about cole slaw? It's not because I love to cook, although I do. I think Alton Brown is a genius and if I could, I'd quit my job, take the dog to Georgia and camp out on his porch until he agreed to take me on as an acolyte. Maybe someday. Procrastination 71, Alton Brown 70.
5 Rushmore vs.12 Roald Dahl
Come tournament time, some TV commentators, usually of the crusty, old and white sort, like to talk coaching. Fuck that though: It's the players who matter. Or in this case, the characters. Max Fisher. Danny, the Champion of the World. Herman Blume. Henry Sugar. Or one of the great, all-time unattainable love interests, Rosemary Cross. Of course, Miss Cross probably can't compete with Coach Dahl's big post player, the BFG. (Am I the only one waiting in vain for a college basketball player to have that nickname?) And I haven't even mentioned choclatier Charlie Bucket and his vast confectionery empire (take that, Slugworth). More to the point, Rushmore seems like the logical result when a Dahl-loving kid becomes a teenager. Missing parent? Check. Kid happy to create his own world to the exclusion of others? Check. Tension comes from a conflict between the childhood world and the adult world? You bet. Happy ending ... well, sort of. Dahl probably would have never ended a story like that, but hey. Max Fisher's all growns up. This is one of those unpleasant games in which the underdog outplays the higher seed and still loses. The real world's a bitch. Rushmore 67, Roald Dahl 62.
4 Mass Transit vs. 13 Caffeine
If, 5,000 years ago, some leaves had fallen into the boiling water of a Chinese peasant and a cheap method of getting people around town had resulted ... well, that would have been a hell of a thing. Tea, the actual result of that probably apocryphal incident wasn't bad either. It was a beverage that must have seemed magical at the time. You drank it, and you were suddenly more alive. It must have seemed like a miracle. Even today it still sometimes does. It's hard to feel as if you're in the presence of magic on a crowded E train, although there's something to be said for such cheap freedom of movement. It comes down to this: When the subways and buses weren't running, New Yorkers found a way to work. If we were suddently deprived of our caffeine, the city would look like a sluggish, cranky version of 300. Ladies and Gentlemen, it's the most widely predicted upset of the first round: Caffeine 71, Mass Transit 65.
At Bushwood Country Club, Fla.
Kari Byron is better known to the world at large as "That one cute girl on Mythbusters." She's the archetypical girl on which I develop a crush. She's smart, quirky and capable. It also doesn't hurt that she's ridiculously cute _ and knows it. But before I rhapsodize about that one time she doffed her welding mask and tossed her red tresses about like so, let me make something clear. Dempsey's was once just that kind of bar for me. Quirky, comfortable and always welcoming, it was my go-to place. It had good beer on tap, a casual, mature clientele and even the occasionally great shot-and-beer special that was too good to pass up. There was even a waitress who was almost as cute as Kari herself and didn't mind that everyone had a crush on her. Now, of course, Dempsey's is overrun by undergrads and underagers. For that and getting rid of Carlsberg on tap, Dempsey's is officially dead to me, and henceforth expelled from the tournament of everything. Kari will have to bring her formidable abs and knee-jellying smile to bear on some other sucker (Summer, this means you.) Kari Byron 2, Dempsey's Pub 0 (forfeit).
3 Muppets vs. 14 Comfortable SweatpantsThis is the back-to-the-womb matchup. Muppets are loveable, fuzzy creatures last seen in our childhoods putting on a variety show, teaching us how to count and attempting to retrieve the stolen Baseball Diamond. Comfortable Sweatpants are nice, especially when they're the new, modern kind that are more properly called workout pants or wind pants or whatever. I'm wearing some as I type this _ tres cozy. But as comfy as I am, my childhood would have been a cold, bitter place without Muppets. Even now, seeking out long-forgotten scenes like the Rat Scat makes the rest of your day seem the tiniest bit nicer. Sure, changing out of work pants and into something soft and yielding is a nice moment, but we could do without. I mean, one of the enduring trends in human history is that we always find a way to comfortably gird our loins (the Victorians aside, of course). We, as the human race, have only had Muppets for like 20 years or so. There's only one Muppet Era. And we were lucky enough to grow up in it. The Muppets 89, Comfortable Sweatpants 75.
7 Prague vs. 10 Reading Alone
It's finally gotten warm out. The fan is on. Your roommates are gone. No one has called to suggest going to Dominick's. No one has called at all, and that's OK by you. Outside Ann Arbor is green and still. With the hubbub of graduation (not yours) just a memory, you can settle down with the book you've been waiting to take a good crack at for weeks. There's a cold beverage at your feet. Soon, it will be dark outside and you'll have to turn on a light. You can't spend every night grilling out, drinking on the porch and dodging rogue skunks, even if it is your last summer of freedom. Of course, maybe you should have spent some of it in Prague. Yes, you'd get there eventually, but instead of piling into a hostel with your close friends (and maybe some new ones), you'd just rent a solo apartment in the same building with your one friend. Air conditioned. Your own shower. And only a five-minute walk from the Karluv Most. And that would come in handy when you sat on the bridge late at night, drinking in the night and wondering what it would have been like to be there when you were young enough to fall so intensely in love with a place you could just pick up and move there without giving it a second thought. Ah, crap. Prague 68, Reading Alone 60.
2 HMQ2K7 vs. 15 Frisbees
Let's see: Beauty beyond compare, a body that won't quit and the royal tiara of 2007 against a flat, round thing you can throw? Holy shit, what a massacre. On paper, this is going to make the battle of the Somme look like a pleasant Sunday kickabout in Hyde Park by comparison. But I guess that's why they play the games. So what happens? Well, Frisbees are fun to throw. Also, one can have fun by catching them. Occasionally, an impressive catch can be made while running, which usually impresses one's chums. Yeah, bully for them. There's a reason she's been Queen since 2006 and shows no signs of giving up the throne. You think she's going to let herself get run out of the gym by overblown pie tins? Nuh-uh. The rout, as they say, is on. HMQ2K7 101, Frisbees 54.