Monday, March 19, 2007

Tournament of Everything Round 1: Ann Arbor Regional

At Hikone, Japan

1 Potable Water vs. 16 Getting a Haircut

Getting a haircut was miserable until I found my Italian barber shop, where the elderly barbers make fun of my conservative haircut and slam their elbows on my shoulder when my posture goes bad. Potable water, meanwhile, is arguably the most overrated seed in the tournament. Ever heard of coffee, tea, beer or wine, and wonder why they're so entrenched in European culture? Because before there was potable water, that's what people drank. Sure, they might have died early, but otherwise they did just fine. As the respective ascents of Poland Spring, Desani and indoor plumbing attest, potable water is overused, often expensive, and generally indespensible. Potable Water 66, Getting a Haircut 52.

8 Bohemian Beer Hall vs. 9 Loreley Beer Garden

About four years ago I went to Bohemian Beer Hall on a Saturday night. It was crowded but not excessive. I sat outside to talk with old friends and meet new ones, smoking cigarettes on a hot night, thinking about how it's never bad to drink outside, and generally loving life. By last summer, it had become the city's most intolerable drinking establishment. I was at a Czech beer garden with a long line outside and a clientele of ripe bastards, a cascade of the worst stereotypes of terms I avoid -- "hipster," "bridge and tunnel" -- and I-bankers, all in their early 20s, all thrown together, with horrible drunk sweaty women shouting into cell phones about how they didn't know where they were. I was never in a frat at Indiana University, but I got a feel for the experience. Maybe because Loreley is closer and more familiar, I associate it with slow drinking on Sunday afternoons and the occasional stray asscrack. Loreley on a weekend night is no joy, but even at its ugliest the pain does not approach that which one feels at the faded glory that once was Bohemian Beer Hall. Bohemian Beer Hall 48, Loreley 60.

6 Exile on Main Street vs. 11 Gilgamesh

The greatest album by the greatest rock band of all time also happens to be great party music. It's 2 a.m., everybody's wasted, somebody just cut himself on broken glass, and a drunk girl is crying in the corner: Exile provides a perfect blend of rocking enthusiasm with low-level sinister. Tomorrow you'll wake up to find a day that broke up your mind, but there's always time for one more. Meanwhile, nobody really likes Gilgamesh. It's one of the books that great books professors assigns out before we get to the good stuff in Homer and The Aeneid. First book ever written, foundation of Western Civilization -- blah blah blah. Ancient Mesopotamia is heavily represented in the Tournament of Everything. Gilgamesh fans will have to concentrate their support on the Sumerians, who land at the Number 1 seed in the International Waters Region bracket. Exile on Main Street 78, Gilgamesh 72.

3 Bob Dylan vs. 14 Foxhunting

Better duck down the alleyway
Lookin' for a new friend
The man in the big black hunt cap
By the houndpen
Wants eleven dollar bills
You only got hens.

Bob Dylan 104, Foxhunting 63

At West Egg, N.Y.

5 Boogie Nights vs. 12 Rodin's "The Thinker"

You're not the boss of me, Rodin. You're not the king of CrimeNotes. I'm the boss of me. I'm the king of me. I'm CrimeNotes. I'm the star. It's my big dick and I say when we roll. I know fucking karate. You don't know what I can do! You don't know what I can do, what I'm gonna do, or what I'm gonna be! I'm good! I have good things and you don't know about! I'm gonna be something! I am! And don't fucking tell me I'm not!

Boogie Nights 81, Rodin's "The Thinker" 74

4 The Federal Reserve vs. 13 Daisy Buchanan

In my younger and more vulnerable years, Alan Greenspan gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since.

"In the absence of the gold standard," he said, "there is no way to protect savings from confiscation through inflation. There is no safe store of value."

He didn't say any more but we've always been unusually communicative in a reserved way and I understood that he meant a great deal more than that. I am still a little afraid of missing something if I forget that, as Alan Greenspan snobbishly suggested and I snobbishly repeat, a sense of the fundamental decencies is parcelled out unequally at birth.

Alan Greenspan believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter -- tomorrow we will run faster, stretch our arms farther . . . . And one fine morning --

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

The Federal Reserve 64, Daisy Buchanan 61.

7 Eggs Benedict vs. 10 "All Things Considered"

Eggs Benedict is the cigarettes of breakfast menu items, not only because the hollandaise sauce is high in cholesterol but also because it's a breeding ground for bacteria. This is no joke. Do not order the eggs benedict unless you're confident that you're in a quality establishment. And yet -- so delicious. I will wake up early and go to brunch just to have eggs benedict. And then we have "All Things Considered." I stream NPR at work from the minute I get in until the moment that I leave. When "All Things Considered" comes on, I know that not only am I about to get a thorough and valuable recap of the day's news served up with the occasional feature story, but that the workday is about to end as well. It's the closest thing I have to a recess bell, and it's much more nutritious than eggs benedict.

Eggs Benedict 68, "All Things Considered" 80.

2 Rose Bowl vs. 15 East Village Idiot

The Tournament of Roses invented the bowl game, and while history must condemn that as more of a curse than a blessing, the Rose Bowl hangs, by the barest of threads, as a shadow-bastion of old timee, pre-commercial virtue. Like everything else in life, it has been severely tainted by the existence of the BCS, but it's impossible not to experience chills followed by mild seizure upon arriving in Pasadena, seeing the Rose Bowl logos everywhere, looking up to the mountains, and knowing that you've arrived in the holy land. East Village Idiot arrived to the Tournament of Everything only because it devised a March Madness-based tournament far superior to ours. Flop and I once met its author Chris at some blogger party, and although everybody was too drunk to remember much, he struck me as perfectly reasonable. Still, he's no Rose Bowl. Rose Bowl 104, East Village Idiot 66.

1 comment:

Chris said...

I may have lost, but the after-party at Gatsby's pad was totally worth it.