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."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.
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."
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.
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:
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.