Friday, April 27, 2007

Tournament of Everything World Semifinal: 1 The Sumerians vs. 5 Rushmore

Hey, remember this? The Tournament of Everything is back after some downtime. Today's tilt: The Sumerians, beloved wheelwrights and codifiers vs. Rushmore, bittersweet portrait of gentle obsession and beekeeping.

I've harped on the Sumerians' many contributions to our society, and for good reason. I enjoy that wheels allow me to save precious joules which I can expend in other ways. I am thankful the rule of law saves me from serfdom. And I am thankful for beer.

But as remarkable as these things are, it's safe to say that if the Sumerians hadn't come up with them, someone else could have. I mean, do you think those fuckers rolled to China and Europe, where there's also evidence of wheel-inventing (or more likely, discovering)? Eventually, a group of people would have tired of getting whacked in the head and having their beer and wheels taken. And hell, the Germans probably would have figured out the beer thing, what with their Teutonic resourcefulness.

Meanwhile, even if those thousand monkeys and their thousand typewriters managed to get the final draft of Hamlet off to their agent, could they have stumbled upon a tale as true as Rushmore? Unlikely.

One of the great functions of storytelling for a society is that stories give order to the world. Most works of literature that stand the test of time do so because they have at their heart a fundamental truth about what it means to be human and to be alive. Rushmore is film, and not literature, but it plays the same chords. You watch it and can appreciate how wonderfully absurd and heartbreaking life can be. It also reminds you that not everything is a happy ending, but sometimes what you get is good enough that you can keep living and taking another crack at things.

If the Sumerians had only invented beer and wheels, they'd be formidable opponents, but still blown out of the water here. But the concept of a codified set of rules is basically the foundation of civilization and freedom. I've never set foot in New Hampshire, but I can appreciate a state that believes in freedom over life itself. One of the reasons I find the Bush administration and its fellow travelers so incredibly odious is that they have actual, malicious contempt for freedom and citizens. I'm in danger of getting too serious here, I realize, but this is important shit.

That said, the Sumerians aren't the fount of all freedom, just the first drop in the bucket. That's pretty damn good, but how does it compare against fundamental truths, like the fact that guys are always doing stupid shit like building aquariums or hanging gardens to please pretty ladies? I'd still give the nod to freedom here, but wait.

How does it compare to a story that can relate to just how crushing it is to realize that you're not going to get your Rushmore degree, and inspire you to make a go of it at Grover Cleveland? Oh, and it's going to make you laugh your ass off, too.

Sorry, Sumerians. It's been a good run.

Rushmore 81, The Sumerians 73.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Hootness malaria dancey-dance!

"On this special day, we renew our commitment to lead the world toward an urgent goal, and that is to turn the tide against malaria in Africa, and around the globe," the president said. Associated Press.

How true. Malaria kills more than a million people a year. It's the leading cause of death among children in Africa--

Oh, fuck it.

Malaria Awareness Day is my best day for dancing!

"In no time, it was Bush who was enthusiastically choreographing the moves. Flashing a big grin, Bush pounded on the drums to set the rhythm and led the women and men of the group in a little dance." Associated Press.

Dancey dance!

Oh my danceness!

Hoot! Hoot! Dancing hootness George W. Bush dancey dance! Hoot!

ROTFLMAO OMG hootness you guys! OMG HOOT!!!!!!!??!!

hahahahahahahaaaa! Clappy clappy hoot!

Yes, someone really does love you, Boris Yeltsin. You know what they say: Peanut butter jelly with a baseball bat.

Hootness Yeltsin dancey-dance!

*All photos found on Shakesville.
** If I didn't already hate the guy so much, these photos would make me wish he was my best friend.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Who feels scratchy?

Lunch-hour business-district newsstand customers come in two categories: cigarette buyers and scratch-off lottery-ticket cultists.

Both camps have similar goals. We both waste money on a guilty transaction.

My purchase is faster: "Pack of Marlboro Lights, please," with seven-ish dollars in hand. Exchange: initiated and completed in no more than 20 seconds.

The scratch-off lottery ticket buyers binge. The scratchers, they are inefficient. They ask for one wildly named product ("I'll take three Magic Millions* ...") and then survey a wide field of multi-colored scratch-offs. Their eyes are greedy, and you can see their ambition build ("... and a Lucky Millionaire ..." [long pause] "... and a Fortunate Frog ..." [and the list goes on]) while a serotonin-flash pushes them to buy more.

It's real addiction. I swear. The scratchers can't afford it. It's not a PowerBall crowd. Most of the scratchers are over 50. They're not professionals. They don't look like they're secretaries -- they look like maintenance workers or long-distance commuters who work some kind of back-office inner-cubicle job (benefits, mailroom, etc.) that is probably unendurable. Some blow twenty bucks a time. There's a Sara Goldfarb mix of despair and inflated hope.

Every time, my impatience with the lines (true for all lines, everywhere) segues into discomfort. In a small newsstand near my office, four or five scratchers wait in line ahead of me. A few scratch through their cards in a counter by the window and then go back to the register for more. A hyped-up scratcher my age chastises the Bangladeshi owner because the last cards he bought included no winner. Later I see him storm to an ATM machine.

My nicotine addiction has dragged me into an underground economy. Here I am, waiting in the scratch-off crackhouse, but all I want is simple cancer agents.

*All scratch-off brands named herein are, to my knowledge, fictional, though it wouldn't surprise me if they happen to be real.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Hold Steady's mild-mannered new release

One of my rules of thumb is that a band that employs an accordion has something up its sleeve that I won't much care for. I rolled my eyes when I read that the new five-song Hold Steady CD, "Live at Fingerprints," would include a cameo appearance from an accordion.

It's not that I don't appreciate it when bands tweak and reconfigure their songs. Volume 5 of Bob Dylan's Bootleg series, from his 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue tour, is spectacular in the way it reimagines his canon. Dylan's a little like a jazzman in the way that he takes the cores of his masterpieces and spins his variations. This annoys some of his concertgoers to no end, but in my mind it's part of why his performances never have the flavor of a nostalgia tour.

"Live at Fingerprints" appropriates The Hold Steady's throttlings and turns them into love taps. This is fine, and the instrumentation is perfectly lovely, kind of like of Colin Melloy had been asked to produce a Hold Steady album. The track list is short (Cattle and the Creeping Things; Chips Ahoy; You Can Make Him Like You; Citrus; and You Gotta Dance With Who You Came to the Dance With) and the only song that feels full at home is "Citrus" -- which was already an acoustic, bittersweet reflection on decadence and salvation.

One of the qualities that sticks out is how rough Craig Finn's voice is when accompanied by acoustic instrumentation. His shouts don't feel out of place (at least not to me) when the band is at full force, but in this context it's a blunt instrument.

Pitchfork's review observes:
Still, Live at Fingerprints-- recorded at a Long Beach in-store performance-- underscores something that's easily missed in the Hold Steady's recorded output: It's not the performances that make the band so special, it's the songs.
Well, this is true only if you've never quite listened to the songs. (iTunes leads me to estimate that I've listened to the band's songs more than 2,000 times, a number that, even in light of my copious writings, is unnerving.) Craig Finn gets compared to a lot of people, but one of his peers might be Quentin Tarantino. They're both genre-obsessed and draw from a pretty broad tapestry of the culture.

If anything, the version of "Chips Ahoy" underscores how lyrically weak it is (yes, it rocks, but the story and the refrain grate on me a little) and "Cattle and the Creeping Things" loses most of its dark power when Tad Kubler's pounding guitar is supplanted by an accordion.

"You Can Make Him Like You" seems to work out fine. It's a song that I've never been able to decode -- is it mocking the girls it depicts or celebrating them? -- but here, it sounds sympathetic and lonely. In this respect, it's kind of a hint at what can happen when a band reimagines a song and pulls it off. An acoustic version of "Stuck Between Stations" made the rounds on the internet in the months before the release of "Boys and Girls in America." It heightened the song's poignancy while soft-pedaling its pyrotechnics.

There's nothing wrong with "Live at Fingerprints," even if it isn't quite "Live at Leeds" (and the band probably does have a "Live at Leeds" in them), and as I twiddle my thumbs waiting for whatever skull-knocking epic they release next, it's nice to get this short postcard to hear what they've been up to.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The stupidest fucking people on the face of the Earth

Fox News.

It's not scientific, you see.

The rich: sorely fucked, or fucked sorely?

I blame The Simple Life.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

This post doesn't have an argument

I have a friend. I've known him for a long time. I lived with him after college. From college through present, I've shared houses with more than 30 people -- at one point I did a census but I've since lost count.

That three-bedroom apartment was the most fun. We were all pretty close. I know their families and I've stayed in their houses.

It wasn't until his wedding that I learned one of his college housemates committed suicide in spectacular fashion -- enough that I remember reading about the event in the news. At his wedding reception, I was seated with his college housemates. They talked about it fairly openly. When the best man gave his toast, he referenced what they "all went through together" at the time.

I'd known my friend for years but he never talked about it.


Seung-Hui Cho's roommates talked. The video is available on CNN's website. These two guys, they're so normal that you want to be friends with them, so laid back that their account of living with this guy made it sound like any other awkward-roommate scenario that happens at college.

You're struck by how goddamn nice these two guys are. They lived with someone who refused to speak to them and woke them every day with a terrible Collective Soul song. They went about their lives with their friends and their classes and came home to this person. The whole time they acted with compassion and concern, like they were doing their best to reach out to this guy and integrate him to the world.

That's the kind of thing that makes you crazy. The more you read, the more it seems like good people were reaching out to him. There's a natural preoccupation with blame and attribution, sure, but it's kind of extraordinary how good people were to this guy.

Details you might have missed:
  • He told a roommate that he had an imaginary girlfriend named Jelly. She is a supermodel. She called him Spanky.
  • He woke up every morning and played the horrible Collective Soul song "Shine" on his laptop.
  • His sister graduated from Princeton (Princeton!) and works in the State Department, where she helps facilitate aid to Iraq.

Right. One reason this feels so absorbing is that this craziness happened in the middle of lives that were content and familiar. I grew up in a college town. It was in the middle of nowhere. I drove by at least two gun stores on my way to high school every day. My dad and almost all of my friends' parents taught at the university. I mean, by comparison, Blacksburg is Paris and Virginia Tech is the Sorbonne, but I remember the kind of low hum and insularity of these places, where the professors knew each other for decades and you were far away from any metropolitan area or easy air travel. Towns like these, they're in their own worlds.

The other reason it's so absorbing is this weird funk of pop-culture effluvia. The pictures reminded me of Taxi Driver, but one, apparently, was drawn from Oldboy. And the dude's plays -- Jesus Christ. I mean, they're not worth reading for any purpose aside from morbid curiosity (although the former classmate's descriptions are worth glancing) but "Richard McBeef" reminded me of the fake sitcom embedded in Natural Born Killers. The one with Rodney Dangerfield as an abusive, molesting father. If I read his plays cold, I'm not sure whether I'd recognize them as lousy, or whether I'd think that they were supposed to be ironic satires.


Do not read this.


Hey, I haven't thrown around words like "news judgment" since I was in college, when we cared about things like that and treated them like they mattered. I remember reading about how newspapers agonized over whether to publish the Unambomber's manifesto. They feared that publicizing it would function as an encouragement.

I remember learning that you don't necessarily cover suicides, because it might encourage likeminded people.

NBC's wall-to-wall coverage of this guy's suicide propaganda is unforgivable. It's the worst, most irresponsible media transgression, like, probably, ever. There is no news value to this, nothing of relevance that hadn't already been reported -- only a lightly edited spotlight, giving him the last word and all of the attention that he wanted. These pictures of him, posing all Travis Bickle-like with his goddamn guns, ranting into a camera about Mercedes and vodka -- NBC has given him all that he wanted and more than he deserves. NBC news has defined "irresponsible" and "salacious." This is as bad as airing the martyr tapes that suicide bombers make before they go out for their last runs.

I resent the hell out of this. I worry that in the minds of likeminded people, this attention is perceived as a reward: if you don't have anything left to lose, might as well go out in a blaze of glory. And I resent the hell out of myself for lapping it up.


On Monday, a couple of college football blogs that I frequent (and love) posted heavily about the events at Virginia Tech. At the time I thought that this smacked of grandstanding -- as in, who the hell are they to inject themselves into something of this magnitude.

When I listened to the Tuesday convocation in my office, streaming it into my office computer via NPR, I changed my mind.

Virginia Tech is a football school. Among college football fans, Virginia Tech is the kind of place that only an alumnus could love. I've never heard anyone speak well of its team. Marcus Vick and Frank Beamer don't inspire admiration.

Then Nikki Giovanni spoke and I understood. College football people love their universities. You can divide college graduates into those who think that college was the best part of their lives and the others, who think of it as a place where they got a degree. I'm condemned to be in the first category, and I'm going to guess the same is true of the football guys who blogged about this. So you hear Nikki Giovanni's lines ("We are strong, and brave, and innocent, and unafraid. We are better than we think and not quite what we want to be. We are alive to the imaginations and the possibilities. We will continue to invent the future through our blood and tears and through all our sadness. We are the Hokies. We will prevail. We will prevail. We will prevail. We are Virginia Tech.") and you think about your own school, and you think about how much VaTech means to these people, the same way that your school means to you.

And then you think to yourself how great it is that there are institutions and communities like this all over the country, and how lucky some people are to have that and how sad it is that not everybody does. There's something different about these places that distinguishes them from the rest of life. Nikki Giovanni's remarks jumped out of my speakers. I understood what she meant. The college football bloggers recognized right away what it took me a day to process.

Nikki Giovanni was already famous. I've never read her poems, but I love her. There's a lot to be said for righteous indignation. Here's what she told the Associated Press: "I know that there's a tendency to think that everybody can get counseling or can have a bowl of tomato soup and everything is going to be all right," she said. "But I think that evil exists, and I think that he was a mean person."

All kinds of time

Things I can do in less time than it takes to listen to the entire first movement of Bach's Violin Concerto No. 2 (recording by Hilary Hahn, resident hottie of the international fiddlin' set):

  • Make an omelette out of locally produced eggs and goat cheese
  • Do my taxes (federal only).
  • Update my fantasy baseball rosters
  • Write a short, pointless blog post

Things I can not do in that time span:

  • Relay the account of a 2007 Cole Slaw Blog Tournament of Everything semifinal
  • Write a long, pointless blog post.

Clearly, if I had chosen "Stranglehold" by Ted Nugent, I'd have been able to do all of this (but not the New York State return. Because man, that thing sucks.)

No, dumbass, I will not play "Devil Went Down to Georgia" for you.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Rude Pundit

This is one of those times when I like him better as a straight man than as a vulgarian.
We're so filled with stories, local crimes and small incidents, celebrity lives and deaths, animal attacks and house fires, that it's hard to discern anymore when something really matters. For everyone that the Rude Pundit saw in that fast food dining area, it was more of the noise of information. They had places to be. They had cell phones and Blackberries and GPS systems, and all of that technology told them that their lives were more important, always more important, than the lives of others.

Surely, when they arrive at their homes or hotels, they will be told to feel sorrow by the news networks. And maybe they will allow for something like sympathy, an approximation of emotion, the simulacrum of grief, to creep into their hearts and minds. After all, we will be told, we are a nation in mourning.

But mostly we are a dead-souled country, so inured to horror that even when something of incredible violence occurs on our soil, well, heck, we've been reminded of 9/11 so often that anything lesser hardly seems worthy of time in our Palm Pilots.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Rutgers women's basketball team owes Jon Corzine an apology

Cranks will be cranks. They'll call basketball players nappy-headed hos and they'll call John Edwards a faggot.

It may not be pleasant. You don't have to like it.

Their goal is to whip you into a frenzy.

In the future, let's all please agree to ignore these things.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Tournament of Everything: Road to the Final Four

Can a championship be decided without an interlude for hype? Not on this blog. Let's take a look back at the paths our four contestants trod to reach the Final Four held at Gertie's Crab Shack in scenic Bivalve, Md.

Devil's Lake Champion: Animal House

This No. 2 seed is fresh off an epic win over the top-seeded Sistine Chapel. Animal House also bumped off upstart 14 seed Estes Kefauver, whose giant Tennessee Assboot of Righteousness was washed out by a river of booze. The lads of Delta House also made quick work of Contact Lenses and Butter. But they'll have their work cut out for them against the ...
Ann Arbor Champion: Bob Dylan

America's contemporary Walt Whitman won the tilt of the tournament so far, beating the Rose Bowl in an incredible, quintuple-overtime battle. He also took Loreley Beer Garden to task and chewed up two British products _ Exile on Main Street and Foxhunting _ and shat them out like so many leaves of grass. But did his big win over The Granddaddy of Them All leave Mr. Zimmerman overconfident and looking ahead to maybe ...

International Waters Champion: The Sumerians

The only remaining No. 1 seed has torn through the tournament as if it were a more warlike civilization, laying waste to Jacques Cousteau, The Industrial Revolution
Hungary, and Paper Towels in ways that would make sharks, Ned Ludd, Balkans and liquid spills of all kinds green with envy. Of course, being a peaceful, civilized people, the Sumerians would probably just enjoy beating their semifinal opponent as much as they'd enjoy sitting down and watching ...

Cleveland Champion: Rushmore

The lowest-seeded Final Four team, No. 5 Rushmore was clearly underseeded. It's blend of laughter, tears and sublime absurdity has served it well in matchups with Procrastination, Prague, Caffeine and media darling Roald Dahl. In fact, the Max Fischer players probabably have the all-around most likeable collection of scalps in the tournament. Will they be able to add to them?

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Tournament of Everything Elite Eight: 2 Rose Bowl vs. 3 Bob Dylan


A man approaches the empty stadium. No one else is in sight. We see he has an acoustic guitar over his shoulder, and we notice he is taking out a harmonica. Yes, it's BOB DYLAN.

He stands in front of the rose bushes outside the south entrance to the stadium. He tunes his guitar as we see various shots of the stadium showing no one else, not even security guards or Midwestern pilgrims.


You know why I'm here, don't you?


[No reaction.]

BOB DYLAN looks up at the sign on the stadium's edifice, then walks into the empty stadium, emerging into the bleachers. He sits down and begins to play.


You've got a lot of nerve
To say you are my friend ...

He keeps playing, and we see on the Rose Bowl's jumbotron a montage of images, mostly Rose Bowl highlights: Ron Dayne, Drew Brees, Matt Leinart, Steve Breaston and then ... players from Miami, Oklahoma, Nebraska. All the highlights are from recent games, none are from before 1999.


... You just want to be on the side that's winning.


The stadium is completely empty. Sun gleams off empty bleachers. The paint in the end zones spelling out "Michigan" and "USC" is faded. The logo at midfield is still bright, with it's iconic blossom and the words "Presented by CITI" appearing as sharp as they were on Jan. 1.


No I do not feel that good

When I see the heartbreaks you embrace


... I wish that for just one time

You could stand inside my shoes.
And just for that one moment
I could be you.


Yes, I wish that for just one time
You could stand inside my shoes.
You'd know what a drag
It is to see you.

BOB DYLAN stops playing and looks at the scoreboard. It has gone dark. He looks around, as if waiting for a response. Seeing none he shrugs, and slips his guitar off his shoulder. We hear a faint drumming in the distance. BOB DYLAN looks up. The drumming grows louder, it's in the time signature of a martial-style march. There's a blast of horns playing "Tribute to Troy" and the UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA MARCHING BAND comes stomping out of the tunnel to Dylan's left. He hears more horns and turns to see the UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN MARCHING BAND pouring out of the other tunnel.

The bands are playing at maximum volume. BOB DYLAN looks bemused at first, then his expression grows concerned when they begin playing "The Victors" again at maximum volume. As the song ends, the bands have filled the entire field from end zone to end zone. They stop and turn to stare at BOB DYLAN. He looks around, clearly alarmed now. In each exit portal, members of every other Big Ten and Pac-10 bands, with several members guarding each exit portal from the seating bowl. He looks back to the field and notices the Michigan and USC bands have sealed off all the other exits.

The scoreboard flashes to life again. And words begin to scroll across it.


Just who the hell do you think YOU are? How dare you come here and spit in the face of my Tradtion and Grandeur. I am an American Classic. Do you not know that I am The Granddaddy of Them All (TM)?


Oh, I'm well aware. Listen, I think it's - ...


Then SILENCE! You shall not be leaving this stadium until you answer my Official Rose Bowl Riddle. (Off camera, an impossibly deep drumbeat begins, growing slowly louder and faster in tempo). If you fail, I shall leave you to be beaten to a slow and painful death by the bands. (At this, several flag girls menacingly begin to sharpen the points of their flags. Michigan's euphonium squad takes nunchucks out of their back pockets. The USC flute players smack their instruments menacingly into their palms. BOB DYLAN tries to remain calm, but is clearlu uncomfortable.


I was born ready! (He has to yell above the sound of the drum, which has become deafening.)

As he finishes, THE WORLD'S LARGEST DRUM, being towed by several members of the Purdue band, enters the field, sending USC band members scattering as it is beaten at a furious tempo. An unlucky few are crushed, their sunglasses sent flying in the air. No one moves a muscle. The drum stops suddenly. Somewhere in the distance, an oboe plays a note like a dog howling.


Very well. The Great Rose Bowl Riddle begins!

ROSE BOWL (Cont'd)

Knock, knock.


Uh, who's there?


Interrupting Woodson.


Interrupting Woods- ...

Before he can finish, CHARLES WOODSON, in full Michigan uniform, enters through a tunnel, runs down to Dylan's seat, steals his guitar, and runs up the steps and out another tunnel, clonking an Ohio State band member on the head with it as he passes.




Tough titties. Knock, knock.


[Sighing.] Who's there?


Interrupting Steve Breaston.

BOB DYLAN [Sighing}

Interrupting Steve Breast- ...

He is cut off by the roar of a high-powered jet engine. A maize-and-blue blur flashes over the stadium, accompanied by a sonic boom. The shockwave ruptures one of Dylan's eardrums.


You know, I didn't care for that. Now I'm deaf in my left ear.


Such is the price you pay for trifling with a Bowl Championship Series (TM) bowl, mere human.


Knock, knock.


Who's there?


Interrupting BCS.


Interrupting BC- ...

He is cut off when a giant cloth sack with a dollar sign on the side lands at his feet with a massive "WHUMP!" sound, nearly crushing his toes. It splits open and gold coins spill out. Then a banknote flutters past his face. He watches it land at his feet. It's a hundred. He sees as another, and then another flutter past. More sacks of money are landing, leaving great divots in the field and concussing innocent trombonists. The grass begins to disappear beneath the spilled Sacagawea dollars and banknotes. The band members refuse to move, even as the money piles up over their spats and lands in the bells of their instruments. The sky is dark and quivering with banknotes blotting the sun like locusts.


What is wrong with you? That's not even a riddle. That's the stupidest knock-knock joke I've ever heard.


SILENCE! What do you mean? This is the best thing that's ever happened to me in my long and glorious history. Better than the first Michigan-Stanford game. Better than Charles White's fake touchdown. Better than Leroy Hoard's thrashing of Washington, better than the time freaking Northwestern made it here. Did I mention I was the first bowl game? I'm The Granddaddy of Them All (TM)! And now I'm also the awesomest bowl of all, because I have tradition and I never fail to remind people of it. People pay extra for tradition. It's like a blue-chip stock or a name you can trust.


Oh, we pay for it all right. But if history and tradition mean anything to you, maybe you should actually embrace history and tradition, rather than using them as just another marketing tool. I'm sick of you telling us how wonderfully traditional you are every time you get a Big Ten vs. Pac-1o matchup, only to just watch you look the other way and stuff your pockets when it's time to invite the Oklahomas and Nebraskas and Miamis of the world.

If you want to be just another BCS bowl, that's fine. Call yourselves the Cingular Rose Bowl or the Run for the Roses Presented by Yum! Brands or something like that. Install seatbacks and cupholders and luxury boxes and just whore yourselves out on the street corner, you overgrown massage parlor.

You don't see the Fiesta Bowl promising anything but football and trans fats, do you? They've at least got honesty. Even the Orange Bowl isn't even played in the Orange Bowl anymore. Think about that. It's a shame, but there weren't enough luxury boxes, and maybe a bit too many minorities in the neighborhood. Got to move that up to that one stadium that keeps getting its naming rights sold. Yeah, Davie, Florida, -- the promised land. The place where college kids across the land, from Winston-Salem to Cincinnati, dream of when the season begins anew each fall. The Sugar Bowl was happy to be sponsored by an insurange companies as well as a phone company from Finland, and you know they can't get enough of their Gators and Razorbacks in Helsinki and Espoo, right, assholes?


Oh, stop it, you shriveled up, ugly, old has-been. You're just jealous that you couldn't hold a concert in my press box, let alone fill my stadium with your fans. You keep playing whatever that new shit is. Why not trade on your name, play the greatest hits. People love tradition! They don't have to think too hard! They feel connected to something bigger. I'm not the fucking Alamo Bowl, you know.


Yeah, but what's the difference (other than the referees, of course)? What sets you apart? You pimp yourself just as hard. Where's your integrity? Did Woodson steal that, too? You "leveraged" that like a goddamned Yard-A-Pult to get into the BCS's revenue streams. So own up. Stop hitting us over the head with your "tradition" and your United-States-Patent-and-Trademark-Office-filed nicknames and whatever that other crap is you want us to pay $125 a pop for. You're just peddling a cartoon character of your former self. You used to be something real. A shot of sunshine on a gray winter's day in the Midwest. (And I should know.) But now you're just a name-brand tanning salon, killing college football from the inside out, only no one pays attention to the slowly roasting internal organs because they're all excited to show off their skin's healthy glow (plus those killer lats; they're really starting to pop lately).


Listen, I don't really think ...


Hush up, I'm on a roll. Citi wants to "present" you so Bob and Teresa in Findlay Fucking Ohio will switch their checking accounts over from National City because they got the warm fuzzies watching Michigan get dickslapped by USC again. Or maybe young Emily the Undergrad from the University of Wisconsin will move to the big city and open her checking account with you because she loved going to games so much and now she misses her college years because she works in a company devoted to "building brands" and casting about for anything that can be peddled.

You're a sellout, Rose Bowl. And if there's anything Bob Dylan hates, it's a motherfucking sellout.

Fuck you, Bob Dylan. What about Victoria's Secret?


What about this? Scoreboard, dickface. How does it feel?

Bob Dylan 89, Rose Bowl 82 (5OT).

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Tournament of Everything, Elite Eight: 1 Sistine Chapel vs. 2 Animal House

I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody's part. -- Otter.

If that doesn't sum up the founding ethos of Cole Slaw Blog, I don't know what does.

Both the Sistine Chapel and Animal House serve as inspirational beacons for dedicated followers and casual appreciators alike. Catholics hold the Sistine Chapel in high reverence because it's both figuratively and literally at the heart of the faith. It's pretty much where all the shit goes down, including those rather important Papal conclaves. There's a reason they brought in Michelangelo for this, even though there was a small faction of Cardinals in favor of bidding out the job to local contractors.

Animal House, too, lies at the heart of a belief system of sorts. Anyone who ever loved college so much they didn't want to leave, anyone who has ever taken over a party by doing silly things (pushing people around in a wheelchair, hooting from the roof, eating mustard) was taking their cues, knowingly or not, from Animal House.

The movie's contributions to comedy are legendary, and have been discussed before. As have the Sistine Chapel's contributions to art and architecture. While the chapel is meant to evoke the Temple of Solomon, Animal House serves as a temple to gratuitous antics and socializing without regard to niceties or standing on ceremony. Why not wear a toga and pour grain alcohol all over your head? Why not eat those flowers on the table? Hey, let's buy some Oreos and punt them across the street.

Without Animal House we would have gone through college presenting our calling cards and playing charades instead of drinking box wine and blasting "Safety Dance" out the third floor window so we could hear it in the street.

Of course, the Sistine Chapel has had it's own beneficient effects. The image of God imbuing Adam with the spark of life, while much parodied, still is a powerful one, no matter what your beliefs. It's also where the Cardinals meet to choose a new Pope, sending white smoke chuffing up the chimney in one of the great all-time bits of procedural drama. The chapel itself is also apparently quite an inspriational sight.

I've never been to the Vatican, but I think it's safe to say that both the Sistine Chapel and Animal House also work better as ideals than in reality. Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life. I'm not sure that creating a revenue stream out of a place of worship is all that great, either.

In the end it comes down to this: The Sistine Chapel is a glorious and highly serious place. One is meant to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Animal House is a gloriously and highly silly movie. One is meant to be filled with the desire to be back in college. Both, I suppose, are inspring in their own way. But although I'm Catholic, I know which has been more influential to me.

Bless me father, for I have sinned. Animal House 76, Sistine Chapel 73.

In praise of viral marketing

I'm sufficiently excited for Grindhouse that I might break my six-month embargo against going to the movies.

The movie happens to sport a great website, one of the features of which allows you to design fake movie posters using your own snapshots. Here's one of my own creations, with faces smudged out to protect the innocent.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Tournament of Everything, Elite 8: 5 Rushmore vs. 10 Prague

A lot of people have their own private Rushmore. Mine was the University of Michigan, and one of Rushmore's many, many gifts is its portrayal of healthy obsession. Max is obsessed with the delightful Rosemary Cross, and he's obsessed with building her an aquarium, and he's obsessed with perfecting epic plays.

[Lengthy digression of moderate relevance: When I was in high school I wasn't preoccupied with a theatrical adaptation of Serpico, but my parents happened to have a video camera. Group projects were a big theme in our classes. Friends and I convinced gullible teachers to let us shoot films instead of performing homemade skits or stupid presentations. As a result, somewhere at my parents' house there is a VHS tape of a 30-minute movie made by seventeen-year-olds about the Iran-Contra scandal. It was adapted from the book Landslide by Jane Mayer and Doyle McManus: Mindy played Nancy Reagan, Bob played the President, Jack played Bud McFarlane (his failed suicide attempt was heartbreaking), I played William Casey, Josh played Antonio Somoza; I'm pretty sure that we had a Don Regan, an Admiral Poindexter, and a sequence set in Iran that was shot in a gravel pit. The Iran-Contra story was preceded by a separate 30-minute movie adapted from Gore Vidal's Burr, and there was a whole incident with a fake commercial for a fake telephone service called 1-800-GET-HEAD. It was collective Max Fisherism. Digression over.]

Max's individual obsessions are components of his greatest obsession: Rushmore itself. There aren't many movies that portray a person's obsession with a single place, which is part of Rushmore's magic. Max romanticized the school and everything that he wanted it to represent, and the doom romance with an ideal that you'll inevitably have to abandon (see also Holly Hunter and Albert Brooks in the equally great Broadcast News and the Howard Dean campaign) is one of life's ongoing challenges.

Another movie that gets this right in a very different way is Noah Baumbach's 1995 movie Kicking and Screaming, which is more earnest than Rushmore, and therefore occasionally cringeworthy.

Prague plays a role in Kicking and Screaming. Jane leaves Grover for Prague. For her it was liberation, but for Grover it was the end of all the good things and college and the start of a confused young adulthood.

By all accounts, Prague is a great city, and I look forward to seeing it someday. Prague might be Kafka's (or Jane's) Rushmore, but it's not mine. For this reason, and all of those described in Rushmore's earlier wins, Prague is just a little outmatched. Rushmore 74, Prague 71.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Tournament of Everything, Elite 8: 1 Sumerians v. 14 Jacques Cousteau

And suddenly, the Tournament of Everything is your seventh-grade social studies exam.
Fact: Sumerians thought of themselves as Sue Mary Anns. They had dimples and were adorable.
Fact: Amorites suck.
Fact: Eridu College 28, Nippur State University 38.
Fact: Sue Mary Anns loved music, but still, sickness bathed them.
Fact: Sargon the Great had herpes.
Fact: Prolonged exposure to Utu can cause skin cancer, so apply Utuscreen when outside on bright sunny days.
Fact: Wheels gave Sue Mary Anns boners.
Fact: Gudeau of Lagash's mama was so fat, she DJ'd for ice cream trucks.
Jacques Cousteau était parfaitement beau, je suis sûr, bien que je ne le rappèle pas cela clairement. Il habite sur principalement dans les films de Wes Anderson dans les assauts de requin sur la côte de Floride. Quand j'étais jeune je le genre de pensée qu'il était un ennuyer le gars français. Ses documentaires ont joué parfois sur la Chaîne 47.

Donc regarder. L'eau est bonne et la nature est merveilleuse et j'aime les mers. Un jour j'aimerais aller à une plage (seulement après avoir appliqué Utuscreen, bien sûr), mais jusqu'à ce que ce jour vient, j'enfoncerai aux roues et me baigne dans la maladie. Sumerians 58, Jacques Cousteau 54.