Friday, November 30, 2007
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
I'm always mistaking Helen Keller for Anne Frank.
It's not my worst problem, but it's happened often enough to be a trend.
Over Thanksgiving, someone mentioned Helen Keller not being able to talk. I mistakenly confused this remark as a joke about Anne Frank not being able to speak because she was seized by the Nazis and killed. It legitimately offended me. My face blanched and I sat stunned and silent for several seconds before I processed that Helen Keller and Anne Frank were different people.
Coincidentally, South Park's traditional Thanksgiving episode about Helen Keller: The Musical was in rotation. The confusion never arises from the episode, because of lyrics like, "Helen Keller, Helen Keller, blind as a bat. Can't see or speak. What's up with that?"
On the other hand, a coworker once recounted her adventures in Amsterdam. A few months later the topic came up again, and I made fun of her for touring the Helen Keller House while stoned. She yelled at me. I had no idea what the problem was. She told me I wasn't being funny. No, of course not, I said. It took a few minutes to clear up the confusion.
I don't know how someone who'd visit the Anne Frank House baked could have the piety to lecture me for confusing Anne Frank with Helen Keller.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
"No," said Ryan M*****, "they're all fat."
"No," I said, "I want a good story. My friends in New York are *******."
"That'll be $1.75 for your gallon of beer," said our waitress.
"Your pitching arm is beautiful," I say. "That can't be accurate."'
"You know the owners."
"I will leave you $10 in tip because you are 21 and beautiful."
Tag Team back again. AC/DC earns royalties.
We see Wendy E******. "Is that Drew W********?"
Yes. Cocaine and powerlines, that was the story. It's like a Denis Johnson story without violence or heartache. M*** B***** has called us all. Jason owns a house in East Town, paid for less than the Thai food I ordered on Tuesday. Where I'm from, a gallon of beer costs a nickel and you can by a mansion for $10. Find 21-year-old *****? B** is unamused.
Kelly ******* shrieks at me. She will move to Portland. Ken Kesey spent some of his best years in Oregon.
"It's all done," I say. "[Redacted] is the worst thing to wish on anyone. It's hell on earth."
Tag Team, back again. Montell Jordan.
"Ryan M*****, Jason, you are all puss****." I drink down. Is that even my beer? It's unclear. Raspberry beret? Pregnancy. There's Wendy! Talking to Drew W********. I am a gentleman.
"Where do you live?"
"Central Park is far. Thompkins Square Park dog run."
"Thompkins Square Park dog run."
"Wha? Hey, I knew your sister."
"She's a nice girl," I say.
On the way out I run into a kid. He goes to Michigan for undergrad. He yells when he sees my shirt. We briefly discuss college. I shout Ralph Williams's name. The kid gets excited, too. This will be my top moment all month.
J*** B******** doesn't want to listen to me, but when I was seventeen, he was the man. I'm drunk and it's late. I have a Miller Lite flashing necklace. Tomorrow, I'll give it to my eight-year-old cousin, right before I throw him.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
It's just crap you don't need anyway. Especially not at 4 in the goddamned morning. Sleep in and have breakfast together at 10, over coffee and the hometown paper. If you want to see people back in town, pick up the phone, don't hope to bump into them around dawn, pawing at housewares.
Do you really think this is going to be fun? No one should voluntarily leave their house at that hour. Especially not to bring home a pre-lighted Christmas tree or a sheet set. Quit making this out to be some celebration of the season. It's just an infantile, consumerist mission.
Shopping is not a celebration, it is not a tradition and it is not bonding. Just stop it.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Saturday could be his final Ohio State game. For idiots, this would be cause for jubilation. For me, it would begin a long period of unease.
Lloyd has been successful by any measure, with a national title and five of Michigan's 42 Big Ten titles to his name. His winning percentage is behind only those of Schembechler and Yost among Michigan coaches, and under his watch, Michigan became the national leader in all-time wins and winning percentage. His personal winning percentage is higher than the school's all-time win percentage. Not shabby.
National media types and fans like to make coaches into godheads. When comparing the best football coaches in the country, it sounds as if they're discussing the seven wonders of the world: The Great Lighthouse of Norman; The Colossus of the Coliseum; The Hanging Gardens of Gainesville; The Great Pyramid of Happy Valley.
Some fans find it harder. Lloyd does not inspire mindless worship. He doesn't take stupid gambles that earn the praise of the national media and chin-stroking pre-season puff pieces. His demeanor, like his playcalling, is restrained. He doesn't have any personal-appearance trademarks. He doesn't tell reporters how late he stays up watching film and working on game plans. And he sure as hell doesn't court their attention. The only way you'll see him on a magazine cover is on his players' shoulders.
Lloyd is just a man who has made Michigan football his life's work. He has a life outside of football coaching, and appears to be intelligent, at least enough to understand that football is not the end-all, be-all that some make it.
In an interview with scholastic.com, the book publisher, Carr dropped a reference to Ralph Waldo Emerson. (Imagine your school's coach sitting for an interview with Scholastic Books, let alone throwing around Emerson references.) His 1997 team was famous for reading Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air and using it as inspiration on its climb to the top of the college football world.
In a perfect world, Lloyd would coach into his 80s, improving the lives of generations of football players, as well as students like myself who find themselves respecting and admiring the man.
Lloyd embodies Michigan ideals. He does not run up the score. He does not believe in winning at all costs; he treats sportsmanship and dignity as tangible goals. He insists his players leave Michigan as better people. Many of them do, and go on to become teachers, airline pilots and entrepreneurs.
And his teams win. We should all be so successful in our life's work.
Someone wrote earlier this week that tomorrow's game is the rubber match for Lloyd's legacy. That statement couldn't be more wrong.
Whenever he begins life as an ex-coach, Lloyd Carr will deliver our team into the hands of someone who will not seem worthy. This is fine. Any assessment of Lloyd at the moment he took over Michigan would have been the same. The program was poised at a touchy moment. But Lloyd took over, never once lobbied for the job, and simply proved himself. He overcame a highly embarrassing loss to Northwestern, his team played hard all season, and delivered a 31-23 upset of undefeated Ohio State. Should he bookend his career with likely upsets of the hated Buckeyes, it would be a sweet finish indeed for a man who deserves it.
And if not, we'll all get over the disappointment. I wouldn't trade the past 13 seasons of Michigan football for anything. And whenever it is a new coach takes over, he'll probably seem at least as unworthy as Lloyd might once have. I'm optimistic that Michigan's next coach will do just fine. But I can't shake the feeling it won't be the same.
People like Lloyd are called once in a lifetime for a reason.
The television package is split between ESPN/ABC and CBS, both of which devote significant regular season airtime to college football. Fox, which doesn’t carry regular season games at the network level and which has contributed to the current BCS mess by offering globs of money to extend and televise the status quo, was barred from negotiations. (Plus, we strongly suspected that Fox suits would insist on renaming the national championship game “The Rudy Giuliani Bowl.”)Enjoy history in the making.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
and all. But also because when faced with a public crisis, the governor decides the best use of his time is to fucking pray for rain.
Look, your beliefs are all well and good, Sonny Perdue, but while you're on the clock, let's focus on some more tangible solutions, m'kay? You can hit the knees and pray for rain at night. You're dealing with some serious shit here, not the 1948 Braves. I'm sure you fancy yourself th Moses of Fulton County, but even he banged on a couple rocks.
Maybe you could ask the local bottling concern to cool it on the Cherry Coke Zero for a bit. Or at least crank out some more fucking Dasani. You could even try to get some conservation laws cooking. Legislature's right across the street, and they have to drink, too. But no, you're going to pray for rain instead. That's just super.
If I lived in Atlanta, I'd be looking to move somewhere more sane. Like Arkansas. Or Yangon.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
It was a good weekend for the players on my favorite football teams. Chad Henne and Hart went to that Oasis Hot Tub Gardens place in Ann Arbor, where they relaxed their aching body parts in the healing, rented waters while members of the softball team fed them dates and Haribo peaches. On Sunday, they went to Cafe Zola for brunch with Jamar Adams, and stayed until 3:30 talking about the presidential race, whether there should be a student regent and making fun of Hart for liking Johnny Tremain in seventh grade. Hart planned to get revenge by introducing Adams as "The Silversmith" when he tapes the player intros for ABC later this week.
Braylon Edwards plans to work out, then have a sensible lunch, and maybe put up that birdfeeder he's had sitting in the garage for a month. Kicker Phil Dawson is planning to drive his kids to school, then go to Panera for a sandwich and finish his book (Time Traveler's Wife) for book club. Coach Romeo Crennel is going to a benefit luncheon with his wife, Rosemary, who works with disadvantaged youth. Joe Thomas is going fly fishing in the Rocky River. The steelhead are running great this time of year.
Monday, November 12, 2007
People once thought Ken Lay was a genius. Recklessness catches up with everyone eventually.
ESPN needs to stop. Lou Holtz's pep talks are amusing only in the way that it would be amusing to put an Alzheimer's patient onstage at a comedy club and let 'er rip. That is, they're painful and sadistic. You forget that this sputtering punchline was once a leader of men, a great coach, now willingly dropped before a camera in order to make an ass of himself in service of our entertainment. Lawyers and court-appointed guardians must inject themselves. Someone who loves him must intervene. Old people should be allowed to live their golden years in dignity, not turned into the announcing equivalent of a snuff film. This is what Howard Beale would have been like if he had no rage.
Dear Pat Forde: Suck my fat one, you cheap dimestore hood.
Ninety-five percent of the people coaching, announcing and analyzing this sport fall into the category of hypocrite, half-wit or liar.
Also, this is my own fault, but I know more about Houston Nutt and the Arkansas booster-and-recruiting follies than should ever, ever be expected of a native Midwesterner who's spent his last eight years in the Northeast. I would like to wire my brain to a magic robot/computer and let it remove massive quantities of memory, including everything about Houston Nutt and Mitch Mustain. Why the fuck do I know what Houston fucking Nutt told a guy when he was in high school and what Razorbacks' parents think? Did I ever even care? Not by a long shot. But I know anyway. Fuck, I'm surprised that I didn't go through the FOIA requests and the documents that were produced and assimilate them all into massive spreadsheets just for shits and giggles. I should be put down.
While we're at it, let's also void every memory of Dennis Franchione and his stupid-assed secret newsletters. Why do I know? Why did I read those things? I cannot tell you. Something to do with a USC ballcap and the word "guff." I want all of that shit wiped clean.
Speaking of wiping shit clean, I'm not listening to anyone trying to make sense of what's happening in college football, because all we're doing is standing around with massive fistfuls of shit, trying to shape wet, dirty feces into nice little sculptures that resemble something explicable. That's not a sculpture of a lizard -- it's shit, dude, seeping out between your fingers. Otherwise metaphorized (That's not a word? Fuck off.) a Great Dane pukes on Mom's kitchen floor after it lapped a two-liter of Diet Coke, and the Thanksgiving guests stand around the mess, declaring that they see an image of the Virgin Mary somewhere in the puke. And then they start praying and call the local media, and the next thing you know the Great Dane's mess of Diet Coke puke is being consecrated as holy. And then you're thinking, "Fuck, all that's there is dog vomit. Devotion will not change that. Why pretend?"
Saturday, November 10, 2007
This isn't the passing of a great writer as much as an occasion for the mourning of a kind of public intellectual that literally no longer exists. If you've ever seen clips of Mailer chopping it up with Gore Vidal, years before any of us were born, you get kind of a nostalgia for a time when men of letters strode the culture with outsized personalities and egos. They were celebrities. They set the terms of debate. They took their roles as public intellectuals seriously, and enjoyed the fame. They used it responsibly. I've never loved his writing, true -- Vidal, Wolfe and Joan Didion played the same game and eventually one-upped him. (Mailer stayed a step ahead of George Plimpton, but "The Paris Review" will outlast them both.) Mailer veered into irrelevance long before Harlot's Ghost.
Still, he strode bigger and grander than any of the young writers we're stuck with today. Norman Mailer crapped bigger than Jonathan Franzen well into old age, and from his grave, he always will.
Friday, November 09, 2007
Some mirthworthy nuggets from the lines:
CBS TELEVISION CITY: Big glasses, big heartGenesee gate. Drew Carey sent us out ten pizzas today. As one writer put it, "The man gave up half his lunch for us!"
UNIVERSAL: We can do the Jurassic Park ride later
Apparently, there was a Teamster present who just happened to be visiting from out of state with his wife. Somehow he stumbled across the shoot and told his wife he wanted to join the picket line. She basically said, "Are you crazy?" And he answered something like, "We're Teamsters, that's what we do."
CHELSEA PIERS, NYC: All Jacked Up
"One guy from our group got hassled by some stockbroker-looking dude who was screaming 'Get back to work! I don't want 24 to be cancelled!' He was serious."
I bet that guy was a joy to be around during the transit strike, too.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
By Ohio Independent Moderate
Get back to work, you lazy, greedy bums. Oh, boo-hoo, you didn't get enough from DVD sales. Maybe if you had been smart enough to innovate, to come up with the idea of selling DVDs, then you would have a claim to it. But this, this is an outrage -- you're just trying to use your leverage to profit off the work of others. God, I hope the strike ruins all of your careers. Well, faster than they would have been wrecked anyway.
Hey, did you notice? Reality shows don't need you! That's right, the market has decided you're surplus to requirements, just like those money-grubbing autoworkers who ruined GM and Ford and forced all those jobs from my state overseas. Not to mention let all those faggoty imports clog up our highways. (And the grill of my uncle's F-250!) But at least the autoworkes they did real work, man's work. You just fucking ... write!
Seriously, what's your biggest workplace hazard? Sprained predicate? Maybe latte burns? You sit at your coffee shops and type away on your MacBooks and whatever, and you come up with ways for Desperate Housewives to entertain us. Like anyone couldn't do that. You know what, I hope this provides a chance for some hard-working young men and women. See? They're willing to work, unlike you guys. This is what's wrong with America, people can just not go in to work and not get fired. Those fucking studio execs are such pussies. If I were in charge, I'd fire all of you, then hire some young kids who really wanted to work. I'd have them write some good movies, too, like 300. None of this shit with the fucking talking rats in French kitchens (although I'm sure the part about rats in Paris kitchens was totally accurate. I bet they'd surrender as soon as the exterminator came.) What Hollyweird needs is a non-biased studio. We'd refuse to work with unions and then we could do some real movies. Like Petraeus. Oh man, Mel Gibson would be great in that. And maybe a thriller about the War on Terror. Or a dystopian flick in which a Young Republican, writing for The Corner, saves the world from dhimmitude. Caliphate: America would be a great name for it. Or maybe the United States of Mexico. And a movie about the Minutemen, too. That would be great.
Oh, this is totally what's going to happen. Hollyweird union slugs, you just made the biggest mistake of your lives. A real movie studio, free from all the stupid Hollywood shit! That's what we need to counteract all the liberal bullshit coming from Hollywood. Suck it, Michael Moore! I bet your a Meatchicken fan, too! HA HA! Tressel owns your ass! Or he would if he wanted to own 300 pounds of fat! Yeah, I said it, you're fat, Michael Moore, you Wolverine-lover. Ann Arbor is a whore!
Whoops, sorry. My cousin Wayne is a huge fan, and sometimes, I can hear his voice even when he's not here. Sorry about that, Wayne. Anyway, this writers' strke is the best thing to happen to Hollywood since Ronald Reagan. Fucking unions. They should be illegal. Or at least they should for limp-wristed girly men like fucking TV writers! Oh, thanks for Mr. Belvedere, assholes. Where would we be without you?
Also, I enjoy walking home with a baguette in under my arm or a watermelon cradled in my elbow, but that's just me.
But before I can say anything about food miles, the rising cost of oil and the likelihood that we're all going to wind up having to eat local eventually, I should point out that I really have no standing to talk like this. None. I'm a food fraud. Eating local more has been nothing but a boon to me -- I could have done this for purely self-interested reasons.
There's a greenmarket close to me, closer than any good grocery store. And I hate grocery stores. They're fraught with peril. You're basically looking into people's cabinets when you see their carts. And looking into other people's cabinets is usually depressing -- a view of their sad, private lives. And even if you avoid that, there's maneuvering around people blocking your way, more despair when you see all the sad things they market to kids in the form of pink cereal and green ketchup and at the end you get to wait in line to hand over your hard-earned money, while the person in front of you argues that the crackers that just rang up for $3.29 each should really be 2 for $6.
And everything smells like celery.
No, I don't miss it at all. What got me going to the market regularly was the idea of food miles. Eventually, I realized that buying asparagus from Peru in August and blueberries from Argentina in February was really, really dumb. Why should my food have been places I haven't? And is that really a wise use of fossil fuels, to provide antioxidants to Manhattanites?
So yeah, I stopped supporting that, for the most part (I still occasionally duck into a megamart, but that's because olive groves and rice paddies and the like are rare indeed in the tri-state area). I also still eat out from time to time, probably more than I should.
But I've made the switch. In my mind, getting food means going to the market, not the store. And I would love to tell you how everyone should do this, so that food miles go down, pollution goes down, oil can get used for more important shit than trucking DiGiorno's across the nation, local farms stay farms and don't become subdivisions and retail, Frank Perdue punches out his hat, multistate e. coli recalls go the way of air-raid drills, Whole Foods stops peddling $7-a-pint Honduran huckleberries, and the obesity epidemic and terrorism are both solved at the same time, and the BCS is banned and all the conference commissioners are sent to pick iceberg lettuce for Big Macs in the central valley. But I can't, because I think I'd do it if none of that were true.
Fixing American dependence on megamarts, processed food, and "happy motoring" (as Jim Kunstler would call it) isn't a huge sacrifice for me. I'd be willing to make some sacrifices, but so far, it's been all upgrade for me. So, yeah. Seriously, farmers' markets rule. Your money helps your local community, and not the bottom line of ConAgra. The food is better than you can imagine, and fresher than trucks and planes can possibly deliver. You're contributing to a better life for you and everyone around you. You're reducing traffic. You get to do things like walk home with a giant stalk of brussels sprouts, or honey made from hives on city rooftops. When gas is $7 a gallon, why pay for your Foxy brand lettuce to come from Fresno when you could get it from the next county over?
But what do I know? I actually like this shit.
Sunday, November 04, 2007
I've wanted to revisit the Tony Soprano death debate in light of some recent comments by David Chase. My post on the subject may be the most-read piece in this site's history. It still receives frequent Google hits and message-board links. My original observations included the following:
- Literally all that happened was people going about their business in a diner. That was it. People in a diner, shot very artfully, very tensely, in utterly mundane activities. Obviously we're waiting for something bad to happen. ... We expected something sinister -- that's the way these stories are supposed to end. Instead, dinner happened.
- This is, however, a microcosm for the problem with the Death Theory. It's based on pure guesswork (as well informed as it might be) rather than anything that actually occurred on screen. You buy into it, and you're required to take several leaps of faith unsupported by actual events. Leaps of faith, by nature, aren't rebuttable. If you believe that an entire subplot unfolded, wherein AJ was tailed off-screen by an assassin, it's hard to have a conversation grounded in what we know. Knock it down, and another speculative answer is always in the offing.
- There seems to be a certain impulse to find support (any support, no matter how thin) for a preordained, desired conclusion. As a result, the death theories rely heavily on wild conjectures (see above) and iron faith in thoughtful but unproveable guesswork about what may or may not have happened off-screen (in a series that never relied on Macguffins or off-screen twists) regardless of observable evidence.
On The Sopranos finale, I give myself an A+. Per David Chase:
Breaking his silence months after the HBO mob drama ended its run, he is offering a belated explanation for that blackout at the restaurant. He strongly suggests that, no, Tony Soprano didn’t get whacked moments later as he munched onion rings with his family at Holsten’s. And mostly Chase wonders why so many viewers got so worked up over the series’ non-finish.
Chase says the New Jersey mob boss “had been people’s alter ego. They had gleefully watched him rob, kill, pillage, lie and cheat. They had cheered him on. And then, all of a sudden, they wanted to see him punished for all that. They wanted ’justice’...
“The pathetic thing — to me — was how much they wanted HIS blood, after cheering him on for eight years.”
In the days, and even weeks, after the finale aired June 10, “Sopranos” wonks combed that episode for buried clues, concocting wild theories. (Was this some sort of “Last Supper” reimagined with Tony, wife Carmela, son A.J. and daughter Meadow?)Chase insists that what you saw (and didn’t see) is what you get.
“There are no esoteric clues in there. No ‘Da Vinci Code,”’ he declares.
He says it’s “just great” if fans tried to find a deeper meaning, but “most of them, most of us, should have done this kind of thing in high school English class and didn’t.”
He defends the bleak, seemingly inconclusive ending as appropriate — and even a little hopeful.
A.J. will “probably be a low-level movie producer. But he’s not going to be a killer like his father, is he? Meadow may not become a pediatrician or even a lawyer ... but she’ll learn to operate in the world in ways that Carmela never did.
“It’s not ideal. It’s not what the parents dreamed of. But it’s better than it was,” Chase says.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Awwww, too bad we know all about what a douche you are, Rudy! Also, your beloved Yankees just drove their Hall of Fame manager and
Bow before the enlightened electorate of the Empire State!