Thursday, February 25, 2010

5 Thoughts on a Thursday

1) On the way home from school/work today, I slipped on some ice and fell right flat on my ass. Then a squirrel in a tree started laughing at me. I hate squirrels.

2) Conversation overheard on the bus:

Boy: You know what's the whackest thing ever?
Girl: What?
Boy: Taking store-bought food into the movie theater.
Girl: Store-bought food? You mean like soda and candy bars or, like, chicken?
Boy: Chicken.
Girl: Yeah, that is whack.

3) Crooked Timber has also noticed the new Inferno video game. I'm telling you people. Dante: The New Bacon. I, personally, prefer my take on the game, but their best riff may be on the uncanny similarities between the epic poem and a certain other story about another famous Italian:

OK, then, what about this: it’s obvious that the way to do this right would have been as an installment in the Mario series: Mario’s Comedy. With Peach as Beatrice, Bowser as Satan, Luigi as Virgil, providing ‘super guide’ assistance’. Or maybe Virgil should be a Toad. I’m flexible. And the rest of the cast. Mushrooms and King Boo and Koopas and Yoshis and big biting metal balls on chains, disporting in appropriate spiritual attitudes. Lava and ice and howling wind. Various souls trapped in blocks you free by jumping on them, then carrying them to the end of the level, maybe.
Of course this makes the same mistake that the new game makes: Nobody ever kidnaps Beatrice. She isn't a damsel in distress. Nevertheless:


Video Game Pitch Meeting (1979) -- powered by

5) I earlier mentioned the difficulties of fighting of the depression that is caused by the never-ending terribleness of February. I have been trying to stave off these feelings the only way I know: Hero Dogs.

Treo, an eight-year-old black Labrador from the Military Working Dogs, who is to be presented Wednesday with Britain's Dickin medal, awarded for bravery and commitment in wartime, the highest military honor an animal can expect, poses with the medal at the Imperial War Museum in London, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2010. Treo is being decorated for his work sniffing out explosives in Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

More Bad News

This is one of the reason's why I was so down last week. Brian Grant, former Portland Trail Blazer and all around good guy, has Parkinson's Disease. This video almost made me cry. On the plus side, though, Grant is comically huger than Michael J. Fox.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

And So Seasonal Depression Sets In

With all apologies:

February is the shittiest month, being
All cold, and covered in ice, mixing
Mud and snow and gunk, staying
Overcast and lame.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Weekend Update

Happy President's Day/ Valentine's Day/ Mardi Gras/ NBA All-Star Game/ Winter Olympics/ Kalends of February!

Robyn and I spent this last weekend on a sort of min-vacation in Long Beach, seeing both friends and family. It was quite lovely, especially the part that was by the seaside and seventy-five degrees and sunny. Of course, I spent most of the weekend sitting on the back porch reading Stalingrad. And after a splendid 48 hours in Southern California, when we finally arrived back in Champaign, Illinois in a blizzard in ten-degree weather, I was able to say to myself, "Well, hell, at least I'm not in Stalingrad."

On a related note, Roger Ebert apparently does not like the new movie Saint John of Las Vegas starring Steve Buscemi and Sarah Silverman. I guess that's too bad, but what caught my eye was that the script was "based on the epic poem by Dante Alighieri." That's peculiar. Especially considering that we just had the release of the video game adaptation of Inferno. What does it all mean? Is it another manifestation of our chronic societal melancholy? Our we all convinced the country is literally going to Hell in a handbasket? Or is Dante merely this year's bacon? Only time will tell.

I think this is funny:

"I don't know what phallocentric means, but NO GIRLS!"
I also think this is funny:

Albeit funny for a different reason.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Ovid's Prince Charming Wolfman

"The Wolfman should probably be required viewing for anyone who thinks werewolves would make a good boyfriend or a basketball teammate ..."
Anthony Hopkins:
"I think women particularly — but both genders — are fascinated by the Beauty and the Beast mythology. It goes back to Ovid's Metamorphosis, it goes back to classic mythology. In another way, it's like Sleeping Beauty. The woman who's been put into a spell of enchantment by the wicked witch and she has to wait there for generations for the Prince Charming to come. And those mythologies are so powerful in our subconscious mind that I think that's why people respond to Beauty and the Beast. The Beast, in its darkness, is attractive. It's threatening, it's sexy. It's the dark stranger that's in all of us. The bogeyman. Once you make friends with it, it's very attractive. It's the beast that needs to be saved and brought out. In psychological terms, if it's denied and repressed, then it comes out in other forms: massive warfare, psychotic dictatorships, or people like Nazi Germany. So it has to be acknowledged."
So, as Sir Hopkins says, we wouldn't need to worry about people like Nazi Germany if they would only make friends with the sexy bogeyman.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

La Vita Nuova, Indeed

Have you seen this??

That's right: Dante's Inferno: The Video Game.

I couldn't believe my eyes, so I went to Wikipedia, where I gleaned some very useful information:

"Dante's Inferno is an action-adventure where players take a third-person control of Dante, the game's protagonist, and engage heavily in fast-paced combat, platforming and environment-based puzzles." Awesome. Furthermore, "In the game, Dante's primary weapon is a Death's Scythe that can be used in a series of combination attacks and finishing moves, and his secondary weapon is a Holy Cross that fires a volley of energy as a projectile attack." A Holy Cross that fires a volley of energy as a projectile attack!? (I actually do remember that from the Sixth Canto.)

But of course, the best part is when Dante goes action hero on Limbo:

Dante begins his descent into Hell, fighting demons, unbaptized babies and other tormented souls. He rides on the back of Charon the ferryman, who he later kills by forcing a demon to rip his head off, to reach the serpentine King Minos, the Judge of the Damned, whom he must defeat to continue his journey. In the end, Dante manages to kill Minos by placing his tongue on a torture device and spinning the wheel around to split his face in half.
"Watch out Dante! That unbaptized baby is right behind you! Quick, rip its head off!"


Pictured: Name Taker. Ass Kicker. Baby Puncher.

If Electronic Arts pulls this off - and I honestly hope that they do - then I am totally jumping on this bandwagon. I've got my list all ready started:

Call of Duty 5: The Iliad In the latest installment of this award winning first person shooter, take control of several different Greek warriors in their siege of the ancient city of Troy. Players can take part in team-based or deathmatch style multiplayer modes, and have access to the most authentic technology, such as "bow," "spear," and "sword."

Chaucer's Canterbury Tales ... of War! In this MMORPG, choose your character's occupation, from knight to prioress to pardoner, and get to work getting to Canterbury! Gain experience points from recruiting other pilgrims and working on your story! Special hidden bonus level allows your character to partake of cuckoldry and cunnilingus.

James Joyce's Ulysses Basically GTA, only with more violence. And drinking.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Un-Live Blogging the Super Bowl

5:42 p.m. - Indy just scored 3-0.

We're getting a late start today. I'm watching the Super Bowl on mute, and Betty White just got wiped out in the middle of a Snickers ad. And now OH NO! I just missed the Tim Tebow ad! "You didn't really want to see that," says Robyn. She's right. Probably best to see that one with the sound off.

5:45 p.m. - "There is something pretty splendid about the first sip of a bottle of beer," says Robyn. I don't think I could agree more.

We've been spending our Sunday both with a case of the sniffles. But other than that, things have been quite nice. We went out to breakfast at Hometown Buffet with some friends, went to the grocery store to buy beer for tonight, and did some laundry. Pretty average Sunday, actually. Now we're eating potatoes and watching Season 1 of Lost on Robyn's laptop while the Super Bowl plays on mute in the background.

I'm going to drink some beer and eat some potatoes. (Dropped the ball, Colston. That's not how you get the job done.)

5:58 p.m. - Manning is driving the Colts down the field. The Saints have been able to knock him down a couple of times, but they've given up three big, long runs.

First useless CBS factoid of the night: "Teams who score first in the Super Bowl are 28-15." (Touchdown Colts. Uh oh.... ) At some point, these statistics become utterly meaningless. "The team who leads at halftime wins so many times," or "The team who gains more yards wins so often." You know what? The team that outscores the other team is 43-0 in the Super Bowl.

6:10 p.m. - Start of the 2nd Quarter, Colts up 10-0. So far, we've seen two animals commercials, one starring beavers, the other starring a killer whale. (Why would anyone ever want to call them Orcas? Killer Whale is so much cooler. And if you want to see something awesome about Killer Whale culture, click here.) My money is on one of these animal ads winning the coveted Super Bowl Ad award. Whatever that is.

6:16 p.m. - Big sack by Freeney. He must be feeling OK.

6:17 p.m. - Colts 10, Saints 3.

6:19 p.m. - Marc Sanchez just gave us a PSA about women's heart health. And that's why the Trojans could beat the Gators any day of the week.

6:21 p.m. - Huh. Back-to-back "pantslessness" ads by and Docker's. I agree. Pants are fascist.

6:30 p.m. - One thing that I absolutely do not understand is the hype over the NFL Draft. Already, ESPN and the NFL are starting to promote this year's draft. But everybody knows that Tom Brady was a 6th round draft - you just have no idea which picks will pan out and which ones will be busts. (I'm even more miffed by the media attention for college football's "signing day.") If it were up to me, Mel Kiper and his helmet hair would be where they belong: doing the sports for WJZ Baltimore.

6:37 p.m. - "All I'm getting from this is that Real Men hate recycling." says Robyn. Both Dodge and Dove (WTF) have produced odd, "all men hate their jobs, wives, and families" ads. And Dockers, even, has their scary "Second Dawn of Man" campaign.

6:39 p.m. - 4th and Goal Saints. Watcha gonna do?

6:42 p.m. - Stopped! Props to the Colts defense on that one.

6:46 p.m. - Check it out. Another anti-woman ad, this one from FloTV.

6:51 p.m. - Colts 10, Saints 6, halftime. That was huge. The Saints are good - they can still win this game.

6:53 p.m. - Somewhere out there - maybe it's online, maybe it was in an old New Yorker, I forget - is an amazing essay about the philosophical differences between football and baseball. I've probably told most of you about it at some point. Football, for example, is a game governed by space and time. Each game is 60 minutes long, divided into four equal quarters. Every field is exactly 100 yards long, divided into ten, 10-yard segments. Baseball, on the other hand, is free from the constraints of space and time. A game will last as long as it has to (unless it rains) and every inning can last 90 seconds or 90 minutes. Every baseball field is also unique, with differing lengths from home plate to out field from city to city.

I also think that, somehow, football is a game of inevitability, whereas baseball is a game of possibility. I also think that The Who are old.

7:01 p.m. - Why was Pete Townshend playing an acoustic guitar? Is Roger Daltrey wearing a wig?

7:05 p.m. - For some reason I have more of a problem with The Who playing the Super Bowl then I did with Bruce Springsteen playing last year. Maybe it's because I think that Springsteen actually likes and pays attention to football, or at least that his public image. I don't believe that The Who give a damn about American Football. (Not that I'm saying that they should.) Also, I still have this image of Daltrey and Townshend running around west London circa 1964, dragging hooligans out of pubs and into alleyways, where they put a little bit of the ultra-violence on them.

I guess my main point is: Don't trust The Who.

7:22 p.m. - ONSIDE KICK! ... Wouldn't want to be at the bottom of that dogpile.... AND THE SAINT HAVE IT! That was awesome!

7:23 p.m. - A useful statistic: The Saints have played 26 of the last 32 offensive plays. But they only have 6 points to show for it. Will the Colts defense wear down? Or does it even matter with Peyton Manning directing the other team.

7:27 p.m. - TOUCHDOWN SAINTS!!! 12-10 New Orleans.

7:32 p.m. - Robyn: "Oh, yes. Let's strap on 50 lbs. of protective equipment. To play rugby."

7:37 p.m. - Wow. Peyton Manning is really good. Touchdown Colts.

7:39 p.m. - Is that Chevy Chase? He's old. Or in a wig.

7:47 p.m. - Puppy penalty! Illegal napping on the field! Wait, Robyn, go back. I want to see if the Saints score...

7:50 p.m. - Ew. Google wants to run my life. And now they're being open and honest about it.

7:51 p.m. - Colts 17, Saints 16. Close game.

7:55 p.m. - Either agrees with us about this year's Super Bowl ads, or we agree with them. You say tomato, we say vodka.

8:05 p.m. - He missed! This game is getting pretty damn good. Here is Jezebel's take on the latest slew of ads:

Yet as the night went on, it became clear that White's spot was the first of many ads centered around emasculated males who needed to "man up" via various products. In this case, it was a Snickers bar, which turned White back into a male football player.
On the other hand, Emerald Nuts showed a refreshing blast of gender equality by having both men and women pretending to be dolphin slaves for a fiendish, possibly Satanic Sea World-style director. I love Emerald Nuts ads. (Have you seen the marine mammals videos yet? Do it!)

8:12 p.m. - 1st and goal, Saints.


8:16 p.m. - Nice, Budweiser. Classy. Like I said, can't go wrong with animal commercials. (What's happening on Puppy Bowl, BTW?)

8:20 p.m. - Oh, snap! Call overturned, Saints lead, 24-17!

8:25 p.m. - On my new Facebook home page, Facebook has hidden my logout button. Because they can collect more data on me for their stupid sidebar ads if I never ever log off. Jerks.


8:34 p.m. - OK, Manning. Three minutes, two touchdowns. Comeback of the century?

I must say, this is another in a long line of exciting, well-played Super Bowls. I remember growing up in the late 80's and 90's, during the days of Jim Kelly and the Buffalo Bills. Every year, the NFC would just wallop the AFC, to the point where you really had no reason to watch the game during the second half. Just for the record, here are the Super Bowl final scores from 1985-1995 (all NFC wins):

38-16, 46-10, 39-20, 42-10, 20-16, 55-10, 20-19, 37-24, 52-17, 30-13, 49-26.

In six of these games, the winning team scored more than twice as many points as the losing team.

And here are the scores from 2000-2009 (AFC leading, 7-3):

23-16, 34-7, 20-17, 48-21, 32-29, 24-21, 21-10, 29-17, 17-14, 27-23

In six of these games, the final score was equal to closer than seven points.

8:40 p.m. - Another interception? In the end zone? Offensive interference! Crazy!

8:43 p.m. - 4th and Goal. INCOMPLETE!!!! Through his hands, too.

8:49 p.m. - That's game! Final score: Saints 31, Colts 17. Congratulations, New Orleans. And, other than a few creepy commercials, I say that this was a great game! And to celebrate, please remember:

You can always depend on the kindness of strangers
To brighten your spirits and keep you from danger!

Now here's a tip from Blanche you won't regret:
A stranger's just a friend you haven't met!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

5 Thoughts On A Thursday

1) I guess that I've been doing a lot of these "Thursday" posts lately. It's because they're fun and easy to do. Don't require too much deep thought.

2) A lot of this post is going to be credited to Robyn, who keeps pointing out these sports-related posts on to me.

The Super Bowl is this Sunday (duh) and in our one-TV household, that means deciding between watching the Saints and the Colts or watching the finale of Emma on Masterpiece Theatre. Now, I know many of you are questioning my masculinity right now, but, honestly, I don't give a shit who wins the Super Bowl.* Or at least I didn't give a shit until Robyn had me read this article on Jezebel about reasons to adore New Orleans linebacker Scott Fujita. My favorites are:

3) He supports an orphanage in New Orleans and started speaking out on gay rights in part because of his objection to laws limiting gay adoption. "What [such laws] are really saying is that the concern with one's sexual orientation or one's sexual preference outweighs what's really important, and that's finding safe homes for children," he has said. "It's also saying that we'd rather have kids bounce around from foster home to foster home throughout the course of their childhood, than end up in a permanent home."

7) He left the Dallas Cowboys for the post-Katrina New Orleans Saints because, according to The Boston Globe, "he told himself, 'This could be bigger than football.''"

9) He has a political science degree from Berkeley and a master's in education. He has said he wants to be a public school teacher after retiring from football.

Also, Robyn likes him because he's smoking hot. Go Saints.

3) Unfortunately, this article led me to a less inspiring posting on Jezebel, namely that Tim Tebow and his mother Pat have teamed up with Focus on the Family to air a pro-life ad during the Super Bowl. Some of you know that I have never had a problem with Tebow, and found his unique brand of spirituality very interesting. On, Jemele Hill has written a column defending Tebow's decision. She argues:

It's his first major national ad since leaving the Gators, and he isn't hawking Nikes, energy drinks or candy bars. Instead, he's putting himself in the middle of one of the most divisive issues in this country -- and on the biggest sporting day of the year.
This isn't something worthy of applaud. Tebow might be qualified to tell me what shoes to wear or what sports drink to drink. What he's not qualified to speak about is whether or not a woman should have the right to choose in America. In the immortal words of Floyd from The Electric Mayhem, "Just play the gig man, don't get involved in politics!"

Tim Tebow would be wise to heed his advice.

4) About a month ago, I had a very interesting drunken conversation with an old friend. As these talks are want to do, the discussion eventually turned to the topic of the novels of Henry James, specifically his notion from the preface of The Ambassadors that "Nothing can exceed the closeness with which the whole fits again into its germ." At about this moment, my friend said something very startling: He said that Henry James was a phase, and that I would pass through it soon.

A phase!? Seriously!? This cannot be. People don't go through phases of someone like Henry James. People go through phases of J.D. Salinger, of Philip Roth, of Ernest Fucking Hemingway, but not Henry James! Surely!

Please someone tell me I'm right.

5) "Advertising is the modern substitute for argument; its function is to make the worse appear the better." - George Santayana

* Now, if it were the Rose Bowl, we'd be having a different conversation. Also, I want to know what the deal is with Frank Churchill. That guy is up to something.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Wide World of Sports

February always seems to get me depressed. Maybe it's the lingering sensation that Winter will never, ever end. Or maybe it's the fact that there's just nothing good on TV.

1) President Obama attended a college basketball game between Georgetown and Duke on Saturday, and even "provided about seven minutes of nationally televised hoops commentary in the second half..." Also, "After a referee made a call that went against Georgetown, an obscene chant was cut short after one student admonished another, 'Dude, the president of the United States is right there.' "


2) Meanwhile, the Justice Department has recently announced that it is "considering several steps that would review the legality of the controversial Bowl Championship Series," including determining whether or not the BCS can be sued under the Sherman Antitrust Act, or if the Federal Trade Commission can act against the BCS under consumer protection laws. Because if there's one thing that American consumers need to be protected from, it's the BCS.

3) And, finally, Allen Iverson has been selected as a starter for the East in this year's All-Star game. Just for the record, Iverson is averaging 14.7 points, 4.3 assists, and 2.9 rebounds per game on 43.5% shooting for a team that is currently 16-31 and is currently tied for 10th place in the mediocre Eastern Conference. Plus, he got cut by the Memphis Grizzlies earlier this year.

And we can't even blame this one on China.

But don't worry, America. Opening pitch is only 28 days away.