Sunday, June 19, 2011


Feelin' fine...

Friday, June 3, 2011

Football Poetry and Prose

I spent most of today compiling a master list of pre-season top 25 lists for college football - because Robyn is out of town and because I am done with work (for now!). Anyways, I will not torture you with my statistics (maybe I'll do that on my sports blog) but I did stumble across maybe the greatest college football related blog post ever.

This blogger on has posted his own personal top 25 list - which is cool, I fuckin' love lists - but it seems like his post was originally written in, like, Mandarin or Russian or something and then translated using BabelFish. For example, Mr. Zimbio (I don't know if that's his name, but that's what I've been calling him in my head) has Oklahoma as his #1 team, a popular pick amongst the blogs. But this is how he explains his choice:

It is formidable not to collect Oklahoma as the preseason top-ranked group in the nation. They accomplished impassioned in 2010 and lapse 16 starters from a group which won the Fiesta Fool around final year.

He's right. It is formidable not to collect Oklahoma as the preseason top-ranked in the nation. But the "Fiesta Fool?" That sounds like someone you'd meet at the Renaissance Fair.

The best part is that Mr. Zimbio has some excellent observations about the state of college football, if only you can decipher his prose. Here is what he has to say about his #8 team, the Boise State Broncos:

Let me initial proceed by observant which I cannot mount the “underdog” or the “little guy” teams in college football, and it heedfulness me to say which Boise State has the possibility to be a BCS buster yet again in 2011.
This is amazing. It's like, the Shakespeare of sports blogging. I think that he means that Boise State can no longer be considered an "underdog" or "little guy", and that they could get to the BCS again in 2011. Why? Because:

Losing far-reaching receivers Austin Pettis and Titus Immature will be tough, but not severe. The Boise State offense should still upsurge similar to it customarily does.
I love the idea of an offense "upsurging" rather than "coming up big." (Yawn.) Also, Titus Young should totally change his name to Titus Immature.

At first, Zimbio can be difficult to understand. But once you get used to his particular prose-stylings, he becomes a thoroughly enjoyable read.

On #10 South Carolina:

The Gamecocks have a auspicious SEC report subsequent deteriorate which should concede them a possibility to repeat as SEC East champions.
They have an easy schedule.

#11 Stanford:

Stanford will be one of the many engaging teams in the republic subsequent season. This offseason, they mislaid their conduct manager (Jim Harbaugh), many of their descent line and 5 defensive starters.
I agree, Stanford will be one of the most engaging teams in our glorious republic this year. And what is a coach if not a "conduct manager"?

He's got defending champ Auburn at #23. Why? Because:

Auburn is not a BCS pretension contender for 2011. They fool around in the toughest multiplication in college football and fool around a heartless report which includes games at South Carolina, Arkansas, LSU and Georgia.
Yeah, that report is heartless. But maybe they would do better if they would just quit fooling around in the SEC.

And what does he have to say about the #3 Ducks?

There is really small disbelief which Oregon’s offense will be unstoppable again in 2011. They are returning quarterback Darren Thomas and Heisman claimant using behind LaMichael James. If which isn’t sufficient to similar to about the offense, they are additionally returning parsimonious end David Paulson and special teamer extraordinaire Kenjon Barner.
I think by "using behind" he means "tailback." You know - full behind, half behind, quarter behind. And "parsimonious end" is a way better term than "tight end" - especially since David Paulson is such a frugal player. But I'm sure that Kenjon Barner will appreciate being labeled a "special teamer extraordinaire." If only all sports writers were this imaginative.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day 2011

Well... it's Memorial Day again, and the weather outside is nice and warm and breezy, and our neighbors have been shooting off buzzing fireworks all evening, and it's frightening Coraline but making Marlowe all excited. Over the years, I suppose that I have come to really love this holiday, what with it's signifying of the beginning of Summer, and it's delicious smells, and nice weather, and time off from work.

However, I've never really connected with the holiday as one where it is time to remember all those slain in war. I guess I've only ever understood the more profane aspects of the holiday, baseball and bar-be-que and lake trips, et al. How can it be a somber period of remembrance and mourning when it's nice outside, and the changing of the seasons that are all about excitement and expectation and possibility?

I've never understood Memorial Day, nor have I ever really tried to. I've always assumed that the nation needed some kind of holiday between Easter and the Fourth of July, and we didn't want to celebrate May Day because it was a socialist holiday, so we kind of inserted in Memorial Day. Veteran's Day made sense to me, because it's actually Armistice Day, and because it's in November when everything is dying and the ground is frozen. Robyn has already linked to this article from the Times about Memorial Day's Civil War origins. My favorite quote from it is, "In the struggle over memory and meaning in any society, some stories just get lost while others attain mainstream recognition."

It always made more sense to me to celebrate America's war dead on D-Day - one week later - than on Memorial Day. When I was in France during college in 2004, I even made a pilgrimage to Omaha Beach for the sixtieth anniversary of the battle. That's the closest I ever physically got to George W. Bush, although I never did see him inside that big old hotel in Caen. I guess that, as a child, the narrative of World War Two was always more tangible for me than the Civil War. The story of D-Day made sense to me because it did a good job of explaining the country that I lived in. Sixty years ago, Americans got into little boats and sailed across the English Channel to save Western Civilization. (From itself, it turns out, but that wasn't added until later. The Huns and all, you know.) We did that, and now we are the keepers of that light, now we have to be the guardians of the world.

When I was eight years old, we were in Hawaii, and I got to go to Pearl Harbor for my birthday. I saw the U.S.S. Arizona beneath a glass floor underwater. That was the other end of that narrative, that we were not the aggressors, that the Asians were, and that we were acting as avengers, with justice on our side. I think that that's why the Iraq War was so unnerving, because it was some kind of gross mutation, abomination, of that tale.

I was a history buff about the Civil War as a kid, too, but it was never quite as meaningful for me. The narrative was always too messy. I remember reading too many accounts of heroic Confederates to be able to vilify them, it was Americans killing other Americans. And it just never helped to explain the world that I lived in. I'm sure it's different for someone living in Charleston or Baltimore or New York, but for me, that wasn't the story that I connected to.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I Am Ready for Baseball

Five World Series Match-Ups Joel Would Like to See (In Order of Descending Plausibility):

1) Boston Red Sox (25-22) vs San Francisco Giants (27-19): In 107 years, the Giants and the Red Sox have met each other exactly once in the World Series: In 1912, a 4-3-1 win for the Red Sox, marked by the great pitching of Smoky Joe Wood and an exciting 10th inning win by the Red Sox in Game 8 of the series. A match-up this year would pit the reigning NL champ against one of the most popular franchises in all of baseball, and the champions from 2004 and 2007. Also, it would highlight two awesome cities, and would be the ultimate anti-NY-LA World Series.

2) Cleveland Indians (30-15) vs Cincinnati Reds (25-23): I keep waiting for the Indians to fall apart, but it's the end of May now and and they are at a .667 winning percentage and have a 7 game lead in the division, by far the largest in baseball. Meanwhile, Cincinnati benefits from both awesome hitting and awesome pitching. And can you say "Battle of Ohio"? Or how about, "first Cleveland championship in 64 years"?

3) Tampa Bay Rays (26-22) vs Florida Marlins (26-19): I don't really know why neither of these teams have really been able to catch on with their respective fan bases. The Marlins have championships in 1997 and 2003, and Tampa Bay losing one in 2008. Combined, these teams have made the state of Florida one of the most successful in the country over the course of the past 15 years. But then, how come nobody ever comes to their games? Maybe this World Series match-up will teach everyone to love the Rays and the Marlins. More likely it will lead to record low TV ratings and mass rioting and looting along the eastern seaboard.

4) Seattle Mariners (23-24) vs Milwaukee Brewers (25-23): With the Texas Rangers' winning of the AL pennant last year, Seattle is now the only AL team never to make it to the World Series. (The Washington Nationals are the only NL team never to do so.) Milwaukee, meanwhile, used to be from Seattle, until 1969, as the Seattle Pilots, and used to play in the American League, until 1997. Also, Milwaukee has only been to the World Series once, in 1982, when they lost to the St. Louis Cardinals. So this would just be fun.

5) Chicago White Sox (22-27) vs Chicago Cubs (20-25): This would be a stupid and boring World Series between two stupid and boring teams.

The End.

Good Morning!

A vignette from the first thing this morning at the middle school:

S: Good morning, Mr. Wright.
Me: Good morning!
S: Guess what?* I'm the grasshopper today in the play in Ms. C's class.
Me: That's exciting!
S: Yeah, and K- is playing the ant and E- is going to be the narrator.
Me: That's great. Are you playing the lazy grasshopper?
S: No.
Me: Oh, what kind of a grasshopper are you playing?
S: A green one.

Duh, Mr. Wright.

* Dude, you have got to give me time to guess!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

5 Thoughts on a Thursday

1) My phone is dead. For some reason I can never remember to plug in my computer and my phone at night. It's always just one or the other.

2) Hurray! Baseball season is here again. Really, that's another reason I stopped blogging; between the Ducks losing the BCS game, and the endless, meaningless events that are NBA games in February, I had nothing sports related to buoy my spirits. (I care so little about professional football that Robyn and I watched "Twin Peaks" during the Superbowl.) But now baseball is here again, along with promises of summer and barbecues and puppies and everything that is right with America and the world. And steroid scandals.

Speaking of which...

3) Joel's totally boring baseball picks for 2011:

AL: Red Sox, White Sox, A's, Yankees
NL: Giants, Cards, Phillies, Reds
ALCS: A's over Red Sox
NLCS: Phillies over Reds
World Series: Phillies over A's

4) I may never be a college professor, but today I was thinking, while eating some noodles at the Noodles & Company on Green Street here in the heart of Campustown, that if I am ever a professor - or even a TA - I am going to make my students wear pants. That means no sweat pants, no pajama pants, (especially not those X-Box-themed pajama pants I saw today!) no gym shorts, no hot pants with the word "PINK" on the ass, no leggings trying to pass as pants! Dammit, if you have enough time to get out of bed, then you have enough time to put on pants. If anyone came to any of my classes pantsless, I would yell obscenities at them until they left to go put some on. Then I would return to my Irish coffee and rambling incoherently about Nietzsche.

5) Of course in that case, I would have to come down equally hard on the annoying idiosyncrasies of philosophy students, i.e., only fully-grown and well-trimmed and clean beards, sweaters and pony-tails must be washed at least every other day, matching socks only, no coffee stains on your Oxford shirts, ironic t-shirts allowed only on Tuesdays, etc.

Seriously, we'd be like the New York Yankees of the philosophy department.

Monday, March 28, 2011


So, yes, the reason why I haven't been writing for the past three months or so is because The World has been dark and cold and stupid. (And icy!) But now it is Daylight Savings Time, and suddenly my outlook is much sunnier. (Although it is still really quite cold here in Illinois.)

The one item that I bought while in New York City that was neither edible nor drinkable was a collection of essays by Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem. I bought it at The Strand. I really love Didion, and am actually quite embarrassed that I'd never heard of her before last year. Anyways, she got me really thinking about The End of Days - the eponymous essay in her book is about the sense of the Apocalypse in San Francisco in 1968, and takes its title in turn from the W.B. Yeats poem, "The Second Coming," - and it seems to me that The World is always and forever ending.

I mean, take 1968 as an example. Boy, the World was really ending them. Riots, rock and roll, LSD, Russian tanks invading Prague. Only an idiot would ignore those signs. Yeats wrote his poem in 1919; that, I believe was right after the World had just finished ending. In 1941, the World was ending for everybody except the Nazis. After the stock market crashed on October 29, 1929, eleven men decided that the World was close enough to ending for them, so they killed themselves. And that's just in the 20th Century! What about the Civil War, the French Revolution, the Black freakin' Death?!?! Those all seem like reasonable, rational times to believe that The End Is Nigh.

Robyn said something very wise to me the other day, something that I wish I could remember the exact wording to, but cannot. She said that the World is always ending, and new Worlds are always being made. And I don't want to trivialize the matter by saying something like, "We always say the World is going to end, but it never does..." No, the World is ending, is constantly ending, has always and forever been ending...

Saturday, March 26, 2011

More Signs of the Apocalypse

I was sitting in my friends’ living room this week in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, smoking cigarettes and drinking Budweiser out of tall-boy cans. It was late in the afternoon, and every one except me and S- was out, either still asleep or in the bathroom or at work. The news was on - NBC, six o’clock nightly news - and the anchorman was just wrapping up a story about the threat of nuclear disaster in Japan.

“This is it, this is what I was talking about.” said S-, “They keep having these stories on the news about how this is not the Apocalypse.”

There was going to be a full moon that night, and, because of the unique position of the Earth and the moon in their orbits, it would be the largest that the moon would appear in the night sky for 18 years. The news had segued into a story about the Indian Point nuclear power plant, up the Hudson River from New York, and how, if the East Coast were to suffer a comparable natural disaster to the earthquake and tsunami that has devastated Japan, then the entire city of New York would have to be evacuated.

“We have no way of knowing what the future will hold,” said the news caster, “and the events of the last several months, from the uprisings and subsequent violence in North Africa and the Middle East...” a shot of many angry Arab men chanting, followed by an explosion in the desert, “... to the tragedy in Japan...” cue crying families amid devastation, over the bodies of their families, “...have caused many to ponder whether or not this is truly the end of days.” And then a shot of a massive, blood-red moon rising over the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.

I leaned forward in my chair. “But...” I prompted the man on the television. S- suddenly had his curiosity piqued also, as the silence left by the unspoken clause grew longer and longer, the unsaid reassurance from The Most Trusted Men in America that this, indeed, was not the end of the world, that there is no reason to panic, that we have nothing to fear but fear itself. “But... but...”

But nothing.

He signed off, leaving an eerie image of that bloody moon over the nation’s capitol and a provocative closing statement. Later that night, S- and my sister and I tried to go look at the bad moon rising from the roof of his apartment, but apparently S-’s landlord had an alarm installed, after having found the roof littered with cigarette butts and tall-boy cans, so that when we reached the top landing, we were assaulted by a loud and repetitive noise that caused us to run back down the stairs and out the front door, where we could see the moon just fine.

And so there we were, standing outside S-’s apartment in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, smoking cigarettes, looking up at the moon, which was big but, y’know, had already risen, and so was not all that impressive. And we were laughing about how ridiculous the news anchor had been, and S- said something like, “Well, maybe this is the beginning of the end.” And I put out my cigarette and said, “Yeah, well... I think it’s more like the middle of the end.”

I tell you these things because I have been asked several times - mostly by my mom and by Jesse K. - why I have not been writing here since last December. And I guess that it’s mostly because things like this happen; that we can have months of cold and darkness, and that tsunamis can hit Japan and revolutions Libya, and that nobody - not even the anchorman on television, who is paid to do so, is willing to tell us that “Everything is going to be OK.” No, instead we have doom and soothsayers, folks who feed the panic, and layer after layer of insidious fear. There never seemed to be to me at least any one who would say something like, “DON’T PANIC” or “Everything is going to be OK.”

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

"Two great European narcotics, alcohol and Christianity." - Nietzsche

Fuck. Forgot to wear green today.