Patriots, Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)

Thankfully my life goal is not to become a news reporter or journalist, because almost a full day after the Patriots embarrassing loss to the Jets I am finally telling you! Anyways, depending on the size of the rock you live under, chances are you have already heard this information.

For Patriots fans, that loss was brutal—an embarrassing, painful, soul crushing piece of diesel fuel-infused doggy doo. For football fans around the country, I’m willing to bet that watching another tower fall in the Parliament of the Patriots was both joy provoking and life affirming. And for the Jets, for those cocky sons of bitches, it was an orgasmic hallelujah. I should tell you that I am an extremely casual fan, and I have never been happier about that than today. In fact, I was whimsically writing haiku as I watched the four-hour snooze fest and one went like this:

A casual fan

Still feels pain when their home team

Loses a big game

While I was rooting about on the Internet finding whatever little inspiration I could to write this, I found this article:

http://www.midwestsportsfans.com/2011/01/crushing-the-myth/

I’m guessing from some guy out Minneapolis way. He makes a number of good points—football is a far too complicated, biased sport to be able to target quarterbacks like we do. They are the heroes or the falls guys, and quite frankly I don’t feel like either role would be too much fun for them. America has quite a fascination with the quarterback, in fact I saw a special on ESPN regarding the role of the quarterback in our minds. There really is no more interesting position in all of sports than the quarterback. The degree of intelligence, athletic prowess, confidence and all other manners of wherewithal that go into playing the position is unparalleled by any other position in any other sport.

I’m sure there about a million perspectives out there right now on the entity all to itself that is Tom Brady: that handsome, stylish motherfucker thought he could have it all, but he CAN’T; he is a clutch artist, he has lost his last three playoff games; it’s not all his fault, one player cannot win an entire game by himself (the position put forth in the previously linked article); whatever, I was tired of hearing about that guy anyways; and so on… My position is two-fold. One, it is indeed too harsh and cruel to assign the entire flood that turned the 14-2 Patriots into a floppy, wet rag last night to Tom— “Individuals do not win football games”. The second part of my position though is that Tom Brady fucked up. From about five minutes on, that game never felt winnable. There was a dark cloud about the stadium and all those jet planes were flying in and out of the cover, dropping bombs on the losers below and the Patriots with their artillery guns down below were pathetically putting up a defense. The ridiculous botched punt, all the running plays on the Pats final touchdown drive (killing a huge amount of time), and all the other missteps that I cannot quite remember left nothing to the imagination: the Pats were going to lose. But what happened in the first five minutes? Oh yeah, Brady threw an absurd interception on a juggernaut of a drive down the field, giving up all the field position they had so boldly just earned, killing all their momentum and giving the Jets an easy three points. Granted, Crumpler also dropped a touchdown pass that should have been caught, but that was the second drive and also that happens more often. How friggin’ long had it been since Brady threw a pick?

It is not fair to assign all the blame to one person, but goddamn Brady, you should not have thrown that pick.

Published in: on January 17, 2011 at 6:11 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Why You Get Wood for Fantasy: Harry Potter and Such

You know why I love Harry Potter? Let me tell you. Well, in a minute. Like any writer (who doesn’t actually know how to write) knows, you always have to write a whole lot of unnecessary non-sequiters before you let your readers in on the main point. Of course, there are many things I love about Harry Potter. After all, what kind of citizen of the world would I be if I didn’t love one of the biggest film franchises in history? Not a very good one I think.

Down with the trilogy, in a good way

I have always enjoyed how closely the various directors and producers choice to adhere to J.K. Rowling’s original source material. Some have a problem with this because the makers sometimes chose staying true to the books rather than making the best possible movie they could (regardless of reliance on their HP nerd audience), but I am fine with that, after all it’s basically a kids’ movie for twenty year olds nowadays, which brings me to my next point—I have grown up with these actors. I remember reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (yeah, that’s right—the English version) while driving around with my family in the English countryside (my mother hails from England and spent the first twenty two years of her life there so we were visiting her parents during the summer). Emma Watson was actually in my class at my college (before I dropped out of course. Don’t worry, don’t worry! I’m going back, got to get that book learning in nowadays). Point being, these actors began their role as Harry, Ron and Hermione at the exact same age I was. I grew up with these people. Not to mention that the movies are pretty well done; the stories, characters and actors are irresistible; and let’s be honest, Emma Watson is unbelievable attractive and magnetic in almost every way.

The thing I find most interesting for purposes of this piece of writing right here though is that no story better demonstrates how people with good chemistry (and by chemistry I do not refer to inter-personal relationship, I refer to endorphin feedback in the brain) can have bad shit happen to them, just horrible shit, and come out of it OK. Harry grew up in an extraordinarily cruel environment—neglected, made to sleep under the stairs covered in spiders, beat up by his bully of a brother and his friends, wearing disgusting old clothes that didn’t fit him, miserable and alone. This is the kind of thing that people go to jail for—it is basically criminal neglect. It is so funny how just because this is some kind of fairytale, fantasy-land, Harry doesn’t come out of the experience as the eleven year old who procures and Uzi and shows up in home room the next morning cocked and ready to rock. But no, Hagrid drives in on a flying motorcycle and whisks him off to a world sometimes difficult and threatened by evil but full of excitement, surprise, beauty, friendship and fulfillment. This is in opposition to a story like Lord of the Rings—in that Frodo was so damaged by the ordeal he had to leave for the White Shores with Gandalf, Elron, and Galadria, his time had come to an end.
Two forces are at work here, one is that people with good chemistry do better, but that is only one part of it. The second is the concept that there is a possibility for redemption and savior. We all look for that, we all crave it. That is a huge part of what has made America such a sick country right now, and not “sick” like a blonde kid who just caught a big wave, but “sick” as in ill, diseased, dying—the beautiful are on the covers of GQ and People; the powerful, the rich and the genius are on the covers of Time and The New Yorker, but where the fuck are we? Nowhere. And for some that is very difficult to deal with.

However, I am not trying to turn this into some horribly negative prophecy. My point is that this is exactly what is so beautiful about children’s books and Harry Potter especially. Fantasy is the possibility of something better, something else. It almost always involves a child who has either lived a life of monotony and basic unhappiness or has maybe even been mistreated, being led to a world of fulfillment, possibility, and knowledge. This is either extremely unhealthy for people to read, or the best possible. Either way, I have enjoyed it.

Published in: on January 16, 2011 at 2:18 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Dude Abides”…Well, No, But I try

I watched “The Big Lebowski” for the third or fourth time with my father last night, what an unbelievably good film. A Jeff Bridges American Masters documentary had been on PBS a few nights before (cut off in the middle by the Blizzard of 2011 robbing us of our power). The documentary obviously featured a few comments on Jeff Bridges most famous movie, and my dad said to me, “which is good, but of course a little overrated”. By the end of the film, my father was singing a much different tune.

Walter (played by John Goodman) bellowing things like, “The Chinaman is not the issue here!” and “you mark that frame and you’re entering a world of pain”, emptying Donny’s ashes from a Folgers coffee can that he bought at Ralphs all over the Dude, and constantly bringing up his “friends that died face down in the muck” in Vietnam is the highlight of the film. His energy ties all the characters together, and just like Sam in The Lord of the Rings, the film is almost more about Walter than it is about the Dude. He is working through his trauma from his time in Vietnam and a divorce from his wife. Walter is the catalyst, the tide that moves it all along, especially because he continually makes the worst decisions of anybody in the film (and that is saying a lot), misguided choices that propel one error into another, “the human comedy perpetuating itself”, until the steam train of errors can finally creak to a stop at the bowling alley. That is not to downplay Jeff Bridges performance, whose acting while getting thrown into a limousine saying “Careful man! There’s a beverage here!” is enough to keep me smiling for a few days. I saw a Coen brothers interview once where they spoke about their directing of Jeff, “he would come up to us before a scene and ask, ‘you think the Dude sparked one up on the way over here?’ And if we said yes, he would go over in the corner and rub his eyes until they were all red, then do the scene. That’s about all the directing we had to do for Jeff.”

Sam Elliot, who along with Alec Baldwin has one of the all-time great voices (Morgan Freeman not included, fuck Morgan Freeman), is perfect. “I don’t know about you, but I take comfort in that, knowing that the Dude is out there taking it easy for all us sinners”—if only it were that simple right? Though maybe it is, we all have a bit of the Dude in us, we just have to let him out for a little play time now and again. “The Dude abides”—you have got to love that, and I know you do. Apart from the occasional recreational drug use and cross-faded driving, Jeff Lebowski does abide, as we all should.

Julianne Moore is good (and dare I say, pretty attractive). It is creepy to me seeing a very thin David Thewlis as Knox Harrington, the video artist, because all of a sudden it occurred to me that he was Remus in the Harry Potter films, a role I had always enjoyed him in.

The soundtrack, from Bob Dylan’s charming “The Man in Me” to Townes Van Zandt’s cover of “Dead Flowers” is simultaneously heartfelt, psychedelic, and just straight up pleasant to hear. The Coen brothers sure as hell know what they’re doing. I would highly recommend another Coen Brothers picture, “Barton Fink”, to anybody who wants to see the best performance of John Goodman’s career in a fascinatingly dark psychological film. It may seem a little slow or overly strange at times, but in the end that movie is one of my absolute favorites. Anybody who knows anything about “getting all balled up at the head office” needs to see this one.

Published in: on January 15, 2011 at 11:27 am  Leave a Comment  
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Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

pika....chu?

Now I will admit, that is a pretty evil way of starting off the magnum opus that is this blog, but I am showing you the coolest Pokemon of all-time eating the nicest, most faithful Pokemon for two reasons: one, that certainly just caught your attention; and two, I won’t lie to you, there will be moments in my writing that will get that dark, so get excited! Don’t worry though, if this picture were to serve as an analogy for the blog, I would write stories about my sympathy for the Pikachu, his struggle, and the sadness of living in a cruel world where Gengars can take advantage of you. I have no sympathy for the devil.

I could basically save myself the trouble of writing the rest of this blog by just naming The National and Bon Iver. I will start it all up with these two modern bands that just sum up everything I could ever feel or try to relate to you. The National’s “gloomy vignettes of city dwellers” and Bon Iver’s tales of a man living alone in a Wisconsin hunting cabin during the winter are about the best things that have come into my life for a long time now. Matt Berninger (singer for The National)’s baritone and Justin Vernon (singer and songwriter for Bon Iver)’s falsetto, ironically at opposite ends of the vocal spectrum, contain everything you need to know about whether or not to bother trying to make it through a depressive life. These guys will give you poetry that is black and bright, beautiful and barren, sad and hopeful for song after song so that when you get to the end of the album and hit “repeat”, you may not be laughing and jumping around but at least you will have an appreciation of the beast living inside of you that you didn’t have one hour before.

It’s funny how I originally started off the preceding paragraph by trying to name all the directors, films, authors, television shows and books that could help you understand me in a metaphorical way from the very start, but I could only end up listing those two. What does it say that the two most meaningful and lasting experiences I have had with art (and therefore, anything else) in the past four or five months have been with two very quiet, reserved indie-folk bands? Hmmm……

Published in: on January 14, 2011 at 6:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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