Monday, October 29, 2007

The Worst Sports Year Ever

When I was a kid, my hatred of the Dallas Cowboys and later the Denver Broncos was both irrationally intense - I was obsessive and weird - but not as bad as my hatred of certain teams now - I didn't pay much attention to sports aside from the Chicago Bulls and solid Notre Dame football teams, which cushioned the hurt a little. Which is why the sports landscape now is infinitely worse than it was in 1993-98. First off, parity has killed the NFL. It was much more fun to hate the Cowboys of old with their massive hookers-'n-coke binges knowing they'd be back for the team the next year, hopefully to blow out a knee. The Patriots, with the exception of Tom Brady, just ship out old parts for new, pump them full of HGH, and throw them out on the field. I've lost count of the aging players who suddenly have an "unexpected resurgence" for the Pats.

You know it's been a bad sports year when the Gators beating the Buckeyes in the football nat'l championship in January is the absolute highlight. And now, Dan Shanoff has made it impossible to surreptitiously root for the Gators when their opponents are even more loathsome.

The parity issue is something for another time, though, because it gets more at the problem of the NFL's aggressively mediocre middle class (30 or 31 teams, but of course they haven't been proven to be cheaters, though, have they?) than at my hatred for a team that has always whined and bitched about the lack of respect it gets, except for all the respect it gets from everyone everywhere, even though they cheat and have a notorious push-off receiver who suddenly feels like playing again and one of the dirtiest, cheapest players in the league (Rodney Harrison... it was so nice seeing his leg exploded not long ago. We can only hope it happens again). Remember that Super Bowl against the Rams? I do, because I was aghast at the manhandling of the Rams receivers. Belicheck, banked on the fact that if his corners and safeties and linebackers were physical enough and committed fouls on just about every pass play, the referees would change the way they call the game, because you can't call pass interference every time out. The earlier Pats teams were like some douche bag in a pick-up game of basketball who keeps fouling you because he's a dipshit and lacks talent but is bold enough to know you're just not going to keep calling him on his bullshit because it's a waste of time. But this isn't yet getting to why this is the worst sports year ever. I will say the Patriots have expertly realized how to succeed in an NFL riddled with parity: cheat at every corner, play dirty to get in your opponents' head, and then bitch like crazy if someone commits a like offense on you. I will say nothing of their fans, because that gets old (but congrats, Pats fans, your team is now the football equivalent of the Bad Boys-era Detroit Pistons. Suck on that. And stop referring to the Patriots and Red Sox as "We". Even though you wailed the shit out of some "pussy" Jets fan and puked in a trash can at the stadium, you are not part of the team. Tedy Bruschi can refer to the Patriots as we because, you know, he draws in a salary from the New England Patriots organization). Except to say Bill Simmons made fun of Peyton Manning's NFL record for touchdown passes because he padded his stats against lesser teams. Has he said a fucking word about the "record-setting pace" of the Patriots offense?

I've pretty much lost interest in the NBA. I haven't much cared since the Bulls' last Dynasty run except for Dwyane Wade's championship with the Heat a year ago, which marks me as a bad fan anyway, so no big deal there. And even though I was basically a fairweather Bulls fan, I did a) live in Illinois and b) know the roster in and out from 1995-1998.

College basketball: I never much cared and don't much care for my alma mater's team anyway. Don't dislike 'em, just don't care to watch 'em. It doesn't help that they play like the Knicks of the mid to late 90s.

College football: Notre Dame is terrible. Bad for its fans who grew up in the midwest and got taken up with all the tradition, good for its unbearable fucking alumni. My brother, an alumnus, agrees. Slate just published an article on Charlie Weis as a fraud. Maybe. It's possible Notre Dame has basically become like the Naval Academy - a sports dinosaur who can score with the middle of the pack but can't beat the top teams. At any rate, I don't much pay attention to people who hate Notre Dame like everyone else hates Duke basketball. It's pretty much deserved as a reputation. But I still love the team.

Baseball: My beloved Cardinals fell apart this year. It's okay, they won the series and all... but did the baseball world have to get punished with another Red Sox run? Seriously? I do look forward, however, when Manny gets the ball thrown at his head in his first game against the Indians next year. But congratulations, Red Sox, it must feel good to have bought a championship.

Monday, October 15, 2007

My Misanthropy Weekend

In the throes of a numb depression, I went to Notre Dame with my Dad to see the Irish play Boston College. I was in such a bad mood, I couldn't really stop thinking about irritated I was by the Boston College family in front of us - two parents, mid-40s in brown and black leather jackets, two adorable kids with their faggy little Boston College face paint. The mother was very talkative, and seemed to know a lot about the BC team, but she was the sort (and trust me, she fucking talked loud enough for me to understand her whole fuckin philosophy) who can name all the players but couldn't explain a cover 2 to save her life. You know, like the female Cardinals fans who love David Eckstein but have no fucking clue who played SS before him?

So anyway, the game goes on and Notre Dame doesn't threaten until Jimmy Clausen is replaced by Evan Sharpley, a personnel move that was at least three weeks too late. Clausen, by the way, has a face proportional to a 7 year old. There's a lot of acreage surrounding that puss. It's like you inflate a balloon a little, draw little eyes and a nose on it, then blow it up bigger. And put douchey spiked hair on top of it.

At any rate, these people are enjoying the game, and the middle aged guy next to them strikes up a conversation and quickly reveals that he played four years for BC and played one year for the Patriots in the mid-70s. I don't know, I would have felt the same if he said he was a date rapist and a Red Sox fan. I kept getting these dark thoughts, like saying, "Flutie was a pussy," and "I wish the Dolphins really had stomped on his son." I was in a really dark frame of mind.

Meantime, these ND fans behind us, drunk, mid-20s, think they're hilarious, and that their references are even funnier when they're repeated every few minutes, with sundry curse words tossed in for good measure. It was irritating. But I was on their side, sort of like how I sort of rooted for the Cowboys against the Pats on Sunday (turned out fine, by the way), because every time they cursed, the husband or wife of the BC couple looked back, frowned like they were about to say something, then shook their heads and faced the field. I imagine the wife further emasculated her husband on the plane back to wherever the fuck for his not speaking up, the way he doesn't every time they're confronted with some unpleasantness. And for the father's very public impotence, his very inability to perform his fatherly duty, the younger son will develop a bed-wetting problem that will plague him well into his teens.

At any rate, once the game got out of hand and we were on our way out, I felt like telling them that I hope all the cursing tears their fucking family apart. And I hope the BC team pulls a Marshall.

Friday, October 05, 2007

A Conversation I Had Has Been Bothering Me

I don't believe I've ever discussed in this space the utter distaste I have for Miranda July, particularly because of her movie "Me and You and Everyone We Know". I commented to someone the reason I dislike it so much is because, in lieu of actual character development, people in the movie make awkwardly declarative statements to let us know exactly how they feel about something and how this is blown up into a major capital-p philosophy of life. For instance, John Hawkes reverently saying, "People think that foot pain is a fact of life, but life is actually better than that" or this other guy saying "I would love to believe in a universe where you wake up and don't have to to go to work and you step outside and meet two beautiful 18-year-old sister who are also girlfriends and are also very nice people."

It's the story of people exalting commonplace shit because their lives are so bereft of meaning. Also on the dishonorable role for the movie is the scene where a family forgets that a bag of goldfish they've purchased is sitting on top of their car, and everyone who watches them pull out of the parking lot it dredged into this crippling fear of disaster. If the car stops the ensuing deceleration and acceleration will toss the bag off the car. An old man says, I'm paraphrasing, "The best thing for that fish is for that car to go on forever."

I mentioned to someone that these are my reasons for hating this movie. The person said he didn't understand my criticism, that it was strange because I apparently thing movies should "have characters" who "develop" over time. I'm kinda dumbstruck by this. The person also said that what he knows about the movie suggests to him it is not the kind of movie that accommodates character development anyway. And that this is not a problem. Also mentioned many movies he likes don't feature character development or even human characters. My first thought was, you have shitty taste. My second thought was, I thought Milo and Otis was only okay. And I was five. Facetiously, I could say that by this guy's standards, The Day After Tomorrow was a rousing success: spectacle with characters who don't express anything recognizably human. I could also facetiously say this guy must have fucking loved March of the Penguins. Which is okay. But I find his response to be like an avant garde music critic who doesn't care for "sounds" that "express things."

I would also like to point out at this juncture, apropos of nothing, that Lars Von Trier is a twat bag. He's never been to America but directed a series of stinging critiques about our hypocrisy, vis a vis our history of slavery. Which is about as relevant as fucking "Crash" pointing out that some of us are racist and prejudiced and sometimes this comes back to bite us in the ass. This infuriates the shit out of me. If an American made a movie about the fact that a European country like France is the most backward, xenophobic fucking country in the Western world, he or she would be shouted down on the world stage. But pointing out something painfully obvious like "America seems to have had some racial and judicial incongruities" as any kind of revelation is fatuous, especially since we have our own liberal guilt factory in Hollywood. We are inundated with our history of hypocrisy, especially those of us who would see a Von Trier movie. We don't need any fuckin' help from someone who's never been here.