Monthly Archives: September 2012

NFL: The Movie

And now, for your substanceless Friday posting…
With the recent NFL official foofaraw, I kept seeing this picture of Broncos’ head coach John Fox:

…and it put me in mind of actor David Morse (Tritter from House, among many other things):


That similarity reminded me of Steelers’ coach Mike Tomlin, whose resemblance to Omar Epps is so uncanny that you only have to google one of them to get side-by-side composites of them both:

Then I started getting quizzed for more casting suggestions. So, based on prompts and a conversation-imposed 10-second time limit, these are the NFL casting decisions I made. And yes, this is how I spend my time.

(OK, full disclosure, the first question was, “Who the fuck is going to play Andy Reid?” To which I responded immediately, “Wilford Brimley.” But that wasn’t a serious effort. Heh.)

Seahawks Pete Carroll?

Pfft, that’s easy: Richard Gere.

The Bucs’ Greg Schiano was kind of a tough one.

But I went with FNL‘s own boyish Luke Cafferty–aka Matt Lauria (maybe a younger version of Schiano).

The Harbaugh brothers of San Fran and Baltimore? (Well, let’s just go with Jim.)

That let me stick with the FNL theme by picking Joe McCoy, the evil and smirky D.W. Moffett.

“GIVE ME A JOE PHILBIN.” (Yeah, I had to look him up, too: Dolphins.)

Now we’re moving on to Breaking Bad: Mike, aka Jonathan Banks.

Mike Shanahan?

Aaaand, I kind of hate myself for this, but… (It must be the Irishness.)

At this point, it was suggested that Sheen would have to be Roger Goodell…

But I gotta say, I’m starting to think of this as a quirky, epic, Coen Brothers/P.T. Anderson kind of film. And therefore, the only choice for Goodell is…

Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Perfect. Now all we need is a script…

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Some Tuesdays Are Better Than Others

That a tequila “I.V.” exists at all in the world is an amazing, amazing thing.

That the head of my company just gave it to me during a 10 a.m. office-wide meeting is unfathomable in its awesomeness.

 

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Me and the Mexican Drug War

“The tacit but unwavering tolerance that Mexican authorities have shown for the drug trade over the years has muddled the boundaries between outlaws and officials. When Miguel Angel Martínez was working for Chapo, he says, “everyone” in the organization had military and police identification. Daylight killings are sometimes carried out by men dressed in police uniforms, and it is not always clear, after the fact, whether the perpetrators were thugs masquerading as policemen or actual policemen providing paid assistance to the thugs. On those occasions when the government scores a big arrest, meanwhile, police and military officials pose for photos at the valedictory news conference brandishing assault weapons, their faces shrouded in ski masks, to shield their identities. In the trippy semiotics of the drug war, the cops dress like bandits, and the bandits dress like cops.”—New York Times, “How a Mexican Drug Cartel Makes its Billions”

My obsession with sociological wackiness continues: First (and still, really), it was Scientology with Inside Scientology. Then I was astounded at the revelations about Mormonism in Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven. (Honestly, up until that point, I’d thought Mormonism akin to, say, Presbyterianism.) Now, having read all the feature-length articles I could find online, I find myself plowing through the life of a Mexican cartel hitman in El Sicario.

It must’ve been in the last year or so when the topic of Mexican drug cartels caught my attention. Rolling Stone did an article about a (relatively) small-time but incredibly violent American-born cartel boss called “El Barbie” (for his Ken-like looks, heh). Then there was a story in Time about narcorridos, the folk/pop songs dedicated to praising various drug lords—and often commissioned by the drug lords themselves. (And in some cases, costing the musicians their lives for being associated with one group or another.) Our plowing through five seasons of Breaking Bad probably helped fan the flames. And woven all throughout, the news stories of bodies, mutilated and displayed in horrifically creative ways. Complete and utter chaos. A nightmare, but on the wrong side of consciousness.

I think about that scene in Apocalypse Now where, in the middle of the night, they come across an isolated Army outpost on the river. There’s a protracted firefight going on, a sort of steady plod of explosions and bursts of gunfire, but in between, you can hear a Viet Minh guy somewhere in the darkness of the surrounding forest, shouting taunts at the Americans over a loudspeaker. In a foxhole, Martin Sheen comes across this soldier who’s manic with firing grenades back at the voice. Sheen finally manages to ask, “Excuse me, I’m looking for your commanding officer?” And the guy stops his whole whirlwind and looks dead at Sheen: “Ain’t it you?!”

A fascinating, horrifying madness. I dunno, I guess this is how I get my thrills instead of roller coasters.

It’s timely too, I guess: Felipe Calderon, whose presidential term ends this winter, is largely faulted for the incredible uptick in violence—more than 50,000 cartel-related deaths in six years. His military-led crackdown on the cartel leaders, which began shortly after he came to power in 2006, is said to have created violent power-struggles where before, at least, the various factions had come to a sort of grudging balance.

Now, the cartels-in-flux use conspicuously displayed mutilated corpses to show their power and fearlessness, to try to scare the other guys away. And thousands more people are killed and buried, or dissolved in acid. It’s easier to kill someone than to let them go, and anyone can be killed and proclaimed an enemy later. And everyone is fair game.

Anyway, it’s Friday afternoon, and my brain is swirling with information about Sinaloa and La Familia, Zetas and Mata Zetas, cops on the kidnapping task force who are the ones doing the kidnapping, and 12-year-olds who pose for pictures with M-16s and corpses; shootings and beheadings and some seriously, seriously fucked up approaches to torture. I’m trying to reconstruct a mindset that would allow people to live amid all of that stuff, never mind participate in it.

Um, so…yeah. That’s where I’m at. Uh…have a happy weekend! Watch out for psychopaths!

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Grrrrrrocery Store

Stupidly went to Publix on a Sunday morning. Got in line with my six items behind a woman unloading a moderate amount of stuff from her cart. After a few minutes, a girl reaches around me and puts another thing with the lady’s stuff. OK, they forgot something, no prob. Then I turn around and the girl has a WHOLE OTHER CART FULL OF SHIT. And they’re all, “Oh, we’re together.” NO. FUCK YOU. YOU FAIL AT SHOPPING.

And apparently the girl knew me, too, which makes my little grownup bitch fit that much more mature and respectable. Gah.

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BananaHammer Fantasy Football

“Clear ice, full drinks, yay booze.”

It’s not just that I suck at fantasy football; it’s that I suck so very consistently. I’m well versed in the material, I’m fully invested, and yet? I finish in the middle of the pack, .500, year after year. And no, middle-of-the-pack is not sucking—but doing so consistently in what is all but a game of chance suggests a certain…suckitude. (Also, when two members of the league get frustrated and bail with five games left, and two others forget to update their rosters during bye weeks, it’s even less impressive.)

Above most things, fantasy football is proof that God hates me.

Last year especially: I don’t care if he’d had offseason neck surgery, Peyton Manning in the third round is an effing steal, people. So he’ll miss the first three or four games? Meh, still a steal.

(In case you hadn’t heard: he didn’t play at all last season. People will tell you that they saw that coming, but that’s bullshit—he was expected to play until he suddenly…wasn’t.)

I should’ve known what I was in for when my kicker took the opening kickoff in the very first game of the season and promptly blew out his knee. Seriously: FIRST PLAY OF THE SEASON. Kaeding, you little bitch.

But even with bad luck, I feel as though it reflects poorly on my abilities as a football fan. I really do. Throughout all my tomboy life, I’ve thought, The boys won’t have respect for you until you kick their asses. And I have doled out scant few ass-kickings on the fantasy field.

But there’s always such promise in the next horse race, the next hand, the next spin of the wheel—the next season. After the draft, before the whistle, it’s the best possible lineup: the perfect balance of surefire points-getters and savvy dark horses. I mean, I can so see how I’m going to be the dominant team in the league this year—Calvin Johnson, Benjarvus Green-Ellis, Jordy Nelson—these are surefire guys who could go crazy in any particular week. These were my nemeses of years past turned BananaHammer ringers! I’ve even got a quarterback controversy now, between Matthew Stafford (throwing to Megatron—double points!) and Matt Ryan, who went nuts in week one. Imagine: Two decent quarterbacks! It’s an embarrassment of riches!

Fantasy indeed.

Yeah, talk to me in three weeks. (Or, really, on Tuesday.) People get hurt, or underperform for no reason. The guy who gets 35 points on your bench one week lays an egg the next. And so starts the dreaded speed-wobble, constantly overcorrecting from bench to starter and back, never finding the optimum lineup.

It’s still fun though—fun to get invested in teams and games that otherwise would just be background noise. And considering the Bucs are blacked out more than Roethlisberger’s dates (…*rimshot*), it’s good to have a reason to watch Cincinnati versus Kansas City or Seattle versus Arizona, or whatever damn 1 o’clock game we get instead.

And that feeling, second only to seeing your actual NFL team do something great, when one of your players breaks free for an 80-yard touchdown or an IDP grunt comes out of nowhere with three sacks and a fumble recovery? Euphoria.

…until you check the score and see that you’re still losing by 60 points and your opponent’s quarterback hasn’t even played yet. And even then, you think, Maybe…just maybe…Brandon Jacobs will run for 300 yards and two touchdowns.

Oh well. Maybe next year.

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I Love This Book

“English’s Germanic relatives are like assorted varieties of deer–antelopes, springboks, kudu and so on–antlered, fleet-footed, big-brown-eyed variations on a theme. English is some dolphin swooping around underwater, all but hairless, echolocating and holding its breath. Dolphins are mammals like deer: they give birth to live young and are warm-blooded. But clearly the dolphin has strayed from the basic mammalian game plan to an extent that no deer has.”

I’m rereading John McWhorter’s Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue. Pa bought it for me a year or so ago–a random pickup at Barnes & Noble. (He does this from time to time, like when you see a new product in the supermarket and think, “Oh, I think she’ll like that.” He also scored big with 1066.) I loved it so much that I turned around and bought him a copy for his birthday this year. Then I bought it for my kindle, because the hard copy is packed away somewhere.

I had it last night at O’Leary’s, and half hoped someone would come up and ask what I was reading so I could go all super-nerd on them. (But alas, the only person who approached me was Drunky McSmokesalot at the counter, who approved of my Beam. I should think so; he smelled like it was his preferred aftershave.)

Essentially, the book looks at how the English language developed over the last, say, 1,500 years. McWhorter’s first premise is to explore the language from syntax and grammar instead of etymology. In other words, he’s not focusing on how the William the Conqueror and his French buddies gave us French-derived food words like beef and pork, while the poor Anglo-Saxon farmers who were supplying the fancy food were dealing with Germanic-derived words like cow and pig. Instead, he’s looking at the changes and influences in how sentences are formed, how words work together and conjugate, and why we have little oddities like “the meaningless ‘do’.” (“I go to the store.”/”I do not go to the store.”)

McWhorter’s a linguist, so the book is chock full of examples from hundreds of languages from all around the world. (In most other languages, for example,  it’s “I no go to the store.”)  And it’s really cool to see how English compares, and how different languages take different routes to expressing the same universal concepts. And it’s cool to become so aware of the language we use.

Shut up, it is cool.

But yeah, the material could still be dry, even for someone as cool as I am. (One man’s dryness is another man’s…moisture?) So what makes it is that McWhorter is actually, sincerely offended by certain presumptions in his field, and he takes a madman’s glee in breaking them apart and proving that he’s right instead. He likes colorful analogies and has a wonderfully odd, occasionally dark sense of humor that surfaces out of nowhere in the middle of impassioned arguments about suffixes and pronouns. He doesn’t have an academic’s reverence for it. He’s conversational. He’s weird.

“Show me a person who has said that learning Russian was no problem after they mastered the basics–after the basics, you just keep wondering how anybody could speak the language without blacking out.”

Or, one of my favorites:

“So: imagine if now and then you fall into moods where you enjoy taking a knife and stabbing pillows open. Suppose you run out of pillows but you still have that nagging urge, and then you see a laundry bag bulging full of clothes. A thought balloon pops up over your head: Maybe I’ll cut the bag open!

Stabbing pillows. And even just now I’m using bland examples about going to the store. (Although McWhorter can get a little too cute at times, and I hate hate hate the frequency with which he uses multiple exclamation points!!!!)

Well, anyway. I’d love to go into his arguments about Celtic influences on sentence structure, or the absolute absurdity of all those grammar rules we learned in elementary school (including…the ones to which I adhere religiously at my job–and still he gets me on his side), but I’m having trouble believing that I’m entertaining anyone but myself right now, sooooo I’ll just go back to sitting quietly with my Beam and my book, at the picnic table by the water.

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