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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Sign of the Apocalypse

"For what do we live but to make sport of our neighbors and laugh at them in our turn?"
Jane Austen (1810)

"There used to be a certain solidity in things but now what happens? Everything is exposed to the public gaze, veils are thrown back, every wound is probed by careless fingers.  We are forever present at an orgy of scandalous revelations."

Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1869)

Apparently some things never change.

January was not exactly a banner month for Our Mother's university.  But for me it wasn't so much the disappointing on-field performance - though it will rank as nearly the most torturous three hours of my life.  Nor was it our head coach's the-season's-not-even-12-hours-over flirtation with the NFL, I understand that's the way the profession works.  And even our star player's beyond embarrassing trial by fire with cyber-love which, while bizarre, was weirdly understandable after all the facts ultimately determined his experience to be shockingly commonplace.

Mom always said bad news comes in three's.

No, what freaked me out more than anything was the unvarnished hate that the combination of those events inspired.  Especially the latter. The rush-to-judgment regarding Manti's complicity / guilt by a body of people who a) had never met the kid, b) couldn't be bothered to wait for responsible fact-finding to occur and c) had a powerful media-based, bully pulpit to reach millions of people with their shoot-from-the-hip-check-facts-later denunciation.  And while there were several solid mainstream journalists who took the high road, it's sad how we have seen precious few mea culpas from those that did the initial tar n feathering (I'm talking to you, Deadspin.)  

Even more distressing is how public sentiment toward Te'o has never seemed to turn back.

Maybe its simply a backlash to the public trust being consistently abused so badly in the sports world:  Lance Armstrong, A-Rod, Ryan Braun... everybody cheats, everybody lies. But I find it scary how easily people can hate.  In a poll last week, Te'o was determined to be the least liked football player in the country.  How does that happen... the facts just don't support this result.  An entire fan-base hates a 21 yr. old because he told a lie to his parents?  If that's a hanging offense, the line to the gallows is gonna be miles long.  Or that he panicked and stuck to his story when he didn't have enough time to figure out how to address it on HEISMAN TROPHY NIGHT?  Maybe I'm the gullible one here...

There's no denying hate is a powerful emotion. You should've seen me at the end of the Super Bowl. I LOVED that it ended on a controversial call - solely for the selfish benefit of my wishing to see Jim Harbaugh's head explode like something out of David Cronenberg's "Scanners".  

Don't judge me. Even I find my behavior appalling.

So at this moment, I wish to announce that I'm formally abandoning my breakthrough "Power Of Positive Hating" concept.  It's stupid.  And volatile.  And can't be harnessed for Good.  In fact, it looks like its already fallen into the hands of Evil.  In particular, Stupid Southern Evil.

"Mess with us and we will end you..."

Instead I will focus all my future energies on advancing the Former Special Covert Ops As Referees movement so that next time there's an incident like the Ravens CB pushing the referee in the SB, the nation gets treated to watching the ref (think Jason Bourne) break him in half and make him cry for his mommy. Now that would be therapeutic.

Song of the Month
From the opening lyrics ("Jesus Christ, girl, what are people gonna think..."), this was a song whose time had come. Hadn't even ever heard the song before January - talk about 'timing is everything'.  And what better metaphors than the two separate refrains - "someone's gotta help me dig" and "we should let this dead guy sleep".  Metaphors.  I think.  At any rate, enjoy the irony - and it's a cool song.

Special shout out to my über-hip daughter, who left this particular song on an iPod for me. Thank you for expanding my musical universe. And congrats, Shea, as well - for bagging a summer internship with American Songwriter magazine in Nashville.  Not only are you 'living the dream', you're living my dream. You rock.

Now on to even happier topics...

Random Recruiting Observations

"Ma, more Hot Pockets 'n Mountain Dew!
I got more film to break down..."
If you're looking for a rundown of our recruits' measurables and skill sets, I'm not your man.  In fact, while I do read the message boards, I have near total disdain for the sad, pathetic creatures that comment with an aggressive authoritativeness - about how they like this 18 yr. old's film (creepy much?!) better than another's - surely while living in their parent's basement.

That said, here's a few things that struck me about this year's cycle..

1.  Kids, time to lose the announcement via hat selection. Its overwrought and you look stupid.
2.  Having watched waaay too much ESPN Signing Day coverage, I believe I'm beginning to understand what a Brian Kelly 'Right Kind of Guy' is.  And it starts with... how shall I put this tactfully... being able to articulate a cogent thought.  
3.  You can't spell cesspool without SEC.
4.  Nor can you spell hostess without HO.  
5.  Which leads me to Ole Miss.  Three Top 20 players, each #1 in the country at their respective positions. And we're led to believe that it's all due to a brilliantly conceived plan by their young, largely unproven coaching staff.   Competing against the likes of Saban-Spurrier-Richt-Musgrave et al. Yeah, right
6.  We're #3! Or #4.  Or #2.  Or #5.  Honestly, who cares.  It's an awesome, well balanced class. Ans while Eddie V. was the cherry on top of the sundae, Jaylon Smith was the ice cream. And the class Buddymeister: a charismatic ND evangelist that both attracted the studs and kept 'em together when things got a little hinky. 
7.  Tarean, forgive me if I don't yet consider you totally bought in to the Irish Mob '13 gestalt.
8.  Before everyone gets too fat 'n sassy about USC's recruiting implosion, consider this:  every single one of their 13 signees were either 4 or 5 star.  This year was probably worst case scenario for them.  And they still had a near Top 10 class.  If one wishes to feel good, focus on their lack of line recruits (offense or defense).  Watching how Bama wins, one has to believe Lane's fascination with skill athletes, at the expense of the big guys, is what's really gonna be his downfall.  That, and he's not very bright.
9.  Back To The Future:  ND, Ohio State, Michigan - recruiting just like it was the '70s.
10.  This may mean more to me than the rest of you but... congrats to coach Elliott on the successful kidney transfer. Now... fresh livers for my 'A' Lot compatriots!
11.  I've been to Westwood and I know ND. And unless they took the recruits to the hallowed 'A' Lot grounds, it still mystifies me how an 18 yr. old, in JANUARY, chooses the latter. Good for you, Edward - and welcome to The Club...

TC's Eddie Hall of Fame (as of 2/13)

Funny how much he looks like Diaco...

12. Coffee is for closers.  Remember when everyone worried whether Kelly & Co. could recruit against the big boys?!

13.  2014 Recruiting already off to a great start.  We have one commitment whose name is Martini.  I think his first name is Gin. Or something that starts with a 'G'.  But I shall call him 'Dirty'.
"Coach Miles wants to know
if there's a volume discount.."

14.  New recruiting rules go into effect and they're going to be a nightmare, basically allowing limitless communication with the high school athlete. A coach / college can send a kid basically anything (text, phone, social media, traditional mail, drive by) at anytime. Bad news for the athletes (they'll be preyed upon 24/7). Outstanding news for the ethically challenged. 

My prediction:  someone in the SEC will send a recruit a Russian bride.

15.  Gotta reprise the awesome Key & Peele take on the name trends in college football...

And lest you think that Art does not imitate Life, check out a few of LSU's signees this year:

  • Tre'Davious White, DB
  • Maquedius Bain, DT
  • Quantavius Leslie, WR

If one wishes a more professional summary of Kelly's navigating a tough month (and daunting year), Yahoo Sports' Dan Wetzel wrote a pretty terrific article here.  I mean, if you're into 'facts' and all that kind of stuff...

Basketball Blog

...still waiting for Messrs. Tom & Dave to find their crayons and start sharing their pithy insights.

In Praise of Cretins (if not, what would I have to write about?)

New year, new lexicon. Out with tools, in with cretins.  It's a better, richer word.  One more consistent with my up-market audience.  After all, it's not like I'm writing to SEC grads.

The word, in Italian, is especially beautiful.  Il cretino.  Said with such a lyrical rhythm that even when I knew I was the cretino they were referring to, I felt honored.  Call me "il cretinissimo" - Signore Terry, the most magnificent twit in all of northern Italy.

But I digress.

noun \ˈkrē-tən\   (although I prefer the more pretentious British pronunciation with the soft 'e')

1          often offensive : one afflicted with cretinism
2          a stupid, vulgar, or insensitive person : clod, lout
— cre·tin·ous  adjective
  • French crétin, from French dialect cretin, literally, wretch, innocent victim, from Latin christianus Christian
First Known Use: 1779

Synonyms: bastard, beast, boor, bugger, buzzard, cad, chuff, churl, clown, creep, jerk, cur, dirtbag [slang], dog, fink, heel, hound, joker, louse, lout, pill, rat, rat fink, reptile, rotter, schmuck [slang], scum, scumbag [slang], scuzzball [slang], skunk, sleaze, sleazebag [slang], sleazeball [slang], slime, slimeball [slang], slob, snake, sod [chiefly British], stinkard, stinker, swine, toad, varmint, vermin, tool [slang]

This edition's nominees:
  1. The Deadspin guys.  One could argue they did some reasonable investigative journalism, breaking the "Manti's girlfriend hoax" story.  Until you realized they got really lazy really fast and stopped caring about facts about 1/4 of the way into the story.  Most egregious was their "who gives a toss' attitude after it became quickly apparent they had the hoax's endgame quite wrong - and had a done a serious injustice to a fundamentally decent person.
  2. Mike Florio.  Your (and all its accompanying sports adjuncts) was a great addition to getting information but you went 'all in' on the "Manti is guilty" position and never came off it. Even when the facts suggested otherwise.  And you're a freakin' lawyer by background.  I guess you can take the guy of West Virginia but you can't take the hillbilly's northern bias out... 
  3. Lane Kiffin.  You're 'Dead Man Walking' and you barely even know it. 

Favorite Super Bowl quotes

1.  "While it's arguable that the best team won, there's no question the best brother won." (AP wire)
2.  "Ray Lewis now has as many Super Bowl rings as murder indictments."  (S. Colbert)

Next Stop - the Oscars!

How does Texas Chainsaw 3D  not get nominated for ANYTHING?!  Not even 'best adapted screenplay'?  

With a tagline, "Evil Wears Many Faces", it's searing allegorical commentary on the dangers inherent in illusory cyber world relationships resonates more powerfully now than ever.  

Oh if only this had come out a year ago and someone had given Manti an AMC gift card for Christmas... 

"I got your Oscar right here, Jess..."
And don't get me started on how the Academy nominated Jessica Chastain for her role in "Zero Dark Thirty" over her star turn in "Mama".

Hello!  Which screams Oscar? Basic CIA Bureaucrat Flunky In I've Seen It Before Get The Bad Guy role or... Punk Rocker Foster Mom Fighting Against an Angry, Demonic (and Seriously Possessive) Spirit over the souls of two profoundly weird, feral girls that the aforementioned spirit happened to raise on her own. In the woods. Without any government handouts. For 5 years. 

Who do I root for?!  


Final Thought -I

Pretty In Pink. 
Well done, Mar, you make us all proud.

Final Thought - II
To bring this thought piece full circle - signs that the Apocalypse really is upon us - I offer you this print ad.

Playtex has a new product called "Fresh + Sexy" intimate wipes, designed for freshening up before and after sex. New ads for the product have a difficult time addressing the issue directly, so they use suggestive wordplay.  Like "A clean pecker always taps it," and "A polished knob always gets more turns," showing a shiny doorknob.  And the subtle beaver reference below.  

Ugh. I weep for the industry. The scent of existential despair is all around me.

But I'll get over it. More later in the Spring. 

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