Monday, October 27, 2003

What a Sapp

Warren Sapp, on the rule prohibiting players from "waltzing" through the other team's pregame warmups in a childish display of gamesmanship:

"He (Redskins LB LaVar Arrington) got what he wanted. He snitched and slave master come down. That's all that is. ... Stop a man from doing something that he's been doing for nine years? And so now there's a rule against me. Thanks. I knew (the league) was gonna do what they did because they've been notoriously against Sapp. Like I said before, it's a slave system. Make no mistake about it, slave master say you can't do it, don't do it. They'll make an example out of you."

Man, Warren, you poor soul. You're right! It's a slave system. Good thing you said something, because I must have missed ROOTS III - The NFL. What a travesty of justice.


Does Mr. Sapp have any idea how childish and whiny he sounds? Does he have any idea how childish he looks skipping his fat arse about the field on game day? Slave Master?

Actually, I think I do remember that miniseries. You know, the one where Kunta Kinte gets off the boat, signs a multi-million dollar deal, goes on to fame and fortune and become a household name because of his good play and fat mouth.

Warren's words were a slap in the face to those who actually suffered as slaves and to those who suffered under the environment of the South where losing their slave-owning rights took a long time to swallow. Where are the calls to shut him up? Why can Warren Sapp shoot off with racially charged and downright offensive language with impunity? It's ridiculous.

More to the point, why can't he take his correction like a man?

Let me tell you something, Mr. Sapp. Your behavior is not endearing. It's offensive, annoying, and immature. Your words are offensive, putrid, and downright ugly. You went overboard, finally pissed someone off, and had to pay the price. And you cry about the slave master.

When Kunta Kinte disobeyed the slave master, did they issue a polite statement and make him work for free for 4 or 5 minutes the following Sunday? No, sir. They whipped his arse until he was dead, Warren. Dead. That's slavery. Slaves didn't have a multi-million dollar salary. Slave didn't drive the latest in carriages. Slaves didn't have endorsement deals. Slaves couldn't run to the media to complain about their ill treatment. They were slaves. And their treatment was ill treatment.

You, Mr. Sapp, finally got slapped on the hand for being a pernicious jackass. Buck up and take it like a man. You don't know what slavery is, so stop insulting the memory of those who did.

Friday, October 24, 2003

Who are You Calling Irrational?

What Irrational Number Are You?
You are φ

Of all the irrational numbers, you are considered to be the most beautiful. Those who know you well have called you by many names, all golden. However, most people don't know you by name and probably won't even recognize you by sight, but they do like to see you. Despite your pretty face, you are by no means shallow. You are involved it many things: finance, biology, architecture, art, music, and much more.

In some ways you and e are a nearly perfect match. The power and intensity of e excites you.

Your lucky number is approximately 1.61803399

Shiny Lemur
Straif's Blog

Monday, October 20, 2003

Media Influence, circa 1615

In my continual onslaught on the world of literature and my own mind, I find myself comfortably mired in Don Quixote, Part I - Chapter XVIII.

In thinking through my reading to this point, I was struck by some of the parallels to modern media controversy. In particular the concerns about the influence of movies and video games (entertainment apparatus) on the behavior of youth and the viewing public in general.

The title character, Don Quixote de la Mancha has gone mad, driven to insanity by the continual reading of books depicting the chivalrous adventures of countless knights errant. He ambles from one misadventure to another. His own delusions are often the cause of his misfortune, yet he's always able to rationalize away the negative consequences of his behavior with yet more examples of the ways and means of knights errant about whom he has read, leading him further into his delusion rather than out of it.

When our "ingenious hidalgo" returns from his first set of misadventures, he is in very bad shape, having suffered quite a beating. His houseservants and the local priest come to find him dressed in his old shoddy armor and blame his misfortune on his large library of chivalrous adventures (rightly so, by Cervantes' assertion.) Their immediate judgment, based on Quixote's condition and the experience of another person also so afflicted, is that his library is the source of the madness and should be burned, down to the last page.

Naturally, as they go through the library, they find that some books are more equal than others. Books that for one reason or another are considered "higher quality" stories are saved from the fire, while others are cast in almost arbitrarily, in some comic-tragedy version of the final judgment. Even though the books saved can be said to be as much blamed as those burned, aesthetic priorities override the practical priorities in rescuing the Man of La Mancha's mental health.

As an added indictment to their activities, they become tired of making decisions and, without regard to what higher quality works may remain, cast the rest of the lot in the fire.

An interesting side note is that the two men, more learned than the two women, are the ones we find making value judgments on individual works, while the two women, portrayed as uneducated and simple, are afraid of the books and want them all destroyed. On the one hand, they are far more cognizant of the original purpose and priority of their task, but haven't the tools or the courage to judge the literature for themselves. The more learned men don't mind judging the materials on a piece by piece basis until it begins to cost them a little (they grow weary with the process) and have a much looser grip on their original purpose.

As the books burn, Quixote revives and sets off on his next series of misadventures, rendering their efforts fruitless.

I'm not sure exactly what Cervantes was trying to communicate here (though I'm sure he didn't advocate broad brushed book burning) but I was struck by the parallels to some modern media theories: Violence in the media begets violence in the consumer of said media, the problem is in the media rather than in the consumer and in the society that created the demand for the media, the solution is to destroy said media, and arbitrary judgments will be made on which violent media is art and worthy of preservation and which is good only for kindling.

And isn't that very much the issue both with media violence and with censorship/book-banning? Who can say that Don Quixote wasn't already mad and needed only a vehicle by which to express his madness? Who's to decide what really is worthwhile art (Pulp Fiction?) and what is vile influence (Friday the 13th?) Are the learned who draw arbitrary lines any better than the unlearned who would simply cast them all out? Is media violence creating violent people, or is it reflecting the violence that already exists in our hearts? How does one pinpoint the truth?

I don't know.

Friday, October 17, 2003

The "Who Gives a Good Gosh Darn" Series

Well, curses live, bullies thrive, Goliath stomps on David and the World Series begins.

Who cares?

Unless someone is born in pinstripes, or lives in Miami under the shadow of evacuation route signs on every corner, the World Series this year is about as uninteresting a matchup as possible.

This probably wouldn't matter a whit except for the thought of what could have been.

The Billy Goat Curse. The Curse of the Bambino. It would be enough in any given year to see one of these teams go all the way, to get to the series and do battle with the other team and the ghosts of the past.

But this year, held out for all true baseball fans to salivate over and dream about, was the grand possibility of the Series to end all Series. That Battle of the Cursed, The Goat vs. The Bambino. Two teams synonymous with futility and improbable disaster fighting it out for the whole ball of wax, to exorcise their demons while all of baseballdom watched. No matter who won, the Baseball Gods would lose, because they would have to give up one or the other of their downtrodden and miserable souls. One of them would have entered November as the champs. The World Champion Chicago Cubs, or the World Champion Boston Red Sox. It wouldn't matter. All of fandom would have been enthralled, picking sides depending on who was down at the moment. It wouldn't matter.

Instead, the otherwise cynical world learned that curses are real, ghosts never die, and futility is only as far away as the next pitch. Instead the Baseball Gods decided to show just who was boss and prove that they really do hold all the cards.

Instead we have Goliath vs. The Fish. The Evil Empires vs. Desperately Seeking an Identity.

Sure, the Yankees are a magnificent, storied franchise. Sure, they've played in 1/3 of all the World Series played, and won 1/4 of all the World Series ever played. That's the problem. It's nothing new. What the hell is Joe Torre crying about? Because even he's tired of seeing the same old pinstripes in the World Series? Because even he is hoping for a real postseason story rather than the same old crap with a couple of name changes? Possibly. Or perhaps he's still upset over the Pedro vs. Zimmer thing. Whatever the case, only New York gives a rat's ass, because everyone else has already seen it before.

But there are still the Marlins, right? Big whoop. Who the hell are the Marlins? Sure, it was mildly interesting when they became the youngest franchise ever to become the World Champs. But then Wayne Huzienga, the charlatan he is, had a fire sale and made a mockery of the Championship, his franchise, and Baseball. There's no storied past, no history, no ghosts to chase away. Just a bunch of cocky brats who may have bitten off more than they can chew.

Not that anyone cares either way.

I suppose that, in the end, I hope the Yankees lose, because their history of making everyone else's life miserable is longer and far more insidious than the upstart Marlins. Yet, the cockiness of the fish (America's Darlings now? Puh-leeze!) makes me want to whap them with the handle of my knife and throw them on the grill.

A little garlic and butter, a cold brew, or at least a Diet Coke, and we're ready for some football.

Friday, October 10, 2003

Mindless Drivel = Pure Comedy

In order to respond to the accusation that my blog was devoid of drivel and contained only serious content, I have initiated this entry of my best attempts at comedy.


Take airline food. What's up with that stuff?

Don't get me started.

And then there's long lines at the DMV. What's up with that? Do that many people really have cars?

Know what I'm sayin'?

Speaking of long lines, how many of you saw Gigli? What's up with that movie?

Those two should just get married.

And why do women have to go to the bathroom together? What's up with that?

Know what I mean, dudes?

And who invented neckties? What was up with him?

Now I'll do a couple of impressions.

Ronald Reagan: "Well..."

Gerald Ford: (falls down)

George Bush Sr.: "Thousand Points of Light... Wouldn't be prudent."

Dubya: "What we had here is a failsafe to commiserate."

Dan Quayle: "Potatoe"

Marcel Marceau:

Jerry Lewis: "Hey Laaaaaady!"

Desi Arnaz: "You can't be in da cho!"

Lucille Ball: "Awwww, Rickyyyyyyy."

Jay Leno: (chin)

David Letterman: (gap)

Johnny Carson: "I do, again and again and again and again..."

Liz Taylor: "Yeah? Well I do more than you do on a bad day..."

Demi Moore: "Ashton, honey, soon as you're done with dinner, I'll let you down from the high chair."

Ahston Kutcher: "For show and tell today I bwought pics of me and Ms. Moore doing the hootchy-kootchy."

Bill Clinton: (drops pants at next female to pass by)

Arnold Schwarzenegger: "I'll be back." (grope)

Don't even get me started...

Monday, October 06, 2003

Bloom, Poetry, and I

The poetry section of How to Read and Why is certainly harder than the fiction. I've had an especially hard time with Whitman. Dickinson, Houseman, Tennyson, all of those were a little more accessible.

Emphasis on "little."

For enjoyment's sake, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" was a treat.

I do have difficulty. Not so much with the why. Bloom says we should read to improve our self, who we are, not just to be entertained. I don't quibble with that too much, except to say that a little entertainment isn't a bad thing. I also don't have difficulty with how I should read these poems. It takes more effort, because the layers of meaning and the lyric structure takes a different mindset and approach than reading prose, which I find far easier.

My greatest difficulty is understanding how the form works. Even though I believe Bloom when he says the poems and sonnets he's selected are among the best in literature and worthwhile for all to read, I don't understand what their form lends to that judgment. The content and the insight into the self and the struggle of the will and the soul and all that I ken. I can work my way through it and enjoy it. But I don't understand how the form or structure of a poem takes deep and meaningful content and makes it a poem for the ages.

If anyone has any suggestions, please leave a comment. I'm a little frustrated with this right now.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

The "N" Word

I'm reading through some of Flannery O'Connor's short stories.

I understand that she, like many early and mid-20th century writers, wrote in the vernacular of the day. The way she wrote is the way her characters would speak were they flesh and blood in that time and space. I understand that the south in the early 20th century had a vocabulary that today would shiver the timbers of many a stout soul.

Well, it does mine anyhow.

No matter how much I prepare my mind to soak in the era being cracked open to me, I still feel slapped in the face every time I see a title like "The Artificial Nigger."

Just typing it gives me the willies.

Truthfully, I wouldn't want it any other way. The word harkens back to a day when blacks in this country were, even among the enlightened Yanks, a little less than totally human. Being 36 years old, I was among the first generation that was actively and institutionally taught that the word was the most putrid of curses, and the sayer a pariah even amongst his pale peers. I learned that it was only a word of hatred and division, nothing more. It was not an identifier, not a descriptive term, not a shortcut to "person from Africa or other parts with dark skin." Hate word.

Well, I hate the word. Apologies to Flannery O'Connor, Samuel Clemens, and Joseph Conrad, but I simply cannot help how it affects me.


It's about me, dummy!!!


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