Saturday, August 31, 2013

Football season is upon us? Crank up the quality research, analysis and commentary by the greatest aspect of journalism! (Alt title: Why I hate sports journalism)

Tim Tebow Sacked Patriots Eagles

I had to take a break from the mental exercise of composing a piece on Syria to pen a sports brief. As one might know, the football (American football not global football or futbol) season is nearly upon us. As a football fan, I figured that I would piggy-back upon Gonzi's post (Which you should read... do not worry, I will be here when you get back) and discuss what I truly despise about America's favorite pastime. If you think my vitriol to the news media is bad, you do not understand how much I despise its step-cousin, sports media.

Do not get me wrong, I enjoy football but seriously, media coverage on the subject is not only lazy but horrible. Analysis is practically non-existent and discussions range from Rex Ryan's tattoo of Mark Sanchez, noted sociopath Aaron Hernandez or Tim Tebow for every hour of programming. Frankly, for the period of four months nothing else matters (save for a smattering of new about how great the Patriots or Packers are). Today was roster cuts and wouldn't you know it, Tim Tebow was cut by the Patriots (really killing two stones with that story)... Then my morning coffee was interrupted with this breaking news. Evidently, the guy whose inability to play quarterback set the position back to 1923, is front page news. Especially laughable is that he was fighting for a third string spot! Oh the humanity! What will the NFL do now!

This news spawned two lengthy articles on Yahoo! about how moronic the move was and how
the Patriots should have kept him for his presence in the locker room. Now, I get it, if Tebow is not on a team, all of those sportswriters, bloggers, producers and analysts will have to think of something else to cover. Granted, it will be difficult to do since all of these former journalism majors picked the easiest aspect of news to get into will actually have to do some research. Heaven forbid! They will have to find something to occupy fifty-four minutes of airtime each hour now! It is a shame that they only have four-six teams to cover! Ah screw it, I am going back to baseball... What?!?! Justin Morneau was traded to the Pirates... I am done with sports!

Addendum: For anyone curious, I do not hate Tim Tebow or his beliefs, I happen to enjoy his "gee golly" politeness and demeanor. He is an affable and amiable gent, who cannot play football at the professional level.

Addendum version II: Justin Morneau has not been the same player since 2010. I understand the trade but as a Twins fan, it is a bummer (besides being a Twins fan these days).

Friday, August 30, 2013

Public Reaction to Affleck's Selection as Batman Reveals America has too Much Time on Their Hands

Did you hear the news? Of course you did! No, I am not talking about the purported use of chemical weapons in Syria or Ruth Bader Ginsburg officiating a same-sex marriage in Washington D.C. (What, was Scalia busy?) tomorrow. I am referring to something much worse and more newsworthy than anything else on the Interweb these days (Which I hope that Miley Cyrus does not detract from its perpetual relevance). Warner Bros. has selected Ben Affleck to be Batman in Zach Snyder's sequel to the mediocre Superman reboot, Man of Steel. Rabble rabble... Won't somebody think of the children!... Rabble rabble. You know, I am still perplexed why didn't they ask Clooney to come back, that would surely quell any animosity that the fan boys would have to this upcoming film, right?

I am going to be honest, I could give two (spoiler: curse word coming) shits about this casting decision. Do not get me wrong, I love Batman and I have indoctrinated my children into loving Batman... But, I am too burnt out by superhero movies to care at this point. Has Affleck come a long way from the being the "go to" guy for spending all of his on-screen time mouth breathing? Probably. Should he be Batman? Probably not. Does that mean you need to put your life on hold to start a "We The People" petition to force the Obama Administration to intervene and forcefully remove Ben Affleck from the cast? Um... Seriously? Evidently, it does as some busy body... Wait, let's call him what he or she is, a patriot. This patriot sacrificed the time needed to create a petition that would ultimately waste the time of the Executive Branch to remove it. Which they did. Time which could be better spent devising a response to... Oh, I do not know, Syria or literally, anything else.

It makes one wonder what these people could accomplish if they pooled their collective mental capabilities. They could put a man on Mars, create an electronic vehicle that goes two hundred miles on a single charge or spend the four minutes necessary to vote for competent political leadership. Such a display highlight two things:

1) The American public really has its priorities skewed and should re-evaluate the things that they find to be important. (Ex. Ben Affleck as Batman = NOT Important... Important items should include things that you can change or control.)

2) The "We The People" website was a horrible idea. In fact, the staffer who suggested it should be relieved of his responsibilities immediately. Who thought this website would be used seriously? It really shows a disconnect in understanding the current state of the American public.

All digressions aside, the decision was made that Affleck would be Batman and that is not going to change. Not matter how much bitching, moaning or pants wetting occurs on the Internet. After all, given Zach Snyder's cinematic track record, the movie will probably stink regardless of who dons the cape and cowl. So, why not put your efforts elsewhere, go plant a tree, push a wheel down the road with a stick or effect positive change in your community. What do I know, I just wrote a post complaining about foolish people on the Internet. Sigh...

“Most people don't believe something can happen until it already has. That's not stupidity or weakness, that's just human nature:" World War Z

PORTEmaus Literature Society: World War Z

World War Z, Max Brooks, World War Z novel

World War Z

I will be honest, outside of The Walking Dead trades, there is not much in the realm of Zombie fiction that I would willing to read. Frankly, I think that zombies (like the popularity of vampires from yesteryear) are becoming slightly overused in books, television and film. Seriously, is there any reason why I was forced to sit through Warm Bodies? I digress. I first came across the book while shelving books at the local library and in pure Funkowitz fashion, I passed on reading it because I was too "good" for it. It was until I came across a copy that described Max Brooks as "the Studs Terkel of zombie journalism" that I decided to give it a shot. Around that time, the movie that bears its name but little of its plot was coming out and I had time to kill during a week in San Antonio.

The narrative structure of World War Z is that of an interview. The narrator seeks to present the experiences of the interviewee in an pure manner with subtle points or questions that he speculates the reader would naturally ask. The average account of a character in this book is roughly three to five pages. This plays to the benefit of the reader as it minimizes the mental exhaustion of spending time with characters that you might not want to read about. This is highlighted during the down pilot chapter, which was too long and frankly, not at all interesting or exciting. Conversely, this book contains numerous compelling chapters that are far to short and would have been interesting to flesh out. Yet, it is understandable why those stories were so short.

World War Z is an easy read as I read most of it during a short redeye flight and this should not be construed as a bad thing. It is a very accessible book, whose strengths do not lay with the zombie elements but more with its description of societal collapse in the face of global pandemic, the response and subsequent rebuilding period. Throughout the course of this book, the idea that stood out to me was that this book would make a solid episodic drama. After all the foundation was laid with the book and each episode could focus on new person's experience each week. Hey, Hollywood producers, make it happen... I did all the work for you and expect a producing credit.

Digression aside, World War Z was a satisfying read, most importantly, it provided a new take on the genre by placing the societal effects at the forefront as a historical document. This manner of presentation will not be found in the genre, as it emphasizes a global environment and makes a conscious effort to not isolate its characters as other zombie works tend to do. In all, you would be doing yourself a favor to check this out and then check out Studs Terkel's "The Good War": An Oral History of World War Two" and compare... Who knows, there might be some crossover there. I will be honest, there probably won't be any.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

How I almost fell in love with Football...Well Sorta...See what had happened was...

I hated Football for a long time. Growing up, my dad wasn't a huge sports fan but when it came to sports it was all about the Yankees....and occasionally the Knicks..(whenever they were good). But football never really resonated in the Gonzi household.

Fast forward to High School where many Coaches thought it was an absolute tragedy that God would make a 6'3, 250 lbs specimen like myself much more interested in "Computers and Shit" then in any sort of sports or competition....especially Football. For me, it wasn't just the fact that 'Up Downs' looked like the kind of thing that Satan himself makes you do upon entry to Hell. It was the whole other world that came with being involved with sports. The Jock World. I would never fit into that. Sure I can be a selfish asshole from time to time. But I'm never blatantly brazen about it. I can't walk around 24/7 like i'm better than everyone else because I participate in a glorified cock fight every Friday night and thus command respect from the student body. The whole thing just didn't make sense to me.

Later in life, I would continue my hatred of what was clearly overtaking Baseball as 'America's Sport' for a variety of reasons. My first apartment was within walking distance of the ridiculous space ship looking stadium that is "University of Phoenix Stadium" where the Arizona Cardinals routinely go to lay an egg of a game. In any case, game days were absolutely horrific. If you've been to a large sporting event before, you know how bad it can be. NFL games are even worse where the crowds can surpass 100,000 people because of the tradition which is known as 'Tail Gating'. Another cock fight on a smaller scale. This is the activity whereby nutty fans barbecue in the parking lot of the stadium and get shit faced before game time, during game time, and right up until the point of being taking away in cuffs by the police. This is of course because these fans get there...get some liquid courage....and then PRAY TO GOD (or GAWD if you're a Patriots fan) that some fan of the visiting team shouts "GO COWBOYS!" just a little too close to their truck. That's all it takes. Anyhow...this is what I was subjected to for 3 years of my life while I lived in those apartments. Screaming fans...with their SUV's and Pickups...and stupid team flags attached to their windows....completely preventing me from leaving my house on Sundays when the home team was in town.

Then....something amazing happened. Twice. The Giants beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl. TWICE. Tom Brady...that UGG boot wearin' his hopes and dreams crushed....TWICE.....Boston fans got their hearts broken....TWICE. Oh my gawd! I took it as God's way of saying....'I love you Boston.....but I'll always love New York could I not?".....just...*MUAAAH*...a thing of beauty.

So I started getting into it more. Watching more Football games. Learning about the game...watching sports news on TV...if nothing else, I'd have stuff to talk about at the Water Cooler. But I'll say the one thing that really pulled me in was Fantasy Football.

I know. The way I see it there are two kinds of people in this world. People that play Fantasy Football. And people who have their heads up there ass. I know. That's kind of strong. But it's the truth people. See, what the people who don't play fail to grasp is that FF is not about's not about's about camaraderie. It's about being a part of something. For me, it gives me a reason to watch football. It gives me a reason to give a shit about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers because they have a running back who's referred to as the "Muscle Hamster" (due to his short height and his abundance of muscles and WHO BETTER BE AS GOOD OR BETTER AS LAST YEAR!!) It gives me a reason to care and be involved....and be social...without having to be too social...which is right up my alley.

Run Muscle Hamster, RUN!!!!

All that said, reflecting on my experiences in dealing with and observing football and all of it's nuances....I would describe my current relationship status with football as "It's Complicated"

On the one hand, you have things like Fantasy Football.....and Football signalling the end of the worse season of them all...Summer....Which means Fall is on the way...which means....Thanksgiving...and Thanksgiving Football games....and Christmas. And God, do I love how much my wife hates football. Just as I'm sure she loves how much I hate her favorite past time.....watching shitty teen flicks.

And on the other hand, Football still annoys me. Let me rephrase that......people annoy me. Specifically Football People. More Specifically....Football Fans. Ugh...they are the worst. These are the same people who idolized and figuratively (and sometimes literally) blew the Jocks in high school for being part of something they never could be a part of. These are the teachers who were complicit in player's academic inadequacies for the good of the school.....thereby creating many of these self entitled, ego maniacs that had everything go their way once their athletic talent was put on display for the world to see. You people....are the reason so many players crash and burn because reality and failure eventually hit them with a blow they are ill equipped to deal with and it's time you all owned up to it.

That said, Football can be a great source of unity. Jocks. Nerds (Thank you Fantasy Football). Wives. Priests. Cops. Criminals. Democrats. Republicans. Hipsters. Beyonce Fans. You name it...and I can name a reason for you to get behind Football

Ah are a complicated, flawed prick of an entity....but I can never quit you.....

...I think.