Friday, May 30, 2008

VSO's 100 Blogs...100 Typos: 100 - 91

I was just about to start writing my latest post when I realized something quite notable. Looking at the blog archive side bar, I realized that my previous post was my 100th since I restarted this blog in February of 2007 (technically I guess it may be 108th for those purists out there who count the handful of homemade advertising spec ads I originally put up and never bothered to take down). When I inexplicably decided to change the format of this site from "failed online advertising resume" to "sporadically updated random vanity blog" all those months ago I never expected for a second that this little project would actually keep my attention for more then a week; two weeks tops!

When I verified that I had come across this significant milestone, I figured I needed to do a little something extra to commemorate it (because that's what people do when they reach a 100 of anything). After slapping together the above hastily Photoshopped, commemorative graphic (now accepting orders for official printed t-shirts and caps), I decided that a good old fashion retrospective was in order. So in accordance with the two universal goals of all internet blogs: to continue to feed the internet reading public's insatiable hunger for ranked lists and to provide as much daily filler copy as possible; I figured a series of entries authoritatively ranking the last 100 entries would pay fitting tribute. I soon poured through the archives and after about an hour I had unscientifically, totally subjectively, and possibly inaccurately created a master list of how all my little ramblings and musings over the months have stacked up against each other; which I will now dispense in a series of ten delicious bite sized posts.

Our wonderful journey through the wild and meandering path of a 100 posts of cherished memories begins:

100. Post Recycled Post
February 3, 2007
I do want to say off the bat that just because a post has a low ranking doesn't mean I particularly dislike said post or it's of low quality (because we all know this blog maintains the highest standards of quality). When you rank all the entries, you have to put some at the end by necessity. It's sort of like picking your least favorite Huey Lewis and the News song, in the end they're all still pretty awesome. The bulk of these low end posts are usually here due to their brevity or lack of relatively unmemorable subject matter. A perfect case in point is the post above, which was actually my first note; it just said that I was just essentially cleansing the palette and to ignore all the weird homemade ads.

99. In Other News...
July 17, 2007
This is definitely one of the shortest entry I ever wrote, in fact, this little blurb and the picture above will probably end up being longer than the original post. The entry is about as straight forward as it gets: OMG my ceiling roof collapsed WTF? In retrospect this entry sticks out like a sore thumb among all the "World Series of Pop Culture" entries I was writing at the time; which was during the height of Twisted Mister Mania.

98. Abject Drunkenness Come on Down!!
February 19, 2007
I am totally disappointed that I never got a hold of one of these babies before all the stores realized how inappropriate and negligent it probably was to be selling this to teens and college students. They can even take the drinking part out, I just want to be able to play mini home games of Plinko! Every time I find myself in a Kohl's I check out the housewares section just to see if it ever came back.

97. Picture This!
November 12, 2007
The first of my series of "Picture This!" posts pointing out interesting photos found on the internetz. They're definitely the shortest posts in terms of words but if you figure in that a picture is worth a 1000 words then a lot of these turn out to be the some of the longest entries. It's so interesting to think that when I posted this entry, Eli Manning was just a goofy looking, underachieving loser. Now he's a goofy looking, underachieving loser...with a Super Bowl ring.

96. Do You Know the way to San Jose?
June 12, 2007
This was the post that announced my upcoming blog hiatus and my backpacking excursion to Costa Rica to find myself (and Jurassic Park Island). In the end I had a pretty wild time but I never really found myself nor the islands of Jurassic Park, which local officials kept telling me was a fictional location...possibly as a cover up.

95. This is just like that time I...
April 27, 2008
That's right, I do write low tier entries even as recently as in the past month. Every once in a while Family Guy will really hit me with an esoteric flashback reference that almost justifies its continued existence on television (almost). I mean where else on network television was I going to be reminded of second tier Black Box videos?

94. Glittering Prizes
May 7, 2008
Alas, the fact that no generous soul has yet to buy me the personal land cruiser/tank (only a mere $20,000 with free shipping) on my posted Amazon Birthday Wishlist is what kept this entry from rocketing straight to the top of the rankings. There are still many worthwhile gifts to purchase for me.

My Wish List

93. We're not in Kansas anymore
March 11, 2008
I like to think that this blog is the premier source for people to get up to the minute, throughly researched, objectively presented news stories involving things that interest me. These are the Victor-centric stories that the corporate owned mainstream media just doesn't seem to bring to the forefront.

92. I Guarantee...that I can't be stopped!!
March 26, 2008
Another amazing piece of breaking news that fell between the cracks while the major news outlets concentrated on fluff pieces concerning things like "the war" or "the election" or "the economy." The man could not be stopped by a bullet! If this isn't newsworthy I don't know what is! This is exactly the kind of compromised journalism that the last season of "The Wire" addressed.

91. Never Say Ziggy Again
May 21, 2008
Hopefully this will be the last of my Ziggy triggered, "has this comic made me go insane", rant entries. While I try to be optimistic and hold out for hope, something tells me this won't be the last time the writers of Ziggy decide to insert random computer jargon in nonsensical locations for Ziggy to discover. However, we can still hold out for hope.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Sex Over the Phone!

Today was my first day of summer law classes. In the two weeks or so period from when I finished my last final to today, I had almost forgotten how much I hated going to school. In fact, it's sort of needlessly cruel really; to give me this fleeting taste of idle summer pleasure just to take it away and keep it away until essentially the end of summer. I may have been better off if they had just started summer school right at the end of the school year without missing a beat. During the year I had forgotten the concepts of "free time" and "vacation" so giving me that brief window back there before the summer session was like reopening an old wound and then jamming a fresh lemon on it.

Yeah, there's basically no other way to put it: summer school (sans Mark Harmon) sucks! However, I cope and muddle on, giving it my best, half assed, effort, and trying to keep my spirits up. After spending the day being bored by the library, fleeced by the bookstore, trapped by the classrooms, and bored by the lectures there is only one sure fire thing that always cheers me up; you guessed it, it's the video for the Village People's final single, "Sex Over the Phone."

I am actually big enthusiast of the final hits of band right before they broke up or stopped being relevant. Many times a fairly productive and veteran band's last hit is totally out of left field or a complete 180 from what their sound was when they started out or when they were in their prime and I find that endlessly fascinating (and listenable). To the chagrin of many of my music loving friends, my favorite Beatles song is probably the "Long and Winding Road" with its lush, and blasphemously un-Beatles-like Phil Spector Wall of Sound production. I have no interest in anything Led Zeppelin related but I love their final hit, the totally non-canon "Fool in the Rain." Similarly, other swan songs like the Four Seasons' "December, 1963 (Oh What a Night)", ELO's "Calling America", and the Beach Boys' "Kokomo" (with that classic Stamos drumming) all rank fairly high in my personal depth charts of their singles.

The Village People's final single, "Sex Over the Phone" also fits into that mold. However, while the song itself is just as catchy and innuendo laden as their best dance singles, the video is what really distinguishes it. I have yet to see another music video that was both so flagrantly gay and so flagrantly 80s at the same time. The Village People have always maintained a somewhat subtle, slightly subversiveness to their songs (as evidenced by all the marriages and bar mitzvahs that so innocently play "YMCA") but I guess by the mid 80s and with the advent of music video they decided to just eschew all that...with a very modest budget. However, to their credit with a title like "Sex Over the Phone" how could you not create such a ludicrously flamboyant and hilariously literal video?

Here's a rundown of my highlights:

0:15: We see that the Indian has been getting all dapper and ready for his hot date with, you guessed it...the phone; thus setting the foundation for our high concept fare. Also interesting thing to note is how all the characters have gotten updated to the slick 80s'; no more headdresses and loincloths for the Indian it's all leather pants and bolo ties.

0:32: Thus begins the most amateurish music video dance sequence of the 1980s. I mean I'm not one to push stereotypes here but shouldn't a nearly all gay dance music group, be you know, a little better at choreographing a dance sequence? I also wonder: where are those phones were connected to?

0:50: Why is the cop getting a ticket? Why is he so causal about it?

0:56: Had I seen this as a child, I probably would have had nightmares about the close up of the bearded biker with his intense burning stare.

1:08: Once again guys, a few hours practice before the shoot might have made this look a whole lot more professional.

1:22: And the single most homoerotic moment of the Village People's career is brought to you courtesy of the construction worker.

1:42: Meanwhile over in our nation's telecommunications lines; the suggestive, chaotic dancing continues unabated.

1:59: The army guy shows commitment to his character by using a military issue walkie talkie as his phone. Other Village People members however fail to show that sort of commitment to accuracy: the Cowboy does not utilize 19th century telegraph nor does the Indian use smoke signals.

2:26: Female versions of the Village People digitalized and obscured. A commentary on the sexual anonymity provided by mediated communications? A statement about the band's sexual orientation? Just an excuse to use some digital effects? Or all of the above?

2:33: "I got it," said the Leather-bound Biker.

2:40: This is where the video gets really confusing. After all that's transpired and after all that is known about the Village People, they're talking to women (female doppelgangers of themselves no less).

2:58: A young Madonna trying get some exposure with the club crowd?

3:17: For that last person in the audience that has yet to grasp the "phone sex" theme of the song and video thus far, perhaps this gigantic phone (and to a lesser extent the giant credit card) should crystallize the message.

3:31: All this sex over the phone is just too much for the prudish, old timey telephone board operator who seems to be the one in charge of routing all these erotic phone calls.

3:39: Wait a minute, if it's a phone sex line then why is there a computer screen with a sex simulation program which is somehow disconnected from a fantasy hotline??? How can they leave us with this confusing shot as their parting image as a band?

Friday, May 23, 2008

Sometimes a Fantasy...

Earlier last week Mariah Carey and new husband Nick Cannon celebrated their recent nuptials by renting out all of Six Flags Magic Mountain in California and having a private party with about a hundred of their closest friends. Now at this point I could take an obvious cheap shot at how a private party at an amusement park would be quite apt considering their May December romance, but I won't. When I stopped and thought about it, it's really not that ludicrous of an age difference.

As it turned out Mariah Carey was a bit younger (38) then I thought she was and Nick Cannon was was surprisingly much older (28) then I thought he was. I guess it's just that Mariah's been in the game for so long and that Nick Cannon works on TV and movie projects that feel like they were written by teenagers, that this gap felt a lot wider. Ten years seems like a drop in the bucket compared to some of the more lopsided celebrity couples out there: Jay-Z and Beyonce (11 years), Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher (15 years), Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes (16 years), Harrison Ford and Calista Flockheart (22 years), Michael Douglas and Cathrine Zeta-Zones (exactly 25 years), Celine Dion and that old guy (26 years), basically anyone Larry King ever married, and don't even get me started on the many loves of R. Kelly. We may even be looking at four years of a May December White House; presidential candidate John McCain has 18 years on possible future first lady Cindy McCain.

No, it wasn't the age issue or anything about the marriage that made this bit of news stick out at me. The real reason why this news item was of note to me begins with the story of a disappointed young child in the mid-90s:

Ten or so years after leaving Korea for America, my parents had worked themselves out a modest living running a grocery store in the Bronx. Those scenes with the Korean store owners in "Do The Right Thing" are so accurate it's beyond eerie (I'm the little kid in the store). The work was hard and the hours were long but they soldiered on, motivated and inspired by the common dream shared by all immigrants to this country past and present of providing for themselves and, especially their children, a better tomorrow.

Growing up, my parents tried to provide for me and my sister as best they could under the circumstances. I wouldn't go as far to say things were as desperate as let's say Carl but we definitely qualified for reduced price school lunches and would be accurately described as underprivileged. Growing up in front of the TV, my little pre-adolescent self pined for many of the things those perfect sitcom families had that I assumed every American family also possessed. I wished for things basic "necessities" like roller blades, Trapper Keepers, a Super Nintendo, a room that I didn't have to share with my sister and grandmother, home with a backyard, and a basketball hoop. However, as much as I wanted all those material items, what I really wanted the most was time with my parents.

Running a 24 hour grocery store, 7 days a week made it so I would only be able to see my parents for an hour in the morning before school and about an hour at night before bed. In the mean time it was my grandmother and TV raising me at home. My parents worked on the weekends so I would only get some rare afternoon face time for church on Sundays which my mom at least took off for. Suffice to say there were no extended summer family vacations.

The only times where we would take trips out as a family were the handful of occasions a year when my parents would work out a schedule to have an entire day off and take us to Rye Playland. Playland was a quaint, old school amusement part just a half hour north of the Bronx with standard carnival rides and attractions (think Coney Island with slightly little less filth and faded glory) and a trip there was the absolute highlight of my pre-adolescent years. It may have seemed fun but unspectacular to many (especially for the cast of "Step by Step" who I assumed went to amusement parks on a daily basis) but to me it was heaven. The days leading up to an expected weekend trip up to Playland my little 10 year old self would write out elaborate personal itineraries of rides to go on that I remembered from the previous trip and draw up little homemade countdown calendars; all the while finding myself getting less and less sleep as the day arrived.

So one early spring circa 1995, the Lees headed out to another fun filled Saturday at Playland. Arriving at the gates, waiting for my dad to pay the parking fee and move into the park, I was my usual ball of unbearable excitement. However when we got to the booth the guard briefly said something to my father and directed our car into the opposite direction. Concerned at the distance we were suddenly putting between us and the park I asked my father what was up. My father, never being one to soften any bad news, told me that the park had been rented out by a private party for the whole day and that we were heading home.

I don't remember the rest of the day but all I could recall was crying as we stopped for a conciliatory meal at McDonald's and spending the rest of the day at home in utter depression. As far as I can remember that was my first taste of true, read world, unfair disappointment.
It taught me a crucial distinction between the world of TV and the books I'd read and the reality I lived in. In reality, in contrast to every piece of fiction I ever took in, there really could be moments where things were unfair and there was absolutely nothing you could do about it but experience the indifferent inequity of the universe. I recall it being painfully unfair not just for me, but for all the other kids in the cars behind us. One of only a handful of my yearly experiences actually having fun as a family was denied for some rich individual who wanted the park and didn't want to share.

The similarities between my mid-90s experience and Mariah's recent experience should end there, with me hoping that another generation of poor kids aren't taught an early lesson about the breaks by the actions of the privileged rich; but the connection runs deeper. In 1995 the music video for "Fantasy," Mariah Carey's hit single off her smash album "Daydream" was released. The memorable video, directed entirely by Mariah Carey, showed scenes of her roller blading, enjoying a roller coaster ride, and performing a night time dance sequence at Rye Playland. Now, while I don't have definitive proof and odds are probably unlikely, there is still a distinct possibility that the heartless soul that shattered my dreams that bleak summer day may very well have been Mariah Carey filming "Fantasy"!

While I do enjoy the song and appreciate its excellent sample of "Genius of Love"; until the day that my suspicions are finally extinguished that light and breezy video will forever remind me of my first bitter taste of real disappointed and a part of my childhood that died and never came back. Sure, Mariah, you may have gotten your 9th number one single at the time and sold millions of singles but was the cost of my youthful optimism really worth it?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Never Say Ziggy Again

I know I had previously promised no more posts about Ziggy, but sometimes it's better to try to seek catharsis by sharing your inner pain and turmoil. It's in that spirit that I present this, the latest defeat in the ongoing series of failures that is the life of Ziggy:

I mean at this point, are they even trying anymore?

Some predictions for future Ziggy panels:
  • Ziggy looks in a pot on the stove and it says "Do you want to save changes?"
  • Ziggy smells a daffodil and it says "Sleep Mode!"
  • Ziggy opens a mail box and it says "Limited Connectivity!"
  • Ziggy gets a fortune cookie and it reads "Reboot!"
  • Ziggy throws coins in a fountain and it says "Enter Password!"
  • Ziggy opens a trash can it says "Defragmentation!"
  • Ziggy bites a hot dog and it says "404 Error!"
  • Ziggy opens a books and it says "Not a valid WIN32 Application!"
Taken in context with the previous techno-savvy comic panel, I suspect Ziggy's years of crippling depression has caused him to lose his mind or it's possibly terminal brain cancer. In either case I'm sure there'll be some additional classic incidents at the doctor's office.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Go head' on and break 'em off wit a lil' preview of the remix....

For me it has become a well established law of the internets that no viral video hit has truly and officially come full circle until it has been "remixed", in the sense of it being reimagined, parodied, or literally remixed in the musical sense, and then reposted by someone else. It all probably goes along with the whole complicated dynamics of the meme, a concept I can barely pronounce let alone properly comprehend. It's one of those phrases like "irony" or "post modernism" that most people get the gist of but when pressed to formally define it, they get into some difficulty. It's like Justice Potter Stewart famously said about defining obscenity: "I know it when I see it."

In any case, a famous video or youtube clip that comes along and captures the fleeting attention of millions in cyberspace has only reached the initial tier in its journey to buzz worthy immortality. The all important next step that separates the flavors of the week from the stuff that'll eventually make the "I Love the 00's" is for the public to embrace it and creatively "remix" it and mutate it into the pop cultural superfreak it can truly be. Take something like "Crank That (Souja Boy)", amusing enough on its own but where would it be been without the countless "remixed" parodies of it?

So when a recently found clip of, Fox News blow hard and luffa enthusiast, Bill O'Reilly losing his temper on the set of Inside Edition years ago started making the rounds of the internet it was merely in stage one of its mystical journey into infinity. But now the clip has officially gone full circle with a definitive dance remixed version:

I have to admit I found the obscenity laden electronic beats strangely hypnotic. On the whole I've probably enjoyed it more than the original clip which I didn't find all that surprising in contrast to a heated episode of the "Factor." He's an angry jerk on screen and shockingly enough he's an angry jerk off screen.

Now if they found clip of Bill O'Reilly playing with a kitten or apologizing for a previous misstatement of fact, well then I'd have to drop an OMG.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I've got to really stop reading the comics

With any luck this will be my last "Ziggy" related post. I realize now that if I keep reading them it will only cause further harm to myself and others. It's sort of like looking at the sun, a brief glance here and there is fine, but you're not suppose to stare directly at it. Every daily panel I read just seems to out "Ziggy" itself in terms of sadness and confusion. If I don't quit now I'll just end up writing blog entry after blog entry detailing my increasing bewilderment and frustration with the comic. My obsession would completely spiral out of control until I eventually suffer a massive fatal aneurysm.

I mean how is any rational individual suppose to experience anything other then puzzlement and stupefaction (let alone "humor") from the following panel?!?:

Why is the toilet talking to Ziggy? What does it mean that he has an email? Why am I reading this?

Much like after watching the movie Hackers, the most obvious fact to draw from this is that the creator has absolutely no idea how computers or the internet works. Adding a "new fangled" sounding phrase like "E-mail" apparently is half the joke; a joke which would have been declared old ten years ago. I then reluctantly, against my better judgment, thought about the possible other half of the joke. Is it saying that because Ziggy just took a dump and it's a high tech Japanese toilet? Maybe Ziggy just dropped his Blueberry in the can? Maybe it's a commentary on the inherent melancholy of the simultaneous combination of ubiquitous mediated communication and the widespread alienation of the modern age? Or maybe it's not the toilet that's talking but, disturbingly, the poop?

These are the questions that need no answers.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Ah Ziggy. Will you ever win?

On occasions where I find myself aimlessly wondering around the internet (which in law school is almost every waking moment) I sometimes end up checking out the daily comics. I'm not sure what went wrong but I remember comics being a lot funnier when I was younger. I suspect I must have changed because comics certainly haven't seemed to. "Garfield" still hates Mondays and loves lasagna, "Dilbert" still works in a early 90s office, and "B.C." is still in B.C. It's like whatever time a comic started it is forever stuck in that era. Sure every once in a while "Beetle Bailey" will mention the internet or the son in "Momma" will joke about high gas prices in a misguided attempt that appearing current, but for the most part they're like mini windows into the past. While it doesn't bode well for humor (at least intentional humor) most of the time, I guess good or bad there's something to be said about maintaining that level of constancy, day in and day out.

One comic that has maintained a paramount level of consistency, in lack of humor, is everybody's favorite bald, pantless, depressive: "Ziggy". I don't understand what the appeal is. Every daily panel is a different terribly depressing scene from his appalling life. He's hideously deformed, friendless, and everywhere he goes; whether it's the therapists office, a police station, or a restaurant, people are basically shitting on him. Maybe the whole point of it is that we're suppose to get some sense of schadenfreude out of it? I guess its easier to laugh at this funny looking muppet-like thing then a said eyed human-like figure.

However, the one Ziggy I came across a few days ago is just about the saddest thing I've ever seen.

I mean there's poor Ziggy, as lonely as ever, sadly drinking wine by himself at some restaurant trying to get soused enough to forget his miserable life ever so briefly; and like with every other event in Ziggy's life no one else seems to care. The man cannot control himself enough to stop crying at the restaurant and the waiter is completely oblivious to that which further compounds Ziggy's misery. I mean this is just down right tragic.

I'd say that eventually the writers will reach the point where they'll one day flat out give Ziggy terminal bone cancer and chronicle all the misfortunes that befall him as he begins an agonizing stretch of ineffective chemotherapy; but they probably won't because that would be a perversely better fate than living another 40 years of being Ziggy.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Glittering Prizes

Many of you have undoubtedly found yourselves at one time or another asking the following questions to yourself: "You know, how can I, the common blog reader, possibly repay Victor for providing so many countless informative and insightful blog entries to read, free of charge? Some sort of gift would be nice but how could I approach the idea without coming off like some kind of stalker? If only I knew when his birthday was and if he set up some sort of web based apparatus for me to conveniently buy him things!"

Well loyal readers, your personal prayers have been answered. Today is indeed my birthday and this year fans and friends alike will have an option outside of just the standard, hollow birthday wishes in celebration. For the truly generous, you can now send me actual goods of real value, worth more than an eternity of empty birthday emails, with just a mere few clicks of the mouse! To accommodate budgets of all sizes I've randomly chosen an assortment of items from the nominal to the extravagant (for all you eccentric millionaire readers out there).

My Wish List

And remember this standing opportunity for gifting does not need to with the end of my birthday; it is open indefinitely to give everyone a chance to contribute. So if you're indecisive about what to do about those government stimulus checks...

Monday, May 05, 2008

Notes From The Library 3: Karma

Well with my third final (a riveting 3 hours of Criminal Law questions and essays) I am now on the back end of my law school finals odyssey. A final Torts 2 exam on Friday is all that stands in my way towards sweet freedom (until I start summer classes a week or so later).

The motivation to study for said exam however is at an all time low. The situation is hopelessly stacked against me giving a damn about the rubber test. As of this point 10/12ths of my final grade is now locked in and unchangeable, for better or for worse. This measly 2 credit afterbirth of a class can only significantly affect my GPA in the rare case of an extremely high grade or an extremely low grade. In addition, even the professor realized the wholly unnecessary nature of the school mandating a second semester of Torts and gave up seriously teaching just before the students gave up seriously learning. It's definitely going to be quite an interesting curve when these dueling apathies collide on Friday.

Never the less I should probably crack open a textbook here and there just to make sure I end up in that nice plush, comfortable cushion of mediocrity right in the middle of the curve. So as part of my continuing my regimen of diligently playing all the available angles in studying, except for the studying itself, I am working the intangibles in the form of karma.

Now regardless of your inherent beliefs or philosophies, one can only benefit from hedging your bets by accumulating karma. I'm not saying you should be devoting your life to some righteous path or radically changing your world view or priorities; although I guess if you want to be my guest. The way I see it, collecting tiny bits of karma by doing minor positive things can only help you and over time these little micro transactions will hopefully add up to something significant (kind of like the "Tipping Point" I guess).

For me, I find numerous opportunities in get bits of goodwill around the library where I spend the bulk of my days studying/contemplating why I'm in law school/sleeping. I don't know what the situation is like in other law schools or graduate schools in general, but I have never seen such a selfish, inconsiderate bunch of students. Everywhere you go there are empty candy wrappers or coffee cups or scraps of paper along the study cubicles of the library. Although we study how to read and interpret rules and statutes we hardly seem to apply this in real life when viewing signs like "No laptops on X floor" or "No food or beverage allowed" or "Please be quiet during study hours". I don't even want to get into the horror show that is the bathroom stalls.

So in the face of such negative karma, I do my little part here and there to give myself a possible advantage. I don't get all Captain Planet on the library but if I'm on my way out and there's a trash can nearby I'll pick up a loose piece of litter here or there and properly dispose of it. One of my classic moves is turning off the individual cubicle lights that other people left on; saving energy, going green, very karmic. Those little touches along with the occasional pushing of a chair into a desk, returning a misplaced book to the front, a holding open of the door for another person, and of course always saying "good morning" and "good night" to the security and janitorial staff all accumulate to powerful goodwill.

Of course there's no hard evidence that any of this will actually help me and that these could just be the pointless superstitious rituals of a lazy, desperate student; but I stress again it can't hurt to make a good case for the karma police. Perhaps there is a universal calculus of equity and fairness, or maybe doing good acts will put me in a more test friendly positive state, or achieve a psychosomatic effect on me; in the end there's nothing but aggregate positives. If nothing else the library is just a tiny bit tidier, bottles are getting recycled, I'm feeling better about my prospects albeit microscopically, and most importantly I'm doing something other than studying.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

No sir, I don't like it!

Yes today was the Super Bowl of horse racing, the Kentucky Derby, marking the first of only three times all year mainstream America will give a flip about horse racing (two if there's no chance of a triple crown). One look at the top tool bar of the Yahoo! Sports home page will give you a good idea at just how bottom tier the sport actually is in the American consciousness. You've got the all the major ones first: NFL, NBA, MLB, College Sports, NASCAR, NHL. Then it slides on over to the second tier sports that most people occasionally keep tabs on during major events: MMA, Boxing, Golf, Soccer, Tennis, and the upcoming Olympics. After that you have "Action sports" which covers all those "xtreme" Mountain Dew sports that I assume everyone from Colorado does. And finally in the expressive category of "More" alongside such national past times as Canadian Football, Cricket, and the WNBA resides "the sport of kings."

For the early to mid 20th century the the holy trinity of sports in the United States were: Baseball, Boxing, and Horse Racing. I can only suspect that this was because more fun sports had not been perfected yet (like the three point line in basketball, or forward passes in football). Baseball has managed to stay relevant by changing with the times (integration, the designated hitter rule, wild card playoffs, rally monkeys, sausage races) but for the most part boxing and horse racing have stayed just about the same and thus have stagnated into the sports footnotes they currently are. This seems especially the case with horse racing. Look at the Derby itself, it's basically one big southern, old timey, circle jerk of goofy hats, paper fans, and mint juleps. While slavery has yet to come back, if that HBO "Jockey" documentary I caught once is any indication it's not too far off. It's one of those sports that you can only imagine fedora wearing, old school, dinosaurs like Bert Sugar would intensely follow. The sport really needs to get off its "sport of kings" high horse (pun totally not intended, but now that I notice it, totally intended) and realize what it is in the modern day hierarchy of sports: a third tier sport whose main role is to provide a steady stream of content that people can wager on. If horse racing is the sport of kings, then so is late night cable poker.

So apparently the winner of the race itself was "Big Brown", who was supposedly the favorite but who really gives a crap. It's funny; as asinine and utterly pointless sports talk radio is most of the time , it somehow manages to sound even more asinine and pointless when they're talking about horse racing. At least with team and individual sports there's some rational method of arguing the variables and making reasonable predictions or analysis. Here they're talking about horses, like they had any personal stake in any of this. This one's better in the mud, this one has yet to "prove himself", can this one handle "a big race." They're horses! Big, dumb, beasts of burden, who's single goal during the whole race is to go faster in the hopes that the guy riding them will stop hitting them. Granted, jockeying obviously involves skill and talent, but all that really goes out the window if the horse just decided: "I don't want to run that fast today."

The really messed up thing in all this was the second place horse, Eight Belles, the first filly (female horse) to qualify in 9 years, fracturing both front ankles and getting euthanized after the race. A pretty harsh penalty for coming in second don't you think? I can't imagine any other sport where something like this could happen. It'd be like if they put Isiah Thomas and his sprained ankle to sleep after the Pistons lost to the Lakers in game 7 the 1988 NBA Finals or team doctors officially "retired" washed up, rubber armed, Johnny Unitas after the Colts lost Super Bowl III. The most absurd part of it all was the commentary people made on behalf of the horse like "this horse showed you [her] heart" or "she ran the race of her life" like the horse had some other thoughts and feelings outside of the crippling pain of two fractured ankles.

Of course the real lesson to be learned from this tragedy is that females are once again in way over their heads and should not be allowed to participate in certain male dominated catagories; like the first year they gave women the vote and they helped elect Warren G. Harding into office.