Archive for June, 2010

The Problems With Soccer

John appears to have already stirred the passions of the soccer fanatics with his rant on its lack of scoring. While I generally agree, I’d like to elaborate with soccer’s most egregious offenses to an American sports obsessive:

5. The Imprecision of Time Continue reading

Against Soccer

For those of you who have been appropriately ignoring this year’s World Cup action, Saturday saw a semi-surprising tie between the United States and soccer-loving England, thanks to a blunder by British goalie Robert Green. Now, whenever a World Cup rolls around it provokes a tired debate in America between the rabidly pro-soccer and the staunchly anti-soccer. This debate is stupid: While many Americans have the same passive, nationalistic faux-fan relationship with the World Cup that they have with the Olympics, soccer is self-evidently awful.

There are many complicated and deep theories about why soccer is awful—soccer is un-American, soccer embraces “Outcast Culture,” soccer doesn’t attract the best American athletes, soccer is too hard to understand, etc.—but the real reason was evident as the ball slipped out of Green’s hands: Soccer is too low-scoring. Continue reading

A Salute to Flag Day

Today is Flag Day. Flag Day is my favorite joke holiday (as I’ve implied before), edging out Arbor Day and Columbus Day. But watching the World Cup has, among other things, instilled in me a new appreciation for the United States flag.

It is really cool.

It is SO much better than most any other flag. Most flags are just three colors arranged in boring rows or boring columns. Some aren’t even smart enough to come up with a third color (I’m looking at you, Poland).* African nations are often creative enough only to add a star and/or a crescent moon on a backdrop of 2-3 colors. Japan’s flag is a red circle.** I mean, come ON. Although I suppose that’s better than Argentina’s anthropomorphized sun. Or Canada’s leaf. And Mexico: Last I checked, the eagle was kind of our thing. Nice try, though. England? Please, the flag I and everyone I know associate with England (this one) isn’t the one they actually use over there (this one). I’m the religious one on this blog and even I think modeling a flag after St. George’s Cross is a bit much. Besides, way to not differentiate yourself from every other country in northern Europe.

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Monday Medley

What we read while busting out our old vuvuzelas….

  • Amid the myriad things to love about this–I mean, the puns alone are worth it–I think my favorite is the idea of a story being attributed to Craig Ehlo.
  • We tried icing Tim, but it turns out he kinda likes Smirnoff Ice. Totally ruins it for everyone involved.
  • Feels like it’s been some time since we linked to some fiction. Here’s Loretta Lopez. She’s a Mexican high schooler. It’s good.

Simpsons Classics: 22 Short Films about Springfield

“The deepest problems of modern life flow from the attempt of the individual to maintain the independence and individuality of his existence against the sovereign powers of society, against the weight of the historical heritage and the external culture and technique of life. This antagonism represents the most modern form of the conflict which primitive man must carry on with nature for his own bodily existence.”

–Georg Simmel, “The Metropolis and Mental Life”

“Everybody in town’s got their story to tell.”

“There’s just not enough time to hear them all.”

Milhouse Van Houten and Bart Simpson, “22 Short Films about Springfield”

Viewed in and of itself, “22 Short Films about Springfield” isn’t the funniest episode of The Simpsons, or its most character-driven, and it certainly isn’t the best. In fact, it doesn’t even earn these titles among the five episodes that accompany it on Disc 4 of the Season Seven DVD.* It isn’t as funny as “Much Apu about Nothing,” and it lacks the frequently poignant characterization of “Summer of 4 Ft. 2” or “Homerpalooza.” But within the entirety of The Simpsons canon, “22 Short Films” stands out as a unique, and, I’d like to argue, uniquely necessary episode of the series. This is because “22 Short Films” is nothing short of a thoroughly Modernist foundation and legitimation of Springfield as a metropolitan setting.

*If I could only keep one of my DVDs, it would be this disc. It has “22 Short Films,” “Raging Abe Simpson and His Grumbling Grandson in ‘The Curse of the Flying Hellfish,’”  “Much Apu about Nothing,” “Homerpalooza,” and “Summer of 4 Ft. 2.” It is amazing.

By this, I mean that the 23 minutes of “22 Short Films about Springfield” help establish, develop, contextualize, and yes, animate the world around the series’ eponymous family. And the manner in which it does this is steeped in what appears to be a distinctly Modernist tradition. My texts for backing up this assertion will be the episode itself (obvs), the aforereferenced “Metropolis and the Mental Life” by Georg Simmel, and two landmark Modernist novels: Alfred Döblin’s Berlin Alexanderplatz and definitive Modernist tome of them all, James Joyce’s Ulysses.

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Real World/Road Rules Challenge: Fresh Meat 2, The Grand Finale

“If I got to put some money on it, I’d say that me and Laurel are gonna walk away with $100,000 a piece. And I’ll show you guys, for the fourth time, why I am the king of sting.…I’m gonna win another one.” —Kenny

“Carley’s feet are starting to slip out, so I literally stick my head right between her butt cheeks and start pushing her up this mountain to the finish. Like I said: push, pull, carry—whatever it takes.” —Landon

So, Landon is clearly the closest thing Fresh Meat II had to a superhero. The main storyline of this Challenge was, of course, “Wes vs. Kenny,” and the biggest surprise was the dominance of Laurel; in the end, though, the most impressive performer was, once again, Landon. Just two weeks after willing a barely-conscious Carley through one of the toughest Exiles of the game, Landon basically did the same thing in the final challenge. This time Carley never lost consciousness, but she was essentially dead weight for most of the course, and yet she and Landon led from start to finish.

Of course, Kenny’s statement from early in the episode was right: If you were betting on the final challenge, the smart money would have been on Kenny and Laurel. Not only had Kenny and Laurel dominated the entire Challenge, but they were the team best suited for an MTV-designed final challenge, in which you are only as strong as your weakest link.* Since Laurel was by far the strongest female competitor—and was arguably better than Kenny throughout the Challenge—that pair seemed destined to take the crown. Continue reading

Monday Medley

What we read while taking it easy with our Irish Lit baseball puns…


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