Thursday, December 29, 2011

“Bridesmaids” Falls Far Short Of Advance Billing

I had heard “Bridesmaids” billed as a “Hangover” for women. I could definitely see some parellels—for instance, Rose Byrne (Helen in “Bridesmaids”) and Sasha Barresse (Tracy in “Hangover”) look very similar—except for the sort-of-important exception of “Bridesmaids” being, well, not funny.

To be fair, there were some very humorous moments—I mean, let’s be honest: shitting in a wedding dress is good for a laugh in any era—and Melissa McCarthy (best known as “Molly” from “Mike & Molly) as Megan was great. Chris O’Dowd surprisingly stole the show as Officer Nathan Rhodes, but even his lines mostly consisted of repetitions of “Seriously?” or “Really?” And for the most part, the flick just sort of dragged and didn’t make a ton of sense.

In a nutshell, “Bridesmaids” came across like an SNL cast party crew, something akin to “Tommy Boy” only minus a few laughs. I respect Kristen Wiig’s acting chops, but in my estimation, she’s a bit too weird-looking (translation: ugly, OK?) to really accept fully in her role, which made things a bit too off-putting. Jon Hamm was on board as well, but Don Draper from “Mad Men” essentially played Don Draper (you know, from “Mad Men”?).

Basically, I had high hopes for “Bridesmaids,” but I came away vastly disappointed and wondering what it was I might have missed. But at least there aren’t plans to shoot a sequel in Bangkok.


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2011 In Review

What 2011 looked like, according to Google ...

Friday, December 23, 2011

Festivus Is Our Heritage

For the sixth straight year, we are back to celebrate Festivus here on Scooter & Hum (if you don’t believe me, that means 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007 and 2006, plus a bonus one in 2006). So please enjoy your airing of grievances and feats of strength, and be sure to share all the ways that your loved ones have disappointed you over the past year.

And remember ... “Until you pin me, George, Festivus is not over.”


Limerick Friday LXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXVII: Kim Jong Il No Longer So “Ronery,” Plus Mayweather Finally Behind Bars

Rarely has a death brought more thrill
Then the demise of Kim Jong Il
Team America nailed you deft
With “Rittre to the left
Of you, the world had its fill

Asked one dude if his mom has a ho
His draft busts just come and go
First he was Tuna’s bitch
Then he was Sparano’s snitch
Jeff Ireland can’t stay -- this you must know

Clemson thought Jones was ‘tarded
One school after another, he discarded
‘Til UNC thought he could thrive
He’s the latest violation to arrive
A jackass and eligibility are soon parted

The Buckeyes got off light
Only the vest has a plight
But Urban is on board
Until he quits or gets bored
Cheating in Columbus is a right

As a person, always an epic fail
Now he’ll get a taste of jail
Played the system to keep winnin’
Ducked the best, but hit women
Floyd’s legacy? A fraud’s tale

Last time

Thursday, December 22, 2011

"Tim's Doing His Best, Dad Bless Him"

Every now and again, SNL is still capable of knocking one waaaaay out of the park. Here's the proof.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Kirwan’s Informative “Take Your Eye Off the Ball” Brings You Onto the Field and Into the Front Office

“For too long, watching football has been sort of like visiting an unfamiliar city ... It’s not until you start learning the language and recognizing certain neighborhood landmarks that you feel acclimated and comfortable. And then the fun can really begin.”

I’d heard a lot about Pat Kirwan’s “Take Your Eye Off the Ball: How to Watch Football by Knowing Where to Look” over the years, with many describing it as a must-read for any self-respecting football fan and others considering it something of a bible for those perpetually relegated to the stands.

In my experience, the game moves too fast for the common fan, who is too often too drunk to truly comprehend what he is seeing. But Kirwan comes across as genuinely interested in making the game more accessible and interactive for football aficianados.

Kirwan tackles previously unexplored areas such as how much input a quarterback has into whittling down the playbook until it becomes a gameplan; what a typical week looks like for an NFL team; what truly goes on at halftime; why nose tackles need to be a certain height; and why Ronnie Lott is responsible for the poor state of tackling in the game (equated to the impact Michael Jordan had on the poor state of fundamentals in basketball). The author examines how the best coaches are capable of mixing and matching defensive principles, the different styles of punters, how football intelligence (FBI) and varying learning methods can affect how quickly a playbook is grasped, the prevalence of option-routes, viewing the field in quadrants, and the connection between enormous playbooks and concussions.

Much of the book reads as a treatise of Kirwan’s personal beliefs on the game, but given his lengthy background in football in a variety of capacities, his thoughts are weighted with much more credence than your average writer. Generally, Kirwan is a proponent of more surprise onsides kicks and Madden NFL, which he says has vastly increased the knowledge base of the common fan; he’s a proponent of kicking to Devin Hester (duh, right?) and the phasing out of the traditional fullback in the context of how it impacts special-teams prowess. He’s a proponent of a “sudden-death fifth quarter,” an overtime approach that essentially just continues the fourth quarter, as well as larger rosters; he’s an opponent of lazy broadcasters and the slow pace of technology adoption in the game. He preaches the importance of special teams in a league where a quarter of the games are decided by three points or less, as well as offering advice that fantasy football players need to root their decisions in “football reality,” and “the same goes for gathering material about draft prospects.”

From a personnel and evaluation standpoint, Kirwan is a staunch supporter of the coach having the final word on football decisions, in part because too many general managers “come up from the financial end of the business and have little football sense.” Or, as he puts it even more succinctly, “If a general manager thinks like a fan, talks like a fan, and acts like a fan, he’s going to be sitting with one in the stands soon enough.”

Behind the president, coach and general manager, Kirwan identifies the directors of the college scouting and pro personnel departments as “two of the most vital and underappreciated parts of any franchise.” In addition to all of the other charts and diagrams he shares in the book, he offered up some of his own metrics: the Explosion Number and the Production Ratio. He logically explains the reliance on measurables, then delves into how differing organization philosophies result in disparities in how those measurables are actually used. In terms of scouting, he brings up how the draftability of prospects is assessed, and exactly what scouts are taking into account when breaking down someone’s film.

Kirwan also served up some memorable quotes on a number of key topics related to the game:

On coaching approaches:

“Football, like baseball, is all about forecasting. Coaches build their entire game plan around tendencies—what their opponent’s track record suggests they might do in a certain situation.”

“There are a ton of guys in the NFL with brains but not the physical skills to play the game. They’re called coaches.”

“It’s a simple but vital formula: roster depth combined with good coaching.”

On players vs. scheme:

“Or as Marty Schottenheimer used to say, ‘When you’re in trouble, think players, not plays.’”

“It’s not the scheme as much as it’s the players in it.”

On running backs:

“Backs used to get paid based on their track record. In today’s NFL, teams pay strictly on the basis of what a player projects to do. And to be honest, that’s the smart way of doing things.”

“Backs get tackled more than anyone else on the field, so a lot of teams like to find guys who enjoy the position’s inherent violence. Teams know those guys are going to have short careers, but they’re going to be very effective when they’re out there.
“Walter Payton was the king of violent backs. He knew when he had nowhere left to go that it was time to explode into the tackler, and he looked forward to it.”

On injuries and the medical edge:

“The teams that are best able to identify, treat, and withstand injuries have the opportunity to obtain a rare but substantial edge: the medical competitive advantage.”

On blitzing and pass-rushing:

“Every defense is built on simple math—they all want to have one more defender than the other team has blockers.”

“A pass rusher may get 500 chances to rush the quarterback over the course of the season; if he manages 10 sacks, he’s a star. A pass blocker also gets 500 chances to protect the quarterback; if he gives up 10 sacks, he’s going to be replaced.”

“Nowadays, [blitzing is] not about creating chaos. It’s about creating confusion.”

Closer to home, he shared some revealing—though still disappointing—insights into just what the hell Miami was thinking when they took undersized quarterback Pat White in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft (he also offered some revealing play-calling choices that Bill Parcells used to get away with that only serve now to point up how outdated his conservative style is today). Kirwan used the opportunity to launch into an assessment of the Wildcat as a viable offensive approach, and how other teams might have used it better to take pressure off of young quarterbacks. “The Wildcat has its place,” he wrote, “but it will always be a far better counterpunch than punch.”

Perhaps most interestingly, Kirwan takes a well-informed stab at predicting the future of football, such as more no-huddle offenses, cushioned fields, a five-yard graphic stripe to show where illegal contact happens, more fan interactivity at the stadium, virtual technology, animated playbooks, and even 17-game season with international games. He also predicted the rise of situational pass-blocking specialists and dramatic changes in uniforms. “Someday soon,” he wrote, “you’ll see football players in lightweight body armor that looks like something Batman would wear.” He even advocated for the creation of marketing opportunities for selling coaches’ tapes online to fund medical benefits for retired players—as good an idea as I’ve heard in this area.

The most disappointing aspect of the version of the book I got was the DVD. Here was a great opportunity for Kirwan to walk through some actual game footage to visually expand on and demonstrate some of the many points he made throughout the book. Instead, the portions of the DVD I saw basically showed him standing in front of a chalkboard, reiterating and rehashing most of what was shared in the book itself.

Despite this missed opportunity, “Take Your Eye Off the Ball” was comprehensive enough to be informative, without becoming overly analytical to the point of losing the common fan. Kirwan’s to-the-point narrative style is easy to read, digest and understand, and I defy any football fan to read it without learning quite a bit. And when a book can deliver that on a subject you’ve been spending hours and hours a week on for 30 years, you know it has to be considered a success.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Celeb Voices Reciting You A Beloved Holiday Tale

We've included a few Jimpressions here previously, but this one was both seasonal and eclectic.

Enjoy ...

Friday, December 16, 2011

Limerick Friday LXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXVI: Sparano Gets Whacked, Plus Thug Life in the ‘Natti & Cheater Hill Makes Its Move

Of draft busts there were plenty
Tony couldn’t survive Chad Henne
Everyone’s eyes would roll
When he fist-pumped a field goal
A good dude, but lost way too many

A rivalry game of basketball
Turned into an out-and-out brawl
Thugs threw lotsa punches
With cheap shots in bunches
Six-game suspension, that’s all?!

Of accuracy, he’s no Steve Young
A good passer? Bite your tongue!
A million QBs could throw farther
But he made Jesus hate Marion Barber
With Tebow, the fat lady’s never sung

The coaching carousel turns
ADs and boosters never learns
Hire the hot name
Hope he can win a game
Then get outta town before it burns

Bitch fired after cheating schtick
Withers left a whining prick
In the season of trees and menorah
Hired some dude named Fedora
O’Brien said he’s just the next ass to kick

Last time

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Monday, December 12, 2011

Getting Out Ahead Of The Story, Unlike PSU & Syracuse

Some people feel Saturday Night Live was "too early" with this skit. I earnestly argue that the entire premise of SNL is being "too early."

Carry on.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Limerick Friday LXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXV: Honey Badger For Heisman?, Plus Newt Gingrich? Seriously?

He’s got lotsa moxie and speed
Sometimes smokes synthetic weed
The Honey Badger sparks LSU
Like he sparks a bong in Baton Roo
Grabs Heismans and cobras doesn’t heed

Another headline from Butt Favre
He defines attention starved
Wants to play for the Bears
But no one really cares
So back to your farm to whittle and carve

Another tragedy at Virginia Tech
Still another shooting, what the heck
A dangerous campus on the whole
The city takes a mental toll
Blacksburg must be a complete wreck

A miserable 0-7 start
Playing like a collective fart
Now Sparano has them winning
So fans heads are spinning
Can he save his job by showing heart?

The leading candidate is f#%^ing Newt?!
Ain’t he dead on a pile of loot?
Think he stole Christmas, Gingrich
At the least, he’s a cheating bitch
More proof the GOP needs the boot

Last time

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

'Tis The Season ... Of Epic Work Holiday Party Debauchery

It also astonishes me how many people have so little sense of their limit that they find themselves dry-heaving in front of coworkers at company holiday parties. Anyway, someone has arrived on the scene to offer up a helpful chart as well as some can't-miss tips.

So party on ... and try to avoid the room with the copy machines.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

How Much Can Be Shared In A Second?

Seconds Of Beauty - 1st round compilation from The Beauty Of A Second on Vimeo.

Montblanc is holding a one-second film festival. Here's a compilation of what they have so far ...

Friday, December 02, 2011

Limerick Friday LXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXIV: Pack Serves Up A Bowl Full O’ Comeback, Plus Trying To Find The Holiday Spirit

When it rains fumbles, it pours
Down to Maryland four scores
But a comeback for the ages
Filled up message-board pages
As State knocked down bowl-game doors

Dirtier than a petting zoo
Is one Ndamukon Suh
Late hits every week
Personal fouls that reek
Will a suspension cause him to rue?

Politics make my head hurt
Like Cain chasing a skirt
Didn’t know Newt was alive
Romney just can’t thrive
Obama sits back and laughs, I assert

If it’s true about Bernie Fine
Get behind Sandusky in line
Sports now like “Law & Order”
Pedophiles, robbery and murder
You’ll vomit if you read while you dine

December’s finally here
Load up on presents and gear
Lines from here to the mall
As we say goodbye to fall
And count down to a new year

Last time

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Season To Forget Mercifully Comes To An End

Thus ends inarguably the most frustrating and disappointing fantasy football season I’ve ever had. Despite a strong draft and a well-stocked roster, you name it, it went wrong, from busted draft picks to key injuries to suspensions to disappearances. Throw in a couple of five-points-or-less losses, and the result was 4-8 overall, losing the last four in a row, plus a 3-5 mark in my division.

It’s sad that I began writing this post-season moratorium with three weeks left in the campaign, but I officially threw in the towel with a couple of weeks left, refusing to throw good money after bad in the transaction pool. I knew fairly early on that the fantasy gods were against me this year, but at 4-4, I felt I had a legitimate chance -- though somewhere down deep I knew I was fooling myself.

Anyway, here’s the annual team awards banquet (see 2007, 2009 and 2010), in digital form only since these underachieving fucks don’t deserve a free meal. Enjoy ...

The Annual Clemson Fast Start, Late Implosion Award: Mike Tolbert, RB, San Diego
Not that anyone should be surprised by this given the coaching of Norv Turner, but the Chargers running back situation was, shall we say, “weird” this year. Tolbert leapt out of the gates, putting up a TD hat trick (from my bench) in Week 1, seemingly surpassing Ryan Mathews as the lead guy, not just the goal-line and third-down back. However, a series of minor injuries limited Tolbert somewhat, and as the offensive line lost a guy seemingly every week and Philip Rivers started throwing picks left and right, the Bolts’ offense went down the tubes. The result was that San Diego, which seemed to get a lift from the physical element that Tolbert brings, relied increasingly less on him and made fewer trips inside the red zone, turning Tolbert into basically just a fat afterthought.

Jim Kelly Annual Choker of the Year: Michael Vick, QB, Philadelphia
Loaded down with an enormous contract, Vick still had many detractors who said that he wouldn’t be able to duplicate his 2010 success (when he faded down the stretch, a warning sign too many ignored, myself included). Basically, at some point, you simply have to perform. And Vick can’t. And that is why it is time for the world to come to terms with the fact that he is back to being an average NFL quarterback. In the most important four weeks of the season for playoff pursuit, he came up with a combined 10 points (seven, three, DNP, DNP). The reality is that even for the 20 minutes when he was healthy this year, Vick blew. He’s basically become the NFC’s Tim Tebow, only he’s 200 pounds instead of 240, and he can’t finish games. And I’m not even including dog jokes anymore on Vick; he was a bust of epic proportions this year, setting the tone for a dismal year for the Scooters.

Braylon Edwards Bustout Player of the Year: Jimmy Graham, TE, New Orleans
Nabbing the best tight end in the league with a ninth-round pick was something that worked out this year. With Jeremy Shockey jettisoned to Carolina, I knew Drew Brees was going to fall in love with his new weapon early and often, and I proved to be more right than even I expected. Graham was dominant down the seams and in the red-zone this year, seemingly putting up 15 points a game and giving me a chance pretty much every week. Loved the pick at the time, loved it even more as the season progressed.

Bo Jackson “What Might Have Been” Award: Joseph Addai, RB, Indianapolis
I wasn’t the only one who anticipated a comeback season for Addai, who appeared poised to light it up out of the backfield for the Colts this year. When Peyton Manning went down with another neck injury, he took the entire Indy attack with him. When Addai was then beset with injury, I had to include him in a necessary trade, and what looked like a strong foursome of running backs with breakout potential turned into a liability.

Darrell Jackson Honorary Clutch Player of the Year: No One, No Position, No Team
I honestly can’t think of anybody who came through in the clutch this year. Seriously. I was positioned for a lot of wins this year if dudes just had average days in primetime matchups, and seemingly each and every time, they came up short.

Mike Tyson Memorial Manic-Depressive Player of the Year: Stevie Johnson, WR, Buffalo
This one was pretty close between Johnson and DeSean Jackson, but I went with Johnson because even though Jackson is pretty stupid and immature, I do think Johnson has some bat-shit craziness to him. After a solid start, he turned into a bitch at the worst possible time, with 29 points total in a vital six-game stretch. He became pretty much unplayable at a crucial part of the season, and was hampered by a seemingly never-ending series of injuries throughout the campaign. Throw in the dropped touchdown passes and he served as a pretty good microcosm of the Scooters’ season.

Honorary John Avery Bust/Bitch of the Year: DeSean Jackson, WR, Philadelphia
I had a lot of viable candidates for this one -- never a good sign for a fantasy football team. But factoring in the “bitch” part of the equation, D-Jax won out here. I mean, he didn’t just have five games with four points or less, including seven total points in a pivotal three-game stretch. He actually slept through a meeting and got suspended for a game at one point. As if that wasn’t hilarious enough, he then cost me a win when he reeled in a 50-yard catch and had it nullified because he threw the ball at an assistant coach on the sideline, earning himself a personal foul and erasing the gain (did I mention it would have won me the week?). He reached nearly comical portions at that point ... but I wasn’t laughing.

Most Consistent Player, Sponsored by IRS: 49ers, D/ST, San Francisco
In what turned out to be a really good trade by me (Addai and a defense for the 49ers D and Kevin Kolb), I grabbed the 49ers defense relatively early in the season. Pretty much every week, I could count on 20-25 points from this unit. It provides a real boost to know you can pencil in that number of points from your D, and between San Fran and Jimmy Graham, I basically started each game with around 40 points. The fact that no one else helped them out notwithstanding, that’s a huge coup for any fantasy GM.

Curtis Enis Huge Disappointment Award: Vick
I try to avoid linking the same player to multiple “awards,” but there’s no way I could give this “honor” to anyone else. Vick not only failed to come up big individually, but he also dragged down DeSean Jackson. For those reasons—and the fact that he was my top draft pick—made this a pretty easy choice for me.

Dan Marino Annual Best Draft Pick: Graham
I’ve gone into Graham’s excellence at length, and the only other consideration here was Antonio Brown, my 14th-round draft pick (and potential keeper for next year). As the season progressed, Brown emerged as a real force in the Steelers passing attack, and with Hines Ward possibly retiring, I look for big things from him going forward in Pittsburgh.

Honorary Ryan Leaf Worst Draft Pick: Knowshon Moreno, RB, Denver
I saw this one coming a mile away and it stunk from the start, as I fairly noted just after the draft. But a hamstring injury followed by being buried on the depth chart followed by a blown-out knee? Wow. I don’t see Moreno returning to Denver in any capacity next year, and as far as this year goes, getting next to nothing from your fourth-rounder is a heck of a way to kick off a shoddy season in any league.

Jim Jensen Unsung Player: Stephen Jackson, RB, St. Louis
S-Jax continued as a yardage beast, fighting through a tough first-game injury and, as always, running hard as hell in a disastrous offense. I thought this might be the year that the Rams would put together a respectable attack, with Sam Bradford’s maturation and some intriguing young wideouts. Instead, St. Louis stuck to being St. Louis, and though injuries and lack of touchdowns continued with Jackson, he still contributed respectable numbers in nearly every game.

Eugene Robinson’s Solicitation’s Lesson Learned Player: Marcedes Lewis, TE, Jacksonville
To be fair, he was my 11th-round pick, and he was rated much higher than that. But he was also my backup tight end, a hedge against Jimmy Graham not panning out (ha ha hee hee ho ho). But Lewis dropped at least four touchdown passes (including a couple that were mind-bogglingly easy) and finished one game with -4 yards. Negative. I mean, hell, that’s hard to freaking do. So note to self: No more backup tight ends prior to the 14th round or so.

Jamaal Charles Waiver-Wire Pickup of the Year: James Jones, WR, Green Bay
He was pretty hit or miss, granted, either ending up with one catch for eight yards or three catches for 104 yards and a long touchdown. But he was among a few nice transactions during the course of the year, including Cincy RB Bernard Scott and Oakland WR Denarius Moore. Unfortunately, none of them showed the consistency or received the consistent opportunities to emerge as must-start guys.

Brian Urlacher Team MVP: Graham
Another easy one here. Graham delivered No. 1 receiver production from a mandatory-start position, and it didn’t take him long to establish himself as the top fantasy tight end in the NFL this year. What this team needed was other stars to perform as stars, in which case the emergence of guys like Graham and the 49ers defense would have led to a powerhouse team. Instead, Graham and San Fran were the exceptions—players who exceeded expectations instead of hiding from them.

In summary, the bottom line is I have never had a better team that came through with so little production. On paper, I easily had one of the top three teams in the league. But after a mind-numbing series of injuries, on-field choking and off-field incidents, I’m elated and relieved to finally say goodbye to a season to forget.

*Editor's note: This team didn't even warrant the time and energy it takes to break up the text with a picture here and there. So ... yeah.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ordering A Veggies Delivery From Pizza Hut

Just in case you missed the latest brainstorm by Congress, to rule pizzas a vegetable for school lunches.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Epic Bridges Carries The Tune Of “Crazy Heart” To Unsuspected Heights

“Son, I’ve played sick, drunk, divorced and on the run. Bad Blake hasn’t missed a goddam show in his whole fucking life.”

Road-weary, beaten-by-life character gets out of pickup truck. Casually dumps a jug of piss into the parking lot of a bowling alley as he surveys his surroundings. Meaningful sigh as camera pans out to more clearly depict Jeff Bridges.

If you’re not immediately thinking that this is the opening scene of “The Big Lebowksi 2,” you’re simply not human. Yet, instead, this is our introduction to “Crazy Heart”—one of the most stirring and powerful movies of recent vintage.

Based on a novel, and written and directed by Scott Cooper, this flick follows the travails of a washed-up country & western star, Bad Blake, as the last embers of his career slowly fade, shadowing him as he steers himself in a drunken stupor around the United States, sitting in the audience as he trades off on his name for ugly sex in hotel rooms and free booze. His life has become an endless string of motels and prairies, honky tonks peopled with desperate cougars and those trying to hold onto what he once represented. The country and the scenery is undeniably beautiful, but also calls up images of a decaying tumbleweed drifting aimlessly as it approaches a canyon dropoff.

One poignant scene shows this 57-year-old, shirtless, overweight, alcoholic hemorrhoid-stricken has-been … as he delicately takes care of his guitar, silently polishing the only thing that holds any meaning to him in yet another dark, dirty and nondescript hotel room. The comedic intertwines with the tragic when Bridges dedicates a song to an elderly couple, then runs off the stage to throw up.

Created as an amalgam of Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson and Merle Haggard, Blake interweaves a series of memorable lines amidst his train-wreck-ish series of mishaps and stumbles:

Blake on good songs:
“That’s the way it is with good ones—you’re sure you’ve heard it before.”

Blake on agents:
“If you found out your sister was turning $5 tricks, you’d overbook her.”

Blake on fatherhood:
“I wasn’t there even when I was.”

Hope arrives in the form of a small-town reporter named Jean, played by the always-great Maggie Gyllenhaal. In her shy interactions with Blake, we see the seeds of mild flirtation in her interview with the fading star. She obviously looks up to him, but when she asks about kids, he gets upset and quickly ends the interview.

A break-neck-paced courtship ensues, and almost before he realizes it, Blake tells Jean that he loves her. However, after a disturbing wreck and a recovery that features a doctor matter-of-factly telling Blake to stop smoking, stop drinking and lose 25 pounds, he reaches rock bottom. Wracked by withdrawals, Blake seems resigned to live out the rest of his life, feeling it’s much too late to change his course despite the arrival in his life of Jean and her son Buddy.

What once was an empty, depressing life for Blake gathers meaning through Jean and Buddy, with hints of the “Jerry Maguire”-ish premise of finding your purpose and identity through the child rather than the mother. Yet even as Blake attempts to reunite with his now-28-year-old son after nearly a quarter of a century, we see that this isn’t yet who he is, that he isn’t prepared to absorb the body-blows of rejection and accountability. Amazingly, this hard-edged and prickly road warrior is still too fragile and lacking in self-esteem to become the man that Jean sees underneath the surface.

In the most horrifying scene in the movie, Blake loses the child after he stops for a drink in a mall restaurant. He gets called out by a rent-a-cop, then frantically searches for the kid in a truly emotional scene. His slide is heart-breaking, and becomes really difficult to watch.

In terms of issues with the movie, the relatable—and familiar—storyline of his rivalry with up-and-coming star Tommy Sweet is a necessary one, but the casting of Colin Farrell in this role was both odd and off-putting. Sweet was once part of Blake’s band, and viewed Blake as a mentor, but he’s now surpassed Blake in popularity, creating an uncomfortable situation for each of them.

Also, Blake has difficult speech patterns to understand, which is at least partly by design, but can also lead to some unnecessary and story-halting confusion. It can be distracting at key moments. From more of a humorous, blooper perspective, his glasses fall off a couple of times in the movie as well, unintentionally I believe.

America’s grandfather, Robert Duvall (also a producer on the flick), makes a tremendous appearance as Wayne, a bartender and confidant of Blake’s. One of our true cinematic treasures, Duvall adds immensely to the film, combining humor (“Juan, Jesus, whatever”) with a kind of homespun advice and unflinching support of Blake.

With Wayne’s help, Blake finally makes a commitment to wanting to get sober, saying, “I’ve been drunk most of my life, and lost a helluva lot.” He goes to a rehab retreat, making for some powerful scenes. At the retreat, it is as if he is seeing the beauty he never noticed while on the road, drunk, for thousands of miles. It’s as if he is finally coming to a realization of how much he has lost and missed while viewing life through a prism of drunkenness—and what life can look like without that cloud.

When told that he just needs to take it one day at a time, the sarcastic Bad says, “Yeah, I heard that.” But now that he’s sober, he has a rebirth as Otis—his given name. This development points up the good-Bad dichotomy in the film, which represents more than just a play on words. The need to live up to the name and alter ego inherent in the “Bad” character sabotages Otis’s need to leave something lasting in the world beyond his music. Through his evolving humility throughout the arc of the story, Blake even gradually moves from third-person references to first person.

Following his rehab stint, Blake appears at Jean’s house, with the promise, “I’m changing everything.” However, the dawning realization that all he did to get sober and alter his life still didn’t work is written all over his face, creating perhaps the most emotional and poignant scene in the entire film. Jean says, “If you love us, you’ll leave us alone,” and in a truly hard scene, Blake comes home and finds Buddy’s Superman shirt, and he picks up the phone, stares at it, lets the moment linger … then eventually hangs it up.

He writes a song for her called “One More Try,” but 16 months pass before he sees her again. For Blake, the gift of meeting her—and Buddy—saves his life. In a full-circle moment, the movie ends as it began, with an interview between Blake and (a now-married) Jean, now with a much more beautiful setting and backdrop. The pain evident in his face when he first sees and reacts to her wedding ring is jarring, and some viewers may even find it a little dusty in the theater or wherever you’re watching.

Bridges has always been vastly underrated, and his performance in this one makes it impossible for him to maintain that label—especially when you take into account a little thing called the Academy Award for Best Actor. He also demonstrates his other talents in the musical category, which led him to record his own album following the completion of this movie. His work is supplemented perfectly by that of Gyllenhall, who earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

Overall, "Crazy Heart" is a tremendous and moving film, spurred by an epic performance from Bridges, nuanced sublety from Gyllenhaal and a strong soundtrack ( “Weary Kind,” written by T. Bone Burnett and Ryan Bingham won the Academy Award for Best Original Song). It is truly and simply a beautiful film, not just for those who love music (but especially so for you) … and even the Dude would abide that assessment.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Limerick Friday LXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXIII: Ohio State Goes From The Frying Pan Into The Fire, Plus Matt Moore’s Arm Punts Lift Miami

Twice he did up and quit
A douche more than a little bit
Urban keeps up the lies
Will join the cheatin’ Buckeyes
To see how the vest does fit

If it wasn’t for bad luck
My team wouldn’t suck
A team full of chokers
Frauds, busts and jokers
Fantasy season ain’t worth a &uck

Rough few weeks to be fair
Tired of the doctor’s chair
Grateful to be living
Wish you a happy T’giving
Relaxation would certainly be rare

A season of hiccups and burps
Then destroyed the Tiger twerps
Helped Clemson remember
They’re Clemson in November
Now will they choke vs. the Terps?

Three in a freaking row?
Still such a long way to go
No more Suck for Luck
All in like a Matt Moore duck
A rainbow in a season of woe

Last time

Monday, November 21, 2011

Hank Williams Jr. Meets Saturday Night Live

I'm a little late to the party on this one obviously, but I have to wonder: how funny could this skit have been in SNL still had legitimate talent?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Limerick Friday LXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXIII: Coach K Now Has As Many Wins As Shoe Polish Bottles For His Hair, Plus Iffy Times At State

“The Rat,” his moniker to this day
Three-pointers and flops his favored play
Just don’t hold him up to the light
Tho less of a douche than Knight
A begrudging congrats for Coach K

The authorities getting bold
Pepper spraying an 84-year-old
Look out for a police smackdown
During the Occupy crackdown
Is this how democracy will unfold?

No global warming, some say
Depends on who’s in charge of their pay
Insane weather all year
Sparking calamity and fear
How about an 80-degree Turkey Day?

Needing some pain relief
Going to lose a few teeth
So ignore my cries
And the fact I’m less wise
I’ll have the soup, not the beef

Very little shot at bowlin’
As coach, looks like he’s out strollin’
O’Brien is walking on the edge
As Pack fans lean out on a ledge
Now he gets recruiting rollin’?!

Last time

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Deep Thoughts By No-Look McFadden: Episode 48

When Ghandi wrote to Hitler.
Those words should have your attention. Fascinating.

So, what would happen if football players boycotted a minor bowl game to bring attention to the issue of paying student-athletes? Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! would like to find out.

Just in case “Modern Family” hasn’t won you over yet, here’s a brilliant ode to this masterpiece of comedic television.

I go back and forth on how I feel about Joe Posnanski’s writing, but I had no qualms with his beautiful tribute to the Chicago Cubs.

I see you working, Beeri. Clever.

Beeri from redpepper on Vimeo.

Word creation time is here:
“adversatility” => When you are flexible enough to take on a wide variety of problems at once.

One of the intense and powerful new shows of the season is “Persons of Interest.” While some of the premise may seem far-fetched, reading this article on cloud-powered facial recognition software can show you (in a terrifying way) just how close it is to reality.

Gary Smith’s profile of Jerry West in Sports Illustrated, titled “Basketball was the Easy Part,” was one of the most stunningly well-written pieces of sports journalism I’ve ever read. A must-read for anyone who does any sort of writing for a living.

You can chalk it up as yet another missed opportunity to promote its brand for NC State: the Pack had little to no storylines coming out of wearing landmark black uniforms with pink numbering and red helmets against Central Michigan. The uniforms were a huge departure for conservative coach Tom O’Brien, and for a great cause as well, yet there was little to no media coverage for it. And State once again fails Marketing 101.

And on a final note, arguably the most amazing photograph I’ve ever seen.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Rivers Wasn't Having A Bad Enough Year?!

Looks like Target ordered the wrong NC State Ragin' Cajuns Wolfpack jerseys. Or else there's a surprisingly large Louisiana-Lafeyette demographic in Raleigh, N.C.

Philip Rivers is weeping somewhere.

Monday, November 14, 2011

In “The Tillman Story,” The Murder Of Pat Tillman Shows The Depths Senior Officials Will Go To Obscure The Truth

“The real test of a man is not when he plays the role he wants for himself, but when he plays the role destiny has for him.” —Jan Patocka

“This isn’t about Pat. This is about what they did to a nation.” –Dannie Tillman

The Tillman Story” is the tale of a man who bucked the system and lost his life in the most unfathomable way. It’s the story of a fierce family that wouldn’t accept a cover-up or heed the military’s warnings advice to quietly go away and mourn. It’s the account of the bravery of fellow soldiers Russell Baer and Bryan O’Neal to eventually speak out on what really happened to Pat Tillman in the mountains of Afghanistan in 2004.

By now, you probably know the backstory of Tillman, who famously gave up a multimillion-dollar NFL contract to enlist and eventually become a U.S. Army Ranger. It would be easy to paint him as the hero, in strokes that have become so familiar to his legend ... but the hero of the story really turns out to be Dannie Tillman, the mother who bulldogs for the truth until she can no longer be ignored. In her quest, she turns to Stan Goff, an ex-paramilitary blogger, whose involvement certainly adds a lot to the hunt and the story, especially with his description of figuring out redacted records being much like doing a crossword puzzle and his reference to politics as “theatrical wrestling.”

Of course, Tillman has aquired a mythical public dimension, but all his family asks is for accuracy. The understandably bitter and brutally honest youngest brother, Rich, says, “He’s now what these people wished he was,” touching on the idea that Tillman has been turned into something that Pat wouldn’t exactly have endorsed. Like many of those who knew him best, the youngest brother bristles at how much Tillman has been turned into a mascot—the exact thing Pat would have rebelled against. How could a guy who wanted to keep the decision to enlist with Kevin private and secret also endorse being a symbol of the military and sacrifice?

“We’ll turn his dead body into a recruiting poster,” said Goff at one point, summing up the thinking of the powers-that-be.

Goff’s quote points up the almost mind-numbing hypocrisy inherent in the entire situation. The ineptitude of the government led us into a war we never should have been in. The ineptitude of the military killed Pat Tillman. And then that government and that military used that murder to promote the war? The film forces us to ask the question: What kind of sick circular logic is that?!

Outrageous and atrocity are other words that are peppered throughout the film. As the story progresses, we come to realize that there was not an ambush at all, which was the excuse given for Tillman’s death. Later, it was revealed that all of Tillman’s possessions were destroyed in a “fire,” which fueled not only belief that it was friendly fire, but that Tillman could possibly even have been murdered.

There is some mention of political aspirations, and whether Pat Tillman really had them or not. The unquestioned reality is that Tillman was becoming disillusioned with the war and the propaganda, and was even entertaining a return to football, having talked to Dave McGinnis, his former coach with the Cardinals, about the prospect.

I have no doubt that the full scenario of the gunplay was not fully covered in the movie and that the complete, accurate account may never be known; yet I think it’s safe to say that something occurred that wasn’t truthfully documented.

“They made up a story,” said Dannie.

“What he’s saying here is a complete lie,” said O’Neal, when shown videotape of testimony by another soldier asked about the circumstances surrounding Tillman’s murder.

As the story kept changing, Tillman’s father penned a letter that ended with “fuck you,” which unwittingly triggered a new, official, 18-month investigation that stretched all the way up to Commander of Joint Special Operations Command Stanley McCrystal, but settled for Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Kauzlarich.

The dominant scene of the entire episode was the final Congressional hearing, which was a complete sham full of lies, half-truths and claims of misremembrances, eroding any faith that even the most cynical of observers might still have had in our government. It’s apparent to everyone that the lies go all the way to the top, and when accountability never enters the equation at any stage, it’s fair to ask where this stuff actually ends.

This documentary by director Amir Bar-Levy (and narrated by Josh Brolin) is tremendously well-done, evoking Michael Moore documentaries with its depth of investigative reporting and research. The biggest missing piece was the absence of Kevin, Pat’s older brother and best friend, in the documentary, though it is obviously understandable why he might not have wanted to contribute.

“The Tillman Story” is a celebration of the chase for truth and honor at all costs and despite all obstacles, and was rightly nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. Be warned, though; as well put-together as it is, it will should also fill you with rage.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Limerick Friday LXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXII: Time To Burn Down Happy Valley, Plus The Bell Tolls For Smokin’ Joe

Of Penn State, he was the face
Or maybe the nose, in his case
Legend ruined the end
By protecting his friend
JoePa: from here to disgrace

Slipped his mind during a debate
Forgot who he was supposed to hate
Rick Perry, a not-so-funny joke
The latest GOP pretender to choke
The Tea Bag Party deserves this failure fate

New favorite “Office” character is Kevin
Favorite scandal dude is Shapiro, Nevin
Glad the Dolphins got one win
Fantasy season in the trash bin
Some things I’ll remember about 11-11-11

Wanted to be big-time like Trojans or ‘Noles
So UNC sold their pansy souls
You reap what you sow
Got boot-stomped five in a row
Your flagship has a lot of Holes

Gave Ali all he could handle and mo’
A warrior who could whip any foe
He was all substance and class
Even when he was handed his ass
RIP to a true champ, Smokin’ Joe

Last time

Thursday, November 10, 2011


This epic "occupy" protest sign was spotted in Brighton, England. Who says that the British aren't sarcastic (answer: no one)?

And on a lighter note, OccupyTattooine is gaining a lot of momentum in the binary star systems ...

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

It's Been One Of Those Kinds Of Days

There is so much about this photo that is right.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Depiction Of A Lost Soul Adrift On The River Of Life, “Suttree” Represents An Occasionally Comedic Departure For Cormac McCarthy

“In my father’s last letter he said that the world is run by those willing to take the responsibility for the running of it. If it is life that you feel you are missing I can tell you where to find it. In the law courts, in business, in government. There is nothing occurring in the streets. Nothing but a dumbshow composed of the helpless and the impotent.”

“Ruder forms survive.”

“That’s where you’re wrong my friend. Everything’s important. A man lives his life, he has to make that important. Whether he’s a small town county sheriff or the president. Or a busted out bum. You might even understand that some day. I don’t say you will. You might.”

It took me quite a while to finish “Suttree,” but that was to be expected, given Cormac McCarthy’s penchant for using sibylline, attenuated, recherche words (see what I did there?). Yet it in this language that he builds the description and atmosphere—with unbelievably powerful similes—that truly set his stories apart. There is a need to read McCarthy slowly, lest you miss some of the nuance he brings; what may look like a throwaway sentence at first glance may reveal a sublime subtlety should give it the time and attention it desires.

Yes, it can make for a difficult read and some self-education on certain aspects of grammar and punctuation, and there is no argument against the fact that McCarthy makes you work for it (personally, I think he uses language as a riddle, mostly to amuse himself) ... but the payoff is always worth the investment with this brilliant writer.

“Life in small places, narrow crannies. In the leaves, the toad’s pulse. The delicate cellular warfare in a waterdrop.”

“In these silent sunless galleries he’d come to feel that another went before him and each glade he entered seemed just quit by a figure who’d been sitting there and risen and gone on. Some doublegoer, some othersuttree eluded him in these woods and he feared that should that figure fail to rise and steal away and were he therefore to come to himself in this obscure wood he’d be neither mended nor made whole but rather set mindless to dodder drooling with his ghostly clone from sun to sun across a hostile hemisphere forever.”

“He leaned against the viaduct rail. Spat numbly at the tracks down there. At the dreams implicit in their endless steel reachings.”

“That was in nineteen and thirty-one and if I live to be a hunnerd year old I don’t think I’ll ever see anything as pretty as that train on fire goin up that mountain and around the bend and them flames lightin up the snow and the trees and the night.”

Any difficulties with vocabulary (much of it biblical in nature, offset by some startling instances of obscenity) and difficult pacing are more than offset by the brilliant dialogue. In exchanges with Ab Jones, a goatherder, the Indian, a fisherman and a hunter, the give-and-take is incredibly poignant, revealing and well-done by McCarthy. Among these similes and metaphors, the most obvious is Cornelius Suttree’s life playing out like his workaday fisherman routine—drifting on the river, taken any which way by the current, with no desire for control over his path or destination.

As his life disintegrated, it becomes apparent that it was no accident that Suttree chose to become a fisherman, due to these qualities. Suttree appears to always be chasing a past he can’t catch up to and doesn’t realize he never will. In the meantime, life just happens to him—he doesn’t appear to be an active participant. We are shown over and over that leaving is what Suttree is truly best at, and even when he takes action, such as destroying a cop car, it is really just a benign act of defiance on behalf of a wronged friend.

“His eyes beheld the country he was passing through but did not mark it. He was a man with no plans for going back the way he’d come nor telling any soul at all what he had seen.”

“Suttree” is dominated by a very melancholy feel overall, punctuated by McCarthy staples: the questioning of the pointlessness and inevitable decline of things. Set in Knoxville, Tennessee—namely, along the Tennessee River—in the early 1950s, the work is dark and overtly pessimistic, occasionally featuring jarring shifts in narrative from third to first person. The pervasive racism (one fellow’s name is actually “Nigger”) can be unsettling, but the themes that truly permeate the book are decay and breakdown. We see that Knoxville’s underbelly is dominated by a community of aimless downtrodden, who are all drawn to each other. McCarthy paints a lecherous and dangerous Knoxville, with evil, sin or both seemingly lurking around every corner. Loneliness dominates, with the weather beginning to match the feeling and tone of the book later on, as Knoxville is beset with a harsh winter and bitter cold.

The bookliner notes that Suttree comes from a prominent family, but I didn’t quite get that from the book. However, we are told that Suttree disappoints his father by marrying a common housekeeper, which sets the direction for what his life would become. The absent father leads the reader to wonder whether Suttree views the ragman as a father figure, a representation of the father-son relationship that he is missing. The ragpicker is also the focal point of Suttree’s occasional self-righteousness, even in the face of his own dreams in which he is put on trial for living below his station.

“You have no right to represent people this way, he said. A man is all men. You have no right to your wretchedness.”

Suttree also appears to be haunted in many ways by the specter of the twin who died at childbirth, unable to bear up under the pressure of earning the life that his twin’s death enabled. The terms “antisuttree” and “othersuttree” are used to describe the double nature of Suttree’s life in the book. The words point up the idea that Suttree doesn’t exactly know who he is, and is trying to live a second life in part to make up for the loss of his twin.

When his own child dies unexpectedly well into the book, a door is opened into Suttree’s dark past, but more questions arise then answers given: What did he do to engender such hate from his in-laws and former community? What happened to his marriage? What did his going to university have to do with any of it?

Suddenly and out of nowhere, we are introduced to the one-of-a-kind Gene “Countrymouse” Harrogate, a difficult-to-like 18-year-old who eventually finds his way into Knoxville’s criminal class by way of, well, banging watermelons (leading McCarthy to refer to him as the “moonlight melonmounter”). As his naivete is exposed in nearly every way possible in the prison, he comes across Suttree, who can’t help but take the innocent (in every way except for criminally) youngster under his wing. Exactly what Suttree did to land in the workhouse for seven months is never exactly shared, but it’s not hard to understand that he has been swept away by the wrong crowd, and that he was probably left there after their tide receded.

Though he can plainly see Harrogate’s imminent demise unfolding in slow-motion, Suttree is powerful to stop it, despite many warnings and offers of help. As the story progresses, we wonder whether Suttree is supposed to be a father or brother figure to Gene—his main feeling toward him appears to be pity, yet he can’t resist him and he looks out for Harrogate in what could be construed as a brotherly way.

Harrogate, referred to aptly as a “white boychild,” comes in and out of the story at various times throughout the book, with many of his escapades marked by the killing or torturing of animals (including one scene nearly straight out of “Lord of the Flies”). His grandiose ideas to rip off payphones, tunnel under the city to dynamite his way into a bank, kill rabid bats for money and others belie the dismal, sad and despairing state of Harrogate’s life. We are even left to wonder at one point whether Harrogate is the serial killer that is wandering around Knoxville, but as suddenly as he entered the tale, he leaves it, having been caught and sent off to prison again.

Increasingly, Suttree begins to take on Harrogate-like qualities, until we are faced with the truth that he isn’t much better than Gene after all. When Suttree comes into $300 due to his uncle dying, he burns through the money in no time, attempting to chase the maxim that if you look good, you feel good, dressing himself up in nifty threads—but the end result is akin to putting lipstick on a pig. As a blackout drunk, he never learns, bringing out an anger and frustration within the reader who has to live through it with Suttree.

For much of book, we are forced to ponder Suttree’s mental state. Even from early stages of the book, the reader is faced with contemplating whether Suttree is going crazy, and whether the tale is comprised of our acceptance that we are witness to the slow dissipation of sanity in our main character and narrator. At one point, we speculate whether he is brain-damaged as the result of a horrific fight that left him nigh-on death. Also, mental illness would appear to be a part of his family (hell, when your sister mistakes your dead twin as a babydoll, how does one overcome such a thing?!). His journey into nature feels like a bit of a bad trip (talking to trees, seeing elves, living through vivid daytime dreams), and his attempts to go sober appear to speed his descent into madness. Wandering through the Tennessee mountains and wilderness, crossing over into North Carolina, Suttree is forced to come to terms with his own loneliness and the empty path of his life.

Somewhat unexpectedly, McCarthy mixes in a lot of humor in this novel, making this a much funnier read than his other works. Great nicknames, hilarious imagery, depictions of truly epic benders and turns of phrase such as “crotch crickets” brought out needed laughs amidst the overwhelmingly depressing qualities that overhang the book. Here’s a small sampling:

“I think you better put it down before it puts you down. You’ll find your liver in your sock some morning.”

“Makes your liver quiver.”

“This son of a bitch drives like a drunk indian goin after more whiskey.”

“An enormous fart ripped through the lunchroom, stilling the muted noontime clink of cutlery and cup clatter, stunning the patrons, rattling the café to silence … J-Bone, in the booth alone, wrinkled his face. After a minute he climbed out onto the aisle. Lordy, he said. I don’t believe I can stand it my ownself.”

“The sun like a bunghole to a greater hell beyond.”

“Hell fire, son, you aint never heard a snore. I’ll put my old lady up against any three humans or one moose.”

Suttree’s relationship with religion appears to be a major feature of the plot as well. After a particularly sinister activity involving dumping a dead body into the river, he is propelled back to church, with many intimations that he was raised to be God-fearing—even that he was an alterboy. This imagery is countered by Suttree’s fascination with the dark arts practiced by an old “nigger witch,” who he visits multiple times under the guise of helping others, but with the pull really being that he is searching for meaning to his existence, any compelling reason to go on. McCarthy also repeats imagery about a “quaking sky,” describing it as a hellish void over and over again.

“No one wants to die.
“Shit, said the ragpicker. Here’s one that sick of livin.
“Would you give all you own?
“The ragman eyed him suspiciously but he did not smile. It wont be long, he said. An old man’s days are hours.
“And what happens then?
“After you’re dead.
“Don’t nothin happen. You’re dead.
“You told me once you believed in God.
“The old man waved his hand. Maybe, he said. I got not reason to think he believes in me. Oh I’d like to see him for a minute if I could.
“What would you say to him?
“Well, I think I’d just tell him. I’d say: Wait a minute. Wait just one minute before you start in on me. Before you say anything, there’s just one thing I’d like to know. And he’ll say: What’s that? And then I’m goin to ast him: What did you have me in that crapgame down there for anyway? I couldn’t put any part of it together.
“Suttree smiled. What do you think he’ll say?
“The ragpicker spat and wiped his mouth. I don’t believe he can answer it, he said. I don’t believe there is a answer.”

I also felt that McCarthy purposely added some ambiguity to Suttree’s sexuality. He appears asexual at times, homosexual at times and fiercely heterosexual at others. In the two meaningful relationships he has with females in the book, he leaves one, Wanda, after a tragic landslide that kills her, leaving us to wonder what he might have done to help; in the other, he enters into a tremendously confusing and odd arrangement with a prostitute, Joyce. In the latter relationship, he expresses no feelings and the narrator offers no insights into Suttree’s detachment or emotions. There is also a sexual morbidity to his dealings with the old seer, especially when he is raped by her in a dreamstate.

The New York Times described the book as a “doomed Huckleberry Finn,” and I found myself wondering at the end whether it was actually a treatise on determinism, loneliness and death. Hanging above all of Suttree’s relationships is the reality of his searing loneliness, no matter how invested or involved he may be with another human being at the time.

“She had knelt beside him and nibbled at his ear. Her soft breast against his arm. Why then this loneliness?”

“She was shouting at him some half drunken imprecations, all he could make out was his name. He seemed to have heard it all before and he kept on going.”

“My life is ghastly, he told the grass.”

“I have a thing to tell you. I know all souls are one and all souls lonely.”

Suttree feels cursed by fate and constantly pursued by death, so it’s natural that the themes of destiny and fate are so prevalent throughout the tale. It also helps to explain why he is so drawn to and dominated by tragedies. Besides the rock slide, he sits down at another point to watch a building burn to the ground, and McCarthy’s prose itself is rampant with allusions to fate and destiny:

“He looked at the gray sky but it did not change and the river was always the same.”

“He was seized with a thing he’d never known, a sudden understanding of the mathematical certainy of death. He felt his heart pumping down there under the palm of his hand. Who tells it so? Could a whole man not author his own death with a thought? Shut down the ventricle like the closing of an eye?”

“But there are no absolutes in human misery and things can always get worse, only Suttree didn’t say so.”

“Curious the small and lesser fates that join to lead a man to this.”

“How’d it start?
“Suttree looked down. A little man was leaning to him with the question.
“I don’t know, said Suttree. How all things start.”

“Suttree among others, sad children of the fates whose home is the world, all gathered here a little while to forestall the going there.”

“Merceline Essary that they said would not never walk on this earth again by men was doctors come under me and I rewalked her in three days. She originally died in October of last year and she walked to that day.
“I can walk, said Suttree.
“You can walk, she said. But you caint see where you goin.
“Can you?
“To know what will come is the same as to make it so.”

Suttree conducts a very revealing and telling self-interview upon returning to the river late in the book. The scene is so poignant that, in my opinion, the book really could have ended at that point, with the chapter ending with seeing him “passing under the bridge.”

In what serves as the proverbial last straw, he makes a miraculous recovery from typhoid fever and escapes the hospital, only to find that his home has been long inhabited by a rotting corpse. After he decides to leave Knoxville for good, in the final scene, Suttree encounters an angelic boy ladling out water to parched road workers, and he eventually offers the spoon to Suttree, who recognizes a younger version of himself in the lad. Yet we are still left to ponder whether he finally has any self-awareness at the end, or whether he will go on blaming Tennessee and the river for his problems.

“God must have been watching over you. You very nearly died.
“You would not believe what watches.
“He is not a thing. Nothing ever stops moving.
“Is that what you learned?
“I learned that there is one Suttree and one Suttree only.
“I see, said the priest.
“Suttree shook his head. No, he said. You don’t.”

In the spirit of honesty, I have to share that this was the least favorite of the McCarthy books I’ve read thus far, paling in comparison to “The Road” and “Blood Meridian.” That being said, I appreciated the different style of writing, the ability to shift prose, a quality I’ve long admired in proven, brilliant authors. I was glad to see McCarthy’s willingness to incorporate humor into his writing, which he pulled off well.

And though I do slot this piece behind some of the iconic works of McCarthy’s stellar career, it comfortably resides as yet another tremendous example of novel writing from an American treasure.

“You’re not the only one that’s right.
“The ragman looked up warily.
“We’re all right, said Suttree.
“We’re all fucked, said the ragman.”

Friday, November 04, 2011

Limerick Friday LXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXI: T.J. Warren Runs With The Pack, Plus "Short-Time" Withers Never Heard The One About Glass Houses

A recruiting haul that’s first-rate
After a legacy commit for State
The versatile T.J. Warren
Saw the Pack as a giant snorin’
Could wins come sooner, not late?

Four games left, maybe more
Sitting in contention at 4-4
Tough lineup calls left to fates
As an undefeated team awaits
C’mon Scooters -- knock down that door!

Celebrity points for having a fat ass
Headlines for being a ho-bag, and crass
That’s the society we live in
Where fame to the rich is given
Do we have to give a shit? I’ll pass

One coach eats plenty of sod
The other is a douchebag clod
Miles has LSU rollin’
Saban won’t have home field stolen
Hope the Tigers can run roughsod

A dead man walking named Withers
For players, his Heels were highest bidders
When you’re graded on touchy-feely
Grad rates are as easy as Swahili
Your flagship has sunk amidst cheaters and quitters

Last time

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Why Some People Are Scared Of Coffee Shops

The comedic universality of this (is "barrista" a fancy Spanish word for "snob"?) lies in the fact that we have all dealt with this in one form or another.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Billy Corgan Approves This Halloween Message

As someone who has smashed more than his fair share of pumpkins (ah, pumpkin bowling, how thee are missed) in his day, this brings a tear of nostalgia to my eye.

Happy Halloween ...

Saturday, October 29, 2011

"I Know It Was Just The Dolphins, But ..."

The Dolphins got clowned on "South Park." Perhaps the final step toward irrelevancy is now complete.

"Screw you guys ... I'm going home."

Friday, October 28, 2011

Limerick Friday LXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX: The Cover-Up Crumbling On Cheater Hill?, Plus Amerson Leads The Pick-Six-Pack

Black Santa loved barbecue and cake
Bought players and was on the take
Rep preceded him by a mile
Cheated with Butch with a smile
Ladies and gents, that’s John Blake

Colts, Rams and ‘Fins all suck
And look like they don’t give a f@$%
Painter is killing Indy
So Miami signed Losman, J.P.
To even the battle for one Andrew Luck

Countries leaderless and in hock
7 billion now on our spinning rock
Lack of resources but plenty of pain
How many can we sustain
If Mother Nature we continue to mock?

The NBA was once starry
Now driven itself into a quarry
Heard of a lockout from a stranger
Said the season is in danger
But haven’t really noticed, sorry

He’s covered a lot of D holes
Filling a lot of playmaker roles
The D.A. has ruled
Another quarterback fooled
Can he keep it up vs. the ‘Noles?

Last time

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Deep Thoughts By No-Look McFadden: Episode 47

This video-game satire commercial for Gamewave is just freaking brilliant, including one of the best taglines of all-time: “Vaginas might not even exist, for all you know!”

In 2005, David Foster Wallace gave a commencement speech at Kenyon College. And it was eye-opening and borderline genius, challenging default settings and the way you can choose—yes, choose—to look at the world. It rocked me. And that is a good thing.

Just in case you were interested in a take on Occupy Wall Street from a decidedly British perspective.

Only NC State would have a weekly interview with the team physician on the radio. I mean, seriously, that says it all about the injury situation seemingly every year in Raleigh.

As someone who digs musical documentaries (or rock-you-mentaries), I have to say that the “From the Sky Down” documentary of U2 looks pretty freaking amazing.

I’ll go ahead and say that this guy pretty much misses the boat on UNC, but all in all, this Pitt fan’s open letter to the ACC is hysterically accurate.

Interested in uplifting news coming out of Africa as a change of pace? Then this positively mesmerizing photography of East African wildlife is for you.

No one had really taken a shot at Bill “Rotten Tuna” Parcells since Jeremy Shockey called him ghey a few years back, so I’m glad somebody finally got around to eviscerating him. I just wish it was a writer who wasn’t quite as lazy and self-promotional as Jason Whitlock.

A not-so-popular view of Steve Jobs here in the wake of the post-mortem Jobs jobs going on, but one that certainly deserves -- and needs -- to be considered as well.

The disappearance of Borders has met with little fanfare in most quarters. Until this epic goodbye letter from a Borders employee hit the Intertubes.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Beauty, As Defined By The Feynman Series

Again, one of those things where I really have nothing to add. Just ... watch.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Beauty Rediscovered In A Sound

Saw this emotional video on BoingBoing of a 29-year-old deaf woman hearing herself for the first time, thanks to a hearing implant.

Monday, October 24, 2011

"You're Not My Father!"

Honestly, the truth about Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker is pretty heavy news for a 4-year-old to take.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Limerick Friday LXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXIX: Will Anybody Occupy The Government, Plus Last Call In The Bosox Dugout

We are the 99%, they say
Fed up with the Wall Street way
Lie, cheat and steal
Drink champagne with every meal
Will anything ever change in our day?

Always been a douchey prick
Just part of Harbaugh’s schtick
A ‘roids hand shake
A shove as icing on cake
Can’t wait ‘til he gets that ass kicked

56 wild beasts set free
Most killed in a shooting spree
The owner is to blame
Still such a downright shame
Used the right word: menagerie

Qaddafi has been killed, at last
Can’t make up for his tyrant past
In a more than 40-year reign
Inflicted terror and pain
Wish Libya democracy, and fast

As Bosox Nation sat in tears
The team sat back and drank beers
Choked on the field with a “gack”
Then choked Sam Adams back
Not giving a shit among drunken peers

Last time

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Halfway Home, The Scooters Claw Their Way To .500 Mark

After a litany of injuries to kick off the campaign, my squad underperformed early on, dropping its first three games. Instead of bailing out of the free-agency and transaction market at that point though, I stayed the course, confident that the Scooters would reward my faith—and they did just that, reeling off three consecutive victories to even its record at 3-3 at the halfway point.
Here’s a quick look at some of what has transpired thus far ...

What’s Worked:

Sure, Stephen Jackson has been solid when healthy, Steve Johnson has been about what I expected and the San Francisco defense/special teams has come through with some stellar performances.

But Jimmy Graham has absolutely carried the Scooters at times. He’s hasn’t been putting up touchdowns so much, but he is putting up insane yardage numbers (four straight 100-yard outings for a tight end?!). It’s too much to expect him to keep up his torrid pace, but if some of my other studs can finally get untracked, he’ll get the help he needs in my lineup.

What Hasn’t:

Injuries. Plus, injuries. Also, injuries.

Beyond that, Michael Vick has woefully underperformed, Desean Jackson has been spotty at best, Mike Tolbert has yielded to Ryan Mathews faster than expected, Lance Moore has struggled to find his role in the Saints offense, and kicker Matt Bryant has gotten fewer chances than expected from the Falcons offense.

In fact, it’s what hasn’t worked that well to date that gives me the most optimism about my second-half chances. I know what these guys—especially Vick and Jackson—are capable of, and if they can play up to even some of those expectations, the Scooters are poised for a nifty run.

Worst Move:

As I predicted at the time, the selection of Knowshon Moreno has hurt the Scooters badly. He got hurt almost immediately, then got stuck behind Willis McGahee and has rarely been heard from since.

Best Move:

Snaring Bernard Scott off waivers soon after the news broke of Cedric Benson’s three-game suspension hasn’t turned out to pay off yet, but it paved the way for some shrewd roster management for the Scooters. With Stephen Jackson coming off IR, I had to get rid of a running back, so instead of having to cut Moreno or Joseph Addai, I thought Addai had enough name recognition to still warrant something in trade. I wasn’t looking for much: an upgrade at D/ST and a competent backup quarterback.

I found a trade partner who sent me Kevin Kolb and the 49ers defense for Chad Henne, Joseph Addai and the Bengals D/ST (which wasn’t performing at the time). San Fran has been big-time for me, while he has lost Henne and Addai to injury, though Cincy has been playing strong defense this year. Anyway, it was a good example of getting something instead of just jettisoning someone with some value.


There’s no hiding the fact that the Scooters are going to need a lot more from Vick and D-Jax, including at least a couple of those long-distance connections that were so common a season ago. However, both guys are capable of exploding for huge games at any time, so if early standouts like Graham and the 49ers D/ST can just hold serve, this team has all the pieces necessary to make a lot of noise down the stretch in my 14-team league.