The Internet 2010 In A Nutshell

This is what happens when you give carnies and assorted undereducated shitbags a badge and a fancy uniform with epaulets; even the big boss doesn't know what the fuck he's supposed to be doing when not struggling to intimidate a pregnant woman and thus Keep America Safe [tm].

Take note, in the fast-forwarded parts, of how so many of these TSA thugs sway back and forth -- it's identical to what depressed animals do when caged too long, only your heart aches to see the animals do that.



To cleanse the palate, kittehs con Van Halen:

The Grammar Nazi, Part Six: Farther vs. Further

"Farther" is for distance and "further" is for more of something.

To remember the difference and decide which one to use, imagine someone asking you "Are we there yet?" for the millionth time. After we tell that person to shut up, you would say "It's not far," not "It's not fur." You'd only say the latter to PETA assholes who were about to attack with buckets of red paint.

Rock & Roll media sidebar: Normally we can assume anything that sounds cool in pop music is grammatically incorrect, but "Further On Up The Road" is actually correct; it's a song about the singer hoping his/her ex suffers karmic misfortune in retribution for the pain the ex caused the singer ["you gotta reap just what you sow"], not that the ex is at a different point on the road relative to the singer's location. Regardless, even if he had used the word incorrectly, Lonnie Mack is exempt from all rules of grammar due to awesomeness. [See also: Old Dirty Bastard.] Now, let us rock and swing like meathooks:

Saturday Night Fights: The one pick 'em down, the foregone conclusions to come

As much as it annoys me to concede, I underestimated Carl Froch's chances of beating Arthur Abraham. Froch pulled off a nearly perfect rout of "King Arthur" in Helsinki tonight, showing skill, footspeed and endurance, making Abraham look like an amateur stuck in slow-motion for most of the fight. One tender-hearted judge found a round to give to Abraham, with the Super Six Classic producing yet another landslide victory and tailor-made redemption story.

The drama of an Abraham fight used to be that he would typically give away half the fight with his turtle-shell defense before coming out of it to stalk and knock his opponent out in the last few rounds. But that was when he was a middleweight, and his KO power clearly has not stayed with him on his journey to 168 pounds. He managed to score a victory using his middleweight playbook against a faded fellow middleweight in Jermaine Taylor, but he's looked slow and weak against natural super-middles like Andre Dirrell and Froch. Not much drama watching a guy block most of his opponent's punches for a half-hour [with the occasional burst of offensive that usually whiz past the other guy and leave the puncher cringe-inducingly off-balance] when it's clear that the turtle doesn't have enough pop to knock out a somewhat bigger rabbit, even if he manages to actually land a flush punch. As impressive as this particular Super Six rout was, it was also boring and unlikely to reward multiple viewings the way that Ward-Kessler does.

I've mentioned before how odd it is that there was almost no talk about how Abraham was a fairly small middleweight moving up a weight class to take part in this tournament; I now have five bucks that says this jump will now be discussed ad nauseam until Abraham scores another win at 168. With Showtime's announcement that the Semifinal Stage's fights will be Froch vs. Glen Johnson and Abraham vs. the top-ranked Andre Ward, I doubt this chatter will be going away soon. With an even faster, cagier opponent in his immediate future, it seems likely that the illegal right hook he landed on Dirrell when he was already on the canvas will be the last powerful punch Arthur Abraham landed as a super-middleweight.

I know I said it about today's Froch-Abraham fight, but: Froch-Johnson should be a highly entertaining brawl.

As for the other fights tonight: Eh. Barring some unforseeable calamity, they should all go to the house fighter -- Ward should easily outwork and frustrate Sakio Bika as the live fight packaged with Froch-Abraham on Showtime.

On HBO's counterprogramming: It's extremely easy to like Michael Katsidis and his fights are always entertaining, but a face-first, right-handed brawler who rarely has a Plan B if a fight's not going his way is easy pickings for a master counterpuncher like Juan Manuel Marquez, assuming Marquez doesn't grow old climbing into the ring. Katsidis has already been knocked out by the shadow that once was Joel Casamayor, who was then knocked out by Marquez in a matchup that certainly would have fired all of my boxing-nerd neurons at once if it had been held in, say, 2004. Katsidis followed up the KO by being outworked by Juan Diaz, whom Marquez has also carved up and knocked out. You would think the last few years in the lightweight division played out like the first ten seconds of this scene from DOLEMITE:



Andre Berto collects yet another check in yet another showcase bout against the unheralded Freddy Hernandez, and Celestino Caballero travels outside his weight class to keep busy and waste everyone's time in a match with journeyman Jason Litzau. Hurray. At least Ward-Bika and Marquez-Katsidis should be worth watching more than once. Three out of five ain't bad for the end of the year.

9:30PM Update: Bika stole the show despite not winning the fight; he made a real fight of it and headbutted a layer or two of inevitability off Ward's glorious future as Super Six victor and super-middleweight king-to-be.

From the sounds of it, Katsidis righteously gave Marquez hell until being stopped in the ninth round. Berto took Hernandez out in the first, a mercy for the audience as much as the grossly mismatched tomato can. And, a clearly unprepared Caballero -- having zero interest in the HBO undercard, I skipped the weigh-ins and didn't know that Caballero came in a whole 1.5 pounds over the super-featherweight limit, despite being a career featherweight; that's almost fuck-you-I-didn't-want-to-fight-anyway overweight -- dropped a split decision to Litzau. I hope that Bika and Katsidis get another significant fight soon despite their losses, and the same for Litzau despite his upsetting the best-laid plans of his opponent's more powerful management.

Waiting for The Bus Home

Insert twits from the bus here.

Thanksgiving

Everything was fantastic.

Take a break to rock: The Ventures' CHRISTMAS ALBUM

It's at this time of the year that I like to remind my friends and/or readers of two things: One, the vagina is the hole in the front; and two, the Ventures' 1965 Xmas record is the greatest holiday music ever recorded.

The record should also have the distinction of being the only Xmas and/or pre-1967 "headphone" LP ever made. Load it onto your mp3 player, put on some easily hidden earbuds and let that tapestry of tone wash over you like so much spiked eggnog -- especially when cornered by your asshole relatives who need an audience so they can talk about their boring lives and children for 20 minutes straight before briefly pretending to be interested in how your 2010 was. If alcohol isn't an option for you, this album plus some choice Christmas episodes of old-time radio are the only way for your psyche to survive the holidays intact.

Here's a fine track [it's actually a variant of the public-domain classic/cliche English ballad "Greensleeves"] from the album:



How often do you hear a backbeat in Christmas music nearly as infectious and strong as Ventures drummer Mel Taylor's? Even Phil Spector's drummers didn't bring it as consistently in his Xmas records.

Sunday Evening TV grazing: BATMAN 1966

Found while trolling YouTube for old WWOR/WPIX bumpers and intros from my childhood: A print of the original ABC Network Presentation film of the BATMAN series, kind of a Cliffs Notes of the series pilot.

It's a shame that, as amusing and faithful as the show was to its source material*, it was more like the unfortunate last three minutes of the nine-minute film and not like the curiously sexy, funny and somewhat gritty first six minutes. Of course, in that first two-thirds the key Riddler/action scenes clunk the loudest so it's all probably for the best that the show broke the direction it did. Anyway, enjoy:



* To Hell with the nerds who agonize over the "black eye the BATMAN series gave comics for generations" and who still grind their teeth over any mainstream-media coverage that use "POW! ZAP! WHAM!" in their ledes, this show remains one of the most faithful adaptations ever. If you don't believe me, go read a stack of 1963-1965 Batcomics and/or go fuck yourself.

Fealty to source material is a conceit that's largely meaningless to anyone who's not obsessed with a subgenre's standing in the larger culture. A good Spider-Man movie or cartoon series is good even if the filmmakers elect not to make Betty Brant Peter Parker's first girlfriend. The source material will survive any changes, if a hopeless dork's sense of self won't.

The Grammar Nazi, Part Five: Then vs. When

This one is easy:

"Then" answers "when."

"Than" compares two things, and those can be grouped with an "and." [Although "Thand" sounds like a species name in NEXUS.]

Q: When will I be loved?
A: First, I have to revise my enemies list; then you will be loved.

Q: You're uglier than an unflushed toilet.
A: No, I'm uglier than an unflushed toilet and your grandmother's vagina.

Keef also apparently calls his X-Pensive Winos bandmates/employees the N-word. Affectionately, I'm sure.



Running short on time [and everything else] today, but these two quotes from a 1988 ROLLING STONE interview with Keith Richards I found while doing research are too amusing not to share right away:

To me the disgusting thing about popular music at the moment ... and especially I'm disappointed with you black guys, just pushing buttons and shit. They are, to me, really fucking up. With the drum machines and the engineers that have never ... you set up a drum kit and say you're gonna use a live drummer and they go, "What? How do we record a thing like that?" Music's got to do with people, not pushing buttons. To me, it's kind of weird that George Michael is Number One on the black charts. Because, 'ey, 'ey, what happened to Little Milton? What happened to the soul?"

...

Prince, I admire his energy, but he's riding on a wave. To me, Prince is like the Monkees. I don't see anything of any depth in there. I think he's very clever at manipulating the music business and the entertainment business. I think he's more into that than making music. I don't see much substance in anything he does. Too much appealing to ... a Pee-wee Herman trip. And I like Pee-wee Herman better than Prince. He's appealing to the same audience. To me, it's kid stuff.

Caturday morning movies

A cat named Burt Reynolds enjoys a YouTube video of Crispin Glover singing. I give it less than a week before a reply video is uploaded of a cat watching the video of a cat named Burt Reynolds enjoying a YouTube video of Crispin Glover singing. Enjoy:

Dispatches From the Singles Front: June 28, 2010

If the closest we come to professional perfection is when we write our resumes, the closest we come to living a perfect life is when we write these dating profiles.

Unless "camping" means "wild sex in the woods," nobody's into spending days in the middle of the great outdoors as much as they claim in their online personals page. It's physically impossible, and I can shenanigans on the entire thing.

I decided that "camping" had to mean something else in this context shortly after my first, psyche-bruising visit to my local Craigslist personals. I'm still particularly traumatized by the vast gulf between CL's definition of "casual encounters" and mine: Gauging the intensity of the posts, "casual" is not the word I would choose to describe the folks who use that forum.

Anyway, "camping" = "sex outdoors" would at least provide an acceptable origin for the euphemism "pitching a tent."

Lyman Gave All.

So, there's a minor brouhaha about today's GARFIELD:


Click For larger image.

Needless to say, it's easy to see how veterans and families of veterans might take the strip the wrong way, this being Veterans Day and all.

The strip's creator, Jim Davis, is understandably mortified and and already released an apology, end of teacup tempest … unless you're an asshole/wingnut who's already bored with being outraged by how the American flag on today's Google.com logo makes the "e" look crescent-shaped.

If this were Memorial Day, then some serious ass would deserve kicking over the GARFIELD strip; today, this is just strange and the meta-event is funnier than anything that's been in the strip itself in years. Two curious things about it remain:

One, literally no one on Davis' team or Universal syndicate noticed that this was the Vet Day strip? Is the strip now so thoroughly packaged by Davis' company, Paws Inc., that only one guy tracks the strip's scheduling?

Two, considering how diligent Davis and his team are about making the strip as non-specific as possible [almost no cultural or seasonal references, those sorts of things] so it literally plays the same all over the world each day, it's remarkable that the GARFIELD team sometimes produce a strip that even has a context. That today's strip has an unwittingly negative context is like seeing a tornado thread a needle while it destroys a barn.

The Grammar Nazi, Part Four: Who vs. Whom

Deciding on what form of who/whom to use is easy. Again, we replace proper nouns with pronouns and see how well a sentence reads:

"Who" connects to "he," "she" and "they."

"WhoM" connects to "hiM," "her" and "theM."

WHO knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?

The Shadow [HE] knows.

Margo Lane is the only person who knows to WHOM the secret voice of The Shadow belongs.

It belongs to Lamont Cranston [HIM], a wealthy young man-about-town.

A ramble originally titled "Why Boxing And Its Journalism Suck, Symptom #395762"



You don't have to take in a lot of articles and interviews related to an upcoming boxing card [the bulk of material published in the field] to realize that they're largely pro-bono promotion dressed like he-said-and-then-he-said journalism, with even veteran journalists and historians more or less falling in line with the "conventional wisdom" of how a fight will play out being whatever the fight's promoters say the wisdom will be in their press releases. It's after the fight is done and in the record books that reality-based conventional wisdom begins to dominate the chatter and most folks observe a gentleman's agreement to cram everything about the pre-fight bullshit down the nearest Memory Hole.

I always enjoy Bert Sugar as a "character." He's a staple in most media promotions in the sport, especially for pay-per-view megafights, and can always be counted on for some snappy patter about why "Fighter X Vs. Fighter Y" is worth your time and/or $54.99. That said, it's painfully clear that he's just as much of a pack-follower as the rest of the boxing-journalism herd. Even as fishy as the editing is of the two Sugar interviews in the clip above, they illustrate the Before/After dynamic pretty well: "This is gonna be a great fight, we may even see an upset despite the overwhelming odds!" and then "Anyone coulda seen what a mismatch that fight was from the get-go! Phew!"

Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Juan Manuel Marquez was a mismatch from the get-go. Even with Mayweather's brief retirement from the sport as a significant X-factor, no boxer in the lower weight classes can jump as many weight divisions as Marquez did from one fight to the next and have a shot at winning on a championship level, unless the bigger man is a shot fighter [read: Manny Pacquiao vs. Oscar De La Hoya]. It's just not done. One would have to be dense, ignorant and/or dishonest to claim that Sugar and his ilk are making the argument that literally no one who has fought as a lightweight has ever had a big win at welter, so it's funny that the above videomaker chose Roberto Duran and Sugar Shane Mosley as examples. Both men were already established in/around the welterweight division and actually came DOWN in weight for the WW wins cited -- Duran fought Wellington Wheatley [what a great name] at 148 prior to his first fight with Sugar Ray Leonard, and Mosley did the same thing, fighting another unheralded "W.W." [Willy Wise, another great name] at 148 before his first match with De La Hoya at welterweight. That's not to take anything away from Duran's and Mosley's extraordinary victories, just pointing out that neither man was attempting what Marquez [and presumably every other man foolish enough to try it too] failed to achieve.

Looking back at my Marquez-Mayweather pre-fight post, I see I never went back and unpacked why pound-for-pound lists are meaningless, fantasy-football horseshit. For those of you unfamiliar with P4P, they're unofficial rankings of the best fighters in the sport, regardless of what weight division they compete in. Like most fantasy-sports leagues, the criterion for these P4P rankings differ from one rank-maker to the next, but a common one is the idea of how one boxer [say, heavyweight Vitali Klitschko] would do against another boxer [a lightweight like Marquez is literally half Klitschko's size] if they were the same weight. Such patently ridiculous games of "What If?" are generally pretty obvious to non-boxing sports fans -- are these rankings supposed to compensate the bigger man for a corresponding loss of power as he shrinks? Does the smaller man retain his body's natural gifts as he's blown up in size? If P4P is supposed to equalize the fighters' physical advantages to compare skill levels, how is that not an asinine waste of time? Someone like Sonny Liston probably didn't know a check hook from a checkbook, but he didn't need to know because of the one-punch-and-the-fight-is-over power he had in both hands; of what constructive use are these P4P rankings if that means that a Liston would lose to a slick minimumweight with no pop like Ivan Calderon?

This would be a benign waste of time if it were solely a parlor game for boxing fans, the pugilist version of comic nerds' "Who's stronger/Who would win in a fight, Thor or Hulk?", but nearly every boxing publication has its own pound-for-pound list, diligently updated, presented and debated on a weekly or monthly basis. Now, I'm not enough of a boxing-journalism historian to know for sure, but I would bet half the farm on the rise of the P4P rankings being a quite recent mania. I'm not enough of a mob-mentality psychologist to know for sure, but I would hypothesize that this semi-institutional flight into fantasy is the result of the boxing fan rarely getting competitive fights, much less regular doses of the best fighters fighting the best.

It's interesting to note that you can check out ESPN's Dan Rafael's Top 10 rankings for each of the 16 modern weight classes for free, but you have to pay to see his Top 20 P4P list. It's also interesting that Rafael is one of the rare rank-makers who also maintains more than a P4P list [although this may simply be just a habit/momentum carried over from his time as USA TODAY's boxing writer, in the waning days of the sport's mass-media presence] -- you would think it would be the other way around, that journalists would inform their audience on who the 10 best fighters are in a division, with the implication that those men should be fighting each other instead of the parade of "soup cans" they pummel instead. But no, those writers don't do that -- instead they convene a panel of experts to decide the best current fighters would be if they could face off in matches held in the Peter Pan Memorial Pavilion in Cloud Cuckoo Land.

It is far more comforting to speculate on who would win in an imaginary fight between, say, Mayweather and featherweight Chris John than it is to stare at the Welterweight rankings and realize that all the fights that could be made there have already been made. Mayweather's never going to be so hard up for money that he'll have to fight Pacquiao. Mayweather and Andre Berto share the same manager, so that fight's also out unless all three men run out of money and/or better options. Berto/Pacquiao could happen but probably won't, as Berto couldn't even draw a thousand paying fans to a Haitian-earthquake benefit fight held in his hometown; even propped up with million-dollar HBO paydays and a championship belt, Berto's run as a "top" fighter won't last much longer. Pacquiao/Mosley is possible, if the legal battle between their promoters can be sidestepped, but who wants to watch Manny demolish another one of Floyd's sloppy seconds? [See also: De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton.] And no one wants to see Joshua Clottey fight anyone after his virtuoso stinking-out of Cowboys Stadium last April. The Bottom 5 of most rankings present a precipitous drop-off in names that are recognizable to sports-television executives, so those fighters won't even reach American airwaves, much less fights with the top fighters. I assume these European, Asian and South American greats also pollute their respective countrymen's televisions with mismatches against their local suppendosen/スープ缶/latas de sopa.

In the rare instances where the best boxers in a division actually commit to fighting the best, as in Showtime's "Super Six Super-Middleweight Boxing Classic," the fans don't know how to react so most revert to their default setting of "Assholic," complaining that the tournament is taking too long and there have been too many injuries. The "Are we there yet?" whining conveniently elides the simple reality that boxers on the HBO/Showtime-level fight twice, sometimes three times a year at the most, so the S6 was going to take a year and a half to two years to complete no matter what happened. Going by the loose schedule attached to Showtime's initial announcement of the Classic, the Carl Froch-Arthur Abraham fight was actually going to be held a month earlier than originally planned before Froch's injury pushed the fight back to later this month. It's strange that many fight fans and even some journalists would prefer a single-elimination, hurry-up-and-get-it-over-with quickie to the promise of 18 months to two years' worth of regular elite-level fights between nearly every combination of the best boxers in a division. I imagine few of them actually pay for premium cable TV.

As for the injuries, I guess when even an elite boxer fights one elite fighter after another instead of an elite fighter then an unranked part-time club fighter then a badly faded old champion looking for one last payday before retiring, it can wreck a guy. Like I've said, it happens so rarely that it's understandable that fans would be confused and angered by the injuries at first -- also, fighters get injured and fights get pushed back all the time [last Saturday's Green-Johnson match was the undercard to featherweights Juan Manuel Lopez vs. Rafael Marquez, a fight that was rescheduled after Marquez injured his thumb; where's the outrage?], only none of them were under one tourney/promotional umbrella. I think it's great, and not too surprising, that the Super Six [Jermaine Taylor, Abraham, Froch, Andre Dirrell, Andre Ward and Mikkel Kessler] has become the Super Ten [Allan Green and Glen Johnson replacing Taylor and Kessler, with Ward taking a non-S6 fight with Dirrell's replacement Sakio Bika, and now division kingpin Lucian Bute standing in the wings to fight the S6 winner late next year], drawing all of the best super-middleweights into the mix until there is no doubt who is the best 168-pound boxer in our post-Calzaghe world. It makes sense that if a network gets commitments from a half-dozen of the biggest names and best fighters in a division, then the rest of the elite will have no choice but to either throw themselves into that talent vortex or sit on the sidelines with no big-money fights for what's an eternity in prime boxer's years.

There's a killer mix of young lions and cagey veterans available for a featherweight Super Six -- John, Lopez, Yuriorkis Gamboa, Elio Rojas, Celestino Caballero and Daniel Ponce De Leon, with Rafael Marquez a good Jermain Taylor-type to fill in if one of the others can't or won't sign on -- but it's unlikely to happen. This is a shame that no pound-for-pound list can cure.

East Coast Cat Update; West Coast Leaves

Since people asked, the cats back in New York are reportedly doing great. Abuela abides, Lyndon Johnson is growing up fast. Meanwhile, the leaves in Portland are looking as pretty as they probably get. Taken on the 3rd.

The rest of October

Döpplegänger kitchen tables, organic but unremarkable pizza and Brussels Sprout chains.