Thursday, October 29, 2009

Entirely Reasonable and Insignificant Rant of the Day

You want to know what drives me absolutely insane? Or, to put it as eloquently as only Chad Kroeger can, "That shit makes me batshit crazy!"? I cannot stand it when people wear hats that still have the store stickers on them. Sometimes even the dangling tags. What the hell is with that? Am I being curmudgeonly when I think that those people are idiots? Maybe I'll carry my nail clippers with me and offer to nip those things off the next time I see that. Dumb.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dodgers Fan's Best Day

Gosh, the layers are just peeling away, aren't they? Yes I have layers, like a onion, or a parfait. And I just revealed one - I am a fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Another is that I just got my computer back up, so thank you to Guy for holding down the fort! Anyway, on the eve the Dodgers' nemesis, the Phillies, play (and dominate) game one of the World Series against the Yanks, I'd like to celebrate my favorite baseball day of the year - the day the Dodgers lost game five and were tossed out of the playoffs. Yes, just last week!

Yes, the self-loathing by this blogger continues, but no I am not batshit bananas like those crazy-dumb 2012ers. I merely had my favorite baseball day when the Dodgers lost. "How is that possible?" you might ask? Or maybe "Who gives a crap"? Really, both are fair questions. Maybe the answer to the first will also provide an answer to the second.

My eight year old son played in a Fall baseball league. He was not the best player on the team, to be kind. He was one of the younger ones, playing with boys up to three years older, but he was still relegated to right field and hit in last in the batting order. He developed a habit of not swinging, learning that he was as likely to walk as to strike out. And that's all he did for most of the season. Encouraging him to swing appeared to be futile - he's not exactly a "pleaser" and sort of marches to the beat of his own drummer. He would swing if he wanted, and for most of the season he didn't care to.

The previous game he had swung hard for the first time in at least six games, putting the ball into play in two at-bats, but being thrown out at first both times. Hitless going into the penultimate game of the season.

He came to bat in the bottom of the third inning with runners on first and second. The other team had made a pitching change that inning and the new guy threw harder than the first. The first pitch my son bailed out, as the pitch flew up and in with some velocity. The very next pitch he hammered the other way, driving a legit double to right (it might have been a triple, but Rickey Henderson he's not). The entire team and all the parents started cheering madly, knowing the significance of that hit.

I am a huge baseball fan, and my favorite team had its best season in twenty years in 2009. My favorite baseball moment of the year was the huge smile on my son's face as he rounded first base in a Fall little league baseball game. The coach gave him the game ball.

I really don't care how good my kids are at sports, unless it's something they care about and want to excel. I hope the hit will lead to greater confidence going forward in my eldest's baseball career, but if it doesn't that's fine with me. I know he'll remember the feeling of smacking that double, giving him a confidence boost in the great game of life.

And isn't that really why we watch the World Series? To see the joy of grown men when accomplishing the hardest thing in sports, with a huge smile on their face rounding the bases, playing this beautiful game. That's why I watch. Thanks son.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

2012: The End is (Not Actually) Near!

Less than two weeks remain before director Roland Emmerich barfs up his latest disaster film, 2012, onto a helpless and undeserving public, and I’m wondering what the reaction will be. I’m not talking about the critical reaction—I doubt it will fare any better than Stargate or The Day After Tomorrow, and probably worse—and I couldn’t care less how it does at the box office.1

No, what I’m wondering about is the reaction from the crazy batshit bananas segment of the population, and whether that reaction will spread to the somewhat more reasonable but often still-fairly-silly general public.

Granted, nobody who watched Godzilla actually believed that a giant radioactive Pacific lizard was going to emerge from the ocean to lay waste to New York City. (Possibly because attacking, say, Los Angeles or the Bay Area would have made much more sense, geographically speaking, except in that weird movie-and-television world where everything on Earth (1) happens in English and (2) happens in New York City.) And I doubt that anybody who saw Watchmen left the theater worried that Dr. Manhattan had it in for all of us.2

But 2012 might be different.

First, because it pretends to be based on the alleged predictions of an ancient society, in this case, the Maya3. For whatever reason, we as a society seem to latch onto—and give some extra sliver of legitimacy to—stories that come from us from ancient peoples and/or the dimly lit, poorly understood corners of the world (and for most Americans, myself included, the world consists primarily of dimly lit, poorly understood corners). Who curses us ominously when we insult them, or with their dying breaths after we run them over with our cars? Clevelanders? Heck no—gypsies. Does Indiana Jones have to return crystal skulls to, say, Enid, Oklahoma? No, he has to take them to deepest, ancient, mystical South America.4 Warren Zevon sang about werewolves in London5 but it wasn’t a scary song. But if he’d sung about werewolves of Sczangdzk, the tiny haunted Czech province that I’ve just made up, we’d have gone nuts about it, assumed it was based on some Czech legend that was in turn based on a true story, and would have bought scads of tickets to the movie adaptation.6

Second, this movie is not just about ordinary run-of-the-mill everyday stuff like violence, widespread destruction, huge explosions, robots disguised as cars, horrific and logically impossible weather conditions, or Egyptians from outer space. 2012 is about the apocalypse. Now, the apocalypse is not a uniquely American obsession—as Dr. Stantz once observed, every ancient religion has its own myth about the end of the world, and I’m sure that (for example) plenty of Europeans got plenty worked up about the end of the world, way back when Europe actually gave a shit about things—but lately our end-of-the-world fascination seems to have a bit more polish than anybody else’s. I’m thinking here of the worries about the Y2K bug, or the fact that LaHaye and Jenkins’ Left Behind series of books sold something like 65 million copies, despite being—based on the book(s) I read one afternoon—crap.7 I’d have plenty more examples if I weren’t so terribly lazy, but in short, America seems ripe for a explosion of 2012 mania.

Maybe I’m wrong about this. I’d be happy to learn that I’m not giving the American people enough credit, and 2012 will be easily dismissed as a breezy, lighthearted, fun little movie about the deaths of billions of people, rather than a prediction of it. Maybe this won’t spark the smoldering embers of lunacy you can find everywhere you look on the internet. Maybe, just maybe, we won’t have to endure three years’ worth of listening to everybody from obvious crackpots to supposedly rational people sound off on their fruitcake theories about how it’ll all end.

It’s not really going to matter to me, though; I won’t be able to hear any of it from my secret Armageddon-proof bunker, deep beneath the Earth’s crust. I’ll let you in if you can find it, and you bring Twinkies.

1. Grammar note: if I wrote that “I could care less,” like a lot of people would, that would imply that, to some degree, however small, I actually do care. And I don’t. As the Squid Bandit would tell us, words have meanings.
2. Frankly, I left the theater wondering why Visionary Director Zack Snyder spent so much time digitally rendering Dr. Manhattan’s meat weasel, instead of just panning up a few inches (To soothe the good Doctor’s ego, let’s call it seven inches). For Dr. Brainsmart’s insightful review of Watchmen, please click on these words here.
3. Not “Mayans.” Maya. Honest!
4. I think. I’m not willing to watch the movie again to find out for sure.
5. I forget what it was called. Possibly “Lawyers, Guns, and Money.”
6. Directed by Roland Emmerich or, God help us, Michael Bay.
7. I realize it’s possible that the other eighty-seven books in the series may be better than the one or two I read. But I’d be quite surprised. And I’m not knocking the Bible or Christianity here, so rest your sphincters. I think that, in the right hands, a fictional series about a Biblical end of the world could be a fantastic read. But the Left Behind series was not in the right hands.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ballooning into The Apocalypse

“I think what we're seeing here is an example of a culture for whom daytime talk shows and tabloid headlines have become a reality against which they measure their lives. A culture so obsessed by the media and a chance for self-dramatization that they'll do anything in order to gain a spotlight.”1

It’s easy to dismiss Richard Heene—the alleged mastermind behind last week’s alleged “balloon boy” hoax that bamboozled hundreds of alleged journalists and fascinated tens of millions of alleged Americans—as the personification of a perfect storm of narcissism and stupidity, the evolutionary endpoint of an American obsession with television self-promotion, working madly to cobble together a harebrained publicity scheme without giving a second’s thought to just how quickly, how easily, or how spectacularly it could go wrong.

And it’s far too early to say that this isn’t the case—the facts wiggling gradually to light about Heene do plenty to support that argument. He and his family/co-conspirators have already made two appearances on the reality show Wife Swap,2 and apparently had pitched his own reality television show to the TLC network. Whether or not that show was the same as the “Science Detectives” concept he and a couple of associates have been promoting, the description of Heene as “unapologetic self-promoter who would pursue all sorts of off-the-wall stunts to get media attention” doesn’t seem too far off base.3

But what people are overlooking is the possibility that not all of Richard Heene’s dogs are barking. According to the lawyer of Robert Thomas, one of Heene’s associates, Heene
“believes the world is going to end in 2012, [and because] of that, he wanted to make money quickly, become rich enough to build a bunker or something underground, where he can be safe from the sun exploding.”4
Yes, you read that right. This isn’t your standard garden-variety narcissism or TV obsession. This is what Mr. Heene’s legal team is likely to describe as the “crazy batshit bananas” defense. And it’s likely to get a lot of traction.

First of all, I’m not a physicist, but based on my rudimentary science education, (1) the sun is already exploding, because that’s more or less what the sun is,5 (2) it’s been exploding just like this, and will continue to do so, for billions of years. And if it turns out that I’m wrong about this, and the sun does turn into a supernova in just over three years, a bunker will not help. Even hiding a very deep bunker would be about as effective as holding tiny cartoon umbrella over one’s head, a la Wile E. Coyote.

I probably shouldn’t even get started in on the 2012 business. To put it briefly, several nutters—you can find them on the internet with a minimum of effort—have latched onto the belief that the end of the Maya calendar, on December 21, 2012, will be the beginning of the apocalypse. That Henne has heard of these theories about the 2012 Maya apocalypse is not a surprise; that he actually seems to believe them, despite a lack of any credible supporting evidence, suggest that he may well be one wave short of a shipwreck.6

It’s too early to be sure, of course. But it’s nowhere near too early for random strangers to post their poorly-informed opinions online. I’m throwing my hat into the ring right here. Hell, maybe I’ll get a TV show out of it.

1. Agent Dana Scully, “The Post-Modern Prometheus,” The X-Files season five, episode five. By coincidence, Netflix shipped this episode to me two days ago.
2. I’m going to trust my sources on this one. On my third birthday I promised myself I’d never watch any show called “Wife Swap,” and so far I’ve stayed true to that.
3. I know, it’s lame, I’m basically just quoting hearsay that appeared online. Once I hire a staff of underpaid researchers, I’ll fire them for this sort of poor journalism.
4. At least I’m referring to an actual newspaper this time—that counts for something, doesn’t it?
5. I have a very rudimentary science education.
6. Queen, “I’m Going Slightly Mad.”

Monday, October 19, 2009

Clarification for the Extremely Stupid

We at Bowling in the Dark are aware that, thanks to the nuances of tone of voice, body language, and facial expressions, concepts like irony (which we can't describe, but can occasionally recognize when we see it) and sarcasm are much easier to spot in the spoken word than in the written word, especially with writers of somewhat limited ability (such as ourselves). So while we like to think that our attitude in the preceding post is fairly obvious, we’re willing to admit that we may be wrong on this point. It’s very possible that we’re not skilled enough to have pulled this off successfully, and it’s also possible that our readers—assuming we ever have any—may well be stupid, and in need of more direct and comprehensible communication than we've provided. So here, for the record, is our direct statement on the matter:

Everything in the previous post—with the exception of the description of Meghan McCain’s bust as “impressive”—is complete bullshit.

Thank you. We now return you to your regularly-scheduled blog.

Bowling in the Dark's Hero of the Day: Richard Heene

America’s fascination with heavenly spheres took a shift towards the dramatic over the past weekend, moving from Meghan McCain’s impressive bust to the skies above Fort Collins, Colorado, where authorities were told that six-year-old Falcon Heene had climbed into his father’s homemade high-altitude helium balloon shortly before it became untethered in a potentially tragic and 100%-believable made-for-TV event that couldn’t possibly serve to advance the agenda of any sort of narcissistic parents obsessed with landing themselves a reality TV show.

Young Falcon was later discovered to have not made it onto the balloon—which ended up touching down near Denver International Airport, some 90 miles from where it took off—in the first place, to the relief of all involved. It is quite likely that Bowling in the Dark, nearly four days after this thrilling event, is the very first blog to comment on the compelling scene, but all we have to say is that it’s quite a relief to see these genuine and loving, completely well-adjusted parents reunited with their un-manipulated children, safe and happy after this dramatic and completely non-fabricated adventure.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Much Ado About Twitties

Where were you when you first heard about Meghan McCain's backlash against those who criticized her for showing some cleavage on Twitter? Go to her Twitter page. Miss it? So did I, until Some Guy turned me on to it. When it comes to spotting the heavy-hitting cleavage issues that define our era, they don't come much better than Some Guy! Anyway, Miss McCain is all aflutter about her tweeters causing such a firestorm, initially threatening to stop using Twitter (the horror!) then backing down and simply being indignant.

Where to start? Well first of all, when did it become a crime for a sexy woman to look demurely sexy? Gazongas are nice, and no one will ever make me change my opinion on that. The more boobs in society the better, I've always said. Women, go ahead and show them as much as you want. Especially you Meghan - they look pretty good.

The real issue here is Twitter, and the self-righteous people who follow "celebrities" on that site. Yes, I just used the written form of those annoying quote fingers in the air. Deal! The "celebrities" that people follow, from the intelligently interesting to the spectacularly loserly, do not care what you think. Why would they? They use the site as a publicity vehicle, that's it. Do you really care what Dane Cook is doing at any particular moment? Please open the door and find a new life somewhere out there if you really do.

Further, I suggest it is the height of hypocrisy for such celebrities to mundanely post on Twitter whatever they are thinking at the time, posting TwitPics of whatever they want at the time, and then later becoming defensive when some people choose to dislike what the celebrity put out there. Twitter is just the latest technological expression of the ego, and does it better than anything previously invented. Grow up "celebrities", stop putting your life out there like dirty laundry for the public to see and your neighbors to complain about it. At least if you do, stop complaining about it.

I like the twitties, not the Twitters. We need way more of the former, and many fewer of the latter. And yes, I realize that the second-best outlet for the ego is the blog. Self-loathing is on the menu for later, although if this was all about my ego wouldn't it not be anonymous?

Where The Authors Have No Name

Welcome to Bowling in the Dark, where there is no bowling and only the background is dark. I couldn't be more pleased to be writing this blog with my friend Guy, who actually knows how to write. I meander and obfuscate, but rarely come across with a cogent thought. But to be given an empty forum to rant about one's inconsequential views of the world is every American's dream, and if that is your thing then it won't get any better than Bowling in the Dark.

And away we go. The origin of genius is Bowling in the Dark.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sam Bradford Wins 2010 Nobel Prize for Football

In a move that surprised pundits, experts, and casual fans alike, Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Sam Bradford has been awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize for Football. Bradford, 1-1 as a starting quarterback this season, missed three full games—and half of the season-opening loss to Brigham Young University—and has yet to play the seven regular-season games remaining on the schedule.

The Nobel Prize jurors dismissed suggestions that their selection, coming less than halfway through the season, was premature.

"Our decision was merited and unanimous," said committee chairman Thorbjorn Jagland, proving that to say something is merited is to make it so. As evidence, Jagland pointed to both of Bradford's 2009 touchdown passes, and his having gone five games without throwing an interception. "I bet he wouldn't have thrown any even if he'd actually played in all five games."

"The question we have to ask is who has done the most this season to enhance college football," continued Jagland, "and who has done more in his two games than Sam Bradford?"

Criticism of the Nobel committee's decision was written off as being fueled by racism, which, of course, it is. "Receiving this distinguished award will serve to show the rest of the world how committed Bradford is to football, and if anything, will make it even more likely that he'll win every game from here on out."

Saturday, October 10, 2009

What Finally Cinched It

Discussions about why I was afraid to try my hand at blogging often returned to my worry that I was neither opinionated or informed enough for it. Then it occurred to me that (1) this is America,1 and (2) this is the internet—to both have an opinion and be genuinely informed about it would be really out of character in both cases. Ideally, I'll eventually either get really well-read and -educated and be able to post informative, reasoned, rational, thoughtful opinions that nobody will ever read, or I'll evolve into a narrow-minded pinhead, and rake in the big bucks and get my own TV show. Only time will tell.

1. Where I am, anyway.