Sunday, December 19, 2004 

Best. Comic Strip. Ever.

Santa gets his point across. (Click on the image to enlarge it.) Posted by Hello


More Human Than Human--Falcons 34, Panthers 31

Went to the Falcons-Panthers game last night--a birthday present from my wife, and a damn good one--the Falcons pulled off a dramatic overtime win. Now, it didn't need to be that dramatic--Atlanta managed to turn a two-touchdown lead into a seven-point deficit in the second half, and that lack of 60-minute intensity is going to bite 'em in the ass if they can't get it resolved by January. Still, it led to one of the most astonishing plays I've ever seen. Ninety seconds left, Atlanta down a touchdown, facing fourth-and-12 at the Carolina twelve. Score a touchdown or go home. Michael Vick takes the snap, looks left, looks right, then breaks right up the middle toward the end zone. He gets hit about three yards shy of the goal line and starts to fall. He's almost parallel to the ground, and realizes his left knee will hit before the ball crosses the plane of the goal, and so he lifts his left knee in mid-air as he's falling so that the ball breaks the plane an instant before his knee hits. This is astonishing instinctual play and genius-level physical gifts--like Jordan switching hands in midair on that dunk against the Lakers. Boy, am I glad Vick's on our team--it's finally a good time to be a football fan in Atlanta.

Oh, and one other note--no matter what this idiot may say, Atlanta does have some damn good sports fans--as long as the team is winning. The noise last night at the Dome for, let's face it, a small-change game in this championship season was brain-rattling. Are we front-runners? Sure, but Atlanta's sports teams--save the Braves--haven't yet earned undying loyalty from their fans. A couple more winning seasons like this, though, and the Falcons will be right there.

Friday, December 17, 2004 

Mag Review: Esquire, 1/05

The January 2005 Esquire is the annual “Meaning of Life” issue, in which various celebs and individuals of note expound their various philosophies. The list skews heavily toward the Hollywood, and the vapidity of the answers shows—virtually every interviewee offers some variation of the following: “My eccentric father/uncle/grandfather always taught me to be myself,” “I don’t regret a damn thing I’ve ever done,” and “Nothing satisfies like a fine (insert ironically simple pleasure here—hot dog/twinkie/smell of cut grass/et cetera).”

That’s not to say nobody’s worth listening to. Some interviewees, like Jimmy Carter, can sum up an administration—an entire worldview—in a single sentence: “I was able to go through my entire term in office without firing a bullet, dropping a bomb, or launching a missile.” And some, like the Denver Nuggets’ second-year guard Carmelo Anthony, are surprisingly poetic: “Sometimes it can seem like I have green pigment to everyone else. There are times when me and LeBron are green human beings. I’m not light-skinned, I’m green.” But it’s cartoonist Chris Ware who lands the most devastatingly effective emotional wallops of the entire magazine: “Nobody will likely love you as much as your own mother…which you won’t really appreciate until your life is almost half over.” Maudlin? Sure. But you should be calling your mother right now, and you know it.

The rest of the issue is the usual Esquire mixed bag, from the inane—an “Extreme Makeover” garage that features SIX plasma TVs and a coffee table and seating area right next to the parked car—to the fascinating, like the tale of Jumana Hanna, the Iraqi prisoner whose horrifying tales of rape and torture in Iraq’s Loose Dogs prison helped sway public opinion in favor of the Iraqi invasion in 2003. Trouble is, she made every single bit of it up.

Also interesting is a story in which a surgeon and a chef switch occupations—writer Cal Fussman does a fine job of demonstrating the precision and pressure of a five-star kitchen while never losing sight of the fact that it’s nowhere near as important as an operating table. But the best story of the month is Chuck Klosterman’s “Culture Got You Down?”, in which he lays down a simple law: like it or not, popular culture is never wrong—maybe tasteless or misinformed, but no more “wrong” than ray-ee-ain on your wedding day. “Don’t get pissed off because people didn’t vote the way you voted,” Klosterman writes. “You knew that the country was polarized, and you knew that half of America is more upset by gay people getting married than it is about starting a war under false pretenses…You knew this was a democracy when you agreed to participate, so you knew this was how things might work out. So don’t get pissed off over the fact that the way you feel about culture isn’t some kind of universal consensus. Because if you do, you will end up feeling betrayed. And it will be your own fault. You will feel bad, and you will deserve it.”

Preach on, brotha.Posted by Hello


October No. 14

Amazing news on the baseball front, as the Braves have dealt for All-Star pitcher Tim Hudson and, just like that, pretty much guaranteed themselves another berth in the postseason. So what if it could be another short stay in October? You gotta be in it to win it...In other baseball news, the Yankees may or may not land freakishly talented mullethead Randy Johnson...and I couldn't really care either way. Matter of fact, I hope they do get him--it'll make their inevitable postseason flameout that much more satisfying. (More satisfying than the uber-choke of 2004? Nah, but still, any Yankee loss is a good loss.) Sure, the Yankees will certainly make the playoffs, and probably win the AL East, but they won't win it all. Why? 'Cause fantasy teams of multiple stars ALWAYS fall apart. The 2004 Lakers, the Dan Snyder Redskins, the Damn Yankees (not just the team, the '80s-arena-rock all-stars: The Nuge! That guy from Styx! That guy from Night Ranger!)--big-game failures, all of 'em. Every championship team needs its grunt crew--its Robert Horrys, its Bill Muellers, its Duff McKagans*. And once the Jeter-Torre-Bernie-Posada nucleus bails out, the Yanks are done for quite awhile--their farm teams have less talent than Ashlee Simpson, most high-profile free agents won't want to play with a supporting cast of scrubs, and no other manager on earth will put up with Steinbrenner's absurd demands the way Joe Torre has. Seventy-win seasons--they're closer than you think, Boss.

*-Guns n' Roses bassist and single drunkest musician ever to survive his band's heyday. You could catch a good buzz just from looking at photos of ol' Duff.

Thursday, December 16, 2004 

Recommended Reading: Rammer Jammer

When I told folks I was reading a book called Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer, most raised an eyebrow and slowly backed away, figuring it was the kind of thing that could get everybody within a mile fined by the FCC. It's actually a hellaciously good book by Warren St. John about the nomadic lives of RV owners who follow the University of Alabama football team across the Southeast. (The title refers to a 'Bama cheer.) St. John's a writer for the New York Times, but he ain't one of them East Coast liberal elite types. Born and bred in Alabama, he's not clouded by the kind of condescension that turns feature stories about Southerners into anthropological studies. St. John dives deep into the nature of fandom here, citing history (tailgating dates back to ancient Greece) and psychology to arrive at a comprehensive--and yet compassionate--portrait of the modern sports fan. He also fills the book with dead-on Southernisms--for instance, there's the guy who's promised his boss tickets to the Auburn-Alabama game without actually having the tickets; a scalper laughs that "this is a case of someone's alligator mouth overloading his hummingbird a-hole." And I plan to whip up a jar full of Bama Bombs--cherries soaked in grain alcohol for an entire offseason--for next year's Steeplechase.

In an age where postmodern, ironic detachment is the hallmark of the hip aesthetic, it's damn refreshing to see somebody proudly write what amounts to a soul-baring love letter to a football team. For any sports fan who's ever exulted beyond reason when their team wins, or had their heart (and almost, in my case, a hand) broken when their boys lose, Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer is essential reading.


Curtains Up

Does this thing work? Yes? Cool. Let's groove.


Jay Busbee runs Yahoo! Sports' NASCAR Blog From The Marbles, Atlanta Magazine's Atlanta sports blog Right Down Peachtree, and the Southern sports/humor blog Sports Gone South. He also writes for damn near anybody who'll throw him a buck and a byline, and he's at work on the books The Quiet Dynasty: The History Of The Atlanta Braves' Championship Run (2009, Sports Publishing LLC) and God Is A Bulldog: Georgia, Florida, And The Greatest Play In College Football History (2010, Sports Publishing LLC). Click below for more info on his novels, articles, and comics.
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