Monthly Archives: September 2008

Tuesday Tubby Tearfest

Father Scott

Wow. Even the one regular post that I don’t neglect got neglected this week. I totally spaced on the fact that The Biggest Loser is tonight, which is ridiculous because half the reason I named this post Tuesday Tubby Tearfest was to remember that it’s on Tuesday. Oh well.

So, with limited time, I’ll skip my usual string of Bob-maintains-gay-relationships-with-the-male-contestants-and-Jillian-regularly-beats-her-contestants-then-takes-fellow-corpse-eater-Rachel-Nichols-out-for-a-seafood-dinner tomfoolery and cut to the chase:


My count came in at 12, I think, so I was wrong in taking the over last week.

This week, I’m keeping the over/under high. There’s some road-trip element going on, which means a new setting and a lack of routine. This means even more vulnearbility for these human versions of Crisco.

So the line is 15.5. I again will take the over, which I think I do every week.


Don’t know. But I know this much; they need to start breaking up these teams, they’re down to like 12 people already. I’m going with the pain-in-the-ass couple Brady and Vicky. Why? Cause they’re annoying and I want them to go home.

Good fences make good separation from assholes


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Is Father Scott the next great sports blogger?

Father Scott

Doubtful, but (which has been revamped and is actually pretty great now) held a contest this month in which they were searching for “the next great sports blogger.” They’re looking for someone to write once a week (so is it really a blog, then?), and since they’re offering $5,000 to do it, I figured it was worth throwing something out there.

I sort of went old-school with it and wrote a limited (approx. 500-word entry requirement) old-fashioned newspaper column, rather than a ZOMG Julio lugo sucksszszzz blog post, of which I figured EEI would receive roughly 18 billion (and they did — check out some of the samples they have listed on the contest page). But it was worth the hour I spent doing it. It’s about Coco Crisp and Theo Epstein and probably isn’t focused enough to be effective for what I was going for. But I’ve posted it here after the jump, simply because if I bothered to write it, I may as well help pad Pax’s blogging efforts by posting it here. They announce finalists October 13; I’ll let you know if there’s any news to report.

Continue reading


Filed under media, sports

Jesus was eating eels

Pax Arcana

Probably the most disturbing Bible story — at least to high-minded epicureans food snobs like Pax Arcana — is that of the transubstantiation. According to mainstream Christian dogma, Jesus turned the wine and bread served at the last supper into his blood and body. (And lo did his disciples say unto him “Aw, gurrrg, awww… what the F Jesus?” as they did spit bits of soft tissue and coagulated hemoglobin upon the ground).

But what about the other stuff? In Leonardo DaVinci’s masterpiece The Last Supper, bread and wine are not the only victuals on the table. There are plates of heretofore unidentified dishes scattered about the table-top. The rapid decay of the painting — writings from as far back as 1517 had already noted that it “had begun to spoil” — rendered many of the finer details of the work, including the actual type of food on the table, impossible to discern.

According to an article in Gastronomica (via Boing Boing), the mystery has now been solved. The 1997 restoration of The Last Supper has revealed that Jesus — at least in DaVinci’s imagination — spent his final evening pounding not only bread and wine, but also grilled eels.


Turns out the possibly-vegetarian DaVinci was likely inserting a bit of his own culture into the scene:

The eels in the Last Supper may or may not have been on Leonardo’s diet, but they certainly enhance the realism of the representation. Eels were especially popular in Renaissance Italy because they could survive out of water for days and be easily transported in grass-filled baskets or, once dead, be preserved in brine.15 According to Bartolomeo Scappi, the best ones came from Comacchio, near Ferrara. G.B. Rossetti, another sixteenth-century author, gives thirty different recipes for preparing them.

What is most remarkable about all of this is how it confirms my belief that I am an artistic visionary on par with DaVinci. In my own artistic interpretation of the life and meaning of Jesus, I also intimated that he ate eels before his crucifixtion.

OK, so they were electric eels. What are you, some kind of art critic now?

Last Supper Menu revealed: mmm, delicious eels [Boing Boing]
At Supper With Leonardo [Gastronomica PDF]

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You mean Bowser wasn’t real?

Pax Arcana

Like you, I spent the occasional day home from school watching re-runs of Happy Days. Unlike you, I looked cool while doing it.

For most of us born after the fact, Happy Days represented the signature cultural perspective on the 1950’s — an era when guys wore varsity sweaters and trousers and girls wore skirts, saddle shoes and big ass ribbons in their hair. “Greasers” like Fonzie and his swarthy little cousin Chachi represented the rebellious types who dropped out of school and dared the authorities with their insouicant popped collars and leather jackets.

That the show was called “Happy Days” was also important, because it fed the belief that before the tumultuous 1960s, Americans existed in a post-war haze of genteel propriety and innocence.

Of course that was all fucking bullshit.

The decade of the 1950s was home to all sorts of political cultural upheavals, from McCarthy’s red scare to the rise of Jack Kerouac and the beatniks, be-bop jazz, bomb shelters, and Holden Caulfield. So how did it go from that to Happy Days?

According to this article in Columbia College Today, the answer is this:

If you didn’t immediately recognize it, the band pictured above is Sha Na Na. I remember the retro Doo Wop band for its short-lived television comedy show, and for its occasional performance on those public television fund drives. The band also wrote most of the songs used in the movie Grease.

What I didn’t realize is that Sha Na Na “invented” the 1950s:

With surprise, Marcus reports that “Sha Na Na, the first and most successful” of the Fifties redefiners, were not, as he had supposed in his youth, “‘juvenile delinquents from Queens … The band was actually formed,” he reports with amazement, “of Columbia College students, many of whom were classically trained … ” (pp. 12–13).

Classically trained indeed. Case in point: “Grease” only became “the word” (as the musical later claimed in its famous title song) because George Leonard ’67, the group’s theoretician, studying Greek and Latin, happened to be taking Columbia’s famous classicist Gilbert Highet. While George was sitting in Highet’s class, struggling to think of a name for the first concert, Highet picked up his book, The Classical Tradition and — rolling all the “r”s in his rich Scottish accent — intoned Poe’s poem: “The glorrry that was Grrrreece … the Grrrrandeur that was RRRome!” George had his title: “The Glory … that was Grease!”

The (this is a weird thing to type) intellectual upstarts that created Sha Na Na were big into Susan Sontag and her academic deconstruction of camp — so in a way what they were doing was art on a number of different levels. But they did it so well — and Grease and Happy Days were so popular — that entire generations of humans began to forget all the turmoil that had engulfed the 1950s and instead thought of it as an era in which the worst that could happen was a dance-brawl between the jocks and the greasers.

And where there are mass self-delusions, there are politicians only one step behind:

In Ronald Reagan’s time, Marcus documents, politicians began invoking a Columbia College fantasy as if it had been history, and trying to ally themselves with it. “Conservatives [in the Reagan Era] parlay(ed) the cultural nostalgia for the Fifties that had circulated in the 1970s into the basis for a political offensive … ”(p. 58). Marcus describes in detail how Bill Clinton fought for parity by casting himself as a worthy descendant of Elvis. Baby Boom politicians have battled during four presidencies over who was the genuine heir to a Fifties that was itself a kind of artwork.

So I guess the lesson is that the fifties didn’t die when Fonzie jumped the shark, because they were already dead. Also, why am I reading Columbia College Today at 8:30 on a Tuesday morning?

Sha Na Na and the Invention of the Fifties [CCT]


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Monday Filler: Plastic Jesus

Pax Arcana

Because he was an underrated actor, number 19 on Nixon’s enemies list, charitable to the tune of $250 million, and my mom’s favorite:

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Why are we getting littler?

Pax Arcana

Easily the best part of the first presidential debate on Friday night was when Arizona Senator and befuddled old man John McCain launched into a brief non sequitor about South Koreans being an average of three inches taller than North Koreans.

That the data point sprung seemingly out of nowhere was hilarious. That it ignored the shrinking down of the average American was downright unpatriotic. According to the New York Times, we’ve got our own Napoleonic complex in the works:

While the conditions for North Koreans are troubling, Americans have a similar height gap to worry about, and it also appears to be due to a lower standard of living, poor health care and inadequate nutrition. Last summer, the journal Social Science Quarterly reported that Americans are, quite literally, falling short of Europeans. In 1880, Americans were the tallest people in the world. But by 2000, American men, at an average height of 5-feet-10.5-inches, ranked 9th, and women, at about 5-feet-5-inches, fell to 15th. Several Northern European countries rank the highest in height, with the Dutch coming in first, at just over 6 feet for the men and 5-feet-7-inches for the women.

The new American paradigm

Obviously the reason for this is immigration. The massive influx of short people from countries such as Mexico, China, and, um, Mexo-china, must really be messing with averages, right?

The height gap between Americans and Northern Europeans can’t be explained by an influx of short immigrants. Experts say the United States takes in too few immigrants to account for the disparity, and the height statistics cited in the article include only English-speaking native-born Americans, and don’t include people of Asian and Hispanic descent.

OK. So what’s the problem, then? It’s not like our newfound shortness has anything to do with our moms feeding us Diet Coke from the bottle and us spending the entirety of our high school years eating nothing but McRib sandwiches, right?

According to Mr. Bilger, researchers have found that Americans lose the most height to Northern Europeans in infancy and adolescence, “which implicates pre- and post-natal care and teenage eating habits.”

Of course we are free to ignore all of this, because it relies on so-called “facts” gathered by people doing “research.” And as we all know, these “facts” are nothing more than ammunition for America-hating propaganda rags like the New York Times to make us feel small — in this case quite literally.

Short North Koreans . . . and Americans [NYT]

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There’s always next year

Perry Ellis

“Now it is done. Now the story ends. And there is no way to tell it. The art of fiction is dead. Reality has strangled invention. Only the utterly impossible, the inexpressibly fantastic, can ever be plausible again.”

– Red Smith

That about sums it up, sports fans, for our favorite Viking zombie slayer, gourmand and all-around swell fella, Pax Arcana. His Rangers were bounced from the playoffs by the Athletics, bringing this year’s men’s league baseball odyssey to a close for our beloved Scandinavian doofus.

But it sure wasn’t for lack of trying on his part. Here’s his line on the season:

19 57 12 18 1 3 2 13 5 9 0.348 0.544 0.316 0.8

In consolation, the Athletics went on to run the table and, as of this writing, are a game away from glory. We’ll check back in later for the final, so stay tuned, sports fans!

Way to go, Dave Pax.

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Friday Random 10: Traffic Edition

Pax Arcana

Here’s a bit of news to warm Perry Ellis’ heart on this cold, rainy Friday — while you might think an increase in bicyclists on the road would lead to increased accidents between bikes and cars, it’s actually quite the opposite:

“It’s a virtuous cycle,” says Dr Julie Hatfield. “The likelihood that an individual cyclist will be struck by a motorist falls with increasing rate of bicycling in a community. And the safer cycling is perceived to be, the more people are prepared to cycle.”

Researchers say the reason for this is that more bikers equals more visibility of bikers, which means drivers slow down and maybe, just this once, stop texting on the way to work.

The songs:

Honest Man — My Morning Jacket
California Stars — Wilco
16 Military Wives — The Decemberists
We Are All Accelerated Readers — Los Campesinos
Knives, Snakes, and Mesquite — The Bowerbirds
Narcolepsy — Ben Folds Five
Born at the Right Time — Paul Simon
Electioneering — Radiohead
Dear Prudence — The Beatles
Open All Night — Bruce Springsteen

Bonus Video:

I Go Chop Your Dollar — Osuofia (This, and I am not kidding, is a Nigerian pop song about those awful Nigerian email scams. It’s a huge hit, by the way.)

The Rules: The Friday Random 10 is exactly that — random. We open up our iTunes, set the thing on shuffle, and listen to 10 songs. We are not permitted to skip any out of embarrassment or fear of redundancy. Commenters are encouraged to post their own.


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Letterman owns John McCain

Pax Arcana


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An open letter to Andre Ethier

Pax Arcana

Dear Andre Ethier,

Like many baseball fans, I have greatly admired your talent since you broke into the big leagues in 2006.

You possess a rare combination of speed, hand-eye coordination, and power — and you seem to get better every year.

When you slugged .477 your rookie year, I was worried that your power numbers were a fluke. But then you went and slugged .507 in 132 games so far this year — an impressive statistic considering your place in the batting order leaves you with little protection behind you. Your OPS+ of 124 is also most impressive, as it puts you among the top young outfielders in the National League in that category. By all accounts, you are also a superb defensive player.

But this is not why I write to you today.

You see, while your baseball abilities are most formidable, they pale in comparison to the might of your army of loyal fans.

Nine days ago, I penned a satirical piece on this blog in which I lashed out at you for daring to write silly things on the Internet. Adopting a tone of outrage, I mockingly scolded you — a young and handsome Major League Baseball player — for encroaching on the world of losers that is the Internet.

“Blogging about stupid crap is our refuge from the pain of our epic failure to have your life, you throbbing hairy ball sack,” I wrote, figuring that anyone with more than a handful of brain cells to rub together would realize that I was making fun of myself and not you.

But like so many National League pitchers, I underestimated the power of Andre Ethier.

My satirical post was linked to on a number of Dodgers message boards, where it was promptly tethered to a sturdy post and swatted at with rusty yard tools. On this blog, people left comments encouraging me to “shut the fuck up,” and advising me that I “fucken suck at life.”

I have even been accused of sinnisism, which is almost as bad as being accused of cynicism.

That my original post was clearly a jab at those, like me, who write about trivial things on the Internet — and was not, by any possible definition, an actual criticism of you — did not matter. Your army of loyal Ethierites were not deterred. They attacked and they attacked and they attacked. I fear they will not stop until I am a wilted husk of a man, cowering beneath my desk, afraid to venture back out into the maelstrom of failure that is my life.

As I have already explained to Coolio, Pax Arcana is a blog with but one enemy — zombies. The shuffling hordes of the undead will not stop until they have devoured the brains of each and every one of us.

Pax Arcana, and our army of Flying Shark Vikings, has led the fight against these slow-moving ghouls for more than a year — and I believe your army of devoted fans would make a valuable asset to our side. Their blind devotion to you is clear. They will follow you anywhere and will do your bidding.

Join us, Andre Ethier. Join us, and we — and maybe Coolio, we haven’t heard back yet — will fight these miserable plodding zombies side-by-side. We will fight them with baseball bats, and with other heavy things, and with Internet flames.

I eagerly await your reply.


Pax Arcana

P.S. As a token of my sincerity, please heed the following advice as you continue your adventure in food writing — if you see something on the menu called butterfish, do not order it. Sometimes it makes orange oil shoot out of your ass.


Filed under baseball