What is More Boring, NPR or Sports-Talk Radio?

The significance of boredom, as a cultural force, cannot be overstated in the modern age. Our economy and culture revolves to a strong degree on Entertainment, on the manufacture of excitement and drama. When food is plentiful, and most of the necessities of life available, excitement and drama, outside of the struggle to obtain newer and better forms of these, which is itself something of an artifice, can only be manufactured, or synthesized. Therefore, the failure to create this means something. So I’m not asking the question in my headline in order to be obnoxious towards two things that I have long disdained. At least, not only for that.

I want to know, on an aesthetic level, what makes these two things boring to me. To do that we shall examine them, and to by that, I of course mean, mock them cruelly.

What NPR Sounds Like To Me:

“Hello and Welcome to Book Blab on National Public Subnambulance. I’m your host, Garn Hippleshitz. Today I’m joined by one of my five rotating co-hosts, Felecia Turnblatt, and with us, we’re very excited to have celebrated author Revna Salkanufluffluh, fresh off a highly successful book tour for her new opus, Things I Lost in My Butt, the follow-up to 2017’s Chunkugaya-Award-Winning Tell Daddy I Itch. Powerful stuff, Felecia.”

“So Powerful. So Moving.”

“Mmm, yes.”

“Mmmm.”

This isn’t a new observation about NPR. Their sacred charge to appear absolutely neutral and objective yields a vocal performance that is both deeply pretentious and soporific. Absent any video evidence of their insect-bodies emerging from their humanoid forms, we have to assume that NPR hosts are normal people. But they sound like eunuchs who couldn’t have sex if you dropped them into the middle of a Tri-Delt rager with a lifetime supply of MDMA. NPR appeals to people who stopped listening to new music in their late-20’s and believe that others enjoy being corrected.

What Sports-Talk Radio Sounds Like To Me:

“Hey, this is Norv Wankfol, on the All-SPORTS SPORTS-Talk with SPORTS. Today we’ve Got ANALYSIS and BREAKDOWNS of GAMES and HIGHLIGHTS of OTHER GAMES and questionable RUMORS and obvious TIPS for all you FANTASY players out there. I’m joined by my co-host, Scott Turdsling, who will be doing most of the actual talking, describing all athletic events using a quiver of six adjectives: outstanding, amazing, impressive, large, major, and key, while I chime in to ask for dubious predictions in order to keep the guys hiding from their bookies tuning in. With us as always is Gimp Mosely, who gets duct-taped to the telephone pole if he speaks more than twice every half-hour, as we only let him on ’cause he’s the station-manager’s nephew. Let’s just get into talking about the draft, Scott.”

“Yeah, let’s Norv. MAJOR developments at the Draft yesterday, some OUTSTANDING choices, and some AMAZING surprises. Overall an IMPRESSIVE day.”

This, it must be noted, is an entirely different kind of boring, the opposite end of the Gradient of Dull. Unlike NPR’s soulless droning, this is the boring that comes of endless rhetorical inflation of mundane events. It’s of a piece with the Weather Channel, which used to be a friendly source of local weather and nationwide radar, and is now stuffed full of sub-History Channel dramas about people interacting with extreme weather events, with titles borrowed from B-movies. I can’t tell you who sport-talk radio appeals to, as every time I try to picture someone who enjoys it, my mind touches the void. It’s all gabble and marketing under the guise of “analysis”, which is pointless, as analyzing a sporting event does nothing to change your ability to enjoy the next one. The team with the most points wins. The rest is commentary.

But as it turns out, there’s a very clear idea of who listens to Sports Talk Radio: Nerds. Sports Fans are Basically Nerds:

  • Themed T-Shirts
  • Gathering with Like-Minded Obsessives
  • Attention to Facts and Dates
  • Hatred of People Who Love a Slightly Different Version of What They Love
  • Cosplay
  • Undying Loyalty To Something That Will Never Reciprocate It

But this awareness brings new light. Sports Radio, like a Comic-Con, is boring to me because it amounts to obsessives talking about things that I have, at best, mild interest in. It’s the subject itself that loses me. It’s not anything the sports radio guys are doing. Sure, I can make fun of their witless chummery and lack of formal erudition, but that’s audience-appropriate. If anything, it would be more ridiculous to drop ten-dollar words in a discussion of a baseball game. These guys know they’re subject, they’re passionate about it, and at their best, can discuss it on a level that improves their audience’s understanding of it. My lack of interest is on me.

On the other hand, NPR is talking about things that I do have an interest in: literature, politics, art, etc. I should be a regular listener. Instead, I would rather claw my ears out. Because unlike sports radio guys, NPR hosts act as though they’re observing everything from a great height, like museum curators picking apart a thing long dead. They’re actively making interesting things boring through their performance (yes, being on the radio is a performance). And aside from introducing a few new facts or lukewarm takes into public discourse, none of them have anything interesting to say. There is nothing truly subversive or thought-provoking on NPR; it’s all Approved Narrative, Pravda read into a microphone by WASPS.

It’s one thing not to be able to interest someone in a subject despite your best efforts. It’s another to ruin someone’s enjoyment or understanding by your dullness. NPR is guilty of the latter. They are more boring. So Let it Be Written.

How Soon Before the “Caucasians” Shirt Becomes Racist?

Click here for story:

anvil__black_mockup_4_1024x1024

It’s not racist now, because it was a black man wearing it to make a cheeky point about sports mascots. Speaking Truth to Power or whatever the usual formula is meaning permissible.

When White people start wearing it? Could be problematic, on three levels:

  1. The Right Sorts of White People wearing it “ironically” or “in solidarity” with Mr. Jones and his point. Probably okay but could be cultural appropriation.
  2. White People of Questionable Sort wearing it “pseudo-ironically”, or pretending to support the point but really taking advantage of the opportunity to  express their identity in a sanctioned, not-racist way. This needs to be vigorously questioned and deconstructed. At some point we will decide that all #1 are really #2, and that all #2 are really…
  3. The Wrong Sort of White People un-apologetically inverting the point and snarkily expressing pride in their identity. This is exactly the same as wearing a Klan Robe.

You heard it hear first. Also, I kind of want one. I denounce myself beforehand.

 

The USA Tied Portugal!

And that puts us in a really good position in ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ
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"Four points after two matches…that's…good?"
“Four points after two matches…that’s…good?”

A Few Modest Suggestions For the #NewRedskinsName

As it turns out, the Patent Office refusing to register the trademarks for the Washington Redskins means less than you might think. Largely it means that the federal government will no longer actively protect the trademark. It doesn’t mean the team can’t use the name or sue to keep its use in its own hands. Read here for how all that’s broken down. (h/t: Ace) So the lively twitter hashtag #NewRedskinsName will probably amount to naught.

But, there may yet come a point when the team’s owner tires of these shenanigans (especially if he reflects on how his stated intent of the use of the name will never be afforded the same courtesy as the stated intent of Liberals in Good Standing like Stephen Colbert), and decides that he wants news reports on his team to concern themselves with their most recent playoff failure instead of the racism-dissociation kabuki de jeur. To that end, I offer these suggestions for a new team name, depending on how Mr. Snyder wants to put an end to the matter:

1. If Mr. Snyder wants to change as little as possible, while flying under the PC radar:

redskinsThe Washington Potomacs.

Advantages: You can probably keep the same logo and mascot (after all, who is to say that the stately Native American bust on the helmets isn’t a Potomac?). If the University of Florida is allowed to call itself the Seminoles, this should fly. You might get the leadership of the 500 current members of the Patawomeck tribe to sign off on it, just to seal the deal.

 

If he want to be obnoxious about it: change the team logo to resemble one of the warrior indians from this picture:

WWscalping3

Edit the white woman out, of course, just make the guy look as badass as all football mascots are supposed to be. I’d go with the one on the right.

2. If Snyder Wants to Illustrate What it Would Actually Look Like if Football Team Names Were Intended to Disparage Their Subjects:

libThe Washington Liberals

Advantages: This could be a fun exercise in protest theater. The mascot could be someone dressed up as the College Liberal meme to the left, who could march up and down the field holding “Down With This Sort of Thing”-type signs. The coach should throw out his red flag -regardless of whether he’s used up his challenges – every time he deems the other team has played “insensitively”. Instead of Cheerleaders, they could have Discourse Providers, who would spend halftime lecturing the fans about how horrible they all are, before ritually flagellating themselves for whatever white or cisgendered privilege they happens to be holding onto (differently-gendered Discourse Providers of Color would naturally be excused from this).

If he wants to be obnoxious about it: whenever they make it to the Super Bowl, forfeit “in apology for America.” For bonus points, wait until after the coin toss to do it.

 

3. If Snyder Wants to Go Full Meta:

262112-Gray-Football-Helmet-largeThe Washington Football Players.

Advantages: Impossible to be officially offensive, yet contains as much gleeful obnoxiousness as the others put together. Grey helmets with no logo. Grey jerseys with darker-grey numbers and names on them. No mascots, no cheerleaders, no fight songs, no team spirit, and the offense should call the same play (up-the-middle play-action pass) every down.

If he wants to be obnoxious about it: Do it for one season, then go back to being the Redskins.

Getting Around the Nerd Behavior Paradigm

Cracked has a good article (how many blog posts have started with those five words, I wonder?) about how awful nerds/geeks are as human beings. Read the whole thing, obviously, but in brief:

  1. We Feel Like We’re Owed Our Favorite Things … Forever
  2. We Secretly Hope Our Favorite Artists Aren’t Successful
  3. We Think We Have to Protect Our Favorite Stuff from Outsiders
  4. We Think Our Knowledge Makes Us Important

Why are we this way? For the same reason otherwise sane people engage in borderline (or even non-borderline) criminal behavior over sports games: because of a tribal need to exercise dominance. The modern world gives us opportunity to do so over trivial matters.

And while it’s bound to be something of a similar behavior for me to say this, but I work very hard at not doing this. Actually, I don’t work that hard, because I tend to find such things…well, boring. Baseball is interesting, and gets more interesting as I get older. Talking about baseball? Boring as hell. Football is fun to watch. A bunch of dimwits in purple ties talking about football? Not so much.

stupidsportscasters

So that’s why I’ve made a consistent effort to tone down my opinions on inconsequential matters. Take, for example, the Kings of Leon. I liked them when they first came out, and their first three albums are pretty solid. Since then, they’ve gone a more radio-ready style, and I just haven’t been feeling it. My wife, on the other hand, loves the arena-rock boomers of their fourth album, and now I only buy those records for her.

What does this mean? Does it mean that my wife hates good music? That she doesn’t know when a band has sold out? No. It just means that she likes different stuff than I do.

So I find the solution to this kind of petty childishness is a healthy does of indifference. Indifference gets a bad rap these days, with some declaring it the opposite of love and worse than hate. And in one sense, that’s true. But it’s an act of pure fantasy to pretend that you can have a considered, thoughtful opinion about everyone and everything. It’s simply not possible.

When I was in my 20’s, I had lots of opinions, and most of them were emotionally-driven, snarky prejudices dressed up in common rhetoric. Back then I found the whole idea of Harry Potter offensive. Why anyone would feel compelled to rush out and buy a series of stories in which a teenage wizard confronts enemies with teenage wizardry was not just a mystery, but a condemnation of popular culture. I laughed at all these idjits going all Black Friday over the literary equivalent of a Beanie Baby.

Now, I still haven’t read them, because the central premise — teenage wizardry — still doesn’t interest me. But that’s just me. Other people — most people, in fact — love these stories with a deep and abiding passion. I am told they are well-written. So, I assume that I’m one of the outliers here, and say Peace Be Upon the Potterheads, and I hope the next Rowling book wins a Pulitzer.

Saying that costs me nothing and doesn’t entail a commitment to spend my time reading or doing anything I don’t want to. It’s all a free world, and a candle loses nothing of its light by lighting another candle, and I’m better than yoooooooouuuuu…

What?

How Facebook Saved the Superbowl

Every technological advance contains cost; functionality does not always transfer. Some time over the holidays, after wrestling with Verizon FiOS, I finally pulled the plug on the cable. Verizon still provides my internet and phone, but I watch TV on the Roku box. Between Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Prime Instant Video, I had everything I needed as far as content for the idiot screen.

Until I had to watch the Super Bowl. The game was on CBS, and live streaming at cbsports.com, but the Roku does not live stream. So that means that I needed to supplement my up-to-the-minute tech with a throwback to my pre-digital youth: a set of rabbit ears for an HDTV.

Remember me? Remember how I required a series of movements and rituals to function properly? Remember how I would stop working anyway? HAHAHAHAHA!

So after church, mother, baby and I rolled into Target, seeking the digital equivalent of the old signal-diviners I used to scan UHF channels back in the 80’s. There are several models, all of which use a coaxial jack, which information prompted an arduous attempt by both of us to remember if our TV even has a coaxial jack. We conclude that it must, because we used to have cable. We then rummage around the store to collect items for our Target co-pay (it is not possible to get out of Target for under $50. That’s what the security guard is really checking for). Since we’re watching the game, we I want football-watching-type food: high-fat, high-calorie, high-chance-of-morning-regret little bits of fried yumminess. Also, some sheets.

And we take all this swag into the house, and we feed the baby, and we the missus futzes with the wall mount to get the coaxial plugged in, and . . . we get FOX. We fart around with the antennae. We get FOX and PBS. We try some more. We get FOX, PBS, and ABC. We give up and watch a few episodes of Parks and Recreation while Nora naps. We try some more. We get nothing. I complain on Facebook:

  Andrew J. Patrick

21 hours ago via mobile
So I buys a digital antenna so’s I can watch the game, having no cable as I do. And we have to futz with the mount on our TV to install it. And we get Fox, UPN, and PBS. Lame.

This prompts my aunt to come to my rescue, as she lives around the corner and has the game on hi-def, big screen. We head on over, pick up the family platter from Famous Daves right before kickoff. The rest, you know.


My favorite commercial.

And then, the lights went out, and for 34 minutes on Facebook, we all became wits:

Even electricity thinks this game is over.

Is FEMA running the super bowl?

Previously on superbowl

If I were in the Superdome right now, I’d be on the lookout for Bane.

Buffalo Wild Wings strikes again

Lots of things in New Orleans are half lit…what’s the big deal?!

Yeah we all needed to lose another 34 minutes of sleep before a Monday morning of work, right?

Some of those are mine, most aren’t. And then there were the visuals:

Needs no explanation, unless you’re an uncultured whippersnapper.

And this social media outlet saved me from having to emit to my host and hostess my usual whine about football commentators being the dumbest form of fauna in our ecosystem.

So when the game started again, I had to say:

I hope the Ravens win, because if the 49ers come back and win after all that, the City of Baltimore will be complaining about it until the end of time.

There are men of a certain age who still remember the Colts sneaking out of the city in the dead of night without warning, and can speak of it only with bitterness. My hope was that the current crop of Ravens fans would be spared that. But as it turns out, the 49ers belonged in the Super Bowl, and my prophecy nearly came true. But only nearly. As it turns out, the Ravens’ defense had just enough backbone to keep Kaepernick et al. from taking the lead. And that may be the first time I’ve ever seen a team deliberately give the other team points.

So what have we learned?

That Facebook Save My Super Bowl twice. Once by allowing me to watch it, and once by giving me something to do when it stopped.

I Know Everyone’s All Excited About Peyton Manning….

…and it’s good to see him whup the living crap out of Pittsburgh, but I’d like to point out that the Vikings also won.

And how did they win?

Petersen had 84 yards and 2 TD’s, for thing.

Chris Ponder was solid, 20 for 27 and 270 yards passing, no picks, for another.

But more to the damn point, they toughed out an almost impossible situation. The Jaguars scored with a minute to go to bring the game to 21-20. Then they got the 2-point conversion.

At this point, most teams would have given up, eaten the win, and started talking to the press about all the things they did well that week.

Instead the Vikings rallied, and hit the long field goal to tie it up. Then they gave the ball to Petersen and he put them in range of another field goal. Which they got.

I’ve almost never seen the Vikings do that. They have a tendency to fold under pressure. This was a most refreshing tonic indeed.

The Olympics Make No Sense

I don’t get anything about what I’ve been watching for the last few days. Maybe for the past few Olympics. Things were simpler when I was a kid, when the Olympics were nothing more than the Cold War in athletic form. It seemed to matter then; I seemed to care. But every passing of the torch leaves me sitting in blinking bemusement on my couch, asking a series of snarky questions that all amount to “what the hell is going on?”

So am I drunk, or did I actually watch the Queen of England pretend to parachute from a plane with the actor who plays James Bond? And is it no more than a sign of creeping age that I can not help but wonder if her father was even asked to do anything remotely theatrical at the last London Olympics in ’48?

And could Danny Boyle really come up with no better way to illustrate the change from an industrial to a digital Britain than an ersatz After-School Special set to every last hit song from the 1960’s forward, the message of which seemed to be that cell phones lead to house party sex? And why did the one song NBC had to cut off for station identification have to be “Pretty Vacant”, which would seem to be the theme of the whole exercise?

But more important, do we really need all of that to interest us in the Olympics? Must every opening ceremony be a three-hour multimedia infomercial for the host country? Can’t they just run the torch in and make with the volleyball?

Of course, if everything just started with the Parade of Nations, I’d still find myself crabbing about, of all things, clothes. I don’t know why the Russian team was wearing cowboy hats and the American team was wearing berets. I don’t know who told the German team that they looked good dressed as Teletubbies. I don’t know why the British team went with the Gay Astronaut look. All I know is that the dishdashas worn by Arab athletes looked stately and dignified by comparison. Clearly the terrorists’ mind control experiments are a success.

And then, two weeks of gymnastics, the figure skating of the Summer games. Every four years I have to re-learn the difference between a lutz and a salchow, and every four years I feel the compulsion to yell at a group of teenage tumblers regarding their failure to Stick The Landing. Meanwhile, a 33-year-old skeet shooter from El Monte, CA, just became the first American athlete to win five individual medals in five consecutive Olympics. They couldn’t show that instead of the Men’s Semifinal Qualifying Non-medal Heat?

For more on the inherent creepiness of girls’ women’s gymnastics, see Stacy McCain.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to shout “USA! USA!” louder, so I can avoid the quadrennial complaint about the lack of javelin and fencing coverage.

So Shall I Assume That All the People Who Can’t Let a Breath Go By Without Attacking Tim Tebow are in Unrequited Love?

Here’s the thing about me and football: I enjoy it. I like watching it. I like seeing two well-matched teams struggle for four quarters. But that’s it. I don’t own any jerseys (couple of hats and a shirt, but that’s it). I root for the same team my father roots for, the Minnesota Vikings, even though I didn’t grow up in Minnesota. I also like the Ravens, as they’re the hometown team, and a good one. But I don’t cry when they lose (okay, maybe a little after that 1999 NFC Championship game).

And I don’t hate other teams that much, save for a lingering childhood enmity of the Redskins (due to the 1987 NFC Championship game, among other reasons). I don’t hate the Cowboys, like everyone else seems to. I don’t hate the Steelers, as everyone between Annapolis and the Mason-Dixon Line does. I don’t even hate the  Patriots, even though I agree that Belichick should have been seriously punished.

So I find the raging hostility to Tim Tebow a bit mystifying. People: he’s a football player, deserving of no judgement other than his abilities at same. He had the performance of the season this year, coming back to win games that the Broncos should have been out of. It ended yesterday, as I predicted, because the Broncos are not the Patriots, and Tim Tebow is not Tom Brady.

Tebow is what he is, and what he is doesn’t deserve the calumny or the obnoxious snark. He’s not the worst quarterback or the most overrated quarterback. He’s a Heissman winner struggling to put together a skill set that will make him successful as a pro, after discovering, like a lot of Heissman winners, that his existing skill set won’t do that on its own. And based on what I saw this season, he’s already a better player than a lot of guys who walked that path (Vinny Testaverde anyone?).

The “Tebowing” meme confuses even more. Maybe it’s because I’m a dirty Papist, but I “Tebow” several times a Sunday. It’s called kneeling, and us Godbothering Christers do it from time to time. He’s not hurting anyone. He’s not howling out for the blood of Jews or Muslims or Whores and Fornicators or Gays. He’s offering thanks to the deity he believes in. If he wasn’t white, no one would even notice.

So let it the hell go already. You don’t know the guy, and he doesn’t know you. He puts on a uniform and plays a highly-regulated gladiatorial game for your entertainment. Significance redounds to him precisely to the degree that you grant it. If you insist on hating him, he will never care.