1st and Ten: The Weekly Tendown: March 14-20 2010

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Dear Internet:

I have a cold. 

Your pal,


Okay - perhaps that's insufficient to satisfy my contractual obligation to provide you Issue 19 of The Tendown, your weekly look at the most important cultural happenings of the previous 7 days - but the fact is that I do have a cold, and that's going to mean a half assed job with this week's Tendown.  Unlike Last Week, when I discussed the Handsome Men's Club, Simple Jack comparing the Census to slavery, and found my new favorite phrase - The Rapture Generation.

But this week, this week I'm busted.  Busted, I tell you - busted like the very bestthing that happened over the past 7 days:

First: Cake v. Pie

After the first 7 games of the tournament Thursday, I got this text message alert from the NY Times:

NYT Men's NCAA Bracket:
Score: 52
Tourney Rank: 1
Sign up for groups @

That's first as in - my fun bracket was in first place in the NY Times pool halfway through the first day of the NCAA basketball tournament.  First.  First!  In the New York Times!  Everything's comin' up Milhouse!

Yeah, that's all gone now.  I had Kansas winning, so, thanks, Kansas. 

My brackets are officially thrown away. if I were more rugged, I could have used them as Kleenex.  That aside, the tournament now - with St Marys and Northern Iowa as officially minted Cinderellas - is wide open and far more interesting than even my most medicinal prognostication would have anticipated. 

But the busting of those brackets should not close our eyes to the limitless other bracket possibilites that the interwebs brought us this week - in fact, it's one of those Cake v. Pie which wins the crown as the best thing that happened over the past 7 days.  Let's play the game!

Birthday faces a nice contrast in styles in the 2nd round against Pound; that's like a Kentucky/Cornell game; Birthday is loaded with flashy highly recruited marquee athletes but Pound is small and white and fundamentally sound. So compact and scrappy is Pound - gritty and gutty - with veteran ingredients who just want it so badly!  Birthday goes over, pulling away late after a nip and tuck first half.  I'm going to take Carrot as the Cinderella coming out of its region, knocking off ICC in the second and doing it with surprising ease - then riding that wave in taking out Wedding, which benefited by a few terrible officials calls in defeating Red Velvet.  

In the pie bracket - Apple and Pumpkin make their way cleanly to their Elite 8 Match; silky smooth like a George Gervin finger roll, Pumpkin just can't miss from the field in that one, shooting 67% from the floor to earn a Final Four spot - but there - there it has to face an underseeded Juggernaut - Cheesecake - sort of like a Hakeem Olajuwon with dual citizenship - the taxonomic classification of cheesecake as not cake but custard pie creates one of the great second round matchups in tournament history - Cheesecake v. Cherry - Cheesecake v. Cherry, to use the language of wrestling, could be a main event in any promotion in the world - it's like if we got Phi Slamma Jamma against Hoya Paranoia in the second round of the '84 tourney - a half dozen blocked shots, a near brawl, Sleepy Floyd going coast-to-coast!  Cherry is up by eleven at the half, but a canny substitution by Cheesecake...

...putting in Cherry Cheesecake....

 Leads to a torrent of thunderdunks - including the shattering of a backboard (Send It In Jerome!) that rains delicious graham cracker crust along press row.  

That leaves us a Final Four for the Ages:  

1. Birthday v. 7. Carrot
2. Cheesecake v. 4. Pumpkin

Birthday's an overwhelming favorite, giving a dozen points at the closing line - but Carrot has two tide turning factors leading to one of the great semi-final upsets in sports history, included in the same conversation with the US beating the USSR in the '80 Olympic hockey semi-finals (Do you believe in Cream Cheese Frosting?  Yes!) the first is that in 2009, my birthday cake was a carrot cake - and that type of versatility (Look, Carrot can run up and down the floor with Birthday! - Carrot can play Birthday's style!) caught the overconfident Birthday flat-footed.  The second - and the factor that really wins the game down the stretch - is you have to share Birthday cake.  Most birthday cakes are consumed after someone has spit all over them after blowing out candles - then you have to hustle for a piece - and while there are presents - really it's commemoration of being a year closer to death.  If you think about it; celebrating birthdays is macabre; hey, let's gather around and sing: 

Happy Birthday to you
 Your Life Will End Soon,
Everyone in the Graveyard,
 Had a Birthday Party Too

Who needs that pressure?  I can huddle alone, in the dark, with my huge slab of carrot cake and watch my Will&Grace reruns and not bother anyone.  

Carrot wins - they go the final - where they meet Cheesecake, which solidly handled Pumpkin - can Carrot - which took out heavily favored Wedding and Birthday keep the glass slipper on against the monstrous Cheesecake?  

Yeah, no.  Cheesecake dominates from the opening tip - it's a coronation.  

Your winner in the great Cake v. Pie Tournament - Cheesecake.

After the jump - the rest of the Tendown

1. Man, Some People Really Don't Want Health Care

So, the House is going to pass health care reform today.  In the end, I guess I'm with Kucinich.  It's largely a giveaway to insurance companies - but it's better than the status quo.  Sort of like the entire Obama Administration so far - most of the pie (Such good games in that tournament - time to cue up One Shining Moment) is being served to corporate America, but we get a sliver we otherwise did not have.

The right - well, let's see what they unloaded in the last moments of debate this week.

- A Georgia Congressman compared the worthlessness of health insurance after reform to be like Confederate dollars after...wait for it..."the great war of Yankee Aggression."

Simple Jack, as only he can, said that the vote is being held on a Sunday was "an affront to God."

-In Ohio, a man with Parkinson's, sitting on the street, was screamed at "I'll decide when to give you money!" and had dollar bills thrown at him.

-Yesterday, the Teabaggers chanted "nigger" at John Lewis, Barney Frank was called a "faggot".

-A memo, purporting to be leaked Democratic strategy - loaded with Republican talking points about how the health care bill is some sort of scam, made its way through the right wing - the memo turned out to be a hoax - although that didn't stop Republican Senator and prostitute aficionado David Vitter from using it to raise money.

-And when the CBO said the health care bill would cut the deficit by 1.3 trillion dollars over the next 20 years, Michael Steele said the CBO was lying.  Now, if you read last week's Tendown, you may recall I spent a week ago Tuesday morning watching Fox News (that's the morning, where they don't do commentary - but "straight news" - "fair and balanced" style) and when it wasn't saying the Texas textbook vote was really about left wing "educrats" trying to take Washington and Lincoln out of our history - or pumping up Eric Massa's claims that he was a good man forced out of his congressional position by the Obama Administration that saw him about to defeat health care - they were talking about how the CBO was critical of Obama Administration estimates about health care savings.  Here, for example, is a story from March 5 about the deficit:

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicts that Obama's budget plans would generate deficits over the upcoming decade that would total $9.8 trillion.

See?  Nonpartisan.  When the CBO comes out with numbers - says Fox News on March 5 - those numbers should be trusted because they're nonpartisan.  That was March 5 of 2010.  Just to be clear. 

Now here's John Stossel, on Saturday, after the CBO estimate about the savings from the plan, calling it the Confusing Budget Obfuscation.

And here's Fox Nation:

Of course, who called the CBO score a lie was Fox News.  Here they were Friday:

Steve Doocy "can we really trust the numbers that the Congressional Budget Office comes out with?"
Sean Hannity "flat out dishonest"
Peter Johnson, Jr. "I think we're being spun."

Just so it's clear.  CBO good on March 5 and March 9 - CBO part of the socialist plot to takeover America on March 19. 
Meanwhile - 1 in 4 Californians doesn't have health insurance. 

2. 1071 to 1
That's the compensation ratio of the Top 100 CEOs in the US to the average worker.  $1071:1. 

In 1970 it was 45:1.

The best piece I read this week was an argument to raise the top marginal tax rates of the wealthiest Americans.

In the 1950s the marginal tax rate on those earning more than $3 million a year (in today’s dollars) was 91 percent. By 1990 it was 28 percent. The IRS says that the top 400 richest tax filers actually paid a rate of just 16 percent in 2007 (the latest numbers we have). Yep, the richest earners — people who took in an average of $343 million each — probably paid a lower rate than you did. Something to consider as you sign your 2009 return.

I assume Fox&Friends will be devoting hours to this discussion soon. 

3. Mystic Pizza - the 2554th Best Movie Ever Made
If only the mainstream media treated economic justice with the level of obsessiveness that some people create movie lists.

This dude has created a list (it's in a Word Doc) of the best 10,000 movies ever made. For example:

#17 Chinatown
#204 The Piano
#607 48 Hours
#1312 Steel Magnolias
#3472 Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid
#5361 The Karate Kid, Part 2
#6457 Doctor Detroit
#7244 For the Love of Benji

4. I Get Buckets!
If your brackets are busted - but your Basketball Jones goes yet unabated consider punctuating your day with The Gus Johnson Soundboard.  Or these 75 youtube basketball shots.  Maybe mash them up.  It's art!

5. But Make Sure None of it is Intellectual Property
A college student in Texas has been found liable for 40 grand for 37 songs she downloaded when she was in high school.  The message there is don't fight the RIAA.  Sure, the difference between the 37 songs she downloaded on Kazaa and the tapes I used to make listening to Casey Kasem in 1984 is nonexistent - but the judiciary is trying to hold the watery line on internet "piracy" whenever it can grasp it.  I don't know how much data 37 songs is compared to how much theoretically illegally downloaded material is taken from the internet every day without punishment - but a law enforced as randomly as that is no law at all.  Justice isn't drawing lots. 

6. In The Interest of Full Disclosure
A couple of Tendowns ago I put up a link to a piece that identified liberals and atheists as smarter than their counterparts - a piece which, because it serves the groups with which I self identify, is very pleasing to me.  On the other hand, there's this, argument that kinder people have an evolutionary advantage - which, as anyone who has listened to my inner monologue during the inexplicable motivational speech portion of a faculty meeting knows is not me.  I'm a bit of a pain in the ass.  Did you know you could change your outcomes just by changing your thoughts?  I mean, unless you don't have health insurance.  Then you're sort of screwed.  Corporations, in my experience, especially enjoy the following propaganda "your attitude is the primary mover of your own success' - because then it relieves it of any responsibility "don't blame us for layoffs or pay freezes or lowered working conditions or increased hours or losing half of your vacation or health benefit cuts or if the CEO makes a thousand times more money than you do while paying a lower tax rate - it's really your attitude - your thoughts that control your level of success."  Don't change public policy.  Don't unionize.  Don't advance progressive legislation.  Don't reign in the ability of corporations to control every aspect of the national dialogue.  Change your thoughts.  It's not about the plutocracy - it's about what it's in your head.  Don't sit on the street with Parkinsons Disease saying we should have a public option for health care - you can think you way out! 

See?  Pain in the ass. 

7. Be These Dragons?
A bigger pain in the ass is being sentenced to death for sorcery.  In 2010.  By an ally of the United States.  But the problem, obviously, isn't religious fundamentalism - I mean, even my big liberal atheist brain can see that - the problem, as the Pope said this week about sex abuse cases in the Catholic church, is the influence of secular society.  Which is sort of like the American Family Association blaming the recent death of a sea world trainer on a lack of following Biblical law.  If only we'd be more religious.  That would do it.

8. Tough Week to Be a Best Actress
Kate Winslet, last years Academy Award Winner for Best Actress had her marriage to Sam Mendes break up this week - and then we found out that Sandra Bullock's husband has been banging this:

So, curious decision there.

We've been watching Bullock on the awards circuit for months now, after what 20 years in the public consciousness, really reach the absolute pinnacle of her career - two hit movies, big paydays, critical acclaim, and an Academy Award - by any objective measure the high point of her life playing out in front of us - and as soon as red carpet rolls up - it turns out that her husband's been nailing a white supremacist. 

You don't know other people's lives.  It's usually a mistake to think you do. 

 9. Wrestlemania Silver
The last entry in my build to Wrestlemania Silver went up in the Counterfactual this week.  Read if you are so inclined.  Real world Mania 26 is in a week, that will mean a preview in this space - probably Wednesday - it might mean some type of Wrestlemania related Tendown theme next week - and probably April Fool's Day will mean I write Wrestlemania Silver for the Counterfactual.  I watched a ton of wrestling this week - really blew my way through December and a lot of January and February.  Didn't see a single 4 star match - Marufuji's return against Aoki in December was my favorite of the 3 3/4 matches that I saw.  I saw Humpday  which you can skip - and am watching The Messenger literally right now, this very second (it's okay, but you can skip it too).  I also got to watch my first Giants games of the spring - we are 13-6 with the best record in the Cactus League as we start our drive to finish 81-81. 

10. Team Bowersox~

And of course - I'm on Team Bowersox~  This is not a difficult call this season.  Yeesh. 

That's all this week.  I'll see you next time...if there is a next time...

Your pal,




Kate said...

Wait..My thoughts don't have magical powers?

Jim said...

Yours do, of course. I mean other people's.

Kirk said...

No one ever gives cherry the respect it deserves, from the pie to the Popcicle to Nena.

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