Crash Bag, Vol. 17: Sokath, His Eyes Uncovered!

College football season started last night as my South Carolina Gamecocks escaped with a 17-13 win at Vanderbilt. I have a strange relationship with football. As a  total package, football probably ranks fourth on my list of favorite sports, behind soccer, ice hockey and, of course, baseball. But nothing gets me angrier than college football. I don’t know why. I think part of it is that I know less about football than I do about baseball, so where I can step back and have some perspective when the Phillies lose, I panic and scream and break things when the Gamecocks even give up a first down. Add to that the inherently visceral nature of the game and I felt like I should tell you that in case I accidentally severed an artery punching through a window during the USC-UGA game. I should probably will the Crash Bag to someone in that case.

But USC won, and I live. So let’s get on with it, shall we?

@4Who4What: “Describe the 2012 Phillies season as if you’re explaining it to the Tamarians from ‘Darmok’ “

Excellent question. This is one of my favorite episodes of television ever. Not because it’s so entertaining, or moving, or well-written, though I might list those sometime later on. It’s because the conflict of this episode is so creative: the Enterprise encounters a race whose language is built on cultural references, and when no one gets the references, they can’t understand each other. If you’d like to know more go here.

Anyway, I identify with these folks–many of my friends and I have abandoned traditional methods of communication and resorted entirely to movie references: Independence Day, Tombstone, Shawshank Redemption, Apollo 13 and Spy Game foremost among them. When people ask what we’re talking about, I’ve said more than once, “We communicate entirely using cultural references, like that episode of Star Trek…

Anyway, the Tamarians have an appropriate saying: “Shaka, when the walls fell!” to indicate failure. I think that tells us everything we need to know.

@Giving_Chase: “What’s your favorite movie? Which movie do you hate that everyone else likes?”

Up front: “Favorite” is not the same as “best.” I said for years and years that my favorite movie was Independence Day. But last winter, Jeff Marek and Greg Wyshynski started talking up a hockey movie called Goon on their eponymous podcast, and in the months that followed, Goon became 1) the first movie I ever saw in a theater alone 2) the first DVD I ever pre-ordered 3) my favorite movie of all time. It’s absurdly funny, self-aware, topical (because it addresses violence in sports, specifically fighting in hockey) and sweet. It’s completely unrealistic about the on-ice aspects of hockey, but it understands what we love about sports perhaps more than any other sports movie I’ve seen. Maybe Friday Night Lights gets it better. But it’s smarter than any movie starring Seann William Scott and Jay Baruchel has any right to be. I love it so much that I made Xavier Laflamme my Twitter background. I love him so much.

As far as a movie I hate that everyone else likes…I like the Coen brothers a lot, but The Hudsucker Proxy didn’t do it for me. Not outright hatred–more of a “meh.” But I did hate both Adaptation and Being John Malkovich with a passion rivaled only by my own hatred for FC Barcelona and the Atlanta Braves. I love playing around with first-person narration, but that can’t be the whole ballgame. I don’t know how Charlie Kaufman rode that gimmick so long, but it makes me want to hit him with a snow shovel.

@_magowan: “the Yankees can’t be serious with their choices for the AAA SWB team re-naming, can they?”

I meant to get to this one last week. For those of you who care about such things, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees are in the process of changing their name. As much as I love the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, something just feels wrong about the Phillies’ triple-A affiliate being anything other than the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons. I don’t know if it was that way forever, but it was that way when I started following baseball and it seems weird to be otherwise.

But given that, and given that we’re not changing them back to the Red Barons, we need something quirky because it’s a minor league team. I’m really over the idea that names for sports teams having to be somehow menacing, as if the San Diego State Aztecs, for instance, were going to build a huge pyramid and sacrifice an opponent on it. We’re not seven-year-old boys. We can have descriptive nicknames.

And naming the minor league team is at best lazy (I guess Scrantonites are still “Yankees”) and at worst misleading (people in Reading are not “Philadelphians” any more than Port St. Lucie, Fla., is “Metropolitan). But still, we’re afraid to go off the beaten path with or major league teams, which is a shame. I’d have loved to see the unstoppable radiation monster of outrage that would have been unleashed had the Seattle Supersonics rechristened themselves the “Bombers” when they moved.

But, yeah, the list is stupid. The only one I like even a little bit is the “Fireflies.” Anything that lights up fits with the “Electric City” and it has a little bit of that mountaintop wilderness feeling, which might be unfair. Really, the only places in Pennsylvania I don’t view as weird, rural and otherwise Upstate-New-York-like are Philadelphia, Pittsburgh (which is an assortment of nasty people who love bridges but are afraid of tunnels) and Easton (which I associate with crayons). But Scranton? It’s either a place you pass on the way to the Poconos or the home of Parade Day.

Given my experience in Scranton, I’d change the team name to the “Blur,” because that’s all I saw the past couple times I’ve been there. Apparently Scranton has a massive St. Patrick’s Day parade every year, and since I moved back to the area, Paul (who went to U of S) has taken me up there to partake in the festivities. I say “apparently” because I’ve never actually seen the parade. The first year I went up there, I woke up on the day of the parade at 7:30, changed into my green Halladay t-shirt and went outside to call my girlfriend. When I came in, I was handed breakfast: one pancake and a shot of bourbon. And so it went from there.

So to me, Scranton is what people tell me New Orleans is like on Mardi Gras, except cold. And while “Scranton/Wilkes-Barre River of Vomit and Green Paint” does have a certain panache, I doubt you’d be able to fit that on a uniform. I’d be okay with “Fireflies” if they did some sort of black-white-and-yellow color scheme, maybe if the buttons on their jerseys glowed in the dark. I guess the only thing I can say about the other nicknames is that there are no Dunder-Mifflin jokes. I think we can all be grateful for that.

@soundofphilly: “who would win in a fight: Buster the BlueClaw or the Crazy Hot Dog Vendor”

Crazy Hot Dog Vendor by default. Buster does not have claws. Your mascot is a crab, and yet your mascot is some amorphous Youppi knockoff. I get that it has to be kid-friendly and furry, but you need a claw. In all fights, the claw is the tie-breaker.

@lexuhbooz: “How many pimples do you think the girl with the lipstick all over her face woke up with the next morning?”

That’s quite something. It’s possible that she’ll get several pimples, though having no idea how lipstick interacts with skin (I’ve worn women’s clothing before but never gone for the makeup) I suspect I might be the wrong person to ask about this.

I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of painting one’s face. I’ve done it a few times in college (I joked at the time that SEC football games are the only place where one would fit in wearing either a cocktail dress or jorts and full-torso paint), and most recently at the USA-Turkey soccer match that took place at the Linc the day of the Roy Halladay Perfect Game. I had a little red-white-and-blue on my face, but a friend of mine had a star drawn on her face that covered, if I remember correctly, one cheek from her mouth to her eye. And as a relatively pale person who spent most of the day in the searing sun, she got a paint tan line. In the shape of a star. On her face.

So given the choice between pimples or a funny tan line on my face, I’d take the pimples. Don’t wear partial face paint to afternoon games when it’s sunny.

@hdrubin: “Question: Should the next Phillies manager be a badass dirt-kickin’ rabble-rousin’ rageball? Or another grandpa?”

I’d rather have a nerd. Joe Maddon is, for my money, the best manager in the game and it’s not even close. I’d rather have someone who’s unafraid to think outside the box and evaluate the game through rational rather than normative means. I think there’s a greater chance of getting such a manager with a phlegmatic ex-jock than a choleric ex-jock. So considering that often the best course of action for a manager is to do nothing, I’d rather have a grandpa than a “badass dirt-kickin’ rabble-rousin’ rageball” as you so artfully described him. Whoever’s going to be more chill.

@threwouttime: “what color is a mirror?”

Whoa. Reflective? Is “reflective” a color? (bong hit)

@Caoimhin89: “Why is Kyle Kendrick such an enigma?”

Well, he’s not. Because he’s neither a Nazi code machine nor a Russian hockey player. Kendrick has been really good this season, particularly in the past two months. Given the small sample size and arbitrary endpoint caveats, Kendrick has posted a .585 OPS against, a K/BB ratio greater than 3:1 and a 2.09 ERA. That’s not bad. On the broadcast yesterday, they were talking about how Kendrick has changed his approach to the cutter, and that might have something to do with it, or it might be small sample size and arbitrary endpoints. But as much as I gripe about his contract, you don’t have to be that good to beat the value on 2 years, $7-and-change million. Kendrick is striking more guys out than ever, and the difference between a 4.6 K/9 guy (2011) and a 6.4 K/9 guy (2012) is the difference between being a taxi squad guy and a decent back-end starter. We’ve been so spoiled by having eight different starting pitchers post good seasons since 2008–three of whom made Cy Young noise–that I think we lose a little bit of perspective. A guy who can throw 180 innings with a 4.50 ERA and never get hurt isn’t that bad out of the back of a rotation, and if Kendrick can be that, we should be happy.

@JonCheddar: “what is your opinion of the best movie line ever? Non- “You Knew Marcus Aurelius?” division, obviously”

Gladiator has a bunch of them. This is a tough question. Anything Malcolm Tucker says in In the Loop  has to be up there, because anytime you create a political farce as an excuse for a skinny Scottish man to yell at people for 90 minutes, you’re going to have some good lines. Ocean’s Eleven has a few good ones, as well, but most of those are the Clooney/Pitt back-and-forth. I’m also a big fan of the “Fuck me? Fuck you, you redneck sonofabitch!” from Primary Colors.

But the line that popped into my head is from Serenity. You’ll find funnier lines, or even more emotionally significant lines in that film, and compared to the entire Firefly oeuvre, it doesn’t stick out. But “No more running. I aim to misbehave,” always resonated with me. I’m not sure why.

@treblaw: “if this season were a rock opera, what songs would be featured to tell the story?”

I hate jukebox musicals. Whenever you twist the plot and characters to fit the songs, your plot and characters will suffer. Glee found this out in a hurry, as did Across the Universe, the Ludovico Treatment of 21st century cinema.

But for the Phillies, we have the following:

We end with some topical humor.

@Billy_Yeager: “Who would you put in an invisible chair and what would you ask them?”

I’d like to put Ruben Amaro in an invisible chair and I’d like to ask him to stay there and not move until the Phillies find a better general manager.

@bxe1234: “Are you more or less likely to see the new Eastwood baseball flic now that we know he has dimentia?”

No. I wasn’t going to see a movie about a nasty old man who’s unable to adapt to the changing world around him before and I’m certainly not going to see it now. In case you were wondering, this is what he’s talking about:

I don’t really enjoy watching cranky old people do anything, and the combination of lionizing old-school baseball, what looks like a ham-fisted love story between two actors I actually like and the involvement of the Atlanta Braves…well those three things constitute three strikes.

Have a happy Labor Day weekend. Save me a burger and a beer wherever you wind up grilling–I will return and you do not know the day or the hour.

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  1. Jim

    August 31, 2012 03:17 PM

    Watching Clint these days is really painful, and that extremely awkward speech he gave at the RNC was the tipping point in my opinion. He needs to gracefully exit the public eye before he sullies his great career with public embarrassment.

  2. BradInDC

    August 31, 2012 03:51 PM

    That trailer makes it seem so very very bad.

  3. BradInDC

    August 31, 2012 03:57 PM

    Funny, btw, that outsiders associate Easton with crayons, while locals associate it, at least in part, with poverty and drugs.

  4. Dan K.

    September 02, 2012 03:06 AM

    I would choose the name Fireflies just because of the show. And then you used a Serenity line later on in the bag. Well done.

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