Monday, June 30, 2014

New Names for the Washington Football Team

Imagine having to face this whenever you lost.

Here in Washington, D.C. a controversy is a-brewin’. 

Well, here in Washington, D.C., controversy is always a-brewin’. I mean, this is the seat of power for the United States, and yet we can’t even have most of our streets go a few miles without a sharp random turn to help with the construction that has been going on since 1982, the Metro is pretty much a joke, and a politician of one party visiting a Hamburger Restaurant for lunch can possibly lead to Congressional Action from the other party. So saying that a controversy is a-brewin’ in this particular area is basically saying, “It’s Tuesday.” 

No, this is a different type of controversy. You see, the football team here currently has an unfortunate name, as well as a very unfortunate record. Many feel that the name is offensive: the Washington Redskins. I’m not much of a football watching person (Go, Sport Teams!) but I have been following the name debate for quite some time now, and watching as it came to a head a few weeks ago when the  U.S. Trademark office cancelled their trademark, thus allowing even more bootleg merchandise from those people that sell things outside the stadium that I’m sure was totally legit.

Quick note, I am aware that some news organizations have stopped using the “Redskins” name. Offensive or not - this is the name for right now. I have my own personal feelings on the name, but this isn’t a piece on that. Also, they say that they’re going to stop using the Redskin name by announcing they won’t be using the Redskin name, thus throwing the name “Redskin” in one more time for good measure, and that’s just kind of wrong. Just like I did now. This is something else entirely. So, until the name changes, I’m going to use it, because it exists, and my personal feeling that words are words, and have the meaning we associate with them. Also, I feel “The Washington Football Team” not dances around the issue too much, and is a bit of a cop-out - if you felt that strongly about it, no matter the market, you’d stop writing about it until the name issue was solved. But, that’s too hard a stance for some people. Also if said wrong, can confuse people into think you’re talking about the Seahawks, and I don’t really have an issue with them. I guess that would be more “The Seattle Team” Again, not a football guy.

In any event, since the Redskins have lost the trademark to their own name, and the writing is basically on the wall that in a few years we’re going to have a new name for “The Washington, D.C. so I’m not talking about the Seattle Washington Seahawks,” I’ve decided to step in and help. As I’ve said repeatedly, I’m not much of a football guy. Most of my sports are Soccer or invented by science-fiction writers (Go, local Quidditch Team!). But I’m pretty creative, and I can come up with names like nobody’s business. So, I’ve decided to lend that help to the Redskin front office, and offer up some different names for the team. 

The Washington, D.C. Seahawks. This one gets that joke out of the way easy. Plus: we can finally get the all Washington Seahawks Superbowl that we’ve been clamoring for since 1974.

D.C. United or Washington Nationals. Jump on the bandwagon of our two teams that actually have the shot of winning the championships or making the playoffs. Then, rather than discussing the name change of our football team for six months, we can focus on the two teams that are both currently second in their respective divisions, rather than the team that finished at the bottom of their division last year because their name is offensive. 

The D.C. Griffins. Robert Griffin backlash hasn’t started just yet after it was was realized he wouldn’t carry the team to the Superbowl after his first year of playing, which is actually good for this area and the revolving door or Quarterbacks. Why not capitalize on this right now?

The Washington Daniel Snyders. If no one thinks that he has this up his sleeve right now, you’re all living in a dream world. There would be backlash, yes, but trust me, there’s a mockup of this right now.

The D.C. Potatoes. I’m still not sure why “Redskin” as a potato isn’t offensive when “Redskin” as a team name, isn’t. Shouldn’t they just call them “Red” Potatoes? I don’t think this would be a good name so much as the idea of changing the logo to a potato is being thrown around, and that idea is kind of stupid. 

The D.C. L’Enfants. What better way to inspire our team into stopping the other team then by naming it after the guy who designed the way D.C. snarls up traffic each and every day? We could have his face on all the helmets as a reminder that you won’t get past our defense. 

The Washington Generals. Nope. Makes too much sense. Plus there’s already a team with that name, and it’s not like owners have money to buy that trademark from them or anything like that.

The Washington Washingtons. Personally, this is perfect. Pretty much change the design of the uniform to a picture of George Washington with his axe, ready to chop down the opposing team. Plus, really distinguishes ourselves from the Seahawks. 

The Fighting Samuel L. Jacksons. Yes, let’s name the team after one of it’s most famous native DCers. DCite? Washingtonian. The logo pretty much creates itself, Samuel L. Jackson would make regular appearances, and it has a lot better ring to it than the Fighting Katherine Heigls, Plus, it worked for Marvel Comics…

The Fighting Andrew Jacksons. Why not name it after our most belligerent President who was known for beating people with canes? Plus... well, it would be kind of fitting...

The Washington Warriors. Again, this one makes sense, so I doubt we’ll see the name thrown out as viable alternative

The Washington Ravens. By this, I mean they all just disband, join other real NFL teams, and we can get the Ravens to play here. I mean, by the second week of playoffs most bars in D.C. have started rooting for the Ravens anyway, because it’s evident that’s the best way of a team within 100 miles of D.C. getting to the Superbowl.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

You Gotta Learn About Tom Cruise Sometime, I Guess

Don't drive angry.

Dear Lady Who Brought Your Toddler to See Edge of Tomorrow,

Hello. I was the guy who was sitting in front of you for a good portion of the movie. I did eventually move when you daughter kept kicking the back of the seat an I politely asked you to stop. I know, silly me, I was sitting there prior to you arriving five minutes after the actual movie started and using your cell phone as a flashlight, which made me feel like I was the one who got to sit “where I wanted”. But you insisted on allowing your daughter to kick the back of a stranger’s seat. So I guess that’s it.

To be completely honest with you, I don’t behoove the fact that you brought a toddler to the movies. My new schedule of working afternoons and nights makes it easier for me to attend the movies at different times of the day. In this particular case, I was able to go pretty early in the morning, thus allowing me to be able to get a pretty kickin’ discount. I also realize that as a mother, you may wish to attend a movie and you may not always want to get a babysitter… I totally get bringing her to the movies, and being somewhat respectful enough to bring her to an early showing, when most respectable people are probably at work, and not watching the many ways Tom Cruise can die in one movie. (His best death: Watch Collateral where he plays a hit man  and squares off against Jamie Foxx who’s a cabbie. Great movie. Very underrated. You may or may not want your kid to watch that one. It’s just as violent as Edge of Tomorrow, but has more swearing, so I’m not sure which part is your particular hang up with your kid.)

And you know, I think in this day and age of Tom Cruise marrying women that are 20 years younger than him, it’s probably important to each them about Tom Cruise at a young age. Maybe that’s why you felt a need to bring your child into a movie where aliens jumped out of the ground, or a mostly naked man gets smashed to death with a falling airplane a few times. Between the violence, CGI aliens, and the nudity, there is the underlying message: Tom Cruise exists. And he’s going to go after Emily Blunt, despite the fact that we’d be perfect together. 

Are you a fan of classic cinema? Because, and I know we all know the joke by now, but Edge of Tomorrow shares some similar plot points with a classic Bill Murray romantic romp called Groundhog Day. And while it doesn’t feature, say, a shot of a man being burned alive by a bomb as alien blood oozes over him, it does feature some wacky moments from America’s Wacky Uncle, Bill Murray. Your child may not scream in terror when an alien jumps out from the sand suddenly to kill a random soldier that wasn’t lucky enough to be Tom Cruise, but she may get a kick out of seeing Bill Murray let a groundhog drive a car before plummeting to one of his deaths in that particular movie. I’m just saying.

Of course, by watching at home you may not get the chance to give the evil eye to any one of the 10 of us in the theater that day, and the brave few who let out the ill advised “shhh…” noise any number of times your daughter was afraid of one of those growling, CGI Aliens. 

Edge of Tomorrow can’t be that bad… I mean, it was rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America, which as everyone knows is completely in touch with what’s best for us. It’s not run by a secret cabal of old white dudes that seem to randomly slap ratings on movies, nor are they at all motivated by money and marketability of a movie. Say a movie is a documentary about teenagers. They wouldn’t rate it so that teenagers couldn’t see it due to the “unsavory language” contained within, because think of the children. (Not the ones saying it, mind you, but the ones who might see it and then say it?) 

But hey, I don’ t have kids, yet, so I guess I don’t know when they’re ready for comedically violent deaths accompanied by a ton of violence, and aliens that scare them to the point that hey cry. (Kudos to taking your eyes of the screen for a moment to hug her during this scene.) I’m just saying that when I eventually have kids, I probably might wait until they can form full sentences before I expose them to aliens blowing up. Or people getting shot in the head as a form of comedy. 

And this isn’t against all kids in theaters, as you tried to make it when I politely requested that my seat stop moving. I wasn’t one of the those shushing your during your child’s freakout during one of the more violent battle scenes, no I started to ignore you long before that, right when I moved. No, as an avid movie watcher, I think building a generation of movie goers when quite frankly, going to the movies is being replaced with big screen TV’s, shrinking dates between a movie being on the big screen and being available at home (like Veronica Mars, which I was able to watch at the movies, then at home the next day), and more options in general, is extremely important. But can you understand my point of view that perhaps, at this point, you may be part of the problem? Maybe?

Of course, this probably won’t change your mind. In that case, maybe I’ll see you during the Purge sequel? Or will be be skipping that one in favor of Sin City? You know what, we’ll just keep the date open.


The guy that doesn't like getting his seat kicked.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Of 92 Year Old Novels and Starship Captains...

During the 2005 Musical version of The Producers, Matthew Broderick’s timid character, Leo Bloom, asks the question (when deciding whether or not to be a Producer) “When’s  it going to be Bloom’s Day?” Earlier in the movie, a calendar showed that the date was June 16th… the actual Bloom’s Day. It was a little bit of literary fun that Mel Brooks was having, thus showing that a movie that was a comedy, and partly a spoof could actually be smart, as well as funny.

Take that, next parody movie that’s just a string of catchphrases that showed you watch the trailers.

What is it about James Joyce’s Ulysses, an extremely difficult to read novel that still has people reading it - celebrating it - almost worshipping it - 92 years after it was first published? (Published-published… not serialized published. Serialization may have been cool back when Charles Dickens and James Joyce were doing it, but it makes figuring out what the actual publication dates should be difficult. Didn’t they think of English students today when they were doing this? Selfish writers.) 

After all, the Leopold Bloom of Ulysses doesn’t go through the epic journey that Odysseus goes through in the Odyssey, which Ulysses is based on. In fact, he goes through much more mundane “adventures” based on the original story. Also, it’s largely concerned with his wife cheating on him, while most of the plot of the Odyssey features Odysseus’s wife being extremely faithful, despite the fact that Poseidon straight up wants to murder him in the face. Although her final, uber-long, unending monologue seems to accept that fact that she wants to be with him. (some readings of her final monologue that end the day clock in around 3 hours long. In DC this year it’s being done by an opera singer, to relate to the fact that Molly Bloom is, in fact, an opera singer herself.)

Maybe that’s it, though. Maybe it’s the normal adventures of this man that make his life so appealing. While stories of fighting giant cyclops or narrowly avoiding being turned into pigs is exciting for a bit, most of us probably won’t ever experience that. Although once I did punch a guy dressed as Nick Fury at a costume party. Just sayin’. 

Leo Bloom is an everyman. That means it’s easy for us to relate to him. He can tell a story - an epic story - of just one day in his life, and we can relate to some aspect of it, even if we can’t relate to the whole things. Which is good, because I think it’s important for all people to understand that large sections of this novel are largely unreadable. Even places that stage live readings today, on Bloomsday end up taking about 33 hours to finish, and spread it out over a week. A week leading up to today.

Today is a day to celebrate not really the mundane, but the extraordinary within the mundane. Yes, we all have our daily lives we have to get through. And it may not seem it as we are getting yelled at by our eighth boss about that missing TPS report, or as we stand in line in the DMV to be told that we were supposed to get in that other line, or even as we wait in the post office and behold the fact that it’s become more and more obsolete with every passing form of technology (seriously, who would have thought that the mailman would eventually be replaced by robots?). But there’s adventure there. Some kind. Even if it’s picking up something new at the grocery store to try for dinner. Eavesdropping on a conversation as you wait in line. Or just flat out trying to pay attention to the world around you and realizing that it’s a pretty weird place. 

To me, that’s what Joyce was trying to say with what eventually became Bloomsday. And that’s why it’s so important that we continue to be reminded of it. Because if a 92 year old book can pick that up, why can’t we? So, even if you aren’t going to attend one of the many celebrations occurring around the world, even if you aren’t going to put on your finest Edwardian gear… put down the phone, tablet, or whatever… realize that whatever you’re doing can wait a minute.. and look around. You’ll be surprised at what you might see. 

Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t also point out that today is something less literary but no less important to nerd culture didn’t occur today, and that is Captain Picard Day. It’s that time of year that all of the children of the Starship Enterprise get together and have projects and such that celebrate the Captain that safely guides them through their little trek through the stars. (See what I did there?) As this was only a one off joke in a late-season episode of The Next Generation, I’m not sure it has as much weight as Bloomsday, or meaning, but it doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate with our finest cup of earl grey tea, or by engaging ourselves in conversation, or just flat out making it so. Maybe take today to re-watch a classic episode of The Next Generation, or that Macbeth that stars Patrick Stewart, or just going to see X-Men: Days of Future Past which is still in theaters. Which also features Patrick Stewart in a much less Captain Picardy role, but does feature him as Professor X, the role he was born to play.

It's important to celebrate this as well today. Partly because it gives us something else to celebrate, and who doesn't love a good celebration. But while I joke around, remember that Bloomsday itself started out not only as a small celebration, but the celebration of something that was in popular culture at the time. Remember, we may say that Ulysses is a classic, but it started out one day as a serialized set of stories - much like Next Generation. (Although Deep Space Nine did serialization much better than any other series, and well before it was cool. But it's Captain Picard Day, not Captain Sisko Day.) That's every other day. In our hearts.) Now it's considered not only a classic novel, but one that has an entire day set aside for it. So, why not celebrate Captain Picard day with the same gusto? Doesn't he have some important lessons to teach us as well about living life well, not wasting a day, and just making it so? It's all pop culture. Because one set of pop culture is "older" doesn't necessarily make it "better." 

      Regardless, spend today celebrating something, even if it's the mundane.