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Where you read it first | Monday, June 24, 2024

Columns

The Setonian
Columns

Logan Crane | If you seek Amy

I am one of many in our voyeuristic society that thrives off of the misery and complicated problems of others. I am infatuated with the Web site Fmylife.com, where anonymous bloggers post humiliating stories for cathartic laughter. I suggest logging on to the Web site in times of desperation when nothing seems to be playing out right.     The stories people are willing to share will not only satisfy your need to reap the benefits of others' misery, but they will also make your worst day seem like a walk in the park. So, I dedicate this column to the existence of Fmylife.com. As fun as it is to read the blogs online, you tend to wonder if some of those stories could possibly contain even an ounce of truth. Thanks to the sexual failures of friends, I have included the worst hook-up stories that I have personally heard, and they make a little queef seem like a hiccup.     Here's the first one. It was the wee hours of the morning and she had snuck into the gentleman's room to awaken him with kisses below the belt. As she pulled the covers down and took his package out of the peephole, she noticed a pungent smell. Before I go any further I must make it known he was uncircumcised, and most of us are aware of sanitation issues with the hood. Despite the note-worthy stench, she went down for the kill. As she went down she noticed a flakey film forming on her tongue. When she pulled up, she opened her mouth and peeled off white fuzzy flakes that she had collected from the foreskin. A token FML moment.     Another story: This boy and girl were recurring hookup buddies and everything seemed to be going smoothly. After getting back from a party together, they started making out. He noticed that something didn't taste right but kept going figuring it was a mixture of Natty Light and Popov vodka. But the taste became more and more intense to the point that it made him heave in her mouth. They flipped on the lights to find out she had gotten a bloody nose. She stood there with a mouth full of vomit and blood streaming down her cheeks.     After a forties Friday, a girl had bumped into her latest crush at a party at the DU frat. She and the unidentified male made an appearance on the dance floor before exiting the party for some late night fun. Although she was beginning to feel queasy, she knew this was her chance for a successful hook up. Clothes came off and soon enough she was down on her knees. After the second dip she felt nauseous, and being that she was drunk she lacked the reaction time and rationale to remove herself from the situation. She was gagged by and accidently vomited on his penis. The guy had been drinking so he didn't notice. She slurped it up and continued until he finished. Party foul.     We all have encountered scarring moments that we may never be able to erase from our memories. They seem to replay in our minds, and we can either embed them in our brains and hope that they never occur again, or we can make a mockery of the situation by retelling the story to friends. Falling victim to an FML moment is never fair or fun, but I guarantee that describing your misery to friends will lighten the situation, and you might find that a little laughter is the best cure.


The Setonian
Columns

Alex Prewitt | Live from Mudville

As the holiday season quickly came and went and birthdays were interspersed throughout the year, we here at the Mattel Company recently released what was named the worst toy of 2008: the Dallas Cowboys cheerleader Barbie doll. Even though we rated this appropriate for children ages six and up, the doll comes with short shorts shorter than Spud Webb, boots skankier than Courtney Love and a halter top that leaves little to the imagination. While the media backlash over this particular toy has been extraordinary, we have decided to continue with our strategy of churning out toys that make parents convulse and kids shriek.


The Setonian
Columns

David Heck | The Sauce

    I hate Bud Selig. I do. I simply hate the man. And while I know he's done a lot of good for baseball -- instituting the wild card and interleague play, expanding the league and consolidating the AL and NL offices into the office of the commissioner -- I think that many times he's put his own public image ahead of what's good for the game. Remember the 2002 All-Star Game? Both teams essentially ran out of players and were down to their last pitchers. Because nobody wanted to jeopardize the health of those pitchers and the playoff chances of their respective teams, Selig ended the game in a tie. This, in my mind, was the right thing to do. But Selig drew heavy public criticism from fans and analysts for allowing such an anti-climactic ending that an MVP was not even named. So what was his solution? He decided to make the All-Star Game "more competitive" by giving the winning team home-field advantage in the World Series. This is a typical Selig solution: do something that on the surface looks like it will make a difference, but underneath really doesn't address the problem at all. The All-Star Game's always been competitive, even when it meant nothing. The only issue was that managers would scorch through their lineups and bullpens in an effort to get everybody in the game. And guess what? That still happens! If the All-Star Game were to go into extra innings again, there's no doubt that Selig would be confronted with the same dilemma of how to end it -- the only difference is that this time, his decision would affect home-field advantage in the World Series (which should just go to the team with the best record. Baseball has a 162 game schedule -- that should mean something). Selig pulled the same type of move when he oversaw the Mitchell Report. Severe penalties had already been instituted for steroid users, and Barry Bonds' run had finally ended. Baseball, it seemed, would finally move past the whole steroid era. But no. Selig wanted to make sure that nobody thought that he was part of the steroid problem (even though, like everyone else at that time -- from managers to executives to the union to the media and even to the fans -- he most certainly was). So he hired George Mitchell to research and rehash the entire steroid situation, just leading to more controversy and more focus on the very issue that baseball was trying to forget. And do you know what the worst part is? Yes, some players were genuinely outed, but others were named for absolutely nothing. Larry Bigbie told Mitchell that Brian Roberts once said he used steroids "once or twice." So Brian Roberts was in the Mitchell Report. There was no standard of evidence or corroboration. If you were rumored to have done steroids, you were in the Mitchell Report. It wasn't meant to serve any justice; it was just meant to clear Selig's guilty conscience. So what's my point? The other day, Selig said, "I don't want to hear 'The commissioner turned a blind eye to this' or 'He didn't care about [steroids].' That annoys the you-know-what out of me. You bet I'm sensitive to the criticism." And yet he went on to say that if he could go back, he wouldn't do anything differently. How could anyone involved with baseball possibly say this? How could the commissioner, of all people, say it? Because Selig didn't actually care about the problem. Everything he's done has been motivated not by fairness or morality, but by his own standing in history. That's why he even mused over the possibility of re-writing the record books this week -- an idea that's clearly absurd. Looking back, there's only one thing that should be erased from the history books: the contention that Selig is one of baseball's best commissioners. He may have done more to promote the game than anyone before him, but he also did much more to hurt it.


The Setonian
Columns

Caryn Horowitz | The Cultural Culinarian

My Advanced Placement Psychology teacher was one of those cool high school teachers that everybody loved. He was young, he coached a sports team and he frequently discussed his addiction to Xbox and his obsession with "Lost." Barb (an abbreviation of his last name) liked doing experiments with us in class, like one we did that showed the link between your senses of smell and taste. We were asked to taste different foods in three ways -- I remember the strawberry taste test best. First, we ate a strawberry while wearing nose plugs. Next, we ate a strawberry normally. Finally, we ate a strawberry after smelling a "related scent," which in this case was vanilla. The class almost unanimously agreed that the strawberry-ness we tasted increased with each round.


The Setonian
Columns

Zach Drucker and Chris Poldoian | Bad Samaritans

Lately we have been reminiscing and recalling our respective childhoods in the early '90s. We characterize our younger years as a time when a kid could collect Pokémon cards, read "Goosebumps" books and, most importantly, watch Nickelodeon. Do you remember the shows like "Doug," "Hey Arnold!," "Rugrats" and "Rocko's Modern Life?" Those were the shows that revved our engines back in the elementary school.


The Setonian
Columns

Evans Clinchy | Dirty Water

"You know, the first and greatest sin of the deception of television is that it simplifies. It diminishes great, complex ideas, trenches of time. Whole careers become reduced to a single snapshot."



The Setonian
Columns

Alex Prewitt | Live from Mudville

Dear Mr. Micah Grimes of Dallas,   Texas,     It is with great pride that I write to inform you that you have been selected for one of the most prestigious awards in all of sports. Your presence is requested immediately at the 2009 Abominably Horrendous Idiots of America Award Ceremony, where you will be receiving the Chad Johnson Honorable Mention for Excellence in Stupidity thanks to your recent actions surrounding Covenant Academy's 100-0 high school girls' basketball win over Dallas Academy. Step right up to the podium please, and allow me to tell everyone why you won.     Mr. Grimes, you are more stupid than a concussed Britney Spears. After coaching Covenant to an utterly humiliating victory, one of the most lopsided scores in the history of basketball, you refused to apologize, saying instead, "I do not believe that the team should feel embarrassed and ashamed. We played the game as it was meant to be played."     Kobe Bryant plays the game right, and even he cedes a basket once in a while. You, on the other hand, allowed your team to jack up three-pointers well through the fourth quarter and ordered your players not to let up on the full-court pressure defense until midway through the final period. Run up the score in a video game, but under no circumstances should you have transferred this win-and-humiliate-at-all-costs sentiment onto the floor that night.     Following the game, you created a rift with the school officials, who stepped up and apologized and went so far as to forfeit the win because of the embarrassment caused. In this fight, you figuratively spit in the administrators' faces, "respectfully disagreeing" with their decision to say sorry. So you were sacked from the job. Serves you right. I hope you never coach again. But let's give you the benefit of the doubt here; maybe you didn't know it was going to be that bad.     Dallas Academy, a school specifically for kids with learning disabilities, had not won a girls' basketball game in over four years. Sign number one that this game was going to be out of hand. Your team then went up by 35 points at the end of the first quarter, 59 at halftime and 88 at the end of the third period — scores some Dallas Academy kids might have a hard time even counting to. Signs number two through 6 billion.     What was going through that single-celled noggin of yours? A coach with even the slightest bit of cojones would have directed his team to stop pressing, instructed his players to pass five times before shooting and spread the wealth around before launching bombs of embarrassment. But you had to affirm your superiority so drastically that you did none of those things, and look what it got you: a pink slip and a stupidity award.     The home page of Dallas Academy posts the following as one of its mission statements: "Confidence is restored. Frustration is lessened. Barriers are overcome." Well, you certainly dismantled their confidence and heightened their frustration, all while posing a barrier roughly the size of the Great Wall. Congratulations, Coach, you have successfully managed to bring down the indomitable spirit of a school populated with kids who surpass learning barriers every day just because you felt that Covenant Academy needed to reach the century mark.     In a later post on a Web site, you said that "if I lose my job over these statements, I will walk away with my integrity." No, you will walk away with nothing but shame. This win is squarely on your shoulders, Mr. Grimes, as is having to answer to the 20 students at Dallas Academy who may have a hard enough time spelling basketball, let alone playing it. At the high-school level, competition is fierce, and it is understood that winning is a priority, but winning with class should be an even bigger one. Class and sportsmanship are absent from your curriculum. In a perfect world, Coach, a Dallas Academy graduate would become your boss and promptly fire you.     And congratulations on your award! Should I send it to your current employer? Oh, wait…


The Setonian
Columns

Evans Clinchy | Dirty Water

I am sitting down to write these words somewhere in the very wee hours of the morning on Tuesday, Feb. 3. "The Yankee Years," a 512-page hardcover bombshell of a book co-authored by Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci and former Yankees manager Joe Torre, has been available in bookstores worldwide for a matter of minutes. Needless to say, I haven't read it yet.     Neither have you.     That probably hasn't stopped you from forming an opinion on it. Right? I mean, we all know Torre's story. Came to the Bronx in 1996 inheriting a wild card-winning Yankees team. Immediately won the World Series. Stayed for 12 seasons, made the postseason all 12 times, piled up six American League pennants and four World Series titles along the way. Left after the 2007 season when the front office insulted him with an incentive-laden one-year contract offer. Moved out West and took over the Dodgers.     When you're talking about a man who spent 12 years juggling the egos of Alex Rodriguez, David Wells, Randy Johnson, Gary Sheffield, Kevin Brown, Jason Giambi, Carl Pavano, Paul O'Neill, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens — just to name a few — you're inevitably going to have a bias in one direction or the other.     Pavano already released a statement, saying he is "extremely disappointed that someone I had a lot of respect for would make these types of comments." Wells scoffed at a reporter and said "I'd knock him out" when asked about Torre. Rodriguez dismissed the book's references to him — a friend told the New York Daily News that "he laughed at the stuff because he is so beyond all of that."     But none of these people have read the book either. They're basing their opinions off of conjecture, off of hearsay, off of little bits of short excerpts that have all been taken out of context. We know that the book contains a quote about how Wells can "make your life miserable" and that Rodriguez is at some point nicknamed "A-Fraud." We know very little, however, about how these quotes come up, why they are relevant or even when they are said.     This is the New York sports media at its worst. The cheap tabloids that spend 12 months a year scavenging for Yankees controversy hit the jackpot when "The Yankee Years" hit bookshelves, and they'd be foolish not to market the Torre/Wells/A-Rod clashing the way that they have. This is an industry where shock value, not actual substance, is what sells, so why bother waiting for the whole story?     The New York Daily News, when it ran an article on Sunday about the Torre fiasco, had a poll running alongside the online edition of its story. The question read simply, "Do you think this book tarnishes Joe Torre's Yankee legacy?" Fifty-one percent of readers checked off the "Yes, he should have kept quiet" option; 19 percent opted for the neutral, reasonable choice of "I'll have to read the book." This, to me, is a problem.     But then again, when has anyone ever cared about substance? After all, this is a book about baseball. There are plenty of precedents. "Moneyball" (2003) is a book about on-base percentage. Like it? Hate it? Just sound off. "Ball Four" (1970) is about drugs. Everyone has an opinion on drugs. Let's hear it.     When did this happen? When did sports media devolve to the point that everything can, and must, be reduced to a two-second sound bite? Is anyone else worried about this?     In an interview with SI.com, Verducci told the magazine that the book "frames the 1996-2007 Yankees around the macro issues and seismic changes in the game … the Steroid Era, expansion, contraction plans, competitive balance issues, the rise of information and statistical analysis, the change in ownership of the Boston Red Sox, biomechanics as the next possible market inefficiency ... Those and other issues all provide important context to the book. It's an historical account."     Now that sounds like a good book. Probably about 512 pages worth. I wouldn't want any less.


The Setonian
Columns

Giovanni Russonello | Look Both Ways

When I listen to the Beach Boys' "Pet Sounds" (1966), I often imagine all five members passing smiles to one another in the studio, feeding off a collective vibe as they sing into their microphones.     Usually, I sing along. When I listen to the experimental band Animal Collective, I get sucked even deeper into the musical process. I often find myself adding something to its explosive, communal music — perhaps I'll sing a rhythmic "dah dum" on every downbeat, or maybe I'll add a harmony line.     On "Pet Sounds," the Beach Boys' famous vocal harmonies comprise only a fraction of what makes this music feel so bright and inviting. And if there is one band today that builds on the Beach Boys' collaborative rubric, breaks down another wall, launches its musical pastiche into another universe, it's Animal Collective.     Nowadays, a huge number of largely unknown bands are building, in exciting ways, on the best of classic rock, folk, soul and '60s pop. I've decided to write a column that each week sheds new light on a recent album by comparing it to what I see as its parent, of sorts, from years ago. This week, I'll line up Animal Collective's just-released "Merriweather Post Pavillion" (2009) with "Pet Sounds," an album many critics consider history's greatest.     "I really want to do just what my body wants to," Animal Collective member Panda Bear sings on the swelling and exploding "Guys Eyes." Panda's vocals here immediately recall those of Beach Boys front man Brian Wilson: He takes one strong melodic phrase, belted in stretched-out vowel sounds, and builds above and around it with harmonies and background vocals centered on counterpoint.     "You Still Believe in Me" is "Pet Sounds"' closest analog to "Guys Eyes," musically and lyrically. Wilson sings a repetitious melody that climbs up, then dips down, and the Boys cap it with a chorus harmony so rich that it's hard to find the overarching melody.     The orchestral sounds of "Believe" (and of other "Pet Sounds" gems like "Wouldn't It Be Nice" and "God Only Knows") are distinctly baroque. Harpsichords and chimes and horns swim around each other in a goopy warmth. "Guys Eyes" and the rest of "Merriweather" also give the feeling of an immense ensemble, but this is a wilder one. Continuing to move away from their earlier work as freak-folkies, the members of Animal Collective have essentially made an electro-pop album with high and hooky vocals backed by synthetic bass drums, whirly organs and indescribable sounds.     On these two songs, Wilson and Panda each demonstrate knacks for refreshing self-critique as they beat themselves up over questions of fidelity. Wilson sings, "I try hard to be strong, but sometimes I fail myself." Panda goes deeper inside his own head: "I want to do just what my body needs to/ If I could just hold all the thoughts in my head and just keep them for you/ I want to show to my girl that I need her/ If I could just purge all the urges that I have and keep them for you."     Some friends who have no patience for Animal Collective tell me that the group's music sounds like a broken record. There's some merit to their complaint. For an entire minute on "Brothersport," "Merriweather's" magnificent closer, we hear an overwhelming repetition of what sounds like an out-of-whack organ, a distant synthesizer and a police siren, brought to life and pissed off. But why not have some fun? Play Brian Wilson for a day and seize on these relentless phrases to add your own harmony to the mix. Now you're instantaneously a part of the Collective, and you understand how beautifully the line can be blurred between observing art and participating.


The Setonian
Columns

David Heck | The Sauce

At this point, everybody's heard about the "Giant Idiot" Plaxico Burress. But just in case you haven't, here's a recap of the bizarre story. On Friday Nov. 28, Burress was in a New York nightclub with a loaded, unlicensed gun. At one point, he felt the gun start to slip down his sweatpants (perhaps someone should have told Plaxico about the existence of belts ... or maybe just fashion; honestly, what kind of superstar professional athlete wears sweatpants to a nightclub?) and when he reached for it, he wound up shooting himself in the leg. He was taken to the hospital, where it was deemed that his wound was not too serious, and he was released later that night.


The Setonian
Columns

Mikey Goralnik | Paint The Town Brown

I love summer holidays. I can think of few things I enjoy more than getting my crew together on a hazy, hot Independence or Memorial Day afternoon to drink a few beers, have a few laughs and slowly spit-roast a wild pig with an apple in its mouth over a gigantic fire.


The Setonian
Columns

Michael Sherry | Political Animal

For all the drama and excitement that has surrounded this year-and-a-half-long extravaganza of a presidential race, most of it remained in the American political system's "comfort zone" — that is, for the most part, we were still dealing with a recognizable, normal American national election.


The Setonian
Columns

Caryn Horowitz | Cultural Culinarian

Yesterday, I gave a research presentation on the impact of urbanization on the foundation and development of eateries and a national cuisine in 17th-century Japan.


The Setonian
Columns

Jeremy Greenhouse | Follow the Money

Has the Hot Stove gone cold? There's been a slow start to baseball's free agent period. I think everyone is waiting for one piece to fall into place before the action picks up. That piece happens to have the most talent, most value and most girth of all free agents, and that is CC Sabathia.


The Setonian
Columns

Jeremy Greenhouse | Follow the Money

Last week, President-elect Barack Obama said on national television that it is about time for the NCAA to create a playoff system to determine a national football champion. A few days later, I read that Oakland A's owner Lew Wolff had suggested shortening the League Division Series to mere one-game playoffs. I liked both ideas, but if it ain't broke...


The Setonian
Columns

Caryn Horowitz | The Cultural Culinarian

This weekend, The Food Network aired a special episode of "Iron Chef America," the Thanksgiving Showdown, which pitted two teams of Iron Chefs against each other to create a Thanksgiving feast. During the judging, restaurateur Donatella Arpaia said that Thanksgiving "is like a culinary marathon."


The Setonian
Columns

Michael Goetzman | Spotlight

It takes a certain countenance and attitude -- a certain type of person -- to really pull off dreads. This fact is compounded when that person happens to be a woman. It's a hairstyle that clashes with our flawed but prevalent notions of how a woman is supposed to look; it takes issue with the idea that women, being ostensibly more dainty, refined and clean than men, can't have "messy" hairdos.


The Setonian
Columns

Grant Beighley | Pants Optional

It's hard to believe, but Thanksgiving week is already here, and you're most likely going to have to go home to your family for a few days, whether you like it or not. And when I say "it," I'm referring to your family.


The Setonian
Columns

Caryn Horowitz | The Cultural Culinarian

I started planning my 21st birthday on Oct. 27, 2007, over a year before the day arrived this past Saturday. I know this because I created a new Sticky Note on my Mac dedicated to my birthday festivities. Overly organized? Sure. Thinking way too far in advance? Yes. But don't judge me (yet) -- there was a reason for it.


The Setonian
Columns

Jeremy Greenhouse | Follow the Money

The summer of LeBron James' free agency has oddly begun about 18 months early. Teams are already clearing cap space for his services. But before delving into potential earnings and destinations for LeBron, we have to remember that this will be a personal decision -- LeBron won't necessarily follow the money.


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