29 June 2008
Football season is upon us. Perhaps it has been for several months, I really wouldn’t know. I only just noticed it last week. And by the way, when I say “football” I don’t mean what Americans call football, I mean what Americans call soccer. Outside of the US it seems you don’t really use the word “soccer” unless you’re a teenage girl in a badly fitting gym skirt trying to get out of P.E.
Right now as I write this, the finals of the European Championship are being played. It’s Spain vs. Germany; two nations with a common bond of past fascism and a love for goofy music (I give you Los Del Rio and The Kelly Family, respectively). Wim is in a bar with some friends watching it, and I am sitting at home in stripy pajama bottoms and a comedy club T-shirt not watching it, like a civilized person. I tried (I did, I did) to get into it this year. Three days ago I went to the same bar to watch Russia and Spain compete in the semi finals. I ended up being put off the whole sports thing once again as I was reminded of that caring-so-much-about-the-outcome-of-a-ball-game thing which I have never been able to get my head around, try as I might. I made the mistake of watching a football game that Russia had no chance of winning (apparently) with actual Russians. They were so upset by the outcome of the game that three days on their lives are still in utter ruin.
This was my friend Anya before the game:
Looking relatively happy and enjoying an evening out.
And THIS is Anya after the crushing 3-0 defeat of Russia:
Devastated. Lost. Inconsolable. It’s sad, really.
At that point I tried all my lighthearted ”It’s only a game” ploys, but she was a lost cause.
Luckily there was lots of alcohol.
But it got me thinking: I will simply never understand this phenomenon. The only allegiance I ever feel toward a particular sports team is if they have a lot of good-looking players or if I like the colors of their uniforms. All that running about and ball kicking they do is completely inconsequential to me. Don’t get me wrong: I like football. In fact it’s the only sport I really do like because it's easy to follow. The ball either goes one way or the other and if they get it past the little man and into the net thingy it’s a goal. I’ve been known to watch entire games and even follow a World Cup tournament. But at the end of the game, whether the good looking guys in the pretty outfits won or lost has no effect on me.
I once was hosting a comedy show in Denver Colorado on a night that the Denver team (American football) had lost to someone else in the Superbowl thingy. Like the truly hacky comic I was at the time, I started my set out by saying, “How’s everyone doing tonight?” to which I was met with steely stares and faint groans. For a few seconds I stood there flabbergasted staring back at them. I mean you would think I’d just bounded on stage in a Nazi Death Camp and said, “Hey gang! Why all the long faces?!” – So momentarily suspending all comedy (which didn’t take much effort in those days) I said, “Why are you letting yourselves get so upset over this? You should be happy! After all they came in second!” And I meant it with love. I mean clearly the Denver Broncos should have been proud that they were better than all the other teams except one, right? They had proved their skill, but another team just had a bit more skill, that was all.....These were the things I was arguing under my breath as I was dragged off the stage by the club manager to the angry jeers of the crowd.
I just didn’t get it.
Another time I was in San Francisco when one of their American Football teams won a big thingy (maybe it was also the Super Bowl thing. That’s the biggest one, right?) and there were people screaming in the streets and sounding their horns and this guy ran out of his car right towards me (Why? Why?), picked me up and swung me around screaming, “We’re number one!! We’re number one!!!!!”……I turned to a friend and asked, “Do you think he’s on the team?” because I didn’t know. And the guy was practically humping my leg and screaming the same thing over and over. I kind of got caught up in the frenzy of it all, but I still can’t say I understood it.
And why is it acceptable to act like that over a ball game but not anything else? Why don’t you see rabid Chess enthusiasts spilling out of sports bars in euphoria screaming, “Vladimir Kramnik Won! Valdimir Kramnik Won!!!!” and then getting into brawls with Veselin Topalov fans?
……….Am I missing something?
And here’s what I don’t get: What is this big thing that’s supposed to happen when your team wins? People always say, “It would be so great if __________ won” but after all the “We’re number one!” screams have died down, what really changes? Unless you had money riding on the game: Nothing. Nothing ever happens as a result of these ball game wins and yet every day millions of people jump around acting as if it does.
OK – Just now I turned on the TV out of curiosity and apparently Spain have just won. (This is the first blog I’ve ever written in Real Time!) They’re still in the jumping around and throwing each other in the air afterglow, and the German guys are looking like they’ve collectively just realized that Bratwurst is high in saturated fat. They came in second and they can’t even enjoy it. And their misery is made all the more painful by the orgy of jubilation the Spaniards are displaying. I’m pretty sure I can see them mouthing the words, “Numero Uno!” over and over again. Will one of them suddenly stop in his cute red shorts, realize “Nothing has actually changed in the world” and plunge head long into an existential crisis? Only time will tell.
16 June 2008
Lately I’ve been having a run of dinosaur nightmares. I tend to get these whenever I watch any dinosaur based movie, namely Jurassic Park, or whenever dinosaurs are brought up in conversation or whenever I eat at a diner. I’m dinosaur sensitive, one might say. I just don’t like them.
And as if the fact that they used to exist weren’t bad enough, the mere suggestion that they could one day be cloned and live again is just too much for me to bear.
And I suppose also somewhere in the back of my mind is the notion that if “God” did indeed create us in His image, that this was only after his first project failed. After the Giant Flesh-Eating Lizard experiment didn’t work out we were, it seems, merely Plan B.
So along with my fear of clowns and flying, I live with a mind-numbing aversion to dinosaurs, and in particular T-rexes.
I am constantly on the lookout for cures for my phobias, and one method I believe wholeheartedly in is the immersion theory. I once was cured of my fear of heights by having a bunch of people hold on to my legs while I hung backwards over the edge of the cliff. Incidentally, this also cured me of my fear of Strange New Age People. So when I saw that Jurassic Park was going to be on television the other night, I thought it might be a good idea if I made myself watch it. It didn’t work. It only made things worse. It made me feel so creepy that I was actually checking for dinosaurs behind the couch cushions (stop looking for rationality in any of this or you’ll just hurt yourself), and that night I had a nightmare that a friend of mine had cloned a T-rex and needed me to babysit it while he was out of town.
The nightmare was so vivid that I actively resented my friend for several days afterwards and a part of me is still convinced that a baby T-Rex is sitting with him watching TV in LA right now.
So as TV stations tend to do these things in clusters, the same station that had shown Jurassic Park the other night then a few days later decided to show The Lost World (Jurassic Park II). I took this as a sign that I should continue my therapy and I watched it.
Read no more if you’re like me and don’t tend to see films until several decades after they’ve come out.
Well I hadn’t seen The Lost World before, but the basic premise was that a bunch of freaks return to the breeding island for the original J-Park and there are these hunters who cause all sorts of mayhem (I always approve when hunters of any sort are shown in the bad light they deserve). From what I can tell, The J-Park series operates on the same premise as all Ghost Movies. That is to say that people do what THEY WOULD NEVER DO IN REAL LIFE and spend the night in the house that everyone says is the gateway to hell even though everyone who stays there becomes possessed and goes on murderous rampages. Only in this case they return to an island with dinosaurs and an almost 100 per cent kill rate and decide to camp out for a while. “Everything will be fine,” They think as they pitch their tents, “because where the big flesh-eating monsters live is half a kilometer away and they never come here.” ..................Morons!!
Then of course the Big Game Hunters come, looking for the most ostentatious trophy imaginable to mount on their wall (What kind of furniture goes with a giant T-Rex head mounted on a mahogany panel?)
They take a baby T-Rex (and I struggle psychologically while that pulls on my heartstrings) to bait Mr. and Mrs. Rex, and after the now predictable tousles with velociraptors (who are thwarted by a child gymnast…I’m not making this up.) they all end up on the civilized mainland where the male T-Rex gets loose. At this point the film is not so much a monster movie as it is Kramer vs. Kramer as the daddy T-Rex runs all over town trying to get his son back. I ended up siding with the T-Rex, which while perhaps not boding well for Mr. Spielberg, did wonders for my Dinosaur Paranoia. By the end of the film I just wanted the T-Rex to eat the guy who started all the trouble and return home with his kid and that’s exactly what happened.
And that night I slept like a baby.
So, it seems that the cure for a fear of dinosaurs is not a Dinosaur movie so much as a really bad dinosaur movie. Waterworld might be just the ticket for Hydrophobia is what I’m saying.