Friday, August 31, 2007

Wings, Keg and High Def...

College Football season is upon us! For 8 months I have waited, and waited, and waited. Finally it is here. The greatest spectacle in the world of sport. A combination of athleticism, media glitz and glamor, cheerleaders, parties, alcohol, mascots, traditions, rivalries, drunken fans, upsets, blowouts, cinderella stories and bar fights makes college football an unbelievable experience. And fortunately for me, GT is neck deep in the world of college football. It has pretty much cemented its place in the history of the sport by the unbelievable 222-0 win over Cumberland in 1916 well described by Wikipedia as the "Most Lopsided Game in College Football History". A great image on that wikipedia page is the scoreboard which lacked facilities for a 3 digit score, so a 2 is tacked on at the end looking rather awkward. Having already earned 4 National Championships in its history, every true Yellow Jacket starts each season with the fervent hope that we will add another one to that list.

Anyways, let me not ramble into our chances this year (which I think are pretty sweet, but I think that way every year). The first thing that some of you may have noticed is my constant usage of the term football. Now, in India, the country I call home, football is the sport where you use your "foot" to kick a "ball" into a goal, as it is for pretty much any individual not born and brought up in the USA. Unfortunately, americans decided that a sport where the kick is only used about 15 times in 60 minutes should be called football. And the sport where people use kicks about 100 times a minute, for 90 minutes, should be referred to by the meaningless nom-de-plume, Soccer. And I am being party to this desecration. Travesty!, you cry out loud. Yet, I confer upon the sport involving the pigskin the honor of the name "football" because it is easily the best damn sport in the world. No other sport involves the levels of athleticism, raw strength, talent and strategizing all at the same time. And I do not mean this in jest or sarcasm. I am being brutally honest.

First of all, the amount of tactical and strategic thinking required in the game is unparalleled in the world of sport. What appears on TV to be a barbaric and almost silly collision of human beings, is actually an amazingly choreographed dance from either team, the simultaneous existence of which on the same field may lead to crushing victory for one side, or a deadening deadlock between the two. The amount of planning, practice and effort that goes into each play is remarkable. Months of training are spent simply remembering the myriad of plays that the coach may have planned for the season.

Nowhere else will you see 300 pound men run as fast or turn as fluidly as on a football field. It is amazing to see the things men, who look like their legs should not be able to carry their weight, can do when put onto that football field. Oh, and people often quip (like I did) how Rugby players are real men, since they dont need padding. Well, rugby players do not accelerate and collide into other 300 pounders within 10 feet of them every couple of minutes. And even more unbelievable are the tackles made by 200 pound safeties who stop men twice their size running at full speed.

You may agree, or disagree with my belief that football is the best sport, period, however, there is no way i will budge an inch on it being the best spectator sport in the world. No other sport allows spectators to speculate, and strategize as much as football does. In fact, bars run games, where people try and predict the "next play" allowing the patron to pretty much play coach. And while the plotting appeals to our mind and other higher senses, it also satisfies our baser feelings with the sight of men tackling the crap out of each other.

So yeah, in 3 short years, I have become a football convert. I have just described the sport here, but when you add all the peripheral stuff that makes college football so special (most of them need to be experienced to be understood) you will probably agree with me in totality.

Friday, August 24, 2007


Disclaimer: The following post is Adult only...

I was, until yesterday, registered for an "Introduction to Film" class. It looked really fascinating, and my experiences in just 2 hours of class were absolutely mind-bending. Immediately after each class, the world around me looked different, and like nothing I had ever seen before. Unfortunately, due to certain time constraints I had to drop it. I will definitely be taking it as soon as the next semester gets here, though.

Anyways, one of the more interesting things that came up during the class was writing. While discussing the qualities of cinema as an indexial medium, writing and language was mentioned as an example of a symbolic medium. In other words, any word that we speak, or write, in most cases has no direct relationship with whatever it refers to, but rather, is a reference society has collectively agreed on. In our past "Fire" could have been named "Water", and we would still be calling Watermen when we knocked a candle over that set our house on water. While this is something I had implicitly recognized before, discussing it in class made me think more deeply about it. And I began relating it with my favorite pet peeves, censorship and taboo words.

One of the most frustrating things is how we have completely accepted censorship (of speech) as a normal part of our lives. Words in movies, TV are all censored. You watch Friends, and they never ONCE use the word "Fuck". Can you even keep track of the number of times you used the word in the last 24 hours? It is completely ridiculous because of how hypocritical it is. The one argument that can be made is the tired "What about the children argument!". Now dont get me wrong, sometimes it is a valid argument, but it is used so much nowadays (especially in the US) that its effectiveness has been watered down. However, this is one of the few cases where its use does indeed seem legit. Until now, I did not question this, but after the class I got thinking. If a word is nothing more than a symbol, then it is not the word itself that we are afraid of, because if that was the case, then we would have prevented the use of the word fuck on screen even if it meant "to cry" for example. However, that is an absurd assertion, so I will discard the possibility that the word itself is special. That leaves me with what the word refers to. And the word refers to the action of "making love". So by shielding children from the word "fuck" we are protecting them from the concept of inserting a penis into a vagina. Fair enough.

Or is it? Having sex, and more specifically, fucking is arguably one of man's most primal needs. In fact, it is THE process that leads to life. Whether or not a creator god exists, it cannot be denied that there is only one natural process that leads to human creation. And that process is defined by the word fuck. So by hiding the word fuck from children we are screening them from the most powerful natural process in the world; the one that is the reason that there is any complex life on this planet (some far simpler organisms can reproduce asexually but sexual reproduction is essential for the "rapid" evolution that has led to the existence of complex organisms). Why do we want to insulate children from one of man's most basic needs? An individual needs food and air to survive, and similarly a species needs its members to copulate to survive making sex as basic as those essential elements. Yet, when I use the symbol f***, no one mistakes that for "food". Can it really be that bad for a child to be aware of such a basic part of human existence? Or is it simply our unnatural and manufactured disgust for sex that leads to the belief that exposing children to sexuality on screen is a bad thing?

Another thing that really annoys me is the usage of "f***" or other censorship tactics such as that. Really, what is the point? Everyone knows what is being mentioned. Anyone who knows what is being mentioned probably also knows the meaning of the thing that is being mentioned. So what purpose do those little asterisks serve? Coming back to the whole "language is symbolic" premise, we have basically replaced fuck with f*** and just like how water would mean fire if that is what our ancestors had decided, f*** is wholly and completely equivalent to fuck. The only difference I can see is that someone who uses the former is implying that he/she is too cultured/polite to use a coarse word such as fuck. That, to me is ridiculously disingenuous because the writer is trying to have it both ways. They are using the word fuck, and adding all the force and/or imagery that the word provides to their writings, while at the same time claiming that they did not use the word fuck to add force/imagery to their writings, because they are above using it. Yet, they are using it!

And we accept it silently. Honestly, any writer who uses those little asterisks does not deserve an audience, because he thinks we are fools to fall for his "i will use it, but fool you into believing that i did not" trick. Reminds me of the story of the Sardar who when asked if the last number on the 1 rupee note's serial number was 1 or 0, replied 1. When asked if he wanted to change his answer with the further information that the correct answer was odd, the sardar immediately changed his answer to 0. I am not that sardar, and I will not read anyone who wishes to treat me so.

So, did I really need that disclaimer in the beginning?

Saturday, August 11, 2007


Woke up way too early again. Thats what a night of good drinking (and by good I mean it the old fashioned way...where you drink until you drop) does to me. Forces me to sleep early, and then robs me of my sleep waking me up around 4 AM. The proverbial asshole who dangles the candy in front of the baby, and just as the baby is about to grab it, pops it into his own mouth. Annoying to say the least.

In this half unconscious and fully unhappy state of mine, I flicked on the light switch, and in the few milliseconds that the bulb took to turn on, a pulse of joy surged through my body. Time slowed and I was flooded with a feeling that can only be compared to meeting the love of your live for the first time. In that instant a small part of the secret of life was revealed to me. The joy and privilege of being human in today's day and age.

Look around yourself for a minute and imbibe the wonder emanating from every object around you. Each gadget from the chair you are sitting on, to the computer you are reading this on, exists because of the combined intelligence of generations of people. And how marvelous are the results of that intelligence! Its hard to fathom all that goes into making the simplest of things. A mechanical pencil for instance. It has a complicated system of interlocking mechanisms, where pushing a button in one direction causes the lead to drop just the right amount in another. The plastic needed to make its outer shell was literally developed by humans out of thin air. Nothing of the sort ever existed before man had a crack at it. He took what god made, and made it even better. Think about it...improving on the works of the ultimate being! Even the creation of the lead is a fascinating sample of human intelligence at its best. Primitive man discovered that he could use graphite to leave stains and modern man figured ways to fashion it into super thin pieces that make amazing writing instruments. He even managed to classify it by different characteristics such as diameter and hardness, and reproduces it with an astonishing degree of consistency.

So next time you are complaining about how sad and lonely you are, turn on the light and think about how lucky you are to witness this achievement. This Mona Lisa of epic proportions, in front of which even the Taj Mahal and the Pyramids at Giza quickly fade.