Stupor Bowl Sunday As It Happens Happened

“19:56: We popped over to the Puppy Bowl in time for some nauseating exploitation. But I hope it helps some puppies.
“19:57: Fourth first down? They’re showing signs of life? And Romo is a totally sarcastic smartass. And the Rams get one more first down.
“20:02: Suddenly Rams show a spark. But McCordy smacks the ball outta the hands of the Rams receiver in the end zone. Frustration on the sidelines.” | Read more after the jump:

Have no earthly idea why, but s I’m livebloggin’ this thing. You could encounter boredom and outrage and other acts of writing regurgitation.

17:36: After stomping down the field with run plays, Brady’s first pass is intercepted. Crap on a cracker.

17:39: Rams do nothing. Third and out. Juli’s punt return not great. Now for the usual over-hyped commercials.

17:41: Hulu smashes it outta the park with a Handmaid’s Tale ad throwing Reagan’s “Morning in America” barf campaign ad back in his face. Awesome.

17:47: Time out early, Pats. Neither team has calmed down from early hype. If NE can keep Brady on the field, they can wear out the Rams defense.

17:49: Turkish Airlines: A Ridley Scott film? Seriously?

17:50: Give Gronk ball. Gronk run. Run, Gronk, run. Gronk run 17 yards. Good Gronk, good.

17:52: Second Pats timeout? Whuh?

17:54: Weird social justice/Dr. King legacy/NFL trying to … blackwash (?!) their Kaepernick problems … without mentioning Kaepernick. Ridiculous.

17:56: Gostkowski … misses a field goal?! That’ll come back to haunt them.

18:03: Rams got nothin’ but a penalty. Brady coming out for third time from their 19.

18:07: Hogan drops a pass. Y’all need to settle down, boys.

18:08: Julian gets a good one.

18:09: What are you doing, Tom??!! Yeesh!

18:10: Go, Gronk, go!! Smash, Gronk, smash!

18:11: And they have to punt. Is this gonna be a boring one? Rams have 24 yards of offense and Tom has been kinda weak. End of first quarter. 0-0.

18:17: Rams still go nuthin’. Almost bobbled an interception, which would have been a touchdown.

18:21: Gronk catch, but Gronk short.

18:22: Go Juli! Go Juli! Awesome.

18:23: Tom misses Chris. Long third down.

18:24: Gronk get ball, but Gronk short again. Tom mad. Gostkowski redeems himself for the earlier miss? Yes! Finally points. 3-0, Pats. The ice breaker?

18:28: Rams are only running. Not far, but they’re running.

18:29: Jared finally tosses an 18-yarder. Should have been challenged. Where’s Bill’s head right now?

18:30: Rams stuffed on ground again. Good on yer, Pats defense. And they have to punt. Get your act together now, Tom!

18:31: Complete asshole/bro dipshit/douchy whiteboy commanding everything around him to respond to his commands because … he owns a Mercedes. A pox on thee, Mercedes, a pox.

18:40: Some things happened. The commercials are idiotic as always. I’m bored. Why do the Rams keep running the ball? Why don’t they let the Saints suit up and take over?

18:41: Goff just got smacked to the ground. Van Noy!!! Awesome. And then they punt. And here comes more insipidness. Every year, for the millions spent on these stupid ads, they could … end homelessness. Buy patients drugs they can’t afford. Ensure health care for millions. God.

18:47: Two-minute warning. Halftime. Which will be completely ignored. Maybe I’ll go scrub the toilet. That would be more fun.

18:49: Sarah Jessica Parker and Jeff Bridges doing a Stella Artois commercial with her flaunting big cleavage and him flaunting his ability to still remember his lines?

18:50: Mass confusion. Rams have 14? men on the field.

17:36: After stomping down the field with run plays, Brady’s first pass is intercepted. Crap on a cracker.

17:39: Rams do nothing. Third and out. Juli’s punt return not great. Now for the usual over-hyped commercials.

17:41: Hulu smashes it outta the park with a Handmaid’s Tale ad throwing Reagan’s “Morning in America” barf campaign ad back in his face. Awesome.

17:47: Time out early, Pats. Neither team has calmed down from early hype. If NE can keep Brady on the field, they can wear out the Rams defense.

17:49: Turkish Airlines: A Ridley Scott film? Seriously?

17:50: Give Gronk ball. Gronk run. Run, Gronk, run. Gronk run 17 yards. Good Gronk, good.

17:52: Second Pats timeout? Whuh?

17:54: Weird social justice/Dr. King legacy/NFL trying to … blackwash (?!) their Kaepernick problems … without mentioning Kaepernick. Ridiculous.

17:56: Gostkowski … misses a field goal?! That’ll come back to haunt them.

18:03: Rams got nothin’ but a penalty. Brady coming out for third time from their 19.

18:07: Hogan drops a pass. Y’all need to settle down, boys.

18:08: Julian gets a good one.

18:09: What are you doing, Tom??!! Yeesh!

18:10: Go, Gronk, go!! Smash, Gronk, smash!

18:11: And they have to punt. Is this gonna be a boring one? Rams have 24 yards of offense and Tom has been kinda weak. End of first quarter. 0-0.

18:17: Rams still go nuthin’. Almost bobbled an interception, which would have been a touchdown.

18:21: Gronk catch, but Gronk short.

18:22: Go Juli! Go Juli! Awesome.

18:23: Tom misses Chris. Long third down.

18:24: Gronk get ball, but Gronk short again. Tom mad. Gostkowski redeems himself for the earlier miss? Yes! Finally points. 3-0, Pats. The ice breaker?

18:28: Rams are only running. Not far, but they’re running.

18:29: Jared finally tosses an 18-yarder. Should have been challenged. Where’s Bill’s head right now?

18:30: Rams stuffed on ground again. Good on yer, Pats defense. And they have to punt. Get your act together now, Tom!

18:31: Complete asshole/bro dipshit/douchy whiteboy commanding everything around him to respond to his commands because … he owns a Mercedes. A pox on thee, Mercedes, a pox.

18:40: Some things happened. The commercials are idiotic as always. I’m bored. Why do the Rams keep running the ball? Why don’t they let the Saints suit up and take over?

18:41: Goff just got smacked to the ground. Van Noy!!! Awesome. And then they punt. And here comes more insipidness. Every year, for the millions spent on these stupid ads, they could … end homelessness. Buy patients drugs they can’t afford. Ensure health care for millions. God.

18:47: Two-minute warning. Halftime. Which will be completely ignored. Maybe I’ll go scrub the toilet. That would be more fun.

18:49: Sarah Jessica Parker and Jeff Bridges doing a Stella Artois commercial with her flaunting big cleavage and him flaunting his ability to still remember his lines?

18:50: Mass confusion. Rams have 14? men on the field.

18:53: Going for a fourth-and-one. And … Gronk can’t hold on, just past his fingertips. Rams ball. Damn.

18:55: But Goff bites the astroturf. Then fires a pass, but too little too late. Then hits the turf with a low pass. 28 seconds left. Rams do nothing, nothing, nothing. Six punts. This one downed at Pats two, but the half is 16 seconds away. Don’t do something stupid here.

18:57: And here’s the half. Second lowest scoring Stupor Bowl in history. Stadium sounds like there’s no one in it.

19:18: Is this stupid halftime thing over yet?

19:23: ADT and Property Brothers threatening us that we’re gonna see a lot more of them. Please God, no.

19:29: Kick the ball and let’s get this thing going.

19:30: Goff passes right to … Highland, a New England defender, who can’t hold on to the ball. Then somebody runs. It’s pretty much the first half again.

19:32: Injury. And a guy in what looks like purple eyeshadow says something about Belicheck not saying anything of substance. Then a stupid ad with a kid being exploited to sell South Korean cars made in Georgia.

19:35: Broken arm. Gets the biggest crowd reaction yet. Bloodthirsty buggers down there in Atlanta.

19:37: Goff heads for the bench again. Pats getting the punt. Go Juli. He has more yards gained than the entire Rams offense.

19:38: Tom calls “Reagan! Reagan!” It’s a run to the right. Like Reagan, overblown.

19:40: Julian takes a pass and gets 37 yards. Woooooot! Julian MVP? He has 120+ yards, so why not?

19:43: And they have to punt. <sigh>

19:46: Rams in the hole, get a penalty.

19:47: Am I the only one bugged that the navy blue on the Rams’ helmets doesn’t match the blue on their jerseys? And Goff almost gets a safety. And they make their eighth punt. But it’s a 65-yarder … longest punt in Stupor Bowl history. It’s a dubious achievement, but there it is.

19:48: More feel gooding, this time first responders get their due in order to be exploited by those assholes at Verizon. Love first responders, Verizon can bite me.

19:56: We popped over to the Puppy Bowl in time for some nauseating exploitation. But I hope it helps some puppies.

19:57: Fourth first down? They’re showing signs of life? And Romo is a totally sarcastic smartass. And the Rams get one more first down.

20:02: Suddenly Rams show a spark. But McCordy smacks the ball outta the hands of the Rams receiver in the end zone. Frustration on the sidelines.

20:03: Goff gets totally snuffed into the turf. Bam! From Hightower.

20:04: Rams get a long field goal. It’s 3-3. How thrilling. First 50+-yard field goal in 15 years.

20:08: Holding on the Rams.

20:10: And three quarters are gone. 3-3 at 53.

20:13: First Stupor Bowl ever where there hasn’t been a touchdown in three quarters. And then Tom hits the turf. And they punt.

20:16: Goff flubs it and marches 5 yards back.

20:18: 12:23 to go and Pats take timeout. Please God don’t send us to overtime.

20:22: Goff gets plowed into the turf again. Flag on field: Holding, Pats. Geez, boys.

20:24: Holding on the Rams.

20:26: Goff gets bowled into the sideline spectators. Then a pass that was nothing.

20:28: Burger King digs up Andy Warhol’s corpse to flog whoppers. Now it’s folk songs calling for communist overthrow being used to flog beer.

20:29: All Pats Super Bowls decided in last three minutes and by small number of points. Yup. Go Gronk go!!!!

20:31: Julian’s 10th catch. Nice.

20:32: GRONK GRONK GRONK!!!! Will we finally get a TD in this game?

20:33: PATRIOTS SCORE TD FINALLY!!!!! WOOOOOT! Thank you Gronk! 10-3. Whew.

20:35: Not amusing Amazon commercial. Cripes.

20:36: Okay, you got 7 minutes to go boys. Do it.

20:41: Thank God. Some Rams things happened then a beautiful interception. Pats defense should be MVPs!

20:45: 26 yards gets them some space. Plus illegal use of hands by the Rams.

20:47: Some confusion over time. Time out LA.

20:48: 26 yards by Burkette. Yes!

20:50: Two Patriots penalties?! Justified, I’m afraid. Calm down.

20:51: Belicheck is MADDDDDDDD. No one knows what happened. Two minute warning!

20:55: Washington Post “Democracy Dies in Darkness” ad. Hmmmmm. You should have given murdered and threatened journalists much more airplay. But it’s a start.

20:58: Gostkowski wins the Stupor Bowl for the Pats. Good on ya boys!

21:00: Here’s the last minute. Rams’ last gasp.

21:03: 48 yard field goal try, but won’t work. It’s wide left. Brady and company celebrating.

21:04: Kneel down, Tom. And congrats. That’s the ol’ ball game.

21:09: Madness on field. MVP should be Juli. And it is.

21:26: Finally the trophy. Yeesh. Belicheck is touching a child. Wow.

21:30: Juli’s kind of a goober like Tom. But congrats to his … amazing game. And I’m out. Night!


[Text by Steve. Photo by Nathan Gonthier on Unsplash. ]


—30—

Finally Entering the Public Domain

We’re finally getting some « spectacular stuff » released into the public domain on New Year’s Day (screw you Disney!).

We’re finally getting some « spectacular stuff » released into the public domain on New Year’s Day (screw you Disney!).

WWI Collides with D&D and Memes

It’s two years old, but I’m just seeing it for the first time. It’s « one of the best visual “explainers” » I’ve seen that describes the spark which ignited World War I.

It tells the story of that horrible June day in 1914 via a series of memes and the lens of a Dungeons and Dragons session.

Given that the spark (predicted by Bismarck to be some “damn fool thing in the Balkans”) ignited two large-scale global wars AND that over the next half-century upwards of 150 million humans and untold animals would die from the cascade of events following that spark, well, it’s a story well-worth knowing, telling, re-telling and making as relevant as possible to generations down through time.

11:00 | 11-November-1918

100 years ago today, at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, the guns along the 440-mile line stretching from Switzerland to the North Sea fell silent. The war started 1 August 1914 just as German Chancellor Otto von Bismark once famously predicted around 1884, by “some damned fool thing in the Balkans;” in this case, the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, a city of agony in the 20th century). But on 11 November 1918, it was finally “all quiet on the Western Front.”

A preface: I became interested in World War One history about 40 years ago, reading Elleston Trevor’s “Bury Him Among Kings,” a novel (undoubtedly my favorite of all time) with a title which referenced an epitaph mentioned below. From around high school on, I’ve read and studied and absorbed (and suffered through college courses) all I could about German history from 1815 to 1945. It’s endlessly fascinating (and disturbingly prophetic) study.

But it’s never really packed a personal punch. While many in our extended families fought in the Civil War, most were too young or too old for the world wars. One exception was our Uncle Louie Webb, who served in World War Two (and how I wish I could ask him about it!) and our Grandpa Pollock’s oldest brother Mearon Edgar, who was born in 1894 and is our father’s namesake. Edgar (as Dad called him) was a World War One veteran and he placed a small ad in the American Legion Magazine of August, 1937: “800th Aero Repair Squadron—Proposed reunion, Los Angeles, Calif., late summer or fall. Mearon E. Pollock, 306 N. Maple dr., Beverly Hills, Calif.” He was apparently the principal organizer of such squadron reunions up until World War Two. After the first war, he and his wife moved to Beverly Hills from Oklahoma. He was a barber with a shop on Wilshire Boulevard; she was a Beverly Hills public school teacher. They later farmed in Oregon and California, where he died around 1977. Interesting stuff, albeit a bit dry. The history of war should never be dry and dusty and divorced from our emotions. It should be as war itself: visceral, devastating, obscene to sight, offensive to smell, deafening to hearing. Hence the following post.

100 years ago today, at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, the guns along the 440-mile line stretching from Switzerland to the North Sea fell silent. The war started 1 August 1914 just as German Chancellor Otto von Bismark once famously predicted around 1884, by “some damned fool thing in the Balkans;” in this case, the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, a city of agony in the 20th century). But on 11 November 1918, it was finally “all quiet on the Western Front.”

We remember all this today because as Polish poet Czesław Miłosz wrote, “The living owe it to those who no longer can speak to tell their story for them.”

But sometimes, the living forget those who can no longer speak and instead harness them in service of the political or the feel-good, using their severed limbs to pat ourselves on our collective backs. This rather florid inscription on the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey, London, is an example of how remembrance can often be lofty, nebulous, nameless and faceless and sanitized and ultimately divorced from the nightmare reality of the war and how it was experienced by the men and women caught in it:

“Beneath this stone rests the body of a British warrior, unknown by name or rank, brought from France to lie among the most illustrious of the land and buried here on Armistice Day, 11 Nov: 1920, in the presence of His Majesty King George V, his Ministers of State, the Chiefs of his forces and a vast concourse of the nation. Thus are commemorated the many multitudes who during the Great War of 1914 – 1918 gave the most that Man can give, life itself; for God, for King and country, for loved ones, home and empire, for the sacred cause of justice and the freedom of the world. They buried him among the kings because he had done good toward God and toward his house.”

That was the official, sanitized, God-and-Country pablum version of the war. It’s fine as it goes, but the soldiers of the line saw things quite differently, and epitaphs like these tend to mute them, hide them from sight, rob them of existence.

So what’s a better way to remember then? How about starting with accounts left to us such as the prose and poetry of two British officers and a German soldier. It is their raw experiences which we should remember today, not “George V and his Ministers of State and the Chiefs of his forces” (who botched the entire affair so badly that it became an unprecedented slaughter), nor leaders gathered today at Compiegne, site of the signing of Armistice, nor the American leader shamefully cowering in his hotel in Paris, apparently afraid of rain.

Wrote British Captain Siegfried Sassoon in one of his best, sharpest, brightest harpooning poems of the “Chiefs of His Majesty’s forces”:

The General

“‘Good-morning, good-morning!’ the General said
When we met him last week on our way to the line.
Now the soldiers he smiled at are most of ’em dead,
And we’re cursing his staff for incompetent swine.
‘He’s a cheery old card,’ grunted Harry to Jack
As they slogged up to Arras with rifle and pack.

“But he did for them both by his plan of attack.”

Siegfried Sassoon

British Second Lieutenant Wilfred Owen, who was killed in action just one week before the Armistice was signed, summed up his generation’s experience and wondered who would mourn them in extremely powerful poems:

Anthem for Doomed Youth

“What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
— Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,—
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

“What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.”

Wilfrid Owen

The German Erich Maria Remarque, in “All Quiet on the Western Front,” a book which was later burned by Hitler, added his own voice in prose:

“I am young, I am twenty years old; yet I know nothing of life but despair, death, fear, and fatuous superficiality cast over an abyss of sorrow. I see how peoples are set against one another, and in silence, unknowingly, foolishly, obediently, innocently slay one another.”

“A man cannot realize that above such shattered bodies there are still human faces in which life goes its daily round. And this is only one hospital, a single station; there are hundreds of thousands in Germany, hundreds of thousands in France, hundreds of thousands in Russia. How senseless is everything that can ever be written, done, or thought, when such things are possible. It must be all lies and of no account when the culture of a thousand years could not prevent this stream of blood being poured out, these torture chambers in their hundreds of thousands. A hospital alone shows what war is.”

Erich Maria Remarque

Finally, it’s worth reading what is probably Owens’ finest poem:

Dulce et Decorum Est

“Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

“Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.—
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

“In all my dreams before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

“If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: ‘Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.'”

Wilfrid Owen

The old lie: “Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori” roughly translates to “It is sweet and honorable to die for one’s country.” As Owen wrote, dying like cattle in warfare conducted in the cause of nationalism or patriotism is never sweet. It is an obscenity. Just see the attached photos. You should not be squeamish; stare at them and memorize them. If you vote for war, support its waging or cheer for capital punishment, you should be able to look unflinchingly at the black and white images of the consequences of bloodthirst.)

As violent forces of chauvinistic nationalism rise around us, we would do well to remember not Kings and generals, but the experience and judgement of the many Owens, Sassoons and Remarques as the central lesson of this eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 2018.

[Photo: First World War infantrymen whose faces had been mutilated in trench warfare. They were known as the “gueules cassées”.]