Friday, February 14th 2014
Sunday, February 2nd 2014
Friday, January 31st 2014
AN NFL Rules Guide for the Casual Fan
Sunday is the Super Bowl, the biggest football game of the year. (As my soccer enthusiast father would like me to point out, it’s the biggest AMERICAN football game of the year. “It’s confusing, i’n’t it?” he’d say, tossing his scarf over one shoulder. He’s not actually British.) Many people will be attending Super Bowl parties and watching football for the first time in a year, admiring the various dips and shushing partygoers during commercials.
For them, I present my annual primer about the rules of American football. This will help you understand what happens when the whistle blows and a referee tosses a yellow handkerchief on the field. Football is so delicate! (As a side note, nothing is simultaneously more macho and effeminate as a sports bar full of bros flopping their wrists to demand a penalty flag.) Read, learn, laugh, love. To paraphrase Seattle’s own Macklemore, “It’s and weird and it sucks,” and if you don’t like it, blame Grammy voters.
Yards: OK, first of all, football is still measured in yards, because the metric system is for the Canadian Football League. And communist queers. The field is a hundred yards, and each team must advance the ball ten yards (that’s 9.14 meters, comrade!) within four plays, or they forfeit the ball. If they advance the ten yards successfully, they get a new set of four downs, which is indicated by the phrase “first down.” And, yes, after the very first time that happens, it’s not really “first” anymore. WE GET IT. Usually teams will punt or kick a field goal on fourth down.
Points: A touchdown is worth six points. After a touchdown, a team can kick a twenty-yard (18.29 meters, Vladimir!) field goal, and get a bonus point, or they can try to get the ball into the end zone from the same distance, for two points. This second strategy is generally reserved for teams who are confident and/or desperate, and is called a “two-point conversion.” That is also what it’s called if you can get a relatively small deer to join your evangelical church. Tim Tebow is excellent at both types.
Tuesday, January 28th 2014
Tuesday, November 5th 2013
Friday, November 1st 2013
Tuesday, October 29th 2013
I’ll Be Your Shitty Shitty Mirror: 20 Ways to Be The Worst Person When a Celebrity Dies.
I collaborated with Amy Miller on an important look at Twitter reactions to celebrity death. Summary: everyone is a hack, the search box is your friend, and Amy will be a mess in the unlikely event of Dolly Parton’s death.
Amy is very funny, so go see her in person this weekend at the Sacramento Punch Line, or any other weekend in Portland.
Lou Reed’s dead and that’s very sad and I heard about it on the internet. Lately when celebrities die, I sometimes also get the initial news when my friend Sean Keane sends me a text saying:
"Don’t go on the internet. The world’s worst open mic just started again."
The combination over the past three years of being more active on Twitter and being connected to hundreds (feels like millions) of other comedians has caused me to avoid going near the internet for 24 hours soon after the death of a celebrity I respect.
As a dedicated/ obsessed Dolly Parton fan, I have had actual sweaty anxiety nightmares about how many comedians I’m going to have to murder in cold blood if she dies. IF SHE DIES. IF. Take an otherwise wonderful human being who has done nothing but put magic and music into the world and add some breasts and a bunch of bored comics, and we’re looking at a shitstorm of disrespectful and, more importantly, tragically unoriginal jokes about the death of an actual person. An actual person being mourned by millions of dedicated fans, namely me.
I’m not making a “Don’t joke about tragedy” argument. I’m making a “Why joke about tragedy while also being hacky” argument.
The mean half-life of a Tweet is 2.8 hours. Emphasis on mean, in this case. Let’s say you somehow manage to have an original thought about a celebrity death (By the way, Twitter Search makes originality very easy to confirm if you’re unsure.) - 50 percent of people who will EVER read that Tweet will do so within 2.8 hours. That’s your window of shitty death Tweet fame. You have 2.8 hours for your fans to enjoy your hacky fucking comment about a great person’s life while people legitimately mourn. Because they are DEAD. And you are just being “edgy” while taking a dump - figuratively and literally.
But it’s not just the hacky mean Tweeters that get to me. If Dolly dies (IF), why should I take it upon myself to point out how much more I loved her than everyone else? If way more people show up to your friend’s funeral than you expected, do you ask them to leave? She deserves every ounce of praise the internet could muster and more.
I’m just so tired of the true fandom police, the snarky “Twitter sucks” police, the timely knowledge police, and people who think it’s not comedy to express a real feeling or offer a genuine tribute.
After several rounds of examination following celebrity deaths, Sean and I have narrowed the worst offenders down to the following types.
If you want to be the absolute worst, you should do any of these things the next time someone famous dies.
IT’S OK TO HAVE EMOTIONS. WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU.
I’ll Be Your Shitty Shitty Mirror: 20 Ways to Be The Worst Person When a Celebrity Dies.
- by Amy and Sean
1. QUICK! Try to announce it first whether you care or not!
RIP Lou Reed :(
2. Pretend another celebrity with a similar name died.
Lou Reed died? That sucks. I loved Mambo No. 5!
3. Be a straight up insensitive dick with dead celeb name in the hashtag only
Big surprise that decades of drugs and drinking can kill you. #LouReed
4. Make a Shitty Overused Pun
More like Velvet Six Feet Underground
5. Make a well-intentioned but overused pun
What an imperfect day #RIPLouReed
6. Start a Parody account
@LouReedsGhost: I’m walking on the wild side!
7. Be the hoax watch dog
You guys should be careful about announcing someone’s death before it’s confirmed #VivaLouReed
8. Be a pretend double hoax!
Lou Reed’s death is a hoax!
9. Meta Tweet about how you joined the conversation after everyone else already knowing and now feel self-conscious about expressing real feelings
Did you guys hear Lou Reed died? Of course you did, it happened 5 minutes ago. #RIPLouReed :(
10. Pull the ol’ double celebrity news joke
I can’t believe Chris Brown killed Lou Reed
11. Pull the double celeb news joke + imply that the life of this other famous person who is still alive is worth so much less than the guy who died even though you know neither one of them personally.
Lou Reed’s dead and Miley Cyrus is still alive? #GodIsntReal
12. Let people know you’re a true fan with a heavy dose of sarcasm
That’s so cool how much you all like Lou Reed today.
13. Be a true fan but remind everyone of that shitty thing he created once
Lou will be missed. Lulu will not. #RIPLouReed #MetallicaSucks
14. Imply Old age/ Cultural irrelevancy
Wait, Lou Reed was still alive?
15. Post a pointless real-life encounter anecdote
I once saw Lou Reed buying mangos in a bodega. He picked up every single mango before choosing one. #RIPLou #Mangos
16. Acknowledge the singular and quickly-shifting nature of Twitter trends and how you are so much above it even though you are ACTIVELY PARTICIPATING.
I guess now that baseball is on, we can all stop talking about Lou Reed.
17. Struggle to make the most obscure super-fan reference
“I’ve been thinking of leaving for 35 years now. Im almost ready.” #LouReed #BlueintheFace #RIP
18. Speak ill of the dead + be super condescending
I always thought Lou Reed was pretty arrogant and obnoxious, but I’m glad so many people like Sweet Jane
19. Make Obituary-based puns
More like LIVER fatale! #LouReed
20. Be Morrissey
(Actually that one was awesome)
Wednesday, October 23rd 2013
Rules For The New Baseball Fan
The World Series starts tonight, and some of you new fans will be watching baseball for the first time. Some Giants fans may be watching their first game since, oh, late June. If you are unfamiliar with baseball and its rules, or just need a refresher, never fear! Here is a guide to all the baseball information you could possibly need. Read this, and then say, “That umpire sucks!” every few minutes, and you are basically an expert.
Strikes: If a player swings and misses, that’s a strike. If a batter hits the ball into foul territory, that’s also a strike - unless he already has two strikes. However, if a batter hits a foul tip, and the catcher holds onto it, that’s a strike. And if a player bunts the ball foul, that’s also a strike, regardless of the count. Hey Sean, strikes are complicated! Tell that to the BART workers, why don’t you? If a batter gets three strikes, he is out, which is both a fundamental rule of baseball and a reason why California’s prison system is so overcrowded.
Balls: Any pitch that goes outside of “strike zone,” defined as the area over the width of home plate, and between the bottom of a batter’s knees and the midpoint between the top of a player’s shoulders and the top of their uniform pants, it is a ball. This strike zone will be displayed on graphic called FoxTrax, and much like Fox’s other reporting, it will be wildly inaccurate and subject to bias. If a batter gets four balls, he is allowed to walk to first base, but let’s face it, if you’re going to FOUR balls, even Cinderella’s fairy godmother would agree you should at least get to second base.
Umpire: The umpire at home plate decides whether pitches are balls or strikes. He also dusts off the plate when it gets dirty, and stands there taking abuse when a player or manager gets amd at him. He’s sort of like the baseball field’s head janitor. No matter how well he does, half of the fans if not more will think he is a stupid idiot who has been bribed by the other team and also has money on the game and also hates their team and Jesus, look how fat that guy is! There are also umpires at each of the bases, which makes sense, and two umpires in the outfield, which is honestly just pandering to their union.
Hit-by-pitch: If a pitched ball strikes the batter, even if it just hits part of his jersey, he is allowed to go to first base. You will see this a lot with Boston’s Shane Victorino, who leans over home plate like a mother hen sheltering her chicks. If a batter swings at a pitch that hits him, it is simply a strike, and yes, this actually happens sometimes. The batter is allowed to hit, but as punishment, a gif of the embarrassing moment is circulated on the internet within seconds.
Force out: When a player hits the ball, he must run to first base. If a player is occupying a base with runners occupying the base or bases behind him, he must run to the next base when the ball is hit on the ground. To get him out, the fielders need only catch the ball and step on the base he is headed to - they need not tag him with the ball. This is very similar to using The Force. Darth Vader could have been an excellent defensive player were his vision not severely limited by his helmet.
Putout: If a player catches a ball before it hits the ground, the batter is out, and he is credited with a putout. The same holds true for the player who forces out a batter. A putout is also something you should never feel obligated to do, no matter how nice your dinner was or how handsome the first baseman is.
Fly balls: A runner does not need to run on a ball in the air. However, he must return to his previous base after the ball is caught, otherwise he can be forced out. Once he has returned, he is free to advance to another base, which is called “tagging up,” which is the only thing that Carlos Beltran and graffiti artists have in common, besides their love of Monster Energy drinks.
Sacrifice fly: When a batter is a total martyr and hits a fly ball deep enough that the runner on third can come in to score on the play. Everyone in the dugout applauds his noble sacrifice, even though deep down, they all know that a good hitter would have actually reached base.
Stolen base: This is when a batter runs to the next base, during a pitch. The defense can try to throw him out, where he must be tagged, but if he makes it he’s allowed to occupy the base. He does not get to actually take the base with him, and other players will still run across it, so this is honestly more like a file-shared base.
Single: If a player hits the ball and makes it to first base without being tagged or forced out, he is credited with a single. He does not necessarily have to be ready to mingle.
Double: This is when a player makes it all the way to second base on one hit. If a player hits the ball in fair territory, and it bounces over the fence, this is a “ground-rule” or “automatic” double. If he bounces a ball over the fence and then enjoys a tasty treat from the Dollar Menu, this is a McDouble. As Prince Fielder did not advance, we are unlikely to see this during the World Series.
Triple: One hit, all the way to third, blah blah. In England, they’d probably call this a “treble,” and then complain that all the players are fat, then act super ungrateful about America’s contributions in World War II. There is also a great deal of debate about what a triple represents in baseball metaphors for sex, but we will not seek to reach a definitive verdict here.
Home run: When a ball is hit over the fence in fair territory, it is a home run, and any runners on the bases are allowed to run home and score. A player can also get a home run on a ball hit in the field of play, but it is much rarer, and he will probably tear his hamstring and ruin his team’s entire season.
Grand slam: When a player hits a home run with three runners on base, it is a grand slam. For the runs to count, the batter must consume two eggs, two pancakes, two strips of bacon, and two sausages before reaching home plate, or he will be declared out. He is allowed to substitute buttermilk biscuits for pancakes, but only in National League parks.
Bunting: When a player intentionally hits the ball softly, by turning his body and deadening the ball. This is also the name for the colorful red white and blue decorations hung around the field during the playoffs. Both are traditional and overrated.
First Baseman: Plays at first base, duh. Usually a powerful hitter with a silly beard and built like a muscular fire hydrant.
Second Baseman: Plays in between first base and second base. Usually seen with dirt on his pants. Sometimes the second baseman will fall down on purpose just to dirty up his uniform. Both teams have excellent second basemen - Matt Carpenter on the Cardinals, and Dustin Pedroia of the Red Sox, nicknamed “The Laser Show” because he is obnoxious and only tolerable if you are on a lot of drugs.
Shortstop: Plays between second base and third base. Usually cannot hit at all. All of the shortstops in this series are Caucasian, which is very close to being a hate crime.
Third Baseman: This is the position made famous by Hall of Famer I Don’t Know. Third base is much like first in that you can be a big fat dude and you’re expected to hit home runs, but third base requires slightly more agility and a better arm. But honestly, Pablo Sandoval once almost won a Gold Glove at third, so the defensive bar isn’t set all that high.
Outfielders: The outfield area behind the second-to-third area. It is stage left for the batter, an analogy that no television commenter will make at any point in the series. Right is stage right, center is between them. The center fielder is the fastest and the right fielder usually has the best throwing arm. Their main job is catching the ball.
Designated Hitter: This guy doesn’t play a defensive position; he just sits in the dugout all game until it’s his turn to hit. It’s very similar to a baseball video game where you can hit “simulate” and skip all of the defensive activity. However, if you get that analogy, you don’t really need to read this guide. This is probably the fattest guy on the team, barring some left-handed reliever with a glandular disorder. The Red Sox start David “Big Papi” Ortiz, who got that nickname when he peed on Jerry Seinfeld’s couch. The Cardinals will start a stocky white guy with questionable facial hair and weird eyebrows.
Catcher: He wears a mask, shin guards, and a chest protector, and a giant oversized glove. Catchers are basically giant babies who are afraid of the ball. The catcher tells the pitcher what pitches to throw, makes fun of the batter’s female relatives, kisses up to the umpire, and jogs out to the mound for fake conversations when the pitcher needs a rest. This series will feature both a “Yadier” and a “Saltalamacchia,” a bonus for those of you who are playing a version of Baseball Scrabble that allows you to have 14 tiles.
Pitcher: Throws the ball and tries to get the batter out. The telecast will record how many total pitches he has thrown, and they will discuss the total a lot, but ultimately he will pitch until he starts to suck. Pitchers who throw left-handed are more effective against batters who hit left-handed, but do not forget, both are unnatural abominations to God and should be avoided at all costs.
Relief pitcher: The guy that comes out of the bullpen when the pitcher before him starts to suck. Fans will instinctively sense that he’s only a rebound pitcher, so they won’t develop nearly the same emotional attachments as they did with the starter.
Bullpen: Where the relievers wait in case they are needed. Relief pitchers are baseball’s equivalent of untouchables; they must live far away from the regular players, in an area more fit for farm animals than humans. Also it’s pretty boring until the late innings to they pretty much just eat snacks and try to light each other’s shoes on fire.
Closer: The last pitcher in the game. Usually he throws very hard and comes in when there’s a chance to earn a save. He also gets his own inspirational music that plays as he jogs out of the bullpen. According to Alec Baldwin, this is the only person on the pitching staff who is allowed to drink coffee.
Pinch-hitter: A replacement batter, who comes off the bench and enforces the wearing-of-green rules on St. Patrick’s day.
Infield: The area where the bases are, mostly covered in dirt. The outfield is the grassy area behind it, where they like their girls a little bit older, and they don’t want to lose your love tonight.
Double Play: When a defensive team forces out two runners on a single hit, or, the San Francisco bar that forced me out on Super Bowl Sunday, after a girl began punching me in the chest after I made fun of her wearing pajama pants in public.
Pop-up: A weak hit where the batted ball goes high in the air on the infield. Easily caught, and usually caused by a high fastball or inadequate anti-virus software.
Infield fly rule: When a popup is hit on the infield, and there are more than one runner on base, the umpire will declare the batter out, as otherwise a fielder could let the ball drop on purpose. This rule is highly confusing and will probably be explained incorrectly, so if anyone mentions it, just close your eyes and picture a shirtless, monstrous Jeff Goldblum hanging out behind second base.
Foul poles: Tall yellow poles that mark the boundary of “Fair” territory. If a ball hits a foul pole, it is a fair ball (and a home run). Why don’t they call it the FAIR pole? We drive on a parkway and park on a driveway! Why don’t they make the whole airplane out of the black box? Is this thing on? Bueller? Bueller?
The Green Monster: Left field is very short at Boston’s Fenway Park, due to the footprint of the ballpark. To compensate, and keep it from being extremely easy to hit home runs, there is a giant 37-foot green wall called the Green Monster, which has an old-timey scoreboard at the bottom. There’s also a door inside where Manny Ramirez used to go to urinate and looking at internet pornography. The Red Sox mascot, Wally, is also a green monster, but the less said about him the better.
I hope this helps you enjoy the Fall Classic, and more importantly, I hope it gave you something to read during the endless play stoppages and Joe Buck’s droning voice. Go baseball! Go America!
Thursday, October 17th 2013