And your fantasy is… football?

Reflections on the phenomenon of fantasy football.

It’s that time of year again.  A crisp breeze is in the air after even the balmiest of days.  It’s almost football season, time for the people of America (but especially the men) to celebrate the act of brutal, strategic team ass-kicking.

I appreciate football, but I do not enjoy football.  There are many reasons for this.  Much of it has to do with the fact that, in my rootless youth,  I never had a home team to cheer for and now I am a man without NFL loyalties.  But the bottom line is I’m a man, I’m not afraid of the dark, I eat red meat, and I’m one of the most athletic people I know.  While I have a multitude of ways I’d rather spend my time than watching other people being athletic, I certainly understand those who appreciate a good game, especially in such Olympic times as these.

What I do not understand are the men, many of them my friends, who devote countless hours to the crafting of imaginary teams.  Real players.  Fake teams.  You’re the owner/coach.  This is your opportunity to play God… and this is how you’re going to spend it?  Really???

House-Husband

Newly-married, my wife and I figuring out how to make our household work. Since I am a full-time student and she is a full-time graphic designer, our typical days look very different.

She wakes at 6:30am and works from 9am-5pm.

I wake at 8am, in time to eat breakfast with her, and do “whatever I want” for much of the rest of the day. There are times when I have a lot that I must do… and there is always a lot that I should be doing.

The bottom line is that she has 40 hours of scheduled work each week and I have 10 scheduled hours with 10-60 very flexible, very variable hours. This means that I am the one who is shopping for groceries, washing the dishes, cooking dinner, and doing the laundry much of the time. We attempt to share these duties whenever possible, but it’s more possible for me than it is for her most of the time.

How has this affected me?

It’s not like I’m a stay-at-home Dad and home stuff is all that I’m doing. That would bring with it its own challenges. We dream of the day when — should we be so blessed as to have children — we will have the flexibility to both spend time at home on alternating days, managing childcare/working from home. We’ll see.

The biggest difference I have noticed is that I goof off less than before. If I’m not doing “housework” (can include “fixing” things), I should be doing “schoolwork,” even if that tangentally includes such interfaith-dialog/prose-style-honing pastimes as blogging. No time for free cell or mid-day movies.

At the end of the day, she comes home and I clock out. That’s the best part. This is far from being thankless work.

Hellboy vs. Spawn vs. Ghostrider vs. Batman

hellboy 2

Includes a review of “Hellboy II: The Golden Army” without blatant spoilers.

There have been other heroes who are caught between heaven and hell. Spawn: “Born in darkness. Sworn to justice.” Ghostrider: “He’s the only one that can walk on both worlds.” Batman, in a less literal sense, is equally torn between the forces of light and of darkness. But they have a way of taking themselves way too seriously, to the point of being silly (Ghostrider), or lame (Spawn – there’s a reason there hasn’t been a sequel). But not Hellboy.

It’s not just that he knows how to crack a good joke. It’s that he integrates action, comedy, and supernatural suspense, while wrestling with his own humanity (or lack-therof). Batman has become super by becoming more than merely human.

Yesterday, I finished reading Frank Miller’s graphic novel “The Dark Knight Returns.” In the introduction, he describes a bar far beneath the streets of Gotham, a place where the old heroes go to tell there stories. They laugh and drink and reminisce. But there is one hero whose name they never mention, the thought of whom makes them all shudder, who in sheer force of will bested them all: Batman. But his glory came at a price: the sacrifice of his humanity.

Hellboy, on the other hand, has become great by becoming human. Sure, he struggles to find acceptance and to embrace humanity. He is a demon. But not in the biblical sense.

He’s a bumbling sort of hero. When faced with seemingly insurmountable odds, his favorite catchphrase: “Oh, crap.” He gets into trouble, makes a big mess, and usually only manages to get out with the help of his friends.

He’s a bad boyfriend/husband type. “I would die for her… but she wants me to do the dishes!”

Yet, somehow, in the midst of such ineptitude, his dedication and wit shine through, and he reminds me of what it means to become a better man.

Don’t get me wrong. Hellboy II is no Schindler’s List. It’s a great movie, but not a deep movie. Fun has always been Hellboy’s strong suit. Nonetheless, there are moments of depth (why has magic faded from the world?) and, paired with Del Toro’s stunning visuals (creatures galore!), this should be the new summer blockbuster to beat.

But I wouldn’t know. I haven’t seen a movie in the theater since April. Then again, I haven’t wanted to. This might be the first movie in the summer so far truly worth seeing.

The Epic Shenanigans of Adulthood

Part I: What

My long hiatus from blogging has brought with it much writing material. It’s not just an excuse. The “interruptions” in life can be a source of great blessing.

I am engaged and the wedding is in two months. I am nearly finished with my first year of Ph.D. studies. I am in the process of maybe selling a house, which has been complicated by ant number of issues. Unbeknownst to myself, I was without homeowner’s insurance during the earthquake, for example. But I digress.

My question is this: in what ways is adulthood qualitatively different from childhood?

I ask this because I am convinced that far too many adults have not abandoned their childhood selves and that, unless I am careful in the big decisions I face in my present, I will become one of them.

For the purposes of this essay, I will disregard such nuanced stages as “teenager” and “young adult.” I assume that if you are somewhere between 12 and 40, my discussion applies to you, as well as to many people outside that age range, which is simply my best guess at classifying those who are trying to figure out what it means to be grown up.

Children dream of becoming adults. Most of them do, anyway. Their games reflect this. But they do no want to become just any adults. While stereotypical roles reflect this –firemen, soldiers, astronauts, movie stars, princesses, and mothers – I think that even non-stereotypical playtime reflects this trend. My earliest career aspiration was to live in New York and own a costume shop, helped by a giant rabbit. My favorite book, “Busy Day, Busy People,” had somehow given me an inkling of the Big Apple. But I think, too, of my recent summers spent mowing the campus at the seminary. I wore a broad-brimmed hat to protect me from the sun and a bandana over my mouth and nose to keep out the dust and pollen. I heard from several seminary parents that their sons enjoyed “playing cowboy,” i.e., mowing the lawn like me.

Why do children want to grow up? Adults have apparent freedom and endless possibility. They come and go as they please. They stay up as late as they want. They spend money on whatever they want. They have power, beauty, strength, and knowledge to a degree that is barely imaginable for a child. A boy who longs to be strong knows that he will be stronger when he is a man. A girl who longs to be beautiful knows that she will be more beautiful as a woman. All children who long for adventure know that they will have greater means to travel and explore when they are older.

Yet if the standard children’s attitude is “I can’t wait to be an adult,” the standard adult response: “bills! [gripe, gripe] duty! [gripe gripe] if you only knew!” Too fraught with duty to dream of childhood, gripey grown-ups nonetheless know that they are missing something. As to what and why, I will devote my next post.

27 Ways to Lose your Balls

Few movies promise to be as utterly emasculating as this year’s 27 Dresses. As the title and trailer indicate, this movie ought to contain nothing that appeals to the typical male viewer. It’s refreshing, really, to see a major studio sending out a big #$&* you to their primary demographic.

“But it’s got Katherine Heigl,” some might argue. “She’s supposed to be hot.”

So was Princess Diana. Do you see me reading the biography?

What baffles me is that they’re not even trying for cross-over appeal. This isn’t a date movie. This is a cut-off-your-balls-for-a-few-hours-and-sew-them-back-on kind of movie. (Don’t ask me how they get sewed back on; I’m not a doctor; and yes, it’s “sewn.”)

In short: the title says it all. If your girlfriend/wife/signif-oth drags you to this one, she owes you big time. You just surrendered your manhood.

Justin Timberlake: “Manslut”

Gone are the days when a man is a “pimp” or a “playa” for behavior that would earn him the status of a “ho” if he were a woman.  Let us usher in the era of the “manslut.”  That’s what they are.  Let’s not be afraid to call ’em like we see ’em.

What worthier recipient of the new term could there be than Mr. Timberlake?  He’s been around the block more than a few times… and show’s no sign of stopping.  He’s got the rhythm.  He’s got the moves.  He deserved to be crowned as the new King of Pop.  But he’s also a skanky, male ho.’  The inauguration of his “Futuresex Loveshow” tour should be evidence enough of that.  (Don’t even get me started on how little sense the title makes.)

Here’s to you, manslut.  The double standard stops here.

R.I.P. Michael Corleone

Reflections on the Life and Death of America’s Most Influential Man

What people look for reveals a lot about what matters to them.  I have posted about everything from Mayan death rituals to Spider-Man, from Buddha to Jesus.  But more sought after than Jesus, Buddha, or God: the Godfather.  Every day since my first post, some random soul has stumbled across my blog because they were searching for Michael Corleone.  Well, here he is.

Don Corleone

(I’m about to ruin all of the movies, so if you haven’t seen them, please go do watch them now.  Yes, even III.) 

In an age of weaklings (Fredo and all of Connie’s husbands), Michael is the presence of strength; not of brute, physical strength (Luca Brasi), but of pure mental power and the will to act.  In an age of two-bit pimps and pushers (too many to name), Michael is the image of class and integrity; he never compromises his values, however unbiblical they may be.  In an age of hot-heads (Sonny), Michael is a man of cool composure and calculation; for this reason, he smokes but does not drink, other than the ocassional glass of wine.  When other men drag their feet, Michael is ready for action.  He keeps all his promises.  No price is too great.  He is willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish his goals.  And he always finds a way. 

Other men (Tom Hagen) might be willing to go to great lengths, but lack the vision to see all the possibilities.  He makes even his dad (Vito) look soft.  Thus saith Michael: “If history has taught us anything, it is that you can kill anyone.  Anyone.”

From his armchair, he can unleash more fury than the all the hounds of hell.  He says the word, and his men obey.  Why do they obey?  Because he pays them well, sure.  But they are willing to die for him.  They owe their alliegiance because they belong to an unspoken code of honor, of loyalty, of tradition, and of action for the sake of the greater good, for the good of the Family.

Don Corleone is a badass of the mind, the likes of which the world has never seen.  He suceeds so well at getting down with his bad self, that we all loved the Godfather I and II.  We see Michael first become the Don, then ascend to true criminal greatness, moral depravity, and selfish sacrifice.  Yet few people enjoyed the Godfather III.  Did Coppola and Puzo drop the ball?  Or did most of us simply misunderstand the movie?

Don’t get me wrong.  I and II could stand alone as movies in their own right.  III could not stand alone, but does serve to frame I and II as a Greek (or Sicilian) tragedy.  But in that it succeeds swimmingly.  The Corleones are the ultimate dysfunctional family and none of us knew how much until III.  All the Don ever really wanted was to protect his family.  He killed to save the life of his father.  He kept on killing to protect his wife and children, even if it meant killing his own brother.  He realized, before it was almost too late, that he must stop and swore on the lives of his two children that he would redeem himself.  Yet he failed and the sins of the Godfather were visited upon his children.  By doing everything in his power to protect them, Michael ultimately destroyed everyone he had ever loved, leaving him to die alone.  There could be nothing more tragic than that. 

Still, we love Michael Corleone.  It should be no surprise that Barak Obama’s favorite movie is the Godfather.  Sure, it’s about power and action, but its also about family, relationship, and spiritual and cultural identity.  Emulated by everyone from Snoop Dogg to the Muppets, the Godfather is here to stay.  God, help us to value the good in him, but to see the rest for what it is, for the road to hell is littered with bad-ass intentions.

Muppet Dogfather Snoop Dogg the Doggfather

Shabby-what???

“For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” What is true in physics is equally true in cultural trends. Hippies in the 1960s gave way to yuppies in the 1980s. Just when it seems that ‘metrosexual’ will be the term to define our decade, its archrival is already knocking at the door: shabbysexual.

Quick review for those out of touch with pop culture: a ‘metrosexual’ is a man who is in touch with his feminine side. This has little to do with sex, gay or otherwise, and everything to do with style. The metro male wears tight shirts and likes to go shopping. He puts lots of gel in his hair and sees nothing wrong with getting his nails done. In short, he is super-trendy and very, very clean. For that, he is to be commended.

But equally commendable is the choice of the shabbysexual. Why? Because he is in touch with the man within – the caveman within. He bathes little, rarely shaves, and never, ever irons. Not only does he not make his bed, he doesn’t own sheets because he sleeps in a sleeping bag on top of his mattress. Why? Because he feels like it. No shiny veneer here, folks. Just raw, unkempt authenticity.

The best part: you can be shabby for free. Are you already shabby? Be proud and stand up! Don’t let anyone tell you to change your shabby ways! You don’t have to go shopping. You don’t have to make your bed. You may need a shower, but you do not need your nails done. Who knows? Shabbysexuals may be the new hippies. Only time will tell.

nolte

Published in: on June 24, 2007 at 3:30 am  Comments (2)