Friday, January 11, 2013

For the Record: Man We Hate The Life of Pi Edition

Iggins!

So, nobody gets into the baseball HoF. One of a myriad reasons that I hate baseball, I swear that article will happen eventually, is the old, meathead curmudgeons that vote for their stuff. Ron Santo couldn't get in alive. But dead? GET THAT CORPSE IN HERE. I hate these people. And now they won't put in Barry Bonds because he did roids, or Clemens because he did roids. What do y'all think of it? I'll save my full opinion because I want to hear what the both of you think first.

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You cheated. Yes, you could argue that it's negated by the fact that everyone else was cheating, too, but you still cheated. The "steroid era" thing just encourages more people to do it.

Barry Bonds is a great hitter, there can be no doubt there. He still hit the baseball better than anyone else who was using steroids at the time. But he cheated. If Pete Rose can't get in for gambling on his own team to win, you should not be able to get in despite actual cheating.

Iggins!
The Pete Rose thing is a different conversation, but suffice it to say I think he needs to be in the Hall. I have two streams of thought here:

1) I don't think steroids should be illegal. Much as I don't think you deserve to be babied or that the rules of football need to be changed just because you could get concussions, I don't think steroids are cheating. Everyone who does them knows the risks. You get ragey, your testes shrink, you get gross acne, potentially you grow boobs, and you shorten your life. If you do them you accept this. These guys are sacrificing a lot to get even a tiny edge. I just don't have an issue with that. If you're willing to accept the consequences, more power to you. HOWEVAH...

2) It is against the rules. Whether steroids should be illegal or not, it is clearly written down that you can't do them. So you cheated, dick, and you're a bad person for cheating. Rules suck sometimes, but if there were no rules life would be BS. Ever play a board game "just for fun"? It sucks! Because there's no point. Same here. So I understand why someone might not vote for them.

Of course, on the other hand, baseball has punishments in place for this type of deal. 50 games-150 games-Go find a new job. At the time, they did not have those kinds of punishments in place. And there is no steroid punishment that says CAN'T BE IN THE HALL OF FAME. So, I feel like you have to vote on everyone eligible and vote for the best guys. Bonds is eligible. Clemens is eligible. Sosa is eligible. If you can tell yourself they were worse than Craig Biggio, vote for Biggio. But if you can't you have to vote for them.

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I think he should, too, but the rules are the rules and have to be enforced equally.
I don't think that last bit is entirely fair. If you don't think anybody that year is worthy of being down the hall from Ernie Banks, you shouldn't have to vote in a subpar candidate while you're there just because voting was open. The HoF thing isn't about it being a rule that you can't get in if you did steroids. It's that you didn't turn in a Hall of Fame performance, your PEDs did. Sure, a guy like Barry Bonds probably has the natural talent to get there with slightly less impressive numbers, but we'll never know because that's not what happened. You can't vote based on what probably would have happened had he not been using for the better part of his career

Iggins!
Let me put it another way: I think we have a damn issue in this country with jumping on the popular issue and ignoring things that are probably more important. In this case, Ty Cobb is in the Hall of Fame. So let me get this straight:

1) Doing roids does not DQ you from the Hall of Fame.

2) Beating your wife does not DQ you from the HoF.

QUESTION: If you had to punish someone for one of those things, which do you punish them for? Neither removes you from consideration. For both, you might be punished by your team or the MLB (once the MLB gets the Roger Goodell player conduct rules). If you vote considering one of these things, you must consider both. So basically, being a violent, awful, wife-beating asshole is fine. But taking a drug to try to make yourself better at the one thing you care about more than anything... is worse? These are the issues that not voting these guys in creates. There are murderers, people who committed suicide, rapists, adulterers, etc. in the HoF. Just like roids, none of those things DQs you from the Hall. Also, there is NO PROOF that many of these guys did the roids. None! They are suspected of guilt, but aside from a couple of them, none of them have ever been proven to have been on the juice. So now we're keeping people out without ever convicting them of wrongdoing? Jesus.

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Unless you have a very strange, specific superpower, beating your wife does not make you better at baseball. Don't get me wrong, Ty Cobb was a dildo. Didn't he once beat up a fan who only had one hand? But his hard-drinking, woman-battering lifestyle did not give him an advantage over the other people playing baseball at the time. It's not about the severity of the crime, it's about the crime's effect on baseball.

Iggins!
Okay, so let's say it's about the effect on baseball... these people are assuming everyone was on drugs. So, following that train of thought, it had no effect on baseball! Because everyone was doing it! We can't just say one person who has never been convicted of doing it has done it, but say all these other guys didn't.

And like I said, there are punishments in place for this in the MLB. But being DQd from the Hall isn't one of them! So this IS the same as that. Because it's all a judgment call.

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But not every single person was on drugs. As far as I'm concerned, if there's one person out there not cheating, everyone else is in the wrong. And since we can safely assume that Ryan Theriot wasn't using steroids, everyone who did was breaking the game.

To bring in an example that's not from baseball, imagine you're playing Grand Theft Auto. You're out of ammo, and some just... spectacularly racist caricatures are closing in. When you cheat to give yourself more ammo, your console automatically disables a whole bunch of achievements. Because, even though it's not exactly summoning an attack helicopter out of thin air and annihilating those Croatian bastards in a searing ball of hellfire, you did something that made the game easier for yourself. Now, we're talking about GTA here, so it's not exactly like you're the only one who's ever cheated. But you getting those achievements despite cheating would cheapen the achievements of the people who got it by shanking those fucking Serbians to death on the stairs. Not exactly the same, but you get the point.

Iggins!
You're right, it is BS. BUT, if we follow this analogy, the achievement has not been disabled! The MLB made a conscious decision to not disable these achievements. So you would get it! Maybe it isn't right, maybe it is BS, but that's the way it's set up. And you have to follow the rules in that manner. Are we considering throwing out the Hall of Fame for every NFL guy ever suspended?

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No, but the Hall has voting for a reason. The formula is not "Get drafted -> Be really good at baseball -> Retire -> Get inducted." You have to deserve it in the eyes of the voters; and if the voters think PEDs are worth keeping somebody out of the Hall, they are.

Iggins!
But the voters are old, stupid, set in their ways, and kept Ron Santo out for clicking his heels. The voters suck.

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So do the Academy voters, but we still treat the Oscars like they matter.

Iggins!
So is the end of this argument basically "None of this matters because it's subjective and idiots vote on it anyway"? You can't say they cheated because they never admitted it, you never proved it, and all you have to go on is Jose Canseco, Barry Bonds' hat size, and speculation. Everybody thought the Duke lacrosse team gang raped a stripper, then she came out and admitted she just hated Duke, wasn't even there, and was a fucking liar, and still people associate Duke lacrosse with rape. Just saying. We ain't got no proof.

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Then they have to go into the Ambiguous Netherworld of Fame instead. Where they'll never be convicted, but never exonerated because that shit was years ago and honestly, everyone's just tired of fucking baseball players talking about steroids. I blame the league for not enforcing well enough or whatever. This isn't a problem in the NFL, the NBA, or even the NHL (where they use vodka to give them super-strength in clutch situations, instead).

Iggins!
Wait what? Did you mention the NFL as not having a problem? They're still stalling HGH testing! It's been almost 2 years! We are in a fantasy league with a guy who was in the NFL for 7 years. I asked him, hey, is the NFLPA really stalling to get the HGH out of the player's systems? How many guys are on it? My guess was 80%.

His answer was "Not that many, but around 50%." The NFL drug testing policy is a joke.

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Well, fine. But at least we're not at the point where Goodell is saying "You know what, fuck it. This is the Steroid Era of Football, and you're just going to have to get used to it."

Iggins!
Yeah but neither has Selig. The NFL just hasn't gotten nailed with it yet. A conservative guesstimate has the NFL at over 50% being drugged. And there are guys who are retiring now who will never be caught. So do we keep Ray Lewis out of the Hall when, in two or three years, news finally breaks that HOLY SHIT the entire NFL is on drugs? Just because he was playing in that era, and he was jacked like a freak?

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Unless some type of Mitchell Report surfaces, I doubt it. What's the league's rule?

Iggins!
They do 4 game suspensions for the first infraction, right? Whoah, also, you can't start talking about rules and the HoF now, because that was my whole point as to why these guys should be in. There's no rule in MLB OR NFL. Also, once again, there wasn't any proof! If I, right now, said Ray Lewis was on drugs, I would have just as much hard evidence as we have against Bonds. We have one guy's word, and a bunch of circumstantial evidence.

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No, because football has always immortalized sacrificing your body and well-being for the glory of the game. It’ll just be evidence of how much he cared, how much he was willing to lay his life on the line. The football media doesn’t get all misty eyed and reverential about the purity of the game like baseball writers. They basically imagine every baseball player that they enshrine coming out of that cornfield. Could you see Barry Bonds coming out of that cornfield or saving that little girl? No? Then no hall of fame.

Iggins!
Holy shit, Red, sup. Also, thank you for agreeing that the baseball writers of America are stupid, set in their ways, old, and wrong.

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….I don’t work till 10 on Thursdays….

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I just wondered if there was a set-in-stone rule that would render our discussion moot. I mean, if there's a clause in there that says "Steroids = no Hall," there's not much point discussing it.

Red has a point. Baseball players are always going to be compared to the Golden Days because the only thing baseball has left is tradition. Literally every major sport in the country is more exciting than baseball. The NFL pays lip service to the old legends, but anyone telling you they'd rather watch mustachioed 1930s gentlemen than Adrian Peterson is a fucking liar.

Iggins!
So basically, again, we all agree the baseball HoF is bullshit so this doesn't really matter anyway?

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Exactly. Baseball actively tries to tell you that the game was better before you had a chance to watch it. IT’S A BAD MARKETING STRATEGY. The NFL advertises everything as bigger, harder, faster, better each year. So they’ll just ignore roids as long as they can, and even then it won’t affect how people view the players. We Want them to be superhuman juicebots.

Iggins!
Actually, kind of related to this, I listened to a podcast with Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose yesterday. At one point, Jalen says that the Kings need to get Demarcus Cousins (He has a lot of off-court issues, gets suspended for yelling at his coach, etc.) to the point where he cares about basketball less and becomes more focused on having a good life, like Dwayne Wade is now (which is why, Rose said, Wade's #s have gone down). He then went on to say that the very last thing Cousins should try to be is Kobe Bryant. This, of course, made Simmons indignant, but it's a valid point: we want players to give up everything they are except the sport they play. We want them to destroy themselves to be the best. But isn't that awful? Shouldn't we instead want them to be good people first?

But we don't, and steroids are a natural progression down that thought train. Guys are killing themselves to be better. I don't know why it's so villified in baseball, because, like I said, wife beating, but it is. I agree with Kyle. I don't think people will care if the NFL is juiced.

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I mean I still think it's worth talking about, but essentially yes. The Hall of Fame is the Academy Awards.

Iggins!
Speaking of, what are the nominees? Lincoln, 0Dark30, Django, Silver Linings, Pi, I assume?

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I haven't looked, but I'm guessing Skyfall is on that list somewhere as well.

Iggins!
And I just looked it up, nope, no Skyfall. The others are Argo, Amour, and Beasts of the Southern Wild.

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How surprising, a bunch of horseshit nobody saw. Their official reason for not giving the Dark Knight Rises a best picture nod was because they didn't give the Dark Knight one.

Iggins!
The Dark Knight got nominated. I think a better reason would be because they didn't nominate Iron Man. Or the first Transformers movie. Or Batman Begins. (If you can’t tell, I didn’t really care for TDKR. TDK is one of my favorite movies of all time).

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Really? Les Miserables got a Best Picture nomination? I like Les Miserables, and I give that shit a B on a good day. BUT IT HAS SINGING AND TRAGEDY! Fuck you, the Academy.

WARNING. FROM HERE ON WE WILL SPOIL THE ENTIRETY OF THAT AWFUL MOVIE CALLED “THE LIFE OF PI”. WE HAVE ALL READ THE BOOK. IT IS TERRIBLE. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

Iggins!
Whoah, I think Red would agree, the biggest BS nomination is Pi. That book is bloated garbage with no meaning beyond trying to have a meaning and a man-eating island.

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Oh fuck that book. But Oprah liked it, so you know the movie adaptation was going to get awards whether it was good or not.

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Yeah. I knew that would happen though. So much undeserved praise for that book and movie. You know why? Because it’s impossible to understand, because it doesn’t actually mean anything, but it discusses three different religions and its loaded with metaphors so people assume it must MEAN SOMETHING DEEP.

Iggins!
The I THINK THIS MEANS SOMETHING BUT I DONT KNOW WHAT IT IS factor is HUGE in winning Oscars. And Pi is fucking stuffed with that.

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Well, they have to give it the award. Otherwise people will think they didn't get it.

Iggins!
You hit the goddamned nail on the head there.

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God damn Life of Pi. I feel like this is the perfect place to conclude the for the record. We started with steroids in baseball and ended with “God damn Life of Pi.” That’s a pretty solid arc.

Iggins!
No! We should talk about all the things we hate in Life of Pi. I'll start:

The first 33% of the book is about a kid being forced to watch a tiger eat a goat, talking to a priest, and defending zoos. None of the things said is anything more than obvious, yet people say that part of the book is MOVING and GROUNDBREAKING and POWERFUL. It is not. It is lame and it has all been done before!

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Me next! A tiger trapped on a boat with human would eat his ass in approximately 38 seconds.

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Me next! The three religions concept, while interesting in theory, has very little impact on the actual action of the book, and was just there to pander to people who want to praise it for questioning “ARE WE ALL REALLY SO DIFFERENT?” Had the book left him in India the entire time and had him just keep exploring the hostility and curiosity he got as a guy who was a Hindu, Christian, and a Muslim all at once, that would actually have been an interesting book! But no, that was just used to get you to go “oh man, this is deeeeeep” before it lost all relevance to the story.

Iggins!
Me next! To add to Erik's tiger thing, the manner in which Pi "trains" the tiger is so ridiculous, so goddamned ignorant, that it removes the small semblance of realism the book had (though it all goes way out the window later). Also, they named him Pi so people would think it was deep, and again, IT IS NOT.

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There's also no way a man and semi-trained tiger could share a rowboat without capsizing it. An average, full-grown male Bengal Tiger weighs 600 goddamn pounds. When that sumbitch starts leaping around the boat swatting at fish, both he and his superficially interesting best friend drown in minutes.

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Yeah, they don’t poke holes in his story because they’re cynical dickheads who just don’t have the power of the human spirit or imagination or whatever the fuck you’re supposed to think when you accept “his” side of the story….they’re just doing routine investigation and it’s clear that his story is literally impossible. Eat shit, pretentious Indian kid.

Iggins!
How about that man-eating island, guys?! I mean, so much MEANING there. It clearly represents... things! Religion! Death! Meerkats! OMG SO MOVING.

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But Iggins!, isn't LIFE just a man-eating island? We are all adrift on the sea of human experience, and we think finding "land" (something more to hold onto in our lives) will save us, but in the end it's just as likely to devour us. Whether it's overzealous religious practice or severe alcoholism, the islands we turn to when the seas are stormy may turn out to be more dangerous than the storms themselves.

Iggins!
Example of thing that seems deep but is instead just applicable to everything and is meaningless:

"All we are is all we can be. What is may never want for what we are."

I JUST WROTE NOTHING BUT IT SOUNDS DEEP, HUH?! I THOUGHT OF THAT IN TWO SECONDS. THAT IS EXACTLY LIKE THE MAN-EATING ISLAND.

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If the author of Life of Pi were in this thread he’d immediately go “yeah! That’s totally what I was trying to say!”

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That was what he was trying to say, BUT YOU DIDN'T GET IT, JUST LIKE THOSE STODGY OLD ACADEMY GUYS. What bothers me the most is that they do shit like this in order to appear less old and stodgy, but then they all vote for the oldest, stodgiest things anyway. Also, not only should the tiger have eaten him, he should've died of thirst if nothing else.

Iggins!
The orangutan unloaded a billion poisonous spiders onto the row boat. You seriously not bitten, bro?

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He trained the spiders not to bite him.

Iggins!
Oh, by rocking the boat when they tried to?

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I actually don’t have many more complaints, because I stopped reading. And told the teacher that. He laughed because he WANTED US TO TELL HIM THE BOOK WAS PRETENTIOUS DRIVEL, AND NO ONE TOOK THE BAIT.

Iggins!
That was my strategy. Ignore anything anyone said about it, nap, and one time just explode and say "THIS BOOK WAS TERRIBLE. IT WAS SO BAD. IT MEANT NOTHING." Then go back to sleep.

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My lit teacher was so proud of me the day I was the one who finally stood up and said "The wallpaper is yellow because things have colors and Dostoevsky picked fucking yellow."

Iggins!
Breaking down literature is hilarious. People get so goddamned deep into things. Like "Why did Tom have this talk with Jim?"

Well maybe because people speak. And then what they say moves the plot forward? Or maybe the guy writing it just WANTED THEM TO TALK. Assholes.

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Just like yesterdays discussion about sublimated gay characters in Lord of the Rings. Maybe they aren’t openly gay because Tolkien was too repressed to write openly gay characters, or maybe he JUST DIDN’T INTEND THEM TO BE GAY, AND HAS SUCH CONTROL OVER THINGS BECAUSE HE WAS THE AUTHOR, and you can’t always slap 21st century views and morals on something written in the 30s.

Iggins!
The gay thing is funny because these days you can't just write that two guys do anything together, or laugh with eachother, unless they're openly or secretly gay. Except Bushido exists and has for hundreds of years. And guys have, you know, FRIENDS, and have... for hundreds of years. Not every guy who talks to guys is gay! If that was true, we're all gay!

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It's so much worse with "classic" literature. They assume that a book has stood the test of time because every word is just oozing with symbolism waiting to be dissected. No, fuck you, Crime and Punishment is a masterwork of exposition and little else. People act like all the good writers just disappeared after the 1950s, and nobody alive today deserves to take up that torch. Nevermind that people like Chuck Palahniuk, JK Rowling, Clive Cussler, George R.R. Martin, Bob Salvatore, Terry Brooks, Terry Pratchett, Christopher Moore and a big fucking heap of others have been writing works that are just as technically precise as (and far more entertaining than) anything Dostoevsky ever did. To act like those guys were anything other than the JK Rowlings of their own time periods is just ridiculous. It was a great story then, but it's out of date with modern sensibilities and therefore suffers with a modern audience and that does not mean that there's something you're missing. It doesn't suck because you're missing the symbolism, it sucks because it doesn't make any sense in light of the 150 years between when it was written and when you read it. In our world, Razkolnikov would be a Law and Order bad guy because the world just works differently than it did in 1866.

And Iggins, you're not gay? I'm... I've been waiting for... I read this all wrong.

Iggins!
Sorry, Mashed Potatoes. Didn’t mean to lead you on all this time.

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