Problems with Tom Izzo

So Michigan State wasn’t so much bounced out of the NCAA Basketball tourney as it was launched out from a cannon. And this time, the team doing so (Memphis) didn’t even wait for halftime, outscoring State 50-20.

Which leads to me finally having a doubt or two about Tom Izzo.

Consider this: While he’s been able to show up with some regularity in the NCAAs (and not just as a one-and-done or a weekender), he ends up being bounced from the tourney in a totally embarrassing form, as if the team they’re playing wants to prove that they don’t belong. How else to explain the freeze-out that Arizona dished out to MSU during the second half of the 2002 Quarterfinals? How else to explain the 50-20 first half by a Memphis team finally earning the respect they’ve been craving?

It’s not a matter of winning or losing. It’s more a matter of if you have to lose, at least make the other team sweat. Like Davidson losing to Kansas. You shouldn’t be standing in as the professional victim in a game turned into a highlight reel.

Another way to look at this is that, simply, Michigan State is able not to bend, but they break. And hard.

If I were an active MSU Alumnus (I have my reasons for holding back, more on me than on the University), I would try to get him to be a bit better in his adjustments. I don’t like it that a team wanting/needing to make a statement can come to Michigan State and feel secure that they can “show that team as desperately overrated and we’re the real deal.” Everyone gives him kudos and respect, maybe it’s time he proved he deserved it?

That’s what I’m thinking, at the moment.

Lindsay Lohan as Marilyn Monroe?

“The Last Sitting”

I remember gazing at the original book in college. I happened to be drunk and my new college roomate had the room decked with pictures of Jackie O, Marilyn Monroe and Bremen Shipping Lines advertisements (!). One of the picture books was the shots of Marilyn Monroe’s last sittings.

So, when I was drunk, I looked through the collection of photos.

And when I finished, I was actually saddened. Here was a woman at the age of thirty-six, still trying to seduce the photographer. While she was glad at first that he didn’t take her up on her offer, after a while I’m sure it ate at her that she wasn’t able to get a man to “want” her. And it wouldn’t surprise me if she ended up killing herself from the pain of this refusal by the photographer; even though there was no way for him to understand that.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Forty-plus years later, the photographer reshoots the pictures, this time with a modern “star” who’s burned through her stardom relatively quickly.

There’s a sadness in the pictures, the same sadness that shows through the Marilyn Monroe pictures. This sadness is actually greater, as Lindsay Lohan actually looks older than Marilyn Monroe did in hers. Ever the consummate star, Marilyn kept up the pose of attracted attention; Lindsay Lohan actually looks like she’d gone through ten years of prostituting herself and had actually gone past the “smile as defense/threat” phase to the “too sad to even smile” phase.

Some people will be tempted to think that Marilyn Monroe was a better star than Lindsay simply because she could pose at 36 in a way that Lindsay couldn’t at 19. I would consider, however, that both these stars are/were at the same point of their careers: Near the physical end, where both of them were about to be physically unable to continue.

Marilyn was better at hiding it, having had 17 more years to practice that.

And Disney had better figure out a better way of protecting their stars. They’ve developd an ugly reputation of making stars who cannot handle their starhood.

I hope Miley Cyrus is better protected. Billy Ray, I hope you’re doing what Disney has proven it can’t (or won’t) do.

More on the Bosses/Bossed comic (and FBOFW):

SpringFlowers on March 23, 2008 said:

You must have read the Foobiverse take on that FBOFW comic, it is interesting to see their take on the Patterson’s family dynamic…and how it created the personalities as shown in the stunted characters of Elizabeth and Michael. Elizabeth’s recent plotting of revenge against female friends, to upset the “Always a bridesmaid, never a bride” formula seems to excite her far more then her marriage to Blanthony.

I think back in the 70s, that comic when it first appeared would have been funnier but people today are more educated about personal dynamics, and the evils of “verbal and emotional abuse” especially pertaining to children and in marriages. That comic AFTER the RECOVERY movement reads quit a bit different back in 1979 or whenever it first appeared. One thing I wonder about is the comic strip artist’s choice of THROW-back COMICS, considering her recent divorce and if by that she is more likely to choose negative renditions of her CARTOON husband who definitely has to merge with her real life ex-husband, because the comic strip was based on her life after all….

Yes, I am very much aware of what’s going on at The Comic Curmudgeon, as that was where I got my cartoon from. I should have posted the link up there (especially since I comment of the FBOFW comic that had a shortened version of that on it).

I’m not sure that Liz’s wish to revenge herself on those friends who bridesmaided her is unnatural. You seen some of those getups bridesmaids have had to get themselves into? Just because the comic focuses on that specific moment doesn’t mean it’s been a driving force in her with for marriage (although I kinda wonder if Liz was fired from her job at the “first nations” school and is now marrying Anthony so that she’ll have something to do now. It also wouldn’t surprise me to find out that Liz will find a job in town so she’ll be able to stay in.).

As for the issue of Lynn using the comics to get back at her ex-husband, it’s entirely possible, although one steadfast punchline is always to take the jab at the authority figure, and in the early strips it’s obviously the father who’s the authority figure. More interesting would be seeing how Lynn treats John Patterson in the present-day strips. More to the point: Does the old guy exist anymore? (from what I can tell, nothing outside the immediate family seems to exist anymore.)

More frightening to me is Lynn’s plan to rewrite the past. I understand people’s wishes to restate things better, and reading over Charles Schulz’s collected cartoons makes me appreciate the old times when people could work things until they find what fits and exclude the old failed attempts. But the idea that someone would go over and rewrite their past, even with the idea of perfecting what’s there, is disturbing in that it appears that she’s about to fix things so they come out “as they should have” instead of how they did. After all, real life doesn’t come out as neat as a fictional story plot.

Bosses and the Bossed:

Bosses and Bossed.

I like this graphic (which I got from The Comic Curmudgeon‘s community discussion pages). It shows a lot.

First, notice how relationship changes as things get lower and lower:

  • The Admiral bows in submission, the King keeps a respectful distance.
  • The Businessman returns the salute while bowing to the Admiral.
  • The Supervisor is slightly frightened, but is still open to the Businessman (whose expressive hand is pointing, not in a fist).
  • The worker has his hands in front while the supervisor is shouting at him.
  • The worker’s wife is frightened (but dares not raise her hands to protect) while the worker shouts at her.
  • The worker’s wife grabs at her son and threatens him bodily harm.
  • The son kicks the cat.

Basically, the relationships get rougher as you go lower. One could argue that the lower levels are more honest, but if there’s one thing the Japanese (who pack much more people into their smallish space than we would ever think of doing) know, it’s that sometimes keeping nice is the best way to do things. After all, one thinks that the higher one goes, the more trustworthy that person would be.

Not only that, but one gets the impression that the people lower on the ladder feel the weight stronger, as if the kid kicking the cat not only had to do with his mother, but everyone above her up to the king himself. Not only that, but I would guess that he only feels his mother’s presence; as the higher up one goes the the more they’re aware of what’s above them. The admiral’s aware of the king but only of the king on top; everyone else (except the kid and cat) is aware of what’s both above them and what’s above that. The worker probably doesn’t think of the King except on certain national holidays.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

So what brought me to comment on this cartoon? Another Cartoon, on the long-lamentable For Better or For Worse. It’s a rerun, one of the more interesting ones in that it replicates the above cartoon in a family setting.

Some say the above is better than the FBOFW (aka FOOB) version. They miss the major problem with that: That every generation and every person has to put things to their reality. We don’t always have the wide selection of lectures, lyrics and images that allow us the access to the best everyone has ever said/done, so we work our own versions. And sometimes it makes sense.

Even so, sometimes the best of the past doesn’t match up to what the artist is expressing. I remember hearing a compact disk about general teenage malaise. Sure, I could say it’s been done better elsewhere, but some of the details this band was dealing with were not dealt with in the earlier works. Indeed, with the rapid changes of technology and how it affects how we deal with people, it’s entirely possible that what comes up now won’t be comprehensible to people twenty years from now.

The FBOFW deals with a narrower reality, and does so with the idea of a punch line/recognition from the reader’s life. The above cartoon stands as a teaching tool of sorts from what I’m guessing is a socialistic/anarchistic format. A different angle, different outcome aimed at.

Peanuts 2000: A Late Review

Yes, it took me a while as it had actually been years since I had been a steady reader of Peanuts. Having gotten all the Complete Peanuts books plus some of the other periphery items, however, I felt it was time to finally read this collection of the last year (and few extra Sundays) of Peanuts.

So here are my impressions of the final year:

  1. Lots of cartoons placed in an attempt to bring about endings.
    • Peggy Jean shows up in a summer camping strip, talks about her boyfriend before running off. Charlie Brown ends up asking for Snoopy to bark for him (though not in so many words). Peggy Jean has gone on with her life, Charlie Brown seems stuck in the past.
    • Pig-Pen appears in a comic (after years of absence) that seems to show him being shamed and intentionally dirty. This in contradiction of years of a character who seemed to be unable to shake dirt off him no matter what he (or his parents) did. This also in contradiction in the occasional (but consistent) pride he took in his steadfast dirtiness.
    • Lucy sets up Charlie Brown for disappointment yet again, only this time she has to go inside (called by her mother) so she orders Rerun to hold the ball. Next thing we know, she’s asking Rerun whether he took the ball away from Charlie Brown, to which he says “I’m Not Telling.” Leaving that strip incomplete.
    • The final two daily cartoons seem to point towards the end of the strip in and off themselves. We get Snoopy made impotent (something that only Lucy in her prime could have done, and that wasn’t always assured) during a snowball fight, and Charlie Brown buried in the Beanbag Chair as Sally makes herself into his “secretary.” His last phrase: “…but I am out of this world.”

    It’s almost as if Charles Schulz knew he was reaching the end of his life and wanted to set some things to rest. The ever broken-hearted Charlie Brown never gets to kiss the Red Haired Girl (though it wouldn’t surprise me if Linus has seduced her by now), Pig-Pen is now a dirty slob (instead of the lovable kid who can’t help it), the ball remains unkicked.

  2. One comic that might have fitted in the above category was Rerun figuring out he would never become Andrew Wyeth. However, instead of giving up on drawing, Rerun remakes his art into different formats. Some can use a cynical view (if you can’t do mainstream, go elsewhere); however I can see the story of an artist trying to follow his muse and getting constantly scolded by those in authority (the teacher here, other folks elsewhere) for it.
  3. Snoopy seems to be evolving in different directions. Some comics show him almost the equal of Rerun (indeed, Rerun almost wants to use him as a role model); others show him doing doglike things he would never have done since he first stood up. Indeed, not even in the earliest strips do we hear “woof” without some comment or reaction from Snoopy; but here “woof” makes sense. And that last daily cartoon doesn’t so Snoopy so much as a dog as more an incomplete human being.
  4. The artwork changes on the last three months of Sunday Cartoons. Suddenly we git shifting colors for sky, two-tone shrubbery and an depiction of the Washington Crossing the Delaware painting. Makes me wonder if there was some computerized behind-the-scene artwork already being done, and if someone was being trained to take over for Schulz and his health went for the worse sooner than everyone thought would happen.

It would have been interesting to see what would have happened with Rerun and his artist intentions. It would appear that Schulz had finally found a character with an enduring quirk for the first time since Peppermint Patty’s tomboy tendencies (some would say Marcie’s unspoken-of lesbianism, but I digress). Also, since much of Rerun’s appearances in 1999 were in connection with an unnamed girl, it would have been interesting to see if Schulz would have brought about a whole new generation of Peanuts based around Rerun.

But we know what happened: Schulz suffered from a number of mini-strokes, leaving him less able to continue the strip. A final downturn stared in early December, stilling Schulz’s pen. Before the last Peanuts strip runs, Schulz dies.

All good things come to an end.

The American Economy Has Entered Into “Running In Place” Mode?

I went to visit my sister this last weekend (March 8-9), and one of the subjects was Ebay. At first she talked about how they no longer accepted negative feedback (under the mistaken belief that the customer is always right so ignore any criticism of them). But when I asked if people were still buying, she said:

People haven’t been buying stuff. I’ve been watching Ebay for a while, and nothing’s selling.

That sentiment was echoed when I visited a friend nearby. He said about the only stuff that was selling was the collectible stuff. Which he has had enough of to hang on with recently, although he’s also noted that much of his sales were from overseas.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

I’d like to believe that this is because people are beginning to spend more wisely, or that they had gotten to the point that people are now using their credit cards for necessities. In short, they’re not being frugal BECAUSE THEY NO LONGER CAN.

That’s right, friends: Food and fuel prices are rising so fast that they’re shoving aside computers, furniture and vacations as sources of deficit spending. To further wrench your gut, there’s also the possibility that they’ve grown so used to deficit spending that they see no difference between going in debt for the vacation and going in debt for the tank of gas for the SUV they’re now unable to sell and feel they’re stuck with for worse or for much worse.

Here’s how deeply our debt culture has developed: We now have a company advertising on Chicago Radio who’ll refinance your automobile. That’s right: You can buy a newer car and set up payments so that you’ll end up paying less per month than before. The catch? You’ll owe money on it long after it has ceased to be useful.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

You know what this reminds me of? It reminds me of a problem many transit companies ran into: At a certain point you end up deferring new purchases and plant maintenance because it costs money that you need to keep what you have running. What happens is that you get to the point where even major repairs become too much to do, so you end up duct-taping everything together and shortening runs to nurse every mile out of the stuff you can. Eventually runs get cut out not because they’re underused OR because they’re unprofitable (although they may be both these things), but because you need the machinery to run what’s left of your system.

In other words, you run in place. And unless you can get a sizable infusion from outside sources willing to invest in your product, the product will eventually shut down unlamented.

And when that happens when this happens to countries? Stuff disappears. People settle for less, or move out in search of better stuff. People work like crazy just to survive, then eventually things fall apart.

And right now, people are using their debt to cover the month-to-month. Running in Place.

The Recent Cold Spell and “Global Warming”

The weather has been really cold for the past few months, and this without the hot Christmases which have historically (at least within my active memory) presaged lengthy cold spells that last until mid-summer (if not into the next year). I keep waiting for temperatures to start edging into the forties to stay (as is the average at this moment in Munster, IN) but snow keeps falling.

Now I read about a bunch of global warming doubters shouting about how “Global Warming has been proved as a bunch of hogwash!” Never mind that one year shouldn’t be considered proof of idea (thankfully the smarter of the Global Warming Critics don’t view the cold winter as proof of No Global Warming ™.)

Of course, the one thing people should be considering is being ignored by all: The Effect of China.

Consider this: over the past fifteen years, China has embarked on a radical course of hyperindustrialization. Much of that has involved the usage of many factories and coal plants that pump out tons of dust into the air. Much of the dust will fall onto the earth near where it’s pumped up (hence the average traffic cop’s average lifespan of 40 years), but much of it will stay up at least long enough to affect other areas.

Now consider that many places on the west coast are now in danger of being “in noncompliance with EPA standards.” Never mind the joy that Bush Jr. will have in holding back monies from some blue states because of violations caused by outsiders; the fact that some areas are being affected from the other side of a large ocean should put pause in some people.

Now, if you believe that Humans are heating up the planet by throwing up carbon dioxide and loosing methane into the air, it makes sense that we can cool down the world as well with dust and other sun-scatterers. And I’ve always found it interesting that things cooled down during and after WWII (when industries were bombed and the air was dirtied by bombs and other things).

So I happen to believe that China’s development may be cooling down the world, much to their suffering. However much that is at the moment I can’t say, but I believe that’s happening to some extent.