I’m watching some playoff football right now. The Giants got beaten last week so I have no emotional investment in any of these games left but what they hey, I dig football. Of course, the mind wanders when watching some of these boring games and that has brought me to a thought about football and the future.

In the cartoon “The Jetsons” I remember that once they showed a football game being played by robots. “The Jetsons” was set in the future and robots were everywhere so it was only natural. But what would be the advantage of having robots play the game instead of people? The robots could dish out and take more punishment but to what end? Big hits and big action are only part of the game. A beautiful run, a well thrown ball, a perfect pass route and calling one play to stop another all make up the game. I don’t think robots could improve on this.

I don’t use the word “violent” when describing football because to have violence there has to be an intent to harm. That is the definition of the word. That intent to harm just isn’t there. The intent is to stop the other team cold, physically dominate them and win the game. Football players don’t really want to hurt other football players. At least most of them don’t. There are anti-social types in football too.

With robots I will use the word “violent”. That is what would change. Much like those robot gladiator shows that we have now football robots will have weapons and be given the will to destroy the opposing football robots. At least that’s how I would do it. I also think that would make the game less like football. The concentration won’t be on the execution of plays but on the execution of players. A game more like old time football, before the forward pass was invented, might ensue.

There might even be two types of robot football leagues. A stock league with off the shelf models and an “Indy Car” league where anything goes. The stock league might resemble football more as we know it and the Indy league might have the serious violent cutting edge robot technology.
Ahhh, robots, they are so amusing. I wonder what basketball playing robots would be like?

A review of “Wimbledon Green: The Greatest Comic Book Collector in the World” by the cartoonist Seth. Published by Drawn and Quarterly

The one name cartoonist, Seth, is one of my favorites. I always look forward to an issue of “Palookaville” whenever one shows up at my local comic shop. I’ll sing the praises of “It’s a Good Life if You Don’t Weaken” (first serialized in “Palookaville”) and also will recomend “Clyde Fans” (currently being serialized in “Palookaville”). I was pleasantly surprised to see a new hardcover book from him last week. Surprised because it never ran in “Palookaville” and Seth doesn’t put out many comics. Plus I don’t usually check to see what is coming out week to week so I’m easy to surprise.

I was a little put off at first because it is a hardcover book and I’m usually a “wait for softcover” kind of guy but this was Seth and I dig his work so I picked it up. I was put off again by a blurb on the cover that said, “A Story From the Sketchbook of the Cartoonist Seth”. What the hell was this? Story from the sketchbook? It seemed to me like they were apologizing for the incompleteness of the book on its own cover. It sounded as if they were trying to pass off some half finished drawings as a hardcover book. I’m an artist and have plenty of sketchbooks and though they may be interesting to those who enjoy in the process of art sketches are not finished works. So what is that blurb all about? The book was shrink wrapped so I couldn’t even open it. But I really do like his work so I bought it despite the fear created by that blurb.

I shouldn’t have worried. Even though, in the intro, Seth apologized for the artwork being “sketchbook quality” and the storytelling “perfunctory” he is wrong. There is nothing sketchy or unfinished about the drawings or ideas in “Wimbledon Green”. From what I could gather from the intro he used a less labored approach to the creation of this work than in his other “Palookaville” stories. He didn’t sweat the details of every single pen line or sweat the details of every turn of the story as he usually does. But he didn’t need too. The book is beautiful as is. It’s breezy structure is part of its charm and the charm of the world it creates.

“Wimbledon Green” is the tale of the world’s most famous comic book collector in some crazy alternate earth where “comic book collector” is actually a position of renown. They story is told in a series of short pieces yet in a lot of small panels making the overall book quite long. The book is packed with people telling their reminiscences and experiences with ol’ Wimbledon; some like him, some do not and some are indifferent. Plus we get to hear from Wimby himself and tag along on a couple of his adventures. There is intrigue and mystery as the story unfolds and we learn that Mr. Green is a bit of a riddle and no one is really sure where he came from. After all famous comic book collectors don’t just appear out of nowhere. They have a history!

But it is the whole that makes up this book. Not the parts. Like most of Seth’s work the story is really about human feeling. The whys, whats, and wherefores of the plot are not what the book is about. The book is about people and the world they create with the things that matter to them. We get to know the characters not because they are important to the plot moving forward but because a world is a made up of its inhabitants and these are the guys who live with ol’ Don Green. A world of famous comic book collectors and their passion for seeking out and owning pieces of history. It’s a world that is a great place to spend some time. Definitely recommended.

“Advertising is legalized lying” -HG Wells.

A truer statement has never been spoken. Those clever people on Madison Avenue are always whipping up ad campaigns to try to convince us that we should buy their products. They rarely let the truth get in the way either. Brand awareness and positioning are what matter. Not what really is. The only thing they cannot do, at least legally, is claim that their product can do something that it clearly can’t. This soap can’t make you taller (unless you stand on it). That juice can’t cure your cold. They can make claims that imply all sorts of things but they can’t say ’em outright.

That is unless you are making a car commercial. Take the latest Toyota Tacoma advert; it is the one where the meteor hits the truck and the truck just keeps on rolling. The voiceover claims that the truck is “meteorproof”. It’s all played perfectly straight like all the events in the commercial are real and true except for a the word “dramatization” briefly flashed across the screen.

Now, c’mon, are they allowed to just outright lie like that? As long as they cross their fingers? No subtlety. No implying. Just an outrageous lie. I feel insulted every time that commercial comes on. Have the makers of these car commercials reached a place where they have so little respect for the public that they don’t even expect us to take notice of their lying? Are we just expected to think, “look that truck is tough, it’s meteor-proof” and fall in line with their ad campaign? Not think, “Why the heck are these people up to trying to sell me a truck with that crazy story?”.

If a used car salesman salesman looked at you with a wink and a smile and said, “buy this truck it’s meteorproof” you’d say, “This truck has a better chance of being hit by a Bigfoot than a meteor”. Then you would back away and not buy a thing from the nut.

That ad is the sleaziest one I’ve seen in a while but it is so slick and well produced that people accept it as normal. I just have to call it out and say it is a turd.

It’s just another thing in this world to make me angry. Grrr….

On Sunday January 1, 2006. I spent about 35 minutes on the New York State Thruway creeping along at between 5 and 10 miles per hour. An accident had happened up the road and everybody was at a crawl. It was pretty uneventful (for those of us not in the accident). I was by myself listening to the radio. I switched between WPDH, a classic rock station, and a boring and meaningless week 16 Bears vs Vikings game (a game they should replay in Hell’s waiting room just to warm you up).

After about 20 minutes I was startled by a car racing down the right shoulder of the highway. Five minutes later another sped by. No lights so they weren’t cops or rescue personal; at least I didn’t think so. But it got me thinking (and dreaming of following them). What would it take for a person to drive down the shoulder of the NYS Thruway? Late for dinner? Late for a wedding? Late for a business meeting? What would it take? Even frustrated and bored I wasn’t doing anything as anti-social and vaguely dangerous as driving in the breakdown lane. On the way to the hospital I might do some crazy driving. To catch a plane? Stuart airport was in the other direction so no one was rushing to a flight. What would it take? Having never driven on a highway’s shoulder in the middle of a traffic jam I have no answer. But I do wonder what would make me do that.

This analysis come out of a discussion I had with Johnny B about which AC/DC song was the best. He went with “Back in Black” and I with “You Shook Me All Night Long”.

Right off of the bat I have to say that I am not a real AC/DC fan. Sure, I love the “Back in Black” record but back in 1980 what 14 year old didn’t? I also have a bunch of their other hits but I never got into buying all of their CDs. Still, I want to give you my analysis of what makes this, their greatest song, so great. I’m really just examining the lyrics. I’ll leave it to a musician to wax poetic about the music and the guitar licks. So here we go:

“She was a fast machine
She kept her motor clean”

To start the song AC/DC compares a woman to a fast car and a clean one at that (for all of you obsessive compulsives out there). Thus we are introduced to the single most important concept in the song and the concept that rules the album. The double entendre. As dictionary.com describes it: “an ambiguity with one interpretation that is indelicate”. A classic Rock ‘n Roll pairing and a classic Rock ‘n Roll double entendre. You can’t go wrong with “girl as car”. Power to the people!

“She was the best damn woman that I had ever seen”

Straight out declaration. AC/DC lets us know that they are not trying just to be clever with their double entendres and that they’ll hit you with the gospel truth when they need too (see the video for Warrant’s “Cherry Pie” for a song where the band is trying to being clever but, boy, are they mistaken).

“She had the sightless eyes
Telling me no lies”

This is the one line in the song that I had wrong. Until I read the lyrics (just yesterday) I always thought that they said “She had it cyclized” meaning she was a as machine on a cycle, unstoppable. The things one learns 25 years later after the internet is invented to look up song lyrics. Remember the days when you had to guess? Not every album came with a lyric sheet.

Someone is going to have to tell me what is meant by “sightless eyes” because it’s new to me. But I do know that our singer can relax because the woman offers no deception. What a dream!

Alright, I’m sorry. That was a cheap shot at the opposite sex. I can’t help that I’m a trouble maker. It’s a disease. Or genetic, take your pick.

“Knocking me out with those American thighs”

That’s the money line. The most important word being “American”. Besides pandering to the world’s largest music market it called on the USA’s reputation in the world for being bigger, bolder and filled with a “can do” spirit. Who doesn’t want to get knocked out by thighs like that. Songs don’t usually even mention thighs.

“Taking more than her share
Had me fighting for air”

Now he is losing himself in her. Not in a lovey dovey staring into her eyes kinda way but losing himself in their raw sexuality as she takes from him whatever she wants regardless of his well being.

“She told me to come
But I was already there”

Again double entendre and even more blatant. He loses total control to this woman. And likes it.

“Cause the walls start shaking
The earth was quaking
My mind was aching
And we were making it
And you shook me all night long.”

The Chorus. AC/DC starts us off with some classic “baby, you made the earth move” stuff then struts into “You’re blowing my mind up” territory and after that back to the single entendre about making it all night long. A little something for everyone is in the chorus.

“Working double time
On the seduction line”

Now, here is where the song breaks into brilliant new ground. These two lines are a single entendre disguised as a double entendre. There are no two meanings here. The first line leads you to believe that a double entendre is to follow but it doesn’t. Just a single entendre does. It makes the listener feel smart and included. Good stuff, what?

“She was one of a kind
She’s just mine all mine”

The straight dope to make the listener feel he is right there beside the singer. This is a “we are all in this together having a good time” line. Join the party. Kind of the opposite of what the line actually says. AC/DC is twisting it all around on us.

“She wanted no applause
Just another course
Made a meal out of me
And came back for more”

We have already had a car reference, so how about some food? More classic stuff comparing our appetite for food to our more lustful appetites. Plus it mentions that she shuns applause so we know it is not her own ego she is trying to satisfy but something more pure and shiny. Goodness and badness all rolled into one.

“Had to cool me down
To take another round
Now I’m back in the ring
To take another swing”

We finish up with a little violence to add to our sex. But the violence is made non-threatening towards the women by not only having her winning the boxing match but just by making it a boxing match. Boxing is a competitive sport and who can get offended at a sport? Thus we can have our cake and eat it too. Violence with a women without making it violence towards a woman.

There you have it. Classic allusions, sex, violence, cars, food, a single entendre masquerading as a double and lots of rhymes. People dig rhymes. You get more than you asked for with this song. Around every corner is a tasty new lyrical dish. The best AC/DC song.

As a final thought I have to go with “You Shook Me All Night Long” as the superior song over “B in B” because it is much harder to sell to Madison Avenue for them to use in a car commercial.