Monday, October 29, 2007

The Best Showdown Between Good and Evil

In the first week of November, 2007, The New England Patriots, having begun the season by casting doubt on their entire legacy when their cheating was revealed, will square off against the Indianapolis Colts in a battle of unbeatens that deserves the adjective "epic." To celebrate that, TBOE and Nonsportsmanlike Conduct team up to give you A Week of Showdowns culiminating in what will be The Best Showdown Between Good and Evil.
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Sports fans know that this week will feature a rarity this late in the NFL season: a battle between two unbeaten teams, the 7-0 Indianapolis Colts and the 8-0 New England Patriots*.

It is a rarity because it’s so difficult for two pro football teams to go through a half-season without losing a single game before they meet up. But in another sense, this week’s showdown between The Colts and the Patriots* is nothing new. It represents something that humanity has been seeing for eons: the battle between Good (Colts) and Evil (Patriots*).

And, as the old saying goes, those who do not learn the lessons of history… something something…doomed. (I’m not sure what it says; I kind of tuned out my old history teacher when he talked.) The point anyway is that history can tell us how to look at this game (airing at 3 p.m. Central time Sunday) and what to expect. So, for the first-ever joint venture between The Best Of Everything and Nonsportsmanlike Conduct, here comes:

A Week of Showdowns: What Past Battles Between Good And Evil Tell Us About The Upcoming Colts-Pats Game!

(Yes, if you read the title, you knew what I was going to say there.)



Each day I’ll be counting down the seven best showdowns between Good and Evil in human history, and pointing out what each has in common with Sunday’s game and therefore what we can expect.

The Seventh Best Showdown Between Good and Evil In Human History:

#7: Prometheus vs. Zeus: Not many people alive today recall this epic showdown that went on and on. Prometheus was the Titan who switched sides to fight with Zeus, only to then rebel against Zeus to help mankind – who Prometheus helped create. Prometheus defied Zeus to give mankind the best parts of the animals, and famously stole the sacred fire to give to man. As punishment, Zeus had Prometheus chained down while an eagle ate his liver each day, a punishment that lasted until Hercules came and rescued Prometheus. Also as punishment, Zeus created Pandora and sent her to man.

What this battle teaches us about the Colts & The Patriots*:












First of all, that switching sides can sometimes pay off – as former Patriots* kicker Adam Vinatieri understands, now that he’s kicking in the comfort of the Dome there in Indianapolis.







Secondly, that even the best punishments don’t last forever and rarely affect how people act – right Bill Belichick?











And, the final lesson is that men, you might think you’ve got the best game-day barbecue ever, what with your meat from the best parts of the animal and your sacred fire, but at some point a woman is going to come and ruin it.



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#6: Crisis On Infinite Earths (Monday):

I confirmed it last night: no NFL teams of 7-0 or better have ever faced off in a game, so this weeks Colts-Patriots* game, featuring the 7-0 Colts vs. the 8-0 Patriots* is a unique event in that sense. But in another sense, again, it’s nothing new because humanity has seen epic struggles between good and evil before, and this week will continue my review of the top seven ever – and also what each tells us about the game this week.

The Sixth Best Battle Between Good and Evil in human history happened back in the 1980’s, and you might have been unaware of it despite its overwhelming importance. I’m talking about the

Crisis on Infinite Earths:

A battle which featured every superhero in the Universes vs. a thing called the Anti-Monitor, who was destroying the universes with antimatter.

By the 1980s, the world of superheroes had grown extremely complex and the world of comic books had grown unprofitable, so something had to be done. Over in the Marvel Universe, the powers-that-be staged the Secret Wars, as a character known as the Beyonder kidnapped all the superheroes and supervillains and made them fight on another planet.

That, in turn, prompted the characters of the DC Universe to go one better – or hundreds better. While comic books in our lives broke into two groups – Marvel and DC—the lives in DC comic books spanned across a dizzying array of universes, ranging from Earth 1 (which had modern-era superheroes including many many Green Lanterns) to Earth 2 (with golden age superheroes including the Green Lantern in the cape and the Flash that wore a soup tureen on his head, which somehow stayed on while he ran) to Earth Prime (which is where we lived in comic books) to Earth Shazam (seriously) to an Earth that I think was different but had the Blue Beetle… Things were complicated.

Not too complicated, though: For some reason, there was only one Aquaman.

Enter the Anti-Monitor, who had been spawned in the primordial soup as the opposite of the Monitor, sort of, since the Monitor was a guy who also had always been around but just watched things, but the Anti-Monitor came into being and didn’t just watch, he destroyed things. (DC always had a problem with defining what opposites were: Bizarro Superman was supposed to be the opposite of Superman, because his world was a cube and he said “Hello” when he meant goodbye – a problem that was appropriately pointed out on Seinfeld when Elaine asked if Bizarro shouldn’t have said “Bad-bye” instead?)

The Anti-Monitor, through 12 issues (plus crossovers) of a series destroyed universes one after another, collapsing universes together and facing off against all the heroes of the Universes, including both Supermen, all the Green Lanterns, Aquaman, and even the bad guys, who all joined in with the good guys – even The Joker, although I’m not sure that it would help to set an elaborate trap for the Anti-Monitor that required that he step into a large bowl of cheese or whatever it was the Joker always did – but everyone joined in, fighting an epic battle that lasted long enough for DC to declare that everything was new and refined and much more worthy of purchasing, as Golden Age Superman took Golden Age Lois Lane to another dimension, and Supergirl died (sorry about the spoiler!) and Flash died! (Only his nephew got his uniform and became the Flash, so it’s not like we didn’t have a Flash anymore.)

The point is, though, that this battle exceeded the Secret Wars and earned its spot on the list of Best Battles between Good and Evil because of the sheer scope: All the heroes! All the villains! New villains! Guys you haven’t heard of before or after! It was phenomenal.

What this battle teaches us about the Colts & The Patriots*:
First of all, it shows us that Epic Battles are where the money is. Already last night on Monday Night Football, the announcers were referring to this week as “The 41st-and-a-half Superbowl.” The NFL couldn’t have planned it better than to get this matchup. It’s almost as though when Roger Goodell demanded that he be given all those tapes and then destroyed them and issued a nominal punishment, he was up to something…

Secondly, the Crisis also teaches us – as Manny Ramirez might say – that none of this really matters much in the long run. So Golden Age Superman flew off into another dimension. So Supergirl died. We’ve still got a Flash, right? And all those Green Lanterns? And Aquaman? How did he survive? This week’s game will be touted as having all sorts of significance but in the end it’s just one of 16 games. In college, every regular season game counts. In the NFL, 10 of them do.

Thirdly: In all epic battles, there’s the watcher and the destroyer. And we have that, too: Tony Dungy quietly sits on the sidelines and gets his team to 7-0, where they sit and await the marauding Patriots*, who have been steamrolling teams like antimatter through so many universes.

And last: Look at what DC did. They killed off a bunch of characters. That’s the most important lesson here. You don’t get the big ratings unless you knock off an important guy. And the Patriots* have been looking to prove something all year, getting less and less sportsmanlike as each game goes on. Look, I’m not going to make any wild accusations here. I’m just saying, Peyton, watch your blindside.

*The Patriots are Cheaters.


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NUMBER FIVE:
We continue counting down the Seven Best Showdowns Between Good and Evil in anticipation of the first-ever confrontation looming for November 4. Today it is...

Number Five: The Car Race Between Danny Zuko and Leo.

It was a tense moment. There was Kenickie, ready to race Greased Lightning against Leo (of The Scorpions) for pinks –

“Pinks?”

“Pinks, you punk! Ownership papers!”

And to help him out, they drop a penny, but Kenickie gets knocked out (should that be keknocked out?) and Danny Zuko has to step in and take on Leo. And, as he was told: “Ain’t no rules.”

Danny was, as we all know, struggling to be a good guy and get Sandy without letting his friends know that he liked her (even though it didn’t seem to pose a problem for Kenickie that he liked Rizzo) and could only do that, here, by being the bad guy, by racing against Leo and beating him as Sandy looked on from afar. So he gets in the car and takes off on the race – driving fast, tearing around, seeing the car get chewed up by Leo’s unorthodox rims.

And (Spoiler Alert!) he wins!

The Number Five Best Battle Between Good and Evil, the car race from Grease, was a few minutes of pure adrenaline that seemed somehow out of place in the throwback movie/musical but which gave that movie a needed bit of tension that did not involve Olivia Newton-John biting her lip pensively. And it boiled these type of confrontations down to their essence: a good guy, a bad guy, a simple goal (“First one back here wins”) and a prize to be won – those pinks.

What This Battle Tells Us About The Upcoming Colts/Patriots* game:

The most important lesson to learn is that all such battles – all important things – are properly handled by grown-ups. Look around movies and TV shows nowadays and all you see are kids or barely-adults. It’s a trend that began decades ago with Young Guns and had only gotten worse. When I was a kid, Superman was Christopher Reeve and was Superman. Now he’s Brandon Routh and it’s more like Super-late-teens-or-early-20s. Grease came before that time and had the grown-ups doing the work. John Travolta was only 24 when he made Grease, playing a high school senior. Jeff Conaway – Kenickie – was 28. But they looked like grown-ups. And this week’s game features grown-ups. None of this rookie phenom junk for these two teams. Manning and Brady have been around the block; the coaches have been with other teams and have all been to big games. Good vs. Evil is important stuff. Leave it to the adults.

Another good point to take from this race is the importance of the Hero. Heroes cannot be held down. They cannot, for example, be raised on a desert planet by Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru and kept in seclusion forever. And they cannot be left standing idly on the side of the road while someone named Kenickie races for the glory. Heroes always step forward and pick up the mantle of glory.

The car race also tells us that there are rules and that cheaters don’t win. Leo tries to cover himself and tell Zuko “Ain’t no rules,” and that’s supposed to justify his behavior throughout the race. But it doesn’t work. Telling someone that there ‘ain’t no rules’ is just a smokescreen. You might as well go and say something like you misinterpreted the rules. The message is clear, either way: the good guys play fair and still win.


*We all know what that asterisk means by now, don't we?

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Colts vs. Patriots*: November 4: The Battle of Unbeatens. Has there ever been a greater competition in human history? As it turns out, Yes. There have been Seven greater ones, and The Best of Everything joins with Nonsportsmanlike Conduct to bring you those seven as we countdown to the game this Sunday.

Today's is The Fourth Best Competition Between Good and Evil: The Grinch vs. Christmas!

A sourpuss who lives on his own and by his own rules looks down on the world around him and decides that there is too much joy, too much fun, too much – so he decides to take it all away.

The Fourth Best Battle Between Good And Evil has some easy comparisons to this week’s battle of unbeatens. Let’s take a look at The Grinch vs. Christmas.

Dr. Seuss’ book has by now conquered almost every form of entertainment. It began as a kids’ book,












Then became a beloved holiday staple cartoon, then stampeded the pop culture landscape with the Ron Howard/Jim Carrey movie – which, darn it, I liked and I don’t care what all you critics say out there. It was a good movie! It was! The story has been so ingrained that we all instinctively understand what we mean when we describe someone as a Grinch.












Don’t we?














The story has been so ingrained not just because it’s about Christmas but because it follows the classic Good vs. Evil storyline: Bad guy, outcast by society, alone in his anger and bile, seethes and plots revenge. Then he gets his revenge, only it’s a hollow victory and Good has triumphed after all. We love stuff like that. We all want to believe that whether Evil sneaks into our house through the chimney, or slides down the side of its mountain on a careening sled, we will prevail regardless of how or why we fight back, because Good win. And Good wins so powerfully that it converts Evil to its side.

What We Can Learn About The Colts/Patriots* game from this Battle:


A key point to take away from this battle is, apparently, you can’t ever get enough of a good thing. When Dr. Seuss wrote How The Grinch Stole Christmas in the 1950s, Christmas was a smaller affair, with celebrations beginning not much before the actual day and being centered on the family. (Note: I am getting my information from the movie “A Christmas Story,” which I presume to be a valid documentary.) Now, fifty years later, Christmas is a months-long extravaganza that begins just after Labor Day, has the shelves crowding out Halloween Candy in October, and culminates in radio stations going to all-Christmas Music on Thanksgiving, shopping beginning at midnight, office parties, Secret Santas and giant inflatable Rudolphs.

The NFL is no different. In my lifetime, a person could actually get tickets to the first Superbowl, which was shown on two networks at the same time (and which drew barely better ratings than a 10-10 tie between Michigan and Notre Dame.) Now, the NFL season begins with the draft in the Spring – itself a two-day event – on to training camp in the summer, with a 17-week season and five weeks of playoffs and then the Pro Bowl (which is kind of like football except nobody watches) in February, just a few months shy of the draft. Football, like Christmas, is nearly year round, and has (at my last count on my satellite system) four channels primarily devoted to it and entirely devoted to it. (Here’s a thought: can we be far away from The Christmas Network, airing year-round Christmas movies?)

Another lesson from The Grinch vs. Christmas: Grinches will come around. Allow me to be Seussian about Grinches and the lessons they learn:

Grinches stomp, and they shout,
like they’ll knock themselves out.
They’ll groan and complain like they’re in lots of pain.
They run up the scores; they’re insufferable bores.
But when push comes to shove, all they want is some love.

But how will they get it, this love the Grinch needs?
Will they earn it through passing-and-running type deeds?

I’m afraid not. You see, a Grinch won’t learn to laugh,
Won’t pull out his starters or stop the long pass,
Won’t take a knee and won’t act the good sport
Until someone or something makes him stop short.

Those someones and somethings,

they won’t be you or me,
They won’t be the Commish, or his quick inquiry.

No, to fix up a Grinch the someones that you need
Have to teach him a lesson. These someones, you see
Must show to the Grinch that his ways are in error,
That he could play nicer, that he could play fair-er
And they’ll do that by beating the Grinch at his game,
By running and throwing and kicking the same
The same as the Grinch does, but they’ll do it better!

They’ll do it more quickly
They’ll do it more toughly,
They’ll do it more fastly, more fun-ly, more rough-ly.

And when the game’s over, the Grinch has gone down,
And that Grinch is just moping around with his frown,

They’ll walk to midfield, those someones and somethings
They’ll put up their hands with their Superbowl rings,
Those wonderful, non-tainted ring-finger-things,

They’ll shake hands with the Grinches,
They’ll smile, one and all.
Those someones and somethings will be having a ball.

Will that, after all, stop the Grinch from his moping?
There’s no guarantees – but of course, we’re all hoping!


ENJOY THE ORIGINAL SONG!


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Our countdown of The Best Showdowns between Good and Evil, done in conjunction with The Best of Everything continues with The Third Best:

The Beatles vs. The Rolling Stones:








Ah, the turbulent 60s: They’ve created so much fodder for Baby Boomers to obsess over and inflate the significance of. (Note: I am not a Baby Boomer; I’m a member of the Real Generation X, which differs from the Generation X the media thinks exists.)

But in some cases, the 60’s actually had a lasting impact that can be measured down the ages – as in the case of the Third Best Battle between Good and Evil, which is


The Beatles vs. The Rolling Stones. Where do I, a Gen-X-er get off declaring that The Beatles are Good and the Stones are Evil, you Baby Boomers are no doubt asking – or will be asking, once you stop checking on the value of your 401(k) plans and writing Newsweek articles which are just a list of movie titles that somehow are conflated in importance to the level of inscriptions on stone tablets carried down a mountain. (You non-Baby-Boomers are probably saying “Who are The Beatles and The Rolling Stones?”)

I can say that The Beatles and the Stones are Good and Evil because it’s so obvious. Just look at what they did. The Beatles put themselves on the cover of an album with various important people in history.


The Rolling Stones did this:





The Beatles began by telling America they wanted to hold our hands; The Stones complained that they could not get any satisfaction. From the start, The Beatles were adorable moptops while the Stones made you instinctively want to cross the street.

Not convinced? Consider this: While The Beatles were visiting an octopus’ garden in their yellow submarine, the Stones told us we couldn’t always get what we wanted and discussed Mom’s little yellow pills.



The Beatles wanted us to Let It Be. The Stones insisted that we Let It Bleed.

Still not sure? How’s this: John was The Walrus who compared himself to Jesus. Mick asked that we have Sympathy for the Devil.

That’s really all the argument I need.

The Beatles and The Rolling Stones divided pop music into Good and Evil, and took it in two separate directions. The Beatles remained upbeat no matter what they tried: Even when they went dark, like on Maxwell’s Silver Hammer, the effect was so lovable and happy that one could happily sing along with lyrics like “Bang Bang Maxwell’s Silver Hammer made sure that she was dead.” They found the beauty in people who had something to hide, they found the joy in the people and monkeys that did not have something to hide. They told us the story of Rocky Raccoon and made us cry tears of sad happiness while still humming the chorus. They’d be in the middle of a meditation on death like “A Day In The Life” and suddenly a jaunty pop tune would leap out at you. They could not help it: Paul and John and George and Ringo elevated pop literally to the rooftops before they were done.



The Stones dragged us in the other direction: They hired Hell’s Angels to provide security. They strutted and preened and had guitar solos that ripped into your head and did not leave. They sang about all the nervous breakdowns we’d have. They lamented Ruby Tuesday’s passing by noting “Ain’t life unkind?” When the Stones tried to be happy, it came out all twisted and wrong. On “She’s a Rainbow,” the piano notes are slightly off-key. The rainbow-woman wasn’t even happy – she was like a “sunset going down.” The Stones were dark and despondent and pulled us into the trenches with them and made us love it and hate it at the same time.

We were sad when The Beatles ended, because of how happy they could make us. We’d be sad if the Stones stopped because we would not know how happy we are without being reminded how bad things could be.

What Beatles vs. Stones tells us about the Colts/Patriots* Game:

Pretty and Popular Don’t Always Win: The Beatles were lovable moptops that had the girls swooning. Mick and Keith looked like they fell off the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down. (Years later, Keith actually did fall off a tree…) But who’s still around today making music and touring, and who’s fighting divorce battles and cutting deals with Starbucks? Watch it, Tom Brady: Peyton may have the bad haircut, but looks only carry you so far.

It Might Be Better to Get Your Disputes in The Open: The Patriots* are famed for playing as a team and never having any superstars and no egos, even though clearly they do. You can’t put Brady and Belichick and Randy Moss and Mike Vrabel and Teddy Bruschi all under one roof and still claim that they each think the other one is more important to this team. Like The Beatles, the Patriots* might be glossing over their differences and hoping to just hang in there. We know where that leads – breakups, ugliness, and Yoko Ono. The Colts, on the other hand, air their dirty laundry. Peyton calls out the “idiot kicker” and complains about the defense not getting the job done. In the long run, that might avoid more trouble.



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He was just a young boy, and at first did not know exactly how strong the evil he faced was. All the boy was looking for was to have some fun, do something to cheer him up and give him a break from the downtrodden existence that marked his everyday life.

But it would not work out that way.

When the boy left the home he’d grown up in, roaming out into the world, he did not know that there was Evil out there, an enemy waiting for him, an enemy who had waited a long time and now was poised, ready to destroy the boy’s hopes and dreams. An enemy the boy would face over and over again, each time raising anew the hopes that he could prevail and each time bringing up again the fear of his foe.

An enemy so evil it was not even called a proper name. Instead, the enemy was always referred to, circuitously, as…

The Kite-Eating Tree.

In the annals of good versus evil, there have always been young boys taking on ancient villains who have greater power than them. Long before Harry Potter took on You-Know-Who, Charlie Brown faced off against his own archvillain, The Kite-Eating Tree. Each spring, The Kite-Eating Tree sprung its leaves, and each spring Charlie Brown would run outside with his new kite, and each spring he battled again against his own personal demon… and, sadly, the Kite-Eating Tree always won.

Or did it?

The Kite-Eating Tree – located, like Evil always is, close to home (some people say it was in Charlie Brown’s backyard) ate all of Charlie Brown’s kites, and even a piano once. It seemed as though it could not be beaten, especially by hard-luck Charlie Brown. But there was one strip I recall where Charlie Brown went outside, convinced that this year the Kite-Eating Tree would NOT get his kite, ready to beat it, and then he simply… gave his kite to the tree, saying “Here, take it. It's been a long winter, and I'm very tender-hearted.”

And therein lies his victory. The Kite-Eating Tree got his kite, but Charlie Brown won, because he remained good in the face of evil. Like little boys facing off against Evil, the tradition of Good turning the other cheek and bringing evil around has been with us a long time, too: Luke Skywalker helped Darth Vader. Harry Potter even tried to help Voldemort. That’s because that’s what Good does: it sticks to its guns and remains good, and tries to get Evil to change. And that’s why Good always wins.

Evil may bite and kick and scratch and pull our kites from the sky, but it cannot change the very nature of who we are if we are Good. Evil wins the battles, but Good wins the war.

What we can learn about the Colts/Patriots* game from this Battle:

It’s important to have more than one way to fight. Charlie Brown beat The Kite-Eating Tree in the end because he used a sort of Peanuts-judo: he conquered it by seeming to give up. That came in the midst of a long string of attacks ranging from full-frontal assaults to sneakier battle plans. Meanwhile, The Kite-Eating Tree just stood there, year after year, eating kites. It couldn’t adapt, so it lost in the end.

Happiness is, indeed, a warm puppy. Charles Schulz taught that the important things in life are not just winning and losing. Lucy always won, but was miserable. Linus never won; he never saw the Great Pumpkin. Charlie Brown never won (until he beat the Tree at his own game.) His team lost 999 games in a row. The Little Red-Haired Girl never sent him a valentine. But he remained, deep down inside, happy and never gave up. Why? Because winning is not everything. What is everything is being a good person and fighting the good fight and playing by the rules. We all should keep that in mind. It does not matter if we, say, go 19-0 and win a fourth Superbowl, if we did not get there legitimately and if we’re not good people.

_______________________________________________________________ The Best Battle Between Good and Evil:


And so we come to The End.

Literally.

There really could only be one choice for The Best Battle Between Good and Evil, and that’s The Battle Between Good and Evil at the end of the world: The Apocalypse. When discussing the confrontations that Good and Evil engage in, how could anything ever top the ultimate confrontation between those two sides, the one that decides the Fate of Every Person in the World?

The only problem is, my understanding of the Final Battle between good and evil is a little hazy and muddled. I was raised in a fairly religious house – we went to church on most Sundays and all the big holidays, and I went to a Catholic school until I was pulled out in third grade in what I first assumed was a difference of academics, then later assumed was a religious dispute, and ultimately learned was merely about finances (which was also when I found out that public schools are free.) Despite that, though, my understanding of The Final Battle – the Apocalypse, I suppose – as a religious thing is very very limited to what I’ve gathered about it from brief allusions to the Book of Revelations. I know there’s a dragon involved, and Jesus, and a battle, and possibly the Virgin Mary. Honestly, that’s it. They don’t talk much about the Book of Revelations in church. I can’t imagine why; I’d certainly attend more often.

So what I know about the Final Battle Between Good and Evil comes, as so much of my other knowledge does, from two sources: comic books and pop music.

My first brush with the Final Battle was from reading Thor comics when I was younger. In Thor comics, which are no doubt extremely accurate renditions of Norse mythology, the End of the World was called Ragnarok. Or Gotterdammerung. Either way, it means the same thing to us: the end of the world, when gods fight gods, men fight men, the spirits in Valhalla will be loosed to fight… well, someone. And everyone will be silhouetted in dramatic angles like this:


And it might involve someone named “Mangog” who was something like 100,000,000 people all rolled into one guy that was going to destroy Asgard and then the world and also was the basis for Scientology.

And that’s really all I know about it. I’ve probably forgotten a few details. Very little sticks with me from the Thor comics. So I’ve had to fill in the gaps from other sources, like pop music, and there are two chief sources for information.

(Now, I know there are some who will knock me and say Wait a minute, you’re using pop songs and comic books as a reference for a scholarly work like this, and to them I say: It’s more reliable than Wikipedia.)

The first pop song is the appropriately titled REM song, “It’s The End of The World We Know It (And I Feel Fine).



I am an expert on the end of the world because I spent a long time, once, memorizing the lyrics to it. (I did the same thing with “Subterranean Homesick Blues.” I really need a hobby.) Those lyrics spell out in chilling detail just how The End Of The World Will Come:

That's great, it starts with an earthquake, birds and
snakes, an aeroplane and Lenny Bruce is not afraid.
Eye of a hurricane, listen to yourself churn - world
serves its own needs, dummy serve your own needs. Feed
it off an aux speak, grunt, no, strength, the Ladder
start to clatter with fear fight down height. Wire
in a fire, representing seven games, and a government
for hire at a combat site. Left of west and coming in
a hurry with the furys breathing down your neck. Team
by team reporters baffled, trumped, tethered cropped.
Look at that low playing. Fine, then. Uh oh,
overflow, population, common food, but it'll do to Save
yourself, serve yourself. World serves its own needs,
listen to your heart bleed dummy with the rapture and
the reverend and the right, right. You vitriolic,
patriotic, slam, fight, bright light, feeling pretty
psyched.

It's the end of the world as we know it.
It's the end of the world as we know it.
It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.

Six o'clock - TV hour. Don't get caught in foreign
towers. Slash and burn, return, listen to yourself
churn. Lock it in, uniforming, book burning, blood
letting. Every motive escalate. Automotive incinerate.
Light a candle, light a motive. Step down, step down.
Watch your heel crush, crushed, uh-oh, this means no
fear cavalier. Renegade steer clear! A tournament,
tournament, a tournament of lies. Offer me solutions,
offer me alternatives and I decline.

(Chorus)

The other night I dreamt of knives, continental
drift divide. Mountains sit in a line, Leonard
Bernstein. Leonid Brezhnev, Lenny Bruce and Lester
Bangs. Birthday party, cheesecake, jelly bean, boom! You
symbiotic, patriotic, slam bug net, right? Right.

(Chorus)

Scary, isn’’t it? Not least because Lenny Bruce appears twice. And jelly beans. I always suspected them. But REM at least gave us a cheery version of it – things could end but we would feel fine.

Not so with my other reference: Johnny Cash’s “The Man Comes Around.” I first heard this song when Sweetie and I saw (on a date!) “Dawn of the Dead,” where it served as the opening song while zombies ate people’s brains. It stands, then, in stark contrast to the REM version, despite its bouncy guitar work. Look at Johnny’s description:








And I heard, as it were, the noise of thunder: One of the four beasts saying: "Come and see." And I saw. And behold, a white horse.
There's a man goin' 'round takin' names. An' he decides who to free and who to blame. Everybody won't be treated all the same. There'll be a golden ladder reaching down. When the man comes around.

The hairs on your arm will stand up. At the terror in each sip and in each sup. For you partake of that last offered cup, Or disappear into the potter's ground. When the man comes around.

Hear the trumpets, hear the pipers. One hundred million angels singin'. Multitudes are marching to the big kettle drum. Voices callin', voices cryin'. Some are born an' some are dyin'. It's Alpha's and Omega's Kingdom come.

And the whirlwind is in the thorn tree. The virgins are all trimming their wicks. The whirlwind is in the thorn tree. It's hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

Till Armageddon, no Shalam, no Shalom. Then the father hen will call his chickens home. The wise men will bow down before the throne. And at his feet they'll cast their golden crown. When the man comes around.

Whoever is unjust, let him be unjust still. Whoever is righteous, let him be righteous still. Whoever is filthy, let him be filthy still. Listen to the words long written down, When the man comes around.

Hear the trumpets, hear the pipers. One hundred million angels singin'. Multitudes are marchin' to the big kettle drum. Voices callin', voices cryin'. Some are born an' some are dyin'. It's Alpha's and Omega's Kingdom come.

And the whirlwind is in the thorn tree. The virgins are all trimming their wicks. The whirlwind is in the thorn tree. It's hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

In measured hundredweight and penny pound. When the man comes around.

And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts, And I looked and behold: a pale horse. And his name, that sat on him, was Death. And Hell followed with him.

Oh, man. We’re back to the scary/Thor/Ragnarok version only it’s WORSE.
But maybe not, because in Johnny’s version, you have a shot, too – you can “partake of that last offered cup” and join the 100 million angels singing – if you’re wise. Which makes it no much different from REM’s version, where you can light a candle and save yourself.

I’m not sure how either of those square with Thor’s version, but no matter who’s right, it’ll be something to see. Rainbow bridges, whirlwinds, the four horsemen, gods, men, spirits, angels, and… Lenny Bruce. There’s no topping the Apocalypse for battles between good and evil.

What we can learn about the Colts/Patriots* game from this:

It’s obvious, isn’t it? No matter what happens, no matter which team you like, no matter how your side does, always remember this: It’s just a game. It’s not the end of the world.

2 comments:

obama--america--generation said...

I think you are a hoot! I have been reading your Good vs. Evil articles on www.gather.com and your blog now consistently -- it's hilarious~!

I hope Herman gets a good vacation afterwards. Kudos!

Keep those creative juices flowing!

Grumpy Bulldog, Media Mogul said...

I think I tried reading a Wikipedia recap of that Crisis on Infinite Earths thing once and it gave me such a headache. Though I think since then they've rebooted the continuity at least once a decade whether it needs it or not; good way to sell comics I suppose.

I think they cast younger actors in "Superman Returns" because they hoped they'd get a 4-movie franchise over the next 10 years or something but that never materialized because people didn't really get the first movie.

Anyway, I don't think the Colts were ever the epitome of good. I mean despite all his down home charm, Peyton Manning still makes a shitload of money and he had to rely on his running backs and Rex Grossman to win his Super Bowl.

But that's what the sports hype machine does, elevate these relatively meaningless games into titanic battles so more people will watch.