Saturday, December 09, 2006

Rocky VI Countdown and Prediction

Given the popularity of Harrogate's countdown to the greatest pop song ever recorded, I have decided to offer a countdown of my own. Today I am announcing a Countdown to the most anticipated film of the year (and, for some, the decade):

Rocky Balboa

Yes, I understand that the sixth installment of the Rocky series will be viewed by many as a joke, as Rocky never seems to go away. Many thought that three Rocky's were too many. I mean, who can forget that scene in Airplane II: The Sequal, depicted left, where Sonny Bono purchases a bomb from an airport gift shop, a poster promoting Rocky XXXVIII over his right shoulder. While I find this scene hilarious, I do not find another Rocky movie a joking matter. I'm glad Stallone has written another sequal, and I'm willing to make a bold prediction about this movie here today, one that will likely earn me another Peabody nomination: Rocky Balboa (aka Rocky VI) will be the best Rocky movie since the original.

Scheduled for release on December 22th, the new sequal arrives exactly thirty years after the original film debuted in 1976. But will the Rocky sixology come full circle in this final installment? I think it will. That is to say, just like the original Rocky, I anticipate that our hero Rocky, "Philadelphia's favorite son," will lose his final bout in a 2-1 split decision. That's right, devoted readers, you get two predictions for the price of one with this blog post.

Now on to the countdown. Here, from the original Rocky is one of the greatest training montages ever put on film:

Friday, December 08, 2006

MLA and Tenure

Inside Higher Ed published an article on the prospects of MLA and a change ot the tenure process. Being "outside" of English, it amazes me how the discipline of English is vastly different than Speech Comm, especially in regards to the number of graduate students and the potential to get jobs after graduate school.

I am curious as to how others on this site think about the potential for change. How do you see your discipline, especially in light of finding a job when you are through with school?

A Rare Anecdotal Revelation from That Renowned Abstract Thinker, Harrogate

Harrogate is in the midst of trying to finish a piece of writing and it's hard.

He is therefore having to lay down certain laws for himself. One of which is that there will be no future entires from Harrogate on The Rhetorical Situation until he has completed this task.

The one exception to this will of course be the Love Actually countdown to The Greatest Pop Song Ever Recorded, which is very near completion and which he will continue on Monday December 11th. The countdown is excepted because it is Seasonally Based and therefore must be brought to completion despite attenuating circumstances.

For Harrogate's sanity, he hopes to be back on here in full capacity sooner rather than later, because this will mean he has finished his current task.

Until then, faithful readers, Adieu.


For some reason, I am in a poetic mood. Here is one of my favorites. I enjoy it because it is haunting and tragic.

"Philosophy" by Dorothy Parker

"If I should labor through daylight and dark,
Consecrate, valorous, serious, true,
Then on the world I may blazon my mark;
And what if I don't, and what if I do?"

Thursday, December 07, 2006

I apologize....

I apologize to my brethren... I did not remember. The end of the semester push to finish grading papers left my head unaware....

For my repentance, I shall quote a peom of William Blake, titled, "On F----- & S-----"

"I found them blind I thaught them how to see
And Now they know neither themselves nor me
Tis Excellent to turn a thorn to a pin
A fool to a bolt a knave to a glass of gin."

End of the Semester...

As I sit here and try to finish out the end of yet another semester, I am left wondering: If I were not in academia, where would I be and what would I do?

As of right now, I have two answers:

(1) Book store owner. There is a little book store on the port side of Galveston that seems to be, for me at least, that book store that has almost all of the books that I care for.

(2) Photographer/ Photojournalist:

What would you want your non-academic career to be?

The End of YouTube as we know it (I Feel FIne)

For me at least, for now...

I reached the conclusion that using youtube as a proxy for a real arguemnt or discussion seems disingenuous.

However, I leave you with the Facts of Life. Think of it as the Pete's Couch of an earlier generation or, "I don't know that group. Are they punk rock?" which seems grammatically incorrect. Maybe too much of the...

I love the ignorance and the righteous indignation.

The Roof, the Roof, the Roof is Almighty!

Boy, I tell you: Roof Almighty hit that one out of the park. In fact, I will go on record saying that his first blog post may be the very best ever written and posted here on the Rhetorical Situation.

I kept waiting for it come, and I knew it would be good. But I was not fully prepared--nor, in retrospect, could I have been prepared--for the Almighty's post to blow me away as it did. All I can say is

"Bravo, Almighty. B-r-a-v-o!"

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Gay Rethugs, Metaphysical Masochism, and the Supreme Beauty of Tax Cuts

Extra extra read all about it. Mary Cheney is pregnant. Depicted above with Heather Poe, her partner of 15 years, at the Rethuglican National Convention in 2004. Hmmmm. Must be strange to work for a Party that consistently exploits anti-gay bigotry while at the same time planning to welcome a new grandchild into the world, eh Dick? Maybe ye should buy the child a teddy bear that says "Adam and Eve Not Mary and Heather"?

Remember, Dick, you are what you pander to and shill for, no matter how much you love your own family.
And then Mary and Heather: Harrogate's bemused condolences follow ye everywhere. It must suck to be crazy enough to show up at Conventions where near-everyone in the room wishes to criminalize your life. But then, smooth family time is more important than silly principles like self-preservation and civil rights.

And then, Tax Cuts are more important than anything.

YCT Nativity Scene, or, how to create the biggest Straw Argument

Another example of how the Young Conservatives of Texas live up to their name, especially the "Young" part. At the University of Texas, the group created a "Nativity Scene" with Gary and Joseph, no Baby (because of the ACLU's stance on abortion), Nancy Pelosi as an angel, a suicide bomber, and the "three wise men" (Stalin, Marx, and another communist). You can watch a video here from CNN.

While it is remotely humorous, it reminds me of other YCT "arguments:" Holding a cookie sale to show the disparity in racce-based admissions and marrying a person to a bike to protest same-sex marriages. The tactics in these two examples and in the Nativity are the same: (1) Lets create the biggest straw argument possible that does not reflect the opposition's position (the ACLU Demands that all humans read Marx and the ACLU mnust have supported Stalin-- it is in their creed); (2) Let's not have a reasoned debate about these topics (that is the problem with displays, you cannot argue with them); (3) Let's exclude all ideas that may counter our position (e.g. they don't have cookies for legacy admissions or for athletes); (4) Let's demean all people as possible even though they seem to be "religious" (nothing shows compassion more than an analogy between a bike and human).

It must be fun to be a YCT member: You can be compassionate and support a President that allows for toture. That is the Conservative Way. Oh wait, is that a straw argument? Well then, here are other suggestions:

The Young Conservatives of Texas: Because reality and empiricism do not need to be a part of our arguments.

The Young Conservatives of Texas: For over twenty years, we make facists look like sissies.

The Young Conservatives of Texas: We Demand Equal Time for Our Views.... (But we do not want to hear your views).

The Best part about this is if you play by their rules, you can say anything you like. Other suggestions?

Belated Monday Night Raw Review from 12/4/06: On the Rhetoric of Security Guards

Monday's Raw was all about pure storyline, building rivalries. There really were no actual matches that remotely settled, or--on the immediate surface anyway--even accomplished, anything. That being said, Harrogate gives this past Raw an 'A' precisely because storyline is exactly what has been so sparse on that show. In other words,'twas not the current happenings that mattered, but rather what those same happenings did to shape future happenings.

The two builds featured were the rivalry beteen DX and Edge/Orton, and then of course the mounting tension between John Cena and Umaga. In neither case did the fans get instant gratification: the Tag Team rivalry was diluted by the 8 Man Challenge in which they participated, giving the hatred between the teams yet another week to percolate before we get the real deal. This is a good thing. Medicine Hat, Canada wasn't built in a day, after all. Neither can believable, engrossing narrative be thrown together slap-dash. Patience, as Guns N Roses once famously opined, is what we all need a little more of.

Next Monday there is supposedly going to be a match between Edge and Triple H: look for this to get interrupted rather early, so that everything remains in the air and the hatred between these people mounts.

The patience principle is even better reflected, however, by the excellent way WWE's writers have been handling the Umaga/Cena feud. Once again, they had a confrontation where nothing was on the line and nothing settled; matter of fact, now they've got a stipulation whereby Cena and Umaga cannot touch one another for the rest of the year. All of this was set up with a Rhetorical Move that Harrogate has come to refer to as the Security Guard Buffer. Watch this video to see how the Security Guards lend a sense of narrative seriousness to the feud. Watching the two wrestlers try to get to one another through the multitudes of Security makes us believe Their Coming Match For the Heavyweight Championship Is Terribly Important, So Important In Fact That We Can't Have Them Tangling At The Present Time.

Harrogate loves the Security Guard angle. Probably the most effective use of this schtick ever was by WCW in 1998 during The Great And Unimpeachable Bill Goldberg's epiphanic Championship Run. After winning the title, Goldberg (depicted below) would heroically Walk That Aisle, surrounded by Security Guards. The message being: I'm Too Important To Be Captured. You'll Get Your Chance In The Ring (Where I'm Going To Beat The Everloving Hell Out Of You), But Not Before.

Ah, Goldberg!!!!!!! To paraphrase Richard III, what can Harrogate say about ye that he has not already inferred tenfold????? Harrogate's memories of ye occupy the tippity top of his late 90's Cinematic Nostalgia. Many is the time that he reflects upon your defeat of the Terrible Hollywood Hulk Hogan: Not on Pay-Per-View but, true to your populist credo, on TNT before a breathless nation. Thanks, Goldberg. Thanks for the memories.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Feeling It In Our Palms and Soles: Love Actually Countdown Goes Homestretch; Also, Harrogate Vociferously Complains About 'Lying' Soundtracks

The Love Actually Countdown To The Greatest Pop Song Ever Recorded continues here, with Bay City Rollers' sublime homage, "Bye Bye Baby".

But oh, the Love Actually soundtrack does not "actually" contain "Bye Bye Baby," even though every fan of the movie can immediately tell you the exact moment this song appears in the movie. The funeral scene is simultaneously one of the Saddest and most Joyful that this blogger can recall from his movie watching experience: more, it is really a Rhetorical Centerpiece of the movie, really setting up the wonderful relationship between the Stepfather and the love-sick Boy.

Why in God's name would the soundtrack people leave such a thing off of their final product? It pisses Harrogate off, it really does.

Harrogate has always thought it crass for Soundtracks to be incomplete. Despite its indisputable greatness, for example, the Forrest Gump soundtrack omits several songs, including "Freebird." This is annoying because the classic heartpounding "Freebird" guitar solo totally makes that scene where Jenny is standing in heels on the ledge of a high rise, all drugged up, thinking about jumping. So why leave the song out? Did they, while drinking tea in an English Bistro, stick their pinkies out from the cup and say "oh, there are just so many great songs, nobody will miss it"? or, "We could afford the rights to every song except this one"? What exactly contributes to an important song getting left off of a soundtrack?

About three months ago Harrogate and Mrs. Harrogate enjoyed a VHI "Movies That Rock" presentation of The Wedding Singer (and that movie really does rock, by the by). As soon as the movie was over, Harrogate excitedly delved into his and Mrs. Harrogate's expansive music collection, as he was just absolutely positive that he would find The Wedding Singer among their gems. And lo, there it was! There was only one thing left to do: Find "Love Stinks" featuring the incomparable Adam Sandler, and then crank that shit on the upside.

But wait! "Love Stinks" is not on the Wedding Singer soundtrack. Following which stunning apprehension, the only option for poor Harrogate was to have a stiff glass of Scotch on the rocks and listen to some of the other great songs on that CD. Sigh. You can't win em all.

These are a few of Harrogate's Soundtrack Disappointment stories. There are others. What are some of yours?

Bay City Rollers Bye Bye Baby

Monday, December 04, 2006

Sports and Aesthetics

My wife mocks me for this on an almost weekly basis, but here goes. From “The Internets”:

At times, I judge a sports team by their uniforms. I cannot be a fan of a team that wears horrifically ugly uniforms. I cannot concentrate on the team or game when the uniforms make my eyes bleed.

Here are some of the worst offenders. From the NFL:

The New Orleans Saints- you may be “America’s Team” but your choice of black on black means you should lose every game in which you wear that choice. The same applies to Baltimore and Jacksonville.

Miami, Seattle, Baltimore, and countless others: white on white? Is that a deliberate choice? Miami, even the orange jersey is a better choice than white on white. But that is not saying much. The same applies to the University of Texas: White on White with White helmets. I think the color sends a message, but I cannot figure out what it is.

The Denver Broncos: you blue with just an orange gives me nightmares. Go back to the Orange Crush. Orange Jerseys; white pants; blue helmets.

N.Y. Giants- the red is radioactive, or at least on my TV.

San Francisco- When you wear the gold pants and play, like you did yesterday, it looks as if you all urinate in them. Nothing seems more professional than a team that pisses their pants. Individually and collectively. No wonder why you don't win.

Cincy- I hate almost all of your uniforms. Your oragne Halloweend duds and your black on black. You're cursed because of your unform choices. At least in the late 1980s and early 1990s you were respectable.

From the NHL:
The Nashville Predators- mustard as a third jersey? And people wonder why hockey should not be played in the South, and by South I mean 150 miles south of the Canadian boarder.

San Jose: Teal is never a good choice but your third Black on Black, well, see above.

Carolina and Pheonix- Red, and red alone, does not work. But, see the 150 rule. Even the purple Kings were better or the yellow and purple for that matter.

Baseball and the NBA-
I don't watch you. I am sure you all have bad uniforms, but I wouldn't know.

For a top ten list of the all-time worst, see Fox Sports.. I disagree with the Canucks choice; however, I cannot disagree with the rest.

Other suggestions?

Stop the Press

Why does a man who dresses like a Bat get all of my press?

From the depths and shadows of nowhere Texas, I would like to announce the entrance of "The Roof Almighty" to The Rhetorical Situation.

Another voice to generate utter nonsense is always welcome here.

Response to Mommy PhD II: Wherein Harrogate's Fun Signs Continue to Spark Controversy; Defense of, Yet Distance from Rick Warren and Barak Obama

Recently Mommy PhD invited Harrogate to give his seventeen dollars and thirty-one cents on this NPR Story about Rev. Joel Hunter, who according to the article declined leadership of the Christian Coalition because the organization "wouldn't let him expand its agenda beyond opposing abortion and gay marriage."

It is yet another case of these people earning in spades the kind of stereotypes to which Harrogate deftly alludes in the above Church Generator Sign. To say the least, Harrogate is deeply disappointed by Hunter's decision. Once again, it would seem, a prominent Christian voice of reason has allowed itself to be drowned out for all intents and porpoises.

Rather than welcoming the opportunity to use this high-profile position to reframe the mainstream discussion of what it means to be a Christian in America today, Hunter's move sends out the message that there's just no point in challenging the narrative that has been enschonced since the rise of Falwell and Robertson, and amplified recently by one of the most despicable human beings in politics today, "Dr." James Dobson. Thanks for the show of courage, Rev. Hunter. You're truly an agent of change.

Along these same lines, the controversy of Barak Obama's appearance before Rick Warren's Saddleback Congregation continues. Perhaps Harrogate's least favorite Bible-Thumping Panderer of them all, the malignant Kevin McCullough, recently added yet another piece of literary feces to this ongoing topic, spewing that if Evangelicals don't get in line and remember that all that matters is controlling women's bodies and hating gay people, then Barak Obama might become President in 2008, which would of course immediately plummet all Americans onto the fast-track to Hell:
GULLIBLE EVANGELICALS - The most reliable base of voters for the Republican Party since the days of President Reagan have been the social conservatives. Church-going born-again Christians who believe in God, the importance of His word, and the significance of living out their faith in an open and compassionate way every single day have been the backbone of the GOP. This past Friday Rick Warren, through the implied endorsement of allowing Obama to speak at one of the largest evangelical churches in America gave Obama the opportunity to split evangelicals who will be misled by Obama's words instead of opening their eyes to his actions. In my gentle admonition to Rick Warren over the past couple of weeks I reiterated time and again that it was this opportunity being extended to Obama that would be manipulated by both the press , and Obama himself to pose as a "person of faith." Warren's stubborn action of insisting upon having Obama speak at Saddleback Church in southern California has had that exact effect .

By slight contrast, Conservative Pundit Harry Jackson makes some interesting points about the vitriole with which his fellow Righties have been lampooning Warren for the last several weeks:
The so-called “controversy” over Pastor Rick Warren’s invitation for Senator Barack Obama to join Senator Brownback and others at a church sponsored summit on HIV/AIDS Conference concerns me. It seems to me that liberals are much more unified in their public views than conservatives these days. Once again our attempts at internal, conservative self-policing have become public news. Warren’s attempt to solve one of the world’s most troubling health problems should have been applauded by everyone.

Much better than McCullough, of course. And Harrogate agrees with Jackson totally that Warren has embarked on a noble thing, enlisting the power of his pulpit to make a difference in the AIDS crisis that continues to ravage many places across the Globe. Kudos, too, for Barak Obama in using his considerable voice and popularity to remind people that there is stuff in the New Testament about helping poor and oppresed peoples, about compassion, about humility. Some might argue there is even a little more of that kind of thing in the New Testament than there is excoriation of homosexuality or reproductive freedom.

One thing that bothers Harrogate very much about all of this, however, is the notion that whatever the Bible says, above and beyond all other modes of consideration, is what politicians ought to be implementing. Why is it that Barak Obama has to be our great big rising star now because he's found a way to push the Bible with liberal politics? It's just really fucking sad that there's now a de facto religious test for public officials in America. In truth Harrogate thinks Obama, though he does a lot of good and is certainly better than the crazy Rethuglicans, is highly, highly, highly overrated. 'Twould be sad for Democrats if Obama got the nomination in 08. What about somebody like Vilsak or Biden or Jennifer Granholm of Michigan or Bill Richardson of New Mexico? While Harrogate is sure all of these people are Christian he is pleased to report that they don't constantly remind us of that fact every time they get in front of a camera, and they don't defend their socially progressive ideas only by citing Jesus's own Progressive Rhetoric.

Despite Christianity's huge role in the life and history of this nation, no Founding Document ever said anything about cross-checking legislation, and even candidates for President, against the Bible. It sure would be nice if we could explain, and be effective doing it, the moral imperative of engaging things like AIDS and poverty without referencing the Bible at all.

Since, you know, we live in a Republic and not a Theocracy, it might even make sense if we could do such things.

But then, if Harrogate had a wish in one hand and a pile of James Dobson in the other, which would he have more of?

Sunday, December 03, 2006

A Question about wrestling

While watching a few NFL games today, I repeatedly saw an ad for the new WWE Wrestling video game. While watching the commercial, I started to think about how the game works.

When you play a wrestling video game, do you wrestle or write a script? Harrogate?

The End of the BCS as we know it (I feel fine)

"That's great it starts with an earthquake, the birds and snakes and the aeroplanes, Lenny Bruce is not afraid..." I mean...

Let the debate soon be over. Hopefully the BCS will end soon as well.

By this evening, the Commercial Bowl Series... I mean College Bowl series will be finalized by a computer, a few chimpminks, a wad of chewing gum (Big League Chew), the newly tragic friendship of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, the alignment of Jupiter and Saturn, and a patridge in a pear tree. As a result, Notre Dame will go to a major bowl (enojy that Mr. P-Duck), schools will recieve millions of dollars in money that may go to research or to athletic departments, football players (as oppossed to students) will play another game and their semester, which began in July, will end in January (as a bonus, some of those students may even have attended and passed a class), and, by the way, there will be no idea who really is the National Champion under the College Bowl Series for the 8th straight year.

Who should play in the big game? Ohio State and Michigan or Ohio State and Florida? What about Ohio State and Boise State, two undefeated teams? Ohio State and Michigan most likely are the two best teams in the country-- but there is no way to know without engaging in academic abstract theory (Maybe post-colonialism will help us think this through). Yet, according to The Washington Post, Urban Meyer-- the Coach of Florida-- believes that a major injustice would occur if Michigan played Ohio State again:

"I think that'd be unfair to Ohio State, and I think it'd be unfair to the country. Just don't believe that's the right thing to do. You're going to tell Ohio State they have to go beat the same team twice, which is extremely difficult? If that does happen, all the [university] presidents need to get together immediately and put together a playoff system. I mean like now, January or whenever, to get that done."

The response from Michigan Coach, Lloyd Carr, in The Washington Post:

"I hope that the voters will not penalize our team because we didn't play the last two weeks. I don't want to get into a campaign. That's not what's best for the game. The BCS is set in order to put the two best teams together in the championship games. We all have our views."

Again, who should play? The team who played in extra games and may be #2 in the country because everyone above them loses or the team that went into Ohio State and lost by three because of the mistakes that they made? Is this a major injustice if Florida does not play Ohio State? Is it unfair to the country? Will millions of College students refuse to read in protest if Michigan plays Ohio State again? Will we threaten the legitimacy of the conferences if Michigan, which lost their conference wins the naitonal championship? Is there any reason why division one college football does not have a playoff system; division three uses a playoff format (and, as an extra FYI-- my undergrad school is in the final four for the first time ever.) These seem to be questions only academics could decide. I am happy Lloyd Carr and Urban Meyer could enlighten us.

Since the desire for academic life will not increase at the university level, we might as well fix the college bowl series problem. Academics do not really matter with the majority of college football players-- why not have an elaborate playoff system to appease the corporate world, which in turn, would finally tell us who is number one in the country. That is what matters. Is there any reason why division one college football does not have a playoff system; division three uses a playoff format (and, as an extra FYI-- my undergrad school is in the final four for the first time ever.)

University Presidents-- listen to Urban Meyer, the football coach. You need to sit down and rethink the college football championship this week. Because, clearly, the role of the university is to determine who is and who is not the national champion. By not doing this, you are perpetuating an injustice throughout division one football. If there is no letigimacy in the college football bowl series, there is no legitimacy for the University.