The Buc Stops Here

Derrick Brooks won't be hoisting up any Pro Bowl MVP trophies this year.

No Tampa Bay Buccaneer was selected to the all-star game this year, despite leading their division to a 9-5 record and boasting the NFL's third-best overall defense.

Ronde Barber, Derrick Brooks, Barrett Ruud, Jovan Haye, Jermaine Phillips, Jeff Garcia and Tanard Jackson all stand out as snubs, though not every one of them quite deserved to make it.

Sure, the Pro Bowl doesn't exactly mean much, but it would have been nice for at least one of the players to be recognized for bringing the team up from last year's forgettable 4-win season. Not even a single player from the NFC South made the cut, which is an awfully big slight to the division.

The other most snubbed team? The Jacksonville Jaguars, who boast 10 wins and zero Pro Bowlers (Norm Duke?). The Jaguars play in the AFC South, but are located in Florida as well. I think it'd be safe to demand a recount on account of a possible hanging chad.



i'm a big fan of consuming liquids. when i eat a meal of any sort, be it lunch or dinner, i tend to drink only as much as is necessary to aid in the consumption of the food. after i'm done eating, i pound the rest of the beverage i've purchased. i think i picked this habit up because when i was a kid, food would stick in my throat (craw?) a lot, causing me much pain.

i think this type of rinsing-away of effluvia applies to how i treat my brain as well. back when i was young i used to read "smart" books way too much. now i tend to go for lighter fare with one or two interesting ideas/concepts, rather than the mental onslaughts i undertook in years past. when i'm dealing with more intellectual issues, i'm either discussing them with someone else or thinking to myself.

of course i could be evaluating myself too highly. but at least i'm disseminating my thoughts to others and actually learning from what i've read and heard instead of reading for the sake of saying, "i finished david copperfield." which sucked.


in lieu of posting an mp3 of my favorite song from boards of canada's geogaddi, i'm going to link to a fan video on youtube. no worries, it's not an amv.

boards of canada - 1969



I've come to hold a strong disdain for journalism. Now, this hardly includes the orthodox, Fourth Estate definition. This is about local news programs, talk radio, and consumer exposes. The current state of journalism disgusts me to no end.

The main culprit? The unenlightened selectorate. And newspapers's willingness to feed their fire.

Last night, I saw "The Queen"--an excellent film that was highly but appropriately critical of the press--and was reminded of every conference and seminar I've ever attended concerning journalism. Through my own devices, and fueled by my former aspirations, I jumped into the field with a reckless abandon. Tom Hallman, the Pulitzer Prize winning features writer for The Oregonian, inspired me after a lecture of his I attended, one of my first forays into the fray. His story (a shoddy student who made it almost entirely on passion and talent) kept me going. It had a semblance of romanticism, a trait that drew me to print in the first place.

But each conference, each seminar and stuffy newsroom I visited, ruined it for me. I'd look across a room of staff writers of the local daily and think, "Am I like them?" There was no "All the Kings' Men" here. Nothing jovial about it. These were self-indulgent pricks, asking rhetorical questions to constantly blab about their own op-ed. They'd puff their chests out to equally inept colleagues, dressed as horribly as one could imagine from sports to the obits, and mentally masturbate. I'm a misanthrope, sure, but these were the people that were supposed to educate me. The scribbling protectorate. Instead, I was surrounded by scowling, snide introverts, people whose eye never left the byline and feared their editors like they were the Reaper.

Back to "The Queen." One of the film's ongoing motifs is the destruction of polite society. The Queen of England, the rock-like institution, is forced to mobilize because of the press' song and dance routine. Because of the English peoples' poor judgment. Helen Mirren's character, in which she forcefully and brilliantly performs, thinks they'll come to their senses. Of course, they don't, and she is introduced to the sad reality that is the ignorant populous.

And it's all the press's fault. Advertising and circulation have put sales ahead of objectivity and sensationalizing a story is second-nature. Now, I'm no strong proponent for the traditional, House of Lords journalism. Blogs have essentially fostered a new generation of Hunter S. Thompsons, and the gonzos will probably do a fair job with a little more accountability.

The problem is that many still attribute authority to the press. Unfortunately, its like placing a bet on Barbaro now. It's becoming an outdated tradition, one that won't yield dividends in the future. Why? Because journalism is trying too hard. It's not natural, always restless, reckless, and jerky. It's adopted the group-think mentality of an idiotic people as to better appeal to them. A base marketing strategy, sure. One that might even be economically serviceable. But frustrating and even dangerous to anyone who might stand contrary to the status quo. Contrary to idiocy.

There aren't many things that are more irritating than an ignorant protester, a stupid and active citizen. But one that has a newspaper backing up his daft and barmy suspicions is much worse. Moreover? A whole mob of them.

I hate journalism because it has turned its back on reminding people they are dumb in favor of encouraging idiotic lunacy.
I hate journalism because it stopped telling me what to think and started asking me what I feel.


Fight Club Philosophy

Written for my column ("The Tao of Shawn") of the Highlander Newspaper at UC Riverside.
Fight Club Philosophy
“Nothing is static. Even the Mona Lisa is falling apart. Since fight club, I can wiggle half the teeth in my jaw. Maybe self-improvement isn’t the answer … Maybe self-destruction was the answer.”

Chuck Palahniuk hypothesized about the virtues of self-destruction in his novel “Fight Club.” While just about any college student is familiar with the movie or book, and many enjoy it, Tyler Durden’s underlying philosophy is very rarely taken seriously. It’s a difficult notion to digest, given the idea that education and application are the essence of improving oneself.

But what the Palahniuk work—and I, for that matter—suggest is that the obliteration of self is necessary to improve. It doesn’t have to involve basement brawls or self-mutilation. Those avenues are tired, lined by the less than ideal adolescent role models with too much black in their wardrobe, and habitually lead to other interruptions into any semblance of growth. Rather, deconstructing the world around you through introspective thought and analysis can greatly improve your well-being and, frankly, your worth to those around you.

Zen Buddhist philosophy emphasizes the importance of meditation and self-examination. What distinguishes the “Zen” from the rest of the dogma is a stressing of sudden enlightenment, an emphasis on the here and now. At one point in life, every man is capable of reaching a sudden realization, an enlightenment, which will allow him to grow. In a sense, it’s like a lifetime’s second wind.
Unfortunately, we as a community are too often content with who we are, shirking introspection for diversion. When Joe Sixpack realizes he’s got a drinking problem, he habitually fumbles with his addiction. When Jane Doe’s grades drop because she’s partying too much, she’ll inevitably fall back into the habit after a week or two. There are tons of self-help sessions offered on campus, seminars designed to aid with your time management, drinking problem, problème du jour. Like enrolling a peewee gangster into AYSO soccer, it doesn’t fix the issue more than it just provides another distraction.

Many people don’t get that second wind. You might know them from high school. They’re working for their dad or uncle and, after a few years of community college, resigned to a career that they hate. But they cling to their hobbies and pastimes, drink too much and reminisce about their high school days. As UC students, we wouldn’t dare categorize ourselves with those types. Unfortunately, we’ve fallen in love with our ideas so much that we fail to objectively critique them when it is absolutely necessary.

Dr. Sam Vaknin’s “Malignant Self Love” contests that the narcissist actually doesn’t hold any love for himself. Because he lives in an illusionary world, full of illusion and projection, and predictably earns the admiration of his peers because confidence is valued so highly by our insecure culture, he can’t love himself because he rightly does not know who his real self is.

The solution lies in self-deconstruction. While Fight Club espouses self-destruction, and other works like I Heart Huckabees adopt the promise of enlightenment through nihilism and emptiness, it’s the removing of layers that allows for growth. Self-improvement is, in fact, masturbation. Partly because the idea connotes creepy images of Richard Simmons and Tony Robbins, but mainly because it masks underlying problems with supposed and accepted social norms, like Kathy Griffin caking on the makeup and pretending everything is all better.

Through self-examination, you’ll probably feel pretty horrible. It is an exhaustive process, one that requires questioning practically every personal practice and relationship. But when that point of realization comes, that sudden enlightenment, it will all be worth it. Most don’t ever try. Many fall into a state of self-loathing and depression. Those that succeed understand its necessity; the deconstructing of a world based on illusion and skewed priority. Too often, it is horrific. Consistently, it is Zen-like sudden. Usually, it comes from an unexpected slap in the face, usually from someone whose judged through a transparent and insecure appearance. It’s a traumatic experience, but one that can yield dividends and ultimately lead to true self-esteem and awareness.

The War on Drugs can never be won. Hip hop has regressed into paltry, repetitive spoken word over monotonous bass beats. Epic Movie was the nation’s top grossing film last week and America’s Funniest Home Videos is still on the air. This nation, as has the media-saturated contemporary world, has accepted base distraction with open arms. We delude ourselves willingly to avoid having to deal with our own issues. And when we choose to finally face them, we too often half-ass it, preferring to not actually fix anything and just distract ourselves with trifling entertainment and supposed “self-improvement.”

“Only after disaster can we be resurrected,” writes Palahniuk.

Malcolm Gladwell, the author of bestsellers “Blink” and “The Tipping Point,” recently defended Enron in an article for The New Yorker. His argument was inspired by the idea that the warning signs for the company’s unethical practices were right in front of an audience enamored with Enron’s surprising growth. All it took was Jon Weil of the Wall Street Journal, looking at reports accessible to anyone interested, to break the story and expose Enron’s crimes. The same pattern exists with the individual. To improve oneself, it doesn’t take a self-help book, counseling, structure or distracting externalities. A dedicated, consistent approach to self-awareness and, accordingly, self-deconstruction are the answers.

While not exactly the best basis for a life-changing philosophy, “Fight Club” still gets a few things right.

"It's only after you've lost everything," Tyler says, "that you're free to do anything."
Rather, I contest, that it is only after you have realized that improving the self first comes with finding its true entity that you are free to grow. As students of different schools of thought, it is first our responsibility to study ourselves and quit playing the tourist of life.



Click it. I dare you.


The point of this blog

Holiday, Shawn and I will discuss how awesome we are with you, the reader. Also we will discuss matters of historical import. Maybe talk about sick music. Movies we've seen. Things of that nature.