Before we go into this I’d like to mention that I am 28 years old and have a master’s level education. That said, a couple of weeks ago Jeff was in town and we spent at least 30 minutes (from about 1am to 1:30am) sitting around a fire, drinking beer, and nearly coming to blows over the fact that we absolutely disagree on who is the better superhero; Batman or Superman.

Ok, first of all, the question isn’t who would win in a fight because clearly Superman would win and that’s exactly why Superman sucks, but I’m getting ahead of myself. When we ask ‘who’s the BETTER superhero?’ we’re trying to decipher who is the best representation of what a superhero should be. In philosophical terms that make this debate seem less sophomoric the question can be thought of as asking; who is the Platonic form of a superhero? Therefore, the argument hinges upon your definition of what a superhero is and should represent.

A superhero ought to be the embodiment of the pinnacle of the human endeavor. He (or she I guess, but let’s face it, women superheroes are lame) should be like Friedrich Nietzsche’s ubermensch who is meant to lead humanity across the great abyss (German philosophers always make up words and no one questions it, so I’m going to do the same). Given that’ ubermensch’ translate from German into ‘superman’ in English you’d think that’s I’d be arguing that Superman is the better superhero. But you’d be wrong.

You see the point of the ubermensch is that it’s a goal for regular men to strive toward. It’s something we should want to model ourselves after. And that, my dear friends, is exactly what Batman is the BETTER superhero.

Batman is a normal guy. He has no super powers. He’s just a dude who inherited a bunch of money and uses it to build gadgets and provide himself with enough free time to work out to the point that he is able to fight criminals. Theoretically, if you or I were in Bruce’s position, a rich kid who doesn’t have to work, we could also develop ourselves into masked crime fighters. Other than the opportunities his wealth provides, Bruce is an ordinary dude and each one of us could, at least in theory, follow his path toward superhero-ism (I just made that word up).

Conversely, Superman isn’t even a man; he’s an alien. He wasn’t born on this planet and solely as a result of the yellow sun over our planet, he’s essentially unkillable (this is also a word I just made up). He didn’t do anything to gain his superhero status other than land on our planet as a baby. He didn’t earn it, he just showed up. More importantly, we can’t ever be like Superman because no matter how hard we work, we’ll never be able to fly, shoot lasers out of our eyes, or be immune to bullets. The bottom line is that Superman is a fraud because he’s technically not even a man and therefore isn’t someone that can be emulated in a meaningful sense.

Therefore, the ubermensch/superman is actually Batman because Batman represents a normal person that has pushed them self to the apex of human capability. He is the greatest a human can achieve, but his greatness is not beyond the realm of achievable possibility (I’m pretty sure this phrase is something I could take credit for). On the other hand, Superman is an alien that can only be imitated if you go to a different planet that exists under a red sun. Good luck with that. Batman is Teddy Roosevelt, Superman is ET. Batman is someone that can be reasonably emulated, Superman is not only a fictional character, but the personification of a wholly fictional idea. Batman is the BETTER superhero.

Jeff argued Superman’s case, but I can’t remember what he said because it was so unbelievably absurd that attempting to commit it to memory would have caused a brain aneurism. But feel free, Jeff or any other misguided souls, to argue for Superman. The rest of you, just augment my argument and suggest any means by which we could become Batman (work out regiments, investment tips, schematics for the various items in his utility belt, etc).

This is the video for Weezer’s latest single, Pork and Beans, off their latest cd, which I’m currently downloading on iTunes (even though I fucking hate iTunes).

Having watched that video (or just looking at the screen shot and then moving on because you have a life and can’t be bothered), I’d now like to pose a question that Jeff and I talked about the other night. This video is funny and references all the stupid YouTube “hits” that had everyone on the interweb “buzzing” and sending viral emails. I think it’s a pretty great video. However, Jeff pointed out that 10 or even 5 years from now people won’t know what the hell half the stuff they reference in the video is. So in the sense that it’s got limited staying power, it isn’t a great video.

So here’s what Jeff and I wondered: if you were an established band like Weezer or DMB or Coldplay or U2 or whatever and your label came to you and said “you’ve got to make a video for a song but you’ve got creative control over it”, would you try to make an artistic video that could stand the test of time or would you do a funny one that had little or no artistic value like Pork and Beans?

Personally, I’d make a funny one because A) you’d enjoy making it more than you’d enjoy making an artsy one and B) no one makes videos anymore anyway.

In the early 90s DMB was making videos because that was part of being a musician and MTV actually played music. And if you look at the old DMB music videos like Crash or Too Much you see that they are an attempt to be artistic. That’s because at the time music videos were important and a reflection of your band. You make a serious and artsy video because you want people to know that you take your music seriously and are artistically talented. Now, however, videos essentially don’t exist so what’s the point of trying to use it to impress people with your artistic vision? Why not just be goofy and make fun of the things going on in the world. No one does that better than Weezer. They’re a band that is very serious, but seemingly doesn’t take the outside world seriously at all. They don’t care how they’re perceived, they don’t really care to make some great social commentary, they just want to play their music. Thus, all their videos, which you can view on YouTube, are very simple; it’s them sitting around or doing something goofy.

Personally, if I were a musician I’d do the same. But let me know what you think; would you make an artsy or funny sort of pointless video?

I haven’t actually watched the Jimmy Fallon late night show. My reason for not watching it is that I don’t think Fallon is funny at all. The reason I might be tempted to watch is that the band for his show is The Roots. I’ve been a fan of The Roots since high school due to the fact that they epitomized what hip hop is supposed to be about. Instead of rapping about how much money they had or how ‘hard’ they were, The Roots rapped about actual life in black America. Rather than being pointlessly braggadocios, The Roots were genuinely informative and impassioned. Why try to convince people you’re a bad ass when all you really have to do is tell people about real shit and how you experience it every day to prove that your tough simply because you are constantly fighting injustice?

I could go on and on, but the point is that The Roots were real. They rapped about real issues, real problems, and real feelings. So the fact that they are now the house band for Jimmy Fallon’s late night talk show has me flummoxed. How can the people who created the cd Things Fall Apart be the same guys laughing it up with some two-bit comic?

To me it’s unfathomable and pretty much sounds the death knell for meaningful hip hop. I don’t know what their next cd will be about or if it will be dark and angry, but I do know that it’ll be harder to convince me that the sentiments expressed on the album are genuine since they spend Monday through Friday dicking around with Fallon.

The real trouble is that once you suggest that The Roots have gotten away from substantive hip hop, who do you have left? The Roots are a talk show house band, Nas has been missing in action for years now, Jill Scott is doing a bad African accent on HBO’s version of The Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency (set in Botswana), and Kanye West is singing love songs to sorority girls. Basically that just leaves Talib Kweli, but at the rate things are going I would only be mildly surprised if he renounced Islam, became a born again Christian and went to work for Young Life so that he could spread the Gospel to affluent white suburban kids.

Anyway, I’m not trying to get all preachy or even trying to make a larger point. All I can do is openly wonder what The Roots being Jimmy Fallon’s back up band means. So I leave these open questions for you to comment on:

Do this mean The Roots have sold out? Can any band maintain their substantive message about subversive populist ideas once they become successful? Who are the other quality hip hop artists out there? What ever happened to Nas? Has the wild success of rap doomed the existence of hip hop?

Pretty much everything we write about is influenced by Bill Simmons so let’s just drop the charade and flat out copy something he mentions. In his latest mailbag a reader asks him what the worst movie accents of all time are. The reader suggests Nic Cage’s southern accent in Con Air, Irish Maggie’s Irish accent in Caddyshack, and “Jon Voight’s South American child molester accent in Anaconda” (by the way, Anaconda is right up there with the worst movies ever made). Simmons adds Kevin Costner’s accents in JFK (Cajun), 13 Days (Boston), and Robin Hood (British). Simmons also points to DiCaprio in Body of Lies (Southern), Jack Nicholson in The Departed (Boston), Keanu Reeves in Dracula (origins unknown), Tom Cruise in Valkyrie (origins unknown), Don Cheadle in Ocean’s 11 (British), and James Van der Beek in Varsity Blues (Southern).

Immediately after reading this I gasped that Simmons failed to mention the worst accent in all of cinema. I figured what we’d do is try to come up with a list of bad accents and try to pin down the three worst ones, which will include the far and away winner (or loser) that Simmons failed to come up with. But before we do that, some things need to be said about the ones already listed.

I thought the Irish girl in Caddyshack was actually Irish, which means her accent was real and therefore not a candidate for the worst movie accent. Why would such a minor character like hers necessitate an Irish accent? The story is completely unaffected if she is Irish or from Nebraska or something, so why would she fake an Irish accent? Whatever the case, I can’t fully enjoy Caddyshack until I know if the actor playing Maggie is actually Irish or randomly faking that accent.

I feel like if someone stops trying to do the accent half way through the movie they can’t be considered ‘the worst movie accent of all time’. Case and point, Costner tries to be British for the first 30 minutes of Robin Hood and then just gives up. The 30 minutes when he was trying he was absolutely butchering the British accent, but the fact that he stops trying redeems him to a degree. Think about it, would you rather watch the movie while Costner talks like an American and everyone else is British or would you have rather had to suffer through him trying, and failing, to put on the accent? It’s weird that Robin Hood doesn’t have an accent and everyone else does, but I feel like it would be insufferable to have to listen to the whole movie if Costner had continued to speak with his awful British accent. The same goes for Nicholson in The Departed. He has the accent for the narration in the beginning of the movie and the few scenes after that, but then gives it up. So the fact that they spared us from their awful accents for most of the movie redeems them and so they can’t be listed as the worst accents in movie history. Nicholson gets me to the next point as well.

You are always more offended when someone screws up your accent. I didn’t really notice Nicholson’s poor Boston accent until Simmons pointed it out. Simmons is from Boston so of course he’s going to know when someone screws up his accent. Meanwhile, he’ll miss poor southern accents while I’ll get them right away because that’s my accent. But there is another larger point that is this: I attempt to do accents that aren’t my own for fun or to lovingly tease people. I particularly do British and South African accents. I think my impressions are good, but my special lady friend who is of British decent and grew up in Zimbabwe and South Africa insists they’re terrible. So to me, Cheadle’s British accent in Oceans 11 isn’t that bad. Likewise, DiCaprio’s accent in Blood Diamond is exactly how I sound when I do that same accent so I thought it was fine but I saw that movie in South Africa and the audience laughed when he opened his mouth for the first time with that accent.

The point is that this is all terribly subjective to a degree we’re all only truly experts on our own accent. However, the one thing we can objectively say is that the southern accent Keanu Reeves “treats” us too in Devil’s Advocate was the worst accent in the history of movies or any other medium of entertainment. I’ve lived here all my life and I have no idea what he thinks we talk like, but that ain’t it. It is light-years worst than anything I’ve ever heard, ever. Also Charlize Theron is his wife in that movie and butchers a southern accent in her own special way (but she’s super hot and South African so we all forgive her).

With all this in mind, go to the comment section and list any bad movie accents that have been omitted and try to come up with what you think are the top three bad movie accents.

So a while ago for another post I mentioned that President Bush and Karl Rove had a reading contest during Rove’s last three years in the White House. There’s a worry with that sort of contest that you’re sacrificing quantity for quality, but the benefit is that the other person in the contest can recommend the books they’ve read to you. Also I recently decided to update my Goodreads page so I’ve been thinking about books recently.

All of that is just a preface to say that I intend to read 12 books this year. That’s one per month for you mathematicians. As hard as that sounds, we’re three months into the year and I’ve already knocked out two books: Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer and Dixieland Delight by Clay Travis. Plus, I’m like 3 chapters away from finishing Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman.

But the point isn’t to brag or whatever, the point is to elaborate on the books we’ve read so that like minded people know what books to put on the schedule of books “to read” and what books to scratch off that list as they are overrated.

Hence, this is the creation of The Stormy Present Book Club. First of all, this is way cooler than Oprah’s book club. Secondly, it isn’t like we have to write huge book reviews for these unless they are so good or so bad that we feel inspired to do one. Third, the way this will hopefully work is that I’ll write a post or someone else will about a couple of books they’ve read and then others will put their reading choices in the comment section. As a whole what should result is a conversation about good books so that in these tough economic times no one has to buy a shitty book because they’ve been forewarn.

So here is what I’ve read so far:

Dixieland Delight by Clay Travis

Jeff read this and recommended it to me. But before he did he said it was a quick read and a good read but each chapter follows a pattern and sort of makes it predicatable by the end. It’s about a guy who goes to every football stadium in the SEC to see a game. Of course the overall point is that the SEC is the greatest football conference, has the greatest fans, and the greatest traditions. However, every chapter starts off with him and his friends tailgating and meeting people, then he goes to the game, then he reminisces about the history, then he gets back to the end of the game, then he meets with people after the game and brings all the various things he’s talked about around full circle. So, as Jeff and I discussed, it’s a fine book that is easy to read and therefore not something you regret reading but it also isn’t something you’ll remember reading for the rest of your life.

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

Really good adventure book. He does a great job of describing what goes into making a trip up Everest happen, he describes the sights beautifully, and he makes the reader feel his pain as the air thins and he attempts to push the envelope of his physical abilities. Plus, he just so happens to make his summit attempt in the day when there is a disaster and a bunch of people died. It’s about the commercialization of Everest and how this perhaps led to the disaster but it’s also beautifully described and simultaneously tragic. I highly recommend this to anyone that like adventure reads.

Jim Calhoun, the coach of the University of Connecticut men’s basketball team, got asked the other day how he justified being the highest paid state employee in Connecticut; a state with a projected $944 million deficit this year. He irrationally flipped his shit. Of course the guys from PTI defended Calhoun for yelling at the reporter who posed this question because they like Jim Calhoun and God forbid anyone from ESPN, located in Connecticut, says anything bad about the University of Connecticut even though both their men’s and women’s basketball coaches are complete assholes.

But this is on the society page because I think this is a subject that goes beyond sports. I read on Tyler Durden that Madonna went to some Oscar party or something wearing millions of dollars worth of jewelry. And I didn’t watch the Oscars (because I’m neither a woman nor gay), but I assume they were all wearing dresses that exceed the salary of many normal people.

Furthermore, I don’t know if this is true, but I remember hearing at some point that President Obama was not going to take a salary during his time as President. I think he committed to this when he was running for President, before the financial shit fully hit the fan. He wouldn’t be the first President to do this as President Kennedy did it for his three years in office. And I don’t know if President Bush or President Clinton also donated their salaries to charity so I’d be willing to have anyone tell me what they know on the subject. All I do know that JFK didn’t take a salary; he just donated all of it to charity.

My point is this: should public figures who receive huge salaries take a pay cut because of the current economic situation?

‘Public figures’ I think includes people like high school football coaches. For instance, the Spartan High football coach make upwards of $80,000 and doesn’t teach a single class. That money comes from tax payers and comes out of the school’s budget. Obviously, that money could be spent on any number of other things.

Of course the counter argument, being put forth frenetically by everyone at ESPN in defense of Calhoun, is that these highly paid public personas have earned that money. Mike and Mike pointed out that no one put a gun to UConn’s head and made them sign Calhoun to a high salary. Plus, it is constantly argued that people like Calhoun or other coaches or even politicians and celebrities make money for other people and business. Their argument, then, is that not only do they deserve that money for the work they do, but also for the boost to other people and businesses and the general economy that they create.

I’d question the actual value of these people. Agents and the idea that money can be created in the future inflate the value of these people. This is exactly the problem banks and businesses had, which led to the financial collapse. If you bank on the assumption of future profit, the current value of something is inflated. And if the future value turns out to be lower than what you initially assumed, you create the situation we’re in now.

So here’s what I’d ask you to answer in the comment section: 1) if you were a famous public persona, a sports coach, an actor, a politician, would YOU voluntarily take a pay cut? 2) Should, in the normative sense, famous public personas voluntarily take a pay cut?

So this thing on facebook started where you name 25 random things about yourself. I hate this sort of thing. However, after much internal debate I decided that I could channel that hate like the Dark Jedi that I am into something funny and pointed. Maybe this is due to the fact that I’m reading Chuck Klosterman or maybe it is due to an underlying psychological problem wherein I am mean for no particular reason. So I present the following random things about me (you are welcome to comment negatively or positively or add things about yourself or me):

7. I am mean.

19. I am cynical.

2. I embrace rock bottom.

6. I believe that you can’t list 25 random things and put them in chronological order because that negates the randomness.

25. I have no desire to get married for 4 main reasons: a) I can claim that I’m not getting married to show solidarity with gay people who are legally not allowed to get married, b) It seems arbitrary (unless your parents or religion forbids you from living together, which I respect, marriage seems superfluous), c) I do not like wearing jewelry, d) I find the word ‘Palimony’ to be infinitely funny.

15. In the winter of 2007/2008 I worked as a ski instructor. It was the best job I’ve ever had.

17. At most, about 5% of the people I’m actively friends with were in a fraternity. That’s because about 95% of frat guys are total douches.

11. I’ve been a Duke fan my entire life (since 1981 – the beginning of the Krzyzewski era) and part of the joy of that is that when you lose people feel the need to taunt you because deep down they know Duke doesn’t lose very often and they’d better get their shots in while they can (3 National Championships, 11 regular season ACC titles, and 10 ACC Tournament Championships [including a 10 year stretch from 96/97-05/06 when we won either the regular season title or the tournament or both]).

5. I applied to one and only one college.

10. I hate that everyone goes to Charleston now. I hate that they built a law school (which is at best a 3rd rate institution) and that everyone my age moves down there. I hate that now all the Spartan High kids go to CofC when they graduate. I was there first (I was one of 6 people from my high school to go there in 2004). The rest of you are just tourists.

1. I think ‘tourist’ is a four letter word.

24. I hate that everyone goes to South Africa now. I wasn’t there first (Jim was), but I was a close second. And the reason I went there in 2002 was that no one else went there. In order to discourage this trend I tell people that they will get robbed at least once during their visit.

13. Not joining the army is the greatest and most sincere regret of my entire life and will be until the day I die.

18. I would like to do peyote just once to see what my spirit animal is (I’m hoping it’s either an owl or a turtle).

21. It annoys me when people describe themselves as ‘creative’ and don’t see that describing yourself as ‘creative’ is a cliché dependant upon a commonly held notion of what counts as creativity and therefore entirely uncreative (Klosterman makes the same point but I swear I came up with it before I read that).

16. I think the creation of Israel was the greatest mistake of the 20th century.

23. I hate the show Lost.

3. I am agnostic, which means I like religion but don’t want to wake up early on Sundays.

8. I am a neo-luddite.

4. I have been punched in the face on more than one occasion.

22. I have lied to Spike Lee. I once met him in an airport, I shook his hand and said that I hoped the Knicks did well that year, but I was disingenuous because I actually don’t care about the Knicks or the NBA.

12. I firmly believe that the most important thing in life is adventure.

14. If you beg your parents and friends for money to travel you just don’t get it.

9. Even though all of this is mean and cynical, I do not think that I am better than you. In fact, I’m as bad and probably worse than you. But I’m self aware of this and that’s the difference.

20. I am seriously considering deleting Facebook.

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