Seven Deadly Spots on the Human Body

Here’s a weird one that I was thinking about the other day. When I was a kid, my dad and I used to watch professional wrestling together. Went to some live shows. Even had one of them spit on my shoe.

But this isn’t about that. I’ve outgrown wrestling. Seriously. I haven’t had a friend put me in a figure-four leglock in at least 24 years.

See, back in the day, USA Network used to have Sunday programming that featured a show called All American Wrestling at 11am Eastern time. And that was triumphantly followed by the totally awesome Kung Fu Theatre at noon.

Kung Fu Theatre was usually on in the background as I acted out the wrestling moves I had just seen on my dad. I do remember one or two of the movies though. There was that one with the brothers with the really long ponytails that they used as weapons. And there was one with a girl and a fan (or was that just from the videogame Yie Ar Kung Fu?).

Anyway, the movie I want to focus on featured a crazy old man who was teaching some sort of orphaned dude the secrets of Kung Fu so that he could exact revenge on the evil warlord who murdered his family. Pretty typical plot for those movies.

The cool part was the old man detailing the “Seven Deadly Spots” on the human body and showing the kid how you could immobilize someone by utilizing these body locations. I’m not sure if I remember them all correctly, but I know at least four of them are from the film. My dad and I still laugh about this list…

  1. Temple
  2. Philtrum
  3. Armpit
  4. Liver
  5. Solarplexus
  6. Groin
  7. Big Toe

Look, I can understand the temple. The skull is thinnest at that point, right? And punching someone in the philtrum can jam their nose cartilage up into their brain (urban legend?). The armpit has lymphnodes that I guess can cause a lot of pain. Maybe? A liver shot actually can lead to internal bleeding. A fist to the solarplexus is gonna knock the wind out of you. And the groin shot is a much-loved tradition of Home Video Submission Shows. Plus, it makes a man cry.

But the Big Toe? Really? What’s a punch to the toe gonna do? Make you bend over, grab your foot, and do that “heavy breathing through clenched teeth” move that you orchestrate when you get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and accidentally stub your toe on the cat?

We all know that hurting the knee will just make your opponent go into that hilarious Crane pose from Karate Kid. I guess the guys from Cobra Kai should’ve aimed a bit lower to take out Daniel-san.

The Big Toe. Protect it or die.

As a brief aside, if anyone knows the name of the movie I’m talking about, PLEASE let me know. I’ve been looking online but can’t find anything.

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Friday Night Lights: The Drama Continues.

It’s been called one of the best dramas on television. It’s been called a work of art. It’s been called extraordinary in just about every conceivable way. It’s been called outstanding, inventive, engrossing, moving, stirring, smart, surprising, compelling, honest, and authentic. And it’s also been close to cancellation more times than Britney Spears has dressed funny.

Why is that? I dunno. Maybe, and I find this increasingly difficult to believe, people hate football. Or shows about football. Or shows about high school kids playing football. Or Texas (at least I can understand that one). Maybe the fact that it comes on at 9pm on Friday night has something to do with it too.

All I do know is that this show is one of my all-time favorites. I’m not kidding. It’s right up there with Star Blazers and Tour of Duty. And the fact that it just got renewed for two more 13-episode seasons has me so excited that I’m actually going to buckle down and pay for cable this year instead of just standing outside my neighbor’s window every night and “enjoying her company.”

My only concern is that the Friday Night Lights folks, ever fearful that half-assing their way through the current season would cost them their cushy jobs, may have put all of their eggs into one basket this season. And that basket is called: Senior Year. See, most of the primary cast members are graduating from Dillon High this year. Three out of the four football players the season has focused on are all packing their bags for college. The only one still around, the star freshman quarterback, was just introduced this season. On top of that, arguably the two hottest members of the cast (unless you prefer cougars or underage girls) will be matriculating on to bigger and better things at the current season’s end. And no, matriculating is not a dirty word.

Worst case scenario, the fourth season will begin with only the coach, his wife, his daughter and his quarterback in the cast. Sure, there’ll be the quarterback’s abusive dad and his Stepford mom and that cocky assistant coach and I’m sure the overeager booster with money problems will be back. But what else is there? That lesbian girl from Landry’s band? Tales of Billy and Mindy’s wedded bliss? Saracen’s crotchety grandma getting a spinoff series? Doesn’t sound very promising, does it?

So, in order to keep one of my favorite series alive, I’m going to comb through my vast knowledge of great (or at least well-known) network television and find some suitable scenarios that Friday Night Lights can adapt to its own special form of adolescent melodrama. Onward…to gravitas!

Option #1 – The Get Rich Quick Scheme

Every great school-based show always has at least one episode where the disparate cliques of teenagers band together to do something for their teacher/classmate/mascot/dealer. This “something” usually involves raising a large amount of money in a short amount of time. And that fundraising effort using results in hijinks. And hijinks are what make good television. Perhaps superstar QB J.D. McCoy organizes an impromptu indoor carnival to raise money for a hooker. But in order to make it work, he has to convince Principal Taylor that he’s dying. The nerdy kid (who later becomes a horrible stand-up comedian and stars in an amateur porn), the smart girl (who goes on to star in a horrible — redundant? — Paul Verhoeven film), the cute cheerleader (who, miraculously, gets even cuter) and the token minority snob (who fades into obscurity) all help him stage a “Dunk for the Cure” event where participants pay for the chance to drop Coach Taylor’s overly chesty young daughter into a tank of freezing cold water. However, they end up burning the gym down and have to use their proceeds to pay for damages…which work out to be the exact amount they raised. Weird, huh?

Option #2 – Push A Girl Down A Flight Of Stairs

Whenever a group of teenagers get together and start dating each other, something bad is bound to happen…or at least something gets misinterpreted as bad and blown out of proportion just to make some sort of moral lesson at the end of the show. This convoluted scenario perfectly fits the football set. First, we need to introduce a bad boy to the team. Let’s make him a linebacker from “the wrong side of the tracks” (As an aside, does anyone else find it odd that the Dillon Panthers seem to have no defensive players?). The “gang,” which now consists of J.D., his girl Madison, Julie Taylor, Smash Williams’ little sister, the new Brazilian exchange student/team kicker, and Daryl (some player who’s evidently been in 11 episodes yet has zero resonance in my mind), welcomes the bad boy into the group. Julie falls for him and they start dating. Then the whole gang goes to Cancun for Spring Break. When no one is around, bad boy and Julie argue about the length of his sideburns. He gets mad and says he’s going back to the room. She tries to stop him by grabbing onto his arm. He shrugs out of her grip, causing her to lose her balance and tumble down six flights of stairs into a piranha tank. In order to cover her own embarrassment, she accuses him of abuse. The exchange student then contacts his uncle’s “associates” who make the bad boy disappear for about 15 years, before he returns to play guitar and emote on a second-rate VH1 reality show. Lesson learned.

Option #3 – The Disaster Of The Week

The most successful weekly dramas follow a tried and true course: the big event. Think about it. ER, Criminal Minds, House, Smallville, America’s Funniest Home Videos…they all have some sort of ridiculous threat on each episode that the brave characters manage to tamp down at the last possible moment (which is right before the credits and next week’s “explosive” preview). For this show, I’m thinking…tornado! What better way to bring J.D. and his parents back together than to have them all huddled in fear inside a small equipment shed near the football field, watching in abject horror as the fancy new jumbotron is ripped from the earth and sent hurtling into The Alamo Freeze? Will Buddy Garrity get all his vehicles off the lot before the storm claims his only chance of reuniting with his wayward daughter? Will that lesbian girl from Landry’s band ever show up again? You’ll be on the edge of your seat! You’ll wonder if anyone could survive such danger! And you’ll ultimately be let down by how easily everything resolves itself! But wait…next week’s episode promises something you’ve never seen before and you won’t believe what happens!!!

Option #4 – Racism

C’mon…it’s Texas!

87 Things That I Don’t Care About (with some links).

You ever have one of those days where nothing really interests you? A day when no matter how many magazines you read, conversations you have or websites you visit, you just can’t find anything that makes you emote in the least. This day is just a dull, bleak monotony with no end. Even sleep is boring to me right now. Not one single dream.

The sad thing is, my chosen profession puts me in a position where I’m supposed to stay abreast of pop culture and current events so that I can weave these touchpoints seamlessly into my writings. Our clients strive to be relevant. They want to be on the top of everyone’s mind. While the perks of such a profession can be enriching (tax write-offs for comic books and concert tickets under the auspice of “research”), the downside is a barely uncontrollable urge to just hide in a dark corner and weep.

In order to temporarily stave off the dreadful power of creative burnout, I’m going to talk about all the things that I don’t care about. Some of these things will be described in sarcastic detail. Some will be appended with evidence of my nonchalance. And all of them will be promoted by my non-promotion of them.

Yes, the irony is not lost on me.

Anyway, here are 87 Things That I Don’t Care About (with some links):

  1. LOST – I haven’t cared about people stranded on islands since the days of Gilligan. Smoke monsters and polar bears are just updated versions of Wrongway Feldman and Dr. Boris Balinkoff. Look it up, youngsters!
  2. Bluetooth headsets – You just look like a tool when you’re walking in a crowded shopping mall talking to yourself about tee times. Seriously. Is your life that important that you need to be in constant contact with someone? Will the world economy collapse if you take an afternoon nap?
  3. Harry Potter
  4. Miley Cyrus
  5. The Cleveland Browns – Win something, then we’ll talk.
  6. Free credit reports
  7. Amy Winehouse
  8. Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
  9. Turkey – The country, not the animal. Turkey, the animal, is delicious. It’s especially delicious when it’s sliced thinly and piled on a hard-crusted bread with watercress, Havarti and a smear of mango chutney. I’m not kidding. It’s superb.
  10. Superpoke
  11. Super Unleaded gasoline
  12. Superchunk
  13. “Super Duper” – Used as an adjective, especially in the lyrics to “Puttin’ On The Ritz” by one hit wonder Taco.
  14. PlayStation 3
  15. Lifetime television channel
  16. People who play the bassoon
  17. Ted Turner
  18. Professional wrestler The Blue Meanie
  19. Truck stops
  20. Preteen chick flicks about vampires
  21. This guy
  22. That new Star Trek movie
  23. Anything made out of gold (silver is less pretentious)
  24. Cash4Gold
  25. Kanye West
  26. Quilts
  27. Quilting
  28. Magazines about quilting
  29. Magazines about rock climbing (but not rock climbing itself)
  30. Pecan sandies – fuck those things.
  31. Songs about women riding horses
  32. Billy Baldwin’s film career (except for Fair Game…that’s a classic)
  33. Stores that sell $350 jeans
  34. Sporks
  35. Traveling anywhere by bus – Didn’t we outlaw torture in the US?
  36. Paintings of fruit
  37. Furniture that you’re not allowed to sit on
  38. People whose pet peeves encourage them to correct other people’s grammar
  39. Paddleboats
  40. The Colorado River
  41. The difference between bologna and salami
  42. Comic books about people who hate their jobs
  43. Coup d’états
  44. The Little Rascals
  45. Country music – Except for stuff that only sounds like country music but really isn’t…like some Neko Case and Jenny Lewis songs. However, I have extra contempt for stuff that is country music but pretends not to be. I’m looking at you, Wilco.
  46. Greeting cards
  47. Bumper stickers
  48. Department store changing rooms
  49. People who ride scooters just to be clever – I’m on to you.
  50. The bullriding monkey
  51. Umbrellas
  52. Scratch and sniff stickers – For my money, they could never nail down the smell of chocolate. It was always too sweet.
  53. Ukulele songs
  54. Small dogs – If I can accidentally step on it and kill it, it is not a pet.
  55. Flightless birds
  56. Electric can openers
  57. Kites
  58. The Canadian Pavilion at Walt Disney World’s Epcot Center – That’s just lazy.
  59. Trilobites
  60. Galactica 80 – Wow. That was just awful, wasn’t it?
  61. Hair dryers
  62. Shorthand
  63. Nicknames for basketball players – Let me guess, it’s going to have something to do with him being tall.
  64. Kentucky
  65. Superstitions based on weather
  66. Blue food – Not counting that funky milk stuff from the first Star Wars movie
  67. Origami
  68. The jackass at every Halloween party who shows up dressed as “himself”
  69. Cannibalism
  70. Commercials for life insurance
  71. Dancing With the Stars – Not only does the premise bore me, but they blatantly abuse the word “Stars” with apparent glee and relish
  72. Banana peels
  73. Organ grinders
  74. Mushrooms
  75. The Rolling Stones (except Paint it Black)
  76. Whooping cough
  77. This car
  78. Abstinence
  79. Staying up until 2am on a Thursday to watch The Pope of Greenwich Village, because I was under the impression that it was one of those underrated great movies of my generation. Instead, it was just sort of boring. And it was difficult trying to rectify both Eric Roberts’ perm and Mickey Rourke’s face in today’s celeb-centric world.
  80. Clothing for pets
  81. The new Beyonce album that Amazon seems to think I’d be interested in, based on me adding the upcoming Hold Steady live album to my Wish List. Correlation?
  82. Basing my entire workday around the latest announcements from Apple
  83. Deep sea fishing
  84. Balloons – What’s the point?
  85. Tricycles
  86. People who only want to talk to me about what they did today. Sometimes it sucks being a great listener. Might as well be a eunuch.
  87. Not winning the lottery.

Wow, I thought that would help me feel a bit better. But it didn’t.

From the Weekend…

How was your weekend? Mine started off by getting out of work a few hours early (yay). On Saturday, my school’s football squad got completely humiliated by Oklahoma (boo). And then I went to the Baltimore Comic-Con and spent a bunch of money (which is sorta yay and boo). So, while the weekend played out in a so-so fashion for me, I still learned a few interesting things:

  • The new Indiana Jones movie will be called Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which is a little generic for me. Part of the allure of the Indy movies has been placing the characters in specific historical cultures (Nazis digging in the Middle East, crazy Indian dudes pulling hearts out of miners, searching for Jesus’s sippy cup in, uh, the Middle East again), but this one doesn’t give any hint of where that may be.
  • Britney Spears isn’t so much a trainwreck as she is a bullet train speeding down the side of Mount Everest on greased rails with no brakes and a drunken, blind engineer at the wheel. I wanted to laugh when I watched her performance on the VMAs last night, but I was too confused to form a proper guffaw.
  • It’s not our cellphones that are killing the bees, it’s the goddamned Australians!
  • Acclaimed yet humble comic book cover artist James Jean will have some of his work turned into fabric prints by the fashion house Prada. On a related note, my comic book hero (and industry rockstar) Paul Pope is working on a clothing line with [INFO REMOVED BY REQUEST. Seriously? Mr. Pope’s people actually read this site!?!] I can only hope this partnership is as inspiring.
  • I’ve decided that the reason I grew up playing fantasy games like D&D or their computer equivalent (like Baldur’s Gate) is because I like the concept of collecting cool trinkets. I always wanted my characters to have the unique weapons and special amulets and such. That’s why I want to see someone do a roleplaying game in a current timeline that incorporates that aspect…like running a quest for the +3 Cellphone of Infinite Minutes or finding a hidden room that holds the +1 Chapstick of Renewal. Sorry, I had a few boring moments to think of this junk.

That’s it for today. I’m swamped with utter boredom and really need to get caught up on my empty to-do list. I think I’ll take a nap.

Welcome to the Cheap Seats

Ah, sports. The great pastime. A little friendly competition. The thrill of victory. The agony of America’s contribution to the world of professional addiction (gambling, drugs, getting women pregnant, and writing tell-all books that encompass all three). You have to admit there is a certain amount of corruption involved in all professional sports leagues (hell, in most of the amateur leagues too). No one can deal with that amount of money, that level of notoriety, without doing something wrong.

But just because there are bad seeds sprinkled throughout the turf doesn’t mean the whole field will sprout weeds. There have been some good people involved in the sports world. Unfortunately, two of them reached the end of their season this week.

Bill Robinson spent 13 years as a pro baseball player and earned a World Series ring with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He then went on to coach younger players and won two more rings with the Mets and Marlins. He was a good family man. No scandals. No jail sentences.

And then there was Bill Walsh, the Wizard of the West Coast Offense, sacked by the Grim Reaper. When you look at the modern era of the NFL, you can’t ignore the impact that Walsh had on the sport. Eight of his assistants went on to become head coaches, and eight of their assistants (so far) have done the same. That’s a family tree unmatched in any level of sport. Not to mention his tutelage methods led to the eventual development of Brett Favre, the record-breaking future Hall-of-Famer who is secretly a cyborg assassin sent to the past to destroy football (and pain medication).

If Bill Walsh and his quick-hit passing game hadn’t happened to the NFL, we’d probably still be watching rows of cornfed linemen batter each other with up-the-middle running plays (of course, I could make the argument that Jimmy Johnson helped the evolution a bit at the college level with his “speed kills” recruiting mantra…Go Canes!).

I haven’t been this sad about someone’s passing since Momofuku Ando (the name that sounds like someone swearing at you with a mouth full of oatmeal). “Who the heck is that?” you ask. None other than the creator of the famed Cup Noodles. He gave us the greatness that is 16 different flavors of portable sustenance. With his death, we may never know what could have been the 17th level of perfection. Tangy cucumber? Cream of pineapple? Green tea crickets and onions?

Seriously though, it’s a shame to have to honor these two gentlemen in the same week that Michael Vick’s face gets plastered all over the sports section for allegedly taking part in a dog fighting ring. Cruelty to animals and illegal gambling notwithstanding, what’s the deeper message behind Vick’s alleged crime? Role models are few and far between in professional sports. For every great player/person like Bill Robinson, there’s an Allen Iverson, a Chris Benoit or a Barry Bonds.

Michael Vick had opportunity handed to him on a silver platter. Now he’s been told not to attend camp. His product endorsements are drying up left and right. You can literally say that Michael Vick’s career has gone to the dogs. Of course, it’s not like it’s his first time in the spotlight. Remember that mystery bottle he tried to take on an airplane? You know, the one with the marijuana stash in it? Yeah…trying to smuggle drugs in the Miami airport. That’s about as smart as trying to force Americans to love soccer.

And, hell, he’s not even the first Vick to get in trouble! His little brother Marcus was waving pistols and trying to get underage girls pregnant years before Big Bro made the headlines. I guess if Michael ends up exiled from the NFL, he can always go play for these guys.

However, as much as I can rail on corruption in sports, it doesn’t hold a candle to the corruption of our national political system.

Yep, that crazy old bastard…er…Senator, Ted Stevens, is under federal investigation. You may remember Ted Stevens as the guy who wanted to build a bridge from the Alaskan mainland to a small island with a population hovering around 50 people, depending on the day. And it was only going to cost nearly a quarter of a BILLION dollars. Oh, and the Republican octogenarian also said that thing about the internet being a series of tubes…

And if his stuttering and nonsensical speaking style distracted you from absorbing all that infinite wisdom, maybe you’d enjoy this musical remix instead:

I shouldn’t really single Stevens out though, considering Alaska’s other Senator AND the state’s Congressman are all under some sort of investigation. Oh, and Stevens’ son, Alaska’s former Senate President, had his office raided last year. Then there’s the corruption charges against a lobbyist, conspiracy charges facing three state legislators and the ongoing troubles for the owners of an Alaska-based engineering company.

What the hell is up with Alaska? I really can’t wait until the vampires show up there…