Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Goon Squad Dev Diary--A Night with the Best Fans at NDP

   If you ever wondered who the gang of guys was who frontlines the Dog Pound at every basketball game, you are about to find out. This is the Goon Squad, a private organization formed by Goon Captain Brooks Brennan as a unit that is totally separate from the Dog Pound, and a unit that “is about making the other players feel little.” Brennan would continue, “We want to act as stupid as possible, and [we’re about] going super-hard at basketball games.”
   Anyone who has been to a Notre Dame road game this season can understand. Fans at other schools are known for being particularly personal and nasty, and the goal of the Goon Squad is to clearly create a Notre Dame home court advantage that can rival anyone’s in the league. These guys are not there to be nice and cheer “go team” or any of that nonsense. They want to enter the heads of the opposition, and sometimes it takes some edgier styles of fandom to do it.
   Of course, the NDP athletic department has taken notice of their antics, and the Goon Squad has been in severe danger of being disbanded on multiple occasions. “We’ve had e-mails sent to us from parents of other teams. We demanded two security guards the second game. It was crazy,” said Brennan.
   Nic Orlando, another member of the Squad, voiced his disapproval over the hostility, saying, “We’re a league of extraordinary gentlemen.”
   In any case, the Notre Dame varsity basketball team asked me to investigate the Goon Squad for myself, and hopefully try to alleviate some of the heat being sent in their direction. I spoke to Brooks Brennan about it, and before I knew it, I had been invited to come out to a game and be an honorary member of the Squad. Snap-back and all. Of course I agreed.
   What follows is my account of the NDP-Coronado basketball game back on Friday, January 20, from the middle of some of the craziest fans I have ever been around. I headed into the gym nervous and apprehensive, but I came out with the firm opinion that this was one of the best sporting events I have ever been to at NDP.
   These are some guys who go hard in the paint.

6:59—Madame Bradley checks my student ID at the door just as the other check-in gal is about to wave me through. Clearly my snap-back, notebook, and pocketful of pens were not enough clues. She must not be a reader.

I wonder how much trouble I will get into with comments like that.

7:00—I sight the Goon Squad at the front of the Dog Pound. As I approach, Brooks Brennan announces my arrival, and I am surprised with some cheers from the guys. They did not last as I swapped my t-shirt for Avery Korth’s practice jersey and the sarcastic (I hope) moans began, but it was all in good fun.

                Then Duncan Morfitt stuck me way out on the end of his row, which is arguably the worst place to be for someone writing an article about the shenanigans of a group of fans.  Thanks man.

7:01—The Saints win the tip-off, and immediately you can feel the Goon Squad begin to smell out its prey on Coronado. This will be fun.

7:02—After Grant “Freak of Nature” Martinez (incredibly appropriate, if you ask me, and it was even more appropriate with that haircut he had a while back) lays in an easy bucket, Coronado comes down the court and tosses up a three. No good. Shouts of “Ew!” emerge from the Squad, and I still cannot tell you if it was because the shot was so bad or the kid was so ugly, because both descriptions applied.

                You will notice that I will be the most judgmental in this article then possibly any other. Blame it on the company I keep.

7:03—Nicky “Knee Brace” Sarandrea nails his first steal of the game. Thievery.

7:05—Just as he makes it two steals, Kevin Vitaro shows up in a purple morph suit. The Goon Squad approves.

7:07—Sarandrea scores his third steal, and on the ensuing Coronado possession, I notice Kelvin “The Franchise” Pilot is rocking the goggles. I like that, very Kareem-esque.

                You know what else is Kareem-esque? An And-1 by KP. The Squad is beginning to taste its prey. We lock in on two Coronado players: Salad Bowl and McGluvin. The former obtains his name from a classic looks-like-your-mom-gave-it-to-you haircut, and the latter because . . . well just because he looked like a tool. And he was awful. And very pale. We hated him.

                Ladies and gentleman: Coronado’s finest.

7:10—Andrew Thomas scores a lay-up to extend the lead. Love that kid.

7:11—Two warnings so far from Mrs. Rueben. The Goon Squad does not take heed. Good. I was a fan of the salad bowl chant.

                Parker Zellers spits out the quote of the night as a Coronado player shoots a free throw, “Hey! Number two! You’re gonna miss! You know why? Because you suck!”

                He was promptly sent to the figurative penalty box of the Squad by Mrs. Rueben. You will see later that a tally for this sort of thing will become necessary.

7:14—Mrs. Rueben takes a permanent post at court level down to my left. As more people arrive and join the Squad, Duncan Morfitt is very gradually boxing me out into the aisle. I need to make a move sooner or later, this will simply not do.

7:15—The ‘stache man shows up; the Goon Squad refers to this individual as Mustache Guy. He throws the gang a grin and a wave, which is greeted by cheers and cat calls to the babe who is accompanying him. Apparently he has a different woman with him every time he shows up. I do not doubt it. His facial hair was humbling. I think when he sat down every man within twenty feet of him rose and moved away out of pure shame. I would have.

7:19—A Coronado player passes the ball to freaking nobody and watches pathetically as it rolls out of bounds. Athlete.

                A chant ensues: Fundamentals! Fundamentals! Fundamentals!

                Mrs. Rueben tries to silence Goon Captain Brooks Brennan, but he pretends not to hear her and keeps going. The mark of a true leader folks: tough under duress.

                Did you know that “duress” was a theology vocabulary word last semester? Facepalm.

7:20—Ryan Riggs shows up in an orange morphsuit. No. Just no. That is arguably worse than the Father Phil-LSU jacket debacle. At least in the same vein.

                Then I notice his LeBron James Cleveland Cavaliers jersey. Tasteless. He takes over the top spot in the Most Exasperating Spirit Attire Award. I just made that up. There is no award. It does not deserve an award. The whole ensemble deserves a burning.

                Nothing personal.

Two bottom guys: very good. Top guy: not so much.

7:22—Dan Ziemann sinks the first three of the night to the glee of the Goon Squad. The Saints lead 33-7. Man, this game is shaping out to be worse than the BCS Championship game (zing).

                Andrew Turner seems to run every insult he thinks of by somebody for approval before he spits it out. I feel like he has had a history of embarrassing calls. I choose to stay quiet for the most part, mostly because I knew everything I would say on here was going to be enough.

7:23—The ever-industrious NDP cheer squad is belting it out over on the sidelines. They are in the middle of a cheer when the ball rolls out of bounds (I assume a Coronado player screwed up, I mean come on) and heads toward Kara Tapia. She simultaneously dodges the ball and continues cheering at the same time. Not even phased. She is one of the girls who is thrown into the air, and I have always thought that was gutsy, so I will go ahead and call it an athletic move by Kara Tapia in adapting to that situation. Bring on the haters.

7:24—Number 22 on Coronado wins the Attitude Award. He is starting to give the Goon Squad nasty looks. Good, that means we are in his head. I looked up his name: Garrett Wimer. I am not sure which pronunciation is funnier: WHY-mer or WEE-mer. I like the latter, because let’s be honest, it sounds like wiener. I wish we had known this.

                By the way, Wimer-schnitzel averages 1.1 points per game. Balla!

                Parker Zellers, who has since returned from his momentary exile in the penalty box, begins singing some Sk8er Boi, and he was not bad.

                Just kidding, he was horrible.

7:25—Tom Archer arrives, and Duncan quickly points out that his hair lacks its usual elevation (it was not peaking properly, hate when that happens). Tom tries in vain to fix it. I think it secretly bothered him for the rest of the night. Perfect hair, both a blessing and a curse I suppose.

7:27—I notice that an elderly couple sitting just across the aisle from the front row of the Goon Squad is cheering for Coronado. This begs a question: are all people from that part of town total idiots?

7:29—There have been numerous headache complaints among the Goon Squad. I do not ask for an explanation.

7:30—Brooks Brennan calls for the cheer squad to “Get a little bit rowdy” but to no avail. This results in the Squad ripping into a few Coronado players (Hey! Tell your girlfriend I said thanks!), and the massacre begins.

                Duncan is called down by Mrs. Rueben, but not sent to the box. I take his seat.

7:32—Tom Archer is sent to the penalty box, and he is promptly followed by repeat offender Parker Zellers for some sort of expletive. Both fallen brothers are applauded, and the massacre is over. The rest of us are given a talking-to by the wonderful Ms. Barrett, who explains that the referee is threatening to start issuing technical fouls if our antics continue.

                Speaking of the ref, all I remember about our involvement with him is that we politely disagreed on a few minor calls and sent him some compliments about his excellent hair. He used mousse. I bet even Tom Archer felt threatened.

7:33—Danny Stolper shows up in a purple morph suit. This division of the Goon Squad is looking to redeem themselves. Thank God.

                At the half, it is 36-17 Notre Dame. The Goon Squad definitely makes an impact, I can tell you that. The Dons of Coronado were clearly phased.

7:35—The halftime show begins, and all I will tell you is that it consisted of a junior cheerleader’s organization doing something or other to raise breast cancer awareness. But with the moves they were . . . there are more appropriate ways to spread awareness for the disease. Just saying. We will not discuss what things were said over in the Goon Squad during this time.

7:40—Duncan leaves to go say hey to somebody, and I move down the line in order to be more centralized for the second half. I have a great spot.

7:43—While the teams warm up, the officials bang heads at center court, and we can see that they keep looking over at us and pointing in our direction. We wave. They did not wave back. Still liked the one guy’s hair though.

7:44—The half begins, and Duncan promptly returns and physically lifts my skinny self clear out of my new spot and plunks me down into the old edge-of-the-row location. I felt used.

7:45—It was not a minute later when Monica Barrett sends Duncan to the penalty box for totally-unrelated unsportsmanlike behavior. I felt bad for about five seconds until I moved down the row again. And there I stayed.

7:50—The Squad tries to make things a little more personal with Coronado, so Brooks Brenna looks up #1 on his phone. His name: Ashiwome Abadjivor. You cannot make this stuff up, folks. We try calling out to him with different pronunciations, but we finally see a nibble when we yell out A-SHE-WAH-ME. His frustration would mount. It was hilarious. I personally enjoyed the line, “Hey, excuse me, Ashiwome? I hope to God you have a nickname. And I hope to God its Ashiwow-wow!”

7:54—Andrew Turner is sent to the penalty box after yelling at Salad Bowl that he was adopted. I do not think further comment is necessary.

7:55—Parker Zellers is ejected from the game by Rueben. He is forced to sit at the far end of the bleachers with the company of Mrs. Gjerstad. A chant to “Free Parker!” soon erupts, but alas, it was all for naught. We tried to get his little brother to grab his jersey and come over and take his place, but the little guy chickened out. Obviously not Goon Squad material.

8:01—I see the Kelvin Pilot is wearing what looks like three pairs of Nike socks. All are of different lengths so you can clearly see the swoosh on each pair. I feel like Nike knows it would make a killing if it released socks that had multiple swooshes on them, but they purposefully do not because they want you to buy more socks. Interesting.

8:03—Connor Gallagher begins pacing in front of the Goon Squad on court level. We make eye contact. I look away. That kid still scares me to death. I think he wants to hurt me, and I have no idea why. I do not want to ask either.

8:10—Coming up the court on a new Saints possession, Salad Bowl fails to make the defensive play and suddenly begins yelling at KP. Yelling. He asked for it.

                The next thing I remember is a pure assault of noise as the Goon Squad tears into him for talking some smack to The Franchise. “You think you got a big mouth? Put this in your mouth!” and “Get him, KP!” and “Hey congrats for finally using such adult language, Salad Bowl!” were only some of the less intense things I pulled out of the storm of insults. Most everything else involved some connotation of the f word, and According to Dazz is not at liberty to disclose such comments. But your imagination will do just fine.

8:13—Then, the moment we had all been waiting for, fan-favorite Avery “AK-47” Korth comes into the game along with my jam-session buddy Kirk Iserman. Korth’s number is not even 47, but I think the nickname is badass, so there you are.

                Kirk lays one in on the ensuing possession. I promised myself I would send him a shout-out. He looked good out there.

8:14—Next possession, Avery Korth drives in the lane. He has a chance to score! The Goon Squad tenses—come on! A Coronado defender is in a good position (Imagine that, right?), but Korth adapts, the shot floats up off of his finger tips and . . .  IN AND OUT!

                The ball toilet-bowled off of the rim in the midst of a chorus of groans and moans from the Goon Squad. That was the one. Damn.

8:15—Jesse Gildner comes in, also a fan-favorite. I am surprised he does not bring his music out on the floor with him. He takes that stuff everywhere.

                Then, Kirk Iserman takes the ball up the court. Remembering his recent drive to the basket, Coronado sinks back into the key, leaving Avery Korth all by himself in the corner. Kirk starts to drive. The defense bites. The ball goes out to Avery. Alone. This is it. Another chance for our guy.

                Avery lines up, jumps, and releases the shot. My heart stops. Some of the Squad holds up the three fingers. Some of the Squad hangs their wrists in the air, mimicking his release. Some of the Squad just watches, hoping, praying. He has to make it. He has to.

                The ball peaks in its arc. Falling down, down, down.

 Do you believe in miracles?



                The front row of the Goon Squad jumps to the court, and myself and the second row leap over the first row to court level as well, jumping up and down and yelling and screaming and holding those threes in the air. I lose my hat. My notes tear. I do not care. It was unbelievable. It made the whole night.

8:20—Parker Zellers rejoins the Squad for the final minute. I guess they all find their way back home eventually, right?

8:21—Ball game. Notre Dame Saints 74, Coronado Scrubs 42.

   At first glance, you might see the Goon Squad as a group of guys who are clearly up to no good, but there is more that lies beneath the surface with these men. At the end of the day, this is just a bunch of guys who are here to support their buddies on the basketball team by providing an unmistakable home court advantage. “It makes a huge difference, we’ve never had crowds like this. It drives us to play even better, work even harder. It’s just great to know we have so much support from our fans,” said Dan Ziemann.  

   If you have a problem with their methods, that is too bad, because from what I experienced, they will not change for anybody.

   The Goon Squad is what Notre Dame has been looking for all of this time. I sat down with Monica Barrett at the beginning of the year, and she voiced that she believed basketball season to be the biggest challenge to NDP school spirit. Well I think we have more than answered that call, and the Goon Squad is largely to blame. Our school finally has hardcore fans, and I think that denying these people their cheering rights just because of a few taunts toward the other team would be a disservice to our athletic program. Notre Dame needs to prove that we can be rough and tough and that we can hang in there and talk smack with the rest of them. If it is image you are worried about, never fear, because what these guys are providing is spirit driven by spirit, and not spirit driven by malice or hate.

   That is key. While other fan bases jeer simply for the sake of being a bunch of toolbags, the Goon Squad jeers at the opponent because we love our boys down on the court, and we want to support them.

   I went into the Saints’ locker room after the game, and the first person I spoke to was Avery Korth. He was still smiling. I asked him about his shot, and he came over and made sure I wrote down exactly what he wanted me to write, “I saw the Goon Squad ready to charge the court. I popped the [shot] . . . I did it for the fans.”

   The fans did it for Avery too. These are the moments that define the Goon Squad. Without the Squad, that shot was just about meaningless. The Saints were up big, and all we were doing was running out the clock, so to speak. But with the Goon Squad cheering on every player from the full-time starters to the back of the bench, that shot meant everything. It was one of the coolest moments of the year, and I guarantee you that because of the reaction it had from the crowd, Avery Korth will remember that moment for a long time.

   The Goon Squad may look to psyche out the other team, but more than anything, they are about making our guys feel like superstars. They are Notre Dame fans, pure and simple. We need them. The team needs them. So cut them some slack, because they can make the little moments feel like the big moments.

To quote Andrew Thomas on what the Goon Squad means to the team, “Everything. Not one three was made in [their] corner the entire season.”

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Mouthful of Fun--The Human Centipede Dev Diary

   I really do not like horror movies. Not at all. Famous flicks like Silence of the Lambs or The Exorcist will see me holding up a pillow every now and then, but going to the theater just for the heck of being scared is not for me.
   So in thinking about strategies employed by those who hate horror movies like myself (conveniently positioning your knee between your eyes and the screen, checking your phone when you know no one is there, or just flat out sprinting to the bathroom), I decided that it would be enjoyable for all of you to essentially join me for a night of sheer terror. To be fair: you pick the flick.
   Why I conceived this idea and went through with it, I still do not really know.
   When I saw Mr. Jake Anderson (whom I did not know and now do not really care to know) throw The Human Centipede up into the nominees, I knew I was screwed. I was regretting this thing already. And the movie was on Netflix too. Unbelievable. I had no excuses, and since I do not want to be a skimp to all of my wonderful readers, I had to follow through.
   If you are unfamiliar with a Dev Diary, the following is a minute-by-minute commentary of my viewing of The Human Centipede. If you really want, you can follow along with the actual movie, but I suppose it is more fun to observe the suffering of others from a position of power, so the choice is yours.
   Thanks everybody, and enjoy.
   Except you, Jake Anderson. May you share the fate of the characters to follow. But not really, that would suck. Maybe just a slap on the—that is it. If you see Jake Anderson, smack him for me. Because I still do not know who the hell he is.

Full spoilers to follow.

11:38—I wonder why I am starting a horror movie at 11:38.
            Never mind, my sister orders me to plug the computer in. Killing the suspense here.

11:43—It takes me 5 minutes to find the stupid power cord in the dark. This is my life.

11:44—My girlfriend, who I had just gotten off the phone with, has fallen asleep and can no longer keep me company. She is so supportive. Looks like we are flying solo folks. Let’s do this.

11:45—Opening credits roll, nice looking highway.
            I see that Tom Six is responsible for this film. Has that man ever made any positive contribution to the world?

11:46—Close up shot of a pleasant-looking fellow in a Mercedes on the side of the road. Just kidding he looks like a freaking creep. He is looking at pictures of a couple of Rotts strung together—I guess it could be worse. He could have made a kitten centipede. I will let you think about that image while we continue.

11:47—An RV pulls up behind him and some fatty hustles out to go take a crap in the bushes along the road. Normal. The creepy fellow follows him and points a gun at him.
            Cut to title screen. Bum bum bum.

11:48—We get our first look at the two women who I assume will join the centipede fun. Girl number one is super ugly. So is girl number two. I think about how at least they did not make a centipede out of hot chicks . . . then I remember that my girlfriend just fell asleep . . . I will not be bringing this up again.

11:50—Our two heroines are lost—go freaking figure.
            Tires slashed! Who woulda thunk! They have a Volkswagon, so much for German engineering.

11:52—They do not have a phone signal! So far we have hit a solid four horror clichés, and I never watch these things. Solid pick, guys.
            They get back in the car. Someone is going to pop up in the window, I know it I know it I know it.

11:53—Some Spanish man drives by and thinks he has seen our two gals in a “horny video” he has at home . . . too bad, it really seemed like he could help them. I still am trying to figure out why this scene was important to the rest of the movie.

11:54—Spanish dude has not moved—why has he not moved?! Oh wait, there he goes. Good, now that weirdo in the Mercedes can show up and kidnap them!
            I think the more cheerful I keep my tone of voice the better I will feel. I think.

11:55—He does not show, but that is okay, because the two girls decide to ditch the car and head straight into the woods. Wow. Clearly they were not in the Girl Scouts. At least they brought a flashlight.

11:56—They see a house! They go check it out, because really, what could go wrong? The chances of it being home to a sicko who sews people together mouth-to-rear are like one in a million, right? Right?!

11:58—Creepo answers the door (rats!). Clearly luck is not on the side of the two ugly chicks. Our villian’s voice is quite charming. He sounds like a Russian chain-smoker. Maybe he will die from lung cancer and the human centipede can get away. Fingers crossed for subliminal anti-smoking messages.

11:59—Meanwhile, in my home, it is quiet . . . too quiet. Why did I ever agree to do this? I should have freaking saw this coming like a mile away! I thought you guys would pick something like The Ring or The Grudge but hey no let’s ju—is that a picture of conjoined babies on his wall? Good God.

12:01—He drugged their drinks! Did not see that coming!
            Are you guys picking up on all of this sarcasm? I hope so.

12:02—They sip their water. Way to go.

12:03—He is going to his basement! Gah! There is a person down there under sedation! He has a needle! Gah!
            You guys should hear lots of sound effects as we go through this.

12:06—Both girls are out. Cut to the next day.
            Creepo is enjoying a fruit cocktail for breakfast. He barely ate any of it! What a waste, he used the big can too, the one that serves like fifteen people and you only buy it for parties. I do not like him. Well, I did not like him before, but I mean now he is just a toolbag on top of a being a creep.

12:09—The guy from the RV earlier was just killed, so that kind of sucks.

12:10—Anyone notice how well-kept the bad guy’s yard is? He digs a neat grave too. As in a tidy grave, not a cool grave. Because it was not a cool grave.
            By the way, if you were worried that the centipede was not going to make the trifecta now that one piece was missing, then never fear, because Creepo found a neat little Asian substitute.
            Hey, his ethnicity contributes to the image. I think if I went anywhere except Notre Dame I would not have published that line.

12:13—The creep introduces himself to everybody and begins giving the rundown of what he is doing. Looks like he knows his field pretty well. Good thing I am taking notes.
            I missed his name, but I do not care because I like giving him nicknames. He is a doctor. Do they call him Doctor Love? Probably not. We will think of something, though.
12:15—So we have some lip-anus sewing action. Some knee-cutting stuff. Some skin grafts. Yeah, seems like he really did his research. All bases covered. You know how it is.
            I found this disgusting, by the way. In case that was not obvious.

12:17—Doc sedates Ja(ke Anderson)panese guy, and our frontman finally shuts up because seriously he just kept yelling and yelling.
            Girl number two escaped! She is running! This does not please me, because she opened the door for one of those classic pop-out moments. I like how I have to look at the keyboard when I type so I do not have to look at the television. The sound provides plenty of fun, however.

12:19—She shuts herself up in his bedroom. He pounds on the door but then he stops and now she goes to check. What a stupid—never mind she picked up a lamp to defend herself. Practical.

12:20—Ok, so the guy with the PhD and a gun decides to break a window with the butt of the rifle rather than shooting out the glass. But he does have nice shades, I will give him that.
12:23--He chases her into his indoor pool (he must have done some fine work in Germany), where he decides that since she ran she has the honor of being the middle piece. Collect your prize at the door sucker!
            The unfortunate lack of catchphrases in this movie only grew more and more disappointing. I start putting in my own.

12:25—He leaves her under the pool tarp, and she decides it would be a bright idea to go be a hero and save the other two pieces. What a gal.

12:27—Since I know Dr. Doom here is going to pop up at any moment during this little escape plan, I decide to go grab a drink of water from the kitchen. Do not worry though, I can still see the action from there.

12:28—Nevermind, I am fascinated with how many different methods of dragging Girl #2 is trying on Girl #1.

12:29—Doc shot her with his sedation rifle. In his shades. In the rain. Like a boss. A boss of evil. Straight up.
            Catch phrase: “Looks like I can say I killed two birds with one stone.” Schwing.
            Surgery time! Woooooooohoooooooooo!!!!

12:30—You pull those teeth, Doc. Is that the best you—Oh God those are skin grafts on the behind! Oh God Oh God Oh God Oh God! Seriously guys what the hell? Agh!
            I realize I am watching the Unrated Director’s Cut. Yeah, see we do not skimp here.

12:32—The Doc enjoys a glass of Scotch before the grand opening. Just a class act, you know?

12:33—Oh this is it guys! This is it!
            A Human Centipede (guys I think I finally understand the title!). Doc is checking out the bandages. Yeah would not want to mess anything up at this stage in the game, amiright?
            Just thought of a terrific tagline for this movie: “This summer: Pull your head . . . out of your ass.” (cash register opens)

12:34—Ja(ke Anderson)panese guy has a Playboy tattoo on his arm. These must be the Frank Sinatras of cinema.
            The centipede stood up! Photo op!

12:35—I think it is finally time for that water. Hold on. He is showing them exactly how they are connected in a mirror. Nice gesture. Ok, I am going.

12:38—As I get up, my Xbox Live disconnects. The movie stops. It picks up where it left off when you reconnect. Unbelievable. Guess I am already here in the kitchen, might as well have that water.

12:40—It reloads without a hitch. I was hoping it would not. You guys must feel pretty good about yourselves by now, huh?
            He is training his centipede now to bring him the newspaper. Ja(ke Anderson)panese man, who is the head by the way, does not think this is a good activity.

12:42—Meal time! The front guy is hungry, and he gives his two friends behind him a dirty “what’re you gonna do?” look before digging in. What a jerkface.
            He bit the doctor! Good boy! Oh but he was kicked in the face, that sucks.
            Catchphrase: “Japanese proverb: never bite the hand that feeds you.” (shoots finger gun)

12:44—Oh no he is going to poop! Oh no! I want water! But I have to see it! This is what you guys—oh man! Oh this is not cool you guys! Oh! Oh man!
            Cut—they are back in the cage they sleep in at night. I wipe the sweat from my brow. Seriously.

12:46—Man, there is only about a half hour of movie le—Oh seriously? Do we really need a butt shot of the Doc swimming? Really Tom Six? Really?

12:47—The camera lingers on the last girl a bit, and she is not looking too good. Sucks to be her.
            Ooh, the centipede tried to run while he was in the pool. He beats them with a cane. Reminds me of the shoe I received when I was a kid. Or the belt. But I digress.

12:49—The centipede gets a check-up, and the last one has some weird pus coming out of her skin grafts. Lovely.
            The phone rings! It is the cops! What do you know!
            Doc puts away all his weird photos and his lab coat and goes to the door. Two cops are there! Woohoo! I bet you they both die. I hope Doc is wearing shades when he kills them. Just saying.

12:53—Doc goes to get the guys water. You folks ever have déjà vu?

12:55—The cops get suspicious (duh) and Doc loses his temper (duh) and demands they finish their drinks (duh) when one cop karate-chops the bejeezus out of Doc’s hands (what a move!), knocking the water to the floor. I am impressed. Best scene so far. You should have seen this guy’s form.

12:58—Doc apologizes and goes to check on his pet. He says he will kidnap the cops and replace the last girl with the two from the po-po. How resourceful and intuitive. When he leaves Ja(ke Anderson)panese guy tries to reach the scalpel. Cut! Suspense!

1:00—Doc dropped the needle he was using, and the cops see it. In my head I think “I bet he says it is insulin.” In the movie “It’s insulin. I have diabetes.” WOAH. I should be a creep. Maybe saying that makes me a creep.

1:03—The centipede stabs the Doc in a clutch move! They are trying to run! Go go go!

1:04—So the Doc recovers and follows the escaping centipede, but he stops along the way to lick up some blood that dripped onto the floor. So unnecessary.

8:55—Time warp! No but what really happened is that my mother decided to wake up and walk down the hallway, and when she saw me burning the midnight oil, she told me to go to bed now. Scariest part of the night. So this is the next morning, and I am finishing this thing in the office on the computer. The rest of my family is in here, but they think I am doing scholarship searching, so if I keep a straight face we should be alright for these last couple of minutes.
            We are going in for the final round.

8:58—The centipede cannot open the door! Oh no! Ja(ke Anderson)panese guy is trying to break it with that lamp the other girl used! Probably a poor choice of purchase for the Doc. It did not even have an energy-efficient bulb.
            I think I really missed the point of this movie.

9:00—The Doc looks like he has them cornered, but Ja(ke Anderson)panese Man has other plans, it seems.
            The sound is even worse in headphones. The grunting of the two rear pieces has that much more clarity. Wonderful.

9:02—Ja(ke Anderson)panese guy is giving a speech, but it kind of ruins the moment when no one can understand him. Then he kills himself. This was probably really random to everyone else in the room.

9:03—The cops are back! The doc is doing a little army-crawl action back to his pool. The little Rugrat.

9:04—After ringing the doorbell fifty times, the cops finally agree that something is fishy, so they teleport their way into the house. Literally, you do not hear a door open. Quality film-making from Mr. Six.

9:06—One cop sees the basement with all of the hospital beds, and this is what he has to say: “Well God damn it.” Meanwhile the other cop is busy puking. Clearly they are the Starsky and Hutch of their unit.

9:07—Somehow, the Doc kills one cop without the use of his legs, and subsequently grabs a hold of his gun. The other cop arrives, and he is shot twice before pulling off a very CoD-esque last stand move and shooting everyone’s favorite medical practitioner in the head before he falls into the pool. Still no catch phrase. What the heck.
            Some things he could have said: “A flat line . . . for a flatline.
“Consider your condition . . . critical.
“Shouldn’t have taken those weekend hours.”
“Think you had man’s best friend? [cocks gun] Well I had man’s best friend right here.
Leave more as a comment. This was fun.

9:09—Back to the centipede. After a little bit of hand-holding feel-goody stuff, the girl in the rear dies, leaving one of our friends stuck in the middle. You ever find yourself between a rock and a hard place? HA HA! Oh, too soon?

9:11—Credits roll as she cries. Suck it up, babe.
            Was that insensitive? Writing it made me feel better.

   There you are then. The Human Centipede all the way through. I hope you guys are happy, because I probably had a good hour and a half of tossing and turning before I went to sleep after this one. It was Doc that did it. The guy was in my head.
   Also, I went on urbandictionary to see if I could coin the term “Jake Anderson”, but I guess they have rules about that kind of thing.
   But seriously, no hard feelings. Kind of.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Scot Bemis--Celebrating a Winning Life

   Loss is a strange word, when you think about it. It can indicate absence or failure or something incomplete. But most of all loss represents nothing. You had something; now it is gone. Nothing there. Nothing left.
   Nothing. Is that what we have now?
   I remember walking into B Period Physical Science freshman year and being absolutely scared to death. Back then I was just a skinny kid with a bad haircut coming straight out of Verrado Middle School in Buckeye, Arizona. Moving to Scottsdale meant I knew just about nobody at Notre Dame. I had met a few guys through football camp over the summer, but I had yet to make a real friend. I was your classic new kid, and when I stepped into Room 707 my biggest worry was finding a seat next to someone who did not look too intimidating.
   Then Coach Bemis stood up from his desk and started hollering at everybody, and I swear I almost wet my pants. So much for not being intimidated. But when everyone settled down and I could actually hear what he was saying, things grew different.
   “Hello everyone. My name is Mr. Bemis, and I’m just going to tell you right now that in my class I am going to yell at you a lot. I am not mad at you, I am just very loud. We get after it in here, we work hard, and all I want from you is your effort and attention.” His voice was steady, firm, and kind. His eyes gleamed. His big, goofy grin most of all allowed me to be instantly drawn to him.
   Just like that, I felt a little better.
   I had been apprehensive about the yelling, but over time it grew to become one of my favorite things about freshman year. My sister had his class as well, and it was quite often when she would edge me out on a test and “Daswick! It’s time to step it up kid! She’s hot right now but you have to find a way to get it done. Let’s go!” or when I would come in on Wednesday and “Daswick! Did you see Fringe last night? You wouldn’t believe it, let me tell ya!” or even when a certain member of our class started some shenanigans and “Johnston! Here, I’ll give you something to do! Take this pass to Room 208 for me, and you had better go fast!” This last line was often followed by “Ha! Look at him, he’s trying to open the maintenance closet!”
   Coach Bemis had a way of making people feel welcome, and I guarantee you that no one was left out. He knew everyone’s name, he knew what everyone was up to, and he treated each student with as much respect and attention as anyone else. So often we hear of teacher-coaches catering to their players, but Coach Bemis was just as interested in the cast of the school musical as he was his defensive starters. It was incredible.
   This is why the man had such an impact on his community. This is why he and his family have received so much support over these past few months. His reach was limitless, and his impact was profound. His ability to inspire was one we will always remember. He was able to teach without a word, and lead by just living.
   I asked earlier if we have been left with nothing. Is that what this loss is? Certainly not, because we can still see his influence. We can still feel his presence. His legacy is found in the tears we shed and the words that we pray and the love that we have for him and the care we have for his family.
   We have so much more than nothing. We have the lessons that he taught us, lessons about passion, lessons about achievement and success, lessons about what kind of people we all want to be. We are a Team, and he helped all of us grow into Team Players. This Team fights, this Team overcomes adversity, and Team Bemis will always be here.
   Loss should never enter the equation when it comes to Coach. The phrase has been used that he has lost his battle with cancer. No. No way. Losers lose, and Scot Bemis was not a loser. He was a winner, and he spent his life teaching others how to be winners too. That was his game, and you know what? Call him undefeated. Call him a champion. Call him victorious.
   Death often comes sooner than perhaps any of us can expect. But this is life, and life is unpredictable and life is sad and life will look to beat you every chance that it has. Now we need to think about the things that we have learned from this man. Give your best. Never quit. Play until the whistle blows. Our coach has given us all of the tools that we need to succeed, and all that is left is for us to go out and execute.
   It is time for us to make our leader proud. It is time to show him that he resonated within each and every one of us. It is time to retake the field, or the court, or whatever you want to call this big game of life, and be Team Players. Coach Bemis will never be forgotten, but he will also help us move forward. Because with the things that he has given each of us, all we need to do now is to get after it and play our game.
   Scot Bemis was never about losing, and that is why that when you look at all of the people he has touched and all of the lives he has changed, you do not think of a loss. The only word that comes to mind is victory. Victory that is pure, and victory that is undisputable. Mr. Bemis played life like a champion, and he left life in the same way. It is our turn to use what he has shared with us. We have been given life’s playbook, and now it is time for us to go out and be winners. 
   The winners that he molded us to be.

Thank you. For everything.

Friday, January 13, 2012

What Goes Around Comes Around: How Tim Tebow Changed my Mind

   A while ago, I wrote an entire article trying to figure out why I could not stand Tim Tebow. It did not help. I just wished everyone would shut up about the guy. His throwing motion was atrocious. He was not supposed to succeed in the NFL. He was not supposed to be a good quarterback. He was not supposed to win, for goodness’ sake. I just wanted the talk to go away so the Tom Bradys and the Ray Lewises of the NFL could take back the spotlight over someone who I was certain was fated to become a journeyman. It drove me crazy.

Just . . . ugh.

   But then something happened that made me extremely upset, and it was strangely a piece of negative Tebow Talk, which I normally delight in. A certain morning show host on a certain valley station with call numbers that may or may not be X103.9 (see what I did there?) had a few things to say about Tebow following the quarterback’s thrilling overtime win over the defending AFC champion Pittsburgh Steelers (who I hated even more than Tebow, but that’s another article).
   Everyone knows about “Tebowing,” the pose taken from Tebow’s end-of-game prayer posture. Of course, after Timmy threw his touchdown pass, the very first thing he did was kneel in the end zone and have a quick little chat with God. Classic Tebow. There he goes again. All that.
   So the aforementioned radio host sees this and decides he is going to poke some fun at Tim Tebow. He declares, on the air, that Tebow’s actions are one giant publicity stunt designed to garner attention.
   If Tebow is not one thing, he is not a fake.
   Faith is not a publicity stunt.
   This is the moment I sided with Tebow, and this is the moment that I realized what I should have really been paying attention to all this time. Tebow is one of the most incredibly true people I have ever met. He is true to his faith, true to his morals, true to himself, and true to everyone he comes in contact with. I love that.
   We are supposed to look up to people like Tim. Other sportsman can satisfy our need for an athletic mentor (Because, come on, with Tebow’s throwing motion . . . would you want to take after that? Yikes!), but Tim should be the one we look to as a guide for just about everything else. You want to know how to be pure? Look to Tim. You want to know how to have faith? Look to Tim. You want to know how to touch people’s lives? Tim has that answer too.
   I wanted people to shut up about Tim Tebow altogether and just let American sports slowly fade back to normal, but then some folks crossed the line. Tebow does not force religion on anybody; he simply makes it known what he believes. Accusing someone of being a liar in their faith . . . well does that not make you sound like an idiot when your voice is heard by thousands of people itself?
   I believe that Tim Tebow is someone that we need to look at in terms of what kind of person he is, and we need to forget about what kind of athlete he is or is not supposed to be. I was talking to someone the other day and we were saying that if Tim Tebow was a tight end or a fullback, he would be our favorite player in the NFL, hands down. Great guy? Of course, love him, yadda yadda. But as an athlete? Blech.
   Well, I have decided that Timmy Tebow is my favorite person in the NFL. He would sooner talk to kids in a hospital than have a post-game interview. He would sooner tell his coaches about the cancer patient he invited to the game than tell them about the comeback he just drew up.
   The world needs to look at Tim Tebow as someone to learn from. He is someone we can back not because of his on-the-field accomplishments, but because of his off-the-field commitments.
   It can be easy to forget those things about an athlete that do not have to do with sports. Luckily, Tim Tebow will not let us forget those things.

Just . . . wow.