Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Twenty-Twos & Twenty-Fours

We think we did a pretty good job at laying out strengths and weaknesses of both Grover Clevelands, in terms of fighting ability. However, there are other ways to compare the numbers 22 and 24 that have nothing to do with Grover Cleveland. We don't think this comparison should sway your vote. If it does, then I guess we don't know what to tell you.

Apparently, the '00s brought us the songs 22 and 24, both from the U.K., both with somewhat depressing lyrics.

22 comes from Lily Allen.

24 is sung by Jem.

I'm sorry, I just can't get on board with a singer who goes by the stage name Jem. That's just truly outrageous. Truly, truly, truly outrageous.

ATHLETES (Controversial)

Roger Clemens — He totally bulked up and it had nothing to do with steroids. He's currently facing six felony charges, including perjury and obstruction of Congress.
Kobe Bryant was accused of sexual assault. While Bryant admitted to having an extramarital affair, the criminal charges were dropped. At this point, comedian Daniel Tosh would point out that Bryant as No. 8 was the rapist, not No. 24.
ATHLETES (From our favorite baseball teams, who have won World Series rings)
Jimmy Key, pitcher with the Toronto Blue Jays 1984-92, which included the Blue Jays' first World Series win in '92.
Art Shamsky played first base and outfield for the New York Mets 1968-71, including the Mets' first World Series win in '69. A favorite among Jewish sports fans, Jon Stewart named his dog after him.

The Twilight Zone had an episode titled Twenty Two. It was about a woman who was able to avoid her death because of dreams she had been having.

Number 24, The Monarch's henchman that sounds like Ray Romano.
Yes, we realize this is the second reference toThe Venture Bros. this week,
and that we should do a better job at spreading those out.
On the other hand, shut up.
Tony has read the book Catch-22, by Joseph Heller and seen the movie. I haven't done either. I know I should, and I will. Some day. In theory

I suppose we should mention the whole TV series was devoted to 24. It was called — let's see if I can get this name right — 24. It's apparently about Kiefer Sutherland kicking butt. Neither of us have seen it, but that's going to have to change soon since President David Palmer is scheduled to make an appearance in the ring in a couple of months.

If this helps you come to a better decision on who to vote for in this week's fight: Clash of the Clevelands, then we kind of feel bad for you. That being said, if you haven't voted yet, you should. If it's one thing both of these men agreed upon, it's the importance a good, honest vote.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Clash of the Clevelands

Grover Cleveland
22nd President of the United States
Served: 1885-1889
Age during term: 47-51

PROS: Success Magnet —Cleveland's résumé from the years leading up to his first term was fairly impressive. He had served as Governor of New York, and before that, mayor of Buffalo. This, mind you, was when both of those jobs were slightly more prominent than they are today. Even more remarkably, Cleveland managed to win those elections by being possibly one of the more honest politicians in America... at a time when the political system itself was pretty much rigged to prevent honest people from winning. Yeah, he was just that good. Before entering politics, he was a successful lawyer, successful sheriff, and successful assistant district attorney. Yes, success clung to Cleveland like everything to one-a-them katamari balls.
See, in this metaphor, success is the squid, and the huge boat, and the baseball stadium, and so forth, and Cleveland is... the cows? Yes. The cows. The rainbow, meanwhile, symbolizes our furthering a radical gay agenda.
And as President? Well, Cleveland was successful in reducing the effects of the spoilage system, keeping America's nose out of any foreign entanglements, and he even got married, to boot! Yes, his streak of victories would come to a crashing halt with the election of 1888, but Cleveland was unbowed. In fact, as he and his wife were leaving the White House, Mrs. Cleveland turned to a staff member and said, "I want you to take good care of all the furniture and ornaments in the house, for I want to find everything just as it is now, when we come back again."
The "...or I will cut you" was left unsaid, but heavily implied.
CONS: Lack of martial experience — While Cleveland was well-versed in the nuances of political combat, such combat is a non-factor in the Presidential Gladiatorial Arena™. So, what about his actual combat experience? Well, there we hit a slight snag. Yes, Cleveland was alive, and young, when the little shindig called the War Between the States broke out, and as such, you might expect that he would have fought in it, right? Not so much. While there was a draft, of sorts, conscripts were able to get out of serving if they were able to find some sucker who could fight in their stead (granted, they had to pay $150 for the privilege of not fighting; in 1860s money, that was probably the modern equivalent of a couple grand). Cleveland took advantage of this system, and his wartime duties were filled by a Polish immigrant. Had Cleveland known that that military experience could have helped him in a fight to the death against his older self, well, maybe he would have joined. But he didn't, and he didn't.

Grover Cleveland
24nd President of the United States
Served: 1893-1897
Age during term: 55-59

PROS: He's a winner, even when he loses — One thing the older Cleveland can boast that his younger self cannot: winning the popular vote three times. He was elected president in 1884 and 1892. While Cleveland lost the election in 1888 to Benjamin Harrison, he actually got 48.6% of the popular vote over Harrison's 47.8%.

Cleveland is one of three presidents who have won the popular vote three times. At the time, the only other person to do that was Andrew Jackson, and he isn't one to be messed with. The third person to do it was FDR, and he actually did it four times. He probably would have tried for five, had he not died before 1948.

Married — When Cleveland took the oath in 1885, he did so as a bachelor. By 1893, he was a married man. Statistically speaking, the life expectancy of married men is longer than unmarried men.

This brings a mental image of bachelor Cleveland subsisting on the 19th-century equivalents of Top Ramen, frozen hot dogs and Hamburger Helper when he wanted to be a bit fancy.

"Time to go grocery shopping. And by that, I mean order another pizza."

"What's the point in keeping dirty underwear off the floor?" bachelor Cleveland asked, from behind his beer-can pyramid, "It's not like any dames are stopping by."

Because it's dirty, bachelor Cleveland, that's why. And living in a dirty home is unhealthy.

Plus, there's the fact that Frances Folsom Cleveland was 27 years younger than husband Grover. If that's not enough to make a man feel young again, I don't know what is.

CONS: Obvious age disadvantage — Age is kind of a tough thing to gauge when comparing two different people who lived two different lives in two different eras. For example, James K. Polk — who was the youngest president to die of natural causes — was dead by his 54th birthday. Yet, when Ronald Reagan wasn't elected to his first political office until he was 55. There's no real way of having all things being equal.

Except for here. All things are equal here. Older Cleveland is the same guy, only eight years older. No way around that fact.

Secret Cancer — Older Cleveland won't let on, but he's got a secret: cancer. In 1893, he had a lump removed from the roof of his mouth. He didn't tell anyone, though, because he worried the country would spiral deeper into the Panic of 1893 news got out that the president was sick.

So as not to rouse suspicion, the Clevelands "went on vacation." Only it wasn't really vacation, Cleveland was going to get the lump removed. And to make extra-sure no one would find out, the surgery would take place in an isolated spot where no one could accidentally happen upon them: aboard the Oneida, off the coast of Long Island.

Oral surgery sounds unappealing enough, I can't imagine getting it in the 19th century. While on a boat. There's a reason why people get sea sick. It's because of the constant motion. That's hardly the best place to have someone cut into the roof of your mouth.

Point being, I imagine the recovery time on that one was a bit lengthy.

The Fight
I think it's fairly evident that with our two fighters this week being so similar, it's all going to come down to the little things. And those little things? Will subsequently be made huge. You know, like the ego/chest of any given Jersey Shore character.

So, here's what I think gives 22 the edge. One, age, which you obviously alluded to. 22's more agile than 24. He's more resilient than 24. He's, most importantly, less-cancerous (literally!) than 24. And virile? Forget about it! 22 married a woman less than half his age. That is getting it DONE.

Plus, 22 has the confidence you need. He hadn't been beaten down by any hardships, like say, the election of 1888, or the Panic of 1893. Or by getting cancer. 22 is a pure winner. And 24? Is toast.

Doug: I think anyone in 22's position would be baffled. He would have so many questions for his future self. "We didn't end up building that canal in Nicaragua, did we?" "Do I end up having kids with my wife who is also my late best friend's daughter?" Most importantly, "Hold the phones, why am I in here twice? How do I become president again?"

24, on the other hand, isn't confused. He knows all of these answers: "No, Yes (one, Ruth, gets a candy bar named after her, only not really), and the only reason why 24 is in there is because 22 got defeated by Benjamin Harrison in 1888.

This makes 24 embittered at the sight of his younger self. He sees 22 as naive and knows that 22 is the reason for a lot of his problems and recent failures. Maybe if 22 was able to win re-election, Harrison's economic policy wouldn't have caused the Panic of 1893. Even if the panic was unavoidable, he would have been out of office for it. 24 wouldn't even be in the arena had it not been for 22 losing the election! He would have left office in 1893 and retired happily.

The more 22 thinks about what's going on in the arena, the more confused he gets. The more 24 thinks about it, the angrier he gets.

24 has got this.

Tony: I dunno, I think anyone dumped into the Presidential Gladiatorial Arena™ against an opponent from the future is going to lose their wonder over the situation rather quickly. After all, protecting yourself from kidney shots is far more important than, well, most other things.

If anyone's going to be angry between the two of them, I think it should be 22. 24 is the one who failed, not 22. 22 is all about unbridled optimism towards the future, but when 24 shows up, things have clearly gone wrong. Everything bad is 24's fault, and 22, resolving himself to attempting to change the future should he live to have a chance, will want to wipe the timeline clean of the horrendous mistake that is 24.

Doug: 24 isn't in the ring because he screwed up. He's in the ring because 22 is about to screw up. 24 is simply trying to make the best of a bad situation. And in this situation in which he finds himself in, he's going to use his extra eight years of life-experience to wipe the floor with himself. 24 knows two things: The U.S. shouldn't annex the Republic of Hawai'i and 22 must die. He saw to it that Hawai'i remained independent on his watch. He's not going to shirk his 22-killing duties.

Tony: Yeah, so 24's got up to eight years on 22. First, if you think that 24, at the end of his presidency, would be able to take 22, you're even more crazy than you are for suggesting 24 could win at ANY point in his presidency. I'm thinking that between it being the dog days of the 19th century, the aforementioned economic panics, the dissension and strife within his own party, and alllllll of the other garbage swirling around, 24 did not have time to get into peak physical form. Now, okay, "peak physical form" probably meant something different back then (probably something to do with how fast one could consume a pound of butter), but still. This is clearly an area where youth will win out over, um, not-youth.

Doug: To be fair, neither Cleveland was in "peak physical form." He may not have been Taftian, but he was pretty friggin' close.

And I think all of this so-called garbage swirling around 24 will give him a "nothing else to lose" attitude. Shit's going down the tubes. And whether that's the fault of 22, 23 or 24, the only thing left for 24 to do is go down fighting. Wide-eyed, hopeful 22 would have no idea what hit him.

And as 24 is pummeling 22, he could say, "Hey, Grover! Why are you hitting yourself?"

Tony: Ah, yes, the ol', fighting to the bitter end, maneuver. Noble, certainly, but is it useful here? We all like to think that that "backed into a corner" mentality brings out the superior fighting, but is that really true? I mean, really?

Doug: "Backed into a corner" mentality wouldn't normally work, if he were fighting another person. But since he's pretty evenly matched — because he's fighting himself — I'd say it would give him the needed edge. Or will it? I suppose that's for the voters to decide.

Tony: Ooh, one last minor, but important detail. I hate to bring this up, but wouldn't any grievous wounds inflicted on 22 also show up on 24 somehow? Or should I not think too hard about the temporal mechanics of this thing?

Doug: Yeah, we'd have to assume that if 22 was killed in the ring — which I argue would be the outcome — 24 would not suddenly disappear. We also need to ignore Dr. Emmett Brown's warning about someone running into their past or future self. The encounter would not create a time paradox, nor would it cause either of them to faint. After all, 2015 Biff was able to talk to himself in 1955, and nothing happened (apart from the creation of an alternate 1985).

If Biff Tannen can do this without unraveling the very fabric of space-time continuum,
I don't see why Grover Cleveland would have a problem doing it.
By the same token, 24 wouldn't remember being 22 in the ring, fighting himself. It's just how the arena works. Also, that would probably give 24 an unfair advantage — one he doesn't need, because he will clearly win anyway.

Tony: Man, I knew talking about temporal mechanics was going to lead to a Back to the Future reference. I was all, "Where this debate's going, we don't need other science fiction touchstones."

Doug: This may be the only time I'd be able to fit in a Back to the Future reference, so you bet your bippy I was going to take it.

That's right. Bippy.

Tony: Bippy? When did this turn into Laugh In?

Doug: Besides, I think Cleveland can handle the temporal mechanics of the situation just fine. After all, he had a presidential time machine. Or he used to. The Monarch seems to have it now.

Obscure reference is obscure.
Tony: Too right! Well, I think it's time our readers had their say. Who will it be: 22, or 24? Vote now!

As always, polls close at 9 a.m. Friday Mountain Time. This week's fight may end up being a close one, so be sure to leave a comment in case of a tie.

Cleveland vs. Cleveland

Friday, March 25, 2011

Washington's Monumental Victory

He's known as the Father of Our Country...
And he administered the Father of All Wallopings on Mike Brady, becoming the first combatant to earn over 90% of the vote.
Washington vs. Brady

George Washington 37 (92.5%)
Mike Brady 3 (7.5%)

This should come as no surprise. To use a timely March Madness analogy, Washington is a No. 1 seed — hence, the bracket bears his name — and No. 1 seeds face the No. 16 seeds in the first round* of action. The No. 16 teams are usually just happy to make the tournament They know they're not going anywhere. Since the NCAA introduced the 64-team pool in 1985, the No. 16 seed team's record stands at a solid 0-108. This streak is bound to end sooner or later, but when it does, the upset won't come from the guy who sired one-half of this group:

However, say what you will about Mike Brady, one-third of his supporters felt so strongly enough for him to leave a comment.
Can't really say I argue with the logic here. If Brady were a robot, he'd probably win.

The fact is, he's probably not, which is why Washington's win was such a foregone conclusion that none of his supporters felt they needed to make any further points in the comments section.

Also: we'd like to give a quick shout-out to The Official Iowa Sports Blog of Hail to the Chief... to the Death: Black Heart Gold Pants. BHGP won this coveted title over their rivals at "All Eyes on Hawkeyes"** by throwing a bunch of traffic over the past few weeks. Thanks for reading, Iowans! Leave some comments next time, won't you?

George Washington is scheduled to fight in the 2nd round Oct. 3. He will face the winner of next week's match: Clash of the Clevelands.

*- and by "first round," we mean the real first round, without any of this ridiculous play-in nonsense
**- we may be making this part up, though if "All Eyes on Hawkeyes" actually did exist, we here believe it would be run by a bunch of jerks.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Here's the Story of a President Named Brady

When Tony and I were first working out the details of this blog, one of the first things we had to do was come up with fictional presidents to round out our bracket to an even 64. The two of us sat down and went through a Wikipedia article listing every fictional character who had served as President of the United States. That's when we learned of the existence of The Brady Bunch in the White House.

A little more investigation taught us that, in this movie, Mike Brady became president and named his own wife, Carol, to be vice president.

The mere existence of this movie brought a few questions to mind:

Mike Brady was really president?
How awful is this movie that we had never heard of it?
How the hell does Brady become president?
And seriously, he names his wife VP?

Well, I'm here to answer these questions.

Yes, he really became president. And the movie goes beyond awful to the point where it actually kind of gets closer to slightly enjoyable. And then it veers off to major suckage and it keeps going in that direction at a break-neck pace until the ending credits roll.

The last two questions need a bit of an explanation.

It all started when Bobby, Brady's youngest son and member of the Safety Club, went into a seemingly abandoned warehouse to rescue a cat. Bobby was successful in rescuing the cat, but not before finding a lottery ticket inside a wallet found on a musty old mattress. He took the ticket home, already planning on how to spend the winnings.

Yes, Bobby may have stolen from a homeless person. Okay, maybe this person isn't homeless; just someone who would sleep on a musty mattress with sheets, blankets and pillows in an abandoned warehouse.

The ticket ended up being a $67-million winner. Mike, being the beacon of honesty he is, insisted that the ticket be returned to its rightful owner. After an exhaustive search, the ticket's owner didn't show up. There was a good reason for that. The guy who bought the ticket was on death row and was on his way to being put to death just as the news was covering the story of the Bradys.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE CORNER: How did someone purchase a lottery ticket, get arrested, convicted, sentenced to death AND put to death all within such a short space of time? I'd worry about the justice system being a little too quick, but given where his wallet was found, he's probably a poor person. And we all know poor people doesn't deserve as much justice, right

Brady eventually donated the $67 million for a program that builds homes for homeless architects and their families. I can't think of a single cause more worthy.

"Thanks for nothing, asshole."

At the same press conference where President Lawrence Randolph recognized Brady's donation, he denied any link to a particular scandal. He even went so far as to say this if anyone were to prove this wrong, he would resign. Yeah, that seems like a good political move.

Also on the agenda: Randolph's running mate. Vice President Marshall Ross had recently announced that he would not run with Randolph for re-election. Who would run in his place? Randolph mentioned that he's looking for someone honest and with an unblemished history. Brady's wife, Carol, asked, "Why not Mike?" A member of the press repeated the question and that was pretty much the president needed to hear. Running mate chosen.

VOICE OF REASON CORNER: I'll tell you why not Mike. Randolph knows nothing about him or what he stands for. What if Mike believes in mandatory abortions to cut on population growth? What if Mike thinks we should spend half of our budget for drilling for oil on Mars? What if Mike is totally unprepared for interviews and claims to read all of the newspapers and that Alaska is important to foreign policy because of its proximity to Russia? It would totally tank your campaign. That's why not Mike!

It doesn't take a genius to figure out what happened next. Randolph-Brady won and Randolph, it turned out, WAS linked to that scandal. Randolph resigned at his inauguration and Brady became president.

As soon as Brady was named president, everyone wanted to know: Who will be vice president? I don't know why this would be an issue The post has been vacant 18 times in our history, for various reasons. And I'm not talking a day here and a day there. I mean if you combine all 18 times, it adds up to almost 38 years.

Speaker of the House Sal Astor, who had wanted to be Randolph's running mate, tried to weasel into the post. However, Brady's own wife had her eyes on the vice presidency, and unlike Astor, Carol was able to make Mike sleep on the couch until he agreed to give her the job.

No, really. That was Carol's entire argument.

CONSTITUTIONAL LAW CORNER: I don't know the constitutionality of a president picking a spouse as vice president. I don't think the issue is explicitly addressed, and it's possible that it's not. Through a technicality of the 12th Amendment, two people from the same state can't be on the same ticket, which means Mike and Carol Brady couldn't run together unless one of them claimed residency in another state. However, Mike was already president, so it seems that so long as she was confirmed by Congress, it's okay. They just can't run for re-election.

Congress was a little skeptical at first, but Carol calmed their woes with a song-and-dance routine accompanied by the Brady kids.

Still not convinced? What if they have a big finish?


And that's the way they all became the Brady-Brady Administration.

My guess is the second Brady leaves office, Congress will rush an amendment banning husband-wife teams for the presidency and vice presidency, along with choreographed and costumed speeches in the Capitol.

This road to the White House covers almost half of the movie. From this point, the movie takes a violent turn into Crapsburgh and somehow manages to get worse.

I've told you the important parts. Take my advice and avoid this movie.

It may not be face-meltingly bad, but why take that risk?

Be sure to vote in this week's fight, Washington vs. Brady.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Washington vs. Brady

George Washington
1st President of the United States
Served: 1789-1797
Age during term: 57-65

PROS: Military Genius — You might not know this, but the whole thing where the thirteen American colonies declared independence from the greatest military superpower on Earth? If Las Vegas had been invented back then, the odds against the American Revolution would have been a teeeeeensy bit long. And yet, through a combination of powerful diplomacy, inspired tactics, and personal inspiration, Washington turned the literally rag-tag Continental Army into... AMERICA.
Obligatory "Fuck yeah" here.
You don't do that without the ability to kick some serious ass. Oh, you want specifics? Battle of Trenton. Leading a surprise attack against the Hessians on Christmas Day? That's the kind of out-of-the-box thinking that leads to... AMERICA.

One imposing motha — Washington stood 6 feet, 2 inches tall. That's nothing to sneeze at, even in this day and age, but for the 1700s, it was the modern equivalent of being Godzilla. And, oh yeah, he was an avid wrestler and boxer. The take-away? YOU DON'T WANT TO STEP TO GEORGE WASHINGTON.
For extra credit, write an essay telling us how putting Washington's head on Godzilla's body is double-plus weird.
And yeah, it's hard to separate the vast amount of myths from, you know, actual facts, but Thomas Jefferson described George Washington as having a tremendously harsh temper. Like, extraordinarily explosive. So, you know, there's that.

CONS: Military... non-genius? — So, um, if you actually look at Washington's military record? Not exactly sterling. You see, the American Revolution wasn't George Washington's first pony ride; he was also a pivotal part of a little thing called the French and Indian War. And by "pivotal part," we mean that he helped start it. Basically, in 1755, Washington was put in charge of politely asking the French to leave territory that the then-British colonies had claimed in present-day Pennsylvania. Things started off generally well, until Washington's troops, along with some of their Iroquois allies, discovered a French raiding party. Shots broke out, and in the end, the French general in the area was killed (under admittedly suspicious circumstances). This led to something of a shitstorm (Washington was himself briefly captured by the French), and in 1756, France and Britain declared war.

Then, there was the Revolution. Not to leave an upper-decker in American history or anything, but Washington lost far, far more battles than he won. For every Battle of Trenton, there were two Battles of Long Island, where Washington managed to not only lose New York City, but also nearly got himself captured in the process. Yes, somehow, he managed to chess-match the British into surrendering at Saratoga... but damn if anyone can figure out quite how.

Um — That's all I've got for Cons, really. I mean... seriously?

Mike Brady
Fictional President of the United States played by Gary Cole
Served: In the 2002 Made-for-TV movie The Brady Bunch in the White House
Age: Cole was 46 when the movie aired

PROS: Luck — If there's one word to describe Mike Brady's journey to the White House, it's luck. By complete luck, his youngest son Bobby came across a wallet that had a lottery ticket that had the winning numbers. Even though his entire family wanted to claim it as their own, Brady wanted to get it to its rightful owner. When this proved to be impossible, he gave it to the federal government.

While Brady was in Washington, D.C., President Lawrence Randolph chose Brady to fill the recently vacated vice presidency seat. Randolph later won re-election with the overly honest Brady as a running mate, and then promptly steps down at his own inauguration when a scandal comes to the surface.

If he could get to the White House without even trying, he might be able to get a win in the arena in the same fashion.

Distractions — During the Brady Administration, Congress is constantly being treated to / interrupted by song and dance routines from his family. While this would not be allowed in the Presidential Gladiatorial Arena, Brady’s fashion sense would be permitted.

Without realizing it (again, Brady is lucky) his clothing could distract his opponent.

Seriously, what are you wearing?

No, really?

How were you even elected vice president? Wearing stuff like that? Letterman and SNL must have given you serious shit for that.

Brady’s foe would probably be stunned, at the very least, giving Brady some extra time to get some hits in.

CONS: Awful decisions — One of Brady’s first moves as president is to pick his own wife, Carol, to be his vice president. She's not qualified for the job, but he picks her because she threatens to make him sleep on the couch if he didn't.

I'll have to double-check my book of vice presidential facts, but I'm pretty sure that's how James K. Polk chose George M. Dallas.

Another example of this is when Speaker of the House Sal Astor tricks the first / second family into thinking that an asteroid is heading for Earth, Brady doesn’t bother speaking to NASA scientists about double-checking the facts. No, instead, he addresses the nation of the planet’s imminent doom — which, I imagine, caused worldwide panic — and holes his family up in a White House bunker, essentially giving Astor the keys to the Oval Office.

Getting one past Brady is just that simple.

He’s Mike F**king Brady! — We are now two months into HttCttD action, and in that time, we’ve encountered some combatants who have had no prior fighting or military experience, but could probably hold their own if put in such a situation.

Brady would never fight another person. Even if his entire family was being tortured before his very eyes, he would tell the torturers that what they’re doing was wrong. This tactic would not work in the ring. At all. Not even a little.

The Fight
Tony: Really, I think the only argument that's needed her is contained in the following video:
Doug: That's your entire first round of debate? Fine. If we're going with fictional George Washington, then allow me to turn your attention to the episode of The Simpsons titled "Lisa the Iconoclast." In this episode, we learned that before founding the town of Springfield, Jebediah Springfield was actually known as Hans Sprungfeld. Sprungfeld was a murderous pirate who lost his tongue when it was bitten off by a Turk in a grog house fight.

Another fight on his resume? One against George Washington that took place in Trenton, N.J., in 1781.
Sprungfeld had Washington beat pretty quickly. Washington's only line of defense was grabbing a set of false teeth sitting on a table within his reach and using them against Sprungfeld. Not just anywhere, he grabs a hold of them and chomps them down on Sprungfeld's junk.

Granted, this sent Sprungfeld retreating and I guess this means that Washington won the fight. But what kind of win is that? Washington wasted no time making it dirty, either.

I understand, it's a fight to the finish and in the Presidential Gladiatorial Arena™, rules are clear: there are no rules.

However, I imagine there's a kind of code duello, or an unwritten set of rules for this sort of thing. Yeah, breaking them wouldn't get you disqualified from the arena, but it would make you lose respect pretty quickly. And I imagine, "no nutshots" lists pretty high on this list. None of the spectators want to see a fight where one of the combatants goes straight for knees to the groin. It's not sporting.

If that's all that Washington has going for him, then that's just sad.

Tony: Look, I'm sorry if my opening salvo didn't live up to your lofty ideals, but you know what? Brady's going to get himself pulverized. Dude's outmatched from the get-go. It's rather obvious. I can only see this playing out one of two ways:

First, Washington isn't expecting much of a fight, so he starts out easy. However, Brady's general amiability and wussy behavior ends up sticking in Washington's craw so much that he eventually snaps and starts landing haymakers.

Or, Washington, eager to satiate his blood lust, is charged up from the get go, and he eagerly enters the arena, ready to make gelato of Brady's face.

Either way, I figure Washington has a rage-blackout, and when he comes to, there's nothing but a pile of viscera where Brady used to be.

Also, I think this talk of nutshots is somewhat moot, as Brady doesn't have enough man-region to aim for.

Doug: You want rage? Who knows what Brady is capable of? Yeah, on the surface, he seems like a mega-wuss. But who knows what's brewing underneath?

You know how a dude snaps, goes berserk and ends up on the evening news for doing something awful? And then the guy's neighbors are like "Oh, I'm so shocked. He was such a nice family man." Brady could be that guy and anything could set him off. He could have a lot of repressed anger just waiting to explode. The man lived a moral and ethical life and what does he get in return? His wife died young and he was left to raise three boys alone. Then Carol comes along and then he was left to support a family of eight on an architect's salary. Plus he's expected to pay the salary of a housekeeper. From what we're left to understand, Brady's a pretty good architect, but he was no I.M. Pei. He's not exactly rolling in it, so money's probably pretty tight.

That's a lot of pressure, and the second Washington lands a punch, Brady's going to snap and come into action.
Brady will drop Washington like Casey Haynes drops bullies.
Tony: See, even if Brady snaps, I'm not sure Washington is in any real danger. From his perspective, it would be like being attacked by a particularly irate squirrel. And when you're George Washington, that's not real peril. That's... I dunno, mild peril, at most.

Maybe Washington has some trouble catching Brady. Maybe. But Brady can't hide forever, and when ol' George comes a-callin', it's gonna be pain time. Or paine tyme, depending on your personal level of kitsch.

Doug: We must not forget Brady's incredible amount of luck. Lucky in that he became president without trying, I'm not talking about that whole business with his first wife dying. It was very unlikely that a lottery ticket found by his youngest son would lead Brady to the Oval Office. But it did. Quite frankly, the odds against Brady are little high, but his luck could change that.

And to paraphrase the song that Brady's sons and step-daughters sing:
When it's time to change,
you've got to rearrange

Washington vs. Brady

Friday, March 18, 2011

We Hold This Beatdown To Be Self-Evident

Thomas Jefferson was endowed by his Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty...

... and the pursuit of the 2nd Round.

Jefferson vs. Allen
Thomas Jefferson 11 (61.1%)
Mackenzie Allen7 (38.9%)

Not bad for a guy with no fighting experience. It didn't really seem to hurt Jefferson that he was essentially a cool-tempered bookworm who excelled at verbal debates and written arguments. It's not clear how this would help in the case of a physical fight...

Yes, Jefferson would be cooler to hang out with — though, he was a slave owner and a bit of a hypocrite. But it's unclear how he could take an athlete — remember, Allen is a rower, which means she has craploads of stamina — over a decade younger than him.

The best explanation we could find in the comment section was if Benjamin Franklin trained Jefferson like how Mickey Goldmill trained Rocky Balboa.

"Get up, you son of a bitch, 'cause Benny loves ya!"

Of course, this scenario ignores the fact that Franklin was known less for any fighting abilities and more for his snarky quips and science experiments.

Regardless of any of this, Jefferson is a-movin' on up to the 2nd Round and is scheduled to face Thomas J. Whitmore Sept. 26. Next week, we start up Washington Bracket action as George Washington takes on Mike Brady of The Brady Bunch franchise.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The West Wing That Wasn't

As Doug and I started putting together the brackets for this little tournament of ours, one thing became quickly apparent — we were going to have to watch a lot of stuff with fictional presidents in it. As luck would have it, I drew the task of watching Commander in Chief, so, with post time approaching, I grabbed a bunch of Chinese take out, plopped down on the couch, and proceeded to burn through five of the show's eighteen episodes, which gave me enough to B.S. my way through some reasons as to why she could conceivably take/be taken by Thomas Jefferson in a fight to the death. However, I had come to another conclusion during that time. In fact, I came to this conclusion by the time I saw the first Commander in Chief title card:

This show desperately wanted to be The West Wing.

Heyyyyyy, wait a minute...

Nothing wrong with that. When Commander in Chief first aired, The West Wing was headed into its seventh and final season, and though its quality wasn't quite the same as it had been during is Aaron Sorkin-fueled heyday, it was still plenty popular. One would not have been out of line in thinking that viewers would still be interested in presidential drama, especially when you decide to take the presidency in a slightly different direction.

Unfortunately, a little more viewing confirmed that:

This show could not really compare to The West Wing.

Let's talk about why. Before we begin, though, let me issue the caveat that since it would be unfair to compare a show that never really got the chance to find its bearings against a multiple Emmy-winning powerhouse, I will restrict my comparison to the first five episodes of each show. Okay, let's do this!


The approach of the two shows is different right off the bat. The West Wing is an ensemble piece that focuses as much on the personnel on the periphery of the presidency as it does the presidency itself (President Bartlett was originally supposed to be only a minor recurring role, in fact). Commander in Chief is much more focused on President Allen; then again, that's probably for the best when you're trying to sell the audience on a president who is a) female, b) a political independent, and c) a ginger.

The result is that in The West Wing, for the most part, you have a cast that is tightly gelled, and characters who all make you believe that they are working together for the common good. The actors, meanwhile, are uniformally excellent, from Martin Sheen, way on down the line to Dulé Hill. There is, however, one exception: Mandy.
Mandy Hampton (played by Moira Kelly) was brought in to be a foil, both professionally and romantically, for Josh Lyman (Bradley Whitford). Unfortunately for her, both roles were better filled by Donatella Moss (Janel Moloney), making her time on the show ultimately brief. Unfortunately for the audience, she was annoying as hell, and not particularly sympathetic or likeable, to boot. Mandy disappeared after the first season, and when I say "disappeared," I mean that her character suddenly vanished, and was never seen, heard from, or mentioned again.

The cast of Commander in Chief does not share the same sense of unity. Now, of course, that's in large part due to the fact that most of the adults in the show are actively trying to destroy the lead. Not a lot of chemistry, there. The actors, by and large, range from "excellent" to "okay." Geena Davis and Donald Sutherland are both definitely "excellent," and the show gets a lot of unexpected mileage from Kristen Shaw as Norah Woodruf, Chief of Staff to the First Lady Gentleman. Kyle Secor is mostly solid as Rod Calloway, the aforementioned First Gentleman; he and Davis share an excellent rapport, and its kind of a shame that he gets shunted into the supposedly comedic territory of "lol first Dude."
Lol! His office is pink!!1!
Meanwhile, the kids in the family... eh. The older kids, Caitlin Wachs and Matt Lanter, aren't given all that much to do, outside of being bitchy (Wachs) and bland (Lanter). The younger child, played by Jasmine Jessica Anthony, really brings nothing to the table (as a character, I mean, the actress is fine) other than misplaced attempts at cuteness, and a contrivance to show that the Allen administration has not invested in sippy cups.
I mean, it's not like you're on your way to a very important event, like, say, your first speech as President of the United States.
One nice touch that they added, though, was the hint of some sort of relationship between Allen's Chief of Staff, Jim Gardner (Harry Lenix), and Templeton's Chief of Staff, Jayne Murray (Natasha Henstridge).
Too bad it never went anywhere. But that leads me to...


Okay, look. One of the shows we're talking about was created and written by Aaron Sorkin. The other... was not. So, that's kind of a problem. In addition to bringing the serious drama when the situation called for it, Sorkin added a lighter touch that, in the hands of his rather talented actors, could be incredibly funny. Commander in Chief, on the other hand, has... well, it has a slightly unhinged Norah Woodruf (good), and a small child (yech) providing comic relief.

However, the biggest deficit between the two shows is the pace. Sorkin, as a TV writer, is famous for the "walk and talk," a style of scene in which two or more characters jabber at one another with a very fast pace, while striding through hallways, offices, and corridors, all with the camera zipping around with them. Here's a good, albeit low-quality example:

In fact, that little clip just about summarizes every key aspect of Sorkin's work. It's fast-paced, with a lot of movement, lots of dialogue, and with a few punchlines skewered in there, to boot. There's a big reason that Sorkin can get away with all that: he trusts his audience to be smart enough to follow along.

What about Commander in Chief? Sadly, the question of what it thought about its audience was answered in the opening shots of the pilot. So, let's all play a game. Let's pretend it's 2005, and we're all sitting down to watch the debut of this new Geena Davis show everyone's talking about. The first thing we see is this:
Then this:
Then we cut to a chorus of French school children, who start singing "America the Beautiful" in French. We zoom out to pick up a Secret Service agent walking down the aisle to find then-Vice President Allen, and we get this:
Wait — so they were in Paris this whole time? I never would have known!

Yes, Commander in Chief's biggest sin is that it doesn't trust its audience to follow along. Fittingly enough, they didn't; despite turning out large audiences for its pilot episode, Commander in Chief eventually tanked in the ratings, changed time slots, bombed again, and was cancelled. All in all, it was a decent show, and it probably deserved a slightly longer run, but... c'est la vie.

Those of you who miss Commander in Chief, and President MacKenzie Allen, can vote for her in the previous post. We'll be back on Friday to announce the winner!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Jefferson vs. Allen

Thomas Jefferson
3rd President of the United States
Served: 1801-09
Ages Served: 57-65

PROS: Unpredictability — When Jefferson took office in 1801, the country was still in its infancy. Well, maybe not infancy; nearing tweenhood. Whatever, it was young. The western border was the Mississippi River. On the other side of the river was France Spain France. Access to the port of New Orleans, which was at the mouth of the river, was vital to the economic health of the western United States, but that was closed to U.S. trade in 1802.

Jefferson decided to talk to the French Emperor about striking a deal. This is pretty much how that deal went:
Napoleon: I’ll tell you what, I’m short on cash fighting these several wars I’m fighting. I’ll sell you France’s entire claim west of the United States.

Jefferson: Cool. But, uhh, look. I don’t exactly have the authority to make such a land purchase. Let me push an appropriate amendment through Congress, go through the proper constitutional channels and then we can strike a deal.

Napoleon: Ooh, you know, England was talking about buying it.
(French guy behind him snickers at this lie, Napoleon shushes him.)
If they make an offer, I can’t really say no.

Jefferson: Okay, I’ll buy it.
Jefferson, who was all about following every letter of the U.S. Constitution, was willing to let things slide when it came to doubling the nation's land area for a cool $15 million.

Now he had a 828,800-square-mile territory to organize and no money to do it with. What’s a quick way of getting money?

How about taxing these new residents that was just acquired? You know, the ones who have no representation.

Yep. Jefferson argued against England imposing taxation without representation against the colonies. Less than three decades later, he became president of this land that revolted such actions and went on to tax the unrepresented.

Dude’s unpredictable. He’s a loose cannon and he’s completely willing to sell out his deeply-held beliefs if he feels he needs to. If that doesn’t make a warrior of the Presidential Gladiatorial Arena™, I don’t know what does.

First Triple Crown Winner — Before Jefferson was president, he served as George Washington's secretary of state and as John Adams' vice president. Three presidential administrations and he had one of the top three roles in each.

(Well, top three on paper. The vice presidency isn't worth a bucket of warm piss, according to 32nd Vice Present John Nance Garner.)

After his presidency, there was nothing left for him to do: until now. Jefferson wants to win in the arena.

CONS: Writer, not a fighter — Jefferson has no combat experience. He never gained much of a reputation for being a bruiser, mainly because he wasn't one. He depended on his writing to do his battles.

He gained such a reputation as a writer that the Second Continental Congress asked him to write the first draft explaining why the American colonies should stop being American colonies and start being an independent nation. Long story short, it worked.

Probably Blythe Danner's best role in which she plays a slave owner.

Things may have been slow-going at first, but once it was written, we were as good as independent (one bloody war later).

If bouts were decided by written essays, Jefferson's prose would send him straight to the finals — assuming he didn't argue for the closing of the Presidential Gladiatorial Arena™. If that was the case, the place would probably close down by Wednesday.

However, written word doesn't advance you. Fighting does, and he has very little history of that.

Lover, not a fighter — Jefferson had a reputation for liking the ladies. And ladies loved cool Jefferson. (It could be argued that he was the original LL Cool J, only one of them had a part in the movie Toys. Guess which one!)

In all actuality, he was devoted to his wife until she died in 1782. He mourned his wife for years. But then he started fathering children with one of his slaves, Sally Hemings. Now, apparently, this sort of thing — widowers taking slaves as concubines — was the norm. In fact, Hemings herself was Jefferson's half-sister-in-law; which is to say that Jefferson's wife's father fathered Sally Hemings.

I'm sorry. I'd like to think that I have an open mind. And I'm from the 21st century, which means I'm theoretically more progressive (for example, the idea of owning slaves sickens me), but this shit is weird.

This "slave as a concubine" thing brings up a valid point, though. Jefferson is old-fashioned. This means he may have a problem hitting a (non-slave) woman.

MacKenzie Allen
Fictional President of the United States played by Geena Davis
Served: In the 2005 TV series Commander in Chief
Age: Davis was 48 when the series aired

PROS: Independent, both politically and personally — Prior to her ascendancy to the presidency, Allen spent two terms in Congress as an Independent, where she frequently clashed with the Republican Speaker of the House, Nathan Templeton. She kept her Independent status when asked to join the ticket of Teddy Bridges, the Republican nominee for president, and again when she became president after Bridges' death. This is someone with a serious commitment to independence. This came in mighty handy once she was president, as nearly everyone connected with her administration was out to get her. She had to wade through a number of treacherous situations, mostly orchestrated by the aforementioned Templeton. You can't help but think that self-reliance will serve her well in the arena.

If you can handle a Cabinet meeting where everyone present is rooting for you to fail,
you can handle the arena.

Hawkish — Allen seemingly never met a situation that the military couldn't solve. In fact, one of the first things she did after President Bridges became incapacitated was to juggle the 6th Fleet around for various reasons. Soon after that, she decided it was high time to apply some pressure on Nigeria to release a woman who was about to be executed for adultery. And by "apply some pressure," we mean "send in the Marines." And the coup de grace? She sent a squadron of Air Force jets, as well as a squadron of tanker planes filled with defoliants, to the not-at-all-made-up country of San Pasquale. Stated goal: wipe out their coca fields. Actual goal: incite a coup. Because it always works so well to have the U.S. overthrowing the governments of Latin American countries.


Fortunately, most of her military maneuvers seem to work. Good luck with that newly-elected government, San Pasquale!

CONS: A bit impetuous — So, Allen spends most of her time in the pilot episode of "Commander in Chief" being talked into resigning the Vice Presidency so that Templeton can become president, the main reasons being a) Templeton is power-hungry and b) a woman president?!? Am I right, fellas?


So, Allen has her speechwriter draft a resignation speech. But just before she's going to deliver said speech, she has a one-on-one meeting with Templeton, who starts strong with a rather good menopause joke (am I right, fellas?!?) before managing to shoot his damn mouth off on one of Allen's most dear subjects (the woman in Nigeria we mentioned earlier). Right then and there, Allen decides "fuck it," and marches off to take the Oath of Office. So, wait — you knew this guy was an asshole, and you were fine with him becoming president, but now all of a sudden, you're changing your mind? What's that about? It's not like this would be a big decision, or anything.

Talks about her plans a bit too much — So, I've touched on this Nigerian situation a bit, but let's go back to it one last time. Before she calls in the Marines, Allen gets the Nigerian ambassador into the White House, and basically marches him straight to the situation room, where all the military brass has assembled. She has them explain the entire plan to the Nigerian ambassador. You know, the guy representing the country they were about to invade. That's, um, maybe not the best idea? Now, yes, the United States military probably has superior firepower when viewed against Nigeria, but you know what helps out a lot when you're outgunned? Knowing exactly when and where the enemy is going to strike. Maybe she thought she could keep the Nigerian Ambassador in custody for a while? I'm pretty sure that would create vastly more problems than it would solve.

Fortunately, his reaction is to stand and do this, instead of, you know, taking notes.

Allen later repeats this mistake in the San Pasquale incident, going on national TV to say "hey, by the way, we got these planes coming." Now, yes, in this case, the military objective was not as important as the social objective, but still, there's a pretty good chance that crap's going to bite you in the ass eventually.

The Fight
Tony: So, having reached the bottom of the Jackson bracket, we come to the matchup which, if this were a fully-seeded tournament, would pit the 2-seed (Jefferson) against the 15-seed (Allen). In such matchups, the 15-seed tends to be quite the underdog (think Duke vs. your local high school), but I'll tell you, I don't think Allen is at that much of a disadvantage.

Let's look at the facts: she's younger than her opponent, which gives her a definite edge. She's also in fantastic shape. How does she keep said shape? Turns out, Allen is a rower. Rowing tends to keep one in fairly good condition — see the Winklevii from The Social Network, or from real life...

Allen is no exception. Add in the advantage of being around in the 21st century, and she's probably superior to Jefferson, physically. But will Jefferson realize that? He's probably just going to spot that Allen is a woman, and then he'll try to turn on his charm. His defenses will lower. He'll underestimate Allen. And what happens when you underestimate MacKenzie Allen? You get flattened. Just ask General Sanchez, the dictator of San Pasquale. Oh, wait, you can't. Because he was deposed. And then probably either killed or turned over to the U.S. to stand trial for murder. Bam!

Doug: Does Allen love her country?

Tony: Of course she does! She loves it enough that she becomes president almost solely to ensure some über-conservative asshole doesn't take power. If defending your country from über-conservative assholes isn't love of country, I don't know what is!

Doug: That was more of a rhetorical question. I'm not asking in an accusatory way, like in a "she's a fascist socialist from some weird country" sort of way. Of course she does. She probably doesn't have a magnetic ribbon on the presidential limo, but she's down with apple pie, free speech and John Philip Sousa medleys set to firework shows.

Thomas Jefferson evokes visceral feelings of patriotism and American pride. I would imagine that anyone who loves this country would not be okay with hitting him. The man's Thomas Jefferson, for crying out loud! I'm not saying Allen will curl up in a ball and just let Jefferson win. No, he would probably get a few shots on Allen before she decides to back away from her stance on not wailing on any of the Founding Fathers, but it might be too late by then. By that point that Jefferson just needs to finish her off.

Tony: I think this all depends on who Allen sees when she peers across the arena to size up he opponent. Does she see Thomas Jefferson, Founding Father or Thomas Jefferson, Slave Rapist? If it's the former, maybe Jefferson has a shot. If it's the latter, there's going to be a lot of rage involved, and that rage is going to make any consternation over the legality of the Louisiana Purchase look like a PTA meeting.

Doug: Now, now. Jefferson wasn't a slave rapist. He just had a sex slave. They're both morally repugnant, but c'mon, there's a difference.

Tony: Look, I don't want to get all Laws of Consent up in here, but I'm fairly certain that owning a sex slave, by definition, makes you a slave rapist.

Doug: Hmm, I think technically, there are minute differences. Not that I'm defending sex slavery. Or slave rape. This is all besides the point. Back to Allen and her over-exposition.

While Allen is explaining to Jefferson where she'll be delivering the hits, Jefferson will just do so — even if the constitution doesn't directly give him the authority to do so.

And as an inventor, Jefferson could probably come up with brilliant new ways of smacking around opponents.

Tony: Jefferson may be able to get past the vagaries of his Constitutional authority, but not after doing some heavy thinking about it. I say Allen has him good and bloodied before he finally takes action.

Doug: Jefferson likes to do some heavy thinking, true, he likes to mull things over. But if there's some sort of hurry involved (ex: Napoleon lying about the former mother country being interested in moving in next door) Jefferson acts. Anybody living between Louisiana and Montana have him to thank him for that. Only this time, instead of him worrying about England, he's got a rower coming after him. And how did a woman get in anyway? They can't even vote!

Yeah, so Jefferson feels threatened and confused about the whole female president thing. That's when Allen learns one truth to be self-evident: Jefferson will take care of her much like a stray dog took care of Barbara Maitland from Beetlejuice.

SPOILER ALERT: She and Jack Donaghy were essentially killed by a small dog

Polls close Friday at 9 a.m. Mountain Daylight Time. Remember, voting is the cornerstone of democracy. Jefferson would want you to vote, even if it wasn't for him.

Jefferson vs. Allen