Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Morning: St. Patrick's Day
I have some mixed feelings about this holiday. On one hand, my mother is basically an Irish fanatic. I think she's fourth generation, so it's not like she has any real connection to the "old country," and we're not in touch with any family over there. But she takes a ton of pride in the heritage anyway, and my house is full of shamrock trinkets and other Irish kitsch. She has a tattoo of a claddagh symbol on her ankle. When I was little, we used to speak to each other in Irish brogues on St. Patrick's day. So there's some insanity at play here. (PS: My first and middle name are "Shane Patrick." These are not family names, and they were not decided by my father.) Growing up in that atmosphere, you can't help get drawn in a little bit.
On the flip side, I spent a semester abroad in Ireland, and you guys will never guess what I find out: there are good people there. And assholes. And everything in between. There are only two really remarkable things about the country, as far as I can tell.
1) The girls are not very good looking. I don't mean to get all 'judgy' on you, but this happens to be true. The idea of the beautiful Irish redhead is a total myth. I met one of them in my entire time there. Did it make the entire trip worthwhile? Sort of. But overall, those Irish Spring commercials are total LIES! This, by the way, is not just my opinion; I've heard many times that Ireland and England have the most unattractive people. It's now true by repetition. The most attractive? Geographically isolated areas like Scandinavia, India, Japan. Places where there's a lot of genetic purity because nobody else could get to them for centuries to screw up the blood lines. (This is the part of the blog where I start to promote eugenics.)
Anyway, so-called "Irish" descendants in America are way better looking than actual Irish people. Apparently we've had some comelier ethnicities help us out and raise the standard.
2) The miserable history. On one hand, you have the horrible luck. The Vikings kicked them around for centuries, then England. Plus the famine, and the general poverty. But what distinguishes the Irish from other suffering peoples is that they've screwed themselves as much as they've been screwed. Their history is full of kings and other leaders making deals with more powerful entities that utterly damn the common people. When Michael Collins was doing his best to gain independence from Britain, it wasn't good enough for the extremists, so they killed him. Then came the whole IRA thing, the troubles in Northern Ireland, and on and on. Plus, their soccer team stinks. And everyone's an alcoholic.*
*Always end arguments with a stereotype.
So why is it so cool to be Irish? On St. Patty's Day, everyone co-opts the identity for a little while, wears green, drinks, etc. And the whole heritage aspect is clung to like crazy by American Irish, and has spawned festivals and an entire book industry. Who knows why this happens? For whatever reason, cultural or ethnic groups who suffer the most seem to have the strongest pride. Maybe we all like to think we've made it through some ordeal together. But my main thought when I hear about Irish history is "holy shit. Thank God my great-great-whoever decided to get the hell out."
Man, I just re-read that stuff, and I am a HUGE downer. I'm basically the guy who goes to bars during happy hour and preaches about how everyone is going to hell. Erin go Bragh!
But despite all this, the Irish idea is sufficiently ingrained that I feel really guilty for not wearing green today. I blanked on the holiday, thought it was tomorrow, and put on brown pants with a blue pullover. I am ashamed.
Okay, sports. What is happening in sports...
*Arkansas Pine Bluff beat Winthrop last night for the right to face Duke on Friday. I didn't expect to enjoy this game, but APB were actually a fun team to watch. They started the season by losing 11 straight games on the road, but gradually solidified into a strong unit and finished with a 17-4 stretch and a conference championship. Last night, their team defense was pretty spectacular. You could tell these guys were all on the same page, and even though they don't light it up on offense, they have each other's backs. In the second half of the season, they never allowed more than 69 points, and most games were in the 50s or below. There's something inspiring about a group like that cohering, overcoming a lack of firepower, and triumphing together. I never thought I'd say this, but I'm actually rooting for them against Duke.
Just kidding. I hope they lose by 50 and cancel their basketball program out of shame. But still, nice effort last night.
*UNC beat William & Mary last night in the first round of the NIT. No big deal, but I just want to take a moment to give some props to Roy Williams. Before the NIT selection committee met, reporters asked him if he'd accept an invite. The implication was that maybe UNC was too good for the NIT, sort of like how Notre Dame refused a lesser bowl this year. Williams' response was a beauty: ""If somebody's going to invite me to play, I'm going to go play. Period. The end."
Bam! That, my friends, is a badass. Obviously I am not a UNC fan, but the man deserves credit. Total lack of BS, total lack of pretension. Basketball is basketball, and he's not too good for a lesser tournament. Hard to hate on Roy. During all the trials and tribulations this year, he never whined, and he always took responsibility on himself. Now they've won a game, and probably put forth their best effort of the entire season. UNC fans are notoriously fickle, but they should take pride in their coach.
*Tiger is returning at Augusta. This is a pretty unbelievable set-up. I'm sure it will easily be the highest rated golfing event in history. I'm sort of secretly hoping he wins, shows no emotion, and becomes the biggest villain in sports. And I hope he out-duels someone who's known as a faithful family man with a wife and kids waiting hopefully in the gallery, cheering on their man in innocence. And at the end, Tiger refuses to shake his hand and does something inappropriate with the female interviewer.*
That's it for now. Later today, I'm going to start making my bracket predictions. Get excited!