12 Days of Something III: My Favorite Anime is Toronto Politics

For ideal reading experience please play the embedded Soundcloud clip:

Rob Ford.

Think about that for a minute. There are just so many things that can be said about the mayor of Toronto in title only. I will just let this list of stories do the narrative work for me.

Rob Ford: While we were watching the circus

Is Rob Ford just too honest?

Mayor Rob Ford says he knows what Toronto wants: a casino

The Best of Toronto’s Insane, Terrible Mayor Rob Ford: an Introduction for Americans

Weary Toronto likely to shrug off latest Rob Ford escapade

Snow emergency? Mayor Rob Ford says call him – at home!

Mayor Rob Ford: Working hard or hardly working?

Rob Ford won’t be prosecuted for alleged election violations

Mayor Rob Ford still asking lobbyists to donate to his football foundation

Sarah Thomson: I thought Mayor Rob Ford was on cocaine

Support for Mayor Rob Ford steady despite Ass-gate

Rob Ford: ‘Intoxicated’ Toronto mayor asked to leave military ball

Three councillors now claim Rob Ford has a drinking problem as Toronto mayor is encouraged to seek treatment

Rob Ford hires his high school football coach

Here’s Toronto Mayor Rob Ford Walking Face-First Into a TV News Camera

Mayor Rob Ford offers to ‘explain how politics works’ to Toronto women over coffee

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford says he coached latests shooting victim: He was ‘one heck of a football player’

Toronto artist-turned-councillor plans his next masterpiece – a portrait of Rob Ford

Rob Ford In A Maple Leafs Jersey Posing With The Hamburglar?

For Sale: A Video of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford Smoking Crack Cocaine

Rob Ford crack scandal: Fears Ford’s aide sought video spark police probe

Rob Ford. Unstoppable?

Etobicoke family find themselves at heart of Rob Ford photo mystery

Police learned of alleged Rob Ford crack video during year-long gang probe

Why Mayor Rob Ford’s gravy train has hit a dead end

Meet Neil, better known as Slurpy, the Rob Ford lookalike at centre of scrapped plot to film fake crack video

Torontonians celebrate all things Rob Ford at massive barbecue

City of Toronto deeper in debt under Mayor Rob Ford

Gawker Rob Ford ‘Crackstarter’ cash going to four Ontario groups

Rob Ford Shares Parenting Advice For Royal Couple

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford remains shadowed by crack video scandal

Rob Ford urged to seek help after videos capture Toronto mayor partying after ‘a couple of beers’

Why Rob Ford shouldn’t clean up his act

Mayor Rob Ford bests Hulk Hogan in arm-wrestling bout (or so it appears)

‘I smoked a lot’ of pot, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford says, but he won’t say when

Rob Ford offered 14 chances to comment on crack story, Toronto Star tells press council

Possible Rob Ford connection sought in sealed police warrants

Rob Ford portrait unveiling thrills mom – and the mayor

Mayor Rob Ford’s popularity climbs to nearly half in latest poll

Rob Ford’s friend offered pot for missing phone, report says

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford defends robocalls, says more to come

As Rob Ford calls for firing of ‘sleeping’ worker, web unearths photo of mayor allegedly asleep at City Hall

Rob Ford’s billion-dollar boast not worth a dime

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford admits to smoking crack

Rob Ford caught on video in violent rant

Rob Ford Denies “Eating Pussy” During Live, Televised Press Conference

Rob Ford police investigation: ‘Domestic assault’ call at Ford home sidetracked police sting

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford takes in NFL game – and steals singer’s seat?

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford to join D.C. sports radio show

Sadly, Rob Ford epitomizes what Canada has become

Rob Ford vs. Justin Bieber: Who is Canada’s greater embarrassment?

I literally took one headline per week in constructing all of that above. There was no shortage of headlines to pick from most weeks. I even had to leave all the stuff about his being stripped of powers by the city council because of the other stuff he was doing at that time. Anyway, I have to give a special thanks to this post to Tim whose Twitter bio was the inspiration for the title of this post. He also does great work in making the politics of North America’s 5th-largest city as funny as they are.

12 Days of Something III: Basking in Glorious Failure

At the beginning of the fall, players everywhere prepare for the epic contest that is Fantasy Football. In the quest to choose the best players to build a title contender, there are many hours spent researching who will succeed and who will fail with late round draft picks. That’s generally what happens with fantasy football leagues. But, what would happen if you made things different and rewarded failure?

You basically get a draft like you do on the right here. Brandon Weeden first overall didn’t quite pan out as planned, with him suffering injuries and being replaced by Jason Campbell.

The actual fun part of participating in this league had to do with the scoring. 25 points for interceptions run back for touchdowns will do that. Cheering for interceptions to be run back against your own team does have a downside though. It’s much easier when your own team sucks than if they are competitive.

Also, it goes without saying that it actually turned into a mutual love fest on the weekly calls admiring the bad quarterbacking throughout the league. When Matt Schaub was on his historic run of interceptions returned for touchdowns, it was like the Chicago Bulls run of NBA titles.

Blaine Gabbert started only 3 games this season and averaged over 50 points a start. This would make him the Wilt Chamberlain of the Bad Football League. However, no one would be able to stop the rookie bad quarterbacking sensation Geno Smith. The Jets quarterback leads the league in interceptions and is the joint leader in interceptions run back for a touchdown.

Those weekly calls are really the big reason I participate in ventures like this. They provide a seemingly endless source of fun on my Sundays. It doesn’t matter if we discuss the state of our respective fantasy football teams or the latest anime that we have watched (This is a group of anime fans after all) or how Linda from Golden Time is the worst human ever if she really existed.

While basking in the glorious failure of well compensated athletes paid to throws an oblong leather object can be fun. I can safely say that it’s really about the community involved in doing so. Mainly, I need to do more stuff like this in the future.

12 Days of Something III: The Future of Failure is Now

These are gigantic viewer counts from my perspective.

These are gigantic viewer counts from my perspective.

With the advent of the next generation consoles complete, it is now possible to more easily stream gameplay and commentary to audiences on sites like Twitch or Ustream. I bring this up because it’s very much relevant to the history of this blog and my social presence on the internet in general. Mainly, it’s impossible popularity to be attained when the potential pool grows beyond a certain size.

Earlier this year, I had tried briefly to stream some gameplay of a game I owned on Steam on the Twitch channel that I had set up. No viewers at the time and that didn’t really matter because who really wants to see me fail at Surgeon Simulator 2013? Fast forward to last month and with it now being easy to use to both view and stream on a new console. The end result. No viewers and my being left wondering what the hell the point of the new technology is.

The way I see it is that it will be much more common. I’m not alone in thinking that.

There is an inherent advantage that those who have built up an audience have. They have the networks to publicize their work playing games and even to get paid money to do that. I don’t see anime blogging ever getting to that point since the audience simply isn’t there to enable that, but the fact of the matter is that those who are able to first leverage technology get the full benefits from it. It’s completely just that it is that way. So best of luck to those trying to pull in an audience streaming on your PS4 or XBox One in the near future. Try to keep it small and social. It’s better that way.

12 Days of Something III: That Time I Ruined the Gibraltarian Economy

Another edition of the game that destroys marriages and students.

Another edition of the game that destroys marriages and students.

In May of this year, Gibraltar became the 54th member of UEFA after over a decade of Spanish protest. I don’t intend to get into the politics of Gibraltarian sovereignty, treaties signed over 300 years ago, European law regarding its border with Spain or the domestic politics involved in the current standoff. No, instead this is about Football Manager and the costs of cheating at a game that is a series of spreadsheets.

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12 Days of Something II: Effort is Both Underrated and Overrated, or to put it Another Way, It Is Properly Rated

Look away now if you want to retain your sanity at what is about to follow

Look away now if you want to retain your sanity at what is about to follow

April was a rough month for me. It almost always is. It wasn’t that there was anything going particularly wrong with this blog, rather it was about my mental state at the time. But this post isn’t really about that, it is one particular man. A man who tries very hard at his job, and when he doesn’t get results, he’s called things like a flop, a rich man’s desperate project, past his best, etc. However, for a brief moment in late April, he caused some to literally orgasm in joy as a result of his being lazy. Oh yes, following last year’s completely ignored post on Stoke City, I now present to you Effort’s Fernando Torres.

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12 Days “Five Months Later, a Flight Feels Entirely Different”

I woke up one morning to see this. Those numbers are 5 feet off the ground

This is part of a series of shorter posts recapping more whimsical aspects of 2011, not necessarily having to do with any of the main topics covered by this blog.

Back in July, I took a bit of a short vacation to Los Angeles of all places. The city has something of a bad reputation out here in the Midwest, and the reaction I got from coworkers ranged from “at least it will be cooler out there” to “I hope you don’t get shot”. It was tepid to say the least.

I didn’t particularly do that much in the 3 days I was there. Walked around downtown LA a bit, attended a match at the Home Depot Center, almost got into a car accident more times than I could remember and In-and-Out Burger, how could I forget one of the best parts.

The Staples Center, home arena of a few bloggers' favorite player. At this point, it was home to a giant skateboard ramp.

I suppose I can’t forget the meeting with Crusader and zzeroparticle in Long Beach, along with another guy whose name I can’t seem to remember. So you have one of these off-kai type sessions and what am I thinking about? Discussions of the NFL lockout, the state of our respective sports teams, our lives outside of the conversation taking place. That latter one I struggle with no matter how comfortable the setting is, but otherwise pretty normal topics for normal people in a normal location.

We then caught Captain America where I, as the sole non-student/soldier had to pay full price. It was a lot better than I thought it would be going in. Bring on disappointment with The Avengers. Regardless, there’s no reason to treat these offline get together sessions any differently from meeting with friends. That is unless the occasion dictates it, etc.

They've been promoting this game for a long time

Finally, the real reason for the post title. On my flight back, I happened to be on the same flight as Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun. At the time I thought it was a pretty awesome coincidence, and the Brewers went on an amazing run after that. Of course, the news that he failed a test for performance enhancing drugs put a little damper on that. There’s a lesson in there involving hero worship and athletes I guess.

To end this on a lighter note, I have to ask where should I head off to next?

12 Days “The Girl Scout Cookie Hangover”

Oh God, please no more!

This is part of a series of shorter posts recapping some of the more whimsical aspects of 2011, and not necessarily having to do with any of the main topics covered by this blog.

There were quite a few occasions in the early parts of the year where I would over-consume something that was bad for me. This was, after all, the time when SCCSAV ran the “Oniikoto Drinking Game” where penguins and cats meant the end of one’s sobriety. However, the sometime fanservice inflicted hangover was nothing compared to another terrible decision.

Having ordered a bunch of Girl Scout Cookies in early February, I got them a few weeks later on the first of March. After enjoying dinner, I woke up the next morning with the cookies on the counter and had a terrible idea. Those cookies would be my sole nutritional source for the day. The result was horrific.

I believe this would be in the "finish your drink" category in the drinking game

Calling it the equivalent of living on a roller coaster for the day would make it seem easier than it actually was. Brief feelings of sugar induced highs were canceled out by the headaches that came as that energy was used up. By nightfall, I was comparing it to a terrible hangover on Twitter.

Needless to say, I will not be ordering cookies in 2012.

12 Days “Tebowmania is Running Wild”

Some of the reaction to this has been a tad over the top.

This is part of a series of shorter posts recapping some of the more whimsical aspects of 2011, and not necessarily having to do with any of the main topics covered by this blog.

The group watches of the NBA Playoffs with Crusader have carried on to Sunday and Monday night NFL games with Sou. To be honest, there have been many, many terrible games in which the conversation always takes a different turn from the game being played. Since this is NFL season, the topic of the most polarizing man in America in 2011 has come up numerous times. That would be Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow.

For those unfamiliar with the Tebow story, he is a physically gifted athlete and one of the best collegiate quarterbacks of his generation, but with a skill set that would not work for a quarterback at the NFL level. He also happens to be a devout Christian who used his fame to attach himself to a pro-life Super Bowl ad 2 years ago.

Screenshot recommended by Crusader for this post. Who's shipping this by the way?

Before the season started, he was in the midst of a battle over the starting role in Denver with Kyle Orton. Then he dropped down the pecking order further where it was leaked to the media that the coaching staff thought he was the 4th best QB on the roster. When the season finally started, Denver came out of the blocks 1-4 when coach John Fox decided to put Tebow in as the starters since the fans and local media demanded it. Whether it was an honest attempt to change their fortune or to let him fail so they could move on next season.

After being destroyed by Detroit, the Broncos started winning and winning some more while running a college-style spread offense. While a great chunk of America wanted to see him fail, he kept guiding them to clutch victory after clutch victory.

As for the rest of those watching over Skype. Crusader no doubt sees him as the equivalent of Taichi from Chihayafuru for having loads of apologists disguising the fact that he isn’t very good. Sou loves him for the fact that it could pave the way for college-style offenses to succeed over decades of conventional wisdom which said it would never work. I personally take a more neutral position. He racked up wins against some of the weaker teams in the league, however, when it comes to late in the game he probably elevates his game proportionally greater than any athlete I’ve ever seen in clutch time. What else to expect from someone who doesn’t put talent in the 2 qualities needed to be an NFL QB?

12 Days “…on a cold, wet night in Stoke”

They already have a successor to Rory Delap

This is part of a series of shorter posts recapping some of the more whimsical aspects of 2011, and not necessarily having to do with any of the main topics covered by this blog.

To many out there, the whole idea of Stoke City represents everything that football should not be. The Britannia Stadium where they play seems to always be cold and wet at night even before having to face a team of 11 huge men who are thought to be technically limited and only excel at the physical aspects of the game. No doubt it can be effective as they have not been involved in a relegation battle since promotion to the Premier League and seemed to have adjusted to playing in Europe at the same time.

Symbolically, there is more to this picture than Stoke managing to keep their place in the top flight, rather they are a contradiction personified. Take this joking phrase for example:

Barcelona couldn’t do it on a cold, wet night in Stoke.

At this point, Stoke are both the underdogs and the team bullying plucky little Barcelona. That would be the same Barcelona who are arguably the greatest technical team ever assembled. There’s nothing wrong with their approach, though, as it is within the rules and it is effective enough to stop even some of the best teams from imposing their strength on them.

I couldn't help but laugh when I saw this use of Photoshop

Stretching that thought out just a bit to the world that I normally write on, success is measured by income rather than quality of the work. In this case, the Stoke equivalent would be a series based entirely around marketable characters with the plot itself being a a secondary concern. There’s also the massive franchise that has broad appeal, who have already won the marketing game but are reaching out to make more money. Finally, there’s the new series which tries to go the third way with a focus on putting together a quality story first. Usually, the 2nd example will continue to rack in more money, the first will manage to just about make a profit. With this all being zero-sum in terms of money available from consumers, the third way almost always loses out.

Try to go the third way, and pragmatism (plus bad refereeing) will screw you in

So in conclusion, marketability will just about do for succeeding commercially and unadulterated physicality can keep you up in the top flight.

An Ode to Action Dirk

A little over a month ago, Crusader from T.H.A.T Anime Blog and I began watching some of the NBA Playoffs which were in their Second Round. What began as just a simple way of passing time ultimately ended with my remembering that watching basketball was something that I actually used to love to do. Along the way, there was plenty of conversations and in-jokes. Lots, and lots of in-jokes which only seemed to pick up as more people joined united by the desire to see the Miami Heat lose. Crusader covered most of the technical stuff as far as how the playoffs progressed, so I’m going to cover a little bit of everything else.

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Lower Mid-Table Follows the World Cup Part 1

Landon Donovan scores the United States' 2nd goal in their 2nd round win over Mexico in 2002

Probably the greatest moment I've ever had watching as a fan.

I’m hoping after 200 posts I’ve actually earned the right to do this, but here goes. Every four years, at least since it came to this country, I have pretty much stopped paying attention to nearly everything else. Yes, I’m referring to the World Cup, of course. Now, I’m not the typical American chanting “USA! USA! USA!,” well there was that one time in 2002.

The opening match usually brings its own flavor. In 1994, I missed out on Germany’s win over Bolivia to open the tournament, instead my first match was a 1-1 draw between the Americans and Switzerland, played in a dome, in now post-apocalyptic Michigan. Four years later, Brazil were crushing Scotland’s dreams in the latter’s most recent appearance in a major finals. French hubris kicked in with Senegal deservedly taking the 3 points in Seoul. Four years ago, Philipp Lahm’s screamer six minutes into Germany’s opener with Costa Rica seemed the perfect start to the tournament.

So what about this year, I’m not sure South Africa’s match with Mexico will really be of much interest at all for neutrals. I’m just hoping this tournament is more like 8 years ago, when I was waking people up in the wee hours of the morning because the US was 3-0 up on Portugal, than 12 years ago (humiliation by Iran) or four years ago (drinking myself into oblivion at the same rate as Claudio Reyna’s skills declined before my eyes).

If anyone really wants to know my predictions:

  1. I have Brazil beating Spain in the final
  2. No team from outside Europe or South America will advance
  3. Luis Fabiano to win the Golden Boot
  4. England fail to make the quarterfinals
  5. Andres Iniesta to win the Golden Ball
  6. Australia to be the only Asian (technically) nation to not finish bottom of their group
  7. John Terry to (snip) with the (snip) of (snip) captain (snip).

Not sure if there will ever actually be a follow up to this, but maybe next week after I can digest England 3-2 USA (Rooney winner in the 4th minute of added time). On that note, do any of my readers care about the World Cup? Are there any outside interests that you have that compete on the same level of passion as anime and/or manga?

What is to be Done?

I’ve had a couple of ideas floating around my head on what to do with this blog. The feedback I got from my earlier post has encouraged me to at least try to focus on making this an anime-focused blog for at least a while. So here’s a list of stuff I want to try to do here:

  • Possibly rename this whole enterprise. Lower Mid-Table has a certain WTF? quality to it and titles that make a lot of sense for me end up resembling the one I used for a paper on state development in Kazakhstan when I was in college. Needless to say, the title will probably stay the same.
  • I have a theory that everyone has at least one music or DVD purchase they are utterly ashamed of, and would not buy it again given another chance. Which leads me into a re-watch of my entire DVD collection over several months with summaries and regrets.
  • Inspired by The Sport Blog, I will shamelessly borrow their On Second Thought series of blogs and adapt them for my own purpose here. Whether making obvious points badly, or defending indefensible arguments, it should be a bit of a challenge.
  • Anything else that someone can come up with for a topic really. I’d like to be able to write about anything, brainstorming ideas is the biggest challenge.

Something Worth Writing For?

With a blog name like Lower Mid-Table, you would expect lots of boring prose on the beautiful game. Of perhaps some information on slightly smaller-than-normal tables that are low to the ground. Instead, there’s no set topic or rules for how this text box will be used.

I could perhaps begin with my secret to losing more than 50 pounds, but I’d rather save that sentence for a book. Maybe some tortured thoughts on globalization, because I think that might be a topic that’s been ignored for far too long. The stuff I mentioned in the first paragraph. Actually this is a really inefficient way of pointing out I have writer’s block isn’t it. Beats a post about fetuses, Irish javelin throwers and fat guys playing football in Yorkshire which was originally going to end up here.

Required Terrible Intro Post

At some point there will be some stuff up here I promise all 0 of you who are reading this. None of it will make any sense from a coherent flow standpoint. So I’m going to write on a bunch of various topics, none with a clear focus. Now I know there may not be much demand for a post on the British economy followed by a post on baseball, but take it or leave it you invisible person you. Sometimes writers will put some sort of image here to add something interesting/hide the fact they are terrible at writing, but I don’t think I’ve earned the right to try that yet.