adam j. sontag

slightly more like a website than before

I can draw 3-D houses

the greatest come-back in the history of the NFL

I can draw 3-D houses

Perspective. Not only is it extremely beneficial when examining your childhood, but it also pretty much catalysed the Renaissance. Remarkably, humans spent millenia plodding around this planet without a systematic approach to realistically representing the world around them onto a flat surface. Over the course of the last thousand years, however, a Muslim scientist’s resarch into vision made its way to an Italian painter, who revolutionised his craft. This shared knowledge traversed the globe over the ensuing centuries, eventually reaching my mother, who, perhaps alarmed by my cubist tendencies, spent an evening with me in early January explaining such concepts as proportion and vanishing points.

She demonstrated these techniques to me by drawing a house that, if memory serves me correctly, looked significantly better than the mimetic depiction I subquently mustered. Nevertheless, I was eager to show off my newfound skills as soon as possible. Despite its flaws, it is not nearly as jarring as the Satire on False Perspective.

Hogarth's Satire on False Perspective

William Hogarth’s Satire on False Perpsective briefly calms you with dainty pastoral imagery right until it melts your mind!

the greatest come-back in the history of the NFL

the greatest come-back in the history of the NFL

Yesterday the Buffalo Bills were losing to the Houston Oilers 35 to 3 at halftime, but in the second half then the Bills got one touchdown and then it was 10 to 35 and 3 more made it 38 to 35 and then the Oilers scored a field goal that was 38 to 38. It went into overtime the Bills scored a field and won the game! I was the greatest come-back in the history of the NFL.

While many of the other football games I chronicled have largely been forgotten by history, the epic contest I witnessed the day before remains one of the most memorable clashes in NFL history. My account of what is now known simply as The Comeback is entirely accurate: After a lacakadaisical half-plus of football, the reigning AFC Champion Buffalo Bills stormed back from a 32-point defecit with one touchdown, and then three more, taking the lead and eventually winning the game in overtime. I was just old enough to really understand what was going on, and it was thrilling to be a witness to history*.

Watching the highlights again today is deeply anachronistic. The game is instantly dated not only by the standard-definition footage and simplistic motion design, but the lack of official video replay review that would have nullified a crucial Buffalo touchdown.

At the same time, however, the contest could have been part of this past weekend’s action. Just sit back and truly soak in the orchestral revelry that is the ESPN NFL Primetime Highlight Song. Let Chris Berman and Tom Jackson do their good-cop-bad-joke-cop routine for the umpteenth time, and you may just forget that Houston Oilers have long since ceased to exist - assuming you’re part of the 50% of my readership who knew they did in the first place.

*History in the sense that in 100 years, no one will care anymore. That’s not to say we don’t know about century-old sports results, just that it’s hard for us to imagine these events today as anything more than “a bunch of dead guys running around.”

here are some move that I like

When I grow up i would play Football here are some move that I like

When I grow up i would play Football here are some move that I like

Sitting here nearly twenty years later, it’s not immediately clear to me which thought was more naïve: that I’d have a professional football career right now, or that I could somehow relay a specific demonstration of agility in one of my illustrations. What, exactly, did I evision would be my signature? A dive? A 360-degree spin? A double move?

On the last day of school before winter break, I suppose I could be forgiven for dreaming of touchdowns. I’d been a full-time student for all of 15 weeks, and I was ready for a vacation. The upcoming week was a boundless horizon of unquantifiable time – I might actually be grown up by 1993 – right?

None of my athletic aspirations truly panned out, but I’m not without any “moves.” For instance, I’m excellent at anticipating the path of a falling object and snatching it before it hits the ground. The most impressive diving catch I’ve ever made was in my girlfriend’s ktichen, reaching out at full extension to save a glass jar. So, uh, take that, Plaxico Burress!

the Cowboys cleched the playoffs

Last night I wanted to wach a football game, it was the Cowboys vs. the Falcons and the Cowboys cleched the playoffs.

Last night I wanted to wach a football game, it was the Cowboys vs. the Falcons and the Cowboys cleched the playoffs.

There are two plausible justifications for the appearance of “wanted” here:

  1. Football-obsessed as I was, I thirsted constantly for the action of the gridiron. “Wanting to watch a football game” was a more-or-less constant state of being, and Monday Night Football just so happened to coincide conveniently with this ever-present desire.

  2. In 1992, Monday Night Football games kicked off at 9 PM Eastern, meaning that my viewing the game to its completion would have required my parents allowing me to stay up unconscionably late. I watched some of the game, but was compelled to go bed long before the final whistle. In this interpretation, I wanted to watch a football game, ergo, an entire football game, but did not. It was only in the morning on TV that I’d find out about the 41-7 final score .

In either case, one thing is certain: I was shortchanged! After “alouing” another egregious spelling error to go unnoted, Mrs. Judge saw it fit to get back into the business of fixing common sports idioms. In reality, “clinched the playoffs” is a vastly more popular turn of phrase than “clinched playoff position,” which is typically relegated to serving as an explanatory footnote in league tables.

On Saturday Chanukkah and I got perfection

On Saturday Chanukkah and I got perfection I think I beat the timer ten times.

On Saturday Chanukkah and I got perfection I think I beat the timer ten times.

“Perfection,” for those who don’t remember, was one of the great children’s games of the 90’s. Yes, it was mind-numbingly repetetive, but it was also exhilarating. It didn’t even matter that it wasn’t particularly fun: it came from the TV!

When you’re marketing products to children, you don’t have to bother with banal concepts like “taste” or “reasoning.” You just blast right in there and create an imperative!

PUT THE PIECES INTO THE SLOT
What pieces?! There are pieces? Slot, where’s a slot?

MAKE THE RIGHT SELECTION
What, wrong? I don’t want to be wrong! I’M A GOOD BOY!!

BUT BE QUICK, YOU’RE RACING THE CLOCK
Omigod, omigod, omiGODDDDDDD

POP GOES PERFECTION
MOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMMM BUY ITTTTTTT

I am aloud to light the Menorah

Tomorrow it is Chanukkah I am aloud to light the Menorah. I hope I can make two teddy bears today one for Mom and the other for Eric as a Chanukkah present.

Tomorrow it is Chanukkah I am aloud to light the Menorah. I hope I can make two teddy bears today one for Mom and the other for Eric as a Chanukkah present.

As babbies mature into sentient beings, it becomes a high priority to provide the building blocks of the education they’ll need to function in society: numbers so they can count, letters so they can read, and even toys so they can share. Even more important than all of these fundamentals, however, is basic havoc-mitigation: “bleach is not a drink”, “knives are for food, not brothers,” and above all, “fire is extremely dangerous.” By the time I entered kindergarten, I hadn’t received many acknowledgments of distinction, but I did have a certificate proclaiming that I would “not play games with Fanny Flame.”

Steps of the Taikyoku Shodan

Thus, it wasn’t the mere prospect of gifts that excited me as Chanukah drew nearer; the very fact that I would be permitted to take the enkindled candle in my hand on the first night was itself thrilling. Such a benevolent youth was I that the presents I was soon to receive were of little interest to me. Apparently, I was somehow equipped for the manufacture of teddy bears – perhaps it was a school project? – and firmly ensconced in the mindset that ‘twas better to give than receive.

Whether I successfuly met my quota is to this day unclear.

I got my Karate Yellow Belt

Last week I got my Karate Yellow Belt when we had the test.

Last week I got my Karate Yellow Belt when we had the test.

I didn’t only learn about science at the Sid Jacobson Jewish Community Center. Twice a week, for two or three years, I also trained in the art of Shotokan karate . The attainment of my yellow belt marked the pinnacle of what had been a rocky autumn at the dojo.

I earned the belt by memorising and performing the steps of the first kata, which is called, as I literally just found out, the Taikyoku Shodan. My sensei Eveyln was transfixed by my deft and decisive manoeuvres, which brought to mind images of the great Gichin Funakoshi himself. With such great skill on display, the furthest thing from her mind was the first day of class, when she watched me whimpering in my father’s arms at the back of the classroom, lamenting that I would have to take my shoes off in public.

Steps of the Taikyoku Shodan

In olden times (post-World War II), when a karateka achieved the next kyu, he would not receive a new obi of the according colour. Instead, he would dye his original white belt each successive colour, which necessitated that progressively darker hues accompany higher ranks. Presumably, this led to a strong sentimental connection between the practitioner and his equipment, at least to the extent that such a belt, unlike the yellow, orange, and green ones I obtained during my brief career, would not be thoughtlessly discarded after spending years wallowing at the bottom of a dresser drawer.

our friend Austin’s party

Jeffrey and I are going to our friend Austin's party

Jeffrey and I are going to our friend Austin’s party

Without the convenience of an illustration, I’m left without even the slightest inkling of the festivities’ specifics. Austin was one of my brother’s nursery school classmates, so we were celebrating his fourth birthday party. I can only assume it involved the basics: pizza, soda, and periodic shrieking.

Everyone knows an Austin. I mean, yes, it’s been one of the most popular boy’s names in America over the past two decades, but that’s not what I’m getting at. Our memories are stocked full of people who never actually grew up: the twins who moved away, the family friends who ended up in a different district, the other kids at the pool. Sure, you and your friends went to high school and grew beards, but that fifth-grader who mercilessly beat you all the time (on the basketball court) is still ten years old and endowed with terrifc man boobs.

Alabama Crimson Tide beat the Florida Gators

On Saturday Alabama Crimson Tide beat the Florida Gators and went to the Sugar Bowl against Miami.

On Saturday Alabama Crimson Tide beat the Florida Gators and went to the Sugar Bowl against Miami.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I was watching the first ever SEC Championship Game, which was actually the first college football conference championship game, full stop. Who cares? Not me! The 1992 season represented the apex of my interest in the college flavor of gridiron football, which has declined steadily since. Not that I’ve been missed – college football was booming then and has only become more lucrative. New bowl games have proliferated at the rate of one per year over the last two decades. I used to wonder why this was the case, until I found out that each of the participating institutions is awarded a large cash bounty! Unfortunately, this industry is built on the backs of young men who are largely being chewed up and spit out. (If you have time for nearly 15,000 words on this subject, there’s this seminal Atlantic article.)

If, on the other hand, your immediate reaction to this illustration was “Hey, I want to pour that on some meat!” you’re not alone.

mmmmmmm

A1 is one of the most popular condiments in the world, so I was concerned when I found its website was a dated crapfest. I was momentarily relieved to find the purveyors of a1sauce.com are just the Canadian manufacturers, only to find that American distributor Kraft Foods runs this even-more-Flash-infested, big-budget monstrosity only an ad exec could love. With such deep coffers, it’s no surprise that they’ve also got their own bowl game, the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl!

we saw the lunar eclipse

Yesterday we saw the lunar eclipse even when I was coming home from my science class.

Yesterday we saw the lunar eclipse even when I was coming home from my science class.

Is there really any better place than the back seat of an Oldsmobile to experience marvelous celetisial phenomena for the first time? To this very day, I remember the exact intersection where I sat, stopped at a red light on the service road of the Long Island Expressway, squirming about and craning my neck to as to avoid missing even a second of the action. After a few minutes, we were home, standing on the front lawn gazing up at the sky. A few months later, I wanted a telescope for my birthday, and this was largely why.

Serendepitious as this moment was, it was just now eclipsed (get it?). As I began to research this post, I naïvely expected to find the same relative of detail I provided nineteen years ago: “A lunar eclipse happened.” With the collective wealth of humanity at my fingertips, I discovered that the eclipse I’d witnessed that night was a big enough deal to have its own Wikipedia Page. Soon enough, I felt like I was right back in an optional science class.

As it turns out, that eclipse was one in a set of eclipses, or saros. Evidently, eclipses happen in eighteen-years-and-eleven-days-long cycles that are grouped into numbered saros series , which last for 1200-1500 years. The successive eclipses in a particular series are very similar, except that the second takes place 120 degrees westward 8 hours later in the day. After three such revolutions, an identical eclipse will occur in the same places at about the same time. Of course, there’s a word for that, too. Every 54 years and 33 days, the world is exactly the same, except for that it’s completely different. (Look for me to expound upon this further as part of Repeating “Repeating ‘Repeating’” First Grade on January 12, 2047.)

I was disappointed to realise that by forgetting to blog for a year, I’d missed the opportunity to celebrate the turning of the saros last December 21st. My sadness soon turned to glee as I realised the fates had offered me another coincidence in which to revel; earlier today, there was a total lunar eclipse, just like the one I watched when I was 6! I leapt out of my chair, jubilant. “Holy shit!” I exclaimed aloud, alone. I frantically raced to the keyboard, and tapped out a little tale of redemption.