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
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.
While many of the otherfootballgames 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.”
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!
There are two plausible justifications for the appearance of “wanted” here:
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.
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 .
“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
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.”
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 earned the belt by memorising and performing the steps of the first kata,
which is called, as I literally just found out, the
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.
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 belteach 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.
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.
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.
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.