Thursday, March 29, 2012

My DORITOS LOCOS TACOS Review!

Is the limited time item destined for fast food greatness, or is it a high-concept idea better left in the dorm rooms of Southern Cal?


Earlier this month, Taco Bell made the decision to start selling its line of Doritos Locos Tacos - at one point, a popular, regional-only item in California - as a nationwide menu offering. And if you’re enjoying one of them right now, I think you owe me more than just a bit of gratitude for the opportunity to chow down on one.

Now, I’m not saying that this article I wrote last Thanksgiving was directly responsible for Taco Bell’s decision to “nationalize” the item, but…yeah, it probably was. And if they ever decide to make those beefy crunch, Frito’s-lined burritos a full-time offering? Yeah, you might as well send me a tithe every time you bite it into one from hereon out.

To be honest, the news that Taco Bell had nationalized the item was sort of a shock, as I didn’t know it was a countrywide project until seeing advertisements plastered outside my neighborhood Bell a few weeks ago. Imagine writing “I wish they still made Pepsi Clear” on a message board and ambling into a Safeway the next day and seeing a huge ass display for the discontinued beverage right next to the cash register, and I think that about equals the amount of surprise that coursed through my veins and brain tissue upon noting the myriad Locos Tacos posters and banners taped all around the neighborhood eatery.


I suppose explicating the appeal of the Doritos Locos Tacos may be a hard sell for some. If you’re American, however - and especially if you’re a college-aged male in your early to mid-20s - the majesty of such a menu item is basically inherent. For a couple of decades now, really, really stoned/drunk/fat/stoned, drunk and fat college kids have been creating all sorts of bastard amalgamations of junk food, cramming them together in bizarre permutations like Dr. Frankenstein, pending Dr. Frankenstein dropped out of med school to watch “Dragon Ball Z” re-runs for four years on a general education scholarship.

The Doritos Locos Taco Legend began, I suppose, in the dorm rooms of Southern California, where munchies-craving trust fund babies got a dual hankering for both microwaved tacos AND super-salty corn chips shaped like nachos, and lo and behold…history was made. The logistics of how the first Doritos Taco came about however, is something that still leaves me a bit puzzled. Granted, I’ve seen some pretty huge nacho chips in my day, but one would have to uncover at least two gargantuan, once-in-a-life-time, freakishly over-sized chips for the idea of a “Doritos Taco” to even become a feasible consideration. There HAS to be some amazing story there, I am most certain. 


Alas, I guess the really, really big picture behind the nationalization of the Doritos Locos Tacos is that it means corporate America has officially hopped on the Gen Y bandwagon and started catering/pandering to us like some straight up food pimps or something. I guess you can say that Taco Bell is on the cutting edge when it comes to incorporating “user generated” foods on its real-life menu, which isn’t too surprising, since Taco Bell is just about every dope-head and career slacker’s favorite fast food haunt by far. I suppose one could say that it’s cultural co-option of the pettiest kind - essentially, finding a way to turn a profit through LEGAL fusion of already incredibly unhealthy junk food - in effect here, but you know what I say to that? WHY DO YOU HATE AMERICA, YOU COMMIE PINKO? Well, that, or it’s a pretty sound strategy, from a business standpoint. Since families these days are too dadgum broke to take the kids out  to eat (and all of those highfalutin, holier than thou neo-yuppies - think: your older brother and sister - avoid fast food because they’re all about veganism and freeganism and all that other post-Occupy nonsense that doesn’t mean anything to anybody), why not turn the DIY, hyper-ironic, food-obsessed youth culture into your target audience? They don’t have children, they haven’t declared bankruptcy (yet) and they really don’t give two inklings of a damn whether or not the high-fat, high-sodium gunk is going to turn them into footless dialysis users in 20 years time. All in all, I’d say that makes the Doritos Locos Tacos - a mishmash of corporate synergy AND pandering to the lowest common denominator (with a bit of youth exploitation thrown into the mix) - arguably the single most democratic thing a fast food business has ever done. 


As for the Doritos Locos Tacos themselves, you may be asking? Well, we actually get two models to choose from: a standard offering, and a supreme version. I guess the primary difference between the two - outside the fact that the supreme iteration will run you about 20 cents more than the regular variation - is that the supreme variety comes loaded with more veggies and sour cream. To some, this may be worth the extra quarter or so that they’re asking for, but in all honesty, it really doesn’t change the flavor or texture of the taco all that much. It’s a definite must-try mutation for completionists, but for the layman or laywoman, I’d advise saving those spare coins for laundry service or something.


To prove once and for all that God himself is opposed to the prospect of Doritos Locos Tacos being released, as soon as I got my bag of newfangled foodstuff home, the freaking electricity went out. Thankfully, daylights saving time was around to give me a little bit of light to do some fast food photography, which not at all masks the fact that I spent a recent evening stuck in my bedroom, eating awesomely gross food in pitch blackness like some sort of B-horror movie subject.


If you are an environmentalist or Eco-conscious person, the Doritos Locos Tacos are no-doubt going to horrify you. In addition to being wrapped in the typical Taco Bell cocoon of waxy paper, these babies also come wedged in a tougher, internal paper casing, which reminds you that, yes, you are indeed eating a Doritos Locos Taco.

You know, sometimes you can just TELL you’re looking at something that’s going to be revered by future generations. The same way New Coke came to “define” the consumer excesses of the Reagan Years, I’m pretty sure a good 10 or so years down the line, we’re going to be watching some special on VH1 with C-list celebrities talking about how amazingly stupid/amazingly great this thing was. Everything about this thing just screams “2012” to me, from the copious use of the term “awesomeness” on the package to the appearance of that now-ubiquitous phone scanner decal on the back of the lining. 


One of the things that STILL shakes me a bit about the item is why it’s called a “Doritos LOCOS Taco.” I’m not really sure why you would need to call it anything other than a “Doritos Taco,” but then again, it does have something of a nice alliteration to it. That, and perhaps it’s the company’s way of issuing the single most subtle mea culpa in business history - I guess what they’re REALLY saying is, to want to try one of these things, you’d pretty much HAVE to be crazy.


Empirically, the items really look like your typical, run of the mill hard shell offerings, until you catch that orange-gleam radiating off the taco. True to the namesake, these things are also guaranteed to give you a good case of the dreaded “Doritos fingers” syndrome, meaning that unless you eat this thing with a fork, you’re going to have orange dust all over your hands, your clothing, and most likely everything within ten feet of you once you’re finished with the meal.

So, the ultimate - and really, the only - question worth asking at this point is whether or not these things are actually any good. Admittedly, I wasn’t a huge fan of the items, primarily because I’m just not that big a fan of Doritos in general. As you can clearly see, you get A WHOLE LOT more stuff inside the shell with the supreme iteration, but don’t let your pupils fool you, because it tastes pretty much the same as the standard taco. While there is definitely a slight “Doritos” taste to the offering, it’s really a whole lot subtler than it probably should be, which is most likely a good thing - I suppose if they went ALL out and dusted the shit out of the shell with nacho powder, it would presumably be so overpowering and dry-mouth inducing that you’d have to dip your head into a bucket immediately afterward to avoid oral desiccation. 



To be honest, I do have some pretty weird culinary tastes. I mean, some really, really weird ones. That said, I think the Doritos Locos Tacos were a bit underwhelming, and something I really wouldn’t advise going out of your way to try…unless you’re like me, which means you hate money and owning a functioning colon.

But, of course…you’re going to try them. You have to, because alike me, you are hopelessly addicted to the tackiness of consumer culture, and since its relatively cheap, it’s a cost-effective means of quelling a night’s hunger pangs. That, and I really don’t think the national response for these things is going to be enough to warrant an encore, so if you want to give it a tryout, I’d surmise that now is probably your only opportunity to do so.

In other words? Yeah, we’re probably not looking at the next McRibwich - or hell, for that matter, the next Pumpkin Spice Latte - with this stuff right here.

In the mood for more fast food fury?

Check out my review of McDonald’s old school Halloween pails RIGHT HERE!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Why the Trayvon Martin Murder Has NOTHING to do with Racism

How activists and advocators have spun the slaying into self-beneficial furor


The Trayvon Martin story is an utterly fascinating one to me, not so much because of what happened as it is how people are choosing to react to it.

From my perspective, this story would seem to be about anything but race. The most apparent issue, I imagine, would be the absurdly over-broad “stand your ground” law, which gives people the right to put about thirty rounds of ammunition through anybody that steps foot on their property. But no, instead of talking about that, we’re talking about what has seemingly become the most standard of standardized topics in American discourse…racism.

Call me crazy, but I’m just not seeing how “institutionalized racism” is a component of the story. I suppose the first thing I’d note - and this is something that, inexplicably, no one has seemingly brought up yet - is the fact that George Zimmerman is, well, kind of Hispanic.

OK, so he isn’t 100 percent Hispanic, but according to his dad, he was indeed a “Spanish speaker," which I suppose is worth at least half credit. All in all, I think you’d have to consider Zimmerman at least as Hispanic as Barack Obama is black.

Sure, Zimmerman is an unusual character, to be sure. According to this story, he had a habit of calling the local police multiple times a week to report suspicious activity in his neighborhood. At one point, he even tried to join a Florida police force, but got kicked out of basic training for being too damn creepy. According to this source, after that, he took it upon himself to “defend” the city streets with live ammunition, making him something of a cross between Batman and Chucky Bronson in “Death Wish.” Oddly enough, none of his neighbors, family or employers took it upon themselves to consider that Crazy Asshole Going Crazy may need a little bit of psychiatric help - not that undiagnosed mental health disorders are a major corollary of violent activity or anything.

As peculiar as this Zimmerman fellow is, what’s truly astounding to me is how people are reacting to the Trayvon Martin slaying. Not since the days of Rodney King have people been so fiery about the state of racial affairs in the US of A - and where there’s fervent, unchecked passion, there’s almost always a glaring lack of rationality to accompany it. 

Recently, the New Black Panthers (considered a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, by the way) announced that they were placing a bounty upon Zimmerman’s head, promising $10,000 to anybody who brings him “to justice.”At a recent rally in Sanford, party leader Mikhail Muhammad demanded an "eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" - days later, Hashim Nzinga, one of the party's highest ranking members (and convicted felon), was arrested in Georgia, when he attempted to pick up a FN Herstal 5.7 x 28 handgun at a DeKalb County pawn shop.

Maybe it’s just me, but there’s probably some sick, sick irony to be found there. First of all, isn’t it kind of hypocritical for an armed, ideologically-driven group of vigilantes to criticize anybody for being armed, ideologically-driven and wanting to taking the law into their own hands? And let’s cut the bologna and just say what these guys really mean - prepare for your brain to explode, because the Black freaking Panthers have just let out an all-call to publicly lynch another human being.

Last week, thousands of churches across America held special services, in which patrons eschewed their Sunday best for a pair of hoodies, which have become emblematic of the Trayvon Martin ordeal. Generally, I’m not a fan anytime religious folks get all up-in-arms about sociopolitical issues, but this one has a particularly uneasy air about it. Maybe it’s the fact that placing a religious undercurrent to social matters is almost always a recipe for light-to-moderate carnage, or perhaps it’s the fact that people are ALREADY finding ways to commercialize Martin’s death - methinks when this thing is all said and done, the only thing people will really remember about the ordeal, on an individual level, is that it was “that one week where we all wore hooded sweatshirts, for some reason.”

Does it make me just a bit insensitive if I mock the sickening commercialization of Martin’s death while I’m at it? I was checking out World News Tonight awhile back, and I saw a throng of protestors fighting the injustice of Martin’s death the best way possible - by adorning Old Navy sweatshirts and shaking iced tea and Skittles in the air like contestants on “Supermarket Sweep" (not to be an asshole or anything, but I guess that is a pretty good segue into mentioning that Martin had recently been suspended from classes, for bringing some ganja to class.) Are we really that culturally and intellectually bankrupt as to think that hoisting Mars Bars and Lipton products in front of a camera ACTUALLY equates civil and social upheaval? If we’re using the incredibly high standard set by the Occupy folks, I’d think that’s right in line with their hypocritical “consumption = commentary” stratagem. Shit, even the slain teen's mom is hopping aboard the tragedy into profit bandwagon, recently filing a trademark for the phrase "I am Trayvon."

Then, you have President Obama’s official statement on the issue, in which he said, with the poise and sure handedness of his immediate predecessor, that if he had a son, he would probably look a lot like Trayvon - an absolutely bizarre, contextually confounding anti-statement that, for a few hours, made me wonder whether or not Barack was actually George Dubya going all “Soul Man” on us or something.

But the turd in the punchbowl, of course, is the discussion of contemporary American racism that is all but unavoidable when discussing the matter. Now, to those of us still porting about some horse sense, it would seem a pretty damn big stretch to turn a story about a Hispanic guy shooting a black kid into an indictment of a hegemonic white culture, but as it turns out, there are PLENTY of people in the media that believes the Trayvon Martin killing is about precisely that.


That's some pretty damning commentary from Mrs. Davis - although I'm not quite sure how her "white media hegemony theory" explains why almost HALF of all murder victims in the United States are African American - and more importantly, why in 93 percent of those murders, the perpetrators were...well, also kind of black

Even the world of sports has been inundated with hard-nosed political jockeying, when several members of the Miami Heat posed in hoodies to "protest" the recent shooting. And of course, what racially-tinged happening would be complete without some perplexing commentary from the good Reverend hisself?

I suppose the big question here is WHY we, as a culture, feel a need to turn everything into a discussion, debate and potential donnybrook about race and ethnicity in the United States. My assumption as it pertains to the Martin case is pretty much the same as I figure it to be in every other instance we can think of - because “racism” gives us this all-encompassing, super-holistic, practically universal “answer” to all of our society’s woes.

Why, “racism” is at the root of ALL our cultural plights, isn’t it? Racism - technically, an archaic 18th century pseudo-scientific holdover that’s had its definition trans-mutated to encompass an absurdly broad terrain of personal behavior and belief - has become our skeleton key when it comes to seemingly all national matters, that default thing we can revert back to in order to avoid long, complicated discussions about nuanced, complex subjects. As long as we obsess over “racism,” we never really HAVE to explore the mechanisms and complexities of our real social problems, like poverty, income disparity and especially classism - of which “racism” is but a meager component to a much, much larger element of ascribed identity within the workings of U.S. culture.

“Racism,” ultimately, is the hand grenade we roll into a discussion every time we don’t feel like addressing and exploring the issue in-depth and comprehensively. Additionally, it’s that carcinogen we inject into generally healthy debates, and a cancer we - for reasons that I still can’t understand - want to cram into matters that, empirically, have nothing at all to do with race whatsoever.

Remember the Troy Davis hoopla last year? The same way the Martin case is really about the larger issue of gun control laws (and in many ways, our failure to adequately screen and address mental health problems), that little tiff was ostensibly about the larger issue of capital punishment - a matter that seems to have been lost somewhere amidst all the cries and accusations of racial biasing. Granted, it was an impassioned discussion for a few weeks, but after that? All we really have to show for it is a bunch of “I am Troy Davis" shirts stuffed in the back of our closet, which will most likely never see the light of day again.

That, and call me a little old-fashioned, but I kind of, sort of don’t make it a habit of making assumptions about things that I really know anything about. Although you probably wouldn’t know it from the incessant media coverage, the complete police report on what happened has been kept under lock and key - meaning, essentially, that none of us have any goddamn clue what happened. True, Zimmerman could have opened fire on Martin while screaming racial epithets, but by that same token, Martin could have just as easily been trying to break into someone’s home (not that Martin had a track record of petty vandalism or anything), or maybe Zimmerman’s lawyer IS telling the truth and Martin attacked his client first (which seems to be what the initial police report and several eyewitness reports point to). I don’t know what happened, and neither do you - an indication, perhaps, that some people maybe - JUST MAYBE - want to use the incident as nothing more than an excuse to rabble and rave about their own agendas.

What’s really weird is that, last year, we had an incident almost IDENTICAL to the Trayvon Martin case go down right here in Atlanta - only RACIALLY reversed. For that matter, there was another similar event that happened in Atlanta just days after the Martin slaying (and ANOTHER one in Kansas City, this time involving a young white boy being killed by two black teenagers.) The thing is, neither of these cases - as well as the hundreds of comparable incidents involving interracial violence - were blown up into national, racially-charged headlines.

And hey, how about those two pictures - of a smiling, cherubic Martin and a super frowny Zimmerman - that have been shoved down our throats for the last two weeks? Clearly, this CANNOT be an example of selective media framing. Nope, not in the slightest

And hey, speaking of things that will give you an aneurysm, how about taking a look at this report by the NAACP from just ONE YEAR ago DEFENDING the "Stand Your Ground" law?  (SHH! Nobody's supposed to acknowledge that it exists, though.)

And that, of course, leads us to the elephant in the room that all American citizens, by law, are obliged  to ignore at all times - the unfortunate statistical reality that in the U.S., more black men are shot by OTHER black men than any other racial/gender permutation by a CONSIDERABLE margin. The heterosexual, Caucasian male hegemony, no doubt, is likewise responsible there, I am most certain.


The problem, ultimately, with these sorts of stories/cultural shitstorms is that they just don’t have staying power. In the modern era, we can only pretend to be outrageously infuriated for so long before we get tired of protesting, and our memories, no doubt, are severely short-sighted. Sure, everybody is pissed off and ready to stage some sort of mini social-uprising now, but let’s see just how fiery the debate is a good two or three weeks down the line. My guess is that by July, we’ll be too bitchy about gas prices to even remember what this clamor was all about - that is, until some other racially-tinged incident pops up, so that we can repeat the cycle all over again.

You know, we’ve had active, nonstop dialoguing about the issue of “racism” in America for a half century now, and oddly, we seem to keep having the SAME debate pop up over and over again. The culturally permissible answer as to why is that “racism” is so entrenched in our cultural DNA that we have to have such clamors repeatedly brought to our attention, in some feeble attempt to chip away “infrastructural” racism bit by bit.

The way less popular - and therefore, most likely the real - answer is something that I think speaks directly to the Martin incident: you know, maybe “racism” isn’t the actual problem here.

In the mood for more sociopolitical ranting and raving? Check out my play-by-play of the 2012 State of the Union Address RIGHT HERE!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Exposing the Exaggerations, Half-Truths and Lies of KONY 2012

Cutting Through the Propaganda and Mining the Most Viral Video in History for Accuracy and Factuality  


Let me start off by saying what really doesn't need to be said: Joey Kony is, in all senses of the word, a real, no-good, dirty S.O.B. The world would indeed be an infinitely better place sans his existence, and it would be quite nice if he was brought to justice by an International Court of some kind (or even better, he gets offed 'Kill Bill' style by one of those kids he abducted in the 1990s, who is now a kung-fu expert or something.) 

That said, I...and as it turns out, a whole lot of other people...have just a few criticisms of the recent Invisible Children-produced video "Kony 2012," which according to some sources, is the fastest spreading video in the history of the Internet

I guess before getting knee-deep in the content of the video, I should talk about the Invisible Children organization first. I first ran into some "representatives" of the organization a few years ago, and the thing that immediately struck me was just how white they were. Now, when I say "white," I don't mean "Caucasian-white," I mean "whiter than milk, paler than mayonnaise and more honky-fied than Perry Como." The fact that the plight of a million starving Ugandans had fallen into the laps of a bunch of credit-card using, marijuana-smoking, Mumford-and-Son-listening suburban trust fund babies was my first clue that - something - was up with this organization. 

I actually tried to arrange for an interview with my campus' Invisible Children chapter, several times. Initially, my thoughts were that the kids "in charge" of the organization had such infinitesimal knowledge of what they were crusading against that they refused to take me up on my offer, perhaps out of fear of being exposed as charlatans and trend-riding hipsters that use the latest and greatest international tragedy as an excuse to feel all right about themselves...even if the extent of their "activism" entailed screening a movie and holding a bake sale to combat warlord-ism 7,000 miles away. This was validated a little later on, when I had a kid - your typical, shaggy haired frat type - do a presentation in class about the Lord's Resistance Army, in which he couldn't pronounce "Idi Amin" or accurately find Uganda on a map during his power point presentation. 

From the outset, however, my greatest concern was how exactly the money raised in my metropolitan campus was going to FIND its way into the hands of re-constructionists and aid-workers half a planet away. Even WITH a complete and utter lack of transparency, the logistics of the program seemed highly suspect - a misgiving that was later confirmed, and then some

This, of course, brings us to the KONY 2012 video itself, a half-hour long infomercial for the Invisible Children movement, starring public masturbator Jason Russell as your stereotypical "concerned white person,"  who takes sole responsibility for provoking an international military movement and insinuates that the global community can triumph over a central African junta with the dual firepower of Tim Tebow's twitter account and some really shitty looking jewelry.

Admittedly, I wanted to hold out on viewing the video as long as I could, but as soon as I started hearing allegations of inflated statistics and misappropriated donation funds, my ears started to prick up. Upon hearing countless viewers cite the video as self-inflating, egotistical, hyper-exploitative bullshit, my curiosity really got piqued. And following Russell's recent public meltdown (or drip down, depending on how you want to describe his antics), I just had to view this thing for myself. 

What I'm doing here is giving you my patented video play-by-play. The official Kony 2012 video is posted below, so feel free to stop the embedded clip at the intervals listed below for both my insight and perhaps even a little fact checking. As it turns out, this Russell fellow makes some lofty claims, and more times than not...well, yeah, let's just say I'd reconsider hopping on ANY bandwagon this guy's a-driving. 


00:00:31 - - “There are more people on Facebook now than there were all the people in the world 200 years ago. So now, we can all be a bunch of culturally isolated losers that, somehow, have even smaller spheres of actual human interaction than we did following the French guldarn Revolution.” 

00:01:09 - - “So thanks to the wonder of the Internet, we can now experience high school-ish bullying and incessant exposure to idiotic bullshit for the REST OF OUR NATURAL BORN LIVES. Way to go, technology.” 

00:01:46 - - “And boy, is it ever so easy to pay attention with all of these quick cuts and flashes of arbitrary, inconsequential crap on my monitor…”

00:02:14 - - “Get it? BECAUSE WE’RE GIVING BIRTH TO A CULTURAL REVOLUTION RIGHT NOW! Jeez, these Invisible Children people are about as subtle as the Geto Boys.” 

00:02:43 - - “Well, I hope he’s saving up for therapy in addition to college for that kid now…”

00:03:29 - - “I really feel for that kid, I do. Such a complex world to figure out, while he sits around in his comfortable, two-story home, with hot water, and air conditioning, and a pantry-filled with food. It’s about time somebody got around to addressing their kind of plight.”

00:04:35 - - “You know, I really don’t think Jason Russell is racist at all. In fact, some of the best people he takes advantage of and exploits for financial gain are black.”

00:05:57 - - “Because the American media is so VIGILANT about exposing domestic poverty in all its incarnations. Without a doubt.”

00:07:13 - - “Exploitation, you say? You know, I’m just not seeing it here…”

00:08:08 - - “Jesus Christ, this Russell kid makes Bob Geldof look like the most self-effacing human being on the planet by comparison.”

00:08:46 - - “Well, I guess I’ll just come out and say it…holy hell, does this Kony fellow look JUST LIKE Carl Weathers in ‘Predator.’”

00:09:22 - - “I’m just glad to see that he’s exploiting BOTH white and black children now.”

00:10:18 - - “You know, just like the police. Or the military. Or the national guard.”

00:11:37 - - “Umm…those numbers may or may not be inflated. Just a bit.”

00:11:59 - - “Hey! So Russell and this Kony guy have the same M.O.!”

00:12:34 - - “You know, now may or may not be a good time to bring up the fact that the Ugandan ‘freedom  fighters’ backed by the IC have also been accused of rape, murder and kidnapping.  Or not.”

00:13:28 - - “Well, that statement can’t be used to describe EVERY OTHER violent or dictatorial force on the planet.”

00:14:08 - - “…except the U.S. already HAS involved itself militarily in Uganda. As in, a long time ago – but as we all know, FACTS ARE FOR LOSERS.”

I concur - Earth should be populated by NOTHING but frowny-faced white girls.

00:14:19 - - “Which is precisely why there ISN’T a furtive Cold War going on in the sub-Saharan region of Africa between China and the U.S. over natural resources, isn’t it?”

00:15:20 - - “Wait…if Uganda is ‘relatively safe,’ then why the hell are you even bothering with the project? Oh, that’s right…”

00:16:20 - - “And in case you were wondering, ALL of the Invisible Children’s donations went directly to such services. Well, “ALL”minus about 70 percent or so…”

00:16:39 - - “You know, when I see an ocean of white people with their fists raised in the air, looking all militant and stuff, forgive me if the first thing I think about ISN’T peace on earth.”

00:18:03 –“Proof positive that one man CAN make a difference…as long as he has enough people willing to send him tax-free donations, anyway.”

00:18:51 - - “Ahem! There’s a term I would like you to hear, called ‘proxy military force…’”

00:19:44 - - “Yeah…because wars in the U.S. have NEVER, EVER had popular domestic support before.”

00:20:14 - - “This has got to be the weirdest episode of ‘Doogie Howser’ ever.”

00:21:48 - - “And believe you me, those Ugandan forces are some upright, outstanding folks, I tell you what.

00:22:20 - - “Exactly. If I hadn’t been reminded EVERY SINGLE DAY for ten plus years, I totally would have forgotten about Osama Bin Laden, too.”

0:22:28 - - “Because Kony is the ONLY obstacle to domestic stability and peace within the region, you know.”

0:23:35 - - “Agreed, Mr. Clooney. Which is why you’re going to take the next $20 million you make off your next piece of shit movie and donate every cent to local reconstruction efforts, right?”

00:24:51 - - “You know what else would probably make the news? If you got drugged up and streaked around L.A., beating off in public. But yeah…that’ll never happen.”

00:25:00 - - “Huh…Russell, criticizing people for making propaganda. That’s sort of like a glass of milk calling a pitcher of O.J. “wet,” ain’t it?”

00:26:01 - - “So it was either use all of our riches to send food to Africa, or make bracelets for slacktivist college dickwads to spend $20 a pop on. It was a pretty obvious call, really.”

00:26:47 - - “So you want to galvanize and mobilize an entire nation of college students…on 4/20? You’d have a better shot of selling kielbasas outside the Dome of the Rock, amigo.”

00:29:00 - - “Yeah…looks like you’re going to need to get a “bail” fund started for that kid alongside the therapy bill.”

00:29:47 - - “Because peace and justice is something worth fighting for…and also, worth about $25 in upfront memberships fees, with additional monthly surcharges.”

Jason Russell, seen here in a rare photograph where he isn't jackin' it.

Needless to say, that was just about the worst thing I have ever seen, and I've seen both a documentary about Sarah Palin's 2012 presidential bid and a musical starring the Village People

I think it's pretty evident why so many people find the video offensive, and the facts behind both Russell and the Invisible Children organization are stacked enough to pretty much validate both entities as some unscrupulous company

Look, there's no doubt about it, what's going on in Uganda is some pretty sick and awful stuff, but you know what? You can say that about pretty much every country on Earth. Corruption and subjugation and poverty is rampant everywhere, and maybe, just maybe, we ought to be approaching such matters NOT as some multimedia, profit-oriented means of achieving moral satiation, but a global, infrastructural problem that requires strategic, geopolitical action as opposed to a bunch of college kids and shitty musicians getting on the YouTube and telling us to feel bad about stuff. Additionally, when you have people lobbying for a cause, and then THEY use mendacious and duplicitous things in order to achieve their agendas, that sorta' trivializes the entire issue they are fighting for, don't it? 

There are plenty of organizations out there that are proven to be legit, and unlike the Invisible Children frauds, they actually manage to get shit done in devastated places.  UNICEF, Doctors Without Borders, The International Rescue Committee...if you really want to help out the distraught and disenfranchised around the globe, try lending some spare change to organizations that are proven to be trustworthy and at least quasi-dependable.

That, and maybe you ought to think about doing a little something "more" for a cause than just slapping a bracelet on your wrist and sending e-mails to Jay-Z next time around. Just a suggestion.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Why I Refuse To Acknowledge Anorexia as a Real Disease

Why body image afflictions of the like are symptoms of consumer excess, not psychological dysfunction


Apparently, we here in the States have a problem with body image.

It’s a rather ironic predicament, no doubt, seeing as how half of the country is overweight and a nearly a third of the population qualifies for status as obese. Compounding that is the notion that “food security” levels are diminishing across the country, with some urbanized areas experiencing under-reported “food riots” like something out of the Egyptian uprisings. And there - within the poles of an increasingly starving population and a diabetes-savaged majority - there’s the issue of “anorexia”; a “disorder”, as the headline above tells you,  that is something I refuse to recognize as real social malady in any regard.

Of course, if you did nothing but kick back and soak up think tank reports all day, you would think that every female under the age of 30 in the country is saddled with a psychologically-skewed concept of self. Despite the fact that an overwhelming majority of females of all ages are considered “overweight” in the U.S., we’re still being assailed by almost weekly reports about the “growing” dangers of anorexia - a made-for-Oprah social pandemic that, as our children’s massively expanding guts sort of tell us - isn’t anywhere near as problematic or commonplace as we’re hearing.

Alas, “anorexia” is one of those plights that never really seems to dissipate from national discourse, primarily because people, I imagine, want something to talk about in hushed, concerned tones instead of tackling the nation’s real epidemic of surging obesity and childhood diabetes. That, and it gives feminists and other cultural barnacles the opportunity to do what they do best - blame all of the nation’s ills on a heteronormative, male-centric media hegemony.

It always strikes me as a little funny - and then, horrifically ironic - that so many activists, advocates and irked fatties are so quick to blame media images for the relatively atypical instances of anorexia that do occur. Per the self-knighted moral crusaders of America, teen-centric beauty magazines and television producers are at fault for young women thinking they are unattractive (or as some generally unattractive people are prone to quip, “setting an unrealistic standard for beauty”), because they imbibe such cultural texts and develop distorted body images due to prolonged exposure to said products.

Oddly enough, those some concerned critics and commentators never seem to note that those magazines and television programs are pretty much paid for by mega-conglomerates, most of which have their hands in one business or another that specializes in hawking decisively unhealthy foodstuffs to the general public. If you’re going to say that these conglomerates are psychologically prodding young women into eating disorders, then you at least have to give those same conglomerates props for offering said young women a solution set in the form of myriad fast food, junk food and soda pop corporate holdings.

Logically, the argument that media images have a “magic bullet” effect on young women in regards to eating disorders is one of those things that can be discounted as soon as you look at the official data and statistics, which say that, no, most young women are far, far from being underweight. In fact, most of them are in danger from the opposite end of the spectrum, perhaps indicating that commercial exposure to the food industry has a more pervasive and profound influence on our youth than ANY form of entertainment or media. And no, it isn’t unusual in the slightest that opponent of “hegemonic male media enslavement”/walking refrigerator Andrea Dworkin and her thunder-thighed underlings never noted that. At all.

That, and nobody seems to be keyed in on the aspect that anorexia nervosa is actually a credit to the functionality of our domestic food industries and delivery systems (whether or not this statement can survive once the Second Depression concludes, however, I cannot tell.) Where else in the world - a world, by the way, in which a good one third of its’ inhabitants are living below what the United Nations considers “the starvation line” - could such a psychological malaise arise? If I was a grad student looking to grab some attention (and probably some easy NEA grant money), I’d hypothesize that anorexia is actually a political statement about the over consumption of American goods as a whole, this new-wave form of social commentary that’s designed to be a “consciousness-raising” exercise for those in the know. Therefore, our barfing and starving daughters aren’t really suffering from a disease as much as they are making a symbolic protest about the excesses of capitalism and industry. Perception, they say, is the key to everything. In that, perhaps we should stop viewing anorexia as a social problem and accept it as a transgressive form of post-post-modern expressionism - lest we forget, there is that fine line between body modification and body mutilation, which makes piercing and tattooing socially acceptable while cutting and hair eating - oppressively, I might add - are not.

It’s not really coincidental that the first reported cases of anorexia nervosa were found in well to do, quasi-aristocratic families in England. Nor is it all that unusual that most anorexia sufferers in the United States are young women that grew up in upper middle class homes, where the notion of “food security” was such a foregone conclusion that “starvation” seemed less likely to occur to them than an alien abduction. Even now, a majority of anorexics in the U.S. share the joint commonality of being both females and beneficiaries of wealthy parentages - clearly, this anorexia is a disease of the privileged as opposed to the downtrodden, making it a bizarre exception to just about everything we know about modern medicine.

Isn’t it funny how anorexia seems to be the one disease that eludes the physically weak and the nutritionally deprived? Tuberculosis, pneumonia, scabies, rabies, dandruff - all plights that affect the poor and penniless, while being virtually alien diseases to the middle class (and absolutely unheard of amongst the wealthy). In subequatorial climates - where diseased both old and newfound fester like ticks on a sleeping hound - anorexia is apparently the ONLY disease on the planet that hasn’t taken a liking to an environment of poverty, weakened immune systems and technological backwardness. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say this “anorexia” was the creation of guilt ridden elites - more or less a fad or fashion trend as opposed to a genuine disorder or ailment.

Of course, you can flip through the DSM and see in bold letters that the APA does indeed acknowledge “anorexia nervosa” as a "real" disorder, but if you asked me, the “disorder” is actually a symptom and not the genuine affliction itself. Odds are, if you talk to a person with anorexia, you’ll come to the quick conclusion that “not wanting to eat” is probably not their biggest psychological issue, as the disorder is almost always a corollary to other mental health issues, such as depression or stress. Because, heaven help us, it’s not like college and high school girls EVER suffer bouts of melancholy or frustration. I mean, ever.

To conclude this brief little rant, I cite, as all academics surely must when discussing the matter, that one episode of “Designing Women” where Delta Burke went back to her high school reunion and everybody made fun of her for being fat. For those of you that can’t recall the episode, it ended with Burke giving an impassioned speech about the plight of  famine-ravaged Sub-Saharan Africans, and how we here in the Americas ought to feel so much shame in worrying about our weight when people a couple thousand miles to our right are rotting underneath the sun while we pick extra pepperonis off our pizzas.

You know, it’s not often that you can site a cultural text starring Jeanine from “Ghostbusters,” that one dude from the “Mannequin” movies and that other Dixie Carter as absolutely nailing it when it comes to criticizing any kind of social construct, but dabnabbit, those perpetually broadcast Lifetime Television skirts were really onto something there.

All around the world, people have real problems, like starvation and warfare and landmines and pirates and tsunamis and marauding death squads.

And here in America, the only thing we have to worry about…is our weight.

Amazing, that anorexia: the only disease in human history that affects people based on their disposable income as opposed to their biochemistry…

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Six Most Amazing Comebacks in MMA History

Counting down the most improbably awesome reversals of fortune EVER in mixed martial arts

  
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I am a HUGE fan of mixed martial arts. As far as I am concerned, the amount of excitement, human drama and athletic skill that you witness in MMA is absolutely unparalleled in the world of sports. As much as I love hockey, football, soccer and the occasional game of Rock Em Sock Em Robots, I have to say that in terms of sheer thrills, the world of kimuras, rear naked chokes and Mike Goldberg have all of ‘em beat, and it ain’t even close.

One of the things in particular I find so appealing about MMA is the occasional - and incredibly awesome - comeback that, if you’re lucky, you’ll catch on a given UFC, Strikeforce or Bellator show. Yeah, there have been some cool comebacks in other sports - boxing, hockey, and Olympic 4X100 freestyle swimming, to name just a few - but the comebacks you’ll witness in MMA are an altogether different kind of cloth…of awesomeness.

Let’s face it, any QB can get lucky and toss a couple of late touchdown passes, the same way a goalie can all of a sudden decide to start sucking and give up a ton of easy points in the dying moments of a Stanley Cup playoff game. In MMA, however, you’re working with an entirely different set of priorities…namely, the fact that you’re head is bleeding, your arm may or may not be broken, and there’s a good chance your endocrine system will not work by the time morning rolls around. In other sports, you merely make up for vast point differentials at the last moment. In MMA, you overcome vicious maulings that would put the average human being in intensive care for at least a week or two, with the additional burden of maintaining consciousness long enough to cut a promo immediately afterward in which you have to remember the names of the three hundred people that helped you in training camp. A monumental comeback in MMA is like winning a spelling bee five minutes after being thrown out of a window and landing on your head…and oh yeah, you bit your tongue really hard on impact, too.

Today, I would like to celebrate with you what I consider to be the six most amazing, astounding and improbable comebacks in the history of mixed martial arts. These are the bouts in which it looked somewhat certain that someone in the ring was going to die, only to have said victim spring back to life like the titular character in “Weekend at Bernie’s 2” and zombie dance their way to an out of nowhere ass kicking.

In regards to these half dozen fights, disregard LL Cool J’s sagacity and DO call it a comeback, because these stunning reversals of fortune are about as awesome as awesome can possibly get in the world of MMA - and really, anywhere else, for that matter.

#006
Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Kestutis Smirnovas
Hero’s 6 - August 05, 2006


Kazushi Sakuraba is the undisputed king of Japanese MMA, and without question the most beloved fighter EVER in the Land of the Rising Sun. By 2006, however, it was getting pretty darn clear that his glory days were behind him, especially following a number of downright horrendous ass beatings in PRIDE FC throughout the early-to-mid 2000s.

Kestutis Smirnovas, although far from a household name anywhere (even his own household, or so I’ve heard), was an experienced journeyman, who kicked a many an ass in RINGS during the Clinton years. Going into Hero’s 6 (got to love those weird-ass Japanese promotion names, no?), Sakuraba was a heavy favorite against the Lithuanian veteran - a bit of odds making that appeared horrifyingly off-the-mark just minutes into the bout.

It’s not so much that Smirnovas caught Sakuraba with a heavy shot early in the bout, as much as it is Smirnovas rattled off nearly a hundred unanswered punches on the Japanese icon before he even thought about striking back. At one point, Sakuraba damn near pirouetted out of the ring following a particularly nasty punch from Smirnovas - who looked like he was about milliseconds away from securing a knockout victory over his legendary adversary.

Thanks to a bizarre promotional rule, however, Sakuraba was saved from what would have no-doubt been an easy ref stoppage when his 99.999998 percent limp body flipped over the bottom ring rope, which caused the referee to temporarily halt the match so Sakuraba could remember what consciousness smelled like. Although he continued to get murder-death-killed by Smirnovas on the ground, it was becoming increasingly apparent that the Lithuanian had spent so much energy attempting to hammer Sakuraba into the earth’s core that he was nearly half dead himself from beating his opponent half to death. With this in mind, the phoenix-like Sakuraba managed to slowly mount a comeback, catching Smirnovas with a few heavy shots of his own before the exhausted grapplers came a-crashing to the mat. And that’s when the wily Sakuraba positioned himself, ever so slowly, into a most precarious predicament for Smirnovas - seconds later, Sakuraba had a hold of Smirnovas arm, and as Kazushi began yanking on it like a lawnmower ripcord, the Lithuanian had no choice but to tap out. 

Over the course of six minutes, Kazushi Sakuraba experienced at least three momentary lapses in consciousness en route to an armbar victory over Smirnovas, who alike many a foe of Homer Simpson during his brief stint as a boxer, just tuckered himself out after unsuccessfully trying to beat Old ‘Saku into powdered milk. Subsequently, Smirnovas called it a career a few years after this bout, while modern scientists have  debated whether or not Sakuraba should be listed as a alkaline-earth metal on the periodic table ever since. 

#005
Scott Smith vs. Cung Le
Strikeforce: Evolution - December 19, 2009


Scott Smith is the kind of guy that’s dangerous, not so much because of his technical ability, but because it’s pretty clear that he experienced an acute form of brain damage a long, long time ago that most likely makes him impervious to his own mortality. Following his absolutely inconceivable come-from-behind victory over Cung Le in December of 2009, I really don’t think there’s any other viable rationale out there.

For those of you unfamiliar with Cung “Actor” Le, he’s this Vietnamese ass-kicker that was one of Strikeforce’s biggest draws prior to getting bought out by UFC parent company Zuffa in 2011. With his flashy, Jean Claude Van-Damme style kicks, Le was the perfect media image for the company, even if Le’s actual prowess as an all around mixed martial arts has been the subject of debate for almost a decade now (the fact that he got his ass kicked by a washed-up Wanderlei Silva last November seems to really, really validate such a hypothesis, though.)

Smith, a journeyman fighter that spent some time in the UFC before joining SF, was known for his absolute lack of technicality and skill as a fighter. For Smith, things like “precision,” “accuracy,” and “blocking” was the idle chatter of women and the elderly, because his strategy in seemingly every fight he had ever been in was “swing your arms like an orangutan wielding a machete” and hope that he didn’t die in the process.

Needless to say, there was an immediate style clash as the fight began, with Smith swinging for the fences while Le, you know, just kind of moved out of the way. Realizing that Smith’s moves were about as telegraphed as the aggregate “Punch-Out!!” adversary, Le decided that he would just spin-kick the living hell out of Smith for as long as he was willing to absorb the punishment. As it turns out, Smith was more than willing to soak up heels to the spleen for almost FIFTEEN solid minutes before getting his chance to return fire.

For the first ten minutes of the fight, Le absolutely DESTROYED Smith with those spinning kicks, so much so that it seemed as if the dude was just going to coast to a three round decision victory. Halfway through the final round, however, Smith’s reptilian brain told his blood cells to jump out of skin, and he began experiencing what can only be called an out-of-body experience as he began lobbing fat ass punches like Rocky Balboa having a seizure or something. Eventually, Smith managed to not only clip Le, but drop him with a monstrous, possibly-retarded overhand that put Le in involuntary cryostasis just minutes away from what would have been the easiest decision victory of his life. Smith’s state-sponsored social worker must have been pleased as punch, no doubt.

#004
Cheick Kongo vs. Pat Barry
UFC Live: Kongo vs. Barry - June 26, 2011



You know, seeing fighters come back from almost certain defeat really isn’t that uncommon an occurrence in the world of mixed martial arts. Hell, even seeing guys miraculously pull themselves out of predicaments that would lead to instantaneous brain death for the average human being isn’t too rare a sight. But watching a guy experience THREE bouts of temporary paralysis over the course of one minute, only to come back seconds later and win the goddamn fight? Yeah, that’s something that’ll definitely make your ears prick up.

Cheick Kongo is a heavyweight in the UFC known for being one of the dirtiest fighters that has ever lived…so much so that at times, you wonder if he’s an anthropomorphisized “Wacky Races” villain or something. Pat Barry, on the other hand, is a pretty bland fighter, who’s probably best known for basically throwing a fight against his hero, Mirko Cro-Cop, in 2010. Clearly, something atypical was going to go down when these two behemoths squared off, but NOBODY expected the affront to modern medical science that was about to transpire.

The fight began as one would expect, with both fighters attempting to strike the other blind with wrist-flicks that would kill most animals classified as mega-fauna. Moments into the fight, however, Barry shocked the MMA world when not only did he drop the heavily favored Kongo, but basically put him into a coma on live television. The thing is, the referee decided that, even though Kongo was snoring and drooling on the mat, that he could STILL “intelligently” defend himself. And as such, Kongo’s made-for-premium cable lobotomy continued.

Perhaps sucking down a beaker of that green resurrection juice from “Re-Animator” as a pre-fight precautionary measure, Kongo was somehow able to get up from the abuse reaped upon him by Barry, only to get dropped not once, but twice more by his opponent, in a span of time shorter than most sneezes. 

It was pretty much a foregone conclusion that Kongo was on the fast track to the nearest embalming table, when he bounced off the canvas, cocked his arm back, and tore a hole in the space-time continuum when he not only unloaded on Barry, but managed to take him out with a flurry of punches. In the time it takes to heat up some leftover pizza, Kongo suffered three blackouts in succession BUT still managed to score an all-time knockout shot on his opponent…a superhuman feat that pretty much makes all of our knowledge of physics and the human body obsolete in the process.

#003
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Bob Sapp
Pride Shockwave - August 28, 2002


In the world of professional wrestling, there’s this maneuver called a “power bomb.” The act involves sticking a dude’s head between your legs (if they don’t smell your pubic hair first, apparently, it doesn’t work) before lifting said opponent over your head by the shoulders and dropping them, back first, on the apron below. Even in the make-believe world of pro rasslin, it’s an incredibly dangerous move, which has resulted in devastating, career-ending injuries for countless wrestlers - including several incidents of permanent paralysis.

Now, remember, that’s when the guy dropping “the bomb” ISN’T actually trying to kill his adversary. In the world of MMA - where the object is to hurt-ify your opponent before he does something extremely hurt-y to you - it’s reasonable to assume that, if someone is to use the move on an opponent, he would be doing so with considerable more force than a staged act that STILL causes an incredible amount of physical damage to the person being assaulted. All in all, “power bombing” someone, in real-life, would be tantamount to attempted murder.

Well, just such a scenario transpired seconds into the 2002 heavyweight bout between Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Bob Sapp, when the latter - who at the time of the bout, weighed almost one hundred pounds heavier than his adversary - decided to power bomb the former in a scene that was about two or three centimeters away from being footage on a “Faces of Death” video.

After dropping the hapless Brazilian neck first on the canvas, Bob Sapp proceeded to “ground and pound” Nogueira for almost a full 15 minutes, while “Minotauro” attempted to a.) find a way out of being liquefied by a dude out of a “Street Fighter” game and b.) if possible, remember what his mother looked like.

Nogueira - a frontrunner for baddest mofo that ever lived if there ever was one - managed to not only weather Sapp’s punishment, but eventually jockey himself into position to armbar the dude that outweighed him by a good one-third of his own body mass, after a quarter hour of mauling that puts most prison rapes to shame. The super-unlikely comeback not only solidified Nog as one of the toughest dudes on the planet, but also turned Sapp into a cultural icon in Japan, where the xenophobic fear of a black man is almost on par with the African-American antipathy you would find at your average Koch Brothers-sponsored rally. Additionally, it also most likely explains why Nog hasn’t been able to count beyond “five” for the last decade, as well.

#002
Brock Lesnar vs. Shane Carwin
UFC 116: Lesnar vs. Carwin - July 03, 2010


To a lot of people, Brock Lesnar - a former WWE star turned ex UFC Heavyweight champion - was nothing more than a media creation, a short-lived marketing gimmick that temporarily gave MMA its much-sought poster boy to the masses. Although his brief stint as MMA fighter lasted only four years - encompassing just seven fights - Lesnar still managed to give us one of the most amazing moments in the sport’s relatively brief history when he defended his strap against super-duper striker Shane Carwin back in the summer of 2010.

A year earlier, Lesnar threshed Frank Mir alive for almost ten minutes en route to becoming the recognized, unified UFC Heavyweight champion. Then, he came down with a bizarre intestinal ailment that kept him off the shelf for a good 12 months…while Shane Carwin, a grappler from the foothills of Colorado, waited in the wings.

I’ve actually interviewed Mr. Carwin before, and let me tell you this: the dude has hands the size of uncooked chickens. Seriously, the guy’s mitts are so ridiculously large that you have to wonder if his favorite pastime as a kid was grabbing irradiated water or something. I assure you, from personal experience, that Joe Rogan and Mikey Goldberg ain’t bullshitting when they talk about his fists being only slightly smaller than a set of Sock Em Boppers. So when Shane Carwin began has savage, first round annihilation of Lesnar, the only thing I could think of was driving a convertible through a meat locker - as in, getting pounded with the heaviest sacks of meat you could ever imagine.

The first round of the bout was a beat down only mildly less disturbing than the tunnel scene in “Irreversible.” Carwin struck Lesnar down early, and spent a good four minutes pounding on his adversary’s carcass like Thor in a game of Whack-a-Mole. By the time Carwin had gassed out from trying to make Lesnar’s face fuse with his pituitary gland, Brock’s mug looked like an NCAA regulation football with acne - a bloody, skinned mess of a sight with more fist indentions apparent than a pre-make-up Rihanna.

The thing is, Lesnar - a former NCAA wrestling champion, by the way - managed to weather the storm, primarily by doing the damn best impersonation of a turtle I’ve ever seen. As such, Carwin actually exhausted himself trying to liquefy everything above Brock’s neck, which allowed Lesnar to not only survive one of the most hellacious maulings in Octagon history, but actually mount an immediate offensive as soon as the second round began.

Carwin - now sucking air like he had an invisible cigarette addiction or something - became easy prey for Lesnar, who immediately took his opponent down, and - to the surprise of every living thing on the planet - submit with an arm-triangle just minutes into the second.

Immediately afterward, MMA fans the world over declared Lesnar’s remarkable, improbable and brain-aneurysm-inducing feat the most spectacular, hyper-dramatic comeback in the sport’s history,  a monumental display of fortitude and tenacity that wouldn’t be touched by another fight for a long, long time to come.

And as it turns out, to see an amazing comeback that not only rivaled the one we saw here, but absolutely eclipse it and every other MMA fight before it, all we has to do was wait another month…

#001
Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen
UFC 117: Silva vs. Sonnen - August 07, 2010


As hard as it may be to believe now, Anderson Silva was actually considered an underdog when he defeated Rich Franklin for the UFC Middleweight Championship in the fall of 2006. For the next four years - perhaps proving that he should never, ever be listed as an underdog for ANYTHING - he destroyed nine men in succession, in two different weight classes.

The thing is, Silva was so easily kicking his opponent’s asses that, at some indeterminable point in 2010, he just stopped trying in the cage. Silva was being condemned as an “anti-fighter,” a guy that just toyed around with his opponents without really trying to finish them, when everyone and their mother knew he could have turned Thales Leites and Patrick Cote into puddles of liquefied organs whenever he wanted. The zenith of Silva’s in-cage ennui came at UFC 112, when in front of a pissed off United Arab Emirates crowd, he clowned on mismatched Brazilian jiu-jitsu challenger Demain Maia for 25 minutes. UFC president Dana White was so outraged by Silva’s brass balled antics that he allegedly threatened to cut him from the promotion if he ever acted like such an 1980s movie bully again, with an immediate title defense scheduled for that August in Oakland as “punishment.”

Enter…CHAEL FREAKING SONNEN, country music listening, Republican voting, trash-talking, Olympic wrestling ass beater extraordinaire.

Now, Sonnen wasn’t really what you would have called a world class middleweight at the time the bout was announced (in fact, Sonnen had a recent submission loss to Maia, the guy that get Punk’d by Silva in his last title defense.) However, Sonnen was a solid wrestler - something that Silva really hadn’t faced during his Octagon tenure yet - and dear lord, was this Chael chap ever the world class shit talker.

For half a year, Sonnen basically did a cross-country smack talk tour, mocking Silva for speaking Portuguese and having a black belt inBrazilian jiu-jitsu under the Nogueira brothers, which he likened to receiving “afree toy in your Happy Meal.” He also said some things that some people may construe as just a little bit racist, but…I’ll let you be the judge on thatone.

So, after all of the hype, Sonnen and Silva finally met at UFC 117. Sonnen through a clumsy kick at Silva early in the bout, and had to barrel roll his way out of a face pounding within the first few moments of the fight. Apparently, this was going to be yet another one-sided ass stomping for “The Spider.”

And then, Sonnen did something that nobody anticipated - not only did he connect with a solid punch on Silva’s chin, he actually managed to drop the defending Middleweight champion. Smelling blood in the water, Sonnen pounced on Silva, taking him down over and over again. It looked like someone had finally found a way to negate Silva’s dangerous striking strategy…and now, Sonnen was on the fast track to ending the champ’s almost four year title reign.

Not only did Sonnen win the first round, he absolutely dominated it. The second round was essentially a repeat of the first, with Silva unable to land anything on Sonnen early, thus allowing the challenger to secure an easy takedown, which led to much, much ground and pound as a result. Sonnen’s strategy was extremely successful, and heading into the fifth round, the challenger was up 40-36 on just about everybody’s scorecard. Basically, all Sonnen had to do was land one more takedown, and the championship belt was his.

The fifth round begins. Silva’s looking for an absolutely essential knockout blow, and like he was a paper doll, Sonnen just drives him to the canvas. At that point, it was a one hundred percent guarantee - Chael Sonnen was just minutes away from being inaugurated as the promotion’s new Middleweight champ.

With about two minutes to go, a tired Sonnen kept dropping shots on Silva, to keep the referee from standing them up. At about the minute and a half mark, however, Silva popped Sonnen with a vicious knuckle sandwich that allowed the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt to snake his legs over Sonnen’s head and lock in an out of nowhere triangle choke, which Sonnen tapped out to with just seconds remaining in the match-up.

For 24 minutes solid, Chael Sonnen absolutely dominated Anderson Silva, beating him like a dirty rug en route to a surefire title change. But, at the last minute - and I do mean, quite literally, the absolute last minute - the crafty champ pulled one last trick out of his bag, and managed to mount not just the most amazing comeback in MMA history, but one of the most amazing feats in the history of sports. Forget about the Buffalo Bills overcoming a bajillion point deficit to beat the Houston Oilers en route to getting their asses kicked in the Super Bowl yet again - THIS is the most miraculous, improbable and unforgettable example of an athlete snatching victory out of the clutches of defeat I have ever witnessed.

An immediate rematch was supposed to go down, but Sonnen was quickly whacked with the Double Whammy of testing positive for performance enhancers AND getting indicted for mortgage fraud within a matter of weeks. With Sonnen out for a year, Silva easily vivisected challengers Yushin Okami and Vitor Belfort (two guys still considered among the greatest middleweight fighters on the planet, mind you), as he anxiously awaited his next opponent…

…who, following a mini-comeback of his own against Michael Bisping earlier this year, just so happens to be, of course, Chael friggin’ Sonnen, who roared back from his suspension talking an infinity more shit about Silva, Brazil and Portuguese speaking people than modern scientists thought was physically possible.

So, how do you follow up the most amazing championship fight in UFC history? Well, how about a championship rematch pitting the same two competitors against one another, now with a good two years of animosity behind them…and oh yeah, by putting the fight in SAO PAULO, where there is an extreme likelihood that a riot will ensue if Sonnen actually makes good on his promises to dethrone Silva?

It’s a recipe for mayhem and carnage if I’ve ever heard one…and if we’re lucky, the summer’s REAL most anticipated sequel might just end up replacing fight numero uno on a future redux of this very list.