Thursday, March 19, 2009

Final Four and Championship

#13 Cleveland State Vikings vs. #5 Purdue Boilermakers

Apparently, Purdue was able to make it to the Final Four before it finally ran into someone with opposable thumbs. Caked with the remains of large wild cats, there's little the Boilermaker Special is going to be able to do to stop the Vikings from simply boarding and dismantling the thing with their mustaches. Also, as I understand it, Viking is more of a free-floating scheduled job, whereas trains have scheduled stops and run the risk of pissing off their passengers if they miss them. Vikings don't have to deal with that (even if they do piss off their passengers, it's not like they're going to mouth off to the guy with the axe. Cleveland State makes the Championship Round.

#16 East Tennessee State Buccaneers vs. #16 Radford Highlanders

I don't care how much Johnny Depp you've got, or how many Keith Richards cameos you're planning on throwing at that antler-hat fellow, if your life consists of disease, starvation and occasional theft to survive, you're not going to stand much of a chance. The Field Museum has got a pirate exhibit opening up that I'm excited to go see, but all the ticket sales in the world aren't going hold up against those shoulders. Radford makes it to the Championship.

#13 Cleveland State Vikings vs. #16 Radford Highlanders

Unlike last year's bracket, both competitors that reached the final round existed. Highlanders still exist, though I imagine they're a bit less like the mascot with his inexplicable helmet and more like politicians and athletes and so forth. That said, and I swear I wasn't running with this the entire time as I'm making it all up as I go, I think I'm going to have to give this one to the Highlanders. Sure, some of them are laypeople (just as some Vikings are Hagar) but in the end I've got to go with "potentially immortal" over "sea-faring".

Your 2009 Murphspot Mascot Bracket Champions

Must not make "there can be only one" joke.

The Radford University Highlanders

So, there we are. A bit later than I'd have liked it to be up, but it's done and I'm going to get back to actually being a scientist. Comments on any or all of it are welcome and encouraged. Links to the right if you've missed any of this nonsense.

Elite Eight

#13 Cleveland State Vikings vs. #15 Robert Morris Colonials

Unfortunately for Robert Morris, I don't believe "Colonials" just applies to the military. Anyone that lives in a colony is a colonial. LARPers for profit in Williamsburg are Colonials. They just seem like the kind of people that would be readily pillaged, and if there's one thing I've learned about vikings in my lifetime, it's that they're good at that. This, then, is the end of the line for Robert Morris, and Cleveland State makes the increasingly improbable Final Four.

#5 Purdue Boilermakers vs. #3 Missouri Tigers

At this point, I'm afraid I'm no longer objective. I just actively want tigers to die. Normally, that kind of conflict of interest would cause me to recuse myself from the Mascot Bracket and have the rest of it filled out by someone who hasn't been driven to the point of madness by the beasts, but in this case, I'm just going to fall back on what I established in the first round and Sweet Sixteen and say that large cat doesn't stand up to "goddamn train". Purdue advances.

#16 East Tennessee State Buccaneers vs. #6 UCLA Bruins

My friend Ben raised a good point. I've got to pick a suitable environment for this matchup. Pirates tend to hang out on stolen ships and ports and Disney World, while bears tend to stick to forests and mountains and Disney World. It seems like waiting for the Pirates to make it far enough inland to be in a forest or for bears to captain a pirate ship (which would be terrifying) are slim, so I'll have to pick their only common ground, Disney World. Which wins? Pirates of the Caribbean or Country Bear Jamboree? Animatronic drunkards and rapists or animatronic yokel minstrel bears? The pirates still have weapons instead of banjos, so East Tennessee State makes the Final Four.

#16 Radford Highlanders vs. #14 stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks

Lumberjacks are great, and all, but when you really get down to it, they're big dudes in flannel with axes. I'm not saying that I'd fight a lumberjack, and I certainly have the utmost respect for lumberjacks, but I think the likelihood that they're going to spend a significant amount of their time in the Pacific Northwest has got to count as a strike against. That highlander still has a huge sword and it's not often that a kilt makes it into the Final Four, so I'm going to have to go with Radford once again.

East/South Regions, Sweet Sixteen

#16 East Tennessee State Buccaneers vs. #13 Portland State Vikings

Again, the Mascot Bracket arrives on an interesting hypothetical. Which style of naval warfare will prevail? I know I've been big on Vikings in this bracket, and even moreso on Portland State given the fact that they seem to employ Boba Fett. However, the Buccaneers have the advantage of advanced weaponry, as well as Johnny Depp. Granted, they've also got to put up with Orlando Bloom.

Still a douche.

I think they'll overcome that, though, and triumph over the Vikings. East Tennessee State makes the Elite Eight.

#6 UCLA Bruins vs. #2 Duke Blue Devils

I've been running along pretty strong with the concept that an elite French military unit is going to be able to hold it's own, but I think I've been missing the true point of the mascot bracket by not looking into the big, plastic-y eyes of the Duke Blue Devil.

Look upon my jowls, ye mighty, and despair.

Seriously, what the hell is that? I've been defending Penn Jillette in a mask? Even if I allow that, what's with the goalie gloves? No. This shall not continue. That guy would get eaten by a bear. UCLA advances.

#16 Radford Highlanders vs. #12 Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

This one's kind of painful, as it pits the lead singer of a band whose entire catalog is about Tolkein and leather harnesses against Big Red, who I imagine reigns over Muppets like some kind of benevolent dictator. Unfortunately for Big Red, the Highlander's sword is a bit too menacing, his boots a bit too "burlap sack tied with rope" for any outcome in which Western Kentucky would move on. Radford wins.

#14 Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks vs. #15 Morgan State Bears

Close call. Both spend their life in the forest. Bears are vicious and, if Timothy Treadwell has taught us anything, can totally eat you. Lumberjacks are big and tough and know their way around a chainsaw. I think the Lumberjacks probably win because they've likely got a better range, even if they do have to rely on weapons rather than brute strength. Plus, I don't often see bears competing to see who can stay on a rolling log in water (birling!) and therefore Stephen F. Austin moves on.

Midwest/West Regions, Sweet Sixteen

#9 Siena Saints vs. #13 Cleveland State Vikings

Even presuming that the saints are the patron saints of heavy artillery or preemptive warfare or whatever isn't going to save them this time. It really breaks down to one advantage for Cleveland State here. Saints have round, glowing halos and piety and flowing robes and occasionally are surrounded by squirrels. Vikings have metal helmets with big "get the hell out of my way" horns on them and axes and facial hair and body odor. Cleveland State moves on to the Elite Eight.

#6 West Virginia Mountaineers vs. #15 Robert Morris Colonials

Here's something I thought we'd never encounter in the mascot bracket: the Grandfather Paradox. If the Mountaineers kill the Colonials, does that mean that the United States never successfully gains independence from Britain, meaning that West Virginia (hell, Virginia as a whole) remains a British-controlled colony and mountaineering never takes place, having been replaced by dry humor and boiled food? Whether you resolve this through the Novikov self-consistency principle (in which whatever happened must have happened all along) or some sort of parallel timeline setup (in which the Mountaineers may be able to beat the Colonials of a separate timeline but will never return to this one), the only solution I can come up with the Colonials winning.

Grandfather Paradoxes make me think of Heroes, which makes me sad because season 3 nearly killed me with awfulness.

Robert Morris advances.

#8 Brigham Young Cougars vs. #5 Purdue Boilermakers

I'm really starting to think that this is going to be a "how long until Purdue matches up against a person" endurance run. I really see no way a cougar is going to take down a train. The only way I can even begin to address the issue is to propose that Brigham Young doesn't mean cougars in the P. Concolor sense but in the older woman interested in younger men sense, but that's a stretch and risks sacrificing the undying integrity of the Murphspot Mascot Bracket. There's nothing I can do. Purdue advances.

#3 Missouri Tigers vs. #7 California Golden Bears

Seriously, how are there this many "bear/tiger" matchups? I'm going to write a letter to the NCAA, because this is nonsense. How are we, the peripherally-interested-in-college-basketball to come up with a winner when all of the mascots are the same? I think I'm going to go with Missouri, but I'm not sure why. My will has been broken. You've won, NCAA Mascots. You've won. Missouri moves on and I don't know who I am anymore.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

South Region, Round Two

#16 Radford Highlanders vs. #8 Louisiana State Tigers

See, this is a matchup. Absurd headbanging Highlander with a giant sword and antler hat against another tiger. Despite my tentative links to Louisiana State (I did some research there in 2005), I'm going to have to go with Radford. Those thighs are too thick, and a tiger seems like exactly the kind of thing that the Radford Highlander would kill, hollow out and wear. Radford moves on.

#12 Western Kentucky Hilltoppers vs. #13 Akron Zips

I'm not sure what on earth Big Red is, and so it's hard to tell whether he'd win in a deathmatch with a kangaroo. Big Red has also got a pouch on his thigh, which I guess makes him a marsupial, which adds a bit of drama to the matchup. The fact that an Italian television station more or less stole the design of Big Red for their mascot, Gabibbo says to me that they know something I don't, and so I'm going with Western Kentucky again.

#6 Arizona State Sun Devils vs. #14 Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks

I wish Sun Devils were an actual thing. If they were, even if they were some desert insect or some sort of solar event, they'd stand a chance here. As it stands, Arizona State has a cartoonish man in a leotard with a trident, while Stephen F. Austin have Lumberjacks who have axes and beards and flannel. Stephen F. Austin goes on.

#7 Clemson Tigers vs. #15 Morgan State Bears

This is the third "bear/tiger" matchup we've come across in our mascot bracket journey. I have stopped caring about which would win, but just because there aren't as many bears generally in the tournament, I'm going to go with the rationale I used in the Cal/Memphis matchup and just give this to Morgan State.

East Region, Round Two

#16 East Tennessee State Buccaneers vs. #8 Oklahoma State Cowboys

I'm surprised "Pirates vs. Cowboys" isn't as prevalent a hypothetical battle as "Pirates v. Ninjas". I suppose it might have something to do with the stereotypical "sitting around the fire, eating beans and spinning yarns" view that cowboys tend to evoke. Perhaps it's just a way of preserving Pirate/Ninja conversations so that Tony Romo can't weasel his way into the conversation. Either way, I think Buccaneers win this matchup, if only because their job involves attacking people and taking their possessions by force, while cowboys move cattle. East Tennessee State advances.

#5 Florida State Seminoles vs. #13 Portland State Vikings

Two proud peoples, and it's hard to say who would win in a fight. I'd like to give this to the Seminoles (if only because "Unconquered People" is a pretty badass nickname), but I think they might get points taken off for living in Florida. Vikings, on the other hand, live where people shouldn't, and as a result wound up in Canada. Also, the logo is actually a nice deviation from the standard Viking logo.

Apparently Vikings were Mandalorians. Who knew?

Portland State wins.

#6 UCLA Bruins vs. #3 Villanova Wildcats

I'm still not sure why so many schools use Wildcats as their mascot. They're tiny, they're very closely related to domestic cats (F. Silvestris versus F. Silvestris Catus) and I'm pretty sure they could be punted a good thirty feet. Not that I would. But "adorable" doesn't get you far against a big ol' brown bear. UCLA advances

#7 Texas Longhorns vs. #2 Duke Blue Devils

I'd be terrified if a bull were running at me, but I'm not sure that a longhorn poses quite the same threat. Something about how the horns go off to the side makes me think I'd be able to avoid it while it tried to figure out how to gore me. Without making any jokes about French military prowess post-Napoleon, I'm sure they'd be able to hold their own. I'm not exactly sure about the temperment of longhorns anyway. I'd like to think they're a bit more aggressive, but every cow I've ever encountered just sort of stands around. Duke moves on.

West Region, Round Two

#1 Connecticut Huskies vs. #8 Brigham Young Cougars

I've got a lot of respect for Huskies. They run across Alaska (I'm not even sure I could do that) and they seem to be pleasant enough while also being big enough that I wouldn't one one in my apartment complex. Unfortunately, running across barren wilderness isn't an event in the Murphspot Mascot Bracket Challenge. I'm a man of science and if there's one immutable law of the universe, it's that if you put a cougar and a husky in a cage, the husky's not walking out.

Brigham Young moves on.

#5 Purdue Boilermakers vs. #13 Mississippi State Bulldogs

Purdue always wrecks this. There's not much that's going to stand up to a train, and since life isn't a heart-warming children's movie in which animals can talk and may or may not wear conductor hats, there's not a whole lot a bulldog is going to be able to do to a train. I could ease up and go with the idea that the boilermaker is the guy that makes the boiler, or that it's referring to whiskey and a beer, but a bulldog's not going to be able to do much to those things either. Purdue advances.

#11 Utah State Aggies vs. #3 Missouri Tigers

I'm sensing that we're going to come to a tiger bottleneck at some point and I'm going to have to decide between which one of the thirty tigers is going to be superior. Unfortunately, I can't deal with that here. I don't care how much agricultural science you know, a tiger isn't something you want to be in a deathmatch with. Missouri goes on.

#7 California Golden Bears vs. #2 Memphis Tigers

Didn't I just have a Bear/Tiger matchup last round? Cal's bear is a lot less tumor-y and seems to have a snarl, which to me suggests ferocity, while the Memphis tiger appears to be miming driving.

Your mascot is less likely to win a fight if its "lunging" posture is the same as its "Mario Kart" posture.

While I'm not sure bears and tigers tend to hang out a lot, and therefore have no way to confirm which would win in this matchup, I'm going to say that Cal advances.

Midwest Region, Round Two

#16 Morehead State Eagles vs. #9 Siena Saints

I think this one really depends on which saint we're talking about. If it's St. Francis of Assisi, which would probably not be a bad guess as it's a Franciscan university, the eagle's probably going to win as the saint's not going to attack. If it's the patron saint of hunters (Hubertus, evidently), then the eagle's not going to stand much of a chance. I'm going to presume it's either Hubertus or Gummarus (lumberjacks) or Isidore of Seville (computer scientists) and give the win to Siena

#5 Utah Utes vs. #13 Cleveland State Vikings

Now that I've got all the Macchio out of my system in the first round, this seems like an easier decision. Utah's got purposefully weakened beer, wacky government (insofar as "backwards and borderline oppressive" can be considered wacky) and movies with Matthew Lillard and Jason Segel. Vikings have axes and Thor. Cleveland State wins.

#6 West Virginia Mountaineers vs. #3 Kansas Jayhawks

I don't know much about the mountaineering lifestyle, but I'm positive it involves shooting things, mythical or otherwise. In addition, the Kansas Jayhawk appears to be wearing giant yellow clown shoes.

I have no idea how he buckled them

That seals it. West Virginia advances.

#10 USC Trojans vs. #15 Robert Morris Colonials

USC, unfortunately and through no fault of their own, make me think of those annoying "Trojan Man" commercials, which are just this side of "five dollar footlong" in terms of sticking in my head. The Colonials stir up bad memories of a "Colonial Inn Diner" where a friend of mine tried to order eggs florentine before being told that the fact that there was a picture of it on the menu was not meant to imply that they served it. Overall, I'm going with Robert Morris, as we've got the matchup of two military factions and I feel like I should go with the one that won their war.

South Region, Round One

#1 North Carolina Tar Heels vs. #16 Radford Highlanders

Two teams whose names derive from generic terms for people. I'd love to see a game in which actual Tar Heels (let's say Zach Galifianakis, Reginald VelJohnson, Charlie Rose, Ben Folds and Andy Griffith) against natives of the Scottish Highlands (William Barclay, Yvette Cooper, John Shepherd-Barron, inventor of the ATM, the Loch Ness Monster and Connor MacLeod). But, as this is a mascot bracket, the focus should be on the mascots. Rameses has got this cocky swagger and, I think, too many curves in his horns. The mascot for Radford is this guy.

If your mascot is clearly listening to anthemic metal, it means you win.

Look at that guy. Even if we ignore the absurdly large muscles, he's still got an enormous sword, a helmet that strangely has one centered antler and some pretty impressive Conan-the-Barbarian hair. I'll even ignore that the artist got us as close to seeing his package as is allowed for sports logos. Radford with the upset.

#8 Louisiana state Tigers vs. #9 Butler Bulldogs

This bulldog is more clearly a British Bulldog with a hell of an underbite. As it stands, that's not that threatening. Which is a shame, as they could have fixed the entire ordeal with a rhinestone Union Jack, some ridiculous braids and enough bronzer to drown an anteater.

Davey Boy Smith is not going to stand for your Cajun nonsense

As it stands, though, we've got a diminutive dog going up against Mike VI, who weighs 300 lbs and lives off of a diet of palmetto bugs and fear. Which there's plenty of, because of the palmetto bugs. I haven't been there in four years and I still have nightmares about three-inch flying cockroaches. Christ. Ok. Let's move on. LSU wins.

#5 Illinois Fighting Illini vs. #12 Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

With the retirement of Chief Illiniwek in 2007, I'm afraid the chances for Illinois go way down. It's just very difficult to win a mascot-fight-to-the-death when you have no mascot, and your only logo is a big orange I.


While the Hilltoppers would certainly lose if this were a "fearsome team name" bracket, they enter with a bizarre, abstract mascot named Big Red who just seems to be having so much fun I'm tempted to move to Western Kentucky.

Having the caption be anything other than "Whee-hah!" would be blasphemy. So, "Whee-hah!"

Western Kentucky wins.

#4 Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. #13 Akron Zips

Zips, or zippers, are rubber overshoes. Ignoring the mascot for a second, the way to strike fear in my heart is not to be galoshes. I've never been scared of galoshes. Galoshes full of spiders, perhaps, but the galoshes are incidental to that. Their actual mascot is Zippy the Kangaroo (who I'm disappointed to report doesn't have his own saturday morning cartoon) and he's going up against a bulldog. My first thought was that the bulldog would have the advantage, but I imagine a kangaroo could kick a bulldog in the head pretty hard. Akron moves on despite the uninspiring name.

#6 Arizona State Sun Devils vs. Temple Owls

Owls can be scary. I've been in the forest at night with a screech owl, and I'm pretty sure neither of us were happy with the expierence. He wasn't down with my presence in his habitat, and I wasn't down with his hell-screams and was convinced that he was using them to tear my soul from my body. That said, Sparky the Sun Devil has a cartoonish mustache, a leotard and a trident rather than a pitchfork. Still, it's stabby. Arizona State moves on.

#3 Syracuse Orange vs. #14 Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks

I have to admit, I follow college sports with such little tenacity that it hadn't even struck me that Syracuse ceased being the "Orangemen" in 2004. Orangemen might have had a chance here, but shortening the team name to "Orange" means there's no chance I can allow them to move on. You could argue that the name refers to the color, and as such, the section of the electromagnetic spectrum we perceive as orange isn't vulnerable to an axe to the face, but given the mascot, Otto the Orange, the Lumberjacks aren't only going to defeat them, they're going to consume them as part of a balanced breakfast. Stephen F. Austin moves on.

#7 Clemson Tigers vs. #10 Michigan Wolverines

Lots of tigers this year. I like that, because tigers are generally going to provide for some better fights than last year's ever-present wildcats. Unfortunately for Michigan, they're offering up what amounts to a large weasel that probably doesn't even have an adamantium laced skeleton. They do have Mathman's support, but I believe Mr. Glitch went to Clemson for a few years before backpacking around Europe, so I'm going to have to go with Clemson here.

It's surprising he could do elementary math at all with such a disproportionately tiny foot. Mathman is an inspiration

#2 Oklahoma Sooners vs. #15 Morgan State Bears

I have known a few Oklahomans in my time. Sooners, the original settlers of the Unassigned Lands that became Oklahoma, I imagine were resourceful, hard working and determined. If you threw one of them in a cage with a bear, though, I don't think the Sooner is walking out. Sure, they've probably got guns, but I've been doing a bit too much of the specist stuff in this round, and I'm going to go with Wikipedia's insistence that Sooners were often land surveyors and try to imagine the Sooner being armed only with a dumpy level and their wits. Yeah. Morgan State moves to round two.

Next up: Round Two.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

East Region, Round One

#1 Pittsburgh Panthers vs. #16 East Tennessee State Buccaneers

The homer part of me wants Pitt to win this, but I just don't see how they can. Panthers are vicious, sure. We've been over my feelings on big cats (or small cats with exceptionally sharp claws), but a Buccaneer's likely got a musket, a sword and is probably pretty pissed off about having scurvy.

Though, this particular buccaneer may not pose too much of a threat, as he's cyanotic.

Even with the various medical conditions the Buccaneers are no doubt infected with, I'm going to have to go with them. East Tennessee State moves on to the second round

#8 Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. #9 Tennessee Volunteers

I appreciate the spirit of volunteerism. I don't do it enough. But this is about a fight to the death, and Habitat for Humanity doesn't have an answer for dangerous loners who spend all their time with cattle. Moreover, when I hear "cowboy", I think of westerns generally, and I'm pretty sure Clint Eastwood could kill whoever the hell he wanted. In fact, I'm not sure why the whole "Chuck Norris joke" phenomenon had to happen to Chuck Norris instead of Mr. Eastwood. Clint has the bonus of being both relevant and not batshit insane.

#5 Florida State Seminoles vs. #12 Wisconsin Badgers

Again with the "human versus animal" matchup. Badgers have this reputation for being vicious and are good at holding on if they've decided to bite you, but they're going up against the Unconquered People, who I'm positive would be able to take down a rodent. Florida State in a rout.

#4 Xavier Musketeers vs. #13 Portland State Vikings

Xavier was the champion of last year's Murphspot Mascot Bracket, but they run into some tough competition early. I'm not sure how giant wooden boats are going to hold up against musket fire, but in general, I think the facial hair of the Vikings is going to help them. Somehow. I'm not sure. Against the vicious attack of the Vikings, the Musketeers are going to have to ask for some strategic assistance from someone who knows their strength and weaknesses.

Oh boy

Portland State with the upset.

#6 UCLA Bruins vs. #11 Virginia Commonwealth Rams

These matchups always seem simple. Bears kill things pretty easily, and I was trying to think of how a ram could conceivably kill a bear. The best I've come up with is either causing some kind of internal hemmoraging with blunt force from the horns, or luring the bear up onto a mountain, getting it to unwittingly stand on the edge and pushing it off. That seems a bit too "cartoon villain" to be plausible, so I'll go with the simple answer and say the ram's getting mauled. UCLA takes it.

#3 Villanova Wildcats vs. #14 American University Eagles

Two of the most overused mascots in the NCAA. I'd like to imagine that this will end in complete destruction of both, just to thin the herd of wildcats and eagles. Realistically, though, even though the wildcat's a lot smaller than I expected, I'm going to have to go with Villanova. Cartoon cats kill cartoon birds, and that's good enough for me.

#7 Texas Longhorns vs. #10 Minnesota Golden Gophers

Here, we've got a tiny burrowing rodent. Apparently the "true gopher" is the "pocket gopher" which doesn't inspire much terror. If "my word, that thing's small enough for me to carry around as though it were spare change" is part of the name of the animal, that's a strike against. To be fair, "Goldy Gopher" appears to be a chipmunk, which is a bit less embarassing, but I don't like having to play with what the hell the mascot is. Longhorns, on the other hand, have big spears on the side of their heads. Texas it is.

#2 Duke Blue Devils vs. #15 Binghamton Bearcats

The Blue Devils (Les Diables Bleus) were an elite French mountain infantry unit. The bearcat (Binturong) isn't a bear, a cat, and appears to spend most of its time hanging out in trees.
They also like to eat benches, I guess.

The bearcats get points for the coincidence that typing "bearcat" only uses the left hand, but whimsical observations aren't enough to save it from the Blue Devils, even if they are French. Duke wins.

West Region, Round One

#1 Connecticut Huskies vs. #16 Chattanooga Mocs

Everyone else that's even taken any kind of cursory glance at the bracket has already done the "What the hell's a Moc?" joke, and after looking up the athletic program at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, I've got to say they'd have had a better chance in this if they'd stuck with their original mascot. A water moccasin could actually present a challenge to a dog like a husky, as it's probably getting bitten at some point. The intermediate mascots (a moccasin, as in a shoe, and "Chief Moccanooga") could have offered some interesting matchups (Chief Moccanooga doesn't seem to be a reference to anything really, but could probably have killed a dog), but what we're left with is a mockingbird. A mockingbird driving a train, sure, but as the train only appears in the logo, it's not fair to include that in the mascot death match. Huskies advance.

#8 Brigham Young Cougars vs. #9 Texas A&M Aggies

Puma concolor is intimidating. They've got teeth and claws and I can hardly deal with housecats coming after me without nearly dying. Bonus, apparently the Apache and Walapai of Arizona regard the wail of the cougar as a harbinger of death (presumably by cougar on your carotid). Aggies have perhaps the most accurate team name (as "Aggie" simply means "student at an agricultural college", which all of the players are), but I can't imagine that any amount of schoolwork is going to help you when you hear the Wail of the Cougar (coincidentally my favorite Twisted Sister album). Also, an image search for Aggies turned up this camel-dog-with-makeup-that-evidnetly-sings unholy driver cover. As far as I know, this is offered from an independent agency and the camel-dog-from-the-underwold isn't technically the mascot of Texas A&M, but it's too frightening not to include.

Enjoy the nightmares

Brigham Young wins.

#5 Purdue Boilermakers vs. #12 Northern Iowa Panthers

It's going to be tough to beat a train. I suppose that you could make an argument that an actual "boilermaker" is the guy that makes them, but he's probably pretty handy with a wrench and I wouldn't want to fight one. Given that the actual mascot is the Boilermaker Special, a train, I'm going with that. As much as I made the case during the last matchup for the ferocity of a giant cat, it's not doing anything but getting run over here. Purdue moves on.

#4 Washington Huskies vs. #13 Mississippi State Bulldogs

This matchup makes me feel uncomfortably like Michael Vick. I can't tell from a picture of the mascot whether the bulldog in question is of the British or American variety, but considering that it's Mississippi, I'll presume it's American. Huskies can run across Alaska and have the nifty heterochromia thing on their side, but I'm pretty sure a bulldog could bite my arm off if it really felt like it. Given the two, I am going to go with the bulldog based on nothing in particular. Mississippi State with the upset.

#6 Marquette Golden Eagles vs. #11 Utah State Aggies

I appreciate the specificity. It's finally not just an eagle, it's a specific eagle. It also makes me think of Coach, but those were the Screaming Eagles, so I'm not sure why that is. Maybe it's just a fond nostalgia for Bill Fagerbakke.

"Lovable Dimwitted Assistant Coach" Bill Fagerbakke, not "Neo-Nazi Prison Guard" Bill Fagerbakke

I'm actually going to go with the Aggies here, as I imagine that they'd be able to figure out how to kill an eagle (either directly or by manipulating the ecosystem), even if they have chosen willingly to live in Utah. Utah State wins.

#3 Missouri Tigers vs. #14 Cornell Big Red

Since Big Red's an abstract team name, I'm going with their mascot, Big Red Bear, making this matchup awesome. Tiger vs. Bear is the sort of death match that should be on an album cover or, failing that, Fox. I'm going with the Tigers for two reasons. First, while bears are terrifying and spend their time killing you in Werner Herzog movies, they spend a lot of their time hibernating (important in March). Secondly, the mascot appears to have some sort of back issues.

"Oh crap. I have to turn in this logo, but I've got no idea how to draw a bear's hindquarters. They're got giant tumors, right?"

Missouri moves on.

#7 California Golden Bears vs. #10 Maryland Terrapins

I grew up with the concept that turtles, if given enough toxic waste and a giant rat as a teacher, can learn martial arts and protect reporters in yellow jumpsuits. As I've gotten older, I've learned that dumping toxic waste on turtles causes protests, that giant rats are riddled with disease, and that reporters in jumpsuits don't deserve protection.

Maybe she minored in Auto Repair. I still don't get it.

Given that this is a bear going up against a standard turtle with no superpowers or junk food, Cal takes this in a walk.

#2 Memphis Tigers vs. #15 Cal State Northridge Matadors

Another Tiger versus this year's bullfighters (as San Diego's Toreros aren't in the tournament), and though I went with the human last time, I'm going to say that the tiger wins this. Sure, the Matador has got the sword and the banderillas and the big fancy cape, but all the impressive cape-twirls in the world aren't going to stop Montecore here from tearing a leg off. Memphis advances.

East Region, Round One when I get a chance.

Midwest Region, Round One

Play-In Game

Alabama State Hornets vs. Morehead State Eagles

If there's one thing last year's mascot bracket taught me, it's that a disproportionate number of schools are attempting to instill fear in their athletic opponents by using either an Eagle or a Wildcat. I'm a little disappointed that we're starting out with the birds already, but that's certainly no reason to take this matchup any less seriously. I really dislike hornets. They sting, they're intimidating, and they tended to nest on the bleachers at my high school, which made summers slightly less fun. That said, we've got an unpleasant wasp going up against a bird whose entire raison d'être is killing things and eating them. Sorry, Alabama State. Morehead State takes the play-in.


Bruce Lee is displeased, having just been informed that an Eagle is going to peck his eyes out through that mask.

#1 Louisville Cardinals vs. #16 Morehead State Eagles

We've got one game decided (that typically doesn't even count for an office bracket) and I'm already on edge about the number of birds in this tournament. That said, I've seen cardinals. They're brightly colored, sing and eat seeds and have that nifty little plume thing on the top of their heads, and if it weren't for them, I wouldn't have just learned, via wikipedia, what a "passerine" is. That said, I'm not sure something which hangs out in woodlands and is known for being both easy to spot and not eating things that aren't seed-ish is going to be able to take on something that's got so much experience nabbing fish out of the water in flight, not to mention holding an olive branch and enough arrows to make Oliver Queen take notice while apparently hovering. Morehead State advances again in the biggest upset in NCAA history.

#8 Ohio State Buckeyes vs. #9 Siena Saints

This one's tough. "Saints", presumably, refers to people who have been canonized, as Siena College is a Franciscan institution. The mascot, though, instead of being "Saint Andrei the Iconographer" or "Saint Maximus the Confessor" is a St. Bernard. The dog. With the barrels and the saving people and the awkward Charles Grodin/Bonnie Hunt nonsense.

He's embarassed for you, Mr. Grodin

I'm tempted to go with the Buckeyes here (as buckeyes are poisonous), but I'm going to presume that the dog/Iconographer is going to instinctively avoid eating them, and rather just urinate on something. Also, if it hadn't been for Siena just now, I wouldn't know that Wikipedia has a list of Flying Saints, which I imagine has got to be useful for a basketball tournament. Plus, one of them's Saint Christina the Astonishing, and any connection to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds' "Henry's Dream" album is going to get bonus points. Siena advances.

#5 Utah Utes vs. #12 Arizona Wildcats

The obvious thing to do here is to make a "What is a Ute?" joke and run with My Cousin Vinny humor. I'd like to avoid that, but there's two things that are stopping me. First, Ralph Macchio looks exactly the same as he did in 1992.

Forty-seven, my ass

It's only logical to assume he's still got the knowledge he'd picked up as the Karate Kid and would be able to take down a wildcat, which were established last year as not being particularly intimidating. Secondly, the "ute" line was delivered by Fred Gwynne, and Fred Gwynne is too awesome not to advance. Utes advance.

#4 Wake Forest Demon Deacons vs. #13 Cleveland State Vikings

Demon Deacons is a pretty awesome name. One thinks of the climax of The Exorcist, or if you're a little bit less of a purist about what constitutes a demon, the scene in 28 Days Later where Cillian Murphy enters the church after waking up from his coma, both of which are going to be pretty intimidating no matter who you are. On the other hand, Vikings have swords, long boats with shields and oars and their own haplogroup. I think I might have to go with the beardy fellows with the axes over the unstable clergy. Cleveland State with the upset.

#6 West Virginia Mountaineers vs. #11 Dayton Flyers

Having grown up in western Pennsylvania, I've got a pretty good understanding of West Virginia and their Mountaineers. Sure, the Alleghenies aren't as high or as steep as the Rockies, but I feel like if I wanted to learn Mountaineering under some sort of master Mountaineer, they'd do just fine.

I am positive this man knows things I do not. I am more than happy to keep it that way.

The Flyers, on the other hand, have flight, but that seems to be about it. They evoke little red wagons in my mind, which a Mountaineer would surely stomp on before using it to beat some elk to death and then wear them. Or something. They certainly don't provoke the same "dangerously insane/lives where no one could hear you scream" vibe that I get from the Mountaineers. West virginia moves on.

#3 Kansas Jayhawks vs. #14 North Dakota State Bison

"Jayhawk" is apparently a Civil war term adopted by Kansas abolitionists, combining a blue jay (which is noisy) and a sparrow hawk (which is apparently not, but I'm in no position to confirm). So, that's certainly a bonus. Bison, on the other hand, I've seen footage of and seem to be pretty huge, even if we do tend to kill them off in large numbers. If I go with "Jayhawk" as refering to the abolitionist group, they've probably got guns and could take down a bison. If I go with the "mythical but tiny bird", it's going to get stomped to death by 2000 pounds of bison. As much as I'd like to go with North Dakota here, I'm going to presume they mean the abolitionist (for the time being) and go with Kansas. What I don't envy is the sad truth that after the Jayhawk shoots the bison down, they're only going to be able to take 100 pounds of meat back to their wagon. And that's not enough to stop anyone from getting cholera or breaking a wagon axle.

#7 Boston college Eagles vs. #10 USC Trojans

Again with the Eagles. In this matchup, though, they're going up against people who have clearly fought in a war and undoubtedly have arrows (at least enough so that one could, of all places, wind up in Achilles' heel). I'd really, really like to go with Boston College here, because I don't want to be tempted to use that Orlando Bloom picture again down the line, but there's just no way. No matter how much preying that eagle is a bird of, it's not going to stand a chance against USC without at least bringing Odysseus into the mix, and I hear he's hard to get in touch with.

#2 Michigan State Spartans vs. #15 Robert Morris Colonials

I'd love to give this one to Robert Morris, if for no other reason than that I've got some twisted homer-ish desire to see Moon Township do something well. At first glance, I'd have to go with the Spartans, who've got that whole "prowess in battle" thing going on and have abs that could destroy Tokyo, according to Zach Snyder. Then again, the combination of the whole "culturally accepted pederasty" thing and the fact that Colonials likely have much longer range weapons (not that I'm sure what musket fire is going to do to a shield) makes it a close one. In the end, I'm going to have to give in to the advanced technology of the Colonials, along with the fact that I don't care how militant and brilliant you are, I'm not scared of NAMBLA chapters.

Next up: West Region, First Round

Return of the Murphspot Mascot Bracket

It's March again. Over a year since I did the "post once a day" project, and I've fallen into a pattern of never, ever posting. But, as I'm always looking for opportunities to do so and had fun doing it last year, it's time once again for the Murphspot Completely Improbable Mascot Bracket that has No Relation to Sports at all. Rationale is the same as last year's. Whichever mascot would win in a fight to the death (in some improbable scenario in which they mascots can't just ignore each other) moves on in the bracket. I'll default to the mascot in the event that the team name is abstract, and I'll just assign losses randomly. Any disagreements are welcome in the comments, but it's all nonsense anyway.

The schedule, here, is going to be first and second round by Tuesday, Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight by Wednesday, and the Final Four and CHampionship by Thursday. That way, if you completely disregard rationality and actually run with this idea, you'll be able to get your Murphspot Completely Improbable Mascot Bracket that has No Relation to Sports at All bracket entered in whatever office pool you're probably in.

First up: Round One, Midwest Region

Friday, March 06, 2009

Attempting Comic Books

I've never been someone who reads comics, really. I don't have anything against them, I just never really went through "let's buy superhero comics" phase when I was younger. I think it's partially a function of growing up where I did, where the only way I'd have been able to get anywhere was to bike, and the hills of Western Pennsylvania made that more difficult than I was willing to bother with in my adolescence. Actually, I'm not sure I'd bike as much as I do now if I lived somewhere that wasn't as completely flat as Chicago, but that's a subject for another post. As I got older, I read the standard books (Maus, Watchmen, V for Vendetta) and was kind of on the periphery, enjoying comic-book movies, but still never really got into them.

Anyway, I'm back again to experimenting with the idea of reading comics. Mostly, I think, it stems from this weird tendency I have to become moderately curious about a mythology, then read everything I can about the mythology, then sort of move on. I did that with Piers Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality books and The Dark Tower series (which I should probably re-read at some point), as well as with Lost and Doctor Who. With the last two, particularly, there was a definite progression from mild interest ("I wonder what all the fuss is about? Perhaps I'll netflix it" and "Oh, hey. I liked Simon Pegg in a few movies. Perhaps I'll watch this episode of Doctor Who he's in.") to reading everything I could about the mythologies of the series ("I should probably watch Pierre Chang's warning to the future." "What is the significance of the Valeyard, and will he reappear after the Doctor's twelfth regeneration?") It's been a while since I've really done that with a mythology, so I think it's probably time to do it again.

Enter Green Lantern.


Again, this probably is rooted in the fact that I never really read comics as a kid, but I've never known much about Green Lantern. Batman and Superman are both such huge cultural icons that you can't really help but know what the deal is there. For the rest of the (original lineup of the) Justice League, Green Lantern seemed the most intriguing. Wonder Woman's fine and all, but the magical bracelets and invisible plane seem strange. The Flash is there, but he's just a fast guy. It's very straight-forward, but that's not really something I can get into. Aquaman exudes uselessness, to the point where I forgot he existed when watching a Justice League movie, until he showed up in the final three minutes to say hello. There's probably a wealth of interesting psychology behind Martian Manhunter, but then he seems to be a green Superman, and Superman never really appealed to me because he's got too much power.

So there we are, left with Green Lantern. I've purchased a collection of "landmark" Green Lantern comics chosen by the guy that wrote two recent storylines ("Rebirth" and "Sinestro Corps War") and is responsible for this summer's crossover storyline ("Blackest Night"), and so far I've been enjoying it, even if the stuff from the sixties is a bit campy. Generally, there have been some interesting views on power, jealousy and order (specifically in the I, Lantern and What Price Honor? short stories.) I'm interested to actually read about the rise, fall and redemption of Hal Jordan outside of Wikipedia summaries, so I've got Emerald Twilight and Green Lantern: Rebirth on the way from Amazon.

So we'll see. Maybe I'll actually succumb to the call of geekdom and start reading Green Lantern comics. At the very least, I'll read a few storylines before getting bored and watching Star Wars again.