Monday, April 04, 2011

4th Annual Murphspot Mascot Bracket - Final Four and Championship

#11 UAB Blazers vs. #2 San Diego State Aztecs

Were dragons present in Aztec mythology? Wikipedia mentions dragons in European mythology, Chinese mythology and the Book of Job, but nothing specific about Aztec dragons. It does talk about Creationist claims that dragon myths arose because people lived at the same time as dinosaurs, ignoring all evidence to the contrary. So there's that. There are uncertainties about how an Aztec Eagle Warrior would do fighting a dragon. The only thing I can say for sure is that if I ever get around to having an anthemic metal band, I want this matchup as my album cover. Blaze, the UAB dragon, has wings. Are those functional, or vestigal? Because if Blaze can fly, the Aztec warrior is pretty much screwed. Spears don't tend to do well against flying, fire-breathing monster lizards. Yeah, I was trying to come up with a way for an upset here, but I just don't see it happening. UAB advances.

#10 Florida State Seminoles vs. #13 Belmont Bruins

Given that I just made an argument for why bears aren't going to win against an indigenous population with weapons, I feel like this is a bit perfunctory. The bruin had a good run, and no one can take that away from him. Or her. I'm not sure if "Bruin" is gender neutral. Still, while it's been able to coast on things like "being 900 pounds" and "having scary claws" and "ripping throats out of things with throats", the Seminoles have a guy with a spear and a horse. They've got maneuverability, they've got hunting experience and they've managed to live in a place that has bears without being eaten by bears. The Seminoles have it. Florida State advances.


#11 UAB Blazers vs. #10 Florida State Seminoles

And it all comes down to this. Do we go with real people over mythical beings? Do we go with enormous reptilian monsters over pretty much everything else? I could try to figure out what kind of dragon we're talking about here, which led to me discovering that Wikipedia lumps comics and puppetry together when talking about dragons, which is pretty fantastic. I attempted to establish a link between the Seminole tribe and dragons, but all that led me to was a student group at FSU that plays Dungeons & Dragons. Actually, that probably helps the Seminoles, as they could probably advise Chief Osceola on tactics. On the other hand, here's a picture of a statue of Blaze at night outside the Bartow Arena at UAB.

I would never walk by this. Especially after having seen Blink. Weeping Angel Dragons? Everything would be over.

You can't fight with that. That's badass. So there we have it.

2011 Murphspot Mascot Bracket Champions - University of Alabama at Birmingham Blazers

4th Annual Murphspot Mascot Bracket - Elite Eight

#11 UAB Blazers vs. #6 Xavier Musketeers

I think it's probably a good thing for my social life that I don't know the intricacies of the strengths and weaknesses of dragons in general. As it stands, I'm not sure if projectile weapons are going to be very effective against dragon skin. Yeah, an archer took down Smaug, but only because Bilbo figured out where a weakness was (which I presume was a thermal exhaust port) and it eventually got relayed to someone who could do something about it (presumably by Bothan spies, just to completely confuse nerd institutions). Which works if you know what you're shooting for and are capable of making the shot. Muskets didn't have rifling, which would mean that if Blaze has a weakness, the Xavier Musketeer is going to have to get pretty close to be able to pull the shot off. I don't know the effective attack range of a dragon, but let's say it's greater than that because this entry has gone on long enough. UAB advances to the Final Four.

#13 Oakland Golden Grizzlies vs. #2 San Diego State Aztecs

Well, I had the Aztecs take out the Northern Colorado Generic Turntablist Bears back in round one, so it'd be a little inconsistent of me to allow the bears to win this time. And somehow, given that Oakland's involved, I can't avoid thinking that Al Davis is going to come in and crazy the whole thing up, then attempt to move both schools around California because why not? San Diego, conversely, has Comic-Con? I guess? I certainly wouldn't want to go up against the crowd there. Plus, there's a chance that Nathan Fillion's involved, which means this is over.


Above: The Golden Grizzly's most deadly enemy.

San Diego State advances to the Final Four.

#5 Vanderbilt Commodores vs. #10 Florida State Seminoles

There are a few ways you could go with this matchup. If we're just looking at the mascots as presented the Commodores would seem to have an edge. The FSU Seminoles mascot has got a spear, while the Commodore has a saber (and presumably, a sidearm). Of course, Commodore no longer exists as a rank in the U.S. Navy (though it's still a title), while the Seminole Tribes of Florida and Oklahoma are definitely still around (and both endores the use of the Seminole name and images as Florida State's mascot), which suggests the Seminoles are comparably armed. I'm unable to determine whether any navy in which Commodore is a rank endorses Vanderbilt's use of the term. Either way, it seems like the Seminoles would have the edge on ranged fighting, and the Vanderbilt mascot is made of foam rubber, limiting his effectiveness, so we'll go with Florida State advancing to the Final Four

#13 Belmont Bruins vs. #3 BYU Cougars

So far, the Cougar has had to go through a Boston Terrier, a Thunderbird (or a Storm, or a guy drinking Thunderbird during a storm, or something) and a Spartan, the last of which was its only real challenge. I should also take a moment to point out that Thunderbird, the fortified wine, was apparently marketed as "The California Aperitif" outside the US, which just seems like a slam on California for no reason.
Pictured: Sorrow.

The Bruin has had to go through some Aggies, some Badgers and a Monarch, so he's not had a terribly tough road either, but in the epic matchup of Caniform vs. Felid, I just don't see the Cougar coming out victorious. It's close, but Belmont advances to the Final Four.

4th Annual Murphspot Mascot Bracket - Sweet Sixteen

#8 George Mason Patriots vs. #11 UAB Blazers

I really don't know what it says about me as an American that I'm doubting how well the Father of the Bill of Rights is going to do against a giant, fire-breathing lizard. Notably, George Mason (who I'm going to take as the mascot for the George Mason Patriots because that seems sort of reasonable) was one of the delegates who refused to sign the Constitution because he didn't to support it without adding a Bill of Rights, which at the very least has got to say something for the degree to which he's willing to stick to his guns. I'd credit him with the fact that no troops are currently quartered in my apartment, but the Third Amendment only specifies that the government needs the owner's permission, and I am certainly not the owner. There's not as much room for debate with a dragon as there is with the Constitution and its Amendments, I'm guessing. Dragons don't care if they have prior approval to burn you, then tear your body asunder. They just do it. Then they go do something else. Because the maiming people gets boring after a while. Anyway, UAB advances.

#6 Xavier Musketeers vs. #2 University of North Carolina Tar Heels

Human/human matchups are rife with possibilities for me to completely make up a reason why one mascot should win over another. Musketeers, I think, carry with them an implication of some sort of battle training given that they're actually part of a formal military, but Tar Heels (as I've noted) get points for standing their ground and, because the name was coined at a later point in history, probably have better weaponry than muskets. The Xavier musketeer is pretty clearly supposed to be French, given that he's named D'Artagnan (presumably based on Dumas' D'Artagnan, who was based on the historical Charles de Batz-Castelmore d'Artagnan).

The "hand-on-hip" pose and puffy collar not withstanding, the guy did still have a gun

While the Tar Heels mascot, if we want to be pedantic about it, is Rameses the Ram. Who has some impressive horns, but if it's male sheep vs. guy with a gun we're talking about, I'm going to have to give it to the guy with the gun. Xavier advances.

#8 Michigan Wolverines vs. #13 Oakland Golden Grizzlies

I'm starting to reconsider whether the Wolverines can count the fact that they share a mascot name with a Marvel character as a positive, or whether it works against them. If you do a Google Image Search for "wolverine", it's not wolverines. It's mostly pictures of Hugh Jackman in varying states of undress and even more widely varying states of about-to-cut-into-you-with-adamandium-adapted-bone-claws. Threatening, sure, but it doesn't tell me much about either wolverines or Michigan. Yeah, they're ferocious things, but I have the nagging feeling that a Bear could kill a Wolverine. Perhaps its the published account of a bear killing a wolverine for trying to steal its kill. Sure, that was a black bear, but I've got to think a grizzly would be up to the task.

Oakland advances.

#14 Bucknell Bisons vs. #2 San Diego State Aztecs

Given that part of the issue with Bison is that humans, as a species, have gotten really good at killing all of them, this doesn't seem like it'll be much of a fight. The bison's got a weight advantage, sure, but it's still a giant target that likes to hang out in areas without a lot of cover, and we've established that at the very least, the San Diego State Aztec has a spear. Probably an atlatl. Which has gone from "indispensable war and hunting weapon" to "thing the guys from Make magazine can teach you how to build so that you can throw spears at soccer fields"

So there's that. Still, I'm not sure the bison has a plan for that, other than "get speared" and "die as quickly as possible." SDSU advances

#8 UNLV Runnin' Rebels vs. #5 Vanderbilt Commodores

I'm still having nightmares about the Lionel Ritchie golem, but it's time to move on and pick a winner out of this increasingly human/bear-centric matchup. The Runnin' Rebels are probably going to have some ground to cover in terms of formal training. As a bonus (from Vanderbilt's perspective), I have serious doubts about whether the Runnin' Rebels mascot has a firm grasp of early 80's home computing.

It's just baffling. I have no idea.

Now, UNLV's in the middle of the desert, and Commodore is a navy rank so there's potential for battlefield leveling owing to unfamiliarity with terrain, but out of the two, the adaptability edge has got to go to Vanderbilt. Hats notwithstanding, Vanderbilt advances.

#3 Purdue Boilermakers vs. #10 Florida State Seminoles

The Boilermakers generally last until they run into a human mascot, and I don't think this year is going to be any different. The problem with being a train and trying to go into a fight to the death is that as long as whoever you're fighting is not standing on the track, you're pretty much fighting to a tie at best. If your opponent has the ability to board you and wreck what makes you able to move, you've more or less lost. Actually, that last bit applies whether you're a train or not. Then, of course, there's the bit where the actual mascot apparently has molded plastic hair and lifeless, terrifying eyes.
Oh dear. It appears to have taken my soul.

Yeah, I'm going to go with the Seminoles on this one. Florida State advances.

#9 Old Dominion Monarchs vs. #13 Belmont Bruins

I don't know many monarchs, but I'm pretty sure the preparations for ruling a nation is more focused on etiquette and propriety and less on what to do when you find yourself trapped in a fight to the death with a bear. The skills that come in handy when trying to inspire (or supress) a people so that they won't revolt and attempt to install a less autocratic form of government probably isn't of too much use when the 900 pound thing with claws wants you dead. I've got to go with the bear on this one. Belmont advances.

#3 Brigham Young Cougars vs. #10 Michigan State Spartans

I've been mostly going with humans over animals, which I don't think nature entirely bears out. Evidently, according to the very convenient List of fatal cougar attacks in North America Wikipedia page, 23 people were killed by cougars in the last 120 years. But they do attack if they feel cornered, which an attacking Spartan with a giant head would certainly qualify for.


Apparently cougars try to go for the neck, which might not work for the Spartans mascot as he has no neck, but it does imply that cougars strategize, which is terrifying enough that I'm never going outside again. That, plus the fact that cougars are still around, and this one actually goes to BYU. Brigham Young advances.

Friday, April 01, 2011

4th Annual Murphspot Mascot Bracket - Southeast, Round of 32

#16 University of Arkansas - Little Rock Trojans vs. #9 Old Dominion Monarchs

I feel like the Trojans have been getting a bit of an easy run so far. Yeah, they're people with weapons, which gives them an edge in "fight to the death" style mascot brackets, but they're also have that odd "semi-legendary" quality to them which makes me think that I should probably dock them a few points. If we just examine them as they exist in Homer's works, they're ruled by a monarchy, which I have to think will give Old Dominion somewhat of an edge. Wikipedia gives Priam, the king of Troy during the Trojan War, the original name "Podarces", which makes me think of podraces, which makes me think of The Phantom Menace, which makes me sad. With that convoluted bit of reasoning, Old Dominion advances.

#12 Utah State Aggies vs. #13 Belmont Bruins

Here, it really doesn't matter whether I take the Utah State mascot to be actual agricultural students (which is a practical if lame mascot) or whether I take it to be Big Blue, the bull who's had enough of this shit.


Big Blue would like to know when you're planning on knocking it the hell off already.

If anything, Big Blue just makes me miss Western Kentucky's Big Red, who can bring joy and merriment wherever he goes with his hinged jaw, optimistic eyebrows and weird leg pocket. If only WKU were in this year's bracket, perhaps the world would
just be a little bit better.

You know what? Screw it.



Hooray! Big Red! We missed you. Diversions aside, the bear is going to kill either the bull or the student, so Belmont advances.

#6 St. John's Red Storm vs. #3 Brigham Young Cougars
There's pretty much two incarnations of the Red Storm that I can actually conceive of. Either it's an elemental force of destruction which will tear anything in its path apart or it's a soft drink marketed to teenagers who like the idea of dangerous sports. So that's a wash. Evidently, St. John's chose an actual mascot in the last few years. Johnny the Thunderbird. Here's a video of him dancing alone.

I don't know. He's got a weird rounded beak, and he makes me think of cars from the 1970s. I've got to think that the Cougar wouldn't have much of a problem smacking that thing in the face and then destroying everything it has ever loved. Brigham Young advances.

#10 Michigan State Spartans vs. #15 UC Santa Barbara Gauchos
An occupational/cultural matchup! Gauchos are impressive and all, and the mascot appears to be wearing the kind of hat you'd want to wear if you were going to turn it into some kind of razor-throwing-weapon-hat, like Oddjob or Kung Lao, but then I looked up the actual UCSB Gaucho mascot.


The ¡Olé! belt buckle might be a bit much. Evidently that's his name, and I'm not sure if that makes it better.

What is this? That's not nearly as terrifying as the amorphous shadow mascot promised in the logo. That's a pretty spectacular moustache, but the bandana mask just makes me want to figure out who it is. A young, black-haired Hulk Hogan? Nick Cave-every-once-in-a-while? The guitarist for Steely Dan? It's too much, and while it's making motions toward a big reveal, the Spartan is going to come in and kick it down a well. Michigan State advances.