Monday, March 31, 2014

Mascot Bracket 2014: Elite Eight, Final Four and Championship

Elite Eight

#11 Dayton Flyers vs. #12 Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks

Dayton has been more or less cruising, and it might make sense to have them do well here; they're up against another human opponent who is defined by their vocation, but arguably have the better tools.

Here's the thing. The Dayton Flyers are named as such because the Wright brothers were from Dayton and if there's one thing Ohio license plates indicate that they're proud of, it's being the birthplace of people who later flew things elsewhere.

But the eponymous Flyer was made out of giant spruce.

A marvel of engineering, but a little too choppable in this one instance.

It's like Dayton's convinced the Guardians to give them a Green Lantern ring and they wind up in a bracket with Sinestro/Parallax/A Schoolbus/whatever the hell is going on in that series these days and is yellow.

Stephen F. Austin advances.

#1 Virginia Cavaliers vs. #15 Milwaukee Panthers

You could very reasonably count out the Cavaliers; they're counting on relatively basic firearms and enormous collars. Poofy shirts and long curly hair paired with moustaches. I mean, have a look at Prince Rupert here.

On the other hand, I don't know. There's something Errol Flynn-y about CavMan.

Seems like the sort of guy to shout "Tally-ho!" at the slightest provocation.

Like he might look at the Panther, swing in on the sort of rope that's just always waiting there to be swung on, make with the elaborate swordwork and continue swinging. Then he'd go sailing, evidently.

Virginia advances.

#9 Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. #6 Baylor Bears

I'd give Baylor much more of a shot here if the Mascot Bear were actually the algae green color of the Logo Bear. Unfortunately, he's just sort of a bear.

Not that Pistol Pete is terribly unique (especially as he's moonlighting for New Mexico State). On the other hand, he's decked out in orange, which makes him look a bit like a traffic cone but also speaks to his dedication to hunting safety. That kind of planning goes a long way.

Oklahoma State advances.

#1 Wichita State Shockers vs. #12 Arizona State Sun Devils

I'd considered knocking out the Shockers during the last round, what with the Sorcery and all, but was convinced to keep WuShock around purely because I wanted an excuse to post this mashup of Wu Tang and Hall and Oates.

Yes, that first track *is* both C.R.E.A.M. and Maneater, and it has changed your life.

On the other hand, despite being terribly vague about what the capabilities of a Sun Devil are, I'm pretty sure he's probably got some sort of heat/drought powers. Wheat doesn't do too well in that scenario.

Arizona State advances.

Final Four

#12 Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks vs. #1 Virginia Cavaliers

Despite the swashbuckling exploits of CavMan, he's still going up against a foe from a few hundred years in his future. In this case, that means a dude in a sleeveless flannel shirt from Texas who's got an axe with a face on it.

I'm not sure if it plays in his favor that the axe is mad, or if that will make the axe more reckless.

Even if we assume the Lumberjack's only weapon is the axe (which seems silly, as Texas has some really permissive gun laws), I still don't think this turns out well for CavMan. If nothing else, the Lumberjack just moves a wood chipper into the trajectory of the rope CavMan's swinging into battle on.

Stephen F. Austin advances.

#9 Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. #10 Arizona State Sun Devils

Good on Pistol Pete for making it this far. He's got sort of deep-set, terrifying eyes and I'm not sure I trust a man that wears *that* much fringe on his chaps in 2014, but he's got a mustache that wavers between handlebar and "has just been in a fistfight" and a large enough belt buckle. He also appears to be wearing a tablecloth around his neck.

But what gets me here is the hat. I've only nailed the Sun Devils down to "vague heat-powers" and it's just that the hat looks sort of, well, melty.

It's the facial lines. I just realized. That's what sends Pistol Pete barreling straight into the Uncanny Valley.

I doubt the ability of that particular Stetson to adequately protect Pistol Pete from the rampant menace that is heat exhaustion.

Or maybe it's just that I've forgotten what warmth feels like and am biased towards whatever's above freezing.

Arizona State advances.

2014 Murphspot Mascot Bracket Championship

#12 Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks vs. 
#10 Arizona State Sun Devils

Despite the appearance we like to give off at Murphspot Industries that each ranking is accurately calculated from a number of factors, including a list of parameters that I won't bore you with here, a small component is a variable that I'll term "making this up as I go along and then immediately posting so that I can go to bed/shout at people on the internet who are clearly wrong".

Because of that small factor, there's not a huge amount of adherence to established literary tropes that could probably make this a lot more coherent. Storylines aren't maintained well, and I'll change my mind based mostly on whether I'm sleepy/tired/too cold/too hot.

Here, I could go with Arizona State on the basis that the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjack is exposing himself to a lot of harmful UV by discarding the his sleeves, and cite studies that I'd probably have to make up that exposure to the sun is one of the highest risk factors for lumberjacks.

But this is about more than that. This is about a force of nature against the industrial drive of man; this is about the virtues of hard work over being able to set things on fire with a point of your trident. This is about creepy, creepy eyes on your face against still pretty creepy eyes on your axe. This is about the right of all people to go sleeve-optional in an open and free society. This is good over evil.

This is about Freedom.

This is about Lumber.



Friday, March 28, 2014

Mascot Bracket 2014 - Sweet Sixteen

#9 Pittsburgh Panthers vs. #12 Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks

You know, I've considered whether I've had the Panthers move on because of some subconscious bias toward them, but I don't think that's the case. What do I care about having a team from Pittsburgh make it deep into the bracket?

I have no idea what could possibly lead to that conclusion.

Here though, I'm afraid that I have to give it to Stephen F. Austin. Presumably, part of the logging trade is dealing with wildlife, and if a panther is coming at you, and you've got a chainsaw, I imagine that qualifies as self-defense (if, you know, cartoonish).

And so, as it was in the famous Iceburgh v. Van Damme, this is going to have to go to the human.

Stephen F. Austin advances.

#11 Dayton Flyers vs. #15 Eastern Kentucky Colonels

You know, I know that "Kentucky Colonel" is a title of honor, but I'm not really sure what that implies. Happily, the Colonel Toast highlights some of the qualities of a Colonel. 

To excerpt in case you don't feel like clicking a link, it mentions a dedication to the good things in life. It paints a picture of a gallant, patriotic individual, standing for virtue in a world darkened by hatred and misunderstanding; a symbol for inspiration and a goal to strive towards.

Unfortunately, it doesn't mention anti-aircraft capabilities.

Dayton advances.

#1 Virginia Cavaliers vs. #4 Michigan State Spartans

This is where the Spartans usually tend to trip up; they get along ok against the earlier, usually harmless-animal mascots and the endless fields of Wildcats and then run into trouble when they find a military force from a later point in history than them.

Well, for certain values of "Spartan", anyway.

Yes, the Spartans had nifty shields and short swords and big long "You really ought to stay about nine feet that way" spears, but the Cavaliers would have had actual firearms. Muskets and flintlock rifles and some larger "punch a hole in your silly phalanx" cannons and things.

Virginia advances.

#11 Providence Friars vs. #15 Milwaukee Panthers

Providence has mostly been skating by on the fact that Friar Dom absolutely terrifies me, but this seems like it might actually not go in his favor. 

I'm going to keep including this in a futile attempt to conquer my fear. It isn't working.

I mean, I'm taking a risk here, and I'm probably going to have my soul devoured for this, but I'm just not seeing how he fends off a panther attack. The white cloth habit isn't going to confer any defensive bonuses and aside from creeping me out, I don't imagine there's much he can do with "humility" as a weapon.

In the end, he's a cleric where we need at the very least some manner of mage, or at the very least a ranger or two.

Milwaukee advances.

#9 Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. #4 San Diego State Aztecs

I appreciate San Diego's headgear. To be honest, I'd be all for a return to eagle-shaped helmets in a wide variety of sport and non-sport context.

The simple fact here is that the Cowboy turned up about three centuries later than the height of power of the Aztec empire, and Oklahoma State's mascot is so into his gun that he's named after it. 

Pistol Pete is victorious.

Oklahoma State advances.

#6 Baylor Bears vs. #10 Brigham Young Cougars

Oh hey! Actual large scary animals that could actually get into a fight in reality. It probably says something about where I've taken this bracket that "Bear vs. Cougar" at this point seems less obvious to me than "Wheat vs. Billiken".

Baylor's definitely got the size advantage. I would give Brigham Young speed, but part of the horror of bears is that they're pretty quick. The only advantage, then, that the Cougars have is probably in stealth, and it's just not enough here. 

He's also an unsettling shade of green, so that's concerning.

Baylor advances.

#1 Wichita State Shockers vs. #5 Saint Louis Billikens

I can't quite figure out WuShock, but between the bright golden logo and the "Wu" prefix, I'm prepared to disregard the fact that he dates to the late 1940's (having previously been an unnamed shock of wheat) and assume he's Raekwon's spirit animal.

Cash Rules Everything Around Wichita

I know I've been banking on the presumption that the Billiken has some sort of mystical power here, and I don't mean to demean that. It's just that WuShock may be able to call in some formidable assistance here, and the RZA is sort of Batman.

Wichita State advances.

#11 Iowa Hawkeyes vs. #10 Arizona State Sun Devils

And so it finally comes to an end. I went with Iowa in the first round on extremely questionable grounds (considering that it was militia vs. bird or, at best, militia vs. Alan Alda). 

The Iowa Alan Aldas would walk away with this tournament.

But at this point, I can't push them along any longer. I still don't know what a Sun Devil does exactly. Maybe changes the ecosystem so that the rodents Herky presumably lives off of are unable to thrive, thereby denying the Hawk of his food supply?

Sure, let's go with that.

Arizona State advances.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Mascot Bracket 2014 - Round of 32 - Part Two

#1 Arizona Wildcats vs. #9 Oklahoma State Cowboys

I feel like at some point I should hide my bias against Wildcats. Hell, my graduate school uses the Wildcat as their mascot and I'm slightly worried that it's all some sort of vehicle for my own self-loathing, like if I just put Wildcats down enough, it will somehow free me of the doubt I have about my own ability, or at least about their own athletic conference.

Or the hat. Maybe its the hat.

Nope. That's not it. They're just poorly equipped cats that a cowboy would absolutely destroy on his way to trying to get cattle to do his bidding.

Oklahoma State advances.

#5 Oklahoma Sooners vs. #4 San Diego State Aztecs

I started to put a lot of thought into this. I started trying to figure out the status of horses in the Aztec Empire (from most of what I could find, horses died out during the Ice Age, so they didn't actually have horses; houwever, the myth about being astonished by Cortez when he showed up with horses is a myth spread by the Spanish forces of the time.)

Then I started to wonder why that particular line of inquiry felt so familiar.

And it's probably because the samematch up happened last year.

This hasn't gotten more OK in the interim.

So we'll go with precedent; guys with weapons and armor win over ponies.

San Diego State advances.

#6 Baylor Bears vs. #3 Creighton Blue Jays

Creighton advanced last round because the opponent was a pepper, but I'm really not seeing a way for a songbird to put up a fight against a bear. I'm positive there's a fable about that somewhere, though.

And really, I can't have the Blue Jays just continue on; it just makes me dwell on what would have happened if the Pirates had held on to Jose Bautista despite there being no indication that he'd turn into Jose Bautista.

Surely you could have started doing more of this a few hundred miles south.

Happily, though, it's a new year, the Pirates just had their first winning season since I was nine and they just put up 22 runs on the Jays in spring training. So while Creighton's Blue Jays still lose, I feel a little less bad about it.

Baylor advances

#10 Brigham Young Cougars vs. #15 American Eagles

I thought it'd be fun to just see who'd win in and actual fight by searching for "Cougar vs. Eagle" on YouTube.

I have just watched a video where a cougar kills an eagle while trance music plays in the background.

This, actually. Which, even though it was released in 2006, still makes me feel like the oldest possible person.

But it's ok. I never have to sleep again.

Brigham Young advances.

#1 Wichita State Shockers vs. #9 Kansas State Wildcats

I think you all know by now where this is going.

To my credit, though, I'm actually sort of following the rules I'd laid out at the beginning. Precedence counts; in this case, I've just had WuShock beat a tiger, and I really can't anticipate that the giant-headed Wildcat from Manhattan (that is, the one that's in Kansas) is going to do much better than a Tiger named Tommy.

Wichita State advances.

#5 Saint Louis Billikens vs. #13 Manhattan Jaspers

I'll grant that the Jaspers are dangerous, if only because I think Brother Jasper's probably unpredictable. For all I know, he could be merciless, though the story of noticing that everyone's a little tired and could use with a good stretch after 6.5 innings of baseball probably counts that out.

But again, here we are. The Billikens were named after a toy that looks like some sort of demon baby. But my stance is that the Billiken wouldn't have made it this long without knowing things. Dangerous things. Things you'd rather I didn't mention in this lighthearted blog.

Oh dear.

Saint Louis advances.

#11 Iowa Hawkeyes vs. #3 Duke Blue Devils

The Hawkeyes have had a pretty impressive run so far, taking out two actual military units despite their name meaning "the thing you call someone from Iowa if you think "Iowan" sounds strange, and also if you're JamesFenimore Cooper".

And really, who isn't?

And so, because I've locked the Blue Devils into the definition of "French Military Mountaineering Unit from the First World War", I've got to keep on running with this ridiculous, ridiculous streak.

Iowa advances.

#10 Arizona State Sun Devils vs. #2 Michigan Wolverines

I'm still unclear on what the Sun Devil can actually do. Pyromancy seems, I don't know, too forthright. But certainly there's got to be something other than growing Salvador Dali's moustache.

Yes, I'm aware that's a Van Dyke, but to be honest I'm too terrified to go back and clarify the difference.

Also, I went back and forth over making an impressively lame "splitting hairs" pun and putting it in the caption, and eventually decided that I should, but only in this note acknowledging that it was really, really lame and that you should not support that kind of low-grade nonsense.

I'm not even sure what the match being set in Michigan means here. Does Sparky lose his power if everything is frozen over? Perhaps, or maybe he just lures you into spending a lot of time in what precious little sunlight remains and you wind up being blinded by the glare from the snow.

Could go either way, but in the interest of facial hair, Sparky prevails.

Arizona State advances.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Mascot Bracket 2014 - Round of 32 - Part One

#1 Florida Gators vs. #9 Pittsburgh Panthers

What's this? Two actually dangerous animals instead of an endless series of Wildcats? I'd started to think we were over that.

Florida still gets home-field by virtue of being the higher seed, which would normally be a large advantage, but I don't see any reason that the Pittsburgh Panther has to be Puma concolor and not a swamp-friendly subspecies like P. concolor coryi, the Florida Panther, who seems perfectly fine in a swamp.

Also, the events of the last few weeks (as well as, you know, '00-'06) allow for the mental image of Roberto Luongo wrasslin' gators, and that's just really fun.

He seems like he'd try earnestly, before someone younger tried to tag him out and then eventually gets moved to the Devils.

Pittsburgh advances.

#12 Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks vs. #13 Tulsa Golden Hurricane

Hurricanes are destructive forces of nature that occasionally destroy a city and millions of lives. I've never experienced one (having only lived in a hurricane-prone location for a short three-month stint in 2004, and even then, I was pretty far inland), but my impression is that they're pretty serious and awful.

But after they pass, we rebuild. We put our buildings back up and go on with our lives. And what do we do that with?

Concrete, probably. Lots of other building materials that I'm not sure of because I don't build buildings.

But probably some wood too, right? So lumberjacks? I guess. Sure.

Stephen F. Austin advances.

#11 Dayton Flyers vs. #14 Western Michigan Broncos

I'll admit, I'm a little biased toward Rudy Flyer. I think it's the fashionable jumpsuit. Maybe the goggles. Actually, the more I look at him, the more he looks like a Dr. Horrible henchman, which presumably exists in the expanded universe somewhere (provided that exists).

Broncos are great, but they're less mobile than basically anything Rudy Flyer is flying, and Buster Bronco seems to have been hitting the laudanum, so this is even less of an even match.

Buster's orange-crushing skills won't save him here.

Dayton advances.

#7 New Mexico Lobos vs. #15 Eastern Kentucky Colonels

It's time once again for me to wish that New Mexico's mascot was Los Lobos, and to lobby for that change by including Los Lobos in the post, preceded by Lou Diamond Phillips being Richie Valens.

I assume they're not purely because they're from Dixon, CA, and so we've got Lobo Louie. To be honest here, even though Kentucky Colonel is an honorific, chances are the guy's got a firearm, as gun ownership rates in Kentucky are just under 50%, so it's a coin flip.

I don't know that Louie Lobo has enough fight to compete with that, and I can only assume the lolling tongue will interfere somehow.

That's a safety hazard.

Eastern Kentucky Advances.

#1 Virginia Cavaliers vs. #9 George Washington Colonials

Well, this one's sort of circular. The (historical) Cavaliers predated Washington, but were Colonials (as they were in the Colony of Virginia). I could do a lot more research into the history of the Virginia Regiment and Washington's own views on the Cavalier's royalist aims (considering that his ancestors were royalists) or how the children of the Virginia Cavaliers would have changed their views in the context of Revolutionary War-era America.

But I'm not going to, because this is a silly mascot bracket.

If this is just "Virginia Milita vs. Virginia Militia with George Washington as a mascot", I'm guessing this ends with Washington allowing his fellow Virginians to continue on without him.

Virginia advances.

#5 Cincinnati Bearcats vs. #4 Michigan State Spartans

Even if the seeds were reversed and the Fightin' Binturongs got home-field advantage, I'm not sure there's much to be done here. The Spartans were really quite good at killing things, and as far as I can find, Bearcats mostly just smell like popcorn.

Adorable, just not particularly good against lots of swords.

Michigan State advances.

#11 Providence Friars vs. #14 North Carolina Central Eagles

I'd really just sort of started getting over the terror I felt at Friar Dom's dead-eyed gaze, but here we are again.


North Central Carolina's going with sort of a generic Bald Eagle, and I don't want to come off as unpatriotic here, but I'm just not all that excited about his prospects here. Sure, Friar Dom might not be able to stare into the depths of his soul and remove that part that makes the NCCU Eagle alive, but he's probably got some means of dealing with local wildlife. Friar Tuck had weapons; I don't see why Friar Dom wouldn't.

Providence advances.

#7 Connecticut Huskies vs. #15 Milwaukee Panthers

The Huskies' last win was mostly based on their endurance in adverse climates, and they're playing on home turf again. But while panthers aren't native to the tundra necessarily, these are from Milwaukee. That gains them a bonus both in resistance to cold and antipathy towards Cubs Fans.

It pains me to do this again, but I think "wild large cat" is going to have to win out over "sled-pulling dog".

Milwaukee advances.