"The most charming thing in the world is failure with the best intentions."
- Kenneth Arthur
I was thinking about this the other day when I was listening to a podcast featuring Paul F. Tompkins (Best Week Ever, Comedy Bang! Bang!) reading his Google Voicemail transcripts. Basically, Google would take your voicemails, transcribe them, and then e-mail them to you... which is more convenient, how? Beyond the absurdity of the process, Google's translations of the words were also horribly disfigured.
The results are quite hilarious, of course. The highlight being Tim Meadows (Saturday Night Live, Ladies Man) reading Google's interpretation of Martin Luther King's (Civil rights, The 60's) "I have a dream" speech. How could something that is so blatantly mangled and incorrect end up providing entertainment to the masses?
It's not just because it's nonsensical, I don't think. It actually has more to do with the fact that the program was meant to be close to 100-percent accurate, otherwise what would be the point? Google had intended to make something great and gave us something awful and for the sake of comedy, Thank God. If I sat here and started typing nonsense on purpose, it wouldn't be funny. (Though some would say typing nonsense is my M.O.) It would be douchey. If it happens by mistake, by a random set of circumstances that come together to form something almost perfectly imperfect like the creation of Earth itself, how can you not appreciate that?
For example, you can't set out to make a bad movie and expect it to be so bad it's good. The greatest worst films are the ones made by directors that had every bit as much passion as Steven Spielberg without an ounce of the talent: James Nguyen (Birdemic), Uwe Boll (House of the Dead, Postal), and the king himself, Tommy Wiseau (The Room.)
These are men that strive for greatness and not only come up short, but went the opposite direction. They hit a home run and ran the bases counter-clockwise. I don't pity these men, I admire their drive. Their heart. For every one Tommy Wiseau there are 5,000 film students whining about how they could do it better but haven't even picked up a camera or finished a screenplay. They've done nothing and directors like those listed above -- and plenty more that I didn't mention here -- are being written about, watched, studied. At least we saw their vision, even if it was lost in translation.
(Interesting to note that much like with Google Voicemail, there was simply a bad interpretation of the English language. You'll notice this with most bad movies. The directors above are Vietnamese, German, and "Parts unknown.")
They came, they tried, they failed with hilarious consequences.
The 2013 NFL season is finally upon us.
Every NFL team believes that they are better than you think they are. I can't promise you that the Bills think they are going to win the Super Bowl, but I'd bet that they think they are "going to the playoffs and then anything can happen." On the outside looking in, we see a team that is going to start an undrafted free agent in Week 1 because he "beat out" one of the worst first round draft picks of the century that was only with the team for a week. And then when one of them is healthy, they'll go with either a quarterback that wasn't wanted by the Arizona Cardinals or a rookie that most were shocked to see be the first QB taken in the draft.
But the Bills know something we don't know. What is it? What is that secret they hold? I don't know... Like I said, the Bills know something we don't know.
It's the locker room speeches, the conditioning, the plays they've kept hidden, the secret weapon. It's months of minicamp, training camp, and summer camp. It's a new head coach, a new general manager, a new quarterback(s) and a new attitude. They might make statements like "These aren't the Bills you're used to seeing" and "We're going to go back to the way it was in the early 90's, when Buffalo roamed as kings."
Every year a team can point back to some team from the previous year that surprised every fan. "The Colts went from last place to the playoffs!" they'll shout. Metaphorically. Quietly. Silently within themselves. They believe because they have to believe, because it's what makes them get up in the morning and show up to practice to be the best they're capable of and makes every day worth it (and millions of dollars. Just stacks and stacks of cash.)
The GM sells it to the owner that the team is improved so that he can keep his job. The coach sells it to the GM. The assistant coaches sell it to the head coach. The players sell it to the assistant coaches. The trainers sell it to the players. And eventually even the concessions staff is selling it to the barista at Starbucks. It trickles down with consistent fervor because everyone just wants either a job or a reason; A reason to believe that you won't have to wait 365 days until it starts over again.
And then you play the Patriots in Week 1 and remember that you're the Bills.
It's not that I mean to pick on Buffalo. There is nothing personal about this. They just so happen to be... a really bad team right now. Three years ago, even two years ago, that team could be your Seattle Seahawks. And I could've done nothing but sit there and take it.
No talent. No quarterback. No logical reason to believe that this would be the year. Only hope. The kind of hope that can even carry you to a playoff win over the Saints after a losing season and have you wondering if something magical was about to happen until it doesn't. Things have gone right for Seattle since then but it didn't have to go right. Most rebuilds probably don't go right.
I want to say that the team has been lucky but that's not true. Pete Carroll and John Schneider and the dozens of staff members that never get mentioned but deserve plenty of credit are actually just really good at their jobs. The team hasn't been lucky other than the fact that every team could have drafted Russell Wilson but didn't. That's lucky. The Seahawks have improved because they've got good leadership.
The fans have been very lucky though.
Still we musn't forget that at this moment the Seahawks stand on the precipice of either Ishtar or Avatar.
Ishtar isn't the worst movie ever made (or so I've heard) and Avatar isn't the best movie ever made (by a longshot) but both had only the highest expectations and there was only, truly, if we're being honest, one goal in mind: Make money money, make money money money.
Ishtar had a reported budget of $55 million (in 1987, mind you) and banked less than $15 million at the box office. Avatar had a reported budget of $237 million and just here in the little, old U.S. banked $760 million. One was a labor of love starring Dustin Hoffman (Rain Man, Runaway Jury) and Warren Beatty (Dick Tracy, The 58th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards) and currently holds a 3.9 on IMDb, the other was James Cameron's true "baby" and was literally sold out for weeks. Avatar was nominated for Best Picture rightfully so not because of it's story (which was just awful) but because of it's imagery (which was just stunning) and also why it made $2.7 billion worldwide. Who knew that Pocahontas could be so valuable?
"Good" and "bad"? Who cares.
Truthfully I don't care if the Seahawks are "good" or "bad." I only care if they "win" or "lose." Fact. The Giants have two Super Bowl wins in the last six years. Fact. The Ravens were probably like the 10th best team during the regular season and nobody will ever remember or care about that. Fact. If the Seahawks had miracled four playoff wins in 2010 that would be the end of the discussion -- "The 7-9 team that won the Super Bowl"? Key words "Won the Super Bowl."
I hear that Ishtar is overrated in how awful people claim it to be, a little bit of a hidden gem ruined only be reputation. I know that Avatar on DVD is absolutely Garbage City, Pandora.
Wins and losses, baby.
Seattle enters the season as Super Bowl (or at least NFC) favorites for many pundits, experts, analysts, and fans, even those that have zero affiliation or affection for the team you hold so dearly. Remove bias and focus only on talent and you'll see that few teams can stand next to the Seahawks and not look like Paul Giamatti (John Adams) standing beside Paul Walker (Brian O'Conner.) It's beautiful to gaze upon this roster, to do anything not to shield your eyes from the brighty brightness, and to dream.
Maybe this is "the year."
But what does that even mean? That anything less than a championship will be considered failure? That we can't savor victories that don't result in a Lombardi Trophy? That the fans of 31 teams, totaling perhaps at least 100,000,000 people worldwide, will eventually end up kicking rocks? Remember that every small victory is a victory on it's own. That joy comes in all shapes and forms and that Russell Wilson works in mysterious ways.
You're only as young, beautiful, and successful as you perceive yourself to be. You're only as happy as you perceive yourself to be. I can find you a rich loser and a poor winner if I step onto Sunset Blvd in Hollywood and simply look at two people. It doesn't matter if you're a Bills fan, a Seahawks fan, or a cheerleaders fan, measure success this season in how much you enjoyed the journey, not only in how "good" or "bad" you are.
I think Seattle has the best team. The best team in the NFL rarely wins the Super Bowl. The only guarantee about which team will win the Super Bowl is that it will be the team that wins the Super Bowl. Don't get caught up too much in the wins and losses, the good and the bad, because either way we've got an exciting product to watch and the rest is a guesstimate of chance. We aren't The Room, we aren't Ishtar, we aren't Avatar. As of this moment, we are Seahawks. If you gave up every time a season didn't end up in a championship, what are you still doing here?
Enjoy the ride as much as possible and ride the wave until it crashes. The only promise I can make you is that whether it's good or bad, it won't stop short of keeping you entertained.
Even the worst thing in the world can be perfect, as long as the intentions are pure.
I will be out of the country and likely out of touch for the next eight days. Yes, I will miss the Seahawks opening game, but I also didn't want to miss out on life. I have recorded a special Bonus episode of NSFW before I go, a Seahawks-centric Seahawkular talking about final cuts, Chris Harper, and more. Enjoy! NSFW 3 (Download)