Friday, March 31, 2006

David vs. Goliath, or how Geoge Mason should Act Saturday

I read recently that the core group of seniors that comprise the surprising George Mason basketball team refer to themselves as "The Dynasty Class." Apparently, they have been using this nickname ever since their freshman year. I like that because it upholds their status as a "David" versus the "Goliaths."

Wait a minute you might ask? Aren't "Davids" supposed to be underdogs? Underdogs don't go around proclaiming that they are favored in any way, shape, or form. They are supposed to be humble and deferential, right?

Well, it is true that the most used metaphor for teams such as George Mason are "Cindarellas" and Cindarella was certainly humble and deferential, allowing fate and her fairy godmother to propel her forward. If it were up to her, she'd still be sweeping floors and wouldn't have even made the "big dance."

David was a different story. We think of him as a wide-eyed kid just kind of flinging a slingshot like Doug Flutie throws a Hail Mary Pass, just kind of hoping for a stroke of luck before Goliath snaps him in two like a twig. The funny thing is that if we go back to the Good Book itself, David was a pretty cocky little kid. There was no doubt in his mind that he was going to win the fight with Goliath.

First King Saul tried to talk him out of going to the fight: "You are little more than a little boy" he somewhat rationally pointed out in 1 Sam 17:31 (TNIV). David would have none of this "little boy" talk: "Your servant has been keeping his father's sheep. When a lion or a bear came...I went after it...I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it." (I Sam 34-35) This is pretty comedic when we think about it. It can be translated into today's vernacular this way:

Saul: Um, you are a little kid.
David: With all do respect sir, I have killed lions and bears with my bare hands. Don't "little kid" me.

Then when he goes to meet Goliath, Goliath is understandably pretty upset that he is being insulted. He's been railing against the Israelite army for 40 days and when they finally send someone to fight him, they send a little kid. Goliath says "Am I a dog, that you come after me with sticks?...come here and I'll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals" (I Sam 17:44).

David isn't too intimidated: "This day the LORD will deliver you into my hands, and I'll strike you down and cut off your head" (I Sam 17:46), which is of course, exactly what happened. Now, to me that is pretty refreshing, kind of like Joe Namath's "We'll beat the Colts. I guarantee it." I wonder if more underdogs talked like David if we'd have more Davids reach the Final Four. In particular, Davidson University seems like they have the potential to be a David.

Edit: I think GMU heard a little bit too much "Cindarella" talk and not enough "David and Goliath." For what it's worth, I don't doubt that Joakim Noah would beat the crap out of Goliath.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Best Song Ever

It's always a tough question when you ask a music fan what his or her favorite song is. There are so many that resonate in so many different ways, and depending on where you are at and what you are feeling different songs hit you in different ways. There is also something to be said for the effect a song has if you haven't heard it in a long time. That's why I will never attempt to answer what my favorite song is. However, deciding what song is the best ever is an entirely different question. It's theoretically possible that one may not even like a song that one acknowledge's to be the best song ever. In fact, the song that I have only recently decided is the best song ever is one that I wouldn't want to hear too often because I would definitely grow to hate it.

If you had asked me to name the best song ever when I was in middle school, I likely would have said Hank Williams Jr.'s "Monday Night Football" theme song. I wasn't too much into music at the time (in my defense if you grew up in the 2 Live Crew/New Kids on the Block Era/M.C. Hammer era you understand). Then in high school, I probably would have nominated a Beatles song for best ever, probably "Let It Be" (I've always been a sucker for McCartney's melodies, and the George guitar part in there is perfect). In early college I would have said the Doors "The End" is the best song ever, and in late college I would have gotten in a fight if anyone said Dylan's "Desolation Row" isn't the best song ever (unless they said Dylan's "Gates of Eden" is the only song better...I would have let that one slide).

Now I realize that the best song ever can't be something esoteric like "Desolation Row." "Desolation Row" can still be the best folk-rock dirge ever, but the best song ever needs to be something that can cut across cultural boundries. It must be something that can work on "Kids Bop" and something that can be played at a senior's convention. It must be something that men and women can listen to. It must be something you can enjoy if you are erudite or illiterate.

It must also walk a fine line between having meaning and not having too much meaning. "Desolation Row" has no apparent meaning at first listen, but upon opening oneself to the song, it has seemingly infinite meanings. The best song ever can't do that. It must have a universal meaning that is obvious at first listen, and it must stop there.

Since music is emotional, the best song ever needs to touch an emotional chord, it must be "slightly mawkish." It can not be schlocky or bombastic, but should leave one feeling slightly embarrassed for liking it. That's why it should likely be a piano heavy song. That's why Elton John came very close at many times to writing the best song ever, but ultimately fell short. For it must be a modest down-to-earth human who wrote the song, and not someone wearing sunglasses the size of Rhode Island. That's why the best song ever is...

100 Years by Five For Fighting

Friday, March 24, 2006

In Case You Are Interested

Many people have asked me lately how I think the work of the Cameroonian philosopher Achille Mbembe can be applied to Kenyan novelist Nguigi Wa Thiong'o's 1977 book _Petals of Blood_. O.K. no one has asked me that and never will, but in my pretend world where people come up to me on the street and ask me about this topic I'd simply whip out the following and give it to them:

African thinker Achille Mbembe, in “African Modes of Self-Writing,” advocates the creation of a new philosophic system of inquiry in order to better confront the challenges facing post-colonial Africa. He sees shortcomings in the current discourse about the African condition, describing it as indulging in too much lamentation of the past and not enough consideration about the present: “…governed though it has been, for the most part, by narratives of loss, such meditation. . . .has not yielded any integrated philosophico-theological inquiry systematic enough to situation human misfortune and wrongdoing in a singular theoretical framework” (239). To Mbembe, this failure to locate a new theoretical framework has real and dangerous implications. More than simply dwelling on the past, these multiple “narratives of loss” cause an environment in which bloodshed is tolerated and where violence is sanctioned.
In an interview with Christian Hoeller, Mbembe raises the theoretical question “How can we account for the contemporary ways in which the political, under the guise of war, of resistance or of the fight against terror, makes the murder of the enemy its primary and absolute objective?” In “African Modes of Self-Writing” Mbembe belies his apparent neutrality as a framer of this question, offering us a working hypothesis in response. He argues that the surrendering of individual subjectivity leads to an economy of death and violence. Whether subjectivity is surrendered to the state or to the private militia, the end results is an exchange economy in which the “dead civilian” (a term he uses in the Hoeller interview) symbolizes the attainment of power. He writes:
“…violent conflicts no longer necessarily imply that those who have weapons oppose each other. Many conflicts are likely to oppose those who have weapons and those who have none…the resulting forms of violence have as their chief goals the physical destruction of people (massacres of civilians, genocides, various kinds of maiming)…” (268).
Mbembe elaborates that such a willingness to kill also involves a willingness to be killed, since the driving force behind the economy of violence is the surrender of one’s subjectivity to the value of “sacrifice”: “Most of these events stem from the idea of history as a sacrificial process. Here the word sacrifice has two senses: self-sacrifice (putting one’s life at someone else’s disposal, getting killed for a cause) and mass murder (the physical annihilation of countless human lives)” (268).
One striking aspect of Mbembe’s model is that it allows for multiplicity—whether violence is perpetuated by individuals acting in the name of a cause, causes acting in the name of individualism, individuals acting in the name of a state, or states acting in the name of individualism. It also accounts for a confluence of divergent ideologies competing amongst one another. As Mbembe states to Hoeller, “…as a temporal formation , the postcolony is definitely an era of dispersed entanglements….From a spatial point of view, it is an overlapping of different, intersected and entwined threats in tension with one another. Here, the task of the analyst is to tease out those threads, to locate those intersections and entwinements.”
Such is the task confronting an analyst of Ngugi Wa Thiong’o’s novel Petals of Blood. The novel features four protagonists, whose lives are invariably entwined. More than just happenstances of plot, though, the four characters are entwined ideologically. Each has a different way of dealing with what Ngugi would likely call their “neo-colonial” oppression, yet each of their divergent ideologies eventually finds an intersection in the characters’ willingness to disavow their own subjectivity. The surrender of their selfhoods is not linear or predictable, though. Each of them oscillates between surrendering selfhood to a great cause (and thereby in Mbembe’s model entering into an economy of violence) and surrendering selfhood to despair and nothingness in the face of overwhelming oppression. They have a damnable dilemma of not resistance or surrender, but of surrender or assimilation. For in Mbembe’s model, even resistance takes the form of assimilation.
Consider first the character of Abdulla. His distinctive physical feature is a handicap, the missing of a leg, the price he once paid for his past identity of a revolutionary. He has become a marked man, a symbol of the power wielded by the state. According to Mbembe, a body such as Abdulla’s is the site with which the state reminds the individual of its power: “Trauma has become something quasi-permanent. Memory is physically embedded in bodies marked with the signs of their own destruction, moving through a general landscape of fragmentation and economic decay” (267). The general landscape that Mbembe speaks of becomes a very particular landscape when Abdulla arrives and sets up shop in Ilmorog. It is worth noting too that Abdulla is a typically Mbembeian victim in that he was a weapon-less victim at the hands of those who had weapons. In fact, it was the attempted attainment of weapons that led to the death of his friend Nding’uri. It is perhaps also noteworthy that Abdulla’s idol Ole Masai was killed when his gun malfunctioned—far from being a guarantee of safety, the loss of arms in this economy is a symbol for easy victimhood.
Abdulla retreats from the political world and into his own world. He finds meaning by entering into a surrogate family unit with the orphan Joseph and with his donkey, and later in a business partnership with Wanja. However, it is the loss of Joseph (to school), the donkey, the business, and Wanja which eventually leads to a total withdrawal not only from the political realm, but from any attempt to construct a personal identity. He ends up in the slum, drinking cheap Theng’eta. Yet try as he might, he can not escape from the latent desire to once again assert his political consciousness. When visited by Karega, he is reminded of the ghost of Nding’uri (Karega’s brother), and he is once again roused into the economy of war. Eventually he gets to a mental state in which “He was Mobotu…he was Amin…he was his own donkey…He was so many things, so many different people, but himself. At the same time he felt weak, as if he was losing the last shred of his manhood” (315). This leads not to an explosion of emotion, but more eerily, to a surrender of consciousness: “He was suddenly very lucid, calm inside. A sixteen year mist had cleared….Kimeria would die” (316).
Though Abdulla surrenders his “manhood” in order to ultimately enter into the economy of violence, Wanja was born into a patriarchal society without even the benefit of a manhood to surrender. Instead, she spends most of her life surrendering her womanhood to men’s desires: first to merely survive, then for the benefit of her village when she gave herself to Kimeria, and finally as a means to enter, not the economy of violence, but rather the dehumanizing economy of commoditization, as she decides that one must, “Eat or you are eaten” (293). Her tactical pragmatism has always amazed Karega: “…he could not help marveling at how Wanja could be different people in different times and places and situations” (322). Much like Abdulla’s multiple personalities, Wanja’s condition leads to a loss of autonomy. She kills Kimeria, but it is not her own degradation that provides the motivation that drives the panga into his chest, rather “…it was the picture of her grandfather that now stood vivid in her mind as Kimeria knocked at the door” (329). Much like Abdulla was acting on the politics of a deceased friend, Wanja acts on the politics of her grandfather, who was willing to sacrifice himself for his cause (and in a re-occurrence of the motif of the weaponless victim, was killed when his gun malfunctioned).
Although Karega and Wanja are willing to enter into the economy of violence, they are spared from having to make a sacrifice in the form of a deus ex machina. Munira is the one who actually has to suffer for entering this economy. Through most of the narrative, he seems an unlikely character for this fate, as his subjectivity is alternately surrendered to either Wanja or hopelessness, but never to a cause that would demand sacrifice. However, he finds such a cause in the belief system that is centered around the notion of sacrifice—Christianity. His brand is a particularly zealous Pentecostal Christianity at that, the type of faith which allows for gifts of prophecy or special knowledge, called “charisma.” Mbembe says of this phenomenon: “Charisma is particularly interesting in that it encompasses two apparently contradictory tendencies. On the one hand, it represents the zenith of individuality as well as of shared experience….charisma marks investiture with a distinct, autonomous power and authority that is benevolently exercised in the service of a community” (270).
In other words, it gives the individual license to act as an agent on behalf of the community. It is with such license, and a corresponding surrender of personal subjectivity, with which Munira commits his murderous act of violence: “He, Munira, had willed and acted, and he felt, as he knelt down to pray, that he was no longer an outsider, for he had finally affirmed his oneness with the law” (333). In this sentence he encompasses Mbembe’s “contradictory tendencies”: he asserts his subjectivity “He, Munira, had willed and acted” while at the same time surrendering it to something greater: “he had finally affirmed his oneness with the law.”
Munira commits his act ostensibly to save Karega. Despite their differences, the two have much in common. They both believe in community and in surrendering autonomy to the greater good, even if that means sacrifice, either of self or others. The narrative ends ambiguously, but with the suggestion that Karega supports violent revolution in order to stop what he sees as a system that leads to oppression. In his harsh rhetoric: “These few who had prostituted the whole land turning it over to foreigners for thorough exploitation, would drink people’s blood….The system and its gods and its angels had to be fought consciously, consistently, and resolutely by all its working people!” (344). The invocation, even metaphorical, of “gods” and “angels” gives credence to Mbembe’s attack on Marxist paradigms as ultimately mystical. He calls it a “…mechanistic and reified vision of history. Causality is attributed to entities that are fictive and wholly invisible” (243). Karega’s oppression might be real, but his continued participation in his oppressor’s economy, in Mbembe’s model, is what gives fuel to the fire. It also prevents the hard work necessary to construct a new philosophic model for Africa, one in which individuality can flourish without sacrifice.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Hegel on Music and other thoughts

One thing you've got to love about the era we live in now is the way in which newsmakers can speak for themselves through websites instead of relying on the media to filter their comments. I still think we need "old media" to ask the questions to get information that newsmakers wouldn't be willing to offer on their own, but there is something to be said for giving a charismatic public figure access to a public forum. Unfortunately, the people whose actions have a legitimate effect on our society, such as politicians and business leaders, are a bit behind the times. Other than a few enterprising types such as Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, I can't think of any true movers and shakers who have a blog worth reading. They are still reliant on the old model of letting P.R. firms carefully filter any communique with the public.

Not so for celebs in the realm of entertainment. Today has a hilarious rap posted in which T.O. mocks the "haters" by boasting about the $10 million in guaranteed money he just received from the Cowboys. How would he have gotten this message out in the days of old media? Even funnier are the ramblings from the music industry, where the Sex Pistols recently turned down an invitation to join the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame induction with a vulgar note on their website, complete with spelling and grammar errors and a lack of coherency. One could only wonder how Malcolm McLaren could have used the Internet back in 1977 to further pull off the great Rock n Roll Swindle.

I was also highly amused by a recent rant that Scott Weiland posted on the Velvet Revolver website directed toward Axl Rose. Weiland calls Axl a "fat, Botox-faced, wig-wearin' f---." He concludes the note by saying that Axl is a "frightened little man who once thought he was king, but unfortunately this king without his court is nothing but a memory of the a--hole he once was." It would make sense for Weiland and Axl to clash, just as Kurt Cobain and Axl almost got in a fistfight years ago. They represent what German philosopher G.W.F. Hegel called the "thesis" and the "antithesis." Hegel basically thought that truth came about in the union of opposites. You could say that Axl was the apotheosis of the 80s hair metal genre (thesis) and Cobain represent the 90s grunge movement that ultimately supplanted hair metal as a cultural force (antithesis). Hegel next postulated that the thesis and the antithesis would come together (synthesis) to form a new thesis. You could easily make the case that the rest of Axl's band joining with one time grunge singer Scott Weiland to form Velvet Revolver marks a perfect Hegelian synthesis. If you want to have even more fun you could speculate that the name Velvet Revolver indicates a Hegelian synthesis of two 1960s bands-- the dark and non-mainstream Velvet Underground with the more melodic and commercially viable Revolver-era Beatles. Such a mash up isn't too far from what VR sounds like.

I think the case of Audioslave would be another Hegelian synthesis, with the rap-rock of Rage Against the Machine synthesizing with the grunge of Soundgarden. It'll be interesting to see if K-Fed and Britney will some day form a band that Hegel would be proud of.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Heart of a Champion

Thankfully, I haven't heard that phrase this March. A couple years back during tournament time you would hear commentators use that term with a straight face to explain how a 14th seed beat a 3 seed. It couldn't have been superior talent, the thinking goes, so it must have been all about the "heart." You often hear the theory that the team who won "simply wanted it more." The very term "March Madness" itself implies a de-emphasis on the cerebral or even the physical and an emphasis on the romantic, the valuing of some kind of crazy romantic pulsing emotion as the key to winning athletic competitions.

I thought about these assumptions the other night while listening to the Korea vs. Japan WBC game (Digression-- I had to listen on my XM because ESPN2 showed it on tape delay at 1 a.m. I'm not sure why college softball was shown instead, nor do I think there is any reason that would satisfy me-- end digression). The announcers, Charley Steiner and Kevin Kennedy, commented about how crisply and fundamentally sound the two teams played, in comparison to the sloppiness of the U.S. team. Steiner made an interesting observation about the level of emotion showed by the teams. He compared the disposition of a Korean pitcher after a walk ("He simply got the ball back and kept pitching like nothing happened") to Dontrelle Willis in his start against Korea (who walked around the mound shaking his head). It may be a bit of a cultural stereotype to describe these far Eastern teams in Zen-like states, but I think there is something to the observation that there is a major cultural difference in how demonstrative athletes are, and how much emotion is shown during competition. That's not to say that the Eastern athletes don't have emotion, as evidenced by the Korean celebration after their victory over Japan, culminating with them jubilantly planting their flag on the pitcher's mound. It's just that emotion is held in check while competing.

Roger Clemens is a pitcher notorious for thriving on emotion, so much so that he claims to have not been thinking clearly when he threw a jagged bat at Mike Piazza in the 2000 World Series. A lot of people had trouble believing this explanation, but I can see how the part of his brain dealing with logical thought may have shut down in this spot. It's true that Roger Clemens is one of the best pitchers ever, but could he have been even better if he had a more Zen-like approach to his craft? Would he have beat Mexico last night? I guess we'll never know. Just like we'll probably never know what really goes into the making of the heart of a champion.

Monday, March 13, 2006

March Lukewarmness

A note to disappointed U of L fans: Don't be! Let's be honest, the Cards weren't going back to the Final Four this year even if they had made the tourney. Let me amend that: they wouldn't have gone to the NCAA Final Four. As a top seed, they are actually favored to go to the NIT Final Four. Would you rather lose in the first round of the NCAAs or go to the NIT Final Four?

Perhaps I'm biased because I like non-mainstream stuff, and the NIT is the alternative March tournament. Or perhaps I'm biased because when I was growing up the NIT was the best that my teams could aspire to. Wisconsin had about 40 years between NCAA appearances, and when I first became a fan even the NIT seemed like a dream. Then in 1989 the Badgers finished with a winning record and made the NIT and it was a huge deal. I was in 5th grade, and I remember a friend of mine bragging because his older brother, a Wisconsin student, got to go to the NIT game. In the last ten years, Wisconsin has won a couple Big 10 Championships, made several NCAA Tourneys, and made a Final Four run. Yet I still remember the excitement when they beat New Orleans in the opening round of the 1989 NIT, and the disappointment when they lost to St. Louis in the second round.

One of my other favorite teams, Marquette, has a long history in the NIT. In 1970 the late legendary coach Al Maguire was unhappy with their NCAA seeding, so he said "screw you" to the NCAAs and took his team to play in the NIT, which they won. In 1995 Marquette made a run all the way to the NIT championship game, which honestly was nearly as exciting to me as their run to the NCAA final four in 2003 (remember that regional final UK fans?)

So this year I have three teams in the NCAAs: Wisconsin, Marquette, and Wisconsin-Milwaukee. However, I'd be surprised if any of them advance to the Sweet 16. So at least I'll have U of L to cheer for in the NIT.

One more note: this year for the first time (I think) the NIT actually has seeding. I am hoping that in the next few years NIT office pools start to circulate. That would be awesome.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Tatanka is Back!

In my lifetime the popularity of professional wrestling has gone through ebbs and flows. There have been two periods of absolutely peak popularity. The first was in the mid to late 80s when Hulk Hogan, Macho Man, Andre the Giant, Rowdy Roddy Piper, and many others were at the height of their popularity. The second was in the late 90s when Stone Cold, Goldberg, Triple H, and others were huge. During the first phase I was probably the only person in my elementary school who didn't pay attention to wrestling, and during the second phase I felt like the only person in my dorm who didn't watch wrestling on Monday nights.

However, I did go through a phase where I paid attention to pro wrestling. From late 1993 to early 1995, while in High School, I watched it weekly and had a friend bring over tapes of pay-per-views that his aunt and uncle had ordered. This was a period in which absolutely no one watched wrestling. It had become a joke. However, I was really into a wrestler with a Native American motif named Tatanka. I actually started a fantasy wrestling league involving the guys who were already in my fantasy football, baseball, and basketball leagues. I called my team the Bricig Tatankas. Then Tatanka turned "bad" and I pretty much quit watching around my senior year.

Now I got an e-mail from somebody who actually used to be in my fantasy wrestling league telling me that Tatanka is back. I'm flirting with the idea of watching wrestling again, if only when Tatanka is fighting. I would probably be the only person in the English graduate program who would watch wrestling, but my life has always been an odd mixture of high and low brow consumption, so I wouldn't exactly be bothered by the stigma (hey I collect comic books after all). Plus I could make the case that I was interested in wrestling in a semiotic sense, after the work of French philosopher Roland Barthes:

Which would be a lie of course. I just want to see Tatanka beat the crap out of people.

Monday, March 06, 2006

My Name in a Comic Book

I can now say that I am a published writer. Unfortunately, the type of publication is not considered as prestigious as some of the academic journals my fellow graduate students shoot for. In fact, my medium is somewhat looked down upon by the mainstream, but that in no way decreases the thrill I have of seeing my name in a Marvel comic book.

Last month, Marvel (the publisher of X-Men, Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, and the Fantastic Four among many other titles) started a new page that runs in roughly half of their comic books, called "The Hotspot." Most of the page is just an advertisement for other books coming out that month, but there is a box in which the editor answers readers' questions.

Here is what this month's box says: "We got our first Hotspot question out of the mailbag the other day. In additiion to expressing his elation at seeing the page, and imploring us to save SPIDER-GIRL from cancellation (we're trying!) reader Azor Cigelske asked:

'Will we ever see a day when, in addition to comic shops, we will go back to comics in gas stations and grocery stores? Or is the next step the end of comic shops and ten years from now all comics will be on-demand online? I'm hoping for a future where comics are available digitally, at specialty stores, and at the old-fashioned distributuion points as well. Am I dreaming?'

The editor proceeded to answer my questions with three long paragraphs, before ending with "Good question Azor" (Yes! My name appears twice!) If anyone is curious about how my question was answered, you will have to go to your local comic shop and buy one of the dozens of comics coming out this month which contains my name.

Friday, March 03, 2006

News of the Weird

I wish Chuck Shepherd's "News of the Weird" were discussed by every cable TV news show and shown on the front page of every newspaper. It's available on-line at, and I read it regularly in the "Leo." I first discovered it back in Wisconsin in the Milwaukee "Shepherd Express," the Milwaukee equivalent to the Leo.

I blogged a couple weeks ago about the recently declassified news that Stalin wanted to build super-soldier apes for the Soviet Union, a plot right out of the comic books that I read every week. Now comes this story from this week's News of the Weird: "The Times of London reported in January that according to recently released government files from the 1980s, the administration of Prime Minister Thatcher appeared seriously concerned that poachers posed a threat to the Loch Ness monster (if and when it revealed itself). (Also in those files, as reported in News of the Weird in 2004, was a letter from Swedish officials seeking advice from the Nessie-experienced British on protecting Sweden's own underwater Lake Storsjo monster.) "

How does that not end up a major media story? Wouldn't it be news if President Bush tried to formulate a plan for how the U.S. government could protect Bigfoot? And by the way, who has heard of the Lake Sorsjo monster? What makes Nessie so special that he/she is a household name while the Lake Sorsjo monster toils away in anonymity? I mean, I know Britain practiced a worldwide cultural imperialsim during the colonial era, but come on, other countries have monsters too. For example, I wish people would talk more about the African mokele mbembe, allegedly a surviving dinosaur.

Also, News of the Weird had a story about a guy who tried to burglarize an old folks home. The senior citizens proceeded to attack him, beat him, and tie him up. They proceeded to take pictures for good measure and a photo ran in the local newspapers. His lawyer pleaded for clemency, saying his client would "never be able to hold his head up in the criminal community again." Now if you ask me, this has all the elements of a hit movie. It combines the motifs of Home Alone and Grumpy Old Men. It could be huge.