Staff List: Final Four

Inspired by the bracketology of March Madness the Bureau Staff picks the winners for the arguments that matter most.

The Bygone Bureau editorial staff is filled with masculine, sports-loving American types. For example, we love the sport of basketball so much that we were fully cognizant of the large collegiate tournament featuring that event, which is traditionally held during the month of March. We certainly do not need to be reminded of that fact every year by The Morning News’s Tournament of Books, which is more for liberal, sports-hating sissy types. In the spirit of sports, which you will recall we love, but not books, we have put together this feature.

(We also wanted to reassure readers that just because we have a beautiful new site, that won’t stop the editors from marring it with questionable amateur design.)

Most Futile Grammatical Correction

To be a pedant is to walk a fine line between condescending smugness and apoplectic rage. Each of these common grammatical errors definitely elicits more of the latter than the former. At least there is a good argument to be had over using which vs. that in a relative clause, depending on which side of the Atlantic you are on. And there is hope, however slim, that the confusion between its and it’s can be stamped out by aggressive correction. But for sheer frustration, there is nothing that can top a grammatical rule A) that is fast becoming obsolete and B) that sometimes gets hypercorrected, even by the pros. — Assistant Editor Darryl Campbell

Awkwardest Oscar Moment

Sean Penn and Elinor Burkett were guilty of being self-absorbed, but egomania is practically a requirement in the film industry, so that wasn’t surprising. And as awkward as the best picture announcement was, Tom Hanks was backed into a corner thanks indirectly to Ben Stiller’s (once again, self-indulgent) riff on Avatar. But what stuck out to me was the blatant attempt to yoke proper horror movies with the Twilight series for the sake of drumming up some extra business, under the guise of giving it the “respect” it deserved. The montage mostly showcased formulaic or cliched moments, too; if it was meant as praise for the genre, it was entirely of the backhanded sort. — Assistant Editor Darryl Campbell

Best Meat

Chicken, I love you, but damn can you be bland, boring, and sad. When you’re at your best, you are the best, but you too often play the role of “inoffensive meaty filler,” so you’re out. And Duck, let’s be honest, you’re just here to fill out the bracket. Okay, I gotta give it to you: your fat drippings, c’est magnifique! But you don’t have the potential to become a true staple like our other candidates. Sorry.

So, beef and pork. Well, when the category is “meat,” it’s tough to argue with “Steak.” If that’s too rich for your blood, the ground variety gives us the venerable, thrifty, versatile burger. And who can deny the allure of slicing into a perfect, medium-rare roast. Beef is great because, at least in my experience, its presence always makes a dish a little bit special.

But as much as we Americans love our beef, pretty much every other cuisine on Earth prefers pork, and I think they just might be on to something. The bottom line, for me, is that pork offers the best price to flavor ratio of any meat. Supermarkets practically give away big, tough hunks of pork shoulder, which time an patience can render into divine carnitas. The tenderloin, a lean, delicate cut can be had for a fraction of the equivalent cut of beef. And the soul of the American breakfast centers on the savory fattiness of sausage and bacon. So don’t call me anything but a patriot for crowning pork the king of meats. — Editor Nick Martens

Best Mega Man Boss Theme

This was such a rich topic that I decided to forgo my typical procedure of exhaustive research and simply rely on what I instinctively know and recall. Now, let it be said that I did not play every Mega Man game ever, simply because there are more Mega Man games than people in the Ukraine. I have, however, played the all the classic NES and SNES versions, so I’d say this makes me relatively qualified.

And oh, the 8-bit glory of Mega Man music. Let’s start with Bubble Man’s theme song. The benign, airy beginning quickly swells into a mysterious, spacey epic with a tantalizing back-beat that energizes you with every skip-jump performed. But Bubble Man’s theme pales in comparison to the Snake Man song, widely regarded as the bravura Mega Man theme of the NES generation. The tremulous beats with that distorted and otherworldly sound, combined with Snake Man’s truly ground-breaking level design (remember those gyrating snake platforms?) means that Snake Man wins this round.

Some may object to the addition of Spark Mandrill in this competition because he’s from another platform (SNES) and thus has greater technology to work with. But his theme stays true to the Mega Man style and takes it in a completely new direction worth noting. The theme explodes in a refulgent faux-electric guitar sound completely unique to Mega Man, and it simply electrifies (or perhaps sparks?) the play experience and sense of tension and danger. And as much as I admire Quick Man’s ineffably melancholic 8-bit dirge, it doesn’t stand up to Spark Mandrill’s intensity of experience.

Thus, we must conclude that Spark Mandrill’s theme is the best Mega Man song produced. There are many detractors, I’m sure, and I sincerely hope the results of this bracket do not finalize the debate raging around this topic, but rather produce new arguments and insights. I’m welcome to your thoughts on the issue. — Writer Jordan Barber

Best News Blooper on YouTube

News bloopers fall into roughly two categories: reporters out of their element, making asses out of themselves, and reporters who just don’t have it together even in the studio. Although the Grape Stomp lady and the Boom Goes the Dynamite guy made Greg Rutter’s Definitive List of internet memes, both are a little too uncomfortable to watch twenty times in a row. And even though the lizard freakout is good, the clear winner in this one is the newscaster, Cynthia Izaguirre of Albuquerque’s KOAT Channel 7, who introduces the Mt. Everest climber and can’t even correct herself properly the first time. — Assistant Editor Darryl Campbell

Best Quentin Tarantino Film

The opening “Like a Virgin” conversation aside, there are few moments in Reservoir Dogs that stand a chance against Pulp Fiction’s dialogue. On the other side, Kill Bill Vol. 2 may be a culmination of Tarantino’s favorite Western and Japanese revenge tales, but last year’s history-bending Inglourious Basterds isn’t just a tribute — it’s a self-conscious movie-about-movies, and better, if not the ultimate, revenge story.

Which brings Pulp Fiction and Inglourious Basterds to the finals.

The most common complaints about the Tarantino’s films are that they are either “too Tarantino” or “not Tarantino enough,” which is a reviewer’s way of comparing all the director’s movies to Pulp Fiction. But in five or ten years, I think Basterds will be the new standard of “Tarantinoness” (“Tarantinocity?”). It’s a bolder and stranger film than Pulp Fiction, more ambitious without sacrificing Tarantino’s meticulous ear for dialogue.

For a movie so audacious, Basterds is incredibly patient. The narrative may not be linear, but each scene is tightly constructed and carefully paced. And what Pulp Fiction character can even stand beside Christoph Waltz’s Oscar-winning portrayal of Colonel Hans Landa — one of the most original, captivating villains to ever grace the silver screen?

Also, Tarantino considers Inglourious Basterds his best work to date. If there’s one thing the guy is good at other than making movies, it’s talking about himself. — Editor Kevin Nguyen

Dish That Best Exemplifies the Quality of a Chinese Restaurant

As far as main dishes go, kung pao chicken is the right mix of popular and complicated. It requires a lot more finesse than any kind of battered meat-based dish or even most stir-fries, because you have to keep the vegetables crisp and the peanuts from getting burnt. Most of all, it can’t be bland. The appetizer bracket is a little more difficult, but in my experience a restaurant that makes a bad egg roll can still produce quality food, whereas one that makes a bad pot sticker is all but doomed. But pot stickers are a brute force method that can only tell you good from bad; kung pao chicken will give you degrees of difference. — Assistant Editor Darryl Campbell