The Beauty of Browns Badness and the 90s: While We’re Waiting…


Happy Thursday WFNY, and welcome to the near-weekend. What are readers up to this week? Coping with Seasonal Affective Depression (SAD) by crushing that Hibernation List or cruising for holiday movies to add to the DVR? Relishing in Ohio State’s victory over Michigan and awaiting the Big Ten Championship Game against Wisconsin? Waiting for Indians baseball to return and with it days of adequate exposure to sunlight? Enjoying the Cavaliers’ surprisingly fun win streak after a decidedly un-fun start to the season? Suffering the Browns blues? Yeah, the Browns are still bad. But while we’re waiting…

We all complain about the Browns being bad. We pout our face and stomp our feet. But if life and the last year in particular have proven anything, it’s that we should all take solace in whatever type of certainty the universe offers us. The uncertain alternative, however disconcerting, could be much bleaker and even more catastrophic. The Browns’ bad-ness is a life preserver in a turbulent and infinite ocean of boundless uncertainty, anti-realities, and alternate timelines. Feel the the Sea of Time tossing you around, choking as its waves throw water over the top of your head and into your snorkel? Afraid the republic is disintegrating? Sad that the fun internet may be dead?1 Scared of thermonuclear war? Have no fear! The Browns still suck! All is right in the world! Clutch onto that big foamy life preserver that is the Cleveland Browns and hug it tightly to your chest. Everything’s going to be alright.2

Skeptical? Hear me out. In Week 1, I was like everyone else: an innocent, naive, optimistic, doe-eyed dreamer. I imagined the Browns winning five hell maybe even six games — I was drunk on dream juice. But they lost, and at first I was sad. But then I thanked the Browns for losing — I thanked the Browns for reminding me that there are sure things in this unpredictable universe, that there are locks in this crazy life. In fact, are we sure the Browns’ consistent badness is not the only thing holding the fabric of the universe together? Friend of the Blog Will Gibson described it as his Inception totem — his spinning top to assure him that he is not in a dream. Am I sure that I’m not trapped in a dream world right now? No. Spin that top. Does it fall? Pinch yourself. Does it still hurt? Throw a ball in the air. Does it fall to the ground? Watch the Browns on Sunday. Do they still make you sad? If yes, then there’s a chance you’re not trapped in a Matrix, Inception dream, Tron world, or other false reality.

The second law of thermodynamics dictates that “entropy can never decrease over time for an isolated system.” Or, as Stephen Hawking explained in A Brief History of Time, “This says that in any closed system disorder, or entropy, always increases with time.” Put yet another way, in an oft-discussed corollary of that principle, the universe tends toward chaos. Disorder and chaos will remain supreme. Can we be sure the Browns aren’t the only thing preventing disorder from becoming the prevailing state of the universe, the only thing preventing the quarks in the protons in the nuclei in the atoms in the molecules making up humans and nachos supreme and polyester jerseys and pigskin footballs from breaking their bonds, rendering the entire universe asunder? I posit this: The Browns are not inept buffoons — they’re scientifically obedient heroes, dutifully maintaining the laws of the universe so that you and I and your brunch crew can can continue to exist as a compact, orderly, net-sober set of molecules.

Still don’t believe me? Use your wildest imagination. Try to imagine a theoretical model of the universe in which the Browns are good. Not just … fumbles-at-the-goal-line, lets-John-Elway-drive-the-length-of-the-field-to-win-the-AFC-Championship-Game good — like really really good. Does your head hurt yet? It should. Lie down if you feel light-headed. Well, for the sake of experiment, I subjected myself to a battery of scientific tests and chemical enhancements — strictly for scientific inquiry, of course — to achieve the mental state necessary to mentally construct a reality in which the Browns are good. (WARNING: Readers, do not try this at home.)

At first, this Bizarro Universe where the Browns are good seemed great — before things took a turn for the worst. The Browns were playing in Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis (lovely town). I was there! In attendance, in the third row from the sideline. The Bizarro Browns had a 14-2 record during the regular season, trounced the Pittsburgh Steelers in the second round of the playoffs, dispatched of the New England Patriots with ease, and were seven-point favorites against Carson Wentz-led Philadelphia Eagles. Things were great but nevertheless slightly and almost imperceptibly off — as if my temples were gently vibrating, and if someone were constantly running a statically charged balloon over the hairs on my skin.

It was a closely contested game throughout. The Eagles went up by 5 in the fourth quarter with 1:45 remaining. But then DeShone Kizer started driving the length of the field, looking strong, confident, and accurate. Hue Jackson called plays that didn’t seem picked from a Fuddruckers menu. Joe Thomas was healthy and mauling linebackers. Duke Johnson torched the secondary with blistering wheel routes. It was spectacular! My God, the new orange never looked oranger!

Then, things got really weird. The Browns approached the red zone, my brain rattling and humming in my cranium from the pending joy or … something else. I was too stoked to care.

On 4th-and-long from the 23-yard line with four seconds remaining, the called pass play breaks down. Kizer scrambles out of the pocket, pump-fakes a linebacker. He’s going to make it! This is the greatest moment of my life!

The stadium starts to shake violently. Is that from the crowd or- Doesn’t matter! Kizer is at the five. The stadium starts to pulsate with a reddish-orange glow.
Kizer at the four. A great chasm appears at midfield as half the field collapses into the earth! The top of U.S. Bank Stadium vanishes into the sky!
Kizer at the three. Giant bats and pterodactyls and dragons and all manner of hell-creatures fly from the chasm at midfield. Fireballs rain from the sky. Roger Goodell’s face melts like one of the Nazis at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark as lightning bolts shoot from his eyeballs. I glance at the beautiful woman next to me — she’s stunning, and she’s- Yes! That’s my wife. Yes, I’m married to this woman I’ve never seen before, but somehow I know we are. We’re wearing his and hers Browns jersey. How tacky! And yet, how adorable? She starts to say something, but No! She’s gone! My beautiful wife who I’ve never met is gone! No, please, no! Where did we meet? Can I find her irl? Does she also share an irrational hate of olives? Who was her favorite Parks & Rec character? What was her name? I’ll never know. I’m staring out into the infinity of space, all the nebulae and spectacular galaxies glowing brilliantly unobstructed by atmosphere or the limits of human perception. The stadium is gone. But the field, the field is still there! I faintly remember of a sport, a game called football, and recall from the depths of my memory that it’s the most important thing in the world. The Browns can still win the Super Bowl!

Kizer reaches from the three. He leaps! The football is mere inches from the goal line. Relativity breaks down. My limbs are ripped into the deep of space as matter disintegrates all around me, but I still have a millionth of a millionth second before my neurons transmit that my brain stem has been severed from my eyes.
The Browns are going to win the Super Bowl! But No! They don’t. DeShone Kizer is gone. And so am I. Sucked into a black hole or some other cosmic singularity-related phenomenon like the last bit of milkshake through a straw, crushed into infinitely dense nothingness. There is no Browns Super Bowl because there is no universe. Time ends. In fact, it never existed.

This is what could happen if the Browns are good! It would violate the laws of nature. The universe could become nil — all destroyed in the singularity. Do you want that? I don’t, so I’ll be the only one to take a stand that the Browns need to be bad. As Carl Sagan said in the preface to A Brief History of Time, “Some are uncomfortable with issues like these, because they so vividly expose the limitations of human understanding.” So, go ahead and yell at the TV, Browns fan sitting behind me at Roosters. I for one take great comfort in the badness of the Browns. The badness of the Browns is the certainty of the Law of Gravity, the comfort of a teddy bear for global anxiety, and the salvation of a life preserver on the chaotic Seas of Time. Hold it tight — and never let go.

The Calvin and Hobbes Strip of the Day. I suppose one pro of wintertime is an excuse to post cannibal snowman strips.

And now for the random 90s song of the day. Today’s Random 90s Song of the Day is the Pumpkins banger from Siamese Dream, “Geek U.S.A.” Although I occasionally stroll in and out of the album, I had been underappreciating “Geek U.S.A.” It’s thrilling. The guitar is relentless and vicious, but is tempered by a somnambulistic episode that is characteristic of the Smashing Pumpkins and what distinguishes them from your typical smash-and-grab metal band. “Geek U.S.A.” doesn’t receive the overt affection of songs like “Disarm,” “Hummer,” or “Cherub Rock,” but it’s unfiltered Pumpkins juice straight out of the pulper, with all the rind and guts you want from a Smashing Pumpkins song. Plus the guitar kicks so much ass.

The clip below shows a live clip of “Geek U.S.A.” from a 1993 show in Chicago. Corgan with hair is always a hoot, and he and James Iha give the live rendition all the energy the song deserves. Call me old-fashioned, but I like rock stars like they were in the 90s: drenched and sweat and wearing cheesy necklaces.

One final announcement. This edition of “While We’re Waiting…” marks the 50th Edition of the Random 90s Song of the Day. Like writing for Waiting for Next Year, I’ve taken great joy sharing a random 90s song everyday I write “While We’re Waiting.” A few weeks ago, I noticed that nowhere on Twitter — that I found — was someone sharing one bite-sized piece of 90s musical remembrance everyday. All I found were inactive accounts with no followers.3 I thought it was a void that needed to be filled, so, stating today, Twitter account @R90sSotD will share one 90s song (via Youtube) everyday. I will tentatively aim for between 9:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. ET, to get the day started. It may morph over time. We’ll see.

The next 50 days @R90sSotD will largely reshare the first 50 editions of the Random 90s Song of the Day, to hopefully start if off on the right foot. Hopefully others like me will discover it and realize one glorious 90s song per day was part of the balanced breakfast they’ve always been missing — their daily Vitamin 90s. The biggest surprises through the first 50 songs: No Nirvana, No Britney Spears, and No N’Sync. It will always be alt-rock heavy, as it’s what I’m most personally fond of and (in my opinion) it is the defining aesthetic of the era. But I will make a concerted effort to add more hip-hop and pop music to the repertoire, as those are seriously lacking in the first 50 editions. Let’s have fun with this.

  1. Without getting too into the weeds here, if you like this website, then you like Net Neutrality. If the Net Neutrality Rules are repealed, sites like Waiting for Next Year risk having to pay telecom companies to be in the “fast” lane, or having to pay hosts prohibitive amounts of money so that they can remain operational. Sites like Waiting for Next Year do not have the scratch to survive an unfair and anti-competitive landscape, which it appears we may be headed towards. Oh, and you will also likely need to pay and extra $10+ a month to not have your Netflix streaming throttled. []
  2. Hopefully. []
  3. If there is one that I missed, I apologize. I suspect there is room for another. []