Monday, November 16, 2009


Ladies and Gentlemen:

I have made an astonishing and I believe highly significant scientific discovery.

My long-lost Cousin Gregory is not only reading this blog, but even more obsessed with Mirko CroCop's high kick than I am.

Let me explain why this is amazing. First, I last saw Greg when he was a newborn infant. I remember him as pinkish and about the size of a small toaster. And actually, that may have been my cousin Jeremy, Greg's older brother. It's possible I've never once laid eyes on Greg.

I have not spoken to Greg since, not even once. My family left Manhattan for Seattle when I was about eight years old. Uncle Jay and Aunt Linda moved to Connecticut, and the cousins just never really knew each other. My mom stayed in touch with them and said everyone was fine, so I never really thought about it that much. (If you think about it, that's sad: They're my only cousins.)

But -- Lo! -- this morning, I discovered that Greg has sent me a long, thoughtful analysis of the evolution, rise and decline of CroCop's devastating left high-kick, complete with melancholic reflections on the 2007 CroCop-Gonzaga debacle. I am sure readers will be haunted, as I am, by Greg's moving account of CroCop's last days. I am put in mind of Alan Clark's immortal account of Margaret Thatcher's downfall. Anyway, herewith his thoughts:

Hi Claire,

This is your long-lost cousin Greg. I love this blog! I learned about it today when my mom told me about her trip this past week to Chicago to see your mom. There are all sorts of things I'm sure we could catch up on since we've, well... never spoken. But for starters let me try to reply to your post about Mirko Cro Cop.

It's true that he has knocked out many people with that unpleasant looking high kick. Why they didn't prepare to defend against this and see it coming is a good question. I don't have all the answers but in my opinion it's a combination of factors. For starters, Mirko in his prime was such an incredible athlete that his speed, power, and flexibility were hard to deal with. Even if his opponents knew it was coming they still couldn't stop it. He was so fast and hit with such force that many opponents couldn't react and defend fast enough.

Next is who Mirko was fighting. Mirko began his fighting career as a kickboxer but later transitioned to full-blown mixed martial arts. Most of his stunning high-kick knockout victories took place in MMA. Mirko's foundation was kickboxing, but in MMA he often fought against wrestlers and grapplers that possessed only rudimentary kickboxing or thai boxing skills. His strategy was to avoid being wrestled to the ground where he would have been a fish out of water, and to instead force the opposite.

Not only was Mirko the best pure kickboxer in MMA, but he was also very good at making MMA matches devolve into pure kickboxing as opposed to another style. This could make some of his opponents look inept. Lastly is that when Mirko was at his best, his left high kick would be preceded by other attacks that left his adversaries already injured and confused prior to that final, highlight-reel kick.

An opponent might begin the fight holding his arm up high to protect against a high kick, but Mirko would instead atack the exposed midsection. Guys would end up with a badly hurt midsection and a brain screaming "stop letting me get hit there!" On the third or fourth kick, when they would instinctively react by lowering their arm to protect their bruised side, the kick would instead aim for the exposed head. Tragic.

Ultimately, however, several factors caught up with Mirko. As MMA grew as a sport, the level of competition increased and there was less "easy pickins" out there for him. His opposition became more adept at preparing and gameplanning to avoid getting kicked in the head. And as Mirko aged, nagging injuries slowed him down as did his diminishing speed and reflexes. He is still fighting today, but no longer considered a legitimate contender to win the heavyweight title. This may have been the real turning point, back in 2007:

In this tiny video we see Mirko being given a taste of his own medicine. His opponent, Gabriel Gonzaga, had earlier in the fight thrown a bruising kick to Mirko's body. If you watch the clip closely, you'll see Mirko is initially guarding his face, but then sensing another damaging body kick, he lowers his arm to defend it. The kick went high instead of low and the rest is history.

Hope you are doing well!!!

Feel free to say hello any time. Would love to hear from you.



(Thank you, Greg! That's really the best analysis I've read.)

Now, why is this astonishing? It is astonishing because it is highly suggestive evidence of a previously-unknown recessive gene that codes for an obsession with Mirko CroCop fight videos.

Let me explain.

There is nothing about the environments in which we were raised that would explain why Gregory and I, raised on opposite sides of the American Continent, should simultaneously have become obsessed with CroCop fight videos.

We come from a family of hyperintellectual, over-achieving Ashkenazi Jews. My mother is a cellist. His father is an opera producer for the Met. (I just looked him up: A lot of Grammy awards! Congratulations, Uncle Jay!)

My Mom and Uncle Jay grew up in the Bronx. Environmentally speaking, Gregory and I should both be writing self-obsessed, sexually-fixated novels about insurance salesmen in Newark, not studying CroCop fight videos.

What does this tell us?

Clearly, it tells us that there is a genetic explanation for this. And if there is -- and this is obvious, prima facie -- it must have conferred an evolutionary advantage to our ancestors.

Since our ancestors were shtetl Jews in, I guess, Lithuania or something, we are compelled to conclude that they evolved to be highly fascinated by menacing, overdeveloped goyische thugs who speak Slavic languages and possess the ability to kick you really hard in the kopf.

This fascination afforded our ancestors an obvious survival advantage: It allowed them quickly to appreciate that anyone who looks like Mirko CroCop had no doubt come to their backwards, hapless, benighted little frozen yiddische villages to bash their brains in.

Having recognized this, they would have taken appropriate measures to evade predation -- and survived.

Members of the media: I'm a little busy today, but if you're calling to get my reaction to the Nobel Committee's announcement, here's my statement: "I am both surprised and deeply humbled by the Nobel Committee's decision. Let me be clear, I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments, but rather as a recognition of the fact that the Swedes will give that damned prize to anyone."


  1. Brilliant theory!

    My obsession with fighting might also stem from observing my brother, the pinkish toaster strudel you met when you were younger. He is a member of a small but influential group of New York attorneys that practice a form of law known as brazilian jiu jitsu. Fascinated by this contradiction, I too began to appreciate the beauty of seeing other people kicking and choking each other. As long as you're not the one being kicked or choked, it's really not that bad, I've found.

  2. Mom (Aunt Toby) is THRILLED to see her daughter and nephew in touch at last!