Sunday, January 31, 2010

And They Are Indisputable

These are the facts:
  • I was hoping for a lazy weekend, but when my car died on the way to work on what should have been a day off to begin with, I was out of luck. All signs point to buying a new car tomorrow. From a dealership in Virginia, no less. I just hope it doesn't smell like smoke and Republicans.
  • Watched all of Lost up to before the fifth season finale. I'll do more on that tomorrow.
  • Is there any twosome of television I'd rather watch less than the Grammys and the Pro Bowl?
  • Dwight Freeney is going to be either out or severely hampered for the Super Bowl. Don't think that changes my pick at all.
  • Montgomery County should be ashamed at the road conditions during the snow storm yesterday. Nothing was plowed or treated. There were cars sliding all over major roads and on-ramps to the highways were blocked by vehicles that were stuck.
  • One of Uwe Boll's movies came available on Netflix Watch Instantly this past week. I was very disciplined in not watching it for this week. It's tough, though. Of the now twenty-one of the worst movie list that I've watched, Boll's Bloodrayne is by far my favorite. This one, Alone In The Dark (#15), stars Christian Slater and Tara Reid. Temptation.

Worst of the Worst: #95, Lost Souls

Nobody's ever heard of this movie and that's just fine. It's one of those lame demonic possession movies that come out by the handful. "I'm a troubled kid who used to be possessed and/or my parents were Satanists. I just helped out on an exorcism and the demon said your body was going to be inhabited by Satan himself." "Oh, well, that can't be possible, right? I mean, I don't really know who my real father is... Oh, and I suppose I dreamed of 666 in Greek numbers and I just found a pentacle under my bed. Crap, how do we stop this?" "We can't really." "Oh, darn, I guess you'll have to try to kill me before the random appointed time that Satan fully takes over my body and you'll either succeed or not."

Not much more to say than that. It's a boilerplate story with no scares and no imagination, so it attemps to exorcise any anticipation out of you by screaming: "The power of Christ will bore the s*** out of you! The power of Christ will bore the s*** out of you!" In this case, Wynona Ryder plays the good guy in a frighteningly unenergetic performance. The thing that really jumps out is how brutally over-directed the movie is. It's one of three films ever directed by Janusz Kaminski, who is much more famous for having been Stephen Spielberg's Director of Photography since Schindler's List, winning Oscars for Cinematography in that movie and Saving Private Ryan. In Lost Souls, Kaminski shoots everything from weird angles with strange hues and way too many shadows. It's actually pretty interesting, after having seen the movie, to read the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes (which I always do for these movies) and see how many critics talk about how beautifully-shot this was. Not all of them do, though, and it's the others that I respect. A forty-five-degree turn of the camera while shooting straight dialogue does not a respectable art film make. The film is quite mediocre, befitting its ranking near the bottom of the list. My one joy about it is that, since it is about Christ and the Anti-Christ, us Jews don't have much to do with anything in the plot. All Catholics. Mel Gibson may have gone after us in The Passion but, sorry, guys, I'm putting this one on you.


In case I forget tomorrow, a side note to talk about Julie & Julia, which I also saw tonight. Really, really liked it. The Amy Adams part is pretty good. The Meryl Streep part is exceptional. It's funnier and less a conventional romantic comedy than I thought it would be. It's not really a romantic comedy at all, I suppose. Of all the things about the movies that came out in 2009, there aren't many that I enjoyed as much as Streep's performance in this one. Off the top of my head? My top five most enjoyable things in 2009 cinema may look like this:
  • 5. Ed Helms brushing the chicken off the counter in The Hangover.
  • 4. Brad Pitt trying to talk Italian with a southern accent in Inglourious Basterds.
  • 3. Meryl Streep in Julie & Julia.
  • 2. Christoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds.
  • 1. The last thirty minutes or so of Inglourious Basterds.

Sure, there's a trend there, but Streep is amazing. I don't think Sandra Bullock deserves Best Actress, because you can't judge her performance in The Blind Side relative to her performance in All About Steve, so it's not fair to say she was that good in the better movie, but she has a real shot. Carey Mulligan was a revelation (I say snootily) in An Education and deserves major consideration. If you're talking about an even playing field though, Streep deserves Best Actress every time she has a movie out. I guess they must handicap it a bit.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

As I Tip A 40 Of 5W-30

What a long day that was highlighted by the untimely death of my car. I like to think that somewhere, perhaps in the clouds, JD Salinger has gotten over being a recluse and is joyriding through heaven in a 2000 Toyota Corolla. In the meantime, I'm going to crash, so here's a sleepy song:

Friday, January 29, 2010

All God's Children -- Go Into The Light!

  • The Monologue:
    • Shaun White, as if he had a choice, doesn't like his "Flying Tomato" nickname anymore. He's suggesting people call him "The Animal". He doesn't get to pick, but the Rob Schneider theme is cool, so his Delta Tau Chi name will heretofore be "The Hot Chick".
    • This headline made me think about how unfair it is that Salami played in the food poisoning era. Yes, I totally stole that joke's concept.
    • Analysis: Is this headline as stupid as I think it is?
  • Random Pop Culture:
    • This has been the worst audition season of American Idol that I can remember. They're showing almost no real talent and they're spending half the show with sob stories about contestants. I counted two people this week that I thought could actually sing at a level befitting the show. Also, Kara's tan is horrifying.
    • Neil Patrick Harris was great as a guest judge and Katy Perry was pretty good. The other two? Why did Avril Lavigne wear a hoodie that had horns on it and has she sold any albums in the last ten years? And Joe Jonas? He seems like a bright kid with a winning personality!
    • In the pantheon of bad side plots, where does the Dana Walsh/ Jenny Scott one on this year's 24 rank? They're wasting Starbuck! If they wanted to fill time that badly, they could just run a test pattern or something and pretend that the cameras broke for a few minutes every hour.
    • I'm really getting excited for Lost. Five days to go.
  • Random Movie Scene:
    • Even though he was a recluse and every kept forgetting that he was actually alive, people are going to mourn the death of J.D. Salinger. Of course, Catcher in the Rye was not only a seminal book in many people's (including my own) development but, without it, we would never have had Bob Uecker's Catcher in the Wry. However, I'm going to dodge Salinger and instead mourn the death of Zelda Rubinstein. Who? Four words: "This house is clean." Man, I love this movie.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Things That Make You Go Hmmm...

I could write about my continued watching of Lost and how I think the fate of Rousseau's science team was a big portent of the season finale. I could write about what everyone will agree was, at the very least, the best-delivered State of the Union address in the last ten years. Instead, I'm going to ask you to read this piece from former NBA player and, as of today, former ESPN contributor Paul Shirley and discuss. If there are no comments, I'll just give my thoughts tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

January Madness

With six or seven weeks to go until Selection Sunday, I spent my evening watching college basketball for the first this season:
  • One of my three favorites to win it all, Michigan State (the others are Kansas and Villanova), took their undefeated Big Ten record on the road and into Ann Arbor to face a Michigan team coached by John Beilein. Michigan played Beilein's style of defense and outside shots and took the Spartans to the wire, but Michigan State is too deep. Their best player, point guard Kalin Lucas, had a bad game until the very end when he took over and hit a jumper with three seconds left to win (after Michigan missed a short bank shot at the buzzer). This is how Michigan State made it to the final game last year and I expect the same kind of toughness come March.
  • Maryland leads the ACC and ran a pretty bad Miami team off the floor tonight. The Terps were not good early in the year, but they've caught fire. Maybe they'll actually prove worthy of the top-twenty preseason ranking.
  • How is John Calipari allowed to coach? He has had two teams have to vacate Final Four runs, UMass because Marcus Camby took money and Memphis because Derrick Rose had his SATs taken for him. Now, Calipari has the best freshman class in the country, including the best player in the country, John Wall. The Wildcats went into tonight ranked #1 as the only undefeated team left. It's fishy.
  • Except that #1 ranking lasted all of one day before Kentucky became the last team to lose a game. South Carolina had never before beaten a top-ranked team and they seemed severely outmanned, but SC had my new favorite player in the nation, Devan Downey. Downey, a 5'8" guard, was simply unguardable. He badly outplayed Wall and scored thirty points, including some crazy circus shots in traffic down the stretch. It takes SC to .500 in the SEC, so they'll have some work to do to get into the tourney. Beating #1 can't hurt. No embeddable highlights as of yet, but here is the link.

March is right around the corner.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Monologue

  • Tonight, it's just jokes and jokes and jokes and jokes:
    • Diddy gave his son a $360,000 Maybach for his sixteenth birthday. In the spirit of giving, he also presented one of his rappers with a $1,000,000 life insurance policy and a contract to record an album called "What It Might Be Like If I Were A Ghost And Rapping This".
    • A couple found a letter from Thomas Jefferson in the file cabinet of an office in Old Town Alexandria. The letter begins: "When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for a man to get freaky..."
    • A couple found a letter from Thomas Jefferson. It is addressed to an "SH" and ends, "Huge. Quickly."
    • For one night, the Charlotte Bobcats were wearing NASCAR-inspired uniforms. It's the most unexpected union since Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Worst of the Worst: #22, Disaster Movie

Yes, yes, y'all, a double shot. Missed last week. This was the twentieth movie I've seen on the list, so I'm one-fifth of the way there. You know the drill on these films. It's almost unfair to rank these like any other movie. An unimportant plot and an endless line of pop culture references that are poorly concieved and even more poorly executed (from a person dressed up in a panda outfit for Kung Fu Panda to a long spoof of "I'm F***ing Matt Damon"). This time it starred Liam from 90210 (who I actually like) and Kim Kardashian, among others. I discovered, this movie being from 2008, that some of the references have a very short shelf life. I guess that should go without saying since they are pop culture, but Jessica Simpson and Justin Timberlake are one thing. This one, besides the spoof of the Kimmel, er, spoof, had Wolf from American Gladiators and a Head On commercial. I feel like one has to watch The Soup to even have a shot at understanding these things, unless you're like fourteen. Which I am, mentally.

Worst of the Worst: #92, Babylon A.D.

There are plenty of sci-fi movies about the future, but post-apocalyptic ones have been rare of late. Only two jump out at me over the last number of years: Alfonso Cuaron's criminally underappreciated Children of Men and Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later. Both are stylish, both paint futures that are difficult to envision. It goes without saying that, in order to work, both have to detail how the world got to where it is. We need to have that understanding in order to follow the plot and get the twists and turns to come.

The previous paragraph bears little meaning when it comes to Babylon A.D., the 92nd worst movie of the last decade, according to Rotten Tomatoes. It is a post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie. Well, I think. See, Babylon A.D. doesn't explain the circumstances of the future that it shows, but, even more glaringly, it doesn't tell you what the movie is about, period. It's one thing for a sci-fi movie to not set the rules. It's an even more basic movie need for a film -- any film -- to explain the circumstances of the plot. This movie fails to do that. At no point during the movie does it make sense.

Yes, Vin Diesel is the star and his acting is lacking. Yes, the dialogue is pretty lame. But all of that pales to the fact that I spent the entire movie not knowing what was happening. Why did any character exist? What did they do what they do? What the f*** was this stupid movie about? Nothing. No explanation of any part of the film until the very end, but at that point it didn't matter because I was sufficiently checked out mentally.

You know those Luc Besson films like Taken that are very short on plot but long on stylish action? I think this was trying to be that same type of film, but there was no plot and the action was fairly stupid. Imagine watching ninety minutes worth of scenes of people doing things and saying things to each other and you never understand why they are doing any of this or what any of the scenes have to do with each other. Eventually, those scenes just stop and credits roll? I give you Babylon A.D.

Friday, January 22, 2010

No. Just... No.

  • The Monologue:
    • A former wrestling promoter is trying to start a basketball league where all players would have to be fully white. We already have a league where fundamentals take precedence over flashiness and where almost nobody can dunk. It's called the WNBA.
    • John Calipari is going to auction off Kentucky gear to raise money for Haiti. In addition, he's convinced his players to give half of their salary.
  • Random Pop Culture:
    • Where do they come up with the great one-liners for Community? There were a bunch more tonight.
    • My favorite part of 30 Rock tonight was a throw-away joke that wasn't obvious. Tracy Morgan decided to protest the Freedom Trail in Boston because the Founding Fathers had slaves. At one point, you could see him for a second with a t-shirt that read: "Impeach George W. Ashington".
    • The last guy on last night's American Idol, Matt Lawrence (the guy who had been in jail), was head and shoulders better than anyone else in the audition process so far. I expect to be writing about him when it comes time for my Idol recaps.
  • Random Movie Trailer:
    • This movie is a terrible idea, obviously, but this article was interesting in that I didn't know the last three of these five movies originated with SNL.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Don't Impress Me Much

  • The Monologue:
    • So the GOP finally found their recipe for winning around the country, huh? Good thing Martha Coakley is running as the Democrat in every election over the next two years.
    • Sasha Cohen is reportedly going to make a comeback in Vancouver for the Winter Olympics, where competitors grow out of the sports quickly. At the ripe age of 25, she will be not awarded extra points for any jumps involving her walker.
    • Sarah Palin is going to go to Arizona to help in John McCain's campaign. Because the last time they worked together, it went really well.
    • Palin is also going to Minnesota to stump for Michelle Bachmann. Mensa has been alerted.
  • Random Pop Culture:
    • Weird dynamic on last night's Idol with Shania Twain as a guest judge. I didn't get the feeling that Kara liked her much, especially after Kara was so buddy-buddy with Posh Fembot Stick Figure. First, Shania was excellent, way better than Kara. Second, even with the buzz that Kara had some plastic surgery done, Shania just did not make her look good in comparison.
    • I realized tonight that with Lost moving to Tuesdays, the two shows that are must-watch on the night they air (that and the live Idol) will make for a late night of TV viewing.
    • If you are new to Twitter or are thinking about trying it, I will throw out two recommendations for follows: Kevin Smith and Roger Ebert. Smith is the best person on Twitter, period. Ebert is not that close, but he's still second.
  • Random Music Video:
    • I was on this early, but now it's huge news everywhere. Scott Brown's daughter, Ayla, was one of the semi-finalists on American Idol a few years ago (the Hicks/McPhee/Daughtry year). She wasn't that good, though, and didn't make it to the overall top 12. Here's her getting eliminated:

Random Music Videos

Work all day today and haven't seen Idol, so here are three videos based on birthdays today.

First, Janis Joplin would have been 67 today. My favorite of her songs is this cover, written by Kris Kristofferson and Fred Foster, here performed by Johnny Cash:

Second, turning 71 today is Phil Everly of the Everly Brothers, the most successful duo chart-wise in pop music history. Here they are with one of their most famous songs:

Finally, Robert Palmer would have been 61 today. He's most famous for his videos' backup band and his two biggest singles, "Addicted to Love" and "Simply Irresistable". This may be my favorite of his, though:

Monday, January 18, 2010

And They Are Indisputable

These are the facts:
  • I was 5-1 on the playoffs through Saturday but missed on Dallas and San Diego on Sunday. It's a huge surprise though that Wade Phillips and Norv Turner came up small. We'll all enjoy watching them coach Brees-less and Manning-less, respectively, Pro Bowl teams in a couple of weeks.
  • With all due respect to Vikings fans, there is such a clear-cut good guy and bad guy in the NFC Championship game that I'm waiting for the NFL to hire Vince McMahon to do the hype.
  • Fox's new show, Human Target, is decent. Reminds me of '80s action shows. The kind of thing you can pop in and out of and enjoy when you want.
  • 24 is starting out pretty well. I like the psycho Renee thing from tonight and they're giving Chloe a chance to be a total ass, which is always good. My two biggest complaints so far: a) why Herc from The Wire had to beat the crap out of Jack in the basement when the cop was found dead, it seemed too over the top; and b) Mykelti Williamson's posture. He's perpetually hunched over.
  • There is a whole mess of recognizable people from other TV shows on 24 this season. The aforementioned Herc from The Wire, the Russian hitman is Horace Goodspeed on Lost, David Anders (Sark from Alias and Kensei from Heroes), Starbuck and Leoban from Battlestar Galactica. We're this close to finding out that Jennifer Morrison left House to be the criminal mastermind this season.
  • I have previously recommended the "Written in Bone" exhibition at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and will continue to do so; it is tremendous. This weekend, among other places, I spent a little time at the original Jamestown fort from whence some of the bodies came. What struck me is that the fort is mostly buried and has had to be excavated, with the original structure from 1607 a few layers down in the dirt (they have been re-covered so that visitors can walk around). Some of the fort has eroded into the James River. The nature of this dig makes it seem so ancient. Yet, Caesaria, on the Mediterranean Coast of Israel, dates to 22 BCE. There are differences -- the climate, wood structures in Virginia instead of stone in Israel -- but so much of that site has been uncovered and it is sixteen centuries older than our oldest settlement. It is hard to process that age difference.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The lack of a true Flux Capacitor

While Josh is out of town, I'll throw in my few random thoughts of the week...

  • In Back To The Future 2, Biff steals Marty's Delorean after finding a Sports Almanac with the intent of going backwards in time and betting on the games of which he already knows the results. In the real world, does the fact that no one has become super rich through sports betting mean that no one has actually invented a time machine in the future or did they just start betting at a date later than 2010? Kinda makes you think.
  • A lot of time and effort is spent on the Census every ten years. Why can't the government just request that the information be placed on a tax return which theoretically every citizen should be filing. It seems like a waste of money to send so many people out in the field to ask the few questions that are listed on the census. In addition, it would thwart the crazy people who believe that they don't need to file a tax return by reducing the funding or representation that those people are served by. Maybe it is just the accountant in me that thinks this.
  • This weekend's NFL games should be exciting. 1. Saints v. Cardinals - I don't care what the number is in the over/under...I am taking the over (and the Saints). 2. Ravens v. Colts - While the Ravens played a near perfect game last week, they have been on the road four straight weeks. This will catch up to them eventually. Colts win it late (Sorry, Josh). 3. Cowboys v. Vikings - I can't stand Brett Fav-ruh so even though I think Minnesota can win, I hope the Cowboys pummel them. 4. Chargers v. Jets - The Chargers win week after week but I don't know exactly how they do it. I don't think they are as talented as past Charger teams. I don't really care who wins so I guess I will stick with the home team. Note that I was 0-4 last week so don't be relying on my picks when you call your bookie.

Random links;

The best analysis ever written regarding a specific baseball game was done a few years ago by Dave Cameron and Derek Zumsteg. Enjoy.

Lookin' Like A Fool

  • Coming Up:
    • Going away for the weekend. May have computer access, may not. I'll watch my bad movie (it's going to star Vin Diesel, yippee!) on Monday. In the meantime, don't forget to mark tomorrow, the one-year anniversary of the plane landing in the Hudson. Don't forget to applaud Sully for doing his job and ignore all of the people who save lives every day and those who are working in Haiti right now in horrific conditions.
  • Random Pop Culture:
    • I guess that yesterday I neglected Pat Robertson's assertion that Haiti deserved what it got because of their pact with the devil before the slave rebellion and Rush Limbaugh's assertion that you shouldn't give money to Haiti because the Federal Government already does. Both despicable, neither surprising.
    • I watched Rob Zombie's remake of Halloween this morning. In John Carpenter's original, the killer is just an unstoppable, unthinking force of evil. Carpenter did a lot of character development with the victims so that you care when they get killed. Zombie made it more of an origin story with character development about the killer, but not the victims. It made the first half of the movie surprisingly good (I had low expectations) and the second half, with the killing, pretty boring.
    • I was looking at Halloween on IMDB and found a weird anomaly that turned into horror. In Carpenter's film, the killer is played by Nick Castle. Nick Castle went on to direct The Last Starfighter. Coincidentally, Lance Guest, who starred in that movie, made his feature film debut in Halloween II, though Castle did not play Michael Myers in that one. Continuing to search, I found this. Say what? A Last Starfighter sequel? Twenty-six years after the original came out? What the what?
    • There were two new episodes of 30 Rock tonight. The second one was just okay, but the first was pretty good, with no better moment than the realization that Liz Lemon was about to have a threesome with James Franco and a body pillow that had an anime character drawn on it.
    • Jack Black guested on Community and, while the episode was funny, it was not as funny as it could have been. Except for the first few minutes, when they showed clips from old episodes with Jack Back badly spliced in to make it look like he was there the whole time. That had me rolling.
  • Random Music Video:
    • If you missed the first two episodes of American Idol, you only need to see one two-minute clip. Here is the remarkable story of General Larry Pratt, a civil rights hero and community activist who actually had a day named in his honor in Atlanta. And here is the topic that's been one of the most tweeted about over the last 24 hours, even as much as Haiti or Conan. It is, of course, "Pants On The Ground".

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

When We Argue, Fuss, And Fight

  • The Monologue:
    • No jokes today. CNN posted video of Haiti right after the quake, but I haven't watched it yet. Not sure I ever will. I know it's bad. No need to rubberneck.
  • Random Pop Culture:
    • I caught up on American Idol tonight and realized that I really missed the show. I think I enjoyed it all the more because I know that it's the last season I'll watch. Kara is way better than Paula, but she can't carry the show.
    • My favorite so far is the broken-wristed drummer. He nailed that Marvin Gaye song. We all know that the girl with the Down's Syndrome brothers is going to be a big-time finalist.
    • Speaking of, there were three trending Twitter topics about Haiti tonight and two separate ones about "Pants On The Ground". That part of Idol was great, but seriously?
    • I am really, really excited about this news. Netflix's Watch Instantly is revolutionary, but it's a pain in the ass to only be able to watch it on my laptop.
  • Random Music Video:
    • We're going old school soul for the second straight night with this song from Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes to mark the passing today of lead singer Teddy Pendergrass. Goddam, this song is incredible.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Wise To Break The Rules

  • The Monologue:
    • Supposedly Harry Reid issued some sort of apology, but I don't really understand his honky dialect.
    • Israeli archaeologists discovered an 8,000-year-old building in Tel Aviv and tools that could be as old as 100,000 years. Fox News' Sarah Palin thinks that's impossible since the world is only like 6,000 years old.
    • Israeli archaeologists discovered an 8,000-year-old building along with its mailbox which read, simply, "Dole".
    • Israeli archaeologists discovered 100,000-year-old tools. They turned out to be Gateway computers, running Windows 98,000 B.C.
  • Random Pop Culture:
    • Good for Conan. I forgot to set my DVR tonight to see what he did, but I'm sure it will be news in the morning.
    • Didn't see much of anything tonight. I'll watch Idol tomorrow. It doesn't get to must-watch-the-night-it-airs status until the voting starts.
  • Random Music Video:
    • 51 years ago today, on January 12, 1959, Berry Gordy borrowed $800 from his family and formed Tamla records. On April 14 of the next year, he would incorporate the company as Motown Record Corporation. I could go Supremes or Michael Jackson, but I'm going to Motown's greatest song writer singing one of my favorite songs ever.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Middling-To-Fair And Unbalanced

  • The Monologue:
    • As I look at Yahoo's front page right now, there are three headlines in a row: "Sarah Palin joins Fox News", "McGwire admits steroid use", "Simon Cowell splits with 'Idol'". Bad, bad, bad.
    • Do you think Palin thinks that God also picked her to work for Fox News? I know Rupert Murdoch owns the New York Post and all, but let's not go crazy.
    • Palin tweeted tonight, asking, "What would America do without Fox News?" I'm racking my brain. Beyond "not be scared whenever we see our shadow," I can only come with "never be able to laugh at the phrase 'terrorist fist jab." I don't know, Sarah, what would we do?
    • Mark McGwire finally admits that he used steroids. In other shocking news, Sarah Palin joined Fox News.
    • Pete Carroll is the new head coach of the Seattle Seahawks. He can finally pay his players. Okay, he can finally pay his players and not have to lie about it.
  • Random Pop Culture:
    • How quickly will American Idol's ratings drop without Cowell? I can't imagine watching it other than to check in once and see how lame it is.
    • Tonight's How I Met Your Mother took a sprint right at the shark, planted its foot right at the edge, and... We'll see. The musical number and punchline were great, but I'm very wary of the show the closer and closer they get to having him actually meet the mother. If they change the title of the show to How I Married Your Mother, I'm out.
    • I watched the 30 for 30 documentary on the University of Miami tonight. Much like the rest of the series, it was good but it just seemed to miss. Not enough players, not in-depth enough. You talk about the ups and downs of the U from 1983-1992 and you ignore Doug Flutie, not to mention Frank Reich? No interviews with Ray Lewis? Maybe Ray didn't want to participate, but it's a glaring hole. The U was legendary -- I actually watched college football when they were at the top -- and it was fun to see the highlights, but it just wasn't perfect for me. So far, the only one in the 30 for 30 series that I flat-out didn't like was the Jimmy the Greek one. My favorite is still the USFL one, though the hype on the Reggie Miller one that is showing at Sundance and will air at some point in the spring is huge.
  • Random Music Video:
    • Clarence Clemons turns 68 years old today. I'm not as deep into the E Street Band's catalog as some, but I imagine this is Clemons' most famous song.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Moving On

I went 3-1 on my picks this weekend, missing only the Jets' win over Cincinnati. I still have no reason to change any other picks. Dallas looks great, Arizona's D made big plays but was porous, the Ravens and Jets will have major uphill battles against the Colts and Chargers, respectively. Should be a fun next weekend. As much as I hated the Ravens two weeks ago, they finally put it all together and dominated. It annoys me that they waited until now, but I guess it was a better time than any other.

A big anniversary in my life as today marked the five years since I was laid off and forced to make a career change, but let's look at music history instead. Or music "history". It's the 31st birthday of Chris Smith, better known as the "Daddy Mack":

Better Than McNabb Could Do

Pretty exciting games today, huh? It's late and there was nothing too compelling about the game or my day (watching Lost on Netflix and then Karate Kid on Hallmark Channel HD) to write about. A poor showing for the blog, indeed, but infinitely less embarrassing than the Philadelphia Eagles.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Worst of the Worst: #25, Meet The Spartans

Meet The Spartans is funny and good. Some guys from Greese fight some guys from Persha. They have Britney Speers and Paris Hilton. They are funny to. You even get to see American Idol and Brangelina. It made me laff. I also got to lern about histury so it made me smart. I liked that guy who was Herculees on TV and also Oswald from Drew Carry was in it. I think it actully made my brane bigger. Everybody shud see this moovie. It can make you smart to. Also it's short because it's only 69 minutes long. 69 is funny like this moovie. I hope I get to see it agin some time.

The Stranger Zone

  • The Monologue:
    • Richard Heene went on Larry King Live and said that he doesn't believe the whole thing was a hoax. Why is anyone letting him on TV?!
    • Apparently the new big thing is 3D television. As if The Biggest Loser wasn't frightening enough as it is.
    • I give you the early front-runner for most meaningless story of the decade.
  • Random Pop Culture:
    • The new Survivor cast is official. Here it is. No more Stephenie, please! I'm sicker of her than any other contestant except for maybe Amanda, who (yay) is also on the show. On the other hand, more Boston Rob, Russell, and Coach? I'll take it.
    • Word is that, after the Olympics, Leno will be on from 11:30 to 12, Conan from 12 to 1, and Jimmy Fallon from who cares to who cares. NBC -- "We still exist even if nobody watches us."
    • Finished up the second season of Lost including our first view of the four-toed statue and the return of Desmond. It's funny that the statue seems like nothing more than an oddity, when in fact it may have been the most important place on the island we had seen up until that point. It just took three years to figure that out.
  • Random Music Video:
    • Turning 62 years old today, the preeminent soundtrack artist of the 1980s, Kenny Loggins.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Your Crayons And Your Pencils

For a number of reasons, I have nothing to say today. Do I go the video route? Do I try too hard to come up with some cheesy comedy thing about Mike Shanahan or Gilbert Arenas? Okay, awesome TV theme sequences!

First, let's look at what's going on in the crazy, futuristic space exploration of 1987:

The original, with better theme music than the new one (granted, the new one's theme is just drums):

Trying to stay away from cartoons, but I'll go to this. It was awesome:

Short and sweet:

Now we're into full on nostalgia and I could do this all night:

Ok, crap, time to stop:

Fine, to end it:

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Digging On Swine

  • The Monologue:
    • I got the Swine Flu vaccine today, first time I've ever gotten a flu shot of any kind. I feel okay and my arm smells succulent.
    • Mike Shanahan is going to be the head coach of the Redskins and will make the personnel decisions. That never works out well; one of the duties inevitably is given short shrift. Although being badly coached or having crappy players is an improvement for the Skins. At least one of those will be okay.
    • Vince Vaughn got married. Rumor has it that he even gave a half-assed performance in the wedding video.
  • Random Pop Culture:
    • You following the Brit Hume stuff? I'm sure he thinks he was doing the right thing, though bashing Buddhism was stupid. And then this, about how he didn't think he was proselytizing? I can't agree more with the point in that post, but we can go further. If he were Muslim and said what he said? Yikes.
    • Still watching Lost. Got to the Libby episode, which is pretty annoying. Still unsure about all the Jacob stuff, as I get close to the end of Season 2 and the first Jacob mention. Before they got to the island, Jacob visited Jack, Kate, Sawyer, John, and Sun and Jin, but why were only the first three on his list? Relates to why Jack, Kate, Hurley, and Sayid (all visited by Jacob at that point) went back to 1977 from the Ajira flight, but Sun didn't. Don't get it. Guess I'll find out in four weeks from tonight, or some Tuesday soon thereafter.
    • I'm addicted to the pickup basketball game on Wii Sports Resort. Admission is the first step, right?
  • Random Music Video:
    • Recording began forty-five years ago today on this, one of the great modern songs.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Listen To Reason, Reason Is Calling

  • The Monologue:
    • Tonight, Gilbert Arenas said that he made "a mistake." He also said that it was "chilly" outside.
    • Rod Blagojevich, Darryl Strawberry, and Bret Michaels will be among the competitors on the next iteration of The Apprentice. What? Celebrity Apprentice? Doesn't sound like it.
  • Random Pop Culture:
    • I realized over the weekend that I was still in the middle of the second season on my rewatch of Lost and I only have four weeks from tomorrow to finish. Starting to roll through again. I'm getting more and more convinced that something was up with John Locke from the beginning. I also enjoy the throw-away spoilers that get slipped in here or there. For instance, Sayid has the Tailies' radio and picks up a music station. He says that it could be coming from any place. Hurley says, "Or time," and laughs.
    • For the record, my actual three favorite movies of the last decade were WALL-E, Anchorman, Gladiator.
    • Have you seen the trailer for the new movie Daybreakers? I'm looking forward to watching that when I check out the 100 worst movies of the Teens.
  • Random Music Video:
    • Michael Stipe turns fifty today. Fifty! This song was released only twenty-one years ago this month and became the theme song for a favorite sitcom.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


A crazy day where Bill Polian was proven right when Wes Welker went down for the season, though Belichick decided to bring Brady back in the game. The Giants declined to show up for their second straight game. The Bengals essentially let the Jets win so they'd be able to play them next week instead of the more explosive Texans (who already beat Cincy this year). The Broncos folded in a spectacular manner. Dallas, Green Bay, and San Diego continued to be the hottest teams in the league.

Looking ahead:

  • In the NFC, Philly plays at Dallas on Saturday night and Green Bay plays at Arizona in the late afternoon game on Sunday. I see no reason why Philly should be able to beat Dallas this time after not really being in either game this season, so I expect the Cowboys to win and move on to face Minnesota. I'll predict the line is Dallas -4.5. Green Bay's playing great, but Arizona turned it on last year. I'll predict the line at Green Bay -1 and take Arizona. I can't discount their run from last year and how bad they looked as the playoffs started. In my scenario, New Orleans beats Arizona and the Cowboys beat the Vikings, setting up a rematch of the game a few weeks ago. I'll take New Orleans to get to the Super Bowl.
  • In the AFC, the Jets play at Cincy on Saturday afternoon and the Ravens visit New England in the early game on Sunday. I don't believe in the Jets at all because of their inability to move the ball through the air. I'm looking at Cincy -2 because of how the game turned out tonight. For the Patriots, Wes Welker is out and Tom Brady has three broken ribs and a broken ring finger on his throwing hand. Even though the Ravens have underachieved all year, they're just annoying enough to turn it on now. The Pats' offense is just not as frightening without Welker. I'll predict the line at New England -7 and take the Ravens to win. The Ravens just can't beat the Colts and Cincy gets smoked by San Diego. Nobody looks better than the Chargers and I think they'll get to the Super Bowl.
  • In the end, I'll go with a surprise. I'm taking New Orleans to win it all. I think every team has its weaknesses, but no one unit is as tough as the Saints' offense. I also find it hard to pick Norv Turner and the Chargers to take it all down.

UPDATE: The initial lines are out and I was right on two and wrong on two. The right ones: Dallas -4 and Cincy -2.5. The wrong ones: Arizona -2.5 and New England -3.5. The Baltimore-New England one is pretty shocking, considering how poorly the Ravens have played against good teams and how the Pats won by 6 earlier this year.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Worst of the Worst: #96, All About Steve

We all know people are idiots and movie critics are people, so the transitive property is at work. When you look up All About Steve on Rotten Tomatoes, the rating from the "RT Community" is 44%. The rating from the "Top Critics" is 8%. The rating from all critics is 6%. That final score was low enough to rank the movie #96 on Rotten Tomatoes' list of the worst movies of the decade. It was low enough to rank the movie there, but it wasn't nearly low enough in general. I've now seen 17 of these films, none higher ranked than today's #96. It's quite possible that as many as 15 of those films were better than All About Steve.

While this makes no sense, I'm going to explain this off as the recency effect. We often credit the last thing we saw as being better than past things. Hence, I saw An Education last night and thought that when it was firing on all cylinders, it was better than Up In The Air. It may have been true, but maybe another viewing of Up In The Air would put that back on top. Since, All About Steve, which should be to the Razzies what Up In The Air and An Education will be to the Oscars, came out this year, I'm going to say that people thought of it more fondly than the other films on the list because of the recency effect. Nonsense, because the list is based on the reviews that were done as each film came out, but I need to find some way to excuse the critics for rating this movie as highly as they did. Because it is awful.

The movie has Sandra Bullock as a crossword puzzle writer who lives with her parents and has no friends. Set up on a blind date with a TV cameraman, played by Bradley Cooper, she immediately falls in love with him. He tries to get her to go away by lying about how much he'd like to be with her if she could travel with him. Thanks to a totally absurd plot point, she gets fired and decides to follow Cooper around the country to be with him. Cooper's reporter, Thomas Haden Church, decides to keep telling Bullock that Cooper is in love with her so that she'll keep following. The movie tries to portray her as simple and quirky, but the character strays well into mentally-disturbed territory. Here is the biggest failing of the film in two ways. One, it seems to mock someone who may be mentally-challenged in some way even though she's not really supposed to be. Two, it would have been a much better film if Bullock had just carved Cooper up the first time she went after him.

Instead, Bullock sweetly follows him until they get to the point where some deaf kids have fallen into a well. Why the movie has to mock a bunch of deaf kids, but not have Bullock kill everyone in sight and then get put down by firing squad, is beyond me. She ends up falling down the well herself after the kids have been rescued, but finds another kid down there. So they rescued all the kids, but nobody counted to make sure they had all of them? In the end, everyone learns that it's okay to be a little weird and Bullock make friends and has better self-esteem. In one of the many voice-overs that made me groan out loud (it should be noted here that Bullock sometimes talks with a lisp, sometimes not, so the voice-overs also end up being glaring continuity errors), Bullock says something like, "Crosswords are all about filling in the blanks. Life is like that, too." Ladies and gentlemen, All About Steve.

On a side note, I've watched all of these movies by myself until today. Maybe it was a dumb decision to submit myself to these... things -- today's was maybe the second besides 3 Strikes that actually made me physically uncomfortable -- but I've kept these as my own cross to bear. Today, my wife was curious about the movie and decided to watch with me. I'm not exaggerating when I say that one minute into the movie, we turned to each other and expressed our greatest fears for how bad this film was going to be, fears that were exceeded. I may not have an iron stomach for spicy food, but somehow I'm able to digest this crap without going totally insane. That's not to say that it wouldn't be fun to watch an Uwe Boll movie with a group, but not all of these are "fun bad." I'm not asking for sympathy, I'm just musing about the idea that there has to be some way to play my strong constitution for personal benefit down the line. Mike Nelson writes about bad movies, but the whole idea of MST3K was those so-bad-they're-good films. I wonder if there's a niche out there for people who take one for the collective team.

Aughts Pop

We may have a guest music post at some point, but I decided to throw together, without much thought, my five favorite pop songs of the decade. Sure, we're in the Teens now and it's time for the century to get all moody and start growing hair in funny places, but we can look back still. Entirely possible I'm missing something obvious, though I think the top three at least are pretty dead on. In descending order: