Thursday, March 31, 2011



These are all adverbs to modify the word "bad" in the question: "How bad was tonight's musical episode of Grey's Anatomy?"

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Hammer Definitely Needs

  • Random Pop Culture:
    • Matt is becoming one of the great heroes in Survivor history and he's only on for five minutes an episode! I can not wait for next week's episode to see how crazy it gets after he swats Sarita aside like the mentally-weak-reminds-everyone-of-a-bad-Kristen-Wiig-character player that she is.
    • Traffic Light has really come into its own as a very funny show, but they had to use an "It's complicated" Facebook relationship status joke? I actually spoke the punchline out loud before they said it.
    • Started watching The League, which is kind of like a dirtier and funnier Traffic Light. I have some issues with the constant continuity errors around the fantasy football, though, at least early in the first season.
    • Unsurprisingly, Lights Out will not be back for a second season, but that doesn't take away from what is airing. The finale should be phenomenal.
  • Opening Day:
    • It may be 35 degrees and raining outside, but tomorrow is Opening Day! Why they chose to do it on a Thursday is beyond me, but I'm excited! Some quick predictions.
    • Division winners: Boston, Minnesota, Texas, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, San Francisco
    • Wild cards: Yankees, Colorado
    • Sleepers: Colorado, Oakland
    • MVPs: Alex Rodriguez, Joey Votto
    • Cy Young: Felix Hernandez, Roy Halladay
    • World Series: Phillies over Red Sox
  • Random Music Video:
    • One heck of a day for birthdays today! You have Celine Dion, Norah Jones, and Eric Clapton. Oh, and this guy.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

We Are The World

The video from last night has me in a cartoon mode, but we live in more and more of a global society each day. It's just not fair to any international readers we may have to go crazy about cartoons I watched when I was growing up (or, sure, after I was grown up, at least physically). So, here are some non-English-speaker-friendly versions of some of my favorites.

Monday, March 28, 2011

People Just Liked It Better That Way

  • The Monologue:
    • A cobra has disappeared in the Bronx Zoo. Duke and Scarlett have been detached to investigate.
    • An Egyptian cobra has gone missing from the reptile house in the Bronx Zoo. With its departure, the Egyptian cobra military is now in charge of the exhibit.
    • A snake went missing in the Bronx. Upon hearing there was a living thing in the Bronx that they hadn't tried out, the Yankees asked him to come in for a shot at being their fifth starter.
  • Random Pop Culture:
    • Nurse Jackie and United States of Tara return tonight. Nurse Jackie is in danger of going the Weeds route with me. It has three great performances, but the show itself is pretty boring because nobody ever learns anything or does anything different. On the other hand, Tara is constantly pushing itself (and also has great performances). I only watched Tara tonight and it was as good as it was at the end of its last season.
    • Luke of The Amazing Race may be my least favorite contestant ever. He is whiny to a level that Snooki finds annoying. Oh, I'm so sorry that you have it tough on a freaking game show where you get to travel around the world for free. I'm sure the 99.9% of applicants that don't get picked for the show really feel for you.
    • Don't look now, but House just literally bored someone to death. If only they had been more self-aware, they would have been able to diagnose the guy.
    • Am I crazy to think that Butler has the best shot of winning this thing? Really don't want to jinx them, though.
  • Random Music Video:
    • 81 years ago today, the Turkish Postal Services Law was enacted and required that all foreign governments stop calling the country's largest city, the third largest city proper in the world, by its old name. But, why did Constantinople get the works? Let's see if we can find out!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Worst of the Worst: #83, Doogal

America is so uncouth. Compared to our finer cousins on "The Continent" we are just a bunch of drawling hicks, like a less-gentlemanly Quincey Morris. Take, for instance, the French and British kids show, The Magic Roundabout. It's a show from the late '60s -- the British version was written and narrated by Emma Thompson's father -- shot in stop motion animation about a magical town with a magical carousel in its center and the adventures of a goofy but loyal dog, Dougal, who lived there. Years later, the French and then British made a computer-animated movie about the cartoon and the movie did quite well.

And here come those crappy Americans. Nobody here knows anything about the show, but the movie did well in the UK, so producers brought it over and redubbed it with mostly American actors. They carried over Kylie Minogue, Judi Dench, and Ian McKellen, but, for instance, replaced Bill Nighy with Jimmy Fallon and Ray Winstone with Bill Hader. Good omen, right? Plus, because nobody here knew the story, they were able to stray from the earnestness of the kids show (yay!) and make it a bunch of inappropriate pop culture references and fart sound effects. A kids movie where every line is taken from Pulp Fiction? Yes, please!

It's this dialogue and this lack of care about the source material that dooms the movie. You don't want to blame the voice talent like Whoopi Goldberg and William H. Macy and John Stewart, but they seem to reading the lines in a total vacuum. There is no emotional connection and it is obvious. You end up with a bunch of stuff happening that you can't possibly care about and that makes this boring. Really, really boring. Had to rewind a few times because I drifted into a daydream and missed a plot point. Easily the worst kids movie I've ever seen and it holds the record for lowest-grossing computer animated film ever (I learned in reading about that that the average computer animated kids movie makes around $130 million!). I imagine some kids might like a dog that eats lots of candy or a snail and cow being in love with each other, but if my kid is going to like weird stuff, it's going to be at least well-made. I've never seen an episode of the Steve Carrell The Office because I'm too much of a snob about the British one. I'm passing that snobbery on, no matter how American my kid is.

Friday, March 25, 2011


You ever seen a Duke team look so bad in the tournament? The only thing that came to mind was 2003 in Redick's freshman year when they lost to the Heinrich-Collison Kansas team and JJ kept missing and missing, but it turns out they lost by 4. They just got run off the floor tonight. I pumped up Derrick Williams and now you know why.

Monday, March 21, 2011


Hard to say that, even with the upsets, there were many surprises in the first two rounds of the tournament.
  • You can't really count Marquette, Butler, or Florida State as Cinderella teams. Two are from major conferences and the other is one of the top programs in the country.
  • The Big East choked, especially Pittsburgh and Notre Dame. What's new?
  • Ditto Purdue and Texas.
  • BYU is much better than many people (not me) thought, but it's not like they haven't been top ten all year.

Yes, it's weird that Kansas is in a regional with three double-digit seeds and, yes, a lot of the weekend's games came down to the last seconds. But surprising? I have all of my Final Four left. The ones who don't are the ones who believed in Pitt, Notre Dame, and Syracuse. What's surprising to me is that people would do that.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Worst of the Worst: #85, Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector

Look, what do you want me to say? It's full of racism, fart sound effects, poop jokes, and bad acting. It's like Police Academy for dumber people than the ones who love the Police Academy sequels. On the good side, it's the best of the "Larry the Cable Guy" movies because I snorted once at something or another. Still not sure why he didn't play a cable guy in any of his three movies that were on this list. At least I never have to watch another Dan Whitney movie again*.

*Until his next movie ends up on the next worst of the worst list.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Let's Dance

Halftime of a horribly-played 22-22 VCU-USC game as I wonder if it's too late to give Harvard or St. Mary's a call to show up on Friday, but it's time to take one last look at my brackets as we get rolling tomorrow:
  • Biggest seed upset: #13 Belmont over #4 Wisconsin, of course. Belmont led the nation in scoring margin, a key stat. Wisconsin scored 33 against Penn State the other day and lost by 30 to Ohio State in their last game of the regular season.
  • The classic 12-5 upsets: I have three. Maybe I shouldn't pick Richmond after they didn't show up last year, but I don't like inconsistent teams like Vanderbilt unless they've done something in the tournament before. Clemson looked great last night, but I had them beating WVU before that. I've already written about why Utah State is underseeded.
  • Lowest seed in the Sweet 16: #12 Utah State, again.
  • Lowest seed in the Elite 8: #7 Washington. A little biased because I've loved their style of play for some time, but I wouldn't love it if it didn't lead to success.
  • Best player you've never heard of: Derrick Williams (F, Arizona). Jared Sullinger can still up his stock, but Williams is the first pick in the draft as of right now. He looks the most like an NBA player of anyone I've seen this year.
  • Best player you have heard of: Jimmer. You're going to hear his name a lot for the next few weeks.
  • Worst #1: Pittsburgh.
  • Worst #1 with a ridiculously easy region: Pittsburgh.
  • #1 most likely to choke: Pittsburgh, barely beating Ohio State.
  • My wrong Final Four: Ohio State, Duke, Kansas, and BYU (AKA, anyone but Pittsburgh).
  • My national champion that I hate myself for picking but I can't deny that they are the favorites even though I hope they blow it and I lose: Duke.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

And They Are Indisputable (NCAA Tournament Edition)

These are the facts (okay, maybe bold assertions) with the brackets out:
  • People talk about Colorado not making the tournament, but the biggest errors the tournament committee made are in the seeding. There are teams that are very underseeded and some that are very overseeded. The #17 team in one of the polls as a 12-seed? One of the seven best teams in the country as a 4-seed? A team that finished 9th in its conference as a 3-seed? The 18th or 19th best team in the country as a 2-seed?
  • Utah State isn't slightly better than Kansas State. Utah State is way better than Kansas State. Utah State is 7th in scoring margin and Kansas State is 57th. Utah State is the 7th most experienced team in the nation and Kansas State is the 245th. This won't even be an upset.
  • They are really good offensively, but Oakland is the most overrated (by the media) of the double-digit seeds. Texas probably deserves Florida 2-seed (as does BYU). You're going to hear about how the Longhorns fell apart down the stretch. Yes, they lost some games and then they fell apart right to the Big 12 title game. Nobody who is "falling apart" gets to the end in a conference that deep. Oakland could beat a lot of high seeds in this field. Texas isn't one of them.
  • The Big East was the best conference, obviously. Second was the Big Ten and third the Big 12. Which was the fourth best conference in the country this year? Had to be the ACC, right? No? Well, the Pac-10 then? SEC? It was the Mountain West. The MWC had the fourth highest RPI of any league this season. If you want to write off San Diego State, BYU, and UNLV, do it at your own risk. In fact, I think San Diego State has the easiest road to the Elite 8 of any 1- or 2-seed.
  • But that must mean I think UConn is horribly overrated? I do. They finished 9th in their conference. They are a one-man team. I don't buy the Big East hype. East Coast bias may be a way of life in baseball, but it's a tradition in college basketball. Those Pac-10, MWC, and WAC teams are always among the lowest-picked when you look at percentages in the bracket contests. And then they win, imagine that.
  • And that East Coast bias leads to this: Washington is maybe the most underrated team in the field. They're not just underrated as a 7-seed that won their conference tournament and is getting back their best defender after he didn't play. They are as good as 2-seed North Carolina. Yes, I mean that. Jeff Sagarin, in his predictive ratings, has the Huskies as the 10th best team in the country compared to the Tarheels at 15th. Ken Pomeroy has the Tarheels 14th and the Huskies 15th. The Huskies are the 111th most experienced team in the country, the Tarheels the 323rd. Washington is 8th in scoring margin, Carolina is 29th. Want to look past the numbers? Washington's point guard is better than Carolina's. They have more big bodies inside, including a better post presence in Matthew Bryan-Amaning. Which 2-seed do I have going out first?
  • My Final Four? I don't have it set yet. It's really hard not to like all of the #1s, if only because Pitt has such an easy road. Won't be all #1s. So will it be Syracuse or Washington beating out Ohio State? Will it be Old Dominion or Butler making Cinderella runs. Will Jimmer shoot the Cougars to glory? Will Texas or San Diego State (who should have had Pitt's 1-seed) knock off Duke? Will Kansas choke like last year or will Purdue, on a mission, take them out? I know which 1-seed I like the best to make the Final Four. I know which team I have winning it all. I have to fill in the rest.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Worst of the Worst: #87, Testosterone

How's this for a story? A comic book artist meets and falls in love with a man, who leaves him abruptly and with HIV. The artist goes on a search through the gay community of Southern California as the book exposes some of the seedier aspects. Maybe it's not my cup of tea, but it sounds like an interesting enough story.

This movie, based on the book of the same name that had that story, changes that slightly. Okay, more than slightly. The artist does not have HIV -- just a broken heart -- and goes on a search through Buenos Aires to find his lover. The lover's family is hiding him so the artist fights against them and meets a mysterious woman and her brother who may or may not be able to help him.

The odds are a lot lower, of course, in the movie version and the obsession with finding the lover is also not quite as clear. Therein lies the biggest fault with this movie that nobody has ever heard of and made just less than $30,000 in its one weekend in theaters. There never seems to be a good reason for anything the main character does, so he just sort of moves aimlessly around Buenos Aires until the ultimate twist that left me going to Google because I didn't understand how it ended. Confusing plot and bad dialogue punctuated by multiple meaningless-to-the-plot sex scenes? Sounds like porn to me. Thankfully (for me), it was not graphic and mostly just guys running around with their shirts off. The direction is poor and the editing is especially bad, with scenes starting and stopping what seems like a second too early or too late. I've found in a lot of these movies that bad editing can make the difference between something being boring and incompetent.

The acting is actually mostly okay. David Sutcliffe, the "star," was a regular on Gilmore Girls and Private Practice and he's not bad. The main female actress, an Argentinian named Celina Font, is very good. The acting is enough to ensure that the movie is not so much awful as just meandering, incomprehensible, and ultimately forgettable.

(Tourney breakdown to come tomorrow.)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

And They Are Indisputable

These are the facts:
  • The British show The IT Crowd is really, really funny. A wacky sitcom about two nerds and their just-a-bit-too-desperate female boss. I generally don't like shows with laugh tracks, but it doesn't bother me here too much (maybe I've been softened up by How I Met Your Mother).
  • Traffic Light on Fox started out okay, but has gotten quite funny over the last few episodes. They nail some guy things, a notable one being a story about the morning commute as alone time.
  • No teams of note in the tourney tonight, though a couple of good ones yesterday with Oakland (high-scoring with a legit NBA prospect in the post) and Butler. As always, loving the amount of basketball available between various channels and ESPN3, especially the always entertaining Pac-10 tournament on CSN.
  • Wisconsin came in at #18 in my state rankings of a couple of years ago. Seeing what is going on there makes me feel all the more fortunate to live in as deep blue a state as I do.
  • It's quite likely that my daughter will grow up never knowing that Color Me Badd ever existed, unless I do something about it. My duty, right?

Monday, March 7, 2011

They're Playing Bas-ket-ball

My favorite sports week of the year, Championship Week, is well in motion and a few dark horses are already dancing. Belmont lost one game in conference and won its others by an average of 22 points. They are explosive offensively and look to be on that magical 12 or 13 line. ODU comes from the CAA, one of the best mid-major conferences on a yearly basis. Wofford is veteran and almost won their game last year as a 14. Gonzaga got in tonight and they're always a threat, especially with their interior size.

Butler will join the field tomorrow night and the 500-team Big East tournament kicks off during the day. Very much looking forward to UConn and St. John's losing in the first round of the NCAAs.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Worst of the Worst: #89, Basic Instinct 2

And so we reach the 3/4 pole of this now fifteen-month race to watch Rotten Tomatoes' hundred worst movies of the "Aughts" with a pretty infamously bad movie. The movie was a flop of epic proportions. The original Basic Instinct cost $40 million to make and brought in $117 million at the box office, to go with countless video tape viewings (including the single most paused moment in movie history). The sequel cost $70 million and made $5 million. I didn't leave a number out there. Why did it bomb so badly? Fourteen years had passed, meaning people didn't care so much about the "franchise" and Sharon Stone was perceived as maybe a little old to be playing Catherine Tramell again; Stone had fallen off the map a bit, having had not a really big box office kind of role since the not-so-good Sphere eight years earlier; word of mouth from the critics was abysmal. An infamously bad movie, which is why what I'm about to say may come as a surprise.

With two exceptions, Basic Instinct 2 is a perfectly average movie.

The plot deals with one of London's leading psychiatrists who is called in to do a forensic evaluation of Ms. Tramell after her boyfriend is killed in a car accident while she was driving. A cop, knowing that she had a history of writing about murders that somehow happen, is out to get her and tries to get the psychiatrist to convince the court that she is a danger to herself and others. While the interview goes on, the femme fatale uses her sexed-up manipulation on him and he begins to be obsessed with her. When she is freed on a technicality, he fantasizes about her and follows her around and then the people close to him start turning up dead. Mystery, sex, twist, blah blah blah. Your average Cinemax movie. Maybe one scene of really graphic sex and a few other semi-graphic ones, plus a little blood. David Morrissey's performance as the shrink isn't too bad. David Thewlis as the cop is mostly quite good (not a surprise, since he's pretty good as Lupin in the Harry Potter films). Bad, boring, uninventive plot. Just average.

The first exception to this is the dialogue. It is not good. One of the first lines is when Tramell's boyfriend is in the car at the beginning and drugged up. He says, "I can't move." She replies, "You don't have to. You're in a car." Plenty of other lines that are as intellectually stimulating. The movie also attempts to set a Guiness world record for most times the word "come" (in various spellings, I'm sure) is spoken in a movie. It's not suggestive. It's just overused. The script gets so bad that the movie is funny at times. That's not so bad, I guess, in so boring a film. Add to that some unintentional comedy in the overdramatic acting job that Thewlis does in his death scene and, while bad, the dialogue is sort of entertaining. Which means it can only be the second exception that makes the movie truly awful.

That second exception is the acting job turned in by Sharon Stone. In watching these bad movies, the two worst acting jobs I've seen by a well-known actor have been from Chris Klein (his laugh-out-loud performance in Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li) and John Travolta (from Battlefield Earth, of course). Add Stone to the list as the worst actress so far. It's not how she tries to look much younger than she is, including a shot of her really, really (I could keep going there) bad boob job. It's about how she delivers her lines. She's supposed to be sexy but cold, sarcastic but enticing. Instead, she speaks every word as if she's reading them for the first time and she can barely read. She's saying things for shock value, but they are so unbelievable that you have to roll your eyes. It's not so bad that it's funny. It's so bad that you want her to get off screen as quickly as possible. We're talking about an Academy Award-nominated actress, maybe the biggest sex symbol of the '90s, and I cringed every time she opened her mouth. She's not the first actor to ruin a (barely) legacy. She's not even the first actor from Casino, since Pesci and De Niro have been making stinker after stinker for a while now. I guess it's sad that she ended up in a movie that sat on a shelf for six years and was embroiled in lawsuits before being made, a movie that doesn't even really have anything to do with the first one other than a scene where Tramell looks at an icepick. Maybe we -- or at least those very, very few of us who saw this movie -- should remember her for Casino or Total Recall, but it can only be so sad because she brought this on herself. A good performance from her would not have saved this movie, but it would have saved it from being near-unwatchable.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Worst of the Worst: #75, Son Of The Mask

Son of the Mask is well-known as one of the worst movies in recent memory. It has a lot of things going for/against it in terms of low quality. It stars Jamie Kennedy. That's a huge one. It involves an inordinate amount of really, really poor CGI. It prominently features fart and urine jokes and has someone getting hit in the nuts within the first thirty seconds of the film. It was written by someone who wrote for the extraordinarily short-lived The Chevy Chase Show. The plot doesn't seem to make a lot of sense. It's overly schmaltzy at times. It's a sequel to a not-so-classic movie that came out ten years earlier. Kal Penn uses a really fake Indian accent in it. Steven Wright is the fourth-billed person in the movie. And much, much more! Not so long into the movie, probably when Kennedy puts on the mask and does a big, crappy musical number, I got excited by the prospect that Son of the Mask could seriously pose a threat to Master of Disguise as the single least entertaining movie I've ever seen. It is really a miserable piece of garbage.


(No, I'm not about to say that there is any redeeming quality, just counting off excuses.)

I can't put this movie in that company. It's probably not even the second-least entertaining movie I've watched on this list; that may fall to Jenny McCarthy's Dirty Love, which beat Son of the Mask for Worst Picture at 2006's Razzie Awards. There are a few reasons why I bump this one up a little. First, it's a kid's movie, which automatically means I'm only going to get it but so much. Yes, this is also true of Master of Disguise, but that one is a little too dirty to not be trying to get adults and also you probably have never seen Master of Disguise, so trust me. Second, I don't think the original The Mask would be nearly as popular if it came out in the last five or six years as it was when it came out seventeen years ago. Comedy is just different. Maybe this doesn't say anything for the newer movie, but I take it into account. Third, my expectations for it were so exaggerated that it could have never lived down to them.

So, in closing, Son of the Mask is not the least entertaining movie I've ever seen. So it has that going for it, which is nice.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Nut 'N' Honey

Let's be honest, there's nothing going on as far as this blog is concerned. No new TV tonight. The calm before the Championship Week storm. Charlie Sheen jokes are already old. Wisconsin isn't so funny (unless you're pointing out how "gritty" and "fundamentally-sound" their basketball team is). So I'll have two bad movies (classic ones) for you over the weekend. Bi-winning. See what I mean?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Working With Quacktors

Two short films I made, based on a series of pictures someone took. First story written by the photographer. Second re-cut by me.