Thursday, February 28, 2008

Weekday Links

Omar Holds Court - Michael K. Williams, who plays Omar on The Wire and the police officer in Trapped In the Closet, has a lengthy interview with AfterElton about playing the coolest gay character in the history of television.

John Hollinger's "Ten Under the Radar Storylines To Watch Down the Stretch" was great, and not just because he correctly points out that Manu Ginobili is one of the short-list great players in the NBA right now. Be sure to click at the bottom for items #6-10.

The Killing Joke - The New Yorker had an interesting piece on the Coen Brothers.

Legendary tv producer Norman Lear's interview with NPR was really interesting.

Maybe I'm evil, but this rejected marriage proposal at a recent Houston Rockets game cracked me up.

Why Does God Hate Buffalo? Hey, its an honest question.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A Glaring Oversight

How could I post about the best duets in pop music history without including Nate Dogg and Warren G's "Regulators?" One of the greatest songs of the gangsta rap era, beloved by men of a certain age, regardless of their background. Also, I can say from experience that women really love it when DJs play this song at weddings, and the groomsmen borrow his microphone and karaoke along with the lyrics.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Its . . . Alive!!!

Its no secret that I hate just about everything about Sex in the City. I think its a trite, corny, sloppily written show, and it angers me that the least attractive qualities of Carrie, Samantha and Charlotte are the very personality traits that we, er, "we," the audience, are supposed to love about them. A significant number of young women say they enjoy the show because it captures what its like to be a single woman in New York City, as if every single woman in Manhattan is a needy, whiny, self-involved slut with a job that pays her enough to buy a brownstone, drop $20,000 a month on clothes and eat 2 hour lunches every day of the week.

If you could distill bitchiness into two and a half minutes of video, it would closely resemble the recently-released trailer for the Sex and the City movie. Remember the episode of Late Night where Conan O'Brien sent Triumph the Insult Comic Dog to ridicule the dorks waiting in line outside of the premiere of Star Wars, Episode 1? Well, I would just about empty my checking account to see Triumph to go the Regal Cinema at Union Square and tear a new asshole into all of the Page Six readers waiting in line to see the premiere of the Sex in the City movie.

Pop Music's Best Duets

Retrocrush ranks the 25 Greatest Duets of All Time. Here are my personal favorites:

Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty - Stop Draggin' My Heart Around What's not to love about two of the all-time greats teaming up for a cool song like this?


Elton John and Kiki Dee - Don't Go Breakin' My Heart A little gay, a lot awesome.


Joe Strummer and Johnny Cash - Redemption Song
That's a lot of bad-ass for one microphone.


Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers - Let's Call The Whole Thing Off
One of my favorite Gershwin songs.


Louis Armstrong & Ella Fitzgerald - Summertime
I've always loved this song, but Armstrong and Fitzgerald sang so many great duets that its difficult to pick just one - check out I'm Crazy About My Baby if you haven't already.


But my personal favorite is, of course:

Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg - Nothin' But A G Thang

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Reason #2174565 Why I'm A Total Hater

IN A WORLD . . . WHERE COLLEGE IS EXPENSIVE . . . THE SMARTEST STUDENT AT M.I.T. WHO IS BROKE, JUST LIKE WILL HUNTING . . . AND WHO JUST HAPPENS TO BE HANDSOME, ATHLETIC AND WHITE, JUST LIKE NO M.I.T STUDENT WHO HAS EVER LIVED . . . LEARNS TO COUNT CARDS AND TAKES ON THE CORPORATE FAT CATS . . . SO HE CAN AFFORD FIT IN WITH PAMPERED RICH KIDS.

Hollywood is turning the Ben Mezrich black book "Bringing Down the House" into a movie. The book was okay, but just okay. In the book, the blackjack players were Asian-American, south Asian and Hispanic. The movie is entirely cast with good-looking young actors and actresses who all happen to be white, beautiful, well-dressed, and non-threatening to middle america. In real life, the professor who taught them how to count cards was an Arab, but in the movie he's played by Kevin Spacey. This movie represents just about everything I hate about Hollywood.



The title of this unlikely-to-be-thrilling thriller is "21." They couldn't name the movie "Bringing Down the House" because that title was already taken for an even shittier movie starring Steve Martin, Queen Latifah and Eugene Levy.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

MorphThing

If you're looking for a fun way to waste some time at work, I'd recommend checking out MorphThing. The premise is simple enough but surprisingly addictive - the website has a large database of photos of celebrity faces, which you can then "morph" against each other or uploaded pictures of yourself/your friends (you can also morph your face against those of friends). You'll get a good sense of how disturbing the possibilities can be if you morph yourself against Thom Yorke or Chewbacca.

My most recent effort is a morph of my face and that of the bust of Casear Augustus on display at the British Museum:

Friday, February 22, 2008

I Didn't Realize Mormons Were Down With Facials

I think its a little unfair to pile on Shawn Bradley for being dunked on by Kevin Garnett or Shaq, because those guys have dunked on everybody. Not so much Ed O'Bannon and Donyell Marshall.

The worst, though, was the Robert Pack dunk.I know that Robert Pack was in the slam dunk contest a couple of times, but a real center would either have blocked that dunk or else sent Pack ten rows deep into the stands in the attempt.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Best Cover Songs of 2007, Part 2

Foo Fighters - Keep the Car Running (Arcade Fire cover)


Seether - Rehab (Amy Winehouse cover)


Of Montreal - Don't Stop (Journey Cover)


Of Montreal is one of the hippest bands in indie rock, but for my money the definitive 2007 cover version of "Don't Stop" is this freaky/creepy/sort of bitchin' rendition by Metal Skool, with vocal assistance from Tony Romo and Mr. Belding.


Thanks once again to Lauren at Lost In Texas for the link to this article.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Merely A Two-Word Review: Shit Sandwich

Flip-Flopper!!!!!!11!!!!1 Flip-Flopper!!!!1!!11!!!!!

Science is Awesome


For some reason I'm always fascinated by new discoveries about the development of ancient species. One recent finding is that 65-70 million years ago, there were bowling ball-sized "devil frogs" - equipped with armored shells and teeth - that likely preyed on baby dinosaurs. Killer artist rendering above depicts the devil frog (estimated to have been 16 inches long and weighing ten pounds) facing the current largest known living frog, with a full-length pencil to provide perspective. Siiiick.

Cherries For Change

Today in Vermont, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, founders of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream, endorsed Barack Obama for President. They also introduced a new flavor, Cherries For Change, in Obama's honor.

I can't decide if this is a good thing or an awesome thing. It almost makes me wish I worked in the private sector so I could afford to buy Ben & Jerry's on a regular basis, instead of only on my birthday and when I'm stranded in Midway Airport.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Its Funny Because Its True

I found The Onion's political glossary to be both amusing and depressingly accurate.

Minor quibbles:
1) In the entry for "caucus," it makes fun of small states which most Americans only think about during primary season once every four years, a message contradicted by the entry for "electoral college," which it describes as "a process by which the number of states in the Union is narrowed down to the most important seven or eight."

2) It seems to ignore the fact that the electoral college, flawed as it is, actually helps enfranchise small states by giving them disproportionate influence in the election.

Don't Stop 'Till You Get Enough

The Yale University a cappella group Shades is one of the most accomplished college vocal group I've ever heard. As Jake mentioned in yesterday's post, their annual Valentine's Day concert is one of the highlights of Yale University's social calendar and hearing their music for the first time in years brought back a lot of fond memories. Unfortunately, their best love song, "With You," isn't available on YouTube, but these will more than suffice:

"Kiss de Girl" (from The Little Mermaid)


"Weak" (Yes, the SWV song)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Things I Can't Do

It's hard to talk about Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard without quickly using words like "freak" or "man-child." Certainly his performance at last night's NBA Slam Dunk Contest was one of the better ones in recent memory, although it definitely didn't beat the standard set by Vince Carter in 2000. Nonetheless, his "Superman" dunk is an instant classic that will likely be remembered as one of the better dunks in the history of the contest:



For good measure, here's a video of Howard's "sticker on the backboard" dunk from last year, which is nearly as amazing. It's just surreal/completely unfair that a guy who is seven feet tall and that strong can jump this high.



Unfortunately, Kenny Smith comes off as about the most annoying person alive in both of the videos.

Last Note on V-Day

It occurs to me that I might have been a little over-the-top with my Valentine's Day hatred here. I should at least mention that one Valentine's Day tradition that doesn't suck is the annual Shades jam at Yale. Shades is a most excellent a cappella group specializing in African spirituals, Motown, and R&B. Here is a video of them performing one of their signature songs, entitled "More Than a Paycheck." Unfortunately the sound quality only does partial justice to how nice it sounds performed live.

Best Cover Songs of 2007, Part 1

Arctic Monkeys - You Know That I'm No Good (Amy Winehouse cover)


Norah Jones - Ocean of Noise (Arcade Fire cover)


KT Tunstall - The Prayer (Bloc Party cover)

Weekend Links

1) Thom Yorke guest-DJ's an installment of NPR's "All Songs Considered." Really cool stuff.

2) New York mayor Michael Bloomberg criticizes President Bush's economic stimulus program, saying that the government giving everybody a $600 check is akin to "giving a drink to an alcoholic."

3) Definitely, Maybe - The Onion A.V. Club's review of the new romantic comedy includes this money quote:
Romantic comedies have such a lousy batting average—somewhere between movie spoofs and torture porn—that even when a half-decent one like Definitely, Maybe comes along, it's distinguished more by what it doesn't do than what it does. To that end, Definitely, Maybe doesn't rely on amnesia, magic (black or practical), the supernatural, cutesy-poo serendipity, or any other such high-concept gimmickry to get the job done. It also doesn't feature any gay-best-friend types, doesn't turn into a stand-up-comedy routine for the male lead, and doesn't clear the way to romance by making other potential partners seem treacherous or repugnant.


4) Scarlett Johansson's album of Tom Waits covers is about to hit the shelves of your local record store. She's a beautiful girl and Lost In Translation is one of my favorite movies, but I think I'm going to sit this one out.

5) The Best Sandwiches in America - According to Esquire Magazine. I was glad to see that Katz's Deli made the list.

6) The Best Cover Concepts of 2007 - Via "Lost In Texas." The covers of "Graceland" are my favorites, but almost all of the songs are worth a listen.

7) My guess is that this "train your husband like he's a dog" book wouldn't have been published if it was written about wives instead of husbands.

Hipster Blogs Really Annoy Me

A lot of people have been discussing a new blog entitled "Stuff White People Like." Let me save you some time: Stuff White People Like sucks. I'd be willing to bet my modest savings account that this blog is written by self-loathing white people, hipsters who don't recognize themselves as such.

Take, for example, the sixty-first thing that white people like: bicycles. Its been awhile and perhaps my memory is going in my old age, but I seem to recall that when I was a kid I rode my bike at the park alongside black and hispanic kids. I've been to China, where hundreds of millions of bonafide non-white people ride bicycles every day. It points out that bicycle shops and "almost entirely staffed by white people," but the last bicycle I bought was from a black guy, the last bicycle Paul bought was from a different black guy (I was there when he picked it out). Futhermore, bicycle shops are no whiter than stores that sell other forms of transportation - is there any evidence that the workforces of car, motorcycle, or boat dealerships more proportionately reflect the racial makeup of America? No? Then go home and shut the fuck up, you angry-for-no-reason hipster. If you live in any but about 30 cities in the country, odds are most of the people you encounter on a daily basis are white. Who do you expect to work in bicycle shops, exactly?

There's a lot to hate about this blog, but perhaps no post better sums it up than #33, the post about marijuana. This is the sort of post that could only be written by a self-loathing white person living in a largely white community. Only white people like marijuana? Really? Snoop Dogg. Jamaicans. Randy Moss. Rasheed Wallace. Cypress Hill. Dave Chappelle. Bob Marley. Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong. Harold and Kumar. You could keep going. The people who I see get arrested every day on the streets of Kings County. Really, the stereotype of white hippie stoners is at least 40 years old, and at least 30 years out of date. If anything, the more accurate stereotype is that white people like to get drunk off of beer, while black and hispanic people prefer to get high through other means. Regardless, this post is EXACTLY the sort of thing that a self-hating white person would write to try to appear hip and counter-cultural and subversive. Really, just go the fuck away.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Something I'm Willing To Bet You Never Knew Existed

The Doctor Knows Best

In light of the favorable reaction to my previous round of old videos of Julius "the Doctor" Erving, I did some more research and came across this great mix-tape of the greatest plays of his career. For as great as Dr. J's dunks were - and they were pretty great - for my money, his best plays were the ridiculous bank shots he made, from behind the backboard, or over taller defenders in traffic, or with his weak hand, or after having changed hands in mid-air. He was such a bizarre physical specimen - its as if he had Chris Webber's hands, Tim Duncan's arms and Kobe Bryant's body - and nobody else was able to match the different angles he could shoot from, or the different spins he could put onto the ball to get it into the net over and around obstacles. Some of his shots were the basketball equivalent of David Beckham's free kicks, only the Doctor's were improvised in mid-air.

And just for the hell of it, here is NBA.com's collection of the Doctor's 10 best dunks.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Someone's Lonely On Valentine's Day

I almost feel sorry for the little guy.

Spreading the Valentine's Day Hate

It probably comes as no surprise to people who know me that I generally find Valentine's Day to be pretty dumb. I mainly have a problem with manipulative chocolate and jewelry ads that have the implicit (occasionally explicit) message that your significant other will like you less if you don't buy their products on this particular "holiday." In my personal experience, I have had two Valentine's Days in which I was seeing someone: one was much more fuckbuddy than girlfriend, and the other broke up with me following post-Valentine's Day dinner coitus, so I'm probably biased. Wade has gone on record with some strong hate here.

However, nobody brings the hate quite like someecards. Their full collection of hilarious Valentine's Day cards can be found here, but I've included some of my favorites below.





Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Takin' The Soul To The Hole

This appears to be part of a new Converse ad, to be released in time for the NBA slam-dunk contest. I love it, and something tells me that Jake and Paul will enjoy it ,too:

While we're on the subject, I wish that they made more advertisements like this one:

Mid-Week Links

Here's what we've been reading this week:

1) I'm already stoked about the Coen brothers' adaptation of Michael Chabon's novel The Yiddish Policemen's Union.

2) "Nectar of the Demi-Gods" is the Onion A.V. Club at its snarky best. My personal favorite B-list celebrity-endorsed foodstuff is Steven Segal's Lightning Bolt Asian Experience Energy Drink.

3) The USA Today ranks America's 15 snowiest cities. It should come as no surprise that four of them are located in upstate New York.

4) Louis C.K., Jonah Hill, Rob Lowe and Jennifer Garner are all to star in Ricky Gervais' first feature film. They can already count on getting my $10.

5) The Night We Serendipitously Never Kissed captures all of the reasons why men hate romantic comedies.

6) Anthony Lane's reviews of "In Bruges" and "The Band's Visit" are worth five minutes of your time.

Its Tuesday, Ain't Got Shit To Do

The New York State Courts are closed to day, in honor of Abraham Lincoln's birthday. This video seemed appropriate.

Monday, February 11, 2008

In Praise of Pass-First Point Guards

I like Gilbert Arenas, but then everybody likes Gilbert Arenas. He's fun. He's exciting. He's a nice guy. He's a good NBA player, and his blog, Agent Zero, is remarkably candid. But there's a reason he's not a great NBA player. Here's his take on Jose Calderon:

On the East side, I don’t know if there were any big snubs. I mean, some people wanted Jose Calderon. Jose Calderon? Who? Come on man, this is All-Star, people. When I’ve seen some of the names that are being thrown around on the ticker as snubs, it’s killing me. I understand Calderon has the best assist-turnover ratio in the league, but you know what’s funny? All back-up point guards have the best assist-turnover ratios. Screw it, Kevin Ollie should be an All-Star then! For like five or six years, Ollie was No. 1 in assist-turnover ratio!


Leaving aside the fact that the sentence "all back-up pointguards have the best turnover ratio" doesn't make any sense and that Kevin Ollie was never that good, I think it should concern the Washington Wizards - if not NBA fans more generally - that their franchise point guard is so dismissive of pass-first point guards.

Good point guards quarterback their teams' offenses, take care of the basketball, create open shots for their teammates, run the fast break, and reward their team's big men for running the floor. Calderon is a pass-first point guard on a winning team. Arenas is a shoot-first point guard on a losing team. Jose Calderon is averaging only 12.4 points per game, but his offensive rating is 131.2, meaning that his team scores 131.2 points for every 100 possessions that he is on the floor. Gilbert Arenas is averaging 22.4 points per game, but his offensive rating is just 97.1. Who would you rather have running your team? Because he passes the ball unless he has an open shot, Calderon is currently making 53.3% of his field goals, 46.1% of his 3-pointers, and 92.1% of his free-throws, putting him on pace to become just the seventh player to shoot 50/40/90 for a season, and when you couple that with his 5.56 assist-to-turnover ratio, he is having one of the most efficient seasons in living memory. Arenas, who has a much quicker trigger, is making just 39% of his shots, 21.2% of his 3-pointers, and 75.3% of his free-throws. Granted, Arenas is having an unusually poor year, but his career numbers - 42.7%, 35.8%, and 80.9%, are all worse than Calderon.

Who would you rather have on your team? Is there really any comparison between them? Furthermore, every all-star game in the past 10 years has sucked because nobody other than Jason Kidd and Steve Nash is willing to distribute the ball and get shots for the great scorers around them. Nobody wants to see a shoot-first point guard dribbling into traffic and trying to go 1-on-5 when there are four other good scorers on the floor. Jose Calderon is precisely the type of point guard the NBA needs to play in its all-star games, and, if it was up to me, he would be starting for the eastern conference this year.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Scattered Thoughts on the NBA

1) I watched the Celtics-Spurs game this afternoon, and, though I have a lot of thoughts about the game, I mainly walked away thinking that they were two teams for which the all-star game cannot arrive quickly enough. According to the media, the story of the game was the Glen Davis did a good job of guarding Tim Duncan in Kevin Garnett's absence. In my opinion, Davis played well, but The Quiet Storm ended up with 22 points, 13 rebounds, and 6 assists, which could easily have been nine or ten assists if a couple of open San Antonio jumpshots hadn't rattled out. The Celtics won by eight, but it was a 2-point game with less than a minute left. I'll be interested to see what this match-up looks like once Kevin Garnett and Tony Parker come back from their injuries.

2) The Miami Heat looked pretty good today - Wade and Marion played really well together, and, when healthy, the Wade/Marion/Haslem nucleus will remind at least a few people of Jordan, Pippen and Horace Grant. If Marion stays in Miami (and what, other than the losing record, is not to like?) and Miami gets a top-five pick in what promises to be among the deepest drafts in recent memory, the Heat could be very competitive next season.

3) What kind of pro will UCLA's Kevin Love make? He's average 17.5 points and 11 rebounds per game, while shooting 61% from the field and move than 38% from 3-point range. Those numbers are especially impressive when you consider that 1) he's playing much better now than he did a month or two ago, 2) UCLA plays at a slow tempo, so there are fewer possessions to go around, resulting in lower statistics, 3) he's only playing 29 minutes per game. Excellent NBA rebounders such as Carlos Boozer, Greg Oden, and David Lee had far lower college rebounding averages. At 6'9" Love is probably too short to be a true center in the NBA. The three statistical areas that best predict a college player's success in the NBA are offensive rebounds, steals and blocked shots, because they are the best indicators of athleticism. Lowe's offensive rebounding is impressive, but he's averaging just 0.5 steals and 0.9 blocks a game. That doesn't bode well. Then again, tonight he hit a guard with a 70-foot inbounds pass off of a made basket, leading to an easy layup. There probably aren't more than five centers in the NBA with that sort of court vision. Is he a rich man's Brad Miller? A cross between David Lee and Lamar Odom? There's really no telling.

4) What about the other big-shot freshmen? Michael Beasley is averaging 25 and 12 - Kevin Durant numbers, and he reminds me of Shawn Marion, but with better ball-handling skills. Eric Gordon's an incredible scorer than anybody expected, but not the passer or rebounder we expected out of 'the next Oscar Robertson.' Derrick Rose and O.J. Mayo have looked great in flashes, but have struggled with consistency. After 25 games, if you were an NBA general manager, who would you most want to draft?

5) Jason Kidd was a perfect fit for the national team, but he's struggling in the NBA this year. Sure, he's getting a lot of triple doubles, but he's averaging only 11 points per game on 37% shooting, and his turnovers are up. If you're Bryan Colangelo, do you put him back on the national team this year, or pass the torch to Chris Paul and Deron Williams?

6) Last year, the Utah Jazz's sole weakness was their inability to stretch the floor and give their big men room to operate on the block. With the acquisition of Kyle Korver, and with Deron Williams locked in from 3-point range, the Jazz are legitimately scary. With San Antonio looking old, Portland a year away, and Phoenix in the process of trading and selling itself out of contention, are the Jazz the team to come out of the west this year?

7) I really, really like the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets. Made up almost entirely of players who have been cast-off and passed over, the Hornets are now one of the five or six best teams in the league. Remember when teams thought Chris Paul was too short to star in the NBA, David West too unathletic, Tyson Chandler too raw and Peja too old? And they're fun to watch. What's not to like?

Yes, We Can

I sort of love this video. This video and its mirrors are getting almost a million plays a day between them. Its inspiring, its hip, and it didn't cost the Obama campaign a penny.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

More Weekday Links

1) I wonder how this book will play in your friendly neighborhood American Studies department? Also, I think that David Hasselhoff taught this guy how to 'button' his shirt.

2) According to CNN, 23% of Americans have a 'work spouse' - think Pam and Jim from The Office. I'm surprised its that high - what are the odds of two co-workers liking each other that much, being roughly the same age, and having enough time during their workdays to get to know each other that well? I've always thought that the whole Pam and Jim thing would never work if either of them had a job that actually made them, you know, work.

2a) As long as we're on the subject, I should mention that I've never understood why every woman in America is in love with Jim Halpert - he's exactly the sort of spineless nice guy who most girls want to have around to call up at 2am after they've been dumped, but who they would never sleep with him in a million years. Most women like guys who are more manly, even if that means that they get treated like shit - right?

3) George Will's recent take on primary season is doesn't make many new points, but is as lucid a summary of the news as I've read anywhere. Nothing will unite the deeply divided Republican party quite like the potential Democratic nomination of Hillary Clinton, and the optimism and bi-partisanship of McCain and Obama probably works better in the Senate than it does in the White House. Also, a campaign between McCain and Hillary Clinton is essentially one between two senior citizens, but if the Democrats nominate Barack Obama then John McCain - who is more than twenty-five years older than him - is going to look like an old man, a hero from a war that hasn't mattered since the last century. What effect would that have on the election?

4) I think that LOL Cats are just about the dumbest thing on the internet, but LOL French Supermodels is a concept I can totally get behind.

5) Does anything about the alleged money-laundering scandal at Bob Jones University surprise you?

Does Anybody Actually Want to See This Movie? No, I'm Really Asking.

For some reason, I just can't get excited about the new Will Farrell movie "Semi-Pro," which seems to combine the worst aspects of "Dodgeball" and the remake of "The Longest Yard." Not only does it not appear to be very funny - just about everything strikes me as cliched beyond measure - there are the troubling facts that: 1) the ABA actually existed, and it didn't look anything like how its portrayed in the movie, 2) there was no such team as the Flint Tropics 3) the ABA wasn't ghetto, 4) four ABA franchises - the San Antonio Spurs, Indiana Pacers, New Jersey Nets, and Denver Nuggets - were merged into the NBA, while a central premise of the movie is that only one ABA franchise can be merged into the NBA, causing the its franchises to stop their Bingo Long-style clowning and get serious about winning for a change.

I don't mean to be too picky about this sort of thing, but its hard to make a historical sports-comedy funny if nobody believes either the history or the sports. Will Farrell is overweight, and forty years old. The real ABA featured historically great athletes such as Dr. J, David Thompson, and George Gervin in their prime. This is one reason why The Longest Yard sucked, other than the facts that the movie had no reason to be remade and its star hasn't been funny in fifteen years. Adam Sandler is a fat, forty-year old Jewish guy from New Hampshire. When Burt Reynolds made the original, he was in his early thirties and just a decade removed from being an all-SEC football player at Florida State. How can you make a sports movie - even a satire - if nobody in the movie looks like an athlete?

Major League is one of my all-time favorite comedies, and though most of it is a farce, its cast - especially Charlie Sheen and Dennis Haybert - looked and talked like baseball players. When The Wild Thing took the mound, he threw like a pitcher, a real major league pitcher. Without that foundation of realism, none of the movie's slapstick scenes would have worked. I don't really understand how its possible to watch Major League - let alone as a professional comedian who is a big success in the movie industry - and not walk away with that understanding. The same virtues are true of other classic sports comedies, such as Slapshot, Bull Durham, Heaven Can Wait, and even Mister Baseball. None of the recent sports comedies have gotten it right, and I think that's sort of a shame.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Mid-Week Links

The Onion A.V. Club's interview with John Cleese was pretty excellent.

Pop Candy linked to this great post about Ten Star Wars Figures That Unintentionally Look Like Other Celebrities. Trust me, its worth a minute of your time.

Jermaine Clement from The Flight of the Conchords is going to make a movie with the director of Napoleon Dynamite. I didn't really like Napoleon Dynamite, but if Jermaine is in it then I'll give it a shot, at least.

And last but not least, some white trash people in Depew, a white-trash suburb of Buffalo, are trying to get the book "Looking For Alaska" banned from the school curriculum. According to one parent, whose child was not even in the grade for which the book was assigned, reading this book starts the school district on a slippery slope towards unisex showers. Fo' real.

Here's the video:

Stay Classy, Creepy Suburb

This is pretty great.

I'll Meet You Down at the Big Yellow Joint


From New York Magazine, rumors that an "Arrested Development" feature film might actually be in the works. I consider the show to be the best sitcom ever and I'd love to see a movie made, but only under perfect circumstances. New York Magazine does a pretty good job of summing up my feelings:

Could this exciting news just be the setup for a financially disastrous, casual-viewer-alienating excursion into a world of obscure tropes that can only be fully understood by those who've watched all three seasons of Arrested Development multiple times? Good God, we hope so!

They also do a pretty good job of listing inside jokes that should be included in the movie, as do their commenters. I'd advocate a Carl Weathers appearance and some mention of Dr. Funke 100% Natural Good-Time Family Band Solution or the Analrapist business cards, but you can leave your suggestions in the comments.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

SB, statistics, and worldviews

I was thinking about what the big deal was with the patriots and the idea of a perfect season, and it occurred to me that it comes down to a fundamental question of how you view luck.

viewed statistically, 16-0 and 15-1 and well within the standard error of one another. Put that another way, it would have been really easy for the same patriots team to lose the Ravens game. but they didn't. and what you think about why they didn't reveals a lot about modern sports culture.

we approach sports very teleologically--things went your way because you are great, because you are tough, because you are a champion. as opposed to looking at things in a more passive way--you are great (as opposed to merely good) because (a few well-timed) things went your way.

as wade stated, Randy Moss was at least as open at the end of the game as David Tyree was on 3rd and 7. if harrison comes down with that ball Eli is the goat for throwing it up for grabs. same thing on amani toomer's catch on the previous drive. throwing it up for grabs in single coverage is a calculated risk. and the odds went the giants' way.

it is humorous that our sports commentating framework then cranks into rationalizing paroxysms to explain how tough and hungry the giants were or some such. I am just not buying it. I suppose giving oneself over to sense that luck plays a big role in the determination of things is fundamentally anti-western or at least anti-American. but I think I might be on to something.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Sportscasters Suck In Every Language

I'm glad to see I'm not the only person who thinks we need to change the culture of sports broadcasting. The Onion News Network at its best.
Ngyuen Thi Buch Thuy: 'Just Give Me The Damn Sepak Takraw Ball'

"Your Tears Are So Yummy and Sweet..."


Almost 24 hours later, I'm still pretty psyched that the Giants were able to pull off the big upset against the Patriots last night. (Although some bright young lad who serves as co-host predicted this would happen). I was thinking about posting some more extended reactions to the game, but Wade did a pretty good job of summing things up this morning.

In case you want to re-visit the best plays of the game - both from the Giants' game-winning drive - I've posted them below:

Eli Manning's 3rd & 5 completion to David Tyree

Considering the immense skill and luck that went into this play, as well as the pressure of the situation, this definitely goes down as the best play of the season, and certainly among the best in Super Bowl history. Maybe if he pumped a little more HGH, Harrison could have gotten to that ball. Asshole.


Eli Manning's Game-Winning TD Pass to Plaxico Burress

Ellis Hobbs, you just got SHOOK, son.

Some Thoughts On the Super Bowl

1) What a game! Not the most action-packed Super Bowl I've ever seen, but perhaps the one with the greatest ending.

2) Tom Brady and Randy Moss came really, really, really close to giving the Patriots the lead with less than thirty seconds left - on their second-down play, Brady's pass was perfect and Moss was in his spot with a full head of steam, and only one New York Giants' fingertip stood between them and six points.

3) Bill Belichick's post-game press conference, full of pearls like: "I mean look, they played well. They made some plays, we made some plays. In the end, they made a couple more than we did" and variations thereon more or less confirmed everybody's suspicions that he's an asshole. I realize that he had just suffered a devastating loss, but Andy Reid, John Fox, Mike Holmgren, Dan Reeves, etc were all far more gracious in defeat.

4) Bill Simmons should blow his brains out while jumping off of a bridge. After six years of irrational hatred for the Peyton and Eli Manning, they have now won back-to-back Super Bowls, and both went through the New England Patriots along the way. His smug, smart-ass self should stick to basketball from here on out. Which Rocky movie is this like, Bill? Or is it more like a Karate Kid movie? Or is it more like Breaking Away? Please, enlighten us.

5) Hopefully, despite the best efforts of hack sportswriters, people will begin to realize that quarterbacks - and, for that matter, any professional athlete - can't be divided up into two camps of "big game players" and "big game chokers." Tom Brady never choked, and Eli Manning didn't light up the scoreboard, but somehow the Giants won and the Patriots lost. You know, sort of like how Peyton Manning outplayed Brady a bunch of times and lost, or, last season, when Brady outplayed Manning and lost. That's sports, and the fact that hack sportswriters continue to glorify certain players and characterize them as having more courage or better nerves than other, similarly great players whose teams happen to lose really pisses me off.

5a) You know who was probably smiling as he watched yesterday's game? Karl Malone. Again, Bill Simmons should take note.

6) Randy Moss' distractions outweighed his contributions in the playoffs. Junior Seau and Teddy Bruschi looked a stop too slow and a year too old. The Patriots offense never was able to establish a running game, and in the face of a stout pass rush Tom Brady looked like just another very good quarterback, instead of Mister Perfect. All of the weaknesses Jake and I have been discussing for weeks finally caught up with the Patriots.

7) This isn't going to be Tom Brady's last trip to the Super Bowl, you can bet. on that. They're a great team, and if they show up next season with a litle more humility, they may actually be likable again, like they were in '01 and '03.

8) I don't really mean to hate on Tom Brady that much. He's a nice guy, but he's not particularly colorful or interesting. Do you know who Tom Brady would be if he was slightly less good-looking? Tim Duncan.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

An Advertisement For The Ages

I'm sure we'll see a bunch of great new advertisements tonight, but will any of them be better than this?



Thanks for the words: Lola's Ephemera

Saturday, February 2, 2008

A Vote of Confidence

"We're not saying he's Phil Simms or anything. I just never thought he was as bad as some people thought he was."

-Archie Manning

Okay Campers, Rise and Shine

And don't forget your booties 'cause its cold out there today.


Added: Roger Ebert's review of Groundhog Day - as part of his "great movies" series - really hits the nail on the head.

Sarkozy Marries Carla Bruni


Ladies and Gentlemen, the new first lady of France.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Jimmy Doesn't Know



Funny song, and definitely a good turn by the reliably funny Matt Damon. Definitely the best song about adultery involving Matt Damon since the epic "Scotty Doesn't Know" scene from "Euro Trip."

MATT DAMON!

Super Bowl Prediction Open Thread

What do you think will happen in sunday's game?

I think it will be a tightly-contested first half, followed by the Patriots taking advantage of a couple of Giants' turnovers early in the second half and getting out to a 14 or 17 point lead. Then the Giants will get a couple of stops and begin to find a rhythm late in the fourth quarter and make the game close, but will run out of time and lose by the score of 31-27.