Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Random Ramblings

By popular demand, I'm writing a non-sports column. I figured for my first venture outside the world of sports I'd venture outside into the world in general and share some random thoughts:

- Thanksgiving is officially the greatest holiday ever. Mandated 4 day weekend, holiday-related feast, acceptable excessive drinking, football all day, no religious obligations, family time. How could this get any better?

- Kudos to those who reason their way into Thanksgiving week off with "I have to leave town Wed anyway, Im not going to get anything done Tuesday if I have to leave the next day. If Monday is the only day, why not skip one day to get a whole week off?" Brilliant.

- I hate when the pilot announces the good weather in the town you just landed in like he is personally responsible for it. "Folks, I'm just circling and about to land us in Miami, where it is 70 and sunny. Hope you enjoyed your flight!"

- Does anyone else laugh when a biker falls?

- Why do people feel it is ok to rudely mock total strangers just bc they have on a shirt of a school that lost a game? I was wearing a Virginia shirt (NOT a UVA football or basketball) and this woman says, "too bad they lost" this weekend. So I figure she's a fan and say "yea, too bad". She then responds "yea - for you because I am a Virginia Tech fan!" Wow nicely done 40 year old Hokie fan, you got me good. (by the way, I am a Gator fan so suck it bitch)

- Do any companies still make gum in wrappers or are they all punch out style? Was there a meeting of the gum execs where they all decided this was it from now on?

- PSA: Not turning left when the oncoming traffic is a safe distance away is not safer than turning, it is more dangerous; especially when the people behind you expect you to go. Same thing with not going on your turn at a STOP sign.

- Why are the people who drive insanely fast always the ones who claim to be great drivers?

- I recently sat next to an 8 year old on a plane who had an iPod, a portable DVD player and a Nintendo DS. When I was 8, I had to play alternate lives in MarioWorld on our familial GameBoy. By the way, did anyone else show no emotion while playing and then try to hide the fact that you died so that you could steal your sibling's turn or am I an asshole?

- I got my first laptop last year and now can't get on a flight w/o it. I used to hate that prick who had the computer, DVDs, cushy headphones watching the latest movie from Netflix while I'm forced to watch Jingle All the Way and Scooby Doo 2 then reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond on the plane's 15 inch monitor. Now I am him and I love every fucking second of it.

- What is the etiquette on the shared armrest on the plane? Clearly, the aisle guy is entitled to the aisle arm and the window the window arm, but what about the two arms of the middle guy? I always seem to get in these mini-battles with the guy next to me. At first, it's like "ok, he's using it, that's cool but it would be nice to have both". Then he grabs a pillow or shifts in his seat - it's over for him, that shit is all mine. Then you're dominating that shit feelin great until you have to get something out of your bag. First move: try to catch him when he's lookin the other way (but of course he is pretending not to notice you have the arm when really he's waitin for an opening like a sketchy drunk at a bar). Then you try some yoga-esque move to dodge the foldtray, that's not workin - you are done and he is back in.

Now it's "prison rules" time. Next time he so much as covers less than 95% of that arm, you are on it like a fat guy on the last roll at a buffet. I don't care if you have to contort your arm into some Cirque de Soleil posture, you are getting on that thing. Then the nudging starts.
Classic moment: when you first get too greedy and hair-to-hair brushing takes place. He knows what you are trying to do and yet pretends he is surprised by the contact. You of course give the quick glance nod of "sorry" and do not budge an inch. The next 20 minutes is a battle of epic proportions: Millimeter by millimeter you are fighting, all the while acting like nothing is going on. SkyMall has never been so enthralling.

Finally, when you have made it past the half-line - he concedes. Of course, he has to fake a cough or a stretch to try to save face but we both know what just took place here. Didn't middle guy learn from WWII that appeasement never works? Maybe that's why he will always be in the middle seat.

Alright I'm done for now.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Review: "Casino Royale"

Thanksgiving weekend is always an occasion to break out a few traditions. Aside from the traditional feast with family and friends sometime on Thursday, my brother and I and our friends have come to celebrate several Thanksgiving traditions that are left off of many people's itineraries. Here's a small sampling:

-The Turkey Day Football Game: Basically over the course of Friday and Saturday, my brother gets a bunch of our buddies to drag themselves out of bed and play touch football with mind-splitting hangovers. Why we call it the "Turkey Day Game" as opposed to "The Days After Turkey Day Games" is beyond me. All I know is that it's a hell of a good time, and gets you ready to go for those last two crucial nights of drinking.

-The "Mini-Reunion the Day Before Thanksgiving": Basically, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, everyone from our high school descends on the part of St. Louis called "The Loop". Everyone sees everyone else, tries to pretend that they're excited, and is sometimes shamed into shall I say...unfortunate happenings from high school. Good times!

-The "Dave and Buster's Happy Hour": All drinks half price from 10 pm till closing at D&B. Get shitfaced. And play videogames. Or don't even fuck around with the videogames and watch some of our creepier friends hit on the hot bartender chicks with lines like "What time do you get off tonight?" The thing about Happy Hour is that even if you lose, you win. I think. I don't know, I wasn't really paying attention, I was too busy DRINKING MY FUCKING ASS OFF.

-The "2 or 3 Movies": My brother and I always make it a point to see a couple of movies over the break. This is because a) I finally think to go watch a movie instead of just punting and watching stuff we have on Tivo, and b) the studios finally release a couple more good films to go along with all of the generic romantic comedies and horror movies that are released from August-Mid November. This break, we happened to see both "Tenacious D" and "Casino Royale". Since Tenacious D is more my brother's area of expertise, I'll let him make a post about it (If he ever posts anything...) so that leaves Casino Royale to me.

When I first heard that they were going to let a blond guy (Daniel Craig) play James Bond in the new film, I have to admit, I was happy. Being a blond guy myself, I feel a connection with other blond people, much like Larry David does with other bald people in "Curb Your Enthusiasm". Blonds are the only remaining minority that are openly ridiculed with scandalously discriminating jokes about our level of intelligence (Well, I guess unless Michael Richards, Rush Limbaugh, and Pat Buchanan get together, but I digress...) I thought that we were starting to turn the corner there for a while, but then Jessica Simpson showed up and set us back years with her dumb blond routine, which I still think could be an act (for our sake, I hope it is). However, not until Daniel Craig was cast as Bond did I feel that we had accomplished something as a group.

Fortunately, my optimism was not misplaced. "Casino Royale" is easily the best Bond movie since "Goldeneye", and better than a lot of the older ones. Let me give you a little perspective as to where I thought the franchise was going before this movie. The last film featured an incomprehensible plot, an attractive-yet-clearly-mailing-it-in Bond Girl (Halle Berry), terrible dialogue, and randomly thrown in puns that either didn't make sense or somehow referenced "Getting the point" (Example: a guy gets stabbed. Bond: "I think he got the point" After a swordfight "What a pointed remark". It would be a lot better if they didn't do this ten times during the movie.) My brother and I nearly walked out with a half hour left, but we were our buddy's ride home and he wanted to stay. Of course we gave him shit about the "What the fuck?" ending all the way home.

Well, this Bond is back to basics. He's a stone-cold killer. He chases people on foot for miles. He has a couple of hot ladies sweating him the whole time (Eva Green is something else. My God she is spectacular.) He drinks like a dehydrated fish. He gambles like John Daly after winning the Valdosta, Georgia Muni Long Drive Contest. He drives a BAD ASS car. It's just like the good old days. Perhaps most striking is that the dialogue is actually clever. There are plenty of self-referential jokes thrown in for fans of the series, and puns are used in clever ways, though I would have been satisfied if they just cut out all of the "he got the point" puns. Basically the dialogue is smart, and in being smart it naturally becomes clever, as opposed to the forced "cleverness" that marked the end of the Brosnan era. In this way, it is really more like a graphic depiction of one of the original Fleming novels, as opposed to the...what's the word...oh yeah--shit that they were turning out but 3 years ago.

That doesn't mean that the movie isn't without its problems. It is a little long (2:24!) and thus can drag in some parts. It moves around a lot, and the pacing suffers. It's not really a traditional "three act" film. There are a couple of "What the fuck?" moments where you wonder why Bond is doing something. Also, though I may be at risk of giving too much away (READ: SKIP THE END OF THIS PARAGRAPH IF YOU'RE WORRIED ABOUT READING TOO MUCH) the movie ends rather abruptly, without much in the way of resolution, at all. I was hoping for a grand climax, but it never arrived. It actually probably dragged the movie down 1/3 of a grade to just leave it hanging, but still...

All in all, it's a very good film, and I really like the way that the franchise is going these days. That's why Casino Royale gets a "B"

Previous Reviews:

Borat "B+/A-"
Casino Royale "B"

Until Next Time...


Friday, November 17, 2006

The Best/Worst Night of the Year

Here's a little running diary of what we all were up to last night:

10:00 pm: I'm playing N64 Zelda while Jamie is watching a DVD of the American version of The Office. It's a Thursday, and we should be getting hammered by now, but we're still reeling a bit from the bowling/beirut extravaganza from the night before. We both seem halfhearted about going out. If anything, we really would like to play more beirut at our friend Billy's house. Jamie sends Billy an IM to that effect.

10:28 pm: I'm getting frustrated by Zelda. Still very tired, I say to Jamie "Fuck it, let's go out." Jamie gets really pumped up about how he's going to "creep it up" at the bars.

10:31 pm: Jamie gets out his special "blackout mug", which is, in fact, one of those cheap plastic mugs from a local bar. I grab a beer. We are ready to call a cab to go out to the bars. I'm even starting to talk myself into going out. Jamie correctly notes that sometimes the best nights are the ones where you initially feel like shit and are dressed like a bum. Fortunately, we both fit that description.

10:32 pm: Billy calls seconds before we call the cab. He says that he's doing work and getting sick, but we can come over and play some pong if we want. We now have to make a split second choice to either go out and try our luck with the ladies at the bar, or to grab a couple of cases of Natty Light and play one-on-one pong against each other until we black out, or as I like to call it, my favorite pastime. We decide to play beer pong.

10:33 pm: We call out buddy Jimmy Hannigan to see if he wants to play beer pong. He says that he's down, but he'll drive over to Billy's separately because he might want to go home earlier than than we do. We head out.

10:40 pm: We stop at 7-11 to pick up beer. The clerk has one of those "I'm kinda crazy, but working at this fucking job has killed my spirit" looks in his eye. We head for Billy's.

10:44 pm: We arrive at Billy's. He is apparently a little sick, but in good spirits. We shoot the shit for a while, then head down to the basement to clean up from the night before and play some pong.

11:11 pm: I beat Jamie in the first game handily. Keep in mind that this is beer pong with paddles, a game played almost exclusively at either Dartmouth College or places that have assholes like me that try to export the game elsewhere. It is NOT beirut, which most people errantly refer to as "beer pong". My confidence is building. I'm finally getting the old pong stroke back.

11:16 pm: We set the over-under for Hannigan's arrival at 11:35. I take the over.

11:17 pm: Hannigan arrives.

11:18 pm: We go upstairs to talk to Hannigan and Billy. Billy has the news on, and they have a story about the launch of the PS3. We look at the lines of people outside of the Best Buys and Targets of the World and deride them as "Losers".

11:23 pm: Later in the story, they mention that even though PS3's cost $600 up front, they are getting up to $3000 on eBay. Our ears perk up a bit, like someone said that there's a Star Trek convention in town, but Jessica Alba will fuck the first 30 people in line to get in. You might not be interested in the convention, but the thought of waiting, you know, just for the ancillary benefits, starts to creep into your head.

11:25 pm: Hannigan mentions that all of us either have no class on Friday or classes that we could skip, so maybe we should go stand in line somewhere. We all start laughing.

11:27 pm. Hannigan makes a more persuasive pitch. When will we get another chance to do this in life? We might as well do it now while we're all in law school and there's no penalty for missing classes, right?

11:28 pm: Hannigan boldly announces that he's going to Best Buy to see if they're opening at midnight. We tell him to give us a call with a scouting report as to what the situation's like.

11:34 pm: Hannigan calls. Apparently Best Buy isn't opening until 8 am, but they will have at least 26 PS3's. He's number 31 in line. Hannigan hears from other people in line that other places have far fewer. Wal Mart has 10, but is opening at midnight. We figure "What the fuck? Why not?" and head over to Wal Mart with visions of an extra $2400 in our heads

11:50 pm: We arrive at Wal Mart. Of course, a local TV crew is stationed outside. We head inside to the line. There are maybe 16 people already in line. Now, growing up in St. Louis, you've seen your hoosiers, and you've seen your nerds. However, it is rare that you see a hoosier who's also a nerd. Let's call them "Nerdoosiers" Well, let me tell you, in Central Virginia, there are apparently at least 16 Nerdoosiers, and they were all at Walmart at 11:50. They blurt out incomprehensible shit like "Yee-haw! Lets see that Blue Ray Drive!" and harass the few apparently normal mothers who loved their kids enough to stand in line for this goddamned thing for 3 days. Now, I'm normally not the sentimental type, but that really is dedication. My hat is off to you, moms like this.

11:58 pm: The nerdoosiers are really getting out of control. The line is right by the employee exit, so every Wal Mart employee is filing out, looking like their soul has been sucked out of them. Or they're strung out on PCP--it's tough to tell with some of them. An old hoosier is behind us in line now, regaling us with war stories of how he got in line at the same time last year for an XBox 360 and got one, so we should all get PS3s this year, no problem. Man, sometimes I wish hoosier logic really worked. The world would be a lot easier if it did.

Midnight: The night manager of Wal Mart announces that they're open for business. We ask him how many PS3's they have. He ignores us. The mom at the front of the line gets one. Good for her! However, she's immediately harassed by the nerdoosiers in line, offering her $1000 for it, browbeating her when she says that she loves her kids too much to give it up. A heartwarming spot in an otherwise dark, snarky tale.

12:15 am: These geniuses at Wal Mart are still only on the third person in line. Meanwhile, the second guy is screaming at his credit card company over the phone. The asshole handling the cash register has a Kevin-Federline-esque dumb grin on his face. Billy's starting to get restless. They still refuse to tell us how many PS3s they have. We're in good shape!

12:35 am: They're sold out. 10 PS3's exactly. We're minorly bummed out. We call Hannigan.

12:36 am: Apparently, Hannigan has learned more info. He was the first new person in line since 5 pm, so he went home and got various supplies, including:

-A sleeping Bag
-A Comforter
-Hat, Gloves, Coat
-A backpack full of beer
-Today's and Yesterday's Wall Street Journal
-A bottle of bourbon
-Two Fold-Out Chairs
-A case of water (what is this, a fucking earthquake drill?)

He claims that he is going to wait it out. We tell him that he's an idiot for doing so, since they only had as many as they were guaranteeing at Wal Mart. He claims that they have a legit chance of more at Best Buy. We say that we'll visit him after we finish up our beer pong series. The disappointment in Hannigan's voice is tangible.

1:17 am: Jamie has just beat me 2 games in a row in beer pong. I feel like John Wayne Bobbitt.

1:22 am: Billy, Jamie and I have a quick discussion as to what we're going to do. We call Hannigan for advice. Apparently the kids in line have information that Best Buy is likely to get more units than they were guaranteed for. Hannigan reminds us that this will be a good experience, regardless of whether or not we get our greedy mitts on the damned thing.

1:38 am: After much deliberation, Jamie and I decide to get in line with Hannigan. We start to get really excited that we might get one of these things. Billy, though, decides to stay home because he's "sick". I diagnose him with a "hurt vagina".

1:44 am: We're back at 7-11, loading up on cigarettes, dip, and gum to stay awake through the night. The same clerk is working there as earlier, only this time there's a little more "murder" in his eyes.

1:58 am: We pick up the following supplies at our apartment:

-1 case of beer
-1 comforter
-1 laptop computer
-1 copy of MI:3
-4 jackets
-2 pillows
-1 bottle of bourbon
-1 mini-football

2:05 am: We're off to Best Buy. Fuck Yeah!

2:16 am: We get to Best Buy. I see a line of tents out front, but no Hannigan. Oblivious to the fact that some people might be sleeping, I yell out "Jimmy!", to which I hear a "Yo!" in reply from the side of the building.

2:17 am: We find Hannigan on the side of the building, sitting in one folding chair with his legs in another, wrapped in the comforter and sleeping bag. He is in great spirits, though he does mention that it gets a bit cold after 3 hours.

2:18 am: Hannigan introduces us to Andy, Number 30 in line. He is a true game fan--he walked about 4 miles to get to the Best Buy to stand in line at 5 pm the day before because he doesn't have a car up at school. He's a very nice kid.

2:22 am: Hannigan has apparently been talking to a lot of people, though oddly people start to identify solely with their place in line. We get introduced to numbers 15, 17, 27, and 29. I cease to be D.J. and become "Number 33"

2:43 am: Hannigan's wrong. It gets cold out here after 30 minutes. Getting bored, I decide to start drinking. I tear into the Natty Light like a hungry lion into a wobbly-legged baby gazelle. Hannigan starts dipping to stay awake, even though he's "quit" for 4 days now. We start talking baseball.

3:22 am: We start hearing more gossip about the system. I must say, the more Hannigan hears about it, the more he wants to just keep the damned thing. Jamie, of course, keeps raving about how he could sell it for a huge profit. I don't know what I would do with mine. I'd probably end up giving it to my brother if he wanted it since he was kind enough to let me keep the Xbox 360 we got last year. I think it says a lot about a person as to what they'd do with the PS3 once they get it.

3:57 am: Our first new person in line. Akash, or "Number 34" just got of his shift working at a bar. He seems like a cool enough guy--we shoot the shit with him about how it is working at the bars and stuff. Good times.

4:14 am: Hannigan and I start throwing the mini football around. Of course, it's dark as fuck, virtually impossible to see, and so cold that my fingers feel like they're going to break off whenever they touch anything--or "ideal conditions" as I like to call them. Luckily the booze is keeping me going.

4:45 am: We meet Stacy, "Number 13", as he's coming back from taking a piss. He's 30, has a wife and 2 kids...and of course has been in line for 2 nights now. And naturally, his wife brings him meals. I swear to God, this guy has his shit together. He's a Yankees fan, so Hannigan and he do a little good-natured ribbing about the Bosox-Yankees thing. He's excited about being in the guaranteed range, but he's going to sell the thing on eBay. He's heard that they're going for $6000 on eBay now. I briefly think that Sugarman's eyes actually morph into dollar signs like in a Looney Tunes cartoon, but it's probably just the booze and lack of sleep. I think.

4:58 am: We meet another guy from the Law School, "Number 19". Amazingly this guy:

1. Is good friends with one of Hannigan's best friends

2. Was in the same frat at Wash U as my brother was, and

3. Has some connection to Florida that I can't remember right now, but it involves Sugarman.

Amazingly, none of us have met this guy before. It's like an episode of Lost, though any of us could be Jack's Alcoholic Father right now. Our night brightens up a little when he and I trade stories about this guy Joe in his frat that was absolutely nuts. The guy, Joe, used to show up to baseball practice absolutely shitfaced and still jack balls over the fence. My favorite story about Joe involves a pirhana tank that these guys had in their frat. Number 19 noted that normally once you throw a goldfish in there, the pirhanas would tear through it so fast that it "looked like fireworks". Well, apparently Joe used to dangle his pecker in there just to prove that he wasn't chickenshit. He was nuts. Good times.

5:15 am: Jamie can barely stay awake. Jimmy is talking to either his friend Simon or his girlfriend--I can't tell anymore. Even though I'm not a smoker, I'm going through cigarettes like Vince Vaughn before a transatlantic plane flight to try and stay awake.

5:50 am: Jamie gives in and goes to sleep in Hannigan's car. Hannigan and I just keep talking about random shit. I guarantee if we had a rested observer watching us right now, they would wonder what Eastern European language we were speaking.

6:20 am: The tent people are starting to pack up. Apparently the Best Buy people will be handing out coupons at 7 am. Everybody is getting in a much tighter line. We wake up Jamie. He's a bit sour.

6:35 am: This has been the longest, coldest 15 minutes of my life. The sun's just starting to peek out from above the hills to the east. I feel like I've spent the night on an outdoor riverboat casino somewhere in Northern Canada. We can feel the anticipation. Or maybe that's just because I have to take a shit.

6:45 am: Best Buy employees begin to arrive, decked out in their sharp-looking blue polos. Each of them has a look on their face like "You motherfuckers! I shouldn't have to be here for another 2 hours!" as they pass by. Fuck 'em.

6:55 am: My God what I would pay right now for a hot coffee. I AM GOING NUTS! WHAT THE FUCK AM I DOING OUT HERE! I NEED A CIGARETTE!

6:57 am: OK, I'm back. Lost it there for a second, sorry. 3 minutes to go.


7:05 am: The lazy-ass Best Buy employees finally saunter out of the front door. I think Jamie's right--this is the one chance these guys get to act like they're big-dick-swinging dealmakers, and they want to milk it for all it's worth. Well, here you go. Hope you feel better tonight, chief. This guy is claiming that the things are going for $12,000 on eBay now. Yes, that's not a typo--twelve thousand dollars. It's a bit odd that these things double in value every 2 hours, don't you think? I mean, fuck mutual funds, I'll invest in videogame systems from now on.

7:06 am: They announce that you have to stay in line outside until 8 am if you get a ticket. Great, just what I need. It might send me from frostbite into full-blown "exposure" or "shock" territory.

7:10 am: They're getting close! Just ran out of the expensive models, but they still have a few more of the cheaper ones...


7:13 am: If you couldn't tell, we didn't get the PS3s. They had 28 of them. Numbers 29 and above are losers. Devastating.

7:15 am: Fuck it, let's go to IHOP

7:33 am: At IHOP. We feel like assholes. Still, though, Hannigan was right. It was a good experience to go through while we still have the chance to do goofy shit like this. Shit, the trip to IHOP was probably worth it.

7:44 am: Fuckin-A Right! These pancakes are awesome! Who needs a PS3 anyway?

7:54 am: Done paying the check. Used my last $1. I have no cash in my wallet and a huge pain in my ass from being fucked by Best Buy. What a night.

8:03 am: Safely back in my room. Too tired to think. Dreading the call from Billy later today telling us what idiots we were. It was one of the most miserable nights of my life. Still, though, I'm glad I did it. We are all a reflection of the experiences that we have and share with others. This is definitely something that showed me what people are capable of. Sure, not everyone in line was the coolest guy in the world, and we didn't have much in common at all other than we were waiting for some entertainment system. Even our motives differed from one person to the next. However, no one tried to pull any shit in line, and everyone respected everyone else. If nothing else, I have a lot more faith in common decency after waiting those long, cold 4 1/2 hours outside.

Still, I wish I had one of those fucking machines...

Until next time...


Monday, November 13, 2006

NFL Media Coverage - The Coronation of Romo

Instead of doing a mid-season NFL report, I'd like get some things off my chest about the way the NFL is reported.

A few observations:
- the sports media loves Tony Romo. Living in Virginia, I am treated to/tortured with a double-header of NFC East football most Sundays and the lovefest for Romo is ridiculous. Yes, the guy is playing well, but c'mon its been 3.5 games. Joe Buck sucks Romo's dick so much, Troy Aikman's balls are starting to get sore.

- the media is obsessed with T.O. (shocking, I know). He is definetely a relevant story-line when the Boys play Philly, but do we really need a T.O. reaction shot for a Marion "Psycho" Barber 4 yard gain in the 2nd quarter? Also, Marion Barber is certafiably insane - he runs like his ass is on fire, even after the play is over. It's only a matter of time until the Redskins grossly overpay him.

- It's just great to see Brett Favre out there having fun, you know? Did you see him pick up Driver and sling him over his shoulder after a long TD? He's such an every-man. He just really belongs on the football field, I can't believe he ever considered retiring. He is what football is all about....(the media is slurping Favre so much you'd think he's Tony Romo or something). Hearing the "experts" talk about Favre is like watching a broadcast of the Special Olympics, they call his good games like he's splitting the atom

- Michael Vick has finally turned the corner. Atlanta's coaching staff is so clever to just let him go out there and play the way he wants to play. His running and passing make him the ultimate weapon.... until the Falcons lose to Det and Cle, then he needs more discipline and needs to focus on becoming a pocket passer.

- Joe Theisman is an obnoxious jerk. Every Monday he waits for Kornheiser to make a joke then does his pretentious ex-jock buzzkill routine, it's like clockwork. An example: During the horrid Seattle-Oak game, Sapp is introdcuing his defensive teammates and refers to 7 of them as "my man ___(insert name)."
Kornheiser: "I love how during the intros everyone is 'My Man' or 'My main man', how many men can 1 guy have?"
Theisman: "It's a way of bonding for football players. Comradarie and brotherhood are important when you are playing football."
Uh, Joe, a sense of humor is important when you on a broadcasting team. Theisman is "that guy" you watch a game with who after someone says, "that's the worst pass I've ever seen" responds, "Hey, c'mon, it wasn't that bad. I mean it was off target but it wasn't the worst pass ever."

Random Thoughts:
- despite their professed love for Steve McNair, the Ravens D must hate their offense. Every week the Ravens pick off a pass and during the return execute 4-5 laterals in an attempt to take it to the house. It's amazing. My theory is that Ray Lewis and Co are so used to losing 13-10 type games over the last few years because of their pathetic O that they don't even trust them with the ball at the opponents 20 yard line.

- last week I was ahead 23 points in fantasy and the other guy had the Seattle D vs Oakland. I knew it'd be close. Has there ever been an offense as predictably bad as the Raiders this year? Andrew Walter looks and sounds like a punter, I swear I turn on one of their games, he's in the Shotgun, I think it's 4th and 12.

- the Colts should open a brokerage firm. They got rid of Edge just as the price peaked and are 9-0 - amazing.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Review: Borat

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of viewing a movie that I have been eagerly anticipating for several weeks now: "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan". Since I did thoroughly enjoy the film, I thought that I would review it. First of all, here are some key points that I use when reviewing a movie:

-Never give away more plot/content than absolutely necessary. I think Entertainment Weekly is the worst at this--they seem to think that "reviewing a movie" consists of writing a brief plot summary with enough buzzwords in it to show the rest of the world that they went to film school, even if their own film-making careers were utter failures. I, on the other hand, think that reviews should be helpful tools that help you decide whether or not to ultimately see the film, so for any plot point that you give, there better eb a damned good reason.

-Give an honest opinion. Self-explanatory--I won't bullshit anybody here, save for humor's sake.

-Entertain people. Again, self-explanatory.

-Give a realistic grade. See the grading scale article below.

-How does the movie play in theaters? Do you HAVE to go see this one in theaters? Or could you wait to rent it?

Without further adieu, here is the review of Borat:

I first encountered Sacha Baron Cohen's "Da Ali G" show on HBO Comedy about 2 years ago. What little I had gleaned about his flagship character, Ali G, was that he was a white guy who was always trying to act black--a familiar sight to people in certain parts of south St. Louis County.

I gave the show a shot, not really expecting too much, to be quite honest.

Boy, was I wrong.

"Da Ali G Show" was hilarious. If you all don't know why, you probably haven't seen it. If so, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you've been on a four-year long, Hunter S. Thompson-style, ether, mescaline, and God knows what else bender. Welcome back. Now, go out and get Da Ali G Show on DVD. Yes, I know there are giant manta rays flying around outside, and yes, they DO look hungry. Well, now that you mention it, maybe you should stay inside. Giant, hungry manta rays would scare the shit out of me, too. OR YOU SHOULD SOBER YOUR HIPPIE ASS UP AND GO GET ALI G ON DVD! Either way, you know, whatever, I don't give a fuck.

At any rate, one of the characters on Ali G is Borat Sagdiyev, a TV reporter from Kazakhstan, who generally makes fun of all manner of hoosiers, snobs, and just political correctness in general. He reported on everything from Wine Tasting to Elections, and each time, there was so much awkwardness and hilarity that it's tough to compare it with anything else. Just brilliant stuff.

I have to admit, I was extremely happy when they announced that they'd be making a Borat movie this fall, even though my brother has seen the straight-up Ali G movie and said that it was absolute garbage. I thought Borat could translate better to being a movie so long as he stuck to what is funny--the interviews he has with these morons.

Well, I was right. The movie does generally stick to the old, tried-and-true Borat formula, and it works great for most of the film. There were several times that I was laughing harder than I have in a long time. It has some amazing comic bits, and really does innovate at a high level.

However, there are just some things with the pacing and story that prevent this movie from getting an "A". Toward the end, especially, when they focus more on advancing the story than on just making good comedy, the movie tends to drag a bit, and it suffers because of it.

That's not to say that borat isn't a great movie--it absolutely is. It's just that you should be ready for things to wind down at some point.

I have to admit, though, part of the comedy came from the wide variety of people in the audience. Here's a small cross-section of what I saw:

The "True Borat Fan"--surprisingly not a huge part of the audience. Basically groups like my buddies and I interspersed throughout the entire theater that would laugh at even the most inappropriate jokes they could come up with. The audience that the movie was made for.

The "Grad School Snob only going so that he has some standing in hippy, liberal arguments"--unfortunately, I saw about 10 or 15 of these in the theater. They were other kids from our grad school who not only do every assignment, but feel like it's their God-given right to explain to everyone else why the professor is wrong and they are right. Instead of getting blasted of of bourbon and Natty Light six nights a week, they have "Dinner Parties" where they discuss "Intellectual Issues" and pretend that they're "Not Pussies". They want to be the snob that, when they get in an argument about how terrible media has become today, and someone pulls out "Have you even seen Borat?", they can say "Actually I have!", followed by them turning their nose up at you and prancing away like the Princess of San Francisco. All I could see these people doing the entire time was shaking their heads, as if to say "What have we done? Has society sunk this low?" Fuck them. Pricks.

The "Progressive Parents Who Bring Their 8-year-old Son to Borat to Teach Him Something"--there were some of these there, too. Now, I personally have no problem with this. My parents let me watch Major League, T2, and Die Hard when I was around the same age, and those movies aren't exactly Bambi. The problem I have is when they're sitting next to you and they're explaining every joke to the kid. This has two bad side effects. First, you feel like you're getting the idiot's commentary on the entire film, which can definitely take away from the experience. "You see Billy, it's funny because she's a woman...oh, wait, what did he say now?" Just shut the fuck up! You're at a movie theater. Get it on DVD and you can freeze frame it and hire John Madden to go over it with a telestrator at home! Just shut your fucking trap for 90 minutes! Secondly, as a fan of comedy, Borat is a movie that has many intricate, complex jokes in it, and there's no way to possibly explain that to the kid when he's 8. So where do these parents get off thinking that they'll be able to translate for the kid? If I was him, I'd be pissed off that they didn't just let me see it when I was 16 or 17 and could actually get all the jokes the first time. But that's just me.

The "Stoners"--I don't know if it's a good idea for you guys. There are some movies that lend themselves well to you people (Grandma's Boy), but Borat might not work as well. Then again...

The "Underaged Kids"--Good for you, buddy! You snuck in! Good luck understanding all of the jokes, but bravo.

The "Disappointed Indie Crowd"--I attribute these people to all of the "buzz" Borat was getting from indie types a few weeks before it came out. There was so much indie buzz around it at one point that I thought that it might just be a big tank job, but luckily, that wasn't the case. These people read "Variety" or EW and go and see anything independent. They laugh when they hear other people laughing, but it's halfhearted. It's like figuring out whether or not someone's a real sports fan. You ask them questions of varying levels of knowledge until you determine how much they really know. I think I'll call it "The Real Sports Fan Test" from now on.

At any rate, by looking around the theater, you can tell who's really getting the jokes and who isn't. Well, is it any coincidence that a lot of the people not getting it were wearing horn-rimmed glasses, all black clothing, and scarves? I don't think so. At least they'll have something else to talk about other than Little Miss Sunshine at their next get-together.

And Finally, the "Embarrassed/Angry Girlfriend"--not TOO many of these, as most guys know whether or not their girlfriend will be cool with seeing Borat. However, there are always a few guys that want to try and gauge how cool the girl they're with is by taking her to a certain movie that pushes the envelope, or by laughing loudly and yelling "What a fucking moron!" after somebody slips and falls on an icy sidewalk. You can generally tell a lot about a girl by her reaction to either one of the situations above.

Well, gentlemen, apparently Borat isn't necessarily the best "Coolness test" out there. Reactions that I saw from some girls with their boyfriends ranged from "mild discomfort as if they've been sitting in a room full of farts for 1 1/2 hours" to "Yosemite Sam level steam-out-of-the-ears Anger". This was followed by some of these idiots trying to explain that they didn't know what the movie was going to be about--smooth, Don Juan, smooth. Needless to say, if she's not cool with Borat, it's probably not a match made in heaven. Unless you're a snob or an idiot hoosier--then it might work out.

Overall, Borat was a hilarious movie. However, the pacing and dragging at the end prevented it from being an Anchorman-level comedy. Still, well worth your time, with at least one scene towards the end that'll make you glad that you stuck around. That's why Borat gets an "A-/B+"

Until Next Time...


Sunday, November 05, 2006

NBA 06-07 The West

Let's take a look out West..

Dallas Mavericks - Cuban's boys were essentially up 2 1/2 - 0 on the Heat before DWade went Jordan on them in the Finals. After years of playing second fiddle to the Spurs in Texas, the Mavs have finally shed their "Colts of the NBA" label and proven they can get it done in the playoffs. The suits in the league office may hate Mark Cuban and traditional fans may label him a distraction and blame his antics for the Mavs losing their nerve in the Finals, but I'm here to remind you that WITHOUT CUBES THE MAVS WOULD NEVER HAVE SNIFFED THE FINALS! The Mavs were like pre-Pulp Fiction Travolta until Cubes pulled a Tarantino and made them respectable and marketable. The man knows business so before you lay blame on him, maybe you should consider that the first significant move of his ownership tenure was dealin the rights to Tractor Traylor to the Bucks for'd that work out for them?

San Antonio Spurs - Timmy and Co are back to lead the most boring title contenders in any sport. While I appreciate the merits of the back-door cut and good weak-side help D, the vast majority of America couldn't stay up through an entire Spurs game if they downed a whole bottle of Viagra. Manu Ginobli looks more like he's playin mid-field than 2-guard and while Tony Parker is the league's best young PG, he's got a lot to learn about how to excite people (according to Eva Longoria). As usual the Spurs will be the class of the West and should challenege Dallas for a spot in the Finals.

Phoenix Suns - Did you hear that Amare is back? Everyone's hot pick to take home the hardware is by far the most entertaining team in the league but their Sun and Gun offense never measures up to the big boys come playoff time. The Suns are the Mavs of 4 years ago - all offense and no D, but if Amare can get back to some semblance of his old self, that may change. At least with the shorter hair we won't have to suffer through the 40 times a game Nash hair brushback, the single most effeminate move in the NBA.

LA Clippers - Death, Taxes, and Elton Brand gettin 20-10, there are so few sure things in life. The Clip Joint has become a respectable team after bouncing the Nuggets last year in the first round but I'm not ready to sit them at the adult's table yet. Why is it that wherever Sam Cassell goes, the team gets better? He may be one of the most underrated players of the last 10 years, plus he looks like an alien so if a studio in town green-lights Mars Attacks 2, they won't have to look far.

Sacramento Kings - I love that the Maloofs dealt Peja for Ron Artest. These guys own The Palms in Vegas, when it comes to bad behavior inciting a riot in Detroit is like the equivalent of cheating in Scarbble. I'm thinking it's gonna be a relatvely incident-free season for RA, so now that he's teamed up with "Lobster" Bibby and Bad Brad Miller, the Kings should be a solid playoff team out West.

LA Lakers - 24-7 (Kobe's new # and Lamar Odom's #) gives the Zenmaster a poor man's Jordan and Pippen. If everything stays in harmony at the Staples Center and all of their shakras align, the Lake Show should be able to play their way into the 1st round.

Houston Rockets - T-mac and Yao are a tough combo, but Michael Jackson is in court more often than those two are on the court together. I like the Swift-for -Battier trade, he can be for them what Bruce Bowen is for the Spurs. The guy is all hustle - he's on the his knees chasin balls more often than Tom Cruise. Toughness may be a question mark down the road.

Utah Jazz - these guys are so vanilla they make the Spurs look like the U. But while they don't scare you, they play good, solid ball and AK-47 is a freak of nature. Factor in the return of Carlos Boozer, who hustles more than Rick Ross, and you've got a team capable of nabbing the 8 spot. They are kind of a "Prison Break" team though, they'll expend all of their effort makin the playoffs and then have no idea what to do once they get there.

Denver Nuggets - Melo has improved every year and this season should be no different. Kenyon Martin plays like he was shot out of a cannon but he is unhappy and still not fully recovered from a knee injury. Marcus Camby boards and blocks with the best of them but he gets hurt more often than Wile E. Coyote.

OK City/NO Hornets - Chris Paul is like Will Ferrell in his SNL days - ridiculously talented but surrounded by nuthin. The addition of Peja was a nice bump for their O, but they are still sittin at the kid's table in this conference.

GS Warriors - with Don Nelson back in town the Warriors should improve dramatically on offense. Baron Davis and J-Rich are a great backcourt but the supporting cast leaves a lot to be desired. As long as Baron stays healthy, they could hover around 500 and catch the occasional good team napping.

Seattle Sonincs - Ray Allen has the sweetest shot in the league and Rashard Lewis doesn't get enough attention but the Sonics are thinner than the Space Needle up front. I'd be shocked if the Sonics win 40 this uear.

Memphis Grizzlies - Lo siento osos, pero sin Pau Gasol, tienes nada!

Minnesota T'Wolves - it's gettin painful watchin KG put up MVP-type numbers year after year only to have the Wolves fall farther from the top. It reminds me of McNabb with the Eagles. He had early success. you thought he'd get a title for sure once the franchise put some pieces around him, they got pretty close (Conference Finals loss to the Lakers), then they started gradually declining and the young star suddenly didn't look so young anymore. The only way KG gets a title is to skip town and that's not happening for a few years so for now, his 22-13-4 will go to waste again.

Portland Trailblazers - It's come to the point where when I see a Blazers score on the BottomLine, I expect to see (DNP - Drug violation). The Jailblazers arrest/win ratio is impressivley high and they have overhauled the team in hopes of a culture change but their starting SF is named Outlaw. Making jokes about the Blazers is like aiming for the fat kid in dodgeball, they make it so easy it's almost not even fun...almost

That's all I got so enjoy the season and plug your ears when Bill Walton is working a game. trust me it's for the best.