Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Just For Me?

It's like a whole website, just for me.

Relatedly, roasted my first chicken last night. Boy did I make a royal mess of that. I mean, she said it tasted fine, and I don't think she sneaked away to puke it up last night, but not the finest moment of my fledgling culinary adventures.

Monday, September 06, 2010

5 Things That Have Annoyed Me About Movies This Summer

One "great" thing about my current lifestyle is the ability to pop off and see a movie whenever. I say "great" because this has, all things considered, been a pretty disappointing summer for movies. Alternatively, what the hell am I think expecting movies to be good? But in any event there were 5 specific things that especially annoyed me.

1. Sly Stalone's pretensions. Why take a perfectly good shoot 'em up and try to make it 'weighty' with some kind pathos and emotional heft? I appreciate the fact that Charisma Carpenter is age appropriate as a love interest for a graying bad-ass, but...WHY BOTHER? You are wasting my time with plot points no one could possibly invest in, and this popcorn ain't gonna eat itself. Also, why have Jet Li if he doesn't get a chance to kick ass?

2. If you are going to make a live action Sorcerer's Apprentice, if you don't plan on using or clearing THE music, you DON'T HAVE A MOVIE. Just shut her down right there.

3. Like there isn't enough nerd cred to break Scott Pilgrim into two movies. Is there anyone who wouldn't have like more Scott Pilgrim?

4. The marketing campaign for The American. For those that haven't seen it, it's basically a Leone Western, set in Italy. It's not George Clooney: Badass. Though Clooney is a badass, this isn't Identità Bourne, it's Unforgiven in small town Italy. Also, the final shot is a teensy bit on the nose, not quite as bad as "The Departed" but up that alley.

5. Speaking of endings that pissed me right off; Inception. Spolier alert and all that, but I call bullshit on a transparently, insultingly blatant message from Chris Nolan saying "TALK ABOUT MY MOVIE!!!!"

Look, I'm fine with ambiguity and think it was perfectly acceptable in this story. But much like a restaurant too-visibly angling for a 4-star review, the plea for memorability (and one would assume, Oscar's) is so evident as to be off-putting. In fact after being in a constant state of "this is awesome" all through the film, I left the theater frustrated and angered. I'm sure there are dozens and dozens of ways Nolan could have ended the film, but picking the one which caused about 75% of the audience with whom I saw it to audibly groan was probably the wrong answer.

Next film which has the potential to disappoint me horribly? "The Town".

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Erm, hello?

I have thoughts. I would like to record them, because as someone (maybe Don Draper?) once said if you don't write it down, it didn't happen.

Stuff I plan on talking about:

1. Entertainment: I read a lot of books. I watch a lot of TV. I see a lot of movies.

2. Wedding planning: because the tyranny of Big Media Myster shall not stand.

3. Hobbies: I recently decided to learn how to cook. It's actually going pretty well. I scared the pants off of Maia earlier this week when she came home and not only had I made beef stew for dinner, but an honest-to-goodness New York goddamn Cheesecake. Sethy Fucking Crocker.

4. Sports: because as part of 1 above, I read/watch a lot. These days, mostly Soccer and NBA basketball.

5. Other: because I can't be arsed to categorize everything I might want to talk about in the future.

Stuff I don't plan on talking about:

1. Law: Boring.

2. Politics: and even deadlier combination of boring and infuriating. I still have opinions, they have changed much if you look through the archives here, but my current level of cynicism makes it impossible to get behind discussing the ins and outs and what have yous. Basically, it boils down to this - if people invent shit that replaces the gasoline engine and find a way to provide power to industry, utilities, and so on, we're golden. If not, we're fucked. What the government does (or more than likely does not) do will end up mattering very little because it's all Kabuki intended to keep those of us too pretentious to be sated by Jersey Shore (love it) and Survivor (have never seen a second of it, one of my prouder accomplishments) occupied while the status keeps on quoing. I just depressed myself further writing that.

3. The layout of this blog: I know, it's ugly as sin. Deal.

Stuff I hope not to care about, ever:

1. Traffic

2. Daily Quota of Output

3. Yankee fans. I don't really even care about baseball anymore. Yay 2004/2007. But there is just that certain something about YankeeFan that I hope I can just ignore. LakerFan, I'm still coming for you though...

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Monday, April 02, 2007

Under Pressure

First of all, I'm a genius. Chris Richard, yasay!

This is the first time since my freshman year in college that I have a shot at winning a tourney pool - (I finished 3rd that time. Why I remember that is because I'm a self-aggrandizing prick, obviously...) Right now, I'm only scared of one thing:

Actually, I'm more scared of Al Horford and Corey Brewer, but as the newspapermen say, I got art.

Who the hell is going to guard Brewer? He's got 4+ inches on anyone OSU can possibly stick on him, unless they try Ivan Harris, who would get turned into a turnstile. Maybe a zone? Florida has a lot of shooters though, especially if Brewer is hitting agian.

To my mind, tonight's championship turns on two things - Oden's ability to stay on the floor, as OSU will get zero defensive rebounds if he is out, and how badly Mick Conley outplays Taurean Green. If Green plays like he did on Saturday, Florida might have problems. It wasn't that he played badly, though he did, it's that he played like an asshole. You know the guy at the gym who wants everyone to know he's really too good to be playing with the likes of you? That was Green. In the national semifinals. While basically crapping the bed (or shaving points? I don't know what the line was, so I can't comment, but if one were to shave, dribbling the ball off of one's foot 4 straight times in the closing stages of a blowout would be a decent start. Just saying.)

I still think Daequan Cook is due for a huge game, and they might need him.

Though my heart wants OSU (both because I have only picked Florida by default and for, erm, other reasons. 2nd prize is a set of steak knives), my head says that the game is Florida's to lose. Of course, looking at my record of past predictions, this makes me feel better about my chances, in a sort of self-imposed triple-whammy-hex fashion...

And as I eat my very leavened breakfast bagel, happy Passover, all...

Friday, March 30, 2007

Long Awaited And Anticipated (Final 4)

So, second things first, my dislike of UCLA Crappy Big Ten/Big East Team West is pretty well established , even without Jordan Farmar's coif. So I don't need to say that I'm rooting for Florida. But I'll say it anyway: Go Gators! Seriously, I hate this UCLA team this much:

Yup, that's my guy. Even if he is an NBA bust. (Sub conscious says "just like Vince Young, genius?")

As to the substance of the game, who on UCLA guards Corey Brewer or Al Horford? Lorenzo Matta weighs about 79 pounds, 43 of them in his schnozz, so he might get bullied. Luc Richard Mbah! Mbah! Mbah! a Moute has regressed, and seems to have caught a little of the Lou Roe* syndrome - as in "I'm not big enough to be a full time interior guy in The League, so watch me hit this J. Ok that was ugly, but watch this one. No seriously guys, the next one's money, I'm due!"

As for Brewer, UCLA did a pretty good job on Brandon Rush, but I think Brewer is a little tougher, so he'll be able to do some things. And if they have to help on Horford especially, that means open looks for Green and Humphrey. Bad news. On the other end, how does UCLA score? They can't really play their usual chuck-and-chase because the Gators have a bunch of big bodies, included Chris Richard, who I think would be a college star at any other school. (I'd take him over D.J. White or Mario Boggan to name two examples.) Brewer will be a tough matchup for Aflallo, who's also due for one of his periodic 4-17 games, and if Green or Humprhey (an underrated defender) can't contain Collison, Brewer could do that as well, in a pinch. Bottom line, UCLA has to play and shoot great while Florida plays mediocre or worse for the Bruins to have a chance. Florida by 11, not really that close though.

But the early game is the big daddy. Ohio State, Georgetown. Oden vs. Hibbert. The question is, who for OSU guards Jeff Green? Certainly not Oden, else he fouls out in 20 minutes of action. Ivan Harris is tall, but...he's tall. Ron Lewis or Jamar Butler? Plus G'Town has a bunch of other big, active bodies (including Ewing's kid, who's actual kinda good). This leads me to believe that OSU plays a lot of zone, unless Thad Motta is an idiot. Of course, judging by his coaching performance vs. Xavier, Thad Motta might be an idiot. If he wises up, G'Town's guards have to make shots from the outside. They can, but will they. On the other end, Georgetown also has matchup problems, especially if Oden can get Hibbert in foul trouble and/or tired, as I don't think Wallace or Sapp can stay in front of Conley. Butler, Lewis and Cook (who is so due for a huge game off the bench, I add) will get into the lane and create open looks for each other, and Harris, and dunks/putbacks for Oden. I see this as being a really entertaining, high scoring game that will turn on OSU's defense - if they keep Green from going off, they win.

Relatedly, if OSU beats Florida for the title, I win my office pool. So the above picks are completely unbiased.

* Just check out the box on the right at the link - it reads like the Early 90s Bust No Stars. Can you go wrong if you are in the same company as Shawn Respert and Beta Tyler Hansbrough (aka Eric Montross)?

99 8 Luftballoons

Just when I thought birthday week was over, they pull me back in. Seriously, it was great standing in line to buy a hotdog with a bustle of balloons strapped to my wrist, as my former boss, The Judge walks past and says hi. Very professional.

You who are responsible know who you are, and revenge will be mine. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but oh yes, it will be mine.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Things on Thursday

  • I think I forgot to comment on the series finale of "Rome". In the early part of this season, I thought S1 was stronger, for the simple reason of narrative clarity in the Ceasar-Pompeii and Attia-Servillia arcs. However, the back half of S2 really worked for me. Part of it was how the Vorenus/Pullo storyline had an almost Lethal Weaponish buddy-cop feel to it. I also enjoyed how the show made us sympathize with perhaps its redeemable character, Attia. In another milieu, I would have expected to hear Elton John playing in the background during the coronation sequence.
  • Speaking of gritty TV, The Shield" is back next Tuesday. Like all shows based on shock value, the plot has gotten pretty ridiculous, almost 24ish. But, Forrest Whitaker is still around to battle Vic Mackey. Good times.
  • I mentioned last week that I've started playing a little of teh poker again. Just to brag a little, I won two free tourneys for a total of $2000 or so. Of course, if you allow me to bore you with the details, you'll see that skill had very little to do with any of it. ("I have aces, I guess I call...") But nice to know that I still play goot.
  • For some reason, this doesn't bother me at all. Even though, I guess it's a slur of sorts. Update: See also DLIC at FreeDarko. Also, this was pretty much the first thing that occurred to me as well:

  • 30 is the new twenty. This being my birthday week, I like Captain Picard, "make it so."

Final Four preview tomorrow. Promise. Also, Suns-Mavs on Sunday. I'm FAR more excited for that game than for any alleged basketball game involving the UCLA rugby squad. Maybe they should let them Haka after the national anthem to make sure we get the mood right. With Darren Collison, they remind me of a less tatted and feloned version of the Huggins Cincinnati teams - (Bobby Brannen, yasay!)

a bunch of physical defenders with no discernible basketball skills, and one skilled played who shoots jumpers and works on ball-handling while the rest of the team lifts weights and hits the blocking sled.*

* J-dubs himself has several discernible basketball skills, however. Mostly hitting turnaround J's and convincing refs to hit him with nickel-dime fouls, but whatever. Also, wish I had a picture of him with frosted hair, all he'd really need then is the kick-ass barb-wire tat, and he'd never need a Halloween costume again.


The rumors are true, I am no longer as young as I used to be...

And as a birthday present, I've been slammed at work all week. The civil attorneys out there, groan along with me when I say "deadline for discovery response."

Hopefully, by tommorow, I'll even have time to take requests and preview the Final Four.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

I Pick Good

3 of 4, and really, I was right about how the Memphis, A&M game played out. Acie just let me down by missing an open three and a layup. Seriously, Memphis got terrible shots every possession in the last two minutes, and only won because they kept throwing up massive bricks that A&M couldn't rebound.

Southern Illinois wreacked all kinds of havoc when Kansas tried to run a nice, pretty offense. SIU just couldn't stop Kansas once KU said "ok Brandon/Mario/Russell" (Russell Robinson, yasay!) "beat your guy, and get us a shot." And since Kansas has 3+ lotto picks, and SIU has several future quality pros in the Euroleague, this worked quite well, thank you.

UCLA-PITT? FIRST DOWN. Aaron Gray is a huge wuss.

OSU - TENN. Tennessee got them playing fast, and once OSU started making shots...And Greg Oden, smile for heaven's sake...

Anyway for tommorow, Butler and Vandy will simply be overmatched against Florida and G'Town, though Vandy might keep it close if GT's guards can't make shots, and Vandy is decent from 3. Oregon probably has too much quickness for UNLV, and I think UNC's depth wears USC down in the last 8 minutes or so - the legs go, they miss some chippies and some FT's and Carolina goes on a 10-2 spurt and wins by about 7.

Things On Thursday

  • I don't usually read the local paper, because it's the local Anchorage paper. But, occasionally something perks my interest: this kind of headline (big letters, above the fold) pretty much guaranteed that I'm in. As to the substance of the article, I liked that movie better the first time. Or the maybe this first time. Whatever, still good stuff...
  • Simba has a good one on the evil that is Billy Packer. Simmons is far more generous than I in explaining the essential Grinchness that is BP:
    Here's the problem: Packer loves basketball a little too much. He doesn't grasp its entertainment value simply because he can't see it. He's too busy wondering why a coach won't switch to a 2-3 zone or why a team has stopped pounding it inside or why they won't foul to stop the clock when they still have two to give. Trapped in the nuances of the game, it's like Packer has stumbled into the giant maze in "The Shining" and can't escape.
    Perhaps. Or he's just a dick. Whatever. Also see Simmons on the Rick Barnes-D.J. Augustin conspiracy to keep Kevin Durant in college.
  • Upon repeated recommendations from Papa Pooh, finally watched "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada". And it was...weird. All the performances were good, the visuals were beautiful, but nothing was resolved in the end (which is I guess the point), and the non-linear story-telling was confusing due to the lack of visual cues as to which time frame each scene was set. 7/10.
  • In worrying news, I've started playing teh poker again recently. A few things. A) I'm still pretty decent. B) There are a lot of people who know how to play, but have no idea how to play. C) I like free money. At this point, we're only playing live games at friends house's, since getting money into or out of online poker sites is dicey, as our former GOP congressional overlords thought that combating online poker was more important than little things like passing budgets or winning wars.
  • I'm crippled in my favorite pool though still alive in the office pool (if Pitt beats UCLA, I'm in very good shape, actually). As for who I actually think wins today? Texas A&M over Memphis, since Memphis hasn't played anybody all season, and Acie Law is dominant in the clutch - classic tight game, late game choke from the more talented Tigers in this one. Kansas has way, way, way too much for Southern Illinois - KU has 4+ guys who can create their own shot, or make plays for others. As good as SIU's defense is, can they guard Julian Wright and Brandon Rush at the same time? Plus, I think Sherron Collins can make plays from the point, even against (or especially against, given his bowling ball style) physical defense. I think Tennessee's speed forces Ohio State to play fast. Which is unfortunate for UT, because I think OSU plays better when they go small with Conley, Butler, Lewis and Cook playing with Oden. Thad Motta could conceivably try and murder the Buckeyes again, (Xavier ran the same play about 10 times in a row - high pick and roll with Oden's guy setting the pick, giving him the ball 20 feet away from the basket, taking Oden off the dribble - without OSU having an inkling of stopping it, and Motta didn't make any adjustments. Like you know, putting Oden on a guy who couldn't dribble or something) but Buckeyes by 8 or so is the pick. UCLA beats Pitt in a shootout after another boring nil-nil draw.

Monday, March 19, 2007


No time today to really collate my weekend tourney thoughts, especially because Sunday's games were, in general, snooze inducing. It's almost as if the teams were as worn out from Saturday's games as we all were.

No, this is simply to pass along a quite perceptive comparison overheard at FreeDarko:

Though, I think the best comparison for Durant is sort of an evolutionary

This implicates one of the subtle ways in which race and basketball are inextricably linked. White players only get compared to other white players. Black players are never compared to white players. (By compared, I should probably say "analogized," since how you come out on the Magic/Bird comparison can probably still get you beat up in LA and/or Boston.) This holds, even for players whose games are "blacker" or "whiter" than their ethnicity might suggest. Jason Williams was only ever compared to Maravich, whereas someone like Nick Van Exel would have been a better match. Similarly, Rip Hamilton is always presented as the heir to Reggie Miller, when really he's pretty much the modern day Havlicheck. And the thing is, this unwillingness to make cross-racial comparison is so deeply ingrained that it took me about 20 minutes to think of the two just listed.

Friday, March 16, 2007

The "Gunk" (And Duke Demise Thoughts)

I get sick twice a year. Once in October, once in March. This being March, I have what I like to call "The Gunk". Bad times, especially during the Madness. (I have little to add to the volumes already written, other than to say that losing a really good game to VCU was about as much credit as Duke could have possibly gotten from this tourney. They would probably have lost by about 20 to an awful Pitt team - take VCU in that one, kids - in the second round. At least now people can say "hey, that Paulus ain't so bad" and look forward to next year. Except he is so bad, you have seen his absolute peak. Meanwhile, McRoberts appears to have a bad case of the Shavliks, wherein he gets worse every year. Also, the UNC fans are really classy, giving standing ovations when their team makes fast break threes to go up 22 with 3 minutes left against a number 16 seed. Who had them terrified when it was a 4 point game. I hate you, Roy Williams, drink your Coke and STFU already.)

On the plus side, my abdominal muscles are getting a great work out from all the coughing - surprised that no one has come out with that video workout yet. Looking at you, Billy Blanks.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Bling, er, Bling?

The Black card is proof that people will spend sickening amounts of money for the privilege of spending yet more money each year. The best thing about it is the occasional good Clipse rhyme it inspires.

Oh yeah, and it does look kinda cool in person. I had a customer use one once when I worked retail, and it inspired long discussions of what the perfect ostentatious credit card would look like.
Let me take a gander: Diamond encrusted with flashing LED's oscillating between the symbols for various currencies, and a sound chip that yelled out "I'm rich, Bitch!" every-time it gets swiped.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

5 Things On Thursday

  • Wha? No, seriously, WTF? There are so many questions I have for which I'm truly afraid of the answer. I mean, if that is in the employee handbook to begin with? "Even if a passenger requests such an action"? Also, Tim makes a salient point:
    I have long believed that Northwest Airlines is not only the worst airline in America, but is in the running as being the worst corporation in the country.
    The Kevin McHale of the airline industry, perhaps?
  • I am mystified by the SternBot's latest. (Though this is funny, and I think Gerald Henderson, Jr. feels the same way) Mr. Commissioner, whatever image problem your league has, this is not the method for solving it: When Pac-Man Jones is the NBA's fault too, suspending people for accidental collisions seems like kicking the dog because you got into a car wreck. Basketball is a contact sport, people get hit in the face, and benching one of the league's marquee attractions for his only appearance in certain cities...just ugh.

  • Rome has been quite good this season. Superior to last season, I think. Though the actor that replaced Max Pirkis as Octavian doesn't do much for me ('inscrutable' works much better for showing intelligence for a 14-year old than it does for a twentysomething. Then he just looks like a bad actor.) For me, the show is meant as something of a rebuke to those who prattle on about the "decline of Western Civilization." Given the Romans, we seem to be doing quite well, so far as such things go.
  • Sudoku is the proof that the devil makes mischief for idle hands.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

"Black Snake Moan"

Watching this film may be the closest you'll ever come to seeing what the blues actually looks like. It's dirty, and it's stinky, but most of all, it's something that comes from within a person's soul.
- Frank Wilkins, Real Talk Movie Revies
If you're only going to see one movie featuring Sam Jackson with a reptilian title...actually, I neither want to finish the joke, nor google to see how many people have already beaten me to it.

BUT, I actually quite liked "BSM." Considering that it is the sophomore effort from Craig Brewer of "Hustle & Flow" fame, and it features Samuel L. Jackson, the Dirty-South blues, and Sam Jackson unabashedly channeling the late, exceedingly great R.L. Burnside (the film is dedicated to Burnside), my operative term for this one was "Wheelhouse" from the moment I heard about it.

And then I heard a little about the plot. What the hell is Christina Ricci doing in here? And then I saw the first preview last fall sometime (shown prior to Jackass 2, no less. A ringing endorsement for film quality.) 'Yes' I thought, 'Sam, why do you got her chained?' I became skeptical as to how this could possibly work. All my favorite feminists were predictably appalled.

And in truth, it doesn't work. But, Brewer knows that the whole premise is instantly risible. Instead of trying to make it believable, he ratchets the whole thing up to eleven so you're never really sure if he's serious or not. And many of the individual pieces are just right. The southern-fried atmospherics are perfect - watching in a theater carved out of the frozen tundra, it still felt sweaty and insect-filled. Jackson plays the perfect combo of broken-down and explosive-tempered - I'd have no problem seeing him whip out an actual Ass Pocket of Whiskey, and take a slug, as he drives his tractor.

And the music...first, see the quoted lead. Second, much like "Hustle & Flow" (and "8 Mile" as well), the palpable love, reverence even, that the film has for the redemptive power of the music is what makes the whole thing go. Third, the juke-joint scene near the end should (but obviously won't) retire the 'sweaty dance-club' genre of music videos. As Kenny the Jet would say "it's over, ladies and gentleman."

Somethings work less well. S. Epatha Merkeson has the only really thankless role in the piece. Ricci's performance is good. The problem is, like with Halle Berry in "Monster's Ball", her physical attractiveness is almost a distraction. If the movie was played completely straight, this would be a fatal flaw, but as a quasi-exploitation flick, Brewer just about gets away with it. Given the parallels between Jackson and Ricci's relationship here and that of DJay and Nola in "Hustle & Flow" one is almost forced to wonder about aspects of Brewer's personal history - "H&F" was unabashedly autobiographical, whereas BSM almost has to be more allegorical. But still, that this aspect was so similar in both it does make one think.

In the end, the movie adds up to something slightly less than the sum of its parts, certain dramatic shifts seem overly, well, dramatic, and the conclusion is all too neat. After a fully unique first 2/3rds, Brewer loses the courage that got him to that point.

As a final note, like it or not, 'Black Snake Moan' is unique. Given the excessively homogenized, focus-tested mess that is major American film-making today, I'm all for that. The best possible outcome is that someone will see the film as overtly misogynist and/or racist and make their own, similarly novel, movie almost as a response. I'm not holding my breath, however.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Guess Who's Back...

And there was much rejoicing, like we just ate Brave Sir Robin's minstrels.

Anyway, for those of you who didn't know, my extended absence was occasioned by...the occasion of the Alaska Bar Exam. In an effort to minimize my online time, and therefore maximize the studying, I rather cut myself off from the internet.

I didn't check email, I didn't surf, I didn't read or write blogs/comments. Heck I barely answered the phone...(thanks for the kind wishes those of you who provided them...) And for some reason, bar exam and studying therefore aside (how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?) this was kind of awesome. Except for the 600+ emails I have to sift through now...anyway, a lot happened while I was gone, but I can only review so much:
  • The Departed was not the best movie of last year. I think we all know that. The problem is, can anyone think of a movie that was worhty of being called "the best"? For all intents and purposes, I thought "Little Miss Sunshine" was the betterest movie of 2006, but calling it "the best" is a bit like drafting Andrew Bogut #1 overall. Is that all there is? Reese Witherspoon should have won something, just so she could have come onstage again. Al Gore is not running, he was funny, twice, and no politician actually running is going to risk that.
  • That Texas-Texas A&M game was all kinds of awesome. Acie Law yelling "That's what I Do!" at his teammates after making some ludicrous game saving three is why I love college hoops. Reminiscent of Cat Mobley telling Dickie V. of the guy guarding him "I'm busting that ass..."
  • Tyler Hansbrough needs to stop letting himself be compared to Eric Montross. He should probably transfer to avoid it, at this point. Big gangly white kid? Check. Star for UNC? Check. Bleeds easily against Duke? Check. Vastly overrated pro prospect? Transfer, young man, transfer.
  • I liked "The Black Donnellys" better the first time when it was called "The Godfather".
  • Immediate post-exam observation: There is nothing worse than waking up smelling like last night's cigarettes. I spent most of the weekend in the shower trying to wash the smell off. That, and I couldn't really complete the thought required to turn it off and get out...