Friday, May 30, 2008

The NBA Recognizes The Corner (sort of)

Last week I complained about flopping (Post: No No's) and came up with a solution:

How the flop can be stopped—how about fines? Someone can review game tapes, and if someone pulls an obvious Vlade, they lose a little dough and a little bit of integrity. They are publicly scrutinized and then forced to volunteer for an NBA Cares Event.

The NBA must read the corner because look what headlined on espn.com just yesterday:

Fines will be imposed for clear cases of flopping

The NBA announced to its teams this week at its annual pre-draft camp that fines will be imposed on players starting next season for clear cases of "flopping," ESPN.com has learned.

To read on, here is the link: http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=3416579

There is no official connection, but I believe my writing and your support helped make the change. Power to the people!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Pistons @ Celtics, Game 5, 2008

Celtics 106 Pistons 102

Over the years, I’ve attended some pretty cool sporting events. World Series Games, AFC Championships, the US Open, the Elite Eight, a Montreal Expos game. But in all my years, I’ve never seen the Celtics play in the Eastern Conference Finals. So when I was offered tickets out of the blue, I snagged them right away. I didn’t care that I’d be using my last personal day at work or that I would be missing the all-important 3rd date (the closer date) with a girl I’d been seeing—this game was something special.

One of the best parts about returning to Boston for big games is running into random people. I ran into an old college buddy, EA, in front of the Harp. We had only spoken once in the last eight years, but we hugged like best friends. There was a unique excitement and energy in the air that only a big playoff game could produce.

*Just to note, this was my first Celtics game since the Rick Pitino/Wayne Turner era.

*Props goes to anyone who knows where Wayne Turner went to high school, who stepped on his ankle once during practice, and how many games he played in as a Celtic.

*I have seen the Celts play in LA and NY, but not in Boston since 2000.

Kendrick Perkins

Dwight Howard, I mean Kendrick Perkins, was incredible. He dominated the boards, hit almost every shot, and played with emotion. An ESPN writer knocked him for being too emotional (the technical at the end) but energy is exactly what the Celtics needed. Even Eddie House, who came in for 8 seconds, made the crowd go wild and chant: “Eddie, Eddie, Eddie!” The crowd loves those players, and teams like the Celtics need to feed off of them. In Game 5, Perkins set the emotional and energetic tone and everyone else followed along.

On a side note, it kills me when players (Rondo, Cassell, Allen) make a mistake and shrug it off like nobody’s watching. Everybody’s watching! Show some emotion. (Don’t pull a Rasheed, but you know what I mean.) You made a mistake. Now make up for it!

2 Monster Dunks

Jason Maxiel vs. Kevin Garnett. The Maxiel dunk off the alley-oop was absolutely nasty. He jumped over Sam Cassell, who seemed to be on Planet Moron, and threw it down in his face. I don’t care who you root for, that was a sick dunk.

Garnett’s dunk was almost as vicious, and it changed the tone of the game. Garnett should be commended for his 33 points and lucky 3 point bank shot. But his fear of shooting in the lane still needs to be addressed. KG seems nervous shooting the ball in the paint and would rather dump it down to Perkins (or turn it over to the Pistons.) Perkins had a sick game, but KG has to take those shots.

The Big Three

They’re back! The only problem: the bench. The backups scored only 3 more points than me last night. That could be a problem. Someone else needs to step up. Scallabrine, maybe?

A Little Sticious

For my friends that think I’m superstitious, you should’ve seen my Dad at the game. He was pacing, leaning, crouching, sitting, standing; whatever he could do to help the team. When he stood, the Celtics played well, When he sat, they started choking. At the very end of the game, he found a corner to stand in. He could barely see the game, but it seemed to make things go better. After Garnett sealed the game with two foul shots, my Dad emerged from his lucky corner and gave me a hug. A true father-son moment.

Flagrant Fouls

The NBA rules are driving me crazy. Non-traveling calls—idiotic but I’ve learned to deal with them. Defensive 3 seconds— I don’t get it, but, sure, why not. The flagrant foul—HUH?

Since when is a “hard” foul, a flagrant foul? There were 2 controversial flagrant calls against the Celtics in the first half. But in the 3rd quarter when Pierce honored Tedy Bruschi and Bill Belichick (who were in attendance) by destroying/tackling Chauncy Billups, it was not a flagrant. Can somebody say, make-up call? How about this—instead of using make-up calls, just don’t screw up the 1st time. Please let them play—if they don’t foul hard, these guys will score every time. It’s part of the game. This isn’t the JCC.

Too Many Breaks (Originally titled as the anagram: Beak Astronomy, but didn’t know if you guys would get my Sneakers reference)

Now that it’s Playoff time, there are an excessive amount of commercial breaks. Plus, each team is allowed 14 time-outs during the game so that doesn’t help either. When you’re at home, you can use those breaks to: go to the bathroom, switch to a brain-dead movie (Encino Man, maybe), look up porn, check your fantasy baseball team, e-mail girls on J-Date, do 50 push-ups, show your girlfriend/wife attention, find money in the couch, make a macaroni necklace, get something to drink/eat, etc.

But at a game, you are stuck in your seats and forced to watch the circus/carnival that has become the NBA live event. Red Auerbach would put out his cigar if he saw: Lucky the Mascot bouncing off a trampoline doing acrobatic dunks…while girls with “cannons” shot T-shirts from cannons...while the latest “cool” song blared from the loudspeaker…while the crowd danced frantically so they could get on the…

…JUMBO-TRON

People were more excited about appearing on the Jumbo-Tron then actually watching the game. The Garden used this gimmick so much that it was pretty much impossible NOT to be on the Jumbo-Tron by the end of the game. It used to be special if you made it on. But apparently the Jumbo-Tron now whores itself out to anyone in the crowd. Whenever the game returned, and thus Jumbo-Tron ended, the crowd seemed to be disappointed.

(I have to admit that I’m not immune to the Jumbo-Tron. I used to have a problem. Back in 1999 at Fenway Park, I pushed an 8 year-old birthday boy out of my way so I could flex for the cameras. I made it on the screen and was congratulated by the crowd while poor Jimmy tried to figure out why a grown man would do this. But as I’ve aged, I’ve become wiser. I’ve learned that seeing an image of me dancing on a big screen is not that big of a deal. I’ve learned to control the Jumbo-Tron instead of having the Jumbo-Tron control me. I’ve finally found my peace.)

Girls

Since everyone was featured on the Jumbo-Tron at least once, it is fair to say: There are just not that many cute girls in Boston.

Take a Seat

In the first half, I sat way up on the 3rd section. In the second half, my Dad and I were able to sneak into a luxury box. Here was my assessment of each seat.

Regular Seats

Pros: Decent view, could feel the energy of the crowd, could yell/scream/shout.

Cons: Smushed together with drunk lunk-heads, nothing to do during breaks except watch the Jumbo-Tron, the guy in front of me smelled.

Luxury Seats

Pros: Lots of room, free food/drinks, felt cool, easy to socialize, three flat-screens.

Cons: had to stand, not a great view of the court, couldn’t feel energy of the crowd, couldn’t yell/scream/shout, some people didn’t care about the game.

The luxury seats worked out well in this case because I got to be with my Dad and my brother. But normally, I’d rather be with the raucous (even smelly) crowd because that’s what going to the game is all about.

Let’s Go Red Sox

I talked to a few people who scalped tickets for $60. Do you realize that regular season, standing-room only, Fenway games versus Tampa Bay, which seats twice as many people, are going for about the same price? That’s crazy. Bottom line: Baseball in Boston will always be #1.

Let’s Go Celtics

One more win…

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Indiana Jones and The Corner Reviews

You guys are in store for two reviews. I’m gonna keep mine shorter because my buddy GS went to town on this thing. Mad props to GS on becoming the 1st Guest Writer at The Corner.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

As my buddy JM and I walked out of the theatre, we had the typical post-movie dialogue:

ME: What’d you think?

JM: It was pretty good. Entertaining, you know

ME: Yeah, it was kinda fun.

JM: Did you see the hot girls in front of us?

ME: Yeah. They were hot. So much better than the girls on J-Date.

JM: Tell me about it.

So what’s the point of this story? The point is that it took only 11 seconds of reviewing the movie before we moved on to something else. Was the movie entertaining? Sure. Was it more memorable then walking by two attractive girls? Not really. Here’s my advice: If you go in expecting National Treasure featuring Indiana Jones, you’ll be in better shape.

Things I Liked

Some of the Action Scenes: Although most were predictable, it was still fun watching Indy do his thing.

John Williams Score: I don’t care what I’m watching. If this music plays, I’m automatically in a good mood. (Same thing with the scores from Mission Impossible, Back to the Future, and Rudy.)

Seeing Indy Back on the Big Screen: It’s been almost two decades, and Indy still looks pretty much the same. One of the best characters ever to hit the silver screen.

Shia LaBeouf: The kid from Project Greenlight has hit it big with his 2nd summer blockbuster in a row…last summer was Transformers. If he keeps it up, he could surpass Will Smith for most summer blockbuster hits. And my Hawaiian buddy MB thinks I look like him. So I got that going for me.

Things I Didn’t Get:

The First 15 Minutes: I actually thought I was at the wrong movie. Is this Caddyshack? No wait, it’s Grease? Radioactive Man? I was so confused. Trust me; you’ll understand when you see it. The opening is all over the place.

The Silly Jokes: I know the Indy series has room for lots of witty dialogue and jokes, but this got out of hand. There were a few painful moments that my buddy will describe in his critique.

*SPOILER ALERT*

The Ending: There is an alien subplot throughout the movie. I actually like that sci-fi stuff so it wasn’t too bad for me, but I could see a lot of people turned off by it. I kept expecting Richard Dreyfus to run onto the screen. Is this Close Encounters or Indiana Jones? It just seemed out of place.

Conclusion

Overall, I enjoyed the movie. By no means was it very good, but it was fun and entertaining. When it’s on cable, I’ll watch a few scenes here and there, but certainly not the whole thing. If you don’t take the movie too seriously, you’ll have a decent time.

My buddy GS begs to differ:

Indiana Jones Review

By GS


I went to see the new Indiana Jones movie over the weekend and was brimming with excitement for the long-awaited Indy movie. We have all been reading about this movie for years and it was finally here. A brief disclaimer: Raiders of the Lost Ark ranks as my favorite action movie of all-time and was made at a time when Lucas and Spielberg were at their absolute peak. A second disclaimer: Sequels piss me off. They seldom work and are most often excuses to cash-in on the first movie (or series of movies in this case) and sell DVDs and happy meals.

Anyway, here is a brief neutral synopsis of the movie from the NY Post:

Indy and a colleague of dubious loyalty (Ray Winstone) are captives of KGB agents led by Soviet parapsychologist Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett in a Louise Brooks bob). The Russkies take Indy to the same vast Nevada warehouse seen at the end of the "Lost Ark" (which makes a fleeting cameo appearance) in search of an extraterrestrial artifact. After the first of several well-mounted chase sequences that climaxes in a nuclear explosion (arguably the most original touch in the entire movie), Indy has returned to the classroom and is being shadowed by a pair of red-hunting FBI agents. An encounter with a not-so-mysterious young man named Mutt (Shia LaBeouf) leads to an even more spectacular chase through the streets of New Haven. Shortly they're off to Peru, in search of the lost city of Eldorado and the titular crystal skull, whose powers promise to dwarf those of the ark.

IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE MOVIE AND DO NOT WANT TO GET SPOILED, STOP HERE. IF YOU DON'T CARE, KEEP READING:

Actors and their Characters:

-Harrison Ford: Indy is back as his old self, yet much more arthritic and certainly more crusty. I am not bothered by this though because even in the original Raiders movie, Indy is kind of grizzled and not meant to be a Sly Stone/Arnold wrecking machine. In this movie, he handles the action sequences well and with some CGI-help, seems pretty spry. The problem was that they hardly gave him any decent lines. The screenplay was so hackneyed that there was very little witty or even smart dialogue from Indy and there was no chemistry between Indy or any other character in the movie. The best that you can say is that Indy was just kinda there.

-Cate Blanchett: Plays a KGB-Russian scientist type. At best her character is campy, at worst, a poor imitation of a 1970's Roger Moore leading lady (i.e. a perfect Austin Powers character). Obviously you can't blame Blanchett, who usually is great in all of her roles, for this piece of sh*t character. I actually feel bad for her for taking a role so beneath her. Its like the Lucas/Spielberg team wanted to use her as a marketing tool because they knew how crappy the movie was: "Hey, come check out the new Indy, with the multi-Oscar nominated Cate Blanchett, as the villain!" This is not to suggest that she did a bad acting job--she was fine, but the role would have been a better fit for either the mom from "Throw Mama from the Train" (also the nasty woman in the Goonies) or Angelica Houston. I digress, but more on the villain later.

-Shia LeBouf: Its like Lucas/Spielberg want Shia seems to be this generation's answer to River Phoenix, and I think they might be right. He seems to be the only actor in Hollywood in his teens/20's that can play a "tough" and also be likeable in an action genre. Some other popular actors wouldn't fit the bill for this role: Tobey Maguire (too nerdy); Leo (too old); James Franco (too polished); Dane Cook (just kidding). He played his part reasonably well, as the Marlon Brando-esque mystery man that comes into Indy's life as the cocky kid who later turns out to be Indy's son, which any 8-year old could smell from a mile away. He and Indy have no chemistry.

-Ray Winstone: Indy's "friend" who sells him out to the commies. This character was atrocious. The true Indy would be way too smart to befriend someone who was just in it for the gold and glory. Even the villains in Raiders (Belloch) and Last Crusade (the hot German babe) acknowledged that archeology was more than just finding treasure and profiting from it. Indy is way too smart to be hanging around with this buffoon and to have Indy constantly being swindled by this guy throughout the movie is insulting.

-Karen Allen: She plays Marion Ravenwood, Indy's old flame who got knocked up and deserted by Indy at some point, only to produce Shia. Very, very predictable. She looks haggard and has not aged well since she was in Animal House and Raiders. I wanted to like her character, but, like everything else in this movie, seemed like a campy parody of Raiders. She did not have any of the spunk or attitude that Marion in Raiders had. The Raiders-Marion was hard-boiled, out-drinking that fat Nepalese guy in Raiders. real bad-ass. This Marion was better suited to be sipping tea.

-Professor Ox: John Hurt plays a very grizzled old professor friend of Indy's who gets caught up in the caper. This character didn't make any sense to me and added nothing to the story. The Russians worked him over pretty good but as a viewer you didn't feel the least bit of sympathy for him. IN real life, John Hurt says the movie was a train wreck.

The Villain:

The antagonist was so poorly developed that it was hard to root for or against her or even have an opinion of her one way or the other. We are so far removed from the Red Scare/Cold War that simply having that as a backdrop for character development doesn't cut it (contrast PC's favorite childhood movie, War Games). There was almost no interplay between her and Indy (like there was in the other movies in the series).

Story:

It was just silly. I am not a huge fantasy/sci-fi guy to begin with, but I did enjoy the fantasy elements of the previous movies in the series. However, Crystal Skull took it way beyond reasonableness. The whole alien thing bewildered me and I did not understand what the hell happened at the end. Also, the first 45 minutes of the movie the story went in one direction, i.e, the red scare and the FBI chasing Indy, but then changed directions big time when Shia shows up and spins some lame story about Professor Ox and his mother in order to get Indy on the trail of the skulls. Lastly, the beginning hook was terrible. In Raiders and Temple of Doom there were amazing opening sequences that fed perfectly into the rest of the story and had the viewer hooked. No such luck in this movie. Bottom line is that the story had a ton of holes and there was no continuity and at best it was a cheap parody of the other Indy movies.

Special Effects and Action:

Action was good, but very, very predictable and again, campy and cartoony. I also thought that some of the action sequences were very repetitive of the earlier Indy movies, like the truck scene in Raiders or the final scene in Last Crusade when the temple was crumbling. Also, another complete rip-off of the famous Raiders scene was when the Nazi general's face melted off (here the Russian soldier's face melted off when he was eaten by bugs). In the jungle scene, when Shia started swinging from the vines because he saw a monkey do it, that pretty much capped the ridiculous factor for me. Lastly, did anyone think that scene in the lost city was very reminiscent of the scene in National Treasure where they find the treasure? Just a thought.

Spielberg/Lucas:

The biggest question I have is simply, why? Why would they need to do this film, other than pure avarice, money and ego? When I grew up, these guys were like the Tom Brady and Tiger Woods of movie making. Now, they seem to trade on their past, especially Lucas. You could clearly see the Lucas imprint in Crystal Skull with the appearance of little gremlins and critters showing up throughout the movie. Reminds me much more of the Star Wars prequels than the Indy movies. Supposedly the first 5 or 6 versions of the screenplay were rejected, but in favor of this? Some people like this movie. A guy at work said that it was the second best movie in the series. When discussing with him, I felt like the Tom Hanks character in "Big" when he is at the sales meeting and he keeps saying, "I don't get it," and John Heard gets really heated that he doesn't get it and mocks him with "I don't get it, I don't get it." That was me at work today. I just don't get it.

Effect on legacy:

Crystal Skull is like Rocky V--it just doesn't exist. Even a hack-job like this doesn't ruin the proud legacy.

The Wedding Scene:

Nothing gets my goat more than pointless wedding scenes in movies. Typical Disney-type ending that Spielberg seems so fond of.

One final disclaimer:

I am usually not this bitter. I had to pee halfway through the movie and held it in so that I wouldn't miss a minute of solid Indy action. That minute never came. Moral of the story, its okay to get up to pee during this hunk of junk, you won't miss anything.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

NO NO's

NO-Hitter

Last night I got out of a movie and had 7 messages on my phone. I knew something was up. After I deleted 3 messages from my Mom (each one advising me what types of plates I can put in the microwave), I still had four others. What did I miss?

It turns out Jon Lester pitched the 18th no-hitter in Red Sox history, the 1st by a Sox lefty since 1956. It was against the Royals, but still. And for those who somehow don’t know, Lester is a cancer survivor making this story even more inspiring. Anytime there’s a momentous event in Boston sports, I like to reminisce and think “Where was I when that happened?” That’s when I flashed back to…

The Clay Buchholtz No-Hitter: I was at EY's wedding; a good friend I grew up with. Some of my best friends were there as well. My Dad was there. While most guests danced and celebrated, my Dad and I, along with several other father-son pairs, scrolled through our cell phones for updates. Once it was official, we raised our drinks and then hit the dance floor. An amazing night! Definitely one of the best weddings I’ve ever been to.

NO Problem

Jason Varitek caught his record 4th no-hitter. That’s pretty incredible! Does Bill James have a statistical breakdown rating a catcher’s ability to call a game? Sometimes, I forget how pivotal that position is and how much impact he must have on his pitchers and the game.

NO Pain

The Celtics and the Cavs gave us the best played game of the playoffs on Sunday. The Pierce v LeBron showdown was a great homage to Bird v Wilkins, 1988. But my 2 favorite plays were: Eddie House hitting the floor and magically tapping it back to Posey. And Pierce laying out on the parquet and calling a time-out just before being pounced on by LeBron. It was refreshing to see professional athletes actually trying their best and risking everything to win.

NO Soup For You

The defending champion San Antonio Spurs knocked out Chris Paul and the New Orleans Hornets. Is anyone sick of the Spur winning? They are one of the dirtiest teams out there, but for some reason everyone cuts them some slack. They are the NBA version of the Patriots. So how come more people don’t hate them—Because Tony Parker’s wife is hot? Because they’re a small-market team? Because Tim Duncan has a misshaped head? I surely don’t know. I never thought I’d say it, but I’m actually rooting for the Lakers in the West.

NO More Flopping, Please

My buddy PA came up with some brilliant ideas that I will pawn off as my own. Flopping has become an epidemic in the NBA. On every play, someone will whine, make the cry-baby face (see LeBron James), or simply just fall down for no reason. Guys weighing 200+ pounds with 0% body fat are getting knocked around like the skinny 5th grader on the B team.

How did this come to be? PA’s theory: Blame the oversea guys. These guys grew up playing soccer where the flop or “fake injury” was part of the game. So when overseas athletes picked up basketball, they naturally brought the flop with them. When you think about the origination of the flop, what’s the first name that comes to mind? Vlade Divac! This guy would fall over from a light breeze. But it worked. He exploited the system. He got the calls. Other players caught on and took advantage. Here’s an excerpt from Page 2:

“Divac was the forefather of the European flop movement, a man ahead of his time. He entered the NBA in 1989 as a horrible defender, and his Lakers teammates -- most notably Magic Johnson -- demanded improvement. "Most of the time, I flopped because I wasn't strong enough to stand up against everybody who was so physical," Divac told the Orange County Register in 1995, referring to his early NBA career. The Lakers benefited from Divac's flops through the 1995-96 season, after which he was traded to the Hornets for the rights to Kobe Bryant. But they soon found the tables turned when Divac joined the Sacramento Kings in 1998. Who could forget the images of Divac's body flying to and fro in a flopping fiesta in the 2002 Western Conference finals? "I don't know what is flopping," Divac said in a 2002 ESPN.com article by Marc Stein. "I think Derek Fisher does a better job of that than I do. It's taking a charge. It's for the refs to decide. … I'm going to play like I've been playing my whole career." http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=neumann/070607

How the flop can be stopped—how about fines? Someone can review game tapes, and if someone pulls an obvious Vlade, they lose a little dough and a little bit of integrity. They are publicly scrutinized and then forced to volunteer for an NBA Cares Event.

NO Way Out: My Cautionary Tale of Dating a Co-worker.

Having gone through the experience in Los Angeles, this is what I learned. It’s fun at first. You can sneak around. You can send dirty text messages. You can have breakfast and then carpool. You can take extra long “breaks” together. But here’s the major flaw. What happens when you want to break up? I tried to make a clean break, but it was impossible. I still saw her everyday, and now she was in code red—full, hardcore flirting. Short skirts. Revealing tank-tops. Back rubs. She was not letting me end the relationship. It was kind’ve like Seinfeld when George’s girlfriend won’t allow the break up. The lesson is that with a co-worker, there’s just no way out so be careful. (I did manage to find a loophole. I simply quit my job and moved to New York.)

NO, I Didn’t Get it in Less Than a Minute Either

My friend EY and his wife WY get credit for this trivia question:

In under a minute, can you name the 5 NBA teams that have states in their name as opposed to cities?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Going Green

A lot has changed in the course of a year. Roger Clemens has gone from fame to shame. Nobody is bothering Barry Bonds. The most famous (ex) New England Patriot is a guy named Matt Walsh. Robert Downey Jr. is the biggest star in Hollywood (pulling in almost 200 million in 2 weeks with Iron Man.) The Devil Rays are now the Rays, and they’re in first place. The MLB is on pace for a 1000 less home runs. Gas prices are over $4.00/gallon. Delonte West is the ugliest man alive replacing Julian Taveras. But the biggest change has to be... Danny Ainge is now the NBA Executive of the Year.

Do you remember just one year ago? The Celtics had their worst season ever in their storied franchise. It was embarrassing. Everyone was calling for the heads of Ainge, the Doc, and whoever was sticking up for them. I still remember my brother Mike ripping Danny Ainge as we sat for Thanksgiving. We had to stop him mid-tirade so we could finally eat.

After last season, Ainge was desperate. His executive skills were worse than his .220 career batting average on the Blue Jays (still better then a steroid-free Giambi, but I digress…) But somehow, Ainge pulled off a miracle. It was like having one card left in war and miraculously coming back to win. Or like me at the poker table: going all in with terrible cards hoping that something amazing happens. Well, Ainge hit the flop and the river and ended up with a three of a kind. He took the whole pot, and suddenly owned the table.

Ainge and the Celtics pulled off what is becoming a trend in professional sports: they “collected” as many veteran All-Stars as possible. You have to give Ainge credit for convincing Garnett to come to Beantown, but besides that, he didn’t do much. Everyone else (Posey, House, etc.) just followed “The Big Ticket.” And even though I’m a Celtics fan, I’m not a fan of the system they’ve taken part in. The Lakers tried this a few years ago with Gary Payton, Karl Malone, and the gang. I hated that team so much that I even called in to a radio show—(long time listener, 1st time caller) and bitched out some local idiot LA sports announcer.

Someone has to question what is preventing large market cities from stacking their teams every year. (Did somebody say Yankees?) Forget the draft (the ping-pong balls are about as reliable as an aspiring actress calling you back.) Forget developing players. Let’s just convince All-Stars that they’ll win a championship by playing together in a big city. In a few years, we’re gonna see LeBron, Dwight Howard, and McGrady playing together trying to win that elusive 1st championship. But it didn’t work with the Lakers and the Celtics look suspect. So maybe “collecting” players doesn’t work so nobody will pay mind to it anyway—I guess we’ll find out soon.

I can complain all I want about the system, but at least it’s the Celtics that hit it big. And Garnett is so fun to watch: he hustles and he scraps, and he’s incredibly talented. So now Ainge has got his Big 3, (or as Sports guy puts it: The Big 2 featuring Ray Allen.), he’s got his NBA Executive of the Year Award, and now he’s got his team 9 wins away from their 1st championship in 22 years.
A lot can change in a year.

Did You Know…

The Celtics could become the first team to win a Championship while going 0-12 on the road.

Rajon Rondo compiled an unusual triple-double in Game 5 with points, assists, and “Tommy Points.”

Sam Cassell is both a ball hog and an alien.

A Look Into the Future

In Game 6, LeBron James will be fouled hard by Paul Pierce. He will cry until his mother consoles him and then demands an apology. Oh, wait, that already happened.

Ben Wallace will become a spokesperson for Claritin-D.

Sports Guy will write another scathing yet humorous article after the Celtics lose on the road again in Game 6. http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/080514

Brian “Veal” Scalabrine will become a clothing model in the off-season.

Tyler Perry’s…

I have never seen his show, plays, or movies, but I HATE TYLER PERRY, and I’ll tell you why. He has the audacity to put his name on everything he makes. It’s one thing to name a show after yourself, (i.e. Seinfeld, the Cosby Show, the Chevy Chase show) but it’s another to attach your name to EVERYTHING you make. Tyler Perry’s House of Payne, Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns, Tyler Perry’s Shut the Hell Up. How insecure is this guy. Just pick a title and move on. We know you made it. If I ever become famous and put my name on everything I make, please punch me in the face. Thanks.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Iron Man

Yes, another comic book movie. I always think of my buddy MB when another comic book movie comes out. He has a comic/figurine collection to rival Andy Stitzer from The 40 Year-Old Virgin. In fact, he has his own comic book coming out next month. So when MB recommends a comic movie, I usually see it.

My expectations were limited. Let’s be honest, Iron Man is not a very impressive name. It reminds me of one of the bad guys from Mega Man—which was a great game by the way. But MB said to see it, so I did.

The first hour is awesome. It’s dark, funny, and edgy. Think Entourage, but with more money, hotter girls, and cooler gadgets. Downey Jr. is funny as hell with his misogyny and wise-ass comments. The movie gets dark once he gets taken hostage. He’s thrown in a cave, and his mission is to build his new weapon for some bad guys. Instead, he builds something else. Alas, Iron Man is born.

He escapes and we get to see him develop a newer and cooler version of Iron Man. He beats up some bad guys in a way that reminded me a lot like Transformers. In fact, the whole movie reminded me of it. Great 1st hour with sick action scenes and funny dialogue. And then we get to the second hour…

The 2nd hour kicks in and everything slows down. The plot gets a little silly, and things aren’t quite as fun. In the 1st hour, there’s some good old sexual tension between Downey Jr. and Gwenyth “Where have you been?” Paltrow. And in the second hour, it’s just forced. There’s less ass kicking and more “character’ and “plot” development. The director, Jon Favreau, (yes, that’s Mikey from Swingers) then falls in love with the special EFX button. And much like Transformers, the action scenes, get a little repetitive. There’s even the painful “family action scene” in which Iron Man saves an annoying mother and her kids from the bad guy.

The tone of the film starts out like a Batman (dark, edgy) and turns into a Spider-Man (cute and cheesy.) So I guess if you love both those franchises, you’ll really enjoy this. I, for one, like dark and edgy so I found the 1st hour to be great, and the 2nd hour to be a little slow and tiresome.

I kind’ve yearned for some 80’s action. Screw the plot. Just show Iron Man kicking everyone’s ass. To quote Roddy Piper from They Live: (John Carpenter’s movie where Piper finds a pair of sunglasses that lets him see aliens---a definite 80’s classic) “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass... and I'm all out of bubblegum.” (For you trivia fans, a variation of this quote was later used in Dazed and Confused.)

So let’s hope in the sequel, Iron Man spits out his last piece of gum. It would also be cool if he had a cape.

Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay

Harold and Kumar is good family fun involving weed, urine, doodee, incest, freaks, whores, terrorists, generals, and finally, friendship. The beginning summarizes what you may have missed in the 1st movie. It’s important (kind’ve like following Lost) because you don’t want to be confused. Here’s the spoiler: In the 1st movie, Harold and Kumar got stoned, and after a series of adventures, made it to White Castle. They ate a lot and learned to believe in themselves. Now that you’ve processed that, you’re ready for the sequel.

On a tangent, isn’t it weird how many movies contain variations of the name Harold in it? The Harold and Kumar movies are accompanied by: Harry and the Hendersons, When Harry Met Sally, Harold and Maude, Dirty Harry, Harry Potter, Harry Balls, Deconstructing Harry, Harold Cuts the Cheese, Harold and the Purple Crayon, Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd, and Who’s Harry Crumb?

The beginning is a little slow, but once Harold and Kumar sneak a bong on the plane, you get about an hour of steady laughs. Most of the jokes are centered on stereotypes. The jokes range from the original and clever to disgusting and really, really, really weird. It’s actually fun to see the filmmakers lambaste all ethnicities and cultures. My personal favorite scene is when a government official tries to bribe two Jewish guys with a bag of pennies. (I’m Jewish so I can laugh. But if you’re not, you can’t.) The government and homeland security get ripped apart so much that I kept expecting a cameo from Michael Moore. And the movie gets extra props for a pool scene with gratuitous female nudity.

*Something also has to be said for the soundtrack. The songs were original, fast paced, and funny. My favorite song had to be: “My dick is bigger than yours.” I don’t know who it’s by, but it’s friggin’ hilarious.* (It's by Mickey Avalon.)

NPH (Neil Patrick Harris) returns as himself, but he’s not great, and the laughs slowly dwindle toward the end. George W. Bush shows up near the climax, and much like his presidency, his act gets old pretty quick. The end fizzles like a burnt out joint, but you get enough hits in the middle to have an enjoyable experience.

Harold and Kumar give us about an hour of solid entertainment. The beginning and end are weak, but I’m sure the stoners won’t remember those parts anyway. As far as sequels go, it’s not a bad effort, and stoned or sober, you’re bound to laugh a few times. And I’m positive Harold and Kumar will be back for more fun somewhere down the line. How about: Harold and Kumar vs. Cheech and Chong?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Freestyle Mix #2

Celtic Pride

The Celtic’s annihilation of ATL in game 7 was scary. Not because the Celtics played so well, but because they were so excited by the win. Garnett celebrated with the “throat slash” gesture, and a hard, dirty foul on his new nemesis, Zaza Pachulia. The rest of the team hooted and hollered. It was like they never won before. It was Atlanta, guys. Relax. It will be interesting how they play against Lebron and the gang especially when the games are close. It is obvious that the go-to-guy is Pierce. At the end of Game 6, they still wanted to him to take the 3 even though had had already fouled out and was on the bench. The Celts match-up better with the Cavs, but after their round 1 performance, they’re not so intimidating.

NHL Playoffs

I thought hockey was still on strike?

The Big 4

There’s MLB, the NBA, the NFL and now…what is the 4th? It’s obviously not the NHL. What takes its place? PGA, MLS, UFC, Arena football? And sorry my hick readers, Nascar is not a sport and does not count. Any thoughts?

There’s No Place Like Home

While I was on vacation in LA, the Red Sox lost five games in a row. Since I’ve returned home, they are 6-1 with 2 walk-offs. Coincidence? I think not.

Annoying or Annoyinger

Who would you rather be locked in a room with for 8 hours---Stuart Scott or Stephen A. Smith?

Cable Movie of the Month

Inside Man: How come nobody talked about this movie when it came out? I've re-wathced this 4 times in the last month. Yeah, I know, I watch too much TV. But it was a great movie. Definitely check it out.

Subway Cookies

The most underrated cookies out there. They’ve got chocolate chip, peanut butter, white chocolate macadamia, and my favorite M&M. They’ll warm it up for you and it’s nice and gooey. Delicious.

Smushy cookies vs. Crispy cookies: This is a no-brainer. Does anyone like crispy cookies? The secret to making cookies is to undercook them by two minutes. This creates a smushy, delicious sensation. While smushy cookies melt in your mouth, cripsy cookies just crumble everywhere. They’re hard to eat. And they truthfully take the fun out of cookies. Gimme a smushy cookie over crispy cookie any day of the week.

The Nagger

Not since the infamous South Park episode (http://www.jibjab.com/view/143654) has this word meant so much to me. People who annoy you. Try going on a blind date with a nagger. “It’s cold in here.” “The music is too loud.” “Our waitress is rude.” OK. I got it. Everything is bad. Can I go home now?

And the worst part, she wasn’t even cute.

The Set Up

You have to meet my niece—she is beautiful, funny, sweet.

She was actually the nagger from above. Enough said.

A Bad Sign

You know you’re on a bad date, when in the middle, you’re deciding which porn you’re gonna watch later.

The Best Game of My Life

Two weeks ago my friend, PS, invited me to the Knicks game at MSG. It was free and they were playing the Celtics. I still didn’t want to go. But then he mentioned one more thing: FREE CONCESSIONS. Yeah, right. You probably get a free bag of peanuts. But it was enough of a temptation…I’m in.

CUT TO:

The greatest time of my life. For those who didn’t read about it, the New York Knicks and MSG gave away everything (except beer) for free. It was an apology for the abysmal season. Even David Lee got on the mic before the game to apologize to the crowd. His last words before going on to lose to the Celtics bench: “Enjoy the free food.” He got a standing ovation.

When I say free, I mean free. People went up to the counter and would order 6 pizzas. Two dropped on the floor; so what—they had 4 left. There were no lines because everything was ready to go. I’ve never seen New Yorkers so happy in my life. No rules. No lines. No money. Smiling faces. Peace on Earth.

I consumed chicken fingers, french fries, 2 hot dogs, ice cream, a different kind of ice cream, a hamburger, kettle corn, pizza, popcorn, a candy bar, crunch n munch, and 3 liters of coca-cola. I was like Frank Drebin’s buddy Ed at the Angels game in Naked Gun.

My favorite moment was when a man on his cell phone walked by a pretzel vendor. They must’ve caught eyes because as cellphone guy kept his pace, the pretzel-man threw him a no-look pretzel pass. Cellphone man caught it in mid stride and consumed his pretzel while still talking and walking. It was awesome!

At the end of the night, the Knicks lost again. But the crowd won. We were nauseous, but the good kind of nauseous. The one where you know you just ate $100 worth of food. People left with crates of candy bars, chips, popcorn and more. It was like Y2K and everyone was heading for their bomb shelter.

It was the best game of my life. I never though I’d say it. But you gotta love the Knicks!