Monday, July 25, 2005

You got one chance. One Shot. Palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy

Time for a battle rap between The Masta Cylindaz vs. The Lords of the Rhymes.


via SG Intern via Wired.


Cousin Eddie's Daughter Hruby Sue

Another bullshit article from Page 2's resident mouthbreather, Patrick Hruby. Well, I guess there are lots of mouthbreathers on salary there who contributed to the steaming pile that is this. The subject: stupid sports rules.

I didn't get very far into this, because RULE #1 is the most hackneyed, ignorant, moronic drivel ever written on, and reprinted annually just in time for the MLS All Star Game.

They write:

Offsides in Soccer: Soccer has never caught on in the United States. Why is that? Could it be the almost complete lack of, um... scoring? Forget offsides; everything short of pantsing the defender should be allowed on the way to the net.
In fact, pantsing should be allowed, too.

This annoys me to no end. Why stop at the offside rule? Why not get rid of the keeper? That'd increase scoring. And then let strikers use their hands. And run with the ball. And throw the ball into the net. Why not?

Obviously whoever wrote this part has no interest in soccer but wants to act like he does to other people who have no interest in soccer. This is so national media. Look. Some people like soccer. Some don't. It's growing fast as shit as is. There's no need to package the sport into something so it's more palatable to Americans. This is the one sport where what the American marketplace wants doesn't mean a damn thing.

Let me use a few comparisons to show how idiotic the idea is, on the merits.

People love scoring. In baseball, I'd get so mad when Smoltz would throw a 2 hit shutout against Clemens and the Braves would win 1-0. Boring as hell. We need more offense. It's time to lower the mound, move in the walls, add the DH to both leagues, remove one of the defensive fielders, give 4 strikes for an out, and make curveballs illegal.

Everytime I watch the NBA All Star Game, and I see players get 5 steps between dribbles and 4 of 5 guys don't even cross halfcourt to play defense, I think... man, every game should look like this. Defensive stops are so overrated, and why encourage set offensive plays by giving defensive flexibility. Instead, they should encourage 95 missed alley-oops each game.

And don't get me started on the NFL. A Steelers-Ravens 14-10 struggle with 3 goal line stands puts me in a coma. What the NFL needs is to be more like the Arena league. Scores under 70 are an embarrassment. The NFL therefore needs to make cornerbacks nonexistent. 11 on 9.

Soccer is soccer. If you don't like it, watch something else. Sure, a 0-0 draw can be a snooze fest. But it can also be incredibly exciting. Just depends on the action in the game. Scoring alone doesn't make a game interesting. Ask June Jones.

Soccer needs to develop in the US in the form that has made it the most popular game in the world. I'm sick of idiot sportswriters who don't know shit from shinola about soccer telling the readers what they're supposed to think of the game. Instead of trying to fit the round ball into a square hole, by imposing American style playoffs, free agency and draft structures, etc., soccer in America should embrace the things that make it so great in the rest of the world. MLS isn't ready yet, but someday there should be relegation. Individual clubs should use cash transfers. And the championship and cups should be totally separate, including no postseason playoffs. Make soccer different, that's how it'll make it's mark here. Not by making it the same as everything else.


Sunday, July 24, 2005

Tour de France

Greatness sometimes demands recognition. Lance Armstrong is an iconic figure, and I know that he'll be one of the iconic figures of our lifetimes. Truly fantastic performances. The highlight from 2001 (I think it was a climb to Alpe d'Huez) where Lance feigns exhaustion on an early climb, then stares at Jan Ullrich before kicking into a gear nobody else in the field has... just amazing. The stare back is akin to Ali's stare (the greatest sports photo of all time).

Next year, watch Alexandr Vinokurov kick a whole lot of ass if he has the right team around him. Guy's got huge balls in the way he finished the tour this year (though I think the tour organizers screwed Levi Leipheimer today).

update: I meant to write this yesterday... 5 of the top 20 riders are Americans. More top 20 finishes than any other nation. And Americans are some of the top team riders. This is about 8 years after Lance really started making news. That's where he really makes a difference. Sure, there were many before, but nobody put cycling on the map like Lance. He's created a wave. It's a fine time for him to retire, because his team is in good shape, the sport in his country is in great shape.


Flick the button

1. Hoop Dreams: I think I was scared off before by the 3 hour run time. Big mistake. One of the best films of the 1990s, and maybe all time. I can't think of another film that says so much about race, class, urban and suburban life, education, money, etc. When done right, sport can often provide the best canvas to discuss the realities sport is a diversion from. This should be required viewing for every high school student. Excellently made, incredibly fast paced. Just great. And the lady stayed awake throughout, which is amazing for a 3 hour movie after a large meal. Cadillac, and a really nice one.

2. The Bourne Supremacy: Second viewing, so this might not be fair, compared to other reviews. But I think my first time seeing it I was wrong about it. This is better than I originally thought. An action movie that has enough complexity to keep me interested, and the chase scenes are incredibly well done. I rewatched the first Bourne movie a while ago, and while it's still really good, I think this one might actually be a little better, mostly because it doesn't have to set up everything and it can get right to the plot. Action movies should be more like this. And while I'm at it, rent Bloody Sunday. One of the better films of the aughts, seriously. Sharp steak knife, and I'm close to calling it a cadillac.

3. Blade Runner: I need another viewing. Was kind of scatterbrained when I watched it. But I was really impressed by the world created. Definitely more visionary than Minority Report, which I guess is a natural comparable, but also not as exciting upon first view. I'll watch it again and then rate.


Two more weeks and then I'll post regularly

Meantime, I updated the links on the right. I'll probably update the football links weekly as the season grows closer.

Wedding next weekend, honeymoon the next week. Not a great excuse, but an excuse nonetheless.


Monday, July 18, 2005

Flick the button

Very productive weekend...

1. Naked - I'm interested enough to know that I need to watch this again before I make any real judgments about it. But I'm not sold on it yet, either. Often distracted by the voice of Knox Harrington, the video artist. And yet I wished I could slow him down to follow along better. Not fired, but not ready to rate.

2. The Lavender Hill Mob - I enjoy the Ealing films. This is a clever heist film that holds up pretty well. Not as captivating as Kind Hearts and Coronets, but I definitely liked it. Steak Knives.

3. Wedding Crashers - OK, put away the hating. It's actually pretty funny. I have a feeling it's a funnier script though. Director doesn't know comedy cadence. I couldn't hear the dialogue for six or seven scenes because of laughter in the crowd. Some of Vaughn's long speeches need pauses for the crowd to catch up. Also worth another viewing. Some excellent lines in this. But still could've been better. Sharp steak knife, compared to most POS comedies.

4. Hitch - Did someone say POS comedy? Two things of interest. A) I remember seeing the preview for this and it had the scene with Michael Rappoport. And that's the only scene he's in. Did they hire him just for the preview? Did he get less $$$? B) Not enough was made about how utterly disgusting using a Jet Ski in the Hudson River is. Moronic. Fired.

5. National Treasure - And now a piece of shit action movie. Without much action though. I guess I'm not the targeted demographic since I'm neither an 11 year old or his mother. Three things of interest. A) Can't someone help Jon Voight and Christoper Plummer out with their respective mortgages? B) How did Steve Zahn lose Justin Bartha's role? Fire the agent. C) Not enough is made about how utterly disgusting jumping off an aircraft carrier into the Hudson River is. Someone needs to update Robo-scripter 2010 because he's shitting out the same turds. Fired.

6. The Day After Tomorrow - OK, so perhaps you've figured out that I have a soft spot for shitty, big budget movies. The thing is, I have this weird idea that someone in Hollywood has to have seen something worthwhile in a movie like this to spend the money to bankroll it. Sure, 90% of the time I'm disappointed, even with low expectations, but I still feel like it's worth the risk. And that take doesn't really say much about this movie. Sure, it sucked. But it was more watchable than the last two. And it made me think Dick Cheney is a bastard. Fired, but not quite as terrible as it probably should've been.


The Gods, they speak to us.

"Except where I am convinced that an informer does not expect to benefit directly or indirectly by his accusations, but brings them from a sense of true patriotism and public decency, I not only discount their importance as evidence but I put a black mark against that informer's name and never afterwards employ him in any position of trust..."

Letter from Augustus to Livia

I, Claudius by Robert Graves, pg. 324


Things I'm glad I heard

Braves vs. Giants, Bottom 5th. Fog rolling in on the Bay. Loud audible ship foghorns.

Joe Simpson: "Normally I only hear that when I do games with Skip."


Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Sports and shit

1. Had a bunch of stuff to write about Wimbledon. Mostly because I followed my Russian cousin, Vera Douchevina. Roger Federer is good. I don't like the way the American press tends to view the womens' game as more interesting than the mens'. It's kind of like the way American soccer is covered. I've got nothing against the women, but I think the mens' game is a better product. I'm bored to death with the Williams sisters and the screaming with every shot gets on my last nerve. Mens' tennis has more power, and more cheek too. It's one of the few sports that I get the feeling doesn't take itself way too seriously. My favorite country club sport.

2. Continuing the tour of marginal sporting events that the lame ass summer offers us, Le Tour de France has begun (and almost over, for the most part), and while I am not anything close to an expert on cycling, I really enjoy following the tour. Mostly for geographical purposes, I think. I very much enjoy the coverage on OLN too. Phil Liggett has the perfect voice for the sport and actually makes the event very exciting, especially if you don't know what's really going on.

3. Announced World Baseball Classic - awesome, but expect 9 months of uncertainty and bitching from MLB players and owners. Sheffield is only the beginning.

4. Felipe Lopez wears a Vote For Pedro shirt under his jersey, according to Joe Buck.

5. This should probably be its own post, but Stewart Mandel is probably the biggest bitch of all college football writers. I'm not one to bitch about supposed bias, and I won't here. My beef with him is the way he cannot take any criticism at all. Sure, he might get 5000 emails a week from mouthbreathing message board fans who use all caps, but when he's wrong he should admit it. This question and response in this week's mailbag displays his douchitude:

C'mon now! How can you leave the University of Florida off your list of teams that could win the national title in hoops and football in the same year? With Urban Meyer calling the shots in the Swamp and Billy Donovan going deep in the tourney numerous times, including the championship game in '00 (not to mention the Andrew DeClerq-led Final Four appearance back in '94). --Tim Alessi, Beaver Falls, Pa.

You're right, I blew that one. The Gators are poised for a title run in hoops this year with Anthony Roberson ... oh wait, he left? ... well, Matt Walsh ... what, he bolted too? ... well, at least they have David Lee. ... no. He graduated? Oh right, that's why I left them off. Also, a little correction to Tim's revisionist history about Donovan's "numerous" deep tourney runs -- Florida hasn't made it out of the NCAA second round since the '00 title-game run, and Lon Krueger was the coach in '94.

Speaking of corrections, I apologize profusely to you, the readers, for not fact-checking a question submitted last week by Hunter Roberts of Richmond, Va. In defending Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer, he made an allusion (which, I confess, I read right past) to him leading a program with "the most bowl appearances of all time." The Vols are second to Alabama in that department, as numerous Crimson Tide fans wrote in to point out, an accomplishment that's all the more impressive when you consider how often 'Bama has been banned from the postseason.

Shall we go through this piece by piece... First off, if you go back to Mandel's list the previous week of schools that could win titles in hoops and football, he doesn't stipulate that he's talking about next year alone. And he's got Michigan on his list, which has sucked a di-ock at basketball for the last decade. Mandel's list missed Florida, and more egregiously Maryland, who's had 10 win seasons and won a hoops title recently. Later in this week's mailbag he laughs off Michigan State, which is also a better pick than Michigan (or Ohio State if you ask me). So to take a look at the Gator fan's letter, Mandel disputes the argument by saying he was only talking about next year, which he wasn't, and even then Florida will probably be better than some of the teams he lists (and I'm the last person on earth to defend Florida). Then Mandel feels like he has to correct the writer. Defensive? Par for the course. See the next part.

Mandel corrects his own error on Tennessee's bowl appearances (a really stupid one for a college football writer, who has books and books of records and facts and who could easily fact check the shit he writes), but then slips in a shot at Alabama. Can't just admit a mistake and move on, gotta mock the people who pointed out the mistake. Oh, and remember that he gets paid to write his opinions and should be relied on to have some factual basis behind it. The people who write into these mailbags don't get paid a thing. Mandel is, if nothing else, a craven pussy. I will keep track of his defensiveness the rest of the year.


Flick the button

Scarface: The Howard Hawks version. Kind of dated, incredibly preachy. "WHAT IS THE GOVERNMENT GOING TO DO ABOUT IT? WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?" Ann Dvorak as Camonte's sister is the only thing about it I thought memorable. Again, a film that's been ripped off a bunch, and since I've seen the ripoffs so much, the original seems passe. Still, didn't enjoy it all that much. Fired.

Troy: I've got the same exact view of this as the General. It's written terribly, directed awfully, acted pretty poorly. But I couldn't help but like it. Probably just the Latin background nerdiness. Wouldn't recommend to others, but to me a steak knife.

Veronica Guerin: Damn you Cate Blanchett! A fan of her since way back when. And she's the only reason I watched this piece of shit. It should've been a TV movie. And it probably would've been better. Schumacher shouldn't be able to direct movies. And unforgivable is the obnoxious use of the Man U kit. The worst score and soundtrack of a movie I can remember. I still like Cate, but if she never has that same haircut, it'd be too soon. Fired as fuck.

Maybe I'll watch some decent movies next week. Ehh.


Where have I been?

Sorry to leave that half baked post on Hruby up so long. I still think his article was a piece of shit, but I could've done a better job of ripping it.

What have I been doing? A mix of wedding planning, lots of work and not much sleep.

I went to NYC last week on business. Stayed at the W hotel on Times Square. Definitely not cool enough to stay there. I was pretty much exhausted when I finally checked in (hour 19 of my day), and I wouldn't bet my life on it, but the young girl riding the elevator with me looked a whole lot like Ashlee Simpson, but with blond hair. Then the Lady told me that she's a blonde now. Es posible. Everyone who worked there had either a French or Australian accent. I enjoy Times Square because I like to make eye contact and say things like "Excuse me" to people who don't expect it and watch their reactions.

I've been watching a lot of Reno 911! lately which makes me feel like a big idiot for not watching it religiously before the last month or so. Junior freaking kills me. And I'm in lust for Johnson's fupa.

Fuck hurricanes. If Hurricane Harvey ruins my honeymoon, the middle name is officially changing. And I think it's really terrible about the guy on Kathryn Avenue. That street is right around the corner from me.

Sports randomness and movies to come...


Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Indulge me in a little bashing.

This article by Patrick Hruby on bothered me. Mostly because it's riddled with inaccuracies and biases that'd get him laughed at on a shitty Free Republic thread.

Let's first address who Hruby is. I liked some of his NFL columns, but I was always a little suspect by the "Hruby is a sports columnist for the Washington Times". I guess everybody's gotta get paid, but a rag that spews reactionary, racist lies for a mad cultist and dictator armer ain't the place I'd go looking for good writers to poach. I know Hunter S. Thompson used to write some political stuff that'd annoy right-leaning readers, but I also think he usually had his facts right too. And sure, this column is kind of tongue in cheek, but if you make jokes about a cow's dick, you oughta call it a bull.


I cannot believe the editor allowed the first sentence in.

George Soros is a pot-endorsing, Bush-bashing billionaire.

Err... He's also an incredibly successful businessman, generous philanthropist, author, rags to riches story, etc. But let's focus on what Hruby says... Soros has contributed to legalization campaigns, but he's no Timothy Leary. The things I've read by him about weed talk almost exclusively in terms of the failure of the drug wars and the successes of weed as a medicine, which I will personally vouch for. I've seen Lyndon Larouche groups criticize Soros' stance on weed, but I can't get very far into it because of the anti-semitism and ignorance. As for Bush bashing, it's no secret that Soros disagrees with just about everything Bush has done. He wrote and paid for publicationof a full page ad against re-electing Bush. But if you actually read what he says, you see specific policy criticisms (which I'm not saying I agree with) and not personal attacks. This is just one example of bad argument making. Take a man's positions and characterize them as harshly as possible (or take the side of lunatics). Awesome job so far. But it gets worse.

Republicans say a Soros-owned team would send the wrong message, alienate Capitol Hill and generally presage the end of days, even more than gay marriage.
Democrats counter that politics and baseball don't mix, and that lawmakers should stick to more important matters. Like blocking presidential appointments.

Here's the root of the problem with the writer. Hruby requires the reader to have knowledge of and agree with ridiculous wingnut propaganda to figure out what he's writing. "Send the wrong message" only makes sense if all you know about Soros is drug legalization. Is $400,000,000 worth of philanthropic donations annually "sending the wrong message"? And how would a part owner of a baseball team "alienate" Capitol Hill? Of course the sarcastic "blocking presidential appointments" deserves its own paragraph but my head keeps spinning thinking about what an ignorant statement it is. Blocking incompetent and corrupt appointments is kind of important (whether it's Democrats or Republicans doing it). Now, repeating groupthink might be fine if you're some D-list blogger who has like 4 readers. But I don't think it's OK for a paid writer for one of the biggest websites in the world.

On the plus side, no one has invoked the Nazis, Hitler or the Holocaust. Not yet, at least.

Not so fast, Gonzalez. And at that, doesn't the quote from Rep. Davis smack of anti-semitism too? "Not the sort of fellow" we need in Washington? Especially when the former-Bush partner, Republican donor, rival bidder for the Nationals is the guy Nixon went to to eradicate Jews from the FBI...

Then Hruby matches up two thinly veiled threats at MLB and Soros by Republicans against a Democrat saying that what the Republicans are saying is ridiculous, and Hruby calls it "partisan feces-throwing." Head throbbing. OK, let's use a metaphor. Let's say Democrats proposed, building a bridge to the moon built with the bones of Mexicans executed trying to sneak into our borders. If Republicans opposed this because they'd prefer Chinese immigrants and refused to pass the bill, it might arguably be partisan sniping. But if the Republicans in the metaphor responded with "We shouldn't do that because it's absolutely ridiculous, wrongheaded and illegal," it's not partisan feces throwing. It's called intelligent governing. This is just another example of writers feeling like they have to say "Some say this, while others say that..." when it'd probably take fewer words to say "one group are acting like eight year olds in a sandbox, while others are calling them on it."

And from there on, it descends into terrible jokes, mixed metaphors and struggling sarcasm.

Namely, what's the point of being in charge if you can't throw your weight around? Or stick your schnoz where it doesn't belong?
Richard Nixon once drew up a play for Miami coach Don Shula to use in the Super Bowl. Ralph Nader publicly called on the NBA to review the officiating in a Lakers-Kings playoff game.
Just last week, a House committee approved separate bills to regulate boxing, steroid testing and Maria Sharapova's grunting. One of those is made up. Still, the fact remains that our duly-elected representatives meddle in athletics all the time.
Hey, Congress cleared up the steroid problem. Why not the Nationals' ownership bidding?And I, for one, welcome our political sports overlords.

So is it good to abuse power or not? I don't really see anything wrong with Nixon's play. I'd say Nader's complaint might be the only thing in the last 10 years I've agreed with Nader on. Government has been regulating boxing for centuries. And I think the steroids thing might be the only thing Bush has mentioned in the state of the union that the majority of the American people still agree with him on.

Hruby's paragraph long jokes on No Child Left Behind and NAFTA make no sense, in political or sports terms. And his CIA/Vlad Putin bit could've added Putin's KGB background (it's only been in just about every article about the purloined ring). Jay Leno would refuse to say the Freedom Fries and Oprah bit. Seriously. And the Tom Cruise thing has been written by every 4th grader with internet access.

Hruby links to the Pig Book, which is fine, I guess. I sort of wish he'd have said which party controls the budget drafting, debate, committee decisions, conference reconciliation, and approval power. But then again, if Hruby had written it, he'd probably have to clean the shitters at several mass weddings to get back in good graces.

But here's the thing that annoys me the most. Hruby follows the mythmaking and calls Ronald Reagan a "tax-slashing" president. Reagan did cut taxes in his first year in office, 1981. It was such a spectacular budgetary failure that he was forced to raise taxes immediately in response in 1982. He rolled back corporate taxes and income taxes. As a percentage of GDP, Reagan's '82 increase was larger than crazy tax and spend Clinton's 1993 tax increase. Then Hruby says how naming the Washington Airport after Reagan "ought to be enough". I've said this before to many people. Name bridges, theatres, schools, anything after Reagan. But the one thing that they should not name after Reagan is an airport. He tore up too many families when he fired the air traffic controllers.

But back to Hruby's awful writing...

Should a new era of federal sport oversight come to pass, critics surely will lambaste it as a dangerous step toward totalitarian government. I say au contraire. Bush is a former baseball owner. Representative Tom Osborne (R-NE) coached Nebraska football. In recent years, Congress has passed resolutions honoring John Stockton, Roger Clemens and the San Jose Earthquakes, as well as one authorizing the use of force against Iraq. Open your eyes: the sports-politics complex already exists. We are through the looking glass.

I guess when someone does something before they go into politics, it's the same as intrusive federal regulation of that something. I'm sure he had to think "I can't be this stupid" while he wrote this paragraph. And resolutions honoring people is also totalitarian. I'm surprised he didn't compare invitations for photo ops at the White House to Gitmo.

We are through the looking glass. Absolute idiots get paid to write for a living.

And as an antiseptic for the "it was satire" argument, yeah, but satire is supposed to have a point, and y'know, be funny. This article sucked bad. The editors never should've let this go on Page 2. And Patrick Hruby has proven himself a douche too.

For an actually intelligent take on the Soros/Nationals thing, see Sally Jenkins' article in the Washington Post. I agree with just about all of it. Especially the mocking of Tom Davis' petulance.

And now I'll go back to writing about movies and commercials and all kinds of crazy shit.


Flick the Button

Meet the Fockers: Quickly, this wasn't very good. DeNiro was entertaining in the original because of the natural, universal fear of a parent not liking a beau. In this, though, he's just a dick, and that's not that funny. Plays to the middle most of the time, which is lame. Teri Polo's bangs annoyed me throughout. Yer Fired.