Thursday, January 31, 2008

Flick the Button

1. The Namesake. Alright. I never noticed Kal Penn as having an oddly big nose in House or Harold and Kumar, so was it a prosthetic in this? In the few Mira Nair movies I've seen, music seems to dominate certain scenes (almost to a distraction), and this is no different. Plot-wise, this movie might've made a better saga miniseries, but TV networks don't really do that anymore, except for Lonesome Dove tales. Neither forgettable, nor memorable. You're Fired.

2. The Simpsons Movie. I guess I was hoping for more. In mymind, I had this theory that the last few years of the Simpsons on TV were so-so because they were saving the best jokes for the movie. I don't think my theory was correct, though there were some funny moments. The movie seemed like less of a "take the show to the next level" but more of a "let's remind everyone about how great the show is, as a whole". There's lots of references to golden age (early-mid 90s) episodes, which is nicely nostalgic, but maybe I was just hoping for something more. Maybe I need to see it again too. Fired/Steak Knives.

3. The Kingdom. I was suprised, but I actually liked this, despite many reasons not to. Normally I dislike jerky camera action, and the dialogue is pretty much stock action movie. But for the most part, this is really just a crime procedure movie, and it's pretty good at doing that. Not so much political, not so much bad ass action movie (until the end, where it does get a silly). In a weird way, this was kind of the movie I wanted A Mighty Heart to be (albeit with more guns and bombs). Steak Knives.

4. The Heartbreak Kid (2007). A couple of "geez, that's sick" moments, but no heart, and little actual comedy beyond the gross-out. And it's quite forgettable. Shame. I kind of like Michelle Monaghan. I'm not ready to say that There's Something About Mary was a complete outlier for the Farrelly Bros., as there are moments in some of their other movies. This, however, blew. You're Fired.

5. Stardust. I kind of wanted to like this, and it was OK for the most part. But a lot of the movie felt forced. Were I 13 and a girl, I'd probably like this a lot more. Instead, it looks like a SciFi network movie with more famous actors and peppier dialogue. In the fantasy genre, I appreciate the efforts of creating a new and fantastic world. In this movie, the new world felt kind of, well, like it'd been done before. You're Fired.

6. La Vie en Rose. Acting school. Cotillard is really really great in this. She reminds me of my great aunts, in mannerisms and how her Edith Piaf is really funny. The movie itself was engaging and interesting, even if I had no idea who Edith Piaf was, and I really wasn't much of a fan of her music. Beyond the acting, this felt like a real movie, not a TV movie with a bigger budget. Sharp steak knives.

7. Eastern Promises. Right after finishing the movie, I wasn't sure about how much I liked it. Probably because the Cronenberg movies I've seen seem just a little too slick. But this one stayed with me, and I think it's Mortensen's acting that's the reason for it. Like Watts's character, I wanted to believe he was good but capable of real evil, even when there was little evidence from his actions. The viewer and Watts' character were in the same boat. Kind of powerful. Downside: Cassel's performance was pretty hackish. Steak Knives.

8. Jesus Camp. I can't say I was all that shocked by the political angles here. And in a way, this is just a movie about weirdish kids coming from weird parents. But it also had a lot of moments of "really!!??" or "dude!!!". The Lady liked this a lot lot lot more than I did, but I didn't think it was bad. Probably a very effective movie to a lot of audiences. Steak Knives.

9. Suburban Girl. Stunning that this even made a DVD release, and not just an "ABC Family Original". There's no conflict for 2/3ds of the movie. The acting is bad or boring (and you have Alec Baldwin!). The editing bits are insulting to the audience (especially the last frame, which is the worst way to end a movie I've ever seen, really). Really bad. In fact, so bad, the only thing I found slightly redeeming was the lines from the Philawarepragueicago guy. Also, the title and marketing is F'd up. (A) She's not really a "suburban" girl. She lives in a massive apartment owned by her Aunt who was a member of the literati. (B) This movie isn't really based on the book it says it's based on, per The Lady. Don't get tricked. You're Fired.

10. The Brothers Solomon. Like Let's Go To Prison, this felt like an early draft of something that could've been very good. It's got funny moments, but it just feels rushed and like it could've had more funny moments. I think Will Arnett was miscast (and I'm a huge Will Arnett fan). He's creepy-nice in this, when he should either be nice-nice or actually creepy, or maybe they left it open for too long because they weren't sure whether they were going to have him end up creepy or nice. I liked Will Forte a lot in this though. The movie was way way way better than the other dick and fart comedies in this post, but not quite very good. And I probably grade tougher because I think with a couple of revisions, this could've been great. You're Fired.

11. Hairspray (2007). Not as fun as the original, and this one definitely felt in some ways like "famous people playing dress up". But it was also nice, in that I think one could watch it with your parents and not feel too worse for the wear. The music was alright, but I didn't think there were any showstoppers either. Basically, this is an OK movie. Or maybe I just think that because we rented it at the same time as the 2 worst movies on this list. Then there's this: with a young daughter and a wife who liked this a bit more than I did (and who very much liked the original), I fear my future will include seeing this several more times. And I'm not exactly fired up about that. Therefore my Steak Knives are downgraded to You're Fired.

12. Planet Terror. I'd forgotten I saw this already, and I saw it just a few weeks ago. Can't say I was all that excited while watching this. And perhaps if I'd seen 28 Weeks Later after this, I'd have been more fired up about the helicopter cutting heads off and stuff. Jeff Fahey was a plus, and I liked that joke about Fergie being a "no brainer". Otherwise, it's just meh. Though I think I did like this more than Death Proof and the incessant prattling on. You're Fired.

13. Good Luck Chuck. Wow did this suck. 100 minutes I'll never get back. I can't think of a single good joke in this. Yes, there's gratuitous nudity, but (and I can't believe I'm saying this), even that wasn't entertaining. Atrocious. Possibly the worst movie to get a wide release last year. IMDB says if you liked this you'll probably like The Heartbreak Kid. They're right, but they're also calling you a moron. You're So Fired Dane Cook You Might Never Work Again.

14. Once. Simple, sweet and good. Nice tunes, nice people, and a nice story. Been a while since I saw a movie that made me so happy/sad at the same time. That said, it almost felt Dogme, so it might not be accessible to many audiences. I liked it quite a bit, and I'd like musicals more if they were like this. Steak Knives.

15. Smokin' Aces. Yep, I saw this 8 days ago and completely forgot I'd seen it. This movie tricks you into being interested by having all the exposition come at you at 100 miles an hour in direct monologues, and then the end tells you what you just saw similarly. So you think you're "interested," but really you just have to pay attention just to know what's going on. All the acting is ridiculous, and lots of the plotlines are just moronic. Was there a sizable audience who was just begging for Common and Alicia Keys to get together on screen? Something tells me this movie "sounds" like a good movie more than it actually was a good movie. I'm sure over-RedBull-ed teenage boys think this is the shit though. You're Fired.

16. Juno. Yes, I actually saw a movie in a theatre (first one since Knocked Up, I think). Precocious Juno is a bit too peppy, but it's not too too too clever (only too too clever, I guess). Anyway, I suppose I liked this a good bit, though too many of the funniest parts were in commercials. Luckily the sweetest parts were left in. I know I sound gay for writing that. But it is a sweet movie. And that doesn't need to be a bad thing. More Bateman in movies (except not Smokin' Aces), please. I don't see how this can win an Oscar for Best Picture, but I did like it better than I suppose the recent comparables, Knocked Up and Little Miss Sunshine (and the last 2 Wes Anderson movies I've seen). Sharp Steak Knives (and the Lady, I believe, would've given it a Cadillac).

I know I'm missing some, but they are probably forgettable anyway... Man did I see some shitters in this group. I need to see some good movies, pronto.


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Lebowski Rankings - FINAL 2007

As always, these are objective rankings based solely on wins and losses, with strength of schedule and head-to-head competition the only tiebreakers. This list does not depict who is the "best" team, only which teams have done the "best" at winning every game on their schedule. Number in parentheses is strength of schedule according to Colley Ratings. There were a ton of head to head ties, so I'll explain those one by one below the fold (* indicates a head to head win, # indicates a complicated circle of teams, @ indicates a split of 2 games, and more info is below). This is the whole list.

120. Idaho 1-11 (106)
119. Southern Methodist 1-11 (98)
118. Florida International 1-11 (69)
117. Minnesota 1-11 (37)
116. Duke 1-11 (25)
115. Northern Illinois 2-10 (120)
114. North Texas 2-10 (94)
113. Utah State 2-10 (87)
112. Alabama-Birmingham 2-10 (79)
111. Nevada-Las Vegas 2-10 (56)
110. Syracuse 2-10 (26)
109. Rice 3-9 (119)
108. Louisiana-Lafayette 3-9 (91)
107. Marshall 3-9 (72)
106. Army 3-9 (71)
105. Colorado State 3-9 (62)
104. Baylor 3-9 (52)
103. Iowa State 3-9 (31)
102. Kent State 3-9 (100)*
101. Notre Dame 3-9 (14)
100. Mississippi 3-9 (6)
99. New Mexico State 4-9 (116)
98. Washington 4-9 (3)
97. Texas-El Paso 4-8 (109)
96. Tulane 4-8 (112)*
95. Eastern Michigan 4-8 (108)
94. Akron 4-8 (93)
93. Temple 4-8 (115)*
92. San Diego State 4-8 (57)
91. North Carolina 4-8 (33)
90. Stanford 4-8 (20)
89. Toledo 5-7 (114)
88. Buffalo 5-7 (113)
87. San Jose State 5-7 (107)
86. Arkansas State 5-7 (103)
85. Western Michigan 5-7 (101)
84. Louisiana Tech 5-7 (96)
83. Middle Tennessee State 5-7 (89)
82. Wyoming 5-7 (65)
81. Miami (FL) 5-7 (53)
80. Kansas State 5-7 (48)
79. Pittsburgh 5-7 (35)
78. Washington State 5-7 (34)
77. Arizona 5-7 (17)
76. North Carolina State 5-7 (15)
75. Vanderbilt 5-7 (11)
74. Nebraska 5-7 (9)
73. Nevada 6-7 (118)
72. Miami (OH) 6-7 (110)
71. Colorado 6-7 (28)
70. Maryland 6-7 (13)
69. UCLA 6-7 (2)
68. Ohio 6-6 (123)
67. Louisiana-Monroe 6-6 (92)
66. Northwestern 6-6 (84)
65. Iowa 6-6 (86)*
64. Louisville 6-6 (38)
63. South Carolina 6-6 (4)
62. Southern Mississippi 7-6 (111)
61. Memphis 7-6 (125)*
60. Ball State 7-6 (95)
59. Indiana 7-6 (75)
58. Georgia Tech 7-6 (55)
57. Michigan State 7-6 (44)
56. Oklahoma State 7-6 (24)
55. Texas A&M 7-6 (21)
54. California 7-6 (19)
53. Alabama 7-6 (16)
52. Florida State 7-6 (22)*
51. Central Michigan 8-6 (102)
50. Western Kentucky 7-5 (126)
49. Houston 8-5 (122)
48. Bowling Green 8-5 (117)
47. Navy 8-5 (105)
46. Florida Atlantic 8-5 (90)
45. Texas Christian 8-5 (80)
44. Purdue 8-5 (76)
43. East Carolina 8-5 (74)
42. Rutgers 8-5 (61)
41. Arkansas 8-5 (42)#
40. Mississippi State 8-5 (30)#
39. Kentucky 8-5 (5)#
38. Troy 8-4 (81)
37. Fresno State 9-4 (104)
36. New Mexico 9-4 (97)#
35. Air Force 9-4 (83)#
34. Utah 9-4 (68)#
33. Florida 9-4 (1)
32. Connecticut 9-4 (67)#
31. Wisconsin 9-4 (64)#
30. Penn State 9-4 (59)#
29. Illinois 9-4 (50)#
28. Wake Forest 9-4 (49)#
27. Virginia 9-4 (58)*
26. Texas Tech 9-4 (78)*
25. Clemson 9-4 (40)#
24. Michigan 9-4 (39)#
23. South Florida 9-4 (23)#
22. Auburn 9-4 (18)#
21. Oregon 9-4 (10)
20. Oregon State 9-4 (27)*
19. Tulsa 10-4 (99)
18. Central Florida 10-4 (88)
17. Tennessee 10-4 (7)
16. Boise State 10-3 (121)
15. Cincinnati 10-3 (66)
14. Arizona State 10-3 (32)
13. Texas 10-3 (54)*
12. Oklahoma 11-3 (45)
11. Boston College 11-3 (40)@
10. Virginia Tech 11-3 (29)@
9. Brigham Young 11-2 (70)
8. Ohio State 11-2 (60)
7. Southern California 11-2 (51)
6. West Virginia 11-2 (43)
5. Georgia 11-2 (12)
4. Missouri 12-2 (46)
3. Louisiana State 12-2 (8)
2. Hawaii 12-1 (123)
1. Kansas 12-1 (77)


Asterisks indicate a head-to-head win by a team with an identical record, but a lower strength of schedule. The winning head-to-head team is placed immediately above the losing head-to-head team. Examples: Kent State over Iowa State, Tulane over UTEP, Temple over Akron, Iowa over Northwestern, Memphis over Southern Miss, FSU over Alabama, Virginia over Wake Forest, Texas Tech over Virginia, Oregon State over Oregon and Texas over Arizona State.

The ampersands next to Boston College and Virginia Tech refer to the fact that the two teams played twice and each won once. Because of that, I've reverted to strength of schedule.

Number signs indicate a scenario where 3 or more teams have beaten another team with an identical record, but also lost to another team with an identical record, creating a circle. When this happens, we'll revert to the strength of schedule as the tiebreaker, but wins and losses by teams outside such circles will still apply. There are 4 such examples this year and I'll explain them each.

(A) Three SEC teams finished at 8-5. Kentucky beat Arkansas but lost to Mississippi State. Arkansas beat Mississippi State but lost to Kentucky. Mississippi State beat Kentucky but lost to Arkansas. Perfect Circle, revert to strength of schedule.

(B) Three WAC teams finished at 9-4. Utah beat New Mexico but lost to Air Force. Air Force beat Utah but lost to New Mexico. New Mexico beat Air Force but lost to Utah. Perfect Circle, revert to strength of schedule.

(C) Four Big Ten teams finished at 9-4. Michigan beat Illinois and Penn State, but lost to Wisconsin. Illinois beat Wisconsin and Penn State, but lost to Michigan. Wisconsin beat Michigan, but lost to Illinois and Penn State. Penn State beat Wisconsin, but lost to Michigan and Illinois. Not exactly a perfect circle, but reverting to strength of schedule leaves us with an equitable result. The two teams that finished 2-1 in this circle placed higher than the 2 teams that finished 1-2. Among the 2-1 teams, Michigan beat Illinois head-to-head, so by SOS and head-to-head, Michigan is ranked higher. Among the 1-2 teams, Penn State beat Wisconsin head-to-head, so by SOS and head-to-head, Penn State is ranked higher.

(D) All of the teams in the 9-4 category proved to be quite complicated. Every single team that finished 9-4 beat, lost to or both beat and lost to another 9-4 team. This created a massive circle for 5 of the teams, and affected how all of the teams were placed. Auburn beat Clemson, who in turn beat Wake Forest, who in turn beat Connecticut, who in turn beat South Florida, who in turn beat Auburn. Connected thereto... Virginia also beat Wake Forest and Connecticut (but lost to Texas Tech). And Auburn beat Florida (who also lost to Michigan, who also lost to Oregon (who also beat Fresno State but also lost to Oregon State). The decision I made was to separate the "closed circles" from one another, ignore head-to-head wins within closed circles, but then apply head-to-head wins outside those circles. The result is thus:

Oregon is placed first because they had the (second) best SOS, but Oregon State was placed ahead of them because of the head-to-head win. No 9-4 team beat Oregon State, and no 9-4 team other than Oregon State beat Oregon. Next, I follow SOS to include the 5 team circle, but I place the Big Ten teams from the 4 team circle in their appropriate slot based on SOS (since none of the Big Ten teams lost or beat any of the teams within the 5 team circle). Auburn, followed by South Florida (despite the head-to-head win), followed by Michigan because of SOS. I have not slotted Florida yet, despite their excellent SOS, because they lost to both Auburn and Michigan and didn't beat anyone with a 9-4 record (a fact they only share with Fresno State). Michigan is followed by Clemson, who is then followed by Texas Tech and Virginia before Wake Forest. Virginia didn't lose to anyone in that 5 team circle, but did beat Wake Forest (and UConn, but Wake is slotted higher based on SOS). Therefore we'll slide the Texas Tech and Virginia head-to-head wins in ahead of Wake, but behind the other teams in the circle with a higher SOS. After Wake Forest, we'll slot the three other Big Ten schools, based on their SOS ranking. Then Connecticut finishes up the 5 team circle. Here's where we slot Florida. Logically, we couldn't slot Florida any higher than this, because every team above Florida would have beaten another team at 9-4. They can't be ahead of Michigan or Auburn because they lost to both. And every other team ahead of them beat either Auburn or Michigan or beat a team that beat Auburn or Michigan (by some stretch). Florida didn't beat any of those teams. We can rank Florida ahead of Utah, Air Force, New Mexico and Fresno State because none of those teams beat Florida or any team with a link to a team that beat Florida.

Make sense?


Please just let Chris Dimino talk...

In one segment this morning on 790 the Zone, Steak, Dimino and Cellini were talking about the Johan Santana trade. In a 3 minute span, Steak Shapiro made the following errors:

  • Called Hanley Ramirez, "Aramis Ramirez".
  • Called Anibal Sanchez, "Aramis Sanchez".
  • Called Carlos Beltran, "Carlos Beltre".
  • Mentioned the Braves' starting pitchers (listed them all) without referencing Tom Glavine.
  • Said Mike Gonzalez is a risk because his "history of arm problems". In 4 seasons, Gonzalez has just one injury year (last year). In prior years, he pitched in 47, 51 and 54 games. He's no Mark Prior.
  • Also, he said Santana is "maybe the second best starter in baseball." Is there some consensus on someone who is better than Santana? Peavy, Webb, Beckett? Am I missing someone? Santana is the best pitcher in baseball. There's not much debate on that.

Steak, you've got one of the best baseball minds in radio not 5 feet from where you're sitting. Just slowly push the microphone away from you and let the professional handle this.


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Great Middle Names of the NFL

Thus begins a new running series here at the Corporate Headquarters. I will offer a middle name, and a multiple choice of potential NFL players. You make the call, and the answer will be below the fold.
Our first name is:


A. Keenan McCardell
B. Terrell Owens
C. Demarcus Ware
D. Clinton Portis

The answer is...