Thursday, December 31, 2009

Aiding and A'Betting: Week Seventeen


Can his first two seasons be Atlanta's first back-to-back winning ones in history? Tune in.

I'm out the door for Athens in a bit, and no telling when I'm going to be around a computer again. So here are the final picks of the 2009 NFL regular season, just to say I did 'em.

And no, there are no typos here. Weird-lookin' lines abound.

The picks:

Indianapolis @ Buffalo (-8). PICK: Indianapolis
Jacksonville @ Cleveland (-1 1/2). PICK: Jacksonville
Philadelphia @ Dallas (-3). PICK: Dallas
Chicago (-3) @ Detroit. PICK: Chicago
NY Giants @ Minnesota (-9). PICK: NY Giants
New Orleans @ Carolina (PICK). PICK: New Orleans
New England @ Houston (-7 1/2).
PICK: New England
Pittsburgh (-3) @ Miami. PICK: Miami
Cincinnati @ NY Jets (-10). PICK: Cincinnati
San Francisco (-7) @ St. Louis. PICK: St. Louis
Atlanta (-2) @ Tampa Bay. PICK: Atlanta
Green Bay @ Arizona (-3). PICK: Arizona
Kansas City @ Denver (-13). PICK: Denver
Baltimore (-10 1/2) @ Oakland. PICK: Oakland
Washington @ San Diego (-3 1/2). PICK: San Diego
Tennessee (-4) @ Seattle. PICK: Tennessee

Last week: 7-9
Overall: 123-115-2

Quarter Back: December 1984

Quarter Back is a monthly feature looking back at the movies of 25 years ago. One movie will be watched for the first time, one will be revisited.

Featured Movies



Birdy
Seen it before?: No.
Release date: December 21, 1984
Actors: Matthew Modine, Nicolas Cage
Director: Alan Parker (Angel Heart, The Commitments, Evita)
Box office: $1.5 million (#147 in 1984)

People love to bag on Nicolas Cage for suddenly becoming a weirdo - the silly haircuts, the flaring eyeballs, the overenunciated syllables. But what they forget is Cage has always been a nut. From his falsetto voice in 1985's Peggy Sue Got Married, to his live cockroach-munching in 1989's Vampire's Kiss, to his Elvis fetish blossoming in 1990's Wild at Heart, the craziness ain't exactly a product of this millennium. Really, it's just his movies aren't as good these days.

Cage had one of his earliest starring roles in Birdy, and there are sure signs of the electricity we're so used to now. The decibel outbursts are there, and his mania is housed in the lanky frame of a teenager, making it all the more manic. He plays Al, a popular neighborhood guy who becomes fascinated with the local weirdo - a kid obsessed with birds (Matthew Modine, at the time a much safer bet for A-list stardom).

Well, it turns out his obsession - mixed in with a healthy dose of Vietnam - drives the kid to the brink of insanity. Our tale is told through flashbacks, the "present" being Cage visiting Modine in an asylum, trying to talk him back from the brink of permanent residence.

Birdy walks the fine line many films about "crazy people" do - in the wrong actor's hands, the audience can lose empathy with a character and just find him annoying. And there are points where I wanted to punch both guys in the face, one for being so weird, and one for caring about somebody so weird. I just had problems relating to a guy who liked to curl up naked and sleep in a bird cage. Maybe I'm the crazy one. Grade: C+



2010
Seen it before?: Yes, but not in awhile.
Release date: December 7, 1984
Actors: Roy Scheider, John Lithgow, Helen Mirren, Keir Dullea
Director: Peter Hyams (Timecop, End of Days, Stay Tuned, The Presidio)
Box office: $40.4 million (#17 in 1984)

My love for Star Wars and its sequels was firmly established by 1984, and my parents reacted by taking me to any movie about outer space. I mean, I loved Han Solo, so anything with spacecraft and starscapes would be perfect, right? No matter the content, no matter the rating, no matter if it was a sequel to a film I'd never seen - if it had space in it, it was for Josh.

In theaters, I saw Dune - a bizarre adaptation of an even more bizarre novel, involving torture, murder, abstract concepts such as "folding space," and giant worms that arise from the ground and devour anybody on the surface. In theaters, I saw Aliens - a classic, yet horrific R-rated roller coaster, a sequel to a film I'd never seen, and a terror way out of my 10-year-old league. In theaters, I saw Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone - which just sucked.

It seems bizarre to me now, but I remember loving my 1984 multiplex trip to see 2010. Again, it was a sequel to a movie I hadn't yet heard of, featuring serious looking adults doing serious looking things, and less a laser-blasting good time than a somber meditation on world peace and the psychology of machines. But I ate it up - which, I guess, means my parents were right. Pretty planets equal a good time.

Well, revisiting this film now, I expected to scoff. After all, it was a sequel to Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, which I now cherish. It replaced Kubrick (who didn't want to be involved) with a guy who'd go on to direct John Ritter in Stay Tuned. And - well, you know what, that's enough. That's enough to form scoffing expectations.

But it's good, though. It's really good. It's no work of art like the original, but it's a damn fine, interesting, gripping sci-fi story featuring great effects (for the time) and excellent performances. It has a couple of epic scenes, harkens back to the original without aping it (no pun intended), and the finale actually earns its straight face.

And hey, it's always fun to see what a 25-year-old vision of the year 2010 looks like. The Soviet Union still exists, Omni Magazine is still printing issues, cassettes are still in vogue, and while we can travel to Jupiter, our computers are limited to green and red text on black screens.



Grade: B+

Other films 25 years old this month:

1984 - Fantastic high school memory: as lazy teachers are wont to do, we dedicated two days to watching this film after reading George Orwell's book. Well, her laziness apparently extended to discovering the rating - which was very much R. And I think there were boobs. Trust me, these moments are golden in ninth grade.

Beverly Hills Cop - Eddie Murphy had big hits with 48 Hrs. and Trading Places - and one big disaster with Best Defense - but nobody was prepared for the bonanza of Beverly Hills Cop. It was the biggest hit of 1984, is essentially the 39th biggest hit of all time, played in theaters for a year, and put Murphy at the top of the Hollywood food chain for the next decade (he wouldn't have a true flop for another 11 years, 1995's Vampire in Brooklyn, but many would soon follow). No wonder then Murphy is about to revive his Axel Foley character in Beverly Hills Cop IV.

Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo - Filmed back-to-back with Breakin', which was released just seven months previous, the adventures of Ozone, Boogaloo Shrimp, and the white girl continue. And 25 years later, it still provides a quick joke in any conversation regarding sequels. ("Aww man, I can't wait 'til Avatar 2: Electric Boogaloo!").

City Heat - Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds star in this disasterously bad buddy comedy (read Ebert's review for hilarity's sake).

The Cotton Club - Francis Ford Coppola's expensive flop cast Richard Gere, Gregory Hines, Diane Lane and Nicolas Cage in the story of a 1920s jazz club. Never could summon the interest.

Dune - Yes, apparently December '84 was a confusing month at the movies for lil' Josh. David Lynch's sci-fi epic is pretty much a mess, but there is some gorgeous, fantastic stuff in there. And I definitely wish I still had my Dune action figures from when I was a kid. While my friends were playing with those gay ol' G.I. Joes, I had Kyle MacLachlan in military gear, a fat acne-scarred guy in a body suit, and Sting in metal underwear.

The Flamingo Kid - The first movie to receive a PG-13 rating, though it was delayed five months and was beaten to theaters by a few others. Matt Dillon stars as a recent high school graduate working at a fancy club for the summer.

Johnny Dangerously - A "madcap" gangster comedy featuring Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito and Joe Piscopo. All I know, I enjoyed the hell out of this as an eight-year-old, and still use the words "fargin'" and "corksoakers" because of it.

Micki and Maude - Oh, the hilarity of bigamy. Dudley Moore stars as a man married to two pregnant women (Amy Irving and Ann Reinking). However, it does feature Andre the Giant as himself, so there's some value here.

A Passage to India - Director David Lean's last film, following a so-so career (Doctor Zhivago, Lawrence of Arabia, The Bridge on the River Kwai). Of course, considering it involved the colonial English, Indians and rape, I somehow missed seeing it. If it had been set in space, of course, there's no telling.

Protocol - Odd that I vividly remember seeing four December '84 releases in theaters: 2010, City Heat, Dune and this Goldie Hawn comedy. In it, she plays a cocktail waitress who thwarts a Washington, D.C. assassination and an arms deal. Not exactly Oscar bait.

The River - Mel Gibson, still known as Mad Max at this point, headlines the third major farming drama of 1984 (following Country and Places in the Heart). But this time - there's a'floodin' involved!

Runaway - Tom Selleck takes on KISS's Gene Simmons and mechanical spiders in this thriller written and directed by Michael Crichton. There had to be cocaine involved in some phase of production.

Quarter Back: November 1984
Quarter Back: October 1984
Quarter Back: September 1984
Quarter Back: August 1984
Quarter Back: July 1984
Quarter Back: June 1984
Quarter Back: May 1984
Quarter Back: April 1984

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

News stuff

As of 01/01/10, this blog is temporarily going offline - at least to the viewing public.

If you'd like to continue getting access to it, just shoot me an e-mail and I'll add you to the elite "invited readers" list. Just write, "Yes Josh, I would be nothing without your keen insight into the universe and all its inhabitants, who you reign over." Or just "add me."

We will be back and better than ever, eventually. But for now, worldwide fame must wait.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Aiding and A'Betting: Week Sixteen

Merry Christmas, you smarmy bastards.

You're going to have to suffer through truncated picks this week, as it's Christmas Eve and I have better things to do. Ok, I don't have better things to do, but I AM lazy.

The picks:

San Diego @ Tennessee (-3). I'm starting to get the feeling we'll have a Super Bowl shocker - basically, one that doesn't include the Colts, Vikings or Saints. Indy and New Orleans have pretty wretched secondaries, and I can see Aaron Rodgers and/or Philip Rivers picking them apart. The Vikings, meanwhile, are already in full meltdown mode. So let's go ahead and throw it out there: Martian Attacking Indianapolis' Super Bowl prediction? San Diego v. Green Bay. PICK: San Diego

Seattle @ Green Bay (-14). PICK: Green Bay

Oakland @ Cleveland (-3). PICK: Oakland

Buffalo @ Atlanta (-9). It's amazing how quickly this season flew by. My season tickets, once a large cardboard sheet of perforation, are now down to singles. Of course, when I held the full compliment in my hands, I was entertaining the thought this week's game would be a playoff clincher, or at worst the ninth win - giving the Falcons its first back-to-back winning seasons ever. Neither one of those has come to pass, and if Atlanta does get that elusive 9-7, it will have to come next week in Tampa. The eighth win shouldn't be hard to come by though, considering Buffalo is starting QB Brian Brohm in his first NFL action ever. PICK: Atlanta

Kansas City @ Cincinnati (-13 1/2).
The fantasy football playoffs are in full swing, and I'm back to relying on Carson Palmer as my starter. That whole Jason Campbell thing last week, well, at least it didn't lose me the game. But my God, really, what was I thinking there? Anyway, Palmer against Kansas City? Come on, that's good, right? Hopefully the Bengals don't have any more receivers die before then. PICK: Cincinnati

Houston @ Miami (-3). PICK: Miami

Carolina @ NY Giants (-7). PICK: Carolina

Tampa Bay @ New Orleans (-14). Yep, just like the Saints to lose the one game I want them to win. Hopefully God gives Jesus a big ol' Gulf of Mexico hurricane for his birthday. If it takes out the Bucs as well, it would be a true Christmas miracle. PICK: New Orleans

Jacksonville @ New England (-8). PICK: Jacksonville

Baltimore @ Pittsburgh (-2 1/2). PICK: Baltimore

Denver @ Philadelphia (-7). Tune back in over the next few days for Martians Attacking Indianapolis's 25 Best Movies of the Decade (here's a hint: the number one movie's initials are "TAOJJBTCRF"). Because nobody is doing "best of the decade" lists anywhere else. PICK: Denver

St. Louis @ Arizona (-14). PICK: St. Louis

Detroit @ San Francisco (-12 1/2). PICK: Detroit

NY Jets @ Indianapolis (-5). Weird line. That basically tells you Vegas has no idea what to expect - and that's obviously caused by Indy's unwillingness to say how long Peyton Manning will play. Of course, since I'm playing Manning in my fantasy football playoffs, I'm a'lovin' it. PICK: Indianapolis

Dallas (-6 1/2) @ Washington. PICK: Dallas

Minnesota (-7) @ Chicago. PICK: Chicago

Last week: 7-8-1
Overall: 116-106-2

Friday, December 18, 2009

Copycatastrophe

So I'm not saying Neal Boortz ripped me off or anything. Of course not. Would never make such an accusation. Especially since nobody from WSB ever reads this blog.

Martians Attacking Indianapolis, 12/04/09
So obviously, I have been following the lazily-named "Climategate" scandal with great interest. I'm one of those dastardly deniers, and am thrilled the rest of the world is beginning to wake up. And while the leaked e-mails' importance is arguable, they have proven one thing beyond a doubt: "global warming" is most definitely a political issue, not an environmental one. Because if you truly believe man is making the planet warmer and this will lead to catastrophe, wouldn't you treat these e-mails as good news? You know, like, maybe this awful stuff isn't happening after all? What I've heard from the warming faithful, though, is gnashing, disbelief and anger. It's like learning you don't actually have cancer, and getting angry about it. "But doctor, you told me I was dying, and I believed it! Dammit!"

Neal Boortz, 12/18/09
Look at it this way: If this was really about global warming you would think that the activists would be relieved, and even angry to find out that much of the information they've been fed about a warming world has been manufactured and faked. You would take comfort in the fact that the earth is actually cooling, not warming. It would be much like being told that you don't have cancer after all. You would be relieved.

(For the record, because I know somebody will take me seriously, I don't actually think I got ripped off. It's a fairly simple line of thought, probably written in 500 other places as well).

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Aiding and A'Betting: Week Fifteen



So you're telling me there's a chance!

Yes, your 6-7 Atlanta Falcons still have a shot at the 2009 postseason. There are just three small things that need to happen.

1) The Falcons win their last three games, @Jets, vs. Bills, @Bucs. Verdict: Do-able, especially if Matt Ryan can come back sooner than later. But the Jets seem intent on starting Matt Sanchez, so it might not matter - I'll actually take Chris Redman over Sanchez this weekend.

2) The Giants lose two of their remaining three games, @Redskins, vs. Panthers, @Vikings. Verdict: Wish we could reverse that. Minnesota will likely sit their starters in Week 17, but hell, Tarvaris Jackson could beat Eli Manning. This could easily happen.

3) The Cowboys lose their last three games, @Saints, @Redskins, vs. Eagles. Verdict: Are you kidding? Money in the bank. This is the least of the Falcons' worries.

The picks:

Indianapolis (-3) @ Jacksonville. The only reason I want the Jaguars to make the postseason isn't exactly a noble one. I'm just dying to see a playoff game that isn't sold out, and the NFL's resulting spin will be delicious. PICK: Indianapolis

Dallas @ New Orleans (-7 1/2). There isn't any strong belief 'round these parts that Atlanta gets to the playoffs, but I think hope remain alive after this weekend - meaning the Saints keep their undefeated season alive. And thus, let's lay the law now: ZERO Katrina jokes for the next four days. These are the miles I'm willing to travel for a playoff spot, and I doubt you realize the extent of the sacrifice. PICK: New Orleans

New England (-7) @ Buffalo. But it would be just like the Saints to lose the one game I want them to win. Those jagoffs deserved to get flooded. Oh, shit. Flooded with love! FLOODED WITH COMPASSION! PICK: New England

Arizona (-12) @ Detroit. PICK: Arizona

Miami @ Tennessee (-4).
"Mel Gibson will direct and Leonardo DiCaprio will star in an untitled period drama about Viking culture." I woke up Tuesday and assumed I had just dreamed such awesomeness. But nope, it's real, and written by the guy responsible for The Departed. Ultraviolent Viking mayhem, Gibson-style? SIGN ME UP. Expendables aside, will there be a better movie in the next 100 years? Doubtful. PICK: Miami

Cleveland @ Kansas City (-2). PICK: Cleveland

Houston (-13) @ St. Louis. PICK: Houston

Atlanta @ NY Jets (-6). In Sports Illustrated this week: "The Falcons aren't dead, but they need three wins and the continued collapse of the Cowboys and Giants. It's not implausible when you look at the schedule. The lynchpin for everything in Atlanta is finding a way to win at the Jets this week. If they Falcons get that one, the rest might just fall like dominoes." I DON'T NEED THE ENCOURAGEMENT. PICK: Atlanta

San Francisco @ Philadelphia (-9). Please, Atlanta has a great shot this weekend. Just look at the short list of players who either had limited participation in Wednesday's practice or didn't take the field at all: John Abraham, Jamaal Anderson, Jonathan Babineaux, Sam Baker, Harvey Dahl, Chris Houston, Todd McClure, Matt Ryan, Will Svitek, Michael Turner and Roddy White. No big names on there, nope. PICK: San Francisco

Chicago @ Baltimore (-11). Color me devastated. Movie Tavern, an alcohol-serving theater chain that gets 99% of my film-going business, introduced "Retro Cinema" last month. Each week, they play a different "classic," letting people see their old favorites on the big screen again. Well, this week, they're playing Die Hard - which I've never seen in a theater. And in the most predictable happening of 2009, they're not doing "Retro Cinema" at their Georgia locations. The closest showing is in Lexington, KY - and don't think for a second I haven't thought about a road trip. Anybody want to split the gas with me? PICK: Chicago

Oakland @ Denver (-14). And your starting quarterback for the Oakland Raiders, Charlie Frye! No, really - just two years after drafting JaMarcus Russell with the first overall pick, the Raiders are starting CHARLIE FRYE. And Russell is healthy! Ryan Leaf is cracking his first smile in 10 years today, knowing that he finally has a partner in the "biggest bust ever" conversation. PICK: Denver

Green Bay @ Pittsburgh (PICK). Oh wow, look at these numbers. Let's compare Russell's third year in the NFL (this year) to Leaf's third year (2000). Games started: Russell 9, Leaf 9. Completion percentage: Russell 48%, Leaf 50%. Yards: Russell 1,138, Leaf 1,883. Touchdowns: Russell 2, Leaf 11. Interceptions: Russell 10, Leaf 18 (Leaf had over 100 more attempts). Sacks: Russell 30, Leaf 31. QB rating: Russell 47.7, Leaf 56.2. Are we ready to put a new face on the Bust Hall of Fame? PICK: Pittsburgh

Cincinnati @ San Diego (-6 1/2). So I almost changed this pick to Cincinnati after Chris Henry died this morning. Could the Bengals show up with more to play for? Perhaps, but when Sean Taylor died in 2007, Washington's next game was a sloppy loss to the Bills (after that, they tore off a four-game winning streak). The stories aren't exactly parallel - Taylor was certainly a more productive player, more beloved by fans, and I assume players as well. All I know is I wouldn't touch this game as a gambler. There's no telling how a team reacts to something like that. PICK: San Diego

Tampa Bay @ Seattle (-6 1/2). PICK: Seattle

Minnesota (-9) @ Carolina. PICK: Carolina

NY Giants (-3) @ Washington. Yeah, if you didn't pick up on it, I'm a huge Redskins fan the rest of the way. Not only do I need them to take care of the Giants and Cowboys for us, I'm actually starting Jason Campbell in my fantasy league this week. So yes, it's gotten to that point. Matt Ryan is likely on the bench, Carson Palmer is facing the Chargers - I mean, it's my logical choice, right? At home against a porous Giants secondary? OH GOD, WHAT AM I DOING?PICK: Washington

Last week: 8-8-0
Overall: 109-98-1

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

"I Am wearing wildcats!"

The power of the internet is staggering. Re: "Wildcats" in the previous post.

In today's edition of "No Really, Josh Is Straight"

I work with my dad, and we might move to a new office soon - his first such location change since 1981. Over the past few days, he's begun the arduous task of cleaning out closets, drawers, cabinets, etc. Among other things, he's uncovered awards given in 1988 (still in their original wrapping), AJC sports pages from 1992, and certain mementos from my childhood.

Like this one. Presumably drawn in 1982 or '83, either kindergarten or first grade.


Note the hook about to pull me off. I was quite a funny, detail-oriented little fag.

And there's cute ol' prancey ol' Josh, dreamin' about bein' in a fashion show. Again.

In my defense, I remember Briarlake Elementary having a fashion show, and some local store outfitting a group of us in the latest Member's Only duds. So at least I can hope this drawing coincided with that. Sadly, though, I recall loving every minute of it. I strutted onto that stage, preening in my Wildcats, whatever the hell those were, and nodding my immaculately-sheared bowl cut for all to see. And that, paired with my then-concurrent love of theater and MY GOD THAT LISP.

Did you know I love boobs? Because I do. LOVE BOOBS. That's me, Boob Lover. Believe you me. BOOOOOOOBS.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Aiding and A'Betting: Week Fourteen


Nutshell, and all that.

Let's do it to it, shall we?

The picks:

Denver @ Indianapolis (-7). PICK: Denver

Cincinnati @ Minnesota (-6 1/2). The fantasy football season is drawing to a close, and I'm in the middle of a pack jostling for playoff position. If I win out, I'm in - and it's up to Carson Palmer to make that happen. I dropped Jay Cutler after weeks of him playing like hot ass, and my trade for Matt Ryan isn't exactly paying dividends. So it's Palmer, who despite his team's winning ways, has not lit up the stat board. So go Cincinnati, go Carson, and go Hachi Go. (I love that guy). PICK: Cincinnati

New Orleans (-10 1/2) @ Atlanta. Well, those season tickets were $1,000 well spent, huh? Not that I'm really complaining - I'll certainly do it again next year - but it's safe to say the season hasn't gone as swimmingly as I'd imagined. In fact, I decided I could use $170 more than a sure-to-be-long day at the Dome, so a nice North Carolinian will be occupying my seats on Sunday (thanks eBay!). I'll be back for the home finale against Buffalo, but probably only because that opponent won't command the same coin. PICK: New Orleans

NY Jets (-3) @ Tampa Bay. Typically, I'll wait for a TV show to hit its one-year birthday before I watch it. There's no point in starting from day one, because you can easily get burned by an early cancellation - I still feel the sting of 1989's "Nightingales," which was abruptly ended just after Samantha's daughter got kidnapped! No resolution! Three burning questions still haunt me: who nabbed little Megan, why was a 13-year-old me watching a nighttime soap about nurses, and how did I turn out heterosexual? Secondly, and almost as important, a year's worth of word-of-mouth can tell you if a show is worth jumping into. I mean, even if "According to Jim" is renewed, is it really something you want spend hours on? Anyway, this year I went against my moral code, and jumped in feet-first with two new shows: "Flashforward" and "V." And the scorching that soon followed wasn't because either faced cancellation (they don't), but because both sucked dick. Total godawful crap, the both of 'em. I made it through four torturous hours of the former, and only two of the latter. And thus, my former rule of "don't watch until after the first season" was reinforced ... PICK: NY Jets

Buffalo @ Kansas City (PICK).
... for about three weeks. Because we're not even at the midseason point, and I fell prey to the "Modern Family" hype. I've absorbed the first eight episodes over the past two nights, and am approaching addiction. So far, it's proving to have the highest laugh-out-loud-to-minutes ratio of any show since "Arrested Development" ("30 Rock" and "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" are close behind). The show is about 95% perfection - they do need to tone down the Phil character; one Michael Scott is already too many - and I hear the chances of a rug-being-pulled-out cancellation is next to nothing. I'm onboard. PICK: Buffalo

Green Bay (-3) @ Chicago. PICK: Green Bay

Detroit @ Baltimore (-13 1/2). PICK: Detroit

Miami @ Jacksonville (-2). So a few weeks ago, my face broke out in a teenager-style rash, which didn't seem to go away after using every over-the-counter medication I could get my hands on. I hadn't changed soaps, shaving cream, shampoos, hair stuff, anything - so an allergic reaction was ruled out. Finally, I went to a dermatologist for the first time since I was 17, and she was stumped as well. But the prescription cream I got did the trick overnight, and my face was actually better than it had been previous. A couple times since, I've woken up with the same problem, and again, one night of medicine clears everything up. Well finally, on Monday, I figured it out. And I'm trying to cope with this, because it's sad. Hold on, give me a minute. PICK: Miami

Carolina @ New England (-13 1/2). I think - um, no, not ready yet. PICK: Carolina

Seattle @ Houston (-6 1/2). Whew, ok. Here goes. I think, I really think, I really really think, I might be allergic to liquor. Since I started drinking, the quickest way to diagnose my inebriation has been my face. Once over the legal limit, I've been known to turn beet red - which, of course, is the blood rushing to my face or some such thing. Well, after I had a few drinks at last Sunday's Falcons game, I woke up on Monday with the breakout in full effect. So I'm thinking my body is having a sudden, never-before-seen reaction to the redface problem (so yeah, it might not be a liquor allergy, but a reaction to what the liquor does; whatever, still sucks). Needless to say, this requires experimentation. Much like I diagnosed my lactose intolerance with a series of cereal with milk/cereal without milk/chocolate milk/ice cream/cheese tests over the course of a couple weeks, I'm settling this issue starting tonight. I haven't had a drop of alcohol since last weekend (no breakouts), but once safely in the confines of my own house tonight, I'm getting tanked on Beam. When I wake up tomorrow, my face will tell the tale. And I'll be sure to report. PICK: Houston

St. Louis @ Tennessee (-13). What can I say? I'm a scientist. PICK: St. Louis

Washington (-1) @ Oakland. A quick diversion to Serioustown, sorry. Here's an interesting story from Canada's Financial Post, arguing the rest of the world should adopt China's "one child only" policy. Now I don't agree with that - I'd never give any government the power to make that edict - but it does address what I believe to be the biggest problem we're facing (and one that is woefully unaddressed). Our population numbers are spiraling out of control, particularly with people who can't afford to take care of their children. There are ever-expanding families out there, completely dependent on taxpayers - and we only encourage it with additional benefits. You can trace all of our recent financial problems back to that one issue, but we're more concerned with vilifying the evil rich and throwing tea parties. Like I said, "one child only" is not a viable alternative, but read those numbers and you'll realize we need to come up with something. PICK: Washington

San Diego @ Dallas (-3). Should the Falcons pull off a miracle on Sunday, this game becomes a must-see. PICK: San Diego

Philadelphia @ NY Giants (-1). Should the Falcons pull off a miracle on Sunday, this game - ah, fuck it. PICK: NY Giants

Arizona (-3) @ San Francisco. PICK: Arizona

Last week: 6-10-0
Overall:101-91-1 (including last night's game)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Aiding and A'Betting: Week Fourteen - Thursday Night Special



Attention, Martians Attacking Indianapolis fans - your cries have been heard, and we're going multimedia. For one night, at least. Around 6:40 tonight, I will be broadcasting my saucy pipes on Connecticut radio.

Yes, that's what I said. Connecticut radio. Assumed topics: life, love, Aztec architecture and its effects on today's orthodontists, and maybe movies. Mostly movies, probably.

So tune in and have your world sufficiently rocked. Or smooth-jazzed. I don't know the format.

The Thursday night pick:

Pittsburgh (-10) @ Cleveland. I had two chances of personally witnessing an NFL playoff game this year. One, the Falcons win the division and have a game at the Georgia Dome. Even I'm admitting that ain't happening. Two, Pittsburgh does what they usually do and gets a home playoff matchup. A buddy's girlfriend has season ticket connections up there, and apparently a plane ticket would be my only big expenditure. Well, thanks to last week's Steelers implosion against the Raiders, that ain't happenin' either. Double farts. PICK: Pittsburgh

Friday, December 04, 2009

Aiding and A'Betting: Week Thirteen



Matt Ryan out with turf toe. Michael Turner suffering a high ankle sprain. Jerious Norwood still favoring his hip. And the Eagles coming to town.

No, I'm cool. What, a cigarette? Never actually smoked one bef - fffft. Oh, wow, that is nice. Fffft. I see the draw. Fffft. Ok, where was I? Vick back in town. O-line banged up with Chris Redman starting. McNabb healthy. Playoffs on the line. Winning season on the line.

Ffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffft.

The picks:

Denver (-5) @ Kansas City. PICK: Denver

Houston @ Jacksonville (PICK). I was down in Jacksonville over Thanksgiving, and my uncle began talking about the Jags' playoff chances. Maybe the snicker was audible, but he suddenly got defensive. They can be great on certain days, a winnable schedule the rest of the way, three straight wins, etc. And then it hit me - he was serious. Sure enough, I soon realized the Jaguars actually have a winning record! Were you told about this? I follow the NFL pretty closely, but would have guessed they were 3-8 if asked a few days ago. Jacksonville would actually be in the playoffs if the season ended today! What the hell. PICK: Jacksonville (obviously)

Tennessee @ Indianapolis (-6 1/2). Game of the week, I guess, but we've entered the part of the season where I lose all interest in the AFC. It's all about Atlanta's playoff race now, and this game doesn't affect anything. PICK: Tennessee

Oakland @ Pittsburgh (-14 1/2). PICK: Pittsburgh

Philadelphia (-5 1/2) @ Atlanta. So Michael Vick returns to the Georgia Dome, in a game I began freaking about 15 seconds after the Eagles acquired him. Now that we're here, just two days away, that's an angle I couldn't care less about. Obviously Vick's invisibility thus far plays a major part, as there's little chance he affects the game's outcome. But I just don't see him adding any electricity to the atmosphere - some people will cheer, some people will boo, but I'm willing to bet 70%+ just sits on their hands with indifference. For most Falcons fans, the important issue is the actual game, rife with playoff implications. The team's two marquee players - Matt Ryan and Michael Turner - will be on the bench, but so will some of Philly's biggest names (Brian Westbrook and Desean Jackson). I've read some fans practically calling this a not-a-chance matchup, but that's foolish. McNabb does ok, Vick does a little more than usual, but Falcons win. PICK: Atlanta

Detroit @ Cincinnati (-13). So my question: When I get to my Falcons seats on Sunday afternoon, will I have to step over the strewn-about bodies of still-schnockered Tide and Gator fans? I certainly would not want the task of cleaning up the Georgia Dome between Saturday night and Sunday morning. As my dad used to say, "That's why you go to college. You dickhead." PICK: Detroit

New Orleans (-9 1/2) @ Washington. That whole "Falcons will win the NFC South" thing I said a few months ago? About that. PICK: New Orleans

Tampa Bay @ Carolina (-5 1/2). Well, thanks to Stanicek for sending me this link, and causing me to waste my entire morning compiling my "Best Movies of the Decade" list. I'm sure I will be slapping it up here at some point over the next month, but now comes the unenviable task of editing myself. My initial scribblings produced almost 100 titles, and I have neither the time nor the inclination to do that much work. So 50 best? Thirty best? And do I put Rambo as high as I think I want to (it's already my most rewatched movie of the decade)? THE DECISIONS. PICK: Tampa Bay

St. Louis @ Chicago (-9). So obviously, I have been following the lazily-named "Climategate" scandal with great interest. I'm one of those dastardly deniers, and am thrilled the rest of the world is beginning to wake up. And while the leaked e-mails' importance is arguable, they have proven one thing beyond a doubt: "global warming" is most definitely a political issue, not an environmental one. Because if you truly believe man is making the planet warmer and this will lead to catastrophe, wouldn't you treat these e-mails as good news? You know, like, maybe this awful stuff isn't happening after all? What I've heard from the warming faithful, though, is gnashing, disbelief and anger. It's like learning you don't actually have cancer, and getting angry about it. "But doctor, you told me I was dying, and I believed it! Dammit!" PICK: St. Louis

San Diego (-13 1/2) @ Cleveland. PICK: San Diego

San Francisco @ Seattle (PICK). Awesome. Oh, and completely frightening and gross. PICK: San Francisco

Dallas (-2 1/2) @ NY Giants. Whoever loses, Atlanta wins. PICK: NY Giants

New England (-4) @ Miami. PICK: Miami

Minnesota (-3) @ Arizona. NBC "flexed" Vikings-Cards into its Sunday night broadcast two weeks ago, meaning they punted their original game and brought in a more ratings-friendly one. And yeah, Favre - I know. But this game is between two mostly-cemented division winners, and holds next to no drama. At least not nearly as much - and you knew this was coming - as the Falcons-Eagles game! Real playoff implications, seasons on the line, Vick back in Atlanta, but we have to cowtow to #4 and all. I hate that guy. PICK: Minnesota

Baltimore @ Green Bay (-3). PICK: Baltimore

Last week: 6-10-0
Overall: 95-80-1

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Aiding and A'Betting: Week 13 (Thursday)



Oh man, I just haven't been able to focus on the rest of the NFL schedule. I mean, look at this matchup!

The picks:

NY Jets (-3) vs. Buffalo. The Jets! The Bills! Thursday night football! From Toronto! THIS IS AS CLOSE TO THE MEANING OF LIFE AS WE GET, FOLKS. PICK: Buffalo

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Quarter Back: November 1984

Quarter Back is a monthly feature looking back at the movies of 25 years ago. One movie will be watched for the first time, one will be revisited.

Wait, the calendar still says November, right?

As stated above, I choose two movies to feature every month - one I've seen, one I haven't. I enjoy the selection process, because certain titles always jump out; something I've always wanted to see, something I haven't thought about in years.

Most of the time.

Ladies and gentlemen, November 1984 was not a great month at the movies. Sure, a horror franchise for the ages was born (no, not Silent Night, Deadly Night), but as you'll see below, the selection was sparse. And so two Netflix DVDs sat on my TV for weeks, until I practically willed myself to watch them.

That's why the November entry is showing up on December 2nd. Because watching these two movies were blog homework, and I hate homework.

Featured Movies



No Small Affair
Seen it before?: No.
Release date: November 9, 1984
Actors: Jon Cryer, Demi Moore, Tim Robbins
Director: Jerry Schatzberg (The Panic In Needle Park, Street Smart)
Box office: $5.0 million (#111 in 1984)

No Small Affair was a teen film trying to be all things to all people, wedging itself between two early '80s genre types: "profane titty comedy" (Porky's, Private School) and "thoughtful mediation on being a teenager, but also with titties" (Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Risky Business). And as usual, when you try to do two things with equal grace, you end up failing at both.

Jon Cryer plays a thoroughly unlikable kid who takes pictures of boats, trash cans, sidewalks, or whatever dumbass thing to express his inner angst. Think Wes Bentley's American Beauty character, but uglier and thus more prone to ridicule. On one of his photo-taking excursions, he accidentally snaps a picture of wayward musician Demi Moore and falls in lust. Then it's a wacky stalkerish adventure to find the mystery girl and, I don't know, act awkward around her or something.

Spoiler alert: They end up having sex in the single most unconvincing "these two people would have sex" scene in movie history. And all we get is Demi's side boob. Mid-eighties, and just side boob. This movie sucked. Grade: D



Missing in Action
Seen it before?: At some point, but it's blending together with the sequels.
Release date: November 16, 1984
Actors: Chuck Norris, M. Emmet Walsh
Director: Joseph Zito (Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, Invasion U.S.A.)
Box office: $22.8 million (#46 in 1984)

This column has finally taught me something.

In the back of my mind, I'd always assumed Missing In Action was a ripoff of Rambo: First Blood Part II. Muscle-bound vets go back to 'Nam and free their brothers-in-arms. However, this Chuck Norris film showed up in November '84, while Stallone's wasn't released until May '85. Well, how about that. (However, this doesn't change that Missing In Action's poster clearly apes First Blood's - I mean, they're holding THE EXACT SAME GUN).

Anyway, yeah, so that's the story. Norris is Colonel James Braddock, home after a 10-year stint as a Vietnam prisoner of war. After an hour of talky, boring scenes, he heads back into the jungle to bring his boys home. Or something. I don't know, I already forgot - but don't blame me, I watched the movie last night.

Looking over Norris's iMDB profile, I'm surprised I've never seen one of his movies, other than this, or maybe its first sequel. Even as a kid, I wasn't a fan of cheap-o action flicks where a guy would take on 100 armed dudes and never get shot (Commando is an exception to this rule). It rang stupid then, it rings stupid now - and Missing in Action is very, very stupid.

A weird bit of trivia: this was actually filmed AFTER 1985's Missing in Action 2: The Beginning. However, the producers realized Missing in Action was the superior film, so they released it first and made the other one a prequel. So yes, knowing this is the "better" film means I won't be revisiting this series again any time soon. Grade: D

Other films 25 years old this month:

Falling in Love - When I was a kid, I remember looking at certain movies and thinking, "What kind of person would want to see that?" Agnes of God. A Passage to India. Two of a Kind. This Robert De Niro/Meryl Streep romance was on that short list, and I swear, 25 years later I still can't see the draw. And as it's probably the least remembered film of their respective careers, I can't imagine it being any good.

Just the Way You Are - Kristy McNichol, in what would be her last lead role, plays a handicapped girl who finds love on the ski slopes. So yeah, add this to the "what kind of person would want to see that" list.

The Killing Fields - This true story about a New York Times journalist in Cambodia was almost my "never seen it" selection for the month, but I wasn't crazy about watching a heavy 2.5-hour drama. Turns out it would have been less depressing than No Small Affair.

A Nightmare on Elm Street - It's truly bizarre that movies from my childhood are already being remade. A brand new Nightmare - not a sequel, but a redo of the original - hits theaters on 4/10/10. At least they're not remaking Falling in Love with Dane Cook and Drew Barrymore.

Night of the Comet - Saw this a number of times back in the day, and remember liking it - two high school girls survive when 99.999% of the human race is wiped out by Halley's Comet (seriously). They have to battle cannibal zombies and evil scientists, in-between trips to the now-barren mall. I'm afraid to revisit this one, in case it's not as 100% awesome as I remember.

Oh God, You Devil! - George Burns stars in this third and final Oh God! film (until next year's Wilford Brimley-starring remake, which would rule if I hadn't made it up). In this one, Burns plays - get this - God and the Devil. What will those crazy Hollywood folk come up with next?

Razorback - Never heard of this one. According to imdb: "A wild, vicious pig terrorizes the Australian outback." Notable, I guess, as the feature debut of director Russell Mulcahy, who would go on to helm such classics as Highlander, Highlander II: The Quickening and The Shadow.

Silent Night, Deadly Night - A department store Santa goes on an axe-wielding murder spree. You know, maybe I was too hard on November '84. And would the original title - Slay Ride - have been even better?

Supergirl - Ah, the curse of heightened expectations. The poster (which inexplicably reverses the Statue of Liberty) promises this to be her "first" adventure - which, I guess, is technically true but not what they were intending. In fact, Helen Slater's turn in the red cape would be her one-and-only outing, and helped kill the already decaying '80s Superman franchise. This, however, was not as bad as the worst movie ever made.

Quarter Back: October 1984
Quarter Back: September 1984
Quarter Back: August 1984
Quarter Back: July 1984
Quarter Back: June 1984
Quarter Back: May 1984
Quarter Back: April 1984

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Aiding and A'Betting: Week Twelve


I'm putting a picture of the new A-Team here for no reason, other than it's awesome. Yes, that's Liam Neeson as Hannibal (along with Bradley Cooper, some MMA fighter who looks the part, and the guy from District 9 as Murdock). In theaters 06/11/2010. Click to embiggenfy.

Oh Thanksgiving, you pesky bastard.

As I have for the past 33 late November holidays, I'll be driving south. Florida is always the destination, though the particular city revolves between my mom and her two sisters. One year: Jacksonville. The next year: Melrose (think Gainesville). The next year: Palatka (think Mayberry on meth). And Jax is where I'm headed as you quickly skim this. It's not quite the same as Georgia-Florida football weekend, when the city's average age is roughly 19. I'd guess it will be around 68 over the next few days, so no trips to The Landing for me. Bingo, maybe.

The picks:

Green Bay (-11) @ Detroit. It's my annual Thanksgiving ritual: go to Florida, eat some ham and mashed potatoes with mustard (turkey is too dry), drink some beer, curse the NFL for not ending Detroit's stranglehold on Thanksgiving, watch a boring Lions game. For some godawful reason, the Lions always take the field on Turkey Day, and they haven't given us a compelling game in quite awhile. And, of course, a few days after I become interested in the Lions for the first time EVER, the reason I'm interested will be standing on the sideline. Happy Thanksgiving. PICK: Detroit

Oakland @ Dallas (-13 1/2). Hell, the Cowboys - the other regular Thanksgiving team - haven't been much better in recent years. And what was the NFL thinking pairing them with Oakland on the national stage? Great, so we're stuck with two day games with double-digit spreads, bound to only raise the pulse of douchenuts (namely, Cowboys and Raiders fans) nationwide. PICK: Oakland

NY Giants (-7) @ Denver. Thanksgiving night does give us a halfway interesting matchup, but only for the purpose of rooting against New York. Hell, Falcons fans have a legitimate interest in all three games (boo Packers, boo Cowboys, boo Giants), but this seems to be the only realistic shot at gaining playoff ground. But a realistic weak shot. PICK: New York

Indianapolis (-3) @ Houston. PICK: Indianapolis

Cleveland @ Cincinnati (-14). Not that anybody really reads this blog anymore - month-long dry spells will do that to a nice guy - but the world has missed two of The Great Headlines Of All Time this week. Seriously, "Staff infectious" and "Ginger ailing" would have easily gotten me a Society of Professional Journalists award, or whatever the hell that thing I won in college was. (Wait, did I win? Or get honorable mention or second place or something? I don't remember.) Anyway, my hilarity knows no bounds. Or so I keep telling myself in this grand echo chamber. PICK: Cleveland

Chicago @ Minnesota (-10 1/2). PICK: Chicago

Washington @ Philadelphia (-9). Oh, I got so close that Redskins-over-Cowboys upset prediction last week. So close. If only Washington didn't, you know, suck. PICK: Washington

Miami (-3) @ Buffalo. PICK: Miami

Seattle (-3) @ St. Louis. Man, I almost had a great storyline here. Last week, I whined about all three aspects of my NFL season going down the drain: real team (Falcons), fantasy team (Berman Stroke Hopers), picks record (11-18 over the previous two weeks). Well, the BSHs rallied under pressure, winning by 53 points. And as you can see below, I had my best 2009 week against the spread. Only, if only, Jason Elam could kick a field goal or Michael Jenkins could catch a ball, I'd be completely rejuvenated. PICK: St. Louis

Tampa Bay @ Atlanta (-12). Alright, here we are folks - I'm picking against Atlanta. Now don't mistake this for me being down on the team. Actually, I'm probably one of the more positive Falcons fans out there, as I put the chances of playoffs at a bit over 50%. But Atlanta is banged up, coming off a long road trip, and has a suddenly unreliable kicker. I don't see a problem winning, but the spread is too high. PICK: Tampa Bay

Carolina @ NY Jets (-3). This one might break interception records. PICK: Carolina

Jacksonville @ San Francisco (-3). PICK: Jacksonville

Arizona @ Tennessee (PICK). PICK: Tennessee

Kansas City @ San Diego (-13 1/2). PICK: Kansas City

Pittsburgh @ Baltimore (PICK). PICK: Baltimore

New England @ New Orleans (-3). As much as it pains me to say, this is the regular season game of the year. But really, that doesn't hurt nearly as much as this will: "G-g-g-go. Go P-P-Patr-Pat-Patrio-Patriots." Ugh, I need to take a bath. Somebody get me lye and hydrochloric acid. PICK: New England

Last week: 11-4-0
Overall: 89-70-1

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Staff infectious



I was fairly non-plussed about Matthew Stafford during his UGA days. A search of this blog reveals very few pre-draft mentions, which basically means I didn't have anything negative to say, but wasn't overflowing with reverence either (and also that I'm not about to write significantly about college football, considering the plethora of more-informed voices). I just felt he saw Georgia as an annoying bump on his path to the NFL, and probably docked him a few points for it.

Of course, if that was the way he felt, it's hard to argue with now. Especially as of November 22nd around 4 p.m., when I officially became a Matthew Stafford fan. He really performed a miracle, and I'm not even talking about the literal last-second heroics. He actually made me care about another football game, just minutes after having my psyche destroyed by a Falcons overtime loss. There I was, pitcher almost empty, wallowing, wallowing, wallowing - and suddenly caring about two 1-8 teams crossing the finish line.

If you haven't seen the highlights, check them out here.

And let Peter King tell it:

An injured player who leaves the field has to sit for at least one play -- unless there is a charged timeout by either team. Stafford knew. And he immediately began trying to get up, but the doctors kept telling him, basically, to hold on, hoss -- he wasn't authorized to go back in. But Stafford got up and weaved his way onto the field, telling offensive coordinator Scott Linehan to call a pass play if he wanted, because he had one play left in him.

"Only one,'' Stafford said. "But I knew I had one. I had the adrenalin going.'' He jogged onto the field and Culpepper jogged back off.

Meanwhile, Schwartz hollered at his medical staff: "Is he good to go?'' And one of the doctors said no, and Schwartz asked what was wrong, and the doc said he didn't know because they hadn't had time to examine him yet.

"The kid put himself back in the game,'' Schwartz said.

Lord knows what the Browns thought the wounded Stafford would call, but tight end Brandon Pettigrew, a fellow first-round pick in 2009, ran a short square-in at the back of the end zone, and Stafford flicked it to him. Ballgame.

"His best play wasn't the last play, or the second-to-last,'' Schwartz told me. "His best play was eluding four of our medical guys to get back onto the field.''


Now reports show Stafford was suffering a separated shoulder during that last play, which puts him squarely in crazy-as-Mel-Gibson-in-Lethal-Weapon-2 territory. Not a bad place to be.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Ginger ailing



I'm really struggling with this one.

Laugh, don't laugh. To laugh, not to laugh. It's awful, but dammit, it's funny.

Any direction would be greatly appreciated.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Aiding and A'Betting: Week Eleven - Episode II

The wheels are coming off. And sadly, I'm not sure which part of my NFL season that refers to.

There's my actual team, the Atlanta Falcons. Even though I predicted them to be 5-4 at this point, I'm still disturbed they're actually 5-4. While 2008 was light on injuries, the team has been smashed this year. First and second round picks Peria Jerry and William Moore: out for the season. Scorching receiver Harry Douglas: out for the season. RB Michael Turner is, of course, out anywhere from a game to the rest of the year, while position mate Jerious Norwood has already missed a month. And this week's injury report reads like a Who's Who of the Falcons: Turner, Norwood, Brian Finneran, Erik Coleman, Roddy White.

Unfortunately, another team has been battling similar injury issues: The Berman Stroke Hopers, my fantasy squad. Leading tackler D'Qwell Jackson and running back Ronnie Brown, done for the year (Brown hurts especially bad, as I just traded for him just two weeks ago). RB Brian Westbrook and DE Terrell Suggs are likely on the shelf, as well. Jay Cutler isn't technically hurt, but he's playing like a paraplegic. Now I'm still in second place, because I kick ass, but I simply pine for what might have been. But I did just trade for Matt Ryan, which couldn't possibly be heart over head.

And finally, my dream season of picking games is crumbling around me. Just two weeks ago, I was batting .582 - enough to scare any casino. Alas, with an 11-18 record over the past 14 days, I'm on a downward spiral. I mean, .541 ain't the direction I want to be going in. This might be my last chance to plug holes before going under.

The picks:

Buffalo @ Jacksonville (-8 1/2). The football equivalent of Tylenol PM. PICK: Jacksonville

Cleveland @ Detroit (-3 1/2). Mohamed Massaquoi vs. Matthew Stafford. So at least UGA fans have something to pay attention to, even if nobody else does. PICK: Detroit

Indianapolis (-1) @ Baltimore. Captain Obvious alert: Peyton Manning is nasty good. I mean, he should win two MVPs this year - the Colts are 9-0, but very honestly could be 1-8 without him. I can't think of another player - ever - who has been more singularly valuable to a team. Of course, Falcons/Giants is my game of the week, but I'm really, really looking forward to this one as well. PICK: Indianapolis

Pittsburgh (-10) @ Kansas City. PICK: Kansas City

San Francisco @ Green Bay (-6 1/2). So I did get a good 10 seconds of face time with Stephen King last week, exchanging partial sentences and a handshake. He was in town for a book signing, and I only had to wait four short hours for him to scribble his name on the title page. WORTH IT. And hey, we even took a picture together!



Sort of. (I would have smiled, but didn't think my handheld-while-walking iPhone picture would even work that well). PICK: Green Bay

Seattle @ Minnesota (-10 1/2). PICK: Minnesota

Atlanta @ NY Giants (-7). When I was a college freshman, and far more interested in being respectable than I am now, I spent Sunday nights in Christian surroundings - at church, at fellowship, at Bible study, etc. A number of years later, a friend recalled she would avoid me if the Falcons had lost that day (and in 1994, that was quite a lot). Apparently I couldn't just shrug off the disappointment, and tended to carry it around for a few hours afterward, extending the misery to those around me. Well, I hadn't thought of that in a long time, until last Sunday. When the game was obviously lost for the Falcons, Maya announced her Sunday night plans - or at least, what she wasn't doing that night. "I'm not hanging out with Josh. He'll be in a bad mood the rest of the night." It's nice to know I've matured over the years. PICK: Atlanta

Washington @ Dallas (-11). Perhaps it's the liquor talking (it is after 12!), but a distinctive "upset" odor emanates from this one. No, it's probably the liquor. PICK: Washington

New Orleans (-11) @ Tampa Bay. One of my co-workers is a very sweet older woman, a regular churchgoer, and about one of the nicest people you'll ever meet. She always makes sure to ask me about my weekend football plans, even though I'm certain she couldn't care less. But today she surprised me a bit when, in her sweet southern lilt, she says, "Lord, I hope somebody just beats the shit out of the Saints." She's awesome. PICK: New Orleans

Arizona (-9) @ St. Louis. PICK: St. Louis

NY Jets @ New England (-10). Know how I know you're hardcore? You steal an idea from Fight Club, and make Tyler Durden look like a pussy in the process. Seriously: "Mejia said Castillejos recounted how the gang cut off its victims' heads, arms and legs, removed the organs, then suspended the torsos from hooks above candles that warmed the flesh as fat dripped into tubs below." I want to see a list of that club's rules. PICK: New England

San Diego (-3) @ Denver. At what point does a still-alive Andy Kaufman pop out from behind a curtain and go, "No, really you guys - we're just fucking with you." PICK: San Diego

Cincinnati (-9) @ Oakland. So as mentioned above, I traded for Matt Ryan this week - leaving me with Ryan, Carson Palmer and Jay Cutler on my roster. Obviously, Cutler is dead to me. And I know I should be starting Palmer this week against the Raiders - but I really want to start Ryan. Head or heart. Head or heart. Head or heart. PICK: Cincinnati

Philadelphia (-3) @ Chicago. We all know the answer to that one. Because I'm an idiot. PICK: Philadelphia

Tennessee @ Houston (-4 1/2). For the second week in a row, ESPN has gotten cutesy with their Monday Night Football selection, and come up with a less-than-stellar game. It was Browns @ Ravens last week. Browns vs. old Browns - get it!? Now we get Old Oilers vs. Team That Plays in the Oilers' Old City! Well, the MNF ship will certainly be righted next week with New England in New Orleans (oh, that sounds a little cutesy in itself). PICK: Tennessee

Last week: 6-10-0 (including last night's game)
Overall: 78-66-1

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Aiding and A'Betting: Week Eleven - Episode I



Thursday night football means the pick column needs to be done early - and I just plum forgot. Here's tonight's game, though, because I know you'd go into the shakes without it.

The pick:

Miami @ Carolina (-3). Hate it. No Ronnie Brown, so no fantasy interest. And I'm not betting on it, because if I were I'd bet on Carolina, and I don't want to root for Carolina. So dammit - I'm actually going to watch this for the love of the game? BORING. (Go Miami.) PICK: Carolina

Lunch at McDonalds



INT. MCDONALDS - EARLY AFTERNOON
The lunch rush is just beginning, and a lone CASHIER stands behind the counter. As another customer steps away, JOSH approaches the counter.

CASHIER
Welcome to McDonald's. How can I help you?

Josh produces a one dollar bill from his pocket, and holds it up.

JOSH
What can I get with this?

The cashier smiles.

CASHIER
How about a crispy, juicy chicken with all the
amenities, in an irresistible classic known
fondly as the McChicken?


Josh looks interested.

CASHIER
Or how about two sizzling, 100% pure all beef
patties, in an irresistible classic known fondly
as the double cheeseburger? Huhhhh?

JOSH
Wow, those both sound good. I'll take
the double cheeseburger.

CASHIER
Excellent choice. That'll be $1.07.

Josh pauses.

JOSH
Wait. What?

CASHIER
$1.07.

JOSH
What about the dollar, though?

CASHIER
Yes sir, $1.07.

JOSH
No, all I have is a dollar. What I just showed you.

CASHIER
Right.

JOSH
I don't have any change. Just the dollar.

CASHIER
You're in luck, because the double cheeseburger
is on our dollar menu! With all the amenities!

JOSH
So the dollar is good?

CASHIER
You're good to go!

JOSH
Oh, ok. Whatever. Here.

Josh hands the cashier the dollar.

CASHIER
$1.07.

JOSH
What? I just held up this dollar, asked you
what I could get for it, and you said the
double cheeseburger.

CASHIER
With all the amenities.

JOSH
But then you told me $1.07.

CASHIER
Right. Well, you know, tax.

JOSH
But no, back up. I said "What can I get for this,"
held up my single dollar bill, and you said I could
get the double cheeseburger.

CASHIER
Right.

JOSH
But now you're telling me that won't be enough.

CASHIER
It's on our dollar menu.

JOSH
I don't care what goddamn menu it's on. I
asked you a simple question.

CASHIER
Yes, you said you wanted two sizzling, 100% pure
all beef patties, in an irresistible classic known
fondly as the double cheeseburger.

JOSH
No, you said all that faggy shit. I
just said I want a double cheeseburger.
How much do I owe you for it?

CASHIER
$1.07.

JOSH
Let me ask you this. Is $1.07 more or less than
the dollar that's in my fucking hand?

CASHIER
More.

JOSH
So, I repeat - can I get the double cheeseburger
for the dollar that is in my hand?

CASHIER
With all the amenities!

JOSH
Ok, I'm done. Here's my dollar. Now give me that
double cheeseburger, or I will punch through
your chest, rip out your esophagus, and use it as
a goddamn straw.

CASHIER
If you want a drink, it will only cost you 99 cents!

INT. JAIL CELL - EVENING

Monday, November 16, 2009

Taco hell



Well, Rambo has a hankerin' for burritos again.

To recap:

On August 30th, Variety announced Rambo V was on the way. The storyline, they reported, involved "Rambo fighting his way through human traffickers and drug lords to rescue a young girl abducted near the U.S.-Mexico border." My obligatory post about the development is here.

Just a week later, multiple reports also had Rambo V on the way, but with a completely different premise: Rambo hunting a perhaps-superhuman beast through the wilds of Alaska. My obligatory post about the development is here.

Well, Craig from StalloneZone (the only website with a name better than this one) received this e-mail a few days ago, from none other than Mr. Stallone himself:
Hi Craig,

This is from Sly to your followers:

To all the loyal SZoners out there,

I’m letting you know that Rambo has changed course and the story about
hunting the man/beast will be done using another character in the lead. RAMBO himself will be heading over the border to a violent city where many young women have vanished.

There will be blood.

Best, Sly Stallone
Translation: we're back to the premise Variety described, with Rambo crossing the border and kickin' some Mexican trafficker ass.

LOVE IT. The super-soldier, or whatever that sci-fi sounding premise was, just struck me a little wrong. I mean, of course it would have kicked ass, but taking an established series into a new genre was a bit hinky.

This plot allows a natural transition from the last film (when Rambo returned to Arizona), and continues the series' focus on real world issues. (Think about it. The first film dealt with Vietnam vets back home, the second with prisoners of war left behind, the third with Afghanistan, the last one Burma).

And, my God, "there will be blood." You realized what that one sentence did to me, right? Suffice to say, the washing machine is running.


I want this.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Go Gata

I never realized how much subtitles can make a great speech even greater.



By the way, yes, these are the people in charge of our country. Just reminding you.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Aiding and A'Betting: Week Ten



Well, this is shaping up to be an interesting week.

As previously mentioned, I'm attending Stephen King's Atlanta book signing tomorrow night - meaning I'll meet a guy who's been on my "name three people you could have dinner with" list for over 20 years. Well, it's not dinner, but it is a solid 15 seconds or so of interaction - which is enough to already make me nauseous.

Now I find out I've finagled my way into some face time with Matt Ryan tonight, at a taping of a local interview show.

Oh, and did I mention NFL Thursday night football is back, I go out in Buckhead on Friday for Maya's birthday, tailgate in Athens all day Saturday, and sweat through Falcons @ Panthers on Sunday?

If I'm alive on Monday, and somehow haven't completely humiliated myself in at least one instance, I might give old-time religion another try. Hallelujah.

The picks:

Chicago @ San Francisco (-3). NFL Thursday night football returns! Oh, thank the heavens - no more East Carolina vs. Tulsa vs. Rutgers vs. South Florida vs. Utah State vs. North Carolina vs. OH MY GOD I'M SCRAPING OFF MY RETINAS AT THE BOREDOM. No, real football - football you feel decent betting on, football that relates to your fantasy league, football that has real, actual postseason implications - returns to fill the almost-end-of-the-week void. And ok, this game might suck a bit, but next week we have Miami @ Carolina (compelling, probably fun), and then Giants @ Broncos (big NFC and AFC ramifications). And no dreadful ACC matchup in sight. PICK: Chicago

Atlanta (-1 1/2) @ Carolina. Believe me, I'm more nervous about this one than I was a few weeks ago. The Falcons have played up-and-down ball recently, but the Panthers have been pretty darn up. They thoroughly pasted the Cardinals in Phoenix, and held on to the end against the Saints in New Orleans. Then again, silver lining - they only squeaked past the Redskins by a field goal, and lost to the Bills a few days before Halloween (both at home). Color me cautiously optimistic. PICK: Atlanta

Jacksonville @ NY Jets (-7). Last night, I had an incredibly detailed, vivid dream about Eli Manning's contract and its long-term effect on the New York Giants. Seriously. As I said on Twitter, even my subconscious is a nerd. But also, my subconscious is a lot smarter than me - because when I say vivid, I mean vivid. There were discussions of contract language intricacies, NFL by-laws, union stipulations - and maybe it was all bullshit, but it was really intelligent-sounding bullshit. Of course, all detail flushed out 30 seconds after my eyes opened, but at least I can puff my chest today and know that somewhere, deep in the recesses, I might be sort of smart. PICK: Jacksonville

Buffalo @ Tennessee (-6 1/2). Sports Illustrated's Peter King adjusted his Favre fanboy cap this week and picked the Minnesota quarterback as his Midseason Comeback Player of the season. In the year of Cedric Benson, Tom Brady and now Vince Young - really, Pete? PICK: Tennessee

Denver (-3 1/2) @ Washington. So I'm watching "V" last night (boring so far), and it hits me - Elizabeth Mitchell is starring opposite Scott Wolf, who was on "Party of Five." And she is also on "Lost" with Matthew Fox, who was on "Party of Five." And while I'm not necessarily proud of how much I cared about this, I looked up Mitchell on IMDB and - not making this up - she co-starred on "Time of Your Life," the 1999 "Party of Five" spinoff starring Jennifer Love Hewitt. MIND SUFFICIENTLY BLOWN. (And yes, only I could care about this. I know.) PICK: Denver

Detroit @ Minnesota (-16 1/2). Really, though, why is this woman stalking the cast of "Party of Five?" Should Lacey Chabert get a restraining order? What about the 25 actors who played Owen? WHY DO I REMEMBER THE BABY'S NAME FROM "PARTY OF FIVE?" I SAW LIKE FIVE EPISODES. PICK: Detroit

Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh (-7). PICK: Cincinnati

New Orleans (-13 1/2) @ St. Louis. This smells like a trap. Vegas is certainly baiting it like one. "Come on, you know the Saints win by two touchdowns. At least! Come on, buddy. Do it. Doooooooo it." So I'm going to act brave here, but only because I ain't puttin' real money on it in a millennia. PICK: St. Louis

Tampa Bay @ Miami (-10). PICK: Miami

Kansas City @ Oakland (-1 1/2). PICK: Kansas City

Seattle @ Arizona (-8 1/2). Well, I rectified a life of wrong on Tuesday night - after 33 years on the planet, I finally watched Alfred Hitchcock's North By Northwest. And may I say, it's refreshing when a purported classic actually exceeds its reputation. Nobody will agree with this, but I saw it as a companion piece to Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut - not in plot, necessarily, but in the way it seemed to stack weights on my chest. That's what the suspense was like to me, a constant pressure that didn't let up until the credits rolled - and I haven't really felt that since Kubrick's film. (I'm also sure a closer examination could reveal thematic similarities, particularly between the characters Cary Grant and Tom Cruise play). Easily my second-favorite Hitchcock after Psycho. PICK: Seattle

Dallas (-3) @ Green Bay. Preceding the Hitchcock classic, I actually watched another, not-so-esteemed film. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. My original Transformers review ended up being one of this blog's most read posts, and to be certain, I was not kind. Well, you know what? I actually liked the second one. I understand - I'm opposite everybody here, as the original was universally preferred. Maybe it's the product of hearing "oh my God, that's the worst movie ever!" for months, or just enjoying the film's look on my Blu-Ray player, but it didn't offend me as much as I thought it would. Sure it was dumb, didn't make sense, had a horrible sense of humor - but I expected that. For whatever reason, I forgave it the excesses I hated in the original, and just sat back and enjoyed the sights. Can't explain it. PICK: Dallas

Philadelphia @ San Diego (-2). PICK: Philadelphia

New England @ Indianapolis (-3). I smell a Patriots rout. It's not a nice smell; it's actually a pungent aroma of peas, hubris and dog vomit. But it's there all the same. PICK: New England

Baltimore (-10 1/2) @ Cleveland. I'm guessing the ESPN's schedulers wish they could rethink this Monday Night Football matchup. But really, what did they think they'd be getting in the first place? (Yeah, I get it, Browns vs. old Browns, but will that storyline get you past kickoff?) PICK: Baltimore

Last week: 5-8-0 (ouch, my first sub-.500 week)
Overall: 72-56-1

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Aiding and A'Betting: Week Nine

So after Monday night, the Falcons are 4-3 - which might make you think I'm chewing at my wrists. But remember, this is where I thought they'd be (Ok, I reversed the Dallas and Chicago results, but 4-3 was the target). There just hasn't been a single defeat that made me slap my forehead - @New England, @Dallas, @New Orleans. And starting Sunday, the schedule gets a whooooole lot easier.

Washington on deck. Winless Tampa Bay twice. The New York teams, both looking more beatable than they did a month ago. Carolina and Buffalo, 6-9 between them.

Now, of course, I no longer believe "ten wins should get the NFC South for Atlanta." That ship has probably sailed. But if we beat Philadelphia, all Atlanta's wild card hopes rely on is Tony Romo's down-the-stretch collapse and Eli Manning continuing to suck. So obviously, PLAYOFFS HERE WE COME.

The picks:

Kansas City @ Jacksonville (-6 1/2). Famed UGA tailgate Tent City has a busy weekend ahead of itself. There's, of course, the historic matchup between Georgia and Tennessee Tech on Saturday. On Sunday, though, the action shifts to a site of actual football competence - the Georgia Dome. A couple of Tent Citizens - bloggers both prolific and not so much - are huge Washington Redskins fans, and the crowd is a'followin'. I'm just excited to revel in the huge starpower Washington brings. Jason Campbell! Colt Brennan! DeAngelo Hall! Brian Byron Westbrook! I'm practically vibrating. PICK: Jacksonville

Baltimore (-3) @ Cincinnati. Actually, I am vibrating. Just found out I have a reserved spot in line for next week's Stephen King book signing in Atlanta. Now I have seven torturous days ahead of me, trying to decide exactly what question to ask, and obsessing about all the ways I could screw it up. (I'm a fan.) PICK: Baltimore

Houston @ Indianapolis (-9). Netflix recommendation: "Monty Python: Almost the Truth." It's a brand new, six-part documentary about the British comedy troupe - and though I'm just two hours in, it's one of the best things I've seen this year. PICK: Houston

Green Bay (-9 1/2) @ Tampa Bay. PICK: Green Bay

Arizona @ Chicago (-3). Jay Cutler, your time is up. Perhaps you missed it, but my fantasy team's publicity office announced on Monday that Carson Palmer will get the start at QB for the foreseeable future. The Berman Stroke Hopers just need new leadership, not a simpering fat-face who apparently gets his jollies from throwing interceptions. So Mr. Palmer, don't let us down. We would also like to welcome Ronnie Brown and Chad Ochocinqo, acquired in a Wednesday trade for RB Steven Jackson. Truthfully, I'm still trying to find out why that was offered to me - I feel like I stole something. What am I missing? PICK: Arizona

Washington @ Atlanta (-10). I don't know, I'm a little nervous about this one. Ten points is a lot for a team coming off a short week, against one just coming off its bye. Maybe a 13-10 Falcons victory, but probably nothing more than that. Jason Campbell is back in SEC country, and who knows, that might provide a spark. The Redskins are actually a talented bunch, after all. PICK: Washington

Washington@ Atlanta (-10). Just fucking with you. The Redskins suck. Falcons by 30. Duh. PICK: Atlanta

Miami @ New England (-10 1/2). PICK: Miami

Carolina @ New Orleans (-13). PICK: New Orleans

Detroit @ Seattle (-10). The moment Crash won Best Picture, I officially gave up on the Oscars. I had come close a few times - Roberto Benigni beating Edward Norton, Million Dollar Baby over The Aviator, and A Beautiful Mind winning in the year of Memento, Mulholland Dr. and The Royal Tenenbaums (none of which were even nominated). But Paul Haggis' thuddingly obvious racial parable taking the top prize? DONE, GOOD SIRS. So I didn't really stress out over the recent decision to have 10 Best Picture nominees instead of the usual five. Retarded, right? I mean, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was nominated last year - that should be a signal you have trouble filling just five slots. So this week, it was announced Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin will co-host the show. Is that enough to save it? I'd be inclined to say yes, but I know they'll end up naming a dud like Star Trek as one of the 10 best, and I'll throw up. PICK: Detroit

Tennessee @ San Francisco (-4). "South Park" turned in a top 10 episode this week, and it really hit close to home. See, though I may be fiscally conservative, I'm pretty liberal socially - especially when it comes to gay rights. I'm for gay marriage, gay adoption, gays in the military, gays wherever the hell they want to be. Ain't hurting me, so I don't care. THAT SAID. Sorry, but I love the word "fag." It's hilarious. It's easy, abrupt, cutting - and just so, so funny. Sue me. Anyway, I've talked about this with a super-liberal friend, and he has the same condundrum. We know we shouldn't like the word, but my God, we just do. And after watching the latest "South Park," it's clear Matt Stone and Trey Parker have had a similar conversation. I won't spoil anything, just watch it. Fag. PICK: Tennessee

San Diego @ NY Giants (-5). PICK: NY Giants

Dallas @ Philadelphia (-3). PICK: Philadelphia

Pittsburgh (-3) @ Denver. PICK: Denver

Last week: 8-5-0
Overall: 67-48-1

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

You're the inspiration

Ok, another Onion video - which is easier than coming up with content myself. But I'm amazed how well-written, and especially well-cast, these things are. Lorne Michaels should clean house and turn "Saturday Night Live" over to these guys.




That shot of Matt Stafford just kills me.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Friday, October 30, 2009

Aiding and A'Betting: Week Eight


I hope to see this kind of thing many times on Monday night. I HOPE to.

The nightmare scenario could be upon us.

Each football weekend, I root for three things:
  1. The Atlanta Falcons to win.
  2. The Georgia Bulldogs to win.
  3. The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets to lose.
If Las Vegas is to believed, zero of those things will come to pass this weekend - and it would be the first time the anti-trifecta has been achieved in over two years (on September 8-9, 2007, Georgia lost to South Carolina, Georgia Tech beat Samford and Atlanta lost to Minnesota). Georgia and Atlanta are both double-digit underdogs, Georgia Tech is a double-digit favorite.

And with the Falcons playing on Monday night, the misery could be spread over three days.

Something needs to happen. A miracle has to occur. Pray for me.

The picks:

Denver @ Baltimore (-3). I screwed up plenty in my fantasy football draft - Steven Jackson, Steve Smith, not taking a QB until the 6th round - but all of those mistakes may be rectified by one Mr. Ray Rice, who I grabbed with the 147th overall pick. He's a legit top-5 running back now, and probably the only chance I have of three-peating and receiving more bushels of roses, monetary donations and coupons for free chicken from fans such as yourself. PICK: Baltimore

Cleveland @ Chicago (-13). PICK: Chicago

St. Louis @ Detroit (-4). Just taking a stab here, but this probably won't be the most watched game of the week. Even in St. Louis. (It definitely won't be in Detroit, as it has been blacked out. Ouch.) PICK: Detroit

Houston (-3) @ Buffalo. Fans of "The Office" should check out Subtle Sexuality, which despite the name, is actually safe for work (turn your speakers down, though). Mindy Kaling, BJ Novak and Ellie Kemper, among others, have created a storyline completely separate from the show, and it's just as funny (also follow their characters on Twitter: @iamkellyfierce, @veRY_ANgelic and @iamerinhannon.) And I just found out Kemper, who plays the new secretary, is the author of some memorable McSweeney's entries. CRUSH. PICK: Houston

Minnesota @ Green Bay (-3). Go Brett Favre's old team! PICK: Green Bay

San Francisco @ Indianapolis (-13). EDSBS was on fi-yah Thursday, about one of my favorite topics: the asshattery of Georgia's governor. "Sonny Perdue burrows even lower into the warm humus of gubernatorial stupidity, however, by opposing the lifting of the Sunday alcohol ban. Correct, non-Georgia readers: if you want alcohol on Sundays in Georgia, you must first drive to a bar, then pay a fifty percent markup over wholesale, and then wait until you sober up before you drive home because some turkey-wattled Baptist eighty miles away in Hookwormville thinks Crazy Old Testament God is going to turn him into a pillar of salt if the citizens of Atlanta get drunk in the safe, warm, and undoubtedly godless confines of their own house. Oh, but you could just buy on Saturday. It’s not a big deal! THAT’S WHAT THEY SAID ABOUT THE GHETTOS OF WARSAW, COMMIE." PICK: Indianapolis

NY Giants (-1) @ Philadelphia. PICK: Philadelphia

Miami @ NY Jets (-3). PICK: Miami

Seattle @ Dallas (-9 1/2). Let's make another list, and call this one "People I Want To Die A Lengthy, Painful, Horrible, Itching Death." 1. Keith Brooking. 2. Osama bin La - no, fuck it, Keith Brooking again. After last week's childish display against his former team (flapping his arms, celebrating a false start like a trailer park skank winning the goddamn lotto), I will be INFURIATED if Atlanta honors him after his career is (officially) over. He was an overrated turd when he was here, he's an overrated turd now, and I will lose my fucking mind if his banner is ever raised to the Georgia Dome rafters. Honestly, since I'm not alone in this, he would probably become the first player to be booed while getting his number retired. These feelings are not new. PICK: Seattle

Oakland @ San Diego (-16 1/2). And here we are. A 3-3 team getting a 16 1/2-point spread over anybody is absurd, until you hear how Vegas has been doing this season. The bookies can't set the spreads high enough this year, and I wouldn't be surprised to see one over 20 points as soon as the Saints/Rams matchup in two weeks. PICK: San Diego

Jacksonville @ Tennessee (-3). White House spokesman Josh Earnest managed to increase my distrust of the Obama administration this week: he compared them to the New Orleans Saints. From Politico: "As our administration makes progress on the agenda that Washington has ignored for too long, we expect we’ll get some news coverage of that progress that we like and some tough coverage that we don’t. It’s not unlike the New Orleans Saints, who are getting lots of good coverage of their perfect record so far — certainly better coverage than the [2-5] Redskins — but it doesn’t mean the Saints have liked every story that’s been written about them since training camp. It goes with the territory." Wait, did he just intimate Obama's presidency has been perfect? PICK: Tennessee

9:42 p.m. update: A few hours after this posted, The Wall Street Journal's James Taranto reflected on this quote as well. And I like his response better: "The New Orleans Saints are undefeated because they have focused on one thing: playing great football. Unless President Obama and his men get serious and focused on governing, they'll end up like the St. Louis Rams--winless, and nearly owned by Rush Limbaugh."

Carolina @ Arizona (-10). Also, I find it interesting that in the article, a political analyst named (really) Sherry Bebitch Jeffe says, "There may well be almost an unconscious effort on the part of the media to give Obama a bit more slack because he is more likable, because he is the first African-American president" (emphasis mine). Wait, isn't that exactly the kind of statement that got Rush Limbaugh in trouble regarding Donovan McNabb? PICK: Carolina

Atlanta @ New Orleans (-10). I was almost excited to pick against Atlanta for the first time since December 2007. But 10 points - I mean, the Saints are due for a disappointing game, and double digits just seem like an overreaction to one bad Falcons outing. I don't know about a good guy win here, but I have to go with the old standby. PICK: Atlanta

Last week: 6-6-1
Overall: 59-43-1