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

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Quarter Back: October 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.

In 1984, I watched every movie I could get my hands on. Of course, at 8 years old, I was stuck on what my parents deemed safe, which means I watched the same movies over and over. Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Poltergeist, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Rocky III - so yeah, basically the same movies I watch over and over today.

I'm guessing October '84 was spent around the glow of a warm VCR, because I certainly didn't see any of these titles in theaters. Yeah, for some reason, my mom didn't take me to see Mr. Universe as a killer cyborg, a Diane Keaton Israeli/Palestinian drama, or a celebration of the goriest movie moments in Hollywood history. Weird, huh?

Featured Movies

Stop Making Sense
Seen it before?: No.
Release date: October 19, 1984
Actors: David Byrne, Chris Frantz, Tina Weymouth, Jerry Harrison
Director: Jonathan Demme (The Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia)
Box office: $4.9 million (#112 in 1984)

Twenty-five years ago, Jonathan Demme delivered what was instantly considered one of the greatest concert films of all time. It opened with David Byrne standing on a bare stage, acoustic guitar in hand, performing his now classic "Psycho Killer." With each song, new equipment would be wheeled out and a bandmember would join - a bassist, a drummer, a keyboardist, back-up singers, etc. Not until the sixth song was Talking Heads there in toto.

It's as cool as it sounds. And it's easy to remember why Talking Heads were such a huge band of the moment - "Psycho Killer," "Burning Down the House," "Life During Wartime," "Once in a Lifetime," "Girlfriend Is Better," "Take Me to the River." All fantastic songs.

The problem is, after that electric opening, I remembered I don't really like concert films. Prince's Sign O' the Times bored me to tears, and even U2's Rattle & Hum never garnered a second viewing (and I worshipped every other aspect of '80s and '90s U2). And I have to admit to never seeing other "classics" of the genre, Gimme Shelter or Martin Scorsese's The Last Waltz.

I don't know, I just don't find it very interesting to watch a band perform - especially when you're missing the all-encompassing sound, the electricity of an audience, and the alcohol buzz that enhances the electricity. There's some artistry there, I get it, but are the cool parts cool because they are for you, or because you're imagining they are for the audience? Byrne is one of rock and roll's standouts as far as stage presence goes, and of course the music is great. But you're not there, you're not with them, and it's different and sorta boring by comparison. Grade: B-

Seen it before?: Long, long ago, and only the edited-for-TV version.
Release date: October 5, 1984
Actors: Nick Nolte, JoBeth Williams, Ralph Macchio
Director: Arthur Hiller (Love Story, Silver Streak, Outrageous Fortune)
Box office: $27.8 million (#33 in 1984)

The movie was clearly a moderate hit, as its box office standing reveals. (The #33 films of the past few years were High School Musical 3: Senior Year, Beowulf and Jackass: Number Two, all regarded as successes). Looking back, though, I'm confused who it was made for.

We have Nick Nolte (48 Hrs.), JoBeth Williams (The Big Chill) and Judd Hirsch ("Taxi") - so clearly, a movie for adults. But then we have Ralph Macchio (four months off The Karate Kid), and a liberal sprinkling of bad sitcom humor - so clearly, a movie for teens. And then the rub: two movies in one, but neither is particularly memorable.

Nolte is a teacher in a rough New York City high school, hit on every side by a collection of soap operatic cliches. A kid graduated that can't read. A loner acts out, but he really has a heart of gold. Somebody has a gun in a locker. One of the girls is pregnant, and a teacher is the father. There's an undercover cop posing as a student (seriously, has this ever happened outside of TV and movies?). There's a mean district boss threatening to fire everyone.

I'm assuming the movie is called Teachers and not Students for a reason, and that it wants Nolte and the adults to be the focus. But it all seems so juvenile. There's a good movie in there somewhere, even a good comedy that can examine the real problems of a teacher. But this one is too confused to be it. Grade: C-

Other films 25 years old this month:

American Dreamer - The month of JoBeth Williams, apparently. In this romantic adventure, she played a car crash victim who wakes up thinking she's an international spy. I don't know, I prefer my car crash victims to wake up as ACTUAL international spies, a'la The Long Kiss Goodnight.

Body Double - Ah, the '80s - a more innocent time when people actually wanted to see Melanie Griffith naked. She starred in this Brian DePalma murder mystery, kicking off a leading-lady career that would run for about 10 years, cresting with 1988's Working Girl. And like many other '80s leading ladies, she hasn't appeared in anything you've heard of for a while.

Comfort and Joy - Writer-director Bill Forsyth, who has spent his career making movies you've never seen, added another one onto the pile with this tale of the Glasgow ice cream market. Starring Bill Paterson, now the star of "Law & Order: UK," which really does exist.

Crimes of Passion - I mentioned Melanie Griffith, but nobody had a steeper fall from sexual grace than Kathleen Turner. In 1984, she was sexy as all hell in Romancing the Stone and this thriller, but as Bill Simmons recently pointed out, 10 years later she was Chandler's cross-dressing dad on "Friends." I mean, here's a before and after - but really, for your sanity, don't even look. Robert Zemeckis recently announced a Roger Rabbit sequel, but can she even voice Jessica Rabbit again? Won't you be thinking of that "after" picture every time she speaks?

Eureka - Gene Hackman played a rich man dealing with the downside of wealth in the 1940s. Despite a cast that included Rutger Hauer, Mickey Rourke and Joe Pesci, I have NEVER heard of this. Am I alone?

Firstborn - This family drama is now more notable for its supporting cast (Robert Downey Jr., Sarah Jessica Parker) than its actual stars (Peter Weller, Teri Garr, Christopher Collet). Of course, the only reason I saw this as a kid was Corey Haim. Because, believe me - there was a time when Corey Haim was completely badass. Remember that the next time you attack today's youth for liking The Jonas Brothers.

Garbo Talks - Gilbert has just learned that his Greta Garbo-worshiping mother (Anne Bancroft) has six months to live, and attempts to make her final wish come true - she wants to meet the reclusive actress. Garbo didn't take part in this film or any other one for the last 49 years of her life. Hope that's not a spoiler.

The Little Drummer Girl - I thought this was a Christmas movie for years. In fact, it's a somber meditation on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict starring Diane Keaton. So I was close.

The Ploughman's Lunch - If you're dying to dabble in the politics of mid-'80s Britain, you're in luck with this drama starring Jonathan Pryce. If not, there's always Transformers 2.

The Razor's Edge - Columbia Pictures wanted Bill Murray for Ghostbusters, but the comedian wasn't quite as gung-ho. So a deal was struck - he'd do the paranormal comedy, but only if the studio would finance his dream project, this adaptation of the W. Somerset Maughan novel. In it, Murray played against type as a World War I veteran who visited Paris, India and Nepal in search of the meaning of life. Columbia lost a bit on the film, as it made only half its $12 million budget back. But considering the $291 million Ghostbusters pulled in, the Columbia execs weren't kicking themselves.

Songwriter - Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson starred in this comedy set in the country music world. Limits weren't really stretched, no.

Stranger Than Paradise - Jim Jarmusch's black comedy is still worshipped in the independant movie world, as it served as a kind of kickoff to the Spike Lee/Steven Soderbergh/Miramax era of indie dominance.

The Terminator - Well, if you knew one August '84 release would still be spawning sequels 25 years later, you wouldn't guess Garbo Talks: Salvation would be at a theater near you. But still, what this James Cameron film created is nothing short of amazing; in dollars, in special effects milestones, and in its reach (remember, there was a recent TV show as well). The franchise kickoff is definitely more dated than the sequels, but is by far the most frightening.

Terror in the Aisles - Donald Pleasence and Nancy Allen hosted this theatrical documentary (sort of) about the history of horror movies. Basically, it was just a glorified clipshow, stringing scenes together from Alien, Psycho, Rosemary's Baby, The Exorcist, Halloween and about 75 more. A relic of the pre-Youtube era.

Thief of Hearts - This was Steven Bauer's one grasp at leading man status, coming off his performance as Al Pacino's brother in Scarface. Five years later, he was Christian Slater's brother in Gleaming the Cube. Obviously, it didn't take.

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

Friday, October 23, 2009

Aiding and A'Betting: Week Seven

Intros suck, ya know. Says the guy too lazy to write one.

The picks:

Indianapolis (-13) @ St. Louis. Tennessee Titans coach Jeff Fisher managed to create even more controversy when he wore a Peyton Manning jersey to a Nashville fundraiser. "I just wanted to feel like a winner," he said, which is pretty funny. But that wasn't his best quote. A day later, he answered the cries of angry Titans fans. "It was for a very, very worthwhile cause, charity," Fisher said. "I was introducing Tony (Dungy), just having fun with it and I really apologize if I offended anybody. But if you're offended over the nature of that type of thing, then I think you need to rethink things." Well done. The non-apology apology is an artform unto itself. PICK: Indianapolis

Green Bay (-6 1/2) @ Cleveland. PICK: Green Bay

Minnesota @ Pittsburgh (-5). Um, no, I meant this is the week the Vikings are revealed as frauds. Seriously. This week. PICK: Pittsburgh

New England (-14 1/2) vs. Tampa Bay. The Bucs are technically the home team here, but the game is being played in jolly ol' London, home to Shakespeare and sleeper cells. I'm not sure of the business arrangements here, but I do know Tampa Bay will obviously lose a home game - and if I'm a fan, I'd be pissed about that. Luckily, there aren't too many Bucs fans these days to care. PICK: New England

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

San Diego (-5) @ Kansas City. PICK: Kansas City

NY Jets (-6) @ Oakland. Due to Georgia's weak play and the Falcons' emergence, my interest in college football has probably never been lower. Love the tailgating in Athens, but I haven't set foot in a college stadium this year, and probably won't until Kentucky comes calling (and just because some friends are taking part in the pregame festivities). However, there's a possible storyline, that if it comes to pass, will make 2009 a season to truly celebrate. If I ranked the 120 Division I FBS teams in order from love-to-hate, #267 would be Georgia Tech - the same nerds that currently hold a 6-1 record. Well, their next four weeks present a kindergarten class-style batch of cupcakes, and they should be the 10-1 hosts of a down Georgia Bulldogs team in late November. I barely care about beating Florida (as long as we shatter Tim Tebow's legs - no, seriously). If we lose to Kentucky, Auburn and even Tennessee Tech, whatever. Hell, I almost want to lose to Tennessee Tech, if we can then go to Atlanta and wipe the floor with the Yellow Jackets. I mean, they will be going into that game with BCS dreams, and we can spoil that with four good quarters, dick-kicking them in the process (figuratively for most, literally for me). I mean, that will be absolutely, 100% more satisfying than winning some silly Sugar Bowl - destroying Tech's season would actually count for something. PICK: Oakland

New Orleans (-6 1/2) @ Miami. Last Sunday's prime-time Falcons game brought a different crowd atmosphere than the standard 1 p.m. kickoffs do. That's what eight straight hours of pre-game drinking will do, I guess. A good 15 minutes before gametime, I saw one near-fight in my section, and heard rumblings of others elsewhere. There was quite a bit of jackassery going on. But it never reached the level of this particular jackass:

I guess "Gaints" rhymes with "Saints?"

I mean, look at that wad. When was the last time you saw a more pained, pleading, attention-whoring expression? And you can tell he's been at it ALL FUCKING GAME, by the look of the woman to his left. But it's not his stupid face or Mark Richt-haircut that bothers me - it's the sign. Not the Saints-love, not the misspelling - just its general existence. Because there's a special place in Hell for people who bring signs to games. You're basically telling everybody around you, "My pathetic, childish ambition to get on TV for two seconds is more important than you seeing the field." DIE, ASSHOLE. PICK: Miami (yeah, I said it)

Atlanta @ Dallas (-4). Ok, once - once - I did bring a sign to a game. It was a Maryland/Georgia Tech Thursday night game, and I created a "51-7" poster to hold toward the GT student section (UGA had beat them by that score a year previous). In my defense, I was in the back row of my section, blocking nobody. And second, it was totally fucking awesome. Oh, and speaking of awesome, this game is starting to make me nervous - seemingly everybody is picking Atlanta to win outright. PICK: Atlanta

Chicago @ Cincinnati (-1). My two fantasy quarterbacks - Jay Cutler and Carson Palmer - face off. Yep, Cutler and Palmer. I'm probably not going to hit the league championship three-peat, no. PICK: Chicago

Buffalo @ Carolina (-7). So I ended up with a screener of Paranormal Activity, this year's most buzzed-about horror film. Avoiding all hint of spoilers, it's about a young couple and the bumps in the night that happen in their house. Of course, I definitely won't get into spoiling the ending - because I haven't actually seen it yet. I turned the movie off last night after about an hour. Now, yeah, you can throw bagina-rhyming insults my way, but at least let me point out it was at 1 a.m. Work night and all. But from what I did see, yeah, ok, it's pretty freaking scary, and I don't say that about movies very often. (It actually reminds me of my dad's old house, where crazy stuff happened a few times. One night, the dishwasher closed by itself and turned on. I shit you not. And one time I woke up pinned to the ceiling above my bed, pressure on my shoulders and shins keeping me there, which could have been a dream, but seemed silly real.) PICK: Buffalo

Arizona @ NY Giants (-7). I'm actually not joking about that ghost-in-my-dad's-old-house stuff. There was something there. They've since torn the house down, WHICH MEANS THE POLTERGEIST IS LOOSE IN BROOKHAVEN. PICK: NY Giants

Philadelphia (-7) @ Washington. Making fun of the Redskins isn't even fun anymore. Which of course is a total lie. PICK: Philadelphia

Last week: 8-6-0
Overall: 53-37-0

Monday, October 19, 2009

Defies description

So Kanye West can act too. Dammit.

Directed by Spike Jonze. Inspired, no doubt, by David Lynch.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Aiding and A'Betting: Week Six

With about eight minutes to go in the first half of last week's Falcons-49ers game, I looked at my brother and said, "I want 21-10 at halftime."

Atlanta had jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead, but San Francisco scored 10 unanswered and took the momentum back. A minute later, Roddy White turned on the afterburners and went 90 yards for a score.

"I mean, uh, I want 28-10 at halftime."

Two minutes later, Michael Turner bulldozed for his second touchdown of the day.

"Ok, screw it, I want 35-10."

With 1:14 left on the clock, Turner made it a first half trifecta. On route to a final score of 45-10, San Francisco's worst home loss since 1967.

Yes, the 2009 Falcons have already taught me their first lesson: don't put limits on what to ask of them. So now I want 75 points against Chicago on Sunday night, with the Bears shut out. And Tony Gonzalez (fantasy TE extraordinaire) to go for 250 and 3 TDs. And the game ball. And ice cream waiting for me at my seat - on the bench. And Matt Ryan to be my best friend. And a 51% ownership stake in the team, just because Arthur Blank likes "the cut of my jib." Because my jib does have a nice cut.

Not too much to ask for, I don't think.

The picks:

Kansas City @ Washington (-6 1/2). Jim Zorn may become the first coach to get fired during a game. The Chiefs are 0-5, but they're not a Rams-level 0-5. Four of their first opponents: Baltimore, Philadelphia, NY Giants, Dallas (the loss to Oakland is inexcusable, yes). But something - oh, I don't know, maybe Washington's complete ineptitude - tells me the Chiefs not only cover, but get their first win of the season. PICK: Kansas City

Houston @ Cincinnati (-5). It's especially odd because of all the rain we've been having, but it got dusty in my house around 4 p.m. last Sunday. I mean, really dusty. The Bengals had just finished upsetting the Ravens, and the team was taking turns celebrating with defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, only a few days after his wife's sudden death. Just stupid amounts of dust, out of nowhere. PICK: Cincinnati

Cleveland @ Pittsburgh (-14). Well, it's safe to say UGA's own Mohamed Massaquoi did not lead the NFL in receiving for the second week in row. Of course, that's hard to do when your QB completes two passes - all game. (And Brady Quinn is still the back-up. See, I do get things right once in a while). PICK: Pittsburgh

Baltimore @ Minnesota (-3). And the Vikings get exposed. I'm not one to let go of a preseason prediction easily, and I'm riding the "Vikings are overrated" train as long as I can. This is really the team's first legit matchup, and I see Flacco and Co. - beaten and bruised, and out for blood - putting a hurt on Brett Fav-re. PICK: Baltimore

St. Louis @ Jacksonville (-10). You typically won't see a team lose by 41 points one week, and be favored by double digits the next. But those are the kinds of small miracles provided by the St. Louis Rams. PICK: St. Louis

NY Giants @ New Orleans (-3). So obviously this weekend's game is a big one for the Falcons. NBC, prime time, all eyes on them. I've been looking forward to this day for a long time, with dreams of hitting the tailgate before the sun is at its highest point, spending all day Sunday making sure I'm worthless on Monday. The ball dropped a few days ago, however, when I learned the Georgia Dome doesn't open its parking lots until five hours before kickoff, specifically 3:20. So my god, I'm only limited to roughly 270 minutes of quality parking lot-standing until I have to head to the stadium? What the hell? (Tailgating, as we now know, is the one thing college does infinitely better than the pros). I bring this up here because of the silver lining: now I have some time to watch Giants/Saints before heading to my concrete mecca downtown. Go you freakin' hairy Giants, go. PICK: NY Giants

Carolina (-3) @ Tampa Bay. I didn't expect these teams to be hugely competitive with Atlanta, particularly Tampa Bay. However, I never expected I wouldn't give two shits about them so early in the season. The NFC South is a two-team race now, no doubt about it. PICK: Carolina

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

Philadelphia (-14) @ Oakland. Ok, so I've made no secret that Sylvester Stallone's The Expendables is my most anticipated film of 2010. And I posted the trailer as soon as my feeble fingers would allow, before it was eventually taken down by the studio. Now, the true reaction: "Um, cool." If you saw it before it disappeared, well, it just looked sorta silly. Stallone was cool, Statham was Statham, Li appeared to have no grasp of English and was just saying his lines phonetically - but that trailer didn't give any sense of a good story flowing underneath. THAT SAID, I'm not lowering my five bars of excitement yet. I thought Rocky Balboa would be disappointing. I thought Rambo would be outright awful. And yet both of were Ten Best material of their respective years (really). In his latest comeback incarnation, Stallone has made consistently good decisions and showed real filmmaker chops - I'm just hoping this was a hastily edited thing to appease the money guys. PICK: Philadelphia

Arizona @ Seattle (-3). What the hell is up with this? Spraying champagne because you won a division series? Hey Phils - you won the World Series last year. Act like you've been there before - especially because you have. PICK: Seattle

Buffalo @ NY Jets (-9 1/2). Speaking of baseball, I recently remembered a little $5 bet I laid before the season. "Teams to compete in the World Series: New York/Los Angeles." My five bucks will net me a cool $100 if the Dodgers can get their heads out of their asses. (My other $5 bet, Grady Sizemore to lead all of baseball in home runs, did not quite come to pass). PICK: Buffalo

Tennessee @ New England (-9). So I do the USA Today crossword every day, finishing it about 70% the time. I do it all in permanent ink, because I'm an egotistical jackass. That bit me on the rump this week with this clue: "2002 Tom Hanks film." So, I mean, of course I knew that. In big black letters: "C-A-T-C-H-M-E-I-F-Y-O-U-C-A-N." Fit perfectly. About 10 confusing minutes later, I realized my error: Hanks had another 2002 film. R-O-A-D-T-O-P-E-R-D-I-T-I-O-N. Same number of letters. And, of course, the right answer. (Me realizing I missed any kind of movie question is not a pretty sight. It's my sole character flaw). PICK: New England

Chicago @ Atlanta (-3 1/2). So I think I have a new favorite Falcon. Maya and I dorked out once again and went to a Thursday night taping of "Falcons Face-to-Face," a weekly interview show on a local news channels. Roddy White was the featured guest - and man, he was awesome. I had never seen him talk at such length before; he was surprisingly funny, and nice as hell when we met him afterward.



Oddly enough, that was his helmet he wanted me to sign. Weird.

Ok, I'm fully aware he's smiling more in the picture with her. And that's probably because I didn't put a boob on him. PICK: Atlanta

Denver @ San Diego (-3). Still, it's not the coolest picture I took with somebody this week.

Represent. PICK: Denver

Last week: 9-5-0
Overall: 45-31-0

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I'm on a vote

It's no "I'm On A Boat," but what is? Funnier than anything "Saturday Night Live" has done this year, that's for sure.

Expiration date

This just hit my inbox.

Apparently I registered the name in October '07, with dream-coated eyes. And, you know, I think there's still a market for it.

"Your hairdresser!" <-- Award-winning dialogue

This is basically the way I see it going down.

February 2011: "And the Academy Award for Best Picture goes to - The Expendables!"

February 2012: "And the Academy Award for Best Picture goes to - yes, again, The Expendables!"

February 2013: "And the Academy Award for Best Picture goes to, you know it, The Expendables!"

The streak will only be broken in 2014, when Stallone's remake of Fried Green Tomatoes takes the prize. And then it will be back to The Expendables in '15. It will be THAT GOOD.

5:43 update: Sorry, kids. The video is gone with the wind, which I thought might happen. It was obviously not created for mass consumption, but probably pieced together for investors, marketing guys, or theater owners.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Aiding and A'Betting: Week Five

Remember in school when you were assigned the earliest possible date to present a paper, and it was just the end of the world? You had to go first, you had less time than your friends, and you weren't sure how you were going to handle it.

Well, that's me and the Falcons' early bye week. It caused more than a little teeth gnashing on my part, but that's all over now. We're done, we hit the field again on Sunday, and I won't have to spend another weekend in a Falconsless football wasteland. Everybody else, you have your dreaded date in front of you, but I'm proppin' my feet up.

The picks:

Minnesota (-9 1/2) @ St. Louis. After four games, the Rams are giving up 27 points a game while averaging SIX. Repeat: less than a touchdown every four quarters, shut out twice in four games. They're actually worse than last year's winless Lions, who at least averaged 13.1 while giving up 25.3. PICK: Minnesota

Tampa Bay @ Philadelphia (-14 1/2).
On Monday, I fled work at 5:00:01 and drove to the nearby Movie Tavern, one of those beers n' flicks places. I wanted to see Zombieland, and few movies go better with suds than one about the undead ripping throats out with their teeth. No real detail here except to say I really liked it, laughed out loud throughout, and will probably never see it again because one thing just bugged me to death. Remember when the girl says 1997 was a good year because she saw her first R-rated film, and name-checked Anaconda? They got the year right but the rating wrong - it was PG-13! If you know me, you probably realize little, seemingly insignificant details can completely derail an experience. I mean, I stewed on that son of a bitch for the next 30 minutes. A little fact-checking would have revealed a number of R-rated 1997 flicks they could have gone with; Con Air would have generated the exact same "oh man, that was bad" laugh that Anaconda got. No, I'm still not over it. PICK: Philadelphia

Dallas (-8 1/2) @ Kansas City. When will analysts stop sounding shocked at Tony Romo making a bad play? Last week, the TV guys seemed genuinely surprised when he fumbled for a Denver touchdown, and threw a pick to Champ Bailey in the red zone. Every motherfucker in Dallas owes Jessica Simpson an apology for calling her a jinx. PICK: Kansas City

Washington @ Carolina (-3 1/2).
A bit of genius, from way back in April: "Carolina is also due for a letdown after an over-achieving 2008. Unless, of course, they've secretly replaced interception machine Jake Delhomme with pick-free Sanka while I wasn't looking." Cutting and pasting old stuff is so much easier than thinking of something new. PICK: Carolina (I mean, it's Washington; the Panthers aren't that bad)

Oakland @ NY Giants (-16 1/2).
This spread is taking into account that David Carr might be the Giants' starter. That's how bad the Raiders are. PICK: NY Giants

Cleveland @ Buffalo (-6). Congrats to former UGA, now Browns receiver Mohamed Massaquoi on leading the NFL in receiving yards last week. Looking at his current team, he might want to hold onto that good feeling as long as possible. PICK: Buffalo

Cincinnati @ Baltimore (-8 1/2). It was announced this week the 2011 Georgia/Georgia Tech game may be moved to Atlanta's Georgia Dome - a one-time-only morphing of the annual Thanksgiving weekend matchup into a season opener. If the message boards are to be believed, the idea is about as popular as New Coke. With semen in it. So as I stand here alone on the 50-yard-line, let me hear my own echo: BRING IT ON. Why would Georgia fans, in particular, be against this? It replaces a Tech home date, it opens the game up for tens of thousands of additional fans, and most of the added folks will be wearing red and black (as will the stadium, in fact). Plus, that game has turned into an impossible ticket when it's in Atlanta, as Tech's high school stadium holds about as many people as my car. And selfishly, I always have to race back from Florida on Friday in order to make kickoff; I won't mind being able to relax for a few days after my tryptophan coma. The primary argument seems to revolve around "tradition," the same thinking that's led to most of college football's horrible decisions. But is this series really such an untouchable, elite thing that can't be sullied? PICK: Cincinnati

Pittsburgh (-10 1/2) @ Detroit. Something tells me this will be the year to end Dallas and Detroit's stranglehold on Thanksgiving day. I just took a look down the schedule, and check these Turkey Day matchups - Packers @ Lions, Raiders @ Cowboys, Giants @ Broncos. Granted, the night game should be alright, but both day ones will probably have double digit point spreads (yes, even Oakland is worse than Dallas). Imagine an entire nation forced to spend a family holiday watching monkeys masturbate for six hours; that is exactly what Lions and Cowboys games are like this year. C'mon NFL, you're the number one attraction that day - give us something worthwhile. PICK: Pittsburgh (Daunte Culpepper is starting, folks)

Atlanta @ San Francisco (-2 1/2).
More from April, regarding this game: "Matt Ryan vs. Shaun Hill. Matt Ryan vs. Alex Smith. Matt Ryan vs. Damon Huard. Matt Ryan vs. TBD Rookie. Those are the four ways this game plays out. I like those four ways." Turns out it will be the first one, with Hill having led the 49ers to a surprising 3-1 record. What isn't surprising, though, is I still like the matchup. San Fran's three wins came against Arizona, Seattle and St. Louis - a combined record of 2-9 between them. Yes, their loss at Minnesota was fairly impressive, but I'm apparently alone in considering the Vikings a wildly overrated bunch. Atlanta is coming off a bye week, San Francisco running back Frank Gore will be out of action, and most of Atlanta's injured corps are back at full strength (Jerious Norwood and The William Moore among them). So why are the 49ers favored again? PICK: Atlanta

New England (-3 1/2) @ Denver. PICK: Denver

Jacksonville @ Seattle (-3, which I made up because Vegas hasn't released anything yet). (PICK) Two weeks ago, I suffered my first fantasy football loss in 21 months, and I'm doing a little better than expected. Very little cutting, my daily Firefly intake is down to two liters, and the fire department was only called twice. I'm sitting at 3-1, and bring it up here because I'm veering into David Garrard territory this week. My regular starter (Jay Cutler) is enjoying a bye week vacation, and my regular back-up (Carson Palmer) is facing the Ravens. So what to do, except start a guy who I never, ever, ever intended on ever starting, ever. Ever ever. If I can get out of this with a win, I will consider My Powers back at full-force, after a momentary lapse in judgment (starting fucking DeAngelo Hall over Gibril Wilson, and losing only because of that dipshit decision). PICK: Jacksonville

Houston @ Arizona (-5 1/2). Have I ever shared my DeAngelo Hall story, by the way, speaking of that tool? So I used to be a 5th grade teacher, and one Friday the librarian comes down to my room. "Josh, I know you're a Falcons fan. They're sending over DeAngelo Hall on Tuesday to read to some students, so you need to pick out a few and bring them down to meet him." Let's sidestep the obvious "DeAngelo Hall/reading" jokes, and move on. I selected my three guys, all wannabe football players in a wannabe soccer player community, and they were overjoyed - especially Delante, who hadn't figured out he'd probably never play because of severe asthma. Well, the Falcons were on Monday Night Football, and of course Hall ends up limping off the field. Early Tuesday, we get word he's not coming. That's fine, not what upset me - he got hurt, he needed whatever rehab he needed. But I sat down that night and wrote him a letter c/o the Falcons, explaining Delante's situation and how he had been crushed by the cancellation. "If you could find something, anything to send him, it would make his year." And nothing arrived. Not a jersey, not tickets, not a football, not even an autographed 8x10. Seriously, even a 9-word "Delante, sorry I missed you. See you soon, DeAngelo" index card would still be framed on that kid's wall. What an ass. PICK: Houston

Indianapolis (-3 1/2) @ Tennessee. A couple months later, the Falcons - in a completely unrelated promotion - gave me two tickets to hand out as I saw fit. So Delante and his mom got to see Tom Brady at the Dome. (I'm now wondering why I didn't use them myself, which proves I used to be a much better person). PICK: Indianapolis

NY Jets (-1 1/2) @ Miami. PICK: NY Jets

Last week: 9-5-0
Overall: 36-26-0

Friday, October 02, 2009

Aiding and A'Betting: Week Four

What happened to the Falcons last weekend is damned unfortunate.

Drive to the Atlanta airport, fly to Massachusetts, suit up for the game, go through pregame warmups - and then have the game cancelled at the last minute due to Boston freaking out over another Lite-Brite? I mean, they didn't even get to play the game, all because that awful cesspool of a city is full of spineless turds. The game didn't even happen.

Yeah, you f'ing hear me? It didn't happen.

The picks:

Oakland @ Houston (-8 1/2). A couple weeks ago, I compared JaMarcus Russell slightly favorably to Alex Smith, saying at least the Raiders QB isn't the worst first overall pick this decade. After three games, I'm taking it back. If Smith were suddenly starting for the Texans this week, the line would be almost as high - and my pick would be the same. PICK: Houston

Tennessee (-3) @ Jacksonville.
A divisional matchup within my least favorite division in football, matching two teams with a combined record of 1-5. I had to take a Pulp Fiction-style heart injection just to be able to make this pick. (This is usually the kind of game gambling or fantasy sports can spur interest in. Gambling is out because the final score could end up 3-0, 49-48, or anything in-between. And fantasy is out because, Maurice Jones-Drew and Chris Johnson aside, nobody owns any Titans or Jaguars). PICK: Jacksonville

Baltimore @ New England (-2).
So I'm waiting to read the first "Joe Flacco is better than Matt Ryan" story. Honestly, I'm a little surprised it hasn't been written yet - because the case can be made, my friends. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't trade Matty Ice for, uh, Joey Flack any day of the week, but this is going to be an interesting battle for many years. If the Ravens win this game, expect the storyline to debut on Monday. PICK: Baltimore

Cincinnati (-6) @ Cleveland.
PICK: Cincinnati

Seattle @ Indianapolis (-10). PICK: Indianapolis

NY Giants (-8 1/2) @ Kansas City. The worst thing about Atlanta's bye week is that I miss my seat buddies. Particularly this guy, who brings a certain joie de vivre to every game.

I just wish I could remember his name. PICK: NY Giants

Detroit @ Chicago (-10). Last week's story was cute, as everybody treated the Lions like they had just won a Special Olympics gold medal. But it doesn't continue in Soldier Field. PICK: Chicago

Tampa Bay @ Washington (-7 1/2).
Sorry, but are the Redskins good enough to be favored by a touchdown over anyone? I'm counting college teams in this as well. PICK: Tampa Bay

NY Jets @ New Orleans Saints (-7). "Go Jets." Now, the Listerine. PICK: NY Jets

Buffalo (-1) @ Miami. So yeah, I hoped the Falcons wouldn't draft Matt Ryan. I was wrong. For once. Instead, I pushed Atlanta to take "either Joe Flacco or Chad Henne." Well, the storylines of Ryan and Flacco are well-cemented; this game may start Chad Henne's. The Dolphins, who famously passed over Ryan, will be starting Henne on Sunday. And if he's a bust, Miami fans will be charting Matty Ice with vomit-inducing regularity for years to come. PICK: Miami

St. Louis @ San Francisco (-9 1/2). So, my god, Year One. Never been a huge Jack Black fan, and Michael Cera's one-note is wearing as well - but it's from the director of Caddyshack, National Lampoon's Vacation and Groundhog Day. With Paul Rudd, David Cross and the yes-one-note-but-not-worn-out Christopher Mintz-Plasse in supporting roles. The producers of "The Office." And what does all of that talent equal? One laugh. Really, no exaggeration. One laugh. And even then, it's a stupid Jack Black gag about jumping off a roof with not enough rope, something that's usually the worst joke in stuff these guys create. How does that happen? How do so many talented people come together and produce such a big dump? Hollywood's version of the Washington Redskins, I guess. (Bringin' it back to football with a zinger!). PICK: St. Louis

Dallas (-3) @ Denver. Vegas still thinks Dallas is pretty good. Huh. PICK: Denver

San Diego @ Pittsburgh (-6).
Earlier this year, my dad's Decatur, GA street was partially shut down because of a movie filming a block away. I did some quick internet research, and found it was a zombie movie starring Woody Harrelson and the chick from Little Miss Sunshine. I mean, stupid, right? Straight-to-video, obviously. So I didn't even bother walking the 50 yards to the set and at least take a peek. Here we sit a few months later, and I can't freaking wait to see Zombieland. I mean, dude, that movie looks The Tit. Ten years ago, I would have clawed my way into an extra job, which is how I ended up on the Scream 2 set and on-screen in Remember the Titans. But no, an actually cool movie filming two minutes away in which I could have theoretically been A ZOMBIE, and I shrugged it off to probably go home and play Madden. Goddammit. PICK: Pittsburgh

Green Bay @ Minnesota (-3 1/2).
There exists an ever-growing list, with a simple heading at the top: "Reasons you're an asshole." If you agree with anything on it, you can be most assured you are, incontrovertibly, an asshole. The latest entry, marked #65,693, is "You're rooting for the Vikings to beat the Packers." (For the record, I am an asshole with flying colors, but not nearly enough of one to pull for Brett Favre in this game). PICK: Green Bay

Last week: 9-7-0
Overall: 27-21-0