Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Quarter Back: September 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.

The year's Best Picture and Best Actress winners would emerge in September 1984, but this month is notable for absolutely nothing else. It's a wasteland, to the point that nearly half the titles are currently unavailable on DVD.

The two movies highlighted below were not my first choices. A perfect world would have presented me with The Bear, starring Gary freakin' Busey as Bear freakin' Bryant. It would have been much more fun, not to mention timely with football in full swing. But nope, unavailable.

The Evil That Men Do? Out of print.

The River Rat? Nope.

The Wild Life? Despite being written by Cameron Crowe, it can't be found.

Ninja III: The Domination, starring the white chick from Breakin' as A NINJA? No, but Netflix did kindly offer me Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III and 3 Ninjas as alternatives. Dammit.

Featured Movies

Seen it before?: No.
Release date: September 28, 1984
Actors: Jessica Lange, Sam Shepard, Wilford Brimley
Director: Richard Pearce (No Mercy, Leap of Faith)
Box office: $9.6 million (#82 in 1984)

"Farmers' rights" was a hot political cause in the mid-'80s, as the government began foreclosing on property that had been in families for generations. The stories of displaced workers particularly interested actress Jessica Lange, who enlisted the help of partner Sam Shepard to highlight the issue.

So yeah, Country is sorta boring.

I imagine it actually works better 25 years later than it did at time of release, because the film serves as a time capsule. It paints what appears to be a completely accurate portrayal of the time, and more importantly, treats its characters with respect. They may live in "flyover country," but there's not one square dance, deer hunt, Civil War reenactment, or any other Hollywood cliche of what country folk are like.

The meat of the story, though, is just a little too black-and-white. Farmers are good, bankers are bad! But when the film seems to suggest Shepard's character isn't that good a farmer, I'm thinking, "Well then, should the bank keep propping him up when he's not repaying his debts?"

Sidenote: In his recently published diaries (an awesome read, no matter your political beliefs), Ronald Reagan actually highlighted the film as "propaganda." I'm not educated enough on the issue to pass judgment on that either way. Grade: C+

All of Me
Seen it before?: Not since the '80s.
Release date: September 21, 1984
Actors: Steve Martin, Lily Tomlin, Victoria Tennant
Director: Carl Reiner (The Jerk, The Man With Two Brains, Summer School)
Box office: $36.4 million (#23 in 1984)

The final of Steve Martin and Carl Reiner's four collaborations was a showcase for the actor, trying to bridge his "wild and crazy guy" persona with that of a serious performer. And it worked, I guess - but that doesn't mean the movie lives up to its overblown reputation.

Quick synopsis: Lily Tomlin is a dying millionaire, and upon death has her soul accidentally transferred into Steve Martin's body. So Lily controls one half of his body, Steve controls the other half. Wackiness ensues.

Of course, Martin pulls off the physical comedy with seeming ease, but that doesn't excuse the flimsy premise. It's a middling "Saturday Night Live" sketch stretched to feature length, and not worth the efforts of the people involved. Grade: C

Other films 25 years old this month:

Amadeus - The eventual 1984 Best Picture winner, and one of the more deserving honorees of the decade. Years ago, I was assigned to substitute teach a high school music class. Every single class, for three straight days, was assigned to watch this movie. I never got tired of it, and if I'm not remembering this too romantically, the usually jaded kids enjoyed it as well.

The Bear - No, not the nature flick about an actual bear from the early '90s, but Gary Busey donning the houndstooth as the legendary Alabama coach. And yeah, unavailable on DVD, which is a crime against sobriety.

Body Rock - Lorenzo Lamas struts his stuff in this dance drama, in the vein of classics such as Beat Street and Breakin'. I'll be honest - I didn't even check to see if this was available on Netflix. I don't like you people nearly that much.

The Brother From Another Planet - Writer/director John Sayles delivered this immigration parable about an alien who crashlands on - wait for it - Ellis Island. Heavy.

The Evil That Men Do - One day, a book will be written about Charles Bronson's output in the '80s. There must have been some shady international tax shenanigans going on. He starred in eight films between 1983 and 1989, and only two cracked $10 million at the box office (this one and Death Wish III, both barely). Somebody was presumably losing fistfuls of cash, and yet wretched titles such as Assassination and Messenger of Death kept getting pumped out despite zero interest stateside. I assume Bronson was more popular internationally than here, but could it have been by that wide a margin?

Exterminator II - The film's IMDB page has a telling comment: "Probably inspired by Michael Jackson's video 'Beat It.'" Which, in my mind, translates to "Why the holy hell haven't I seen this?"

Heartbreakers - Obviously not the 2001 Jennifer Love Hewitt comedy, but a Peter Coyote flick about two friends who fall for the same woman. I'm pretty sure that concept wasn't even close to original in 1984.

Impulse - A toxic spill causes small town residents to lose all inhibitions and give in to their basest instincts. Starring Hume Cronyn. Ok, it sounded good for a second.

Irreconcilable Differences - E.T. cutie Drew Barrymore files for divorce from her parents (Shelley Long and Ryan O'Neal). And a young Sharon Stone shows her boobs. That's about the only part I remember, to be honest.

Ninja III: The Domination - Again, it's the white chick from Breakin' as a ninja! How awesome. This title always confused me as a kid, because there were no movies simply called Ninja and Ninja II. It turns out this is a continuation of Enter the Ninja and Revenge of the Ninja, with the common link being actor Sho Kosugi. Even though his character's name is different in each film. So, yeah - I'm still confused.

Places in the Heart - The Best Actress winner mentioned above. Sally Field earned her second Oscar in this farming drama - so yes, while 1998 had the battle of asteroids-hitting-Earth movies, 1984 had the battle of female-driven farm dramas. Possibly the only '80s vs. '90s battle in which the latter decade emerges victorious. (Field's Oscar win here, incidentally, produced the infamous "You like me! You really like me!" speech).

The River Rat - Tommy Lee Jones stars as an ex-con who bonds with his daughter while building a boat together - but leave it up to a shady warden (Brian Dennehy, in-between shady sheriff roles) to throw a wrench in those plans! Bum-bum-bummmm!

A Soldier's Story - A racially charged whodunit, mostly known for putting Denzel Washington on the map.

Until September - When Karen Allen recently appeared at Atlanta's DragonCon sci-fi convention, I wonder how many people asked her about this Paris-set romance co-starring Thierry Lhermitte? HUNDREDS, probably. (Well, it was from the director of Return of the Jedi. No, I'm actually serious about that part.)

The Warrior and the Sorceress - A Conan the Barbarian knockoff, starring - get this - David Carradine. And proclaimed to be a remake of - no really, get this - Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo. I'll let IMDB describe: "The mighty warrior, Kain, crosses the barren wastelands of the planet Ura, where two arch enemies, Zeg and the evil degenerate Balcaz, fight incessantly for control of the village's only well." I'm actually devastated this isn't available on Netflix.

The Wild Life - This was basically an attempt to recreate Fast Times at Ridgemont High two years later. Fast Times producer Art Linson directed, Fast Times screenwriter Cameron Crowe wrote the script, Fast Times actor Eric Stoltz starred. Since you probably haven't seen it, can't quote a single line, or name a single character, I don't have to tell you if it was successful or not.

Windy City - John Shea and Kate Capshaw star in this couples dramedy set in - damn, I forget.

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

Friday, September 25, 2009

Aiding and A'Betting: Week Three

I'm going to pretend I'm posting this picture for a deeper purpose, and not because it makes me pee myself laughing.

We all knew this was coming. I said as much last April, in a post that's top-to-bottom looking damn prescient so far. Call it fate, call it destiny - but it was certain from the start.

I'm predicting the Atlanta Falcons will beat the New England Patriots.

Right, I know - you're shocked. There's a rub, though. While last year I would've had a twinge of "look, I'm making another outlandish prediction, har-har," this time I actually mean it. I really do think the Falcons will emerge victorious, that a second-year QB can face Tom Brady and come out a winner. Hell, a rookie QB just did it a few days ago. And I'm not the only one; Sports Illustrated's Peter King and ESPN's Mike Golic, among others, are also foreseeing an Atlanta victory. And I'm still trying to wrap my brain around that.

Let's travel back in time - not too long, just about 13 months. New England was riding into the 2008 season having gone 16-0 in their previous incarnation, losing only the Super Bowl on what can generously be called a fluke catch. Atlanta was shaking off the stench of Michael Vick, Joey Harrington and Bobby Petrino, and not supposed to win more than a couple of games the entire season. Yet just a year later, those same Falcons are only four-point dogs to the mighty Pats in Foxboro. I wish I could go back and bet on that.

Atlanta is looking up, the Patriots are looking wobbly, and the timing couldn't be better. Falcons 31, Patriots 27.

The picks:

Cleveland @ Baltimore (-13). My fantasy team is in trouble, guys. Save your wailing and teeth-gnashing, though; me and the boys are 2-0. But I'm starting Baltimore's Willis McGahee this week. Mario Manningham. DeAngelo Hall. It's like all jazzercise up in h'yuh, as much stretching as I'm doing. Without some longshots paying off, I'm looking at a severely disappointing season. Which, of course, means I'll lose a game. PICK: Baltimore

Jacksonville @ Houston (-3 1/2).
You know what's even less surprising than my picking Atlanta over New England? That X-Men Origins: Wolverine sucked. I finally saw it this week through the power of Netflix, and it was such a shoddy effort - bad effects, rushed plot, a couple good ideas introduced and discarded. And then (spoiler alert, spoiler alert, spoiler alert) the main character just forgets everything than happened? Because he gets shot with a "special" bullet? As they say in Patriot country, and as they are in Patriot country - how retahded. PICK: Houston

Washington (-6) @ Detroit.
Burn me 'Skins, and this is what you get: On Sunday, Matthew Stafford will lead the Detroit Lions to their first victory in two years. Nope, not just a cover, not just a moral victory - but a full-fledged, we-scored-more-points-than-you-did, capital-w Win. And really, who's going to waste breath arguing this, after Washington eked out a 9-7 win over the Rams, a team actually worse than everybody thought? Other than a couple of Snyderholic tailgate compadres, that is. (So I wrote that on Tuesday - before everybody and their fucking brother made the same upset pick. Eh, stickin' with it anyway). PICK: Detroit

San Francisco @ Minnesota (-6 1/2).
PICK: Minnesota

Atlanta @ New England (-4 1/2). Weather reports are saying there's a 90% chance of rain at gametime. Normally, this would be a marked disadvantage to a dome team, but the Patriots have zero run game. If the attack has to shift to the ground and out of Tom Brady's hands, Michael Turner and Co. will eat 'em up. PICK: Atlanta

Green Bay (-6 1/2) @ St. Louis. I'm in this "Suicide" fantasy league, in which you have to pick one winner every week. Not against the spread, just a straight up call of one team that will emerge victorious. One wrong call and you're out, and the last man standing takes all the glory. Well, I lasted an entirety of two weeks, trusting the Packers to take care of business against the shuffling Bengals. So that was fun. PICK: Green Bay

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

Kansas City @ Philadelphia (-?). As of Friday morning, the Gambling Wizards hadn't released a spread for this one - which is a bit odd, as the game's starting QBs (Matt Cassel, Kevin Kolb) have been known for awhile. But hey, the debut of Michael Vick in a green uniform can throw anything into a tizzy. I'll try to update this later with a pick against the actual spread, but for now let's just assume Eagles (-7). PICK: Philadelphia

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

Chicago (-2) @ Seattle. PICK: Chicago

New Orleans (-6) @ Buffalo. The recent rains in Atlanta have caused me to reflect on what the brave residents of New Orleans must have gone through in 2004. The rising waters, the lowering spirits, the lost dreams. My God, it is still so powerful. And hilarious. PICK: Buffalo

Pittsburgh (-4) @ Cincinnati.
Ugh, the Atlanta Braves are so frustrating. After an August rollercoaster of they're done/they're back/they're done/they're back, I finally bid adieu to Major League Baseball when they were swept at home by the Reds - the Cincinnati Reds - earlier this month. It conveniently coincided with football's kickoff (and my fantasy baseball team's disappearance), so all was good. But as Al Pacino so famously said, in Gigli or Simone or something, "Just when I thought I was out, they pull on my dick and make me go all 'ooh'." Suddenly, Atlanta sits at 3.5 games back, with a schedule chock full o' Nationals to end the season. And I'm starting to care again. Dammit. PICK: Cincinnati

Denver (-1 1/2) @ Oakland.
Everything's telling me the Broncos should roll - but this line opened at Oakland favored by 2 1/2, and swung wildly on Tuesday - meaning everybody is betting Denver. Know which way to run when that happens. PICK: Oakland

Miami @ San Diego (-6).
PICK: Miami

Indianapolis @ Arizona (-2 1/2). PICK: Indianapolis

Carolina @ Dallas (-8 1/2). As my friends love to point out, I whiffed on predicting Matt Ryan's dominance. Thank God I have people like Tony Romo, who I've called a scrub since day one, to pick me up. PICK: Carolina

Last week: 10-6-0
Overall: 18-14-0

Monday, September 21, 2009

Wishing Wells

Oh man, this is amazing. Seven minutes of bliss, for a pop culture dork like myself.

From 1940, a discussion between Orson Welles and H.G. Wells, mentioning the then-recent radio broadcast of "War of the Worlds," World War II, and the film Welles is working on - a little something called Citizen Kane.

H/T: Wells (really).

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Aiding and A'Betting: Week Two

One of my favorite people. And Tony Gonzalez!

There was a particularly enjoyable string of plays in last Sunday's Atlanta Falcons/Miami Dolphins matchup.

Halfway through the third quarter, Dolphins QB Chad Pennington skipped back, targeting Anthony Fasano on his right. Just before the ball reached its target, linebacker Mike Peterson stepped in, made the interception and rumbled 39 yards into Miami territory. Three plays later, Matt Ryan found Tony Gonzalez for six points.

Three Falcons involved there: Peterson, Ryan, Gonzalez. Before Sunday, three guys with a total of 17 Falcons games between them - all from Ryan's rookie season. Three guys who never called Michael Vick a teammate, who never called Bobby Petrino "coach." Three guys who are the work of general manager Thomas Dimitroff, a guy so good I barely flinched after he recently cut two of my favorite players (DJ Shockley, Thomas Brown). At this point, if the 'Troff makes a decision, I'm assuming it's the right one.

I've said it before, I'll definitely say it again: having a general manager smarter than me is a welcome addition to Falcons fandom. (I'm still pissed about taking WR Jammi German - he of the 20 catch career - before Hines Ward in the 1998 draft.)

The picks:

Oakland @ Kansas City (-3). Two 0-1 teams that nevertheless looked better than expected last weekend. Well, better than most expected, because (cue high-pitched voice) someone said the Chiefs would surprise. (Notice how 90% of these columns are me cherry-picking past pseudo-glorys? That will never change.) PICK: Kansas City

Houston @ Tennessee (-6 1/2).
As of last week's Tennessee/Pittsburgh game, I am officially sold on Twitter. I kicked off the NFL regular season on my couch, phone in one hand, Firefly tallboy in the other. As the game progressed, I kept updating my Twitter app, and it provided a bizarre sense of insight. Journalists like Peter King, Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter were constantly weighing in, as were players like Chad Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald. So for the next night game, be sure to follow @joshmassey1 - I try to invent one new curse word an hour. PICK: Houston

New England (-3 1/2) @ NY Jets.
Like all non-assholes nationwide, I was pissed after New England's come-from-behind win on Monday night. Leodis McKelvin, a pox on you and yours. But there was a monster silver lining embedded beneath Tom Brady's fuckbaggery: the Patriots might not be that good this year. Brady looked shaky, which is understandable; however, the rest of the team seemed to tremble as well, which is uncharacteristic. Maybe, just maybe, their defensive losses and total lack of running game will black hole their asses, collapsing them on top of themselves. At the very least, I'm hoping it takes a few weeks for them to regain form, just long enough for Atlanta's 9/27 Foxboro visit to end in an upset. (But give me a break with Brady not beating Sanchez by more than 3 1/2). PICK: New England

Cincinnati @ Green Bay (-9).
PICK: Cincinnati

Minnesota (-10) @ Detroit. If Asher Allen picks off Matthew Stafford, I just might cry. (Tears of joy, mind you.) PICK: Detroit

New Orleans @ Philadelphia (PICK). One of the problems with holding season tickets is having to miss other great games. Like this one, with a hobbled Philly O against a swiss cheese New Orleans D, and a stout Philly D battling a fire-fighting New Orleans O. I'm siding with the defensive strength on this one, because 1) Kolb/Garcia should be able to pilot the Eagles just enough, and 2) I hate the f'ing Saints. PICK: Philadelphia

Carolina @ Atlanta (-6).
Last week, I tailgated all day Saturday for UGA/South Carolina, spent the night in Athens, and went straight to the Georgia Dome for Atlanta/Miami. Around the third quarter, my neighbor turned and said "Y'all sure are quiet." Now here comes the test: was I quiet because of exhaustion, or was I quiet because everybody around me was a drunk fuckbag? The guy to my left does shots straight from a whiskey bottle every time the Falcons score (he offered, we declined). The guys to my right think they're hilarious, and that everybody within 50 feet deserve to hear their jokes. The guy two rows in front of my wears a Falcons jersey with "Crazylarry" on the back - and, well, Crazy Larry is kind of awesome. I like Crazy Larry. So will I become Crazy Josh this week with a more restful Saturday? Or will I realize I need to step up and get lower level seats next year, where the boring people tend to sit? PICK: Atlanta

From last week's game. NOT lower level seats.

St. Louis @ Washington (-9 1/2). Put a little faith in the Redskins, and last week's turd is what I get. In related news, I think there's a good chance the Supreme Court forces Washington to change its mascot (while I don't mind changing the mascot, I hate this kind of government intrusion). So what would the new name be? Bring back the Washington Senators, football version? Washington Freedom (gay)? Maybe the Washington Generals is fitting, as they always get spanked by New York teams. What about the Washington Snyders? You know he's thinking about it. PICK: St. Louis

Arizona @ Jacksonville (-3). Patrick Swayze, man. That actually sucks. Celebrity deaths don't really bother me that much - I mean, I worshipped Michael Jackson as a kid, but didn't really feel anything when he went. But Swayze always seemed like a truly nice guy, a dude who saw superstardom for a few years, but still remained married to his high school sweetheart until his last breath. And plus, the dude starred in Red Dawn, Road House and Point Break, three of the best "guy movies" of all time. (I'll forgive him Dirty Dancing.) PICK: Arizona

Seattle @ San Francisco (-1 1/2). Another death this week got swept under the Swayze rug a bit: Henry Gibson. Older folks best remember him for "Laugh In," but the images that popped in my head were the Illinois Nazi from The Blues Brothers, and the creepy neighbor in The 'Burbs. Of course, at this time it is most fitting to highlight his brief work in 1977's The Kentucky Fried Movie.

PICK: Seattle

Tampa Bay @ Buffalo (-5). PICK: Buffalo

Cleveland @ Denver (-3).
Did anybody enjoy Jay Cutler's Sunday implosion more than Denver fans? PICK: Denver

Baltimore @ San Diego (-3).
"My name is Peaches, and I'm the best. All the DJs want to feel my breasts." Sorry, that Coming to America rap has nothing to do with this game - it has just been stuck in my head for the last hour. And no, I don't know why. PICK: Baltimore

Pittsburgh (-3) @ Chicago.
Fantasy football update, because you care: So I'm a little nervous about the quarterback situation. Mr. Jay Cutler did not, er, cut it in Week One, throwing four picks to only one touchdown. My backup Carson Palmer only had two picks, but zero TDs. I believe it's tradin' time, because I have too much self-respect to go with free agents Matt Sanchez or Jeff Garcia. (I did win the first game, though - making it 21 months since my last loss. Bitches). PICK: Chicago

NY Giants @ Dallas (-3). Yeah, yeah, Tony Romo looked good last week, enough to make enough media guys, network execs, and top-heavy singers to collectively shit. But I'm pretty sure I could start at QB against Tampa Bay and come away with similar numbers. Let's see you do it this week, Ponyboy. PICK: NY Giants

Indianapolis (-3) @ Miami. The Colts are on the verge of signing Hank Baskett this week, and I would love - love - to see Baskett's wife, "Girls Next Door" star Kendra Wilkinson, interact with Peyton Manning. PICK: Miami

Last week: 8-8-0
Overall: 8-8-0

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Aiding and A'Betting: Week One


Last year, my NFL picks column was called "Betcha Bottom Dollar," which is the gayest name possible for a football post. I mean, it's pretty much an Annie reference. But now - we're all man.

"Aiding and A'Betting." Cops and robbers shit, right? "Aiding" because I'm helping you win money ... by "a'betting" on football! Get it? Man, if blog titles had dicks, "Aiding and A'Betting" would have a huge one.

And as far as the "aiding" part goes, I promise to get back to that this year. My 2008 picks proved a little lacking, as I ended 10 games under .500. The year before, 12 games under. In 2006 - well, in 2006, I was eleven games OVER. So we're steering our ship back to the olden days when The Departed ruled at the box office and James Blunt dominated the airwaves!

Journey back with me, won't you?

The picks:

Tennessee @ Pittsburgh (-5). The Super Bowl champ opens the season at home, as tradition dictates. Tradition also continues to dictate the Titans being the most boring "good" team in professional football; you'll have to bet on this game to be awake in the 4th quarter. Seriously, Tennessee is a team predicted by most to be playoff-calibre, but can you name five guys on it? PICK: Pittsburgh

Miami @ Atlanta (-4). Aww yeah, bitches - the Falcons begin their Super Bowl run right here. Saturday will be spent tailgating for the UGA/South Carolina game, and after crashing in Athens that night, I'll drive straight to the Georgia Dome for this one. If I'm still alive for the post-game celebration, my liver will have become a cyborg (not sure exactly what that means, but I love the word "cyborg"). PICK: Atlanta

Kansas City @ Baltimore (-12 1/2). Ray Rice, baby! If you're unfamiliar, s'ok - but you will be reading that name a lot in this space, as he's my fantasy football team's super-duper sleeper running back. This seems as good a place as any to rehash my historic fantasy football run of 2008, in which I went undefeated in the regular and post-season (after taking insta-injured Tom Brady in the first round). It helped that I had many names who ended up being early '09 picks - Michael Turner, Steve Slaton, DeAngelo Williams, Aaron Rodgers, Reggie Wayne, Patrick Willis, etc. This year's squad lacks the starpower, as I choked a bit and ending up with a mediocre two-headed Cutler/Palmer monster at QB, and an iffy but high-ceiling RB corps (Steven Jackson, Rice, Donald Brown). The defense and WRs (Fitzgerald, Smith, Royal) should carry me to a third straight champio - wait, are you still reading this? Seriously? What's wrong with you? PICK: Kansas City

Philadelphia (-2) @ Carolina. I hate when teams play the "disrespected" card, but what the hell? The Panthers had an awful playoff game, but at least it came after a 12-win season. And now they find themselves home dogs to an Eagles team that doesn't even have Michael Vick yet? Oh, right - Delhomme. It sorta makes sense. PICK: Philadelphia

Denver @ Cincinnati (-4).
I really need to start watching the backlog of "Hard Knocks" on my DVR. PICK: Denver

Minnesota (-4) @ Cleveland. And here is 2009's debut "WTF" spread. I'm not sold on Brett Favre regaining his Pro Bowl form, but there's no way the Browns should stay in this one. They'll (allegedly) be starting Brady Quinn behind a horrible O-line, be running Jamal Lewis at a stacked d-line, and have to contend with Adrian Peterson. Of course, this means bet heavy on the Browns, because Vegas knows something I don't. But it's only Week One, so I haven't learned that lesson yet. PICK: Minnesota

NY Jets @ Houston (-4 1/2). As one of my favorite pastimes is reveling in the destruction of media-anointed idols (see Romo, Tony), I'm going to enjoy any Mark Sanchez flops out of the gate. This should be Round 1 in that department. PICK: Houston

Jacksonville @ Indianapolis (-7). The Colts are looking for their eighth straight 10-win seasons, which is pretty sick in this era of parity (they're only behind San Francisco's 16 straight in the record books). I called them to get 10 wins a couple weeks ago, but I've been mentally downgrading them every day since. Manning and Co. could end up 13-3, or 6-10, and I'd actually believe any scenario in-between right now. If they can't handle a depleted Jags squad, the season will be a long one. PICK: Jacksonville

Detroit @ New Orleans (-13).
Well, my three-year streak of rooting for Matthew Stafford continues here, as I'd love New Orleans to start the season in the loss column. That said ... PICK: New Orleans

Dallas (-6) @ Tampa Bay. This season is going to have its fun moments - Vick's debut, Favre in Green Bay, Roddy White's 35 touchdowns. None, though, may be more fundamentally satisfying than seeing the Cowboys struggle. Instead of spending $1 billion on a new stadium, owner Jerry Jones should have invested in a new quarterback, one that's not the Jeff George of the 21st century. How quickly will the media turn, though? (Dallas probably wins this, but it will be embarrassingly close). PICK: Tampa Bay

San Francisco @ Arizona (-6). I hate to praise a Red Sox fan, but Bill Simmons delivered one of his best columns today. It captures the absurdity of this NFL season in lengths that only a paid columnist could go to (seriously, I could make this column hella better with some Paypal donations). PICK: Arizona

Washington @ NY Giants (-6 1/2). As my opinion of the Colts are waning, the aura around the Redskins is getting a little brighter. I'm not ready to call a Super Bowl win, but if there's a big upset this weekend, look no further. PICK: Washington

St. Louis @ Seattle (-8 1/2). PICK: St. Louis

Chicago @ Green Bay (-3 1/2). My fantasy QB (Jay Cutler) vs. the fantasy QB I desperately wanted (Aaron Rodgers). I'll feel a whole lot better about this season if Cutler comes through here. PICK: Green Bay

Buffalo @ New England (-10 1/2). Smells a bit like a 42-10 schmacking. PICK: New England

San Diego (-9) @ Oakland. I'm looking at a list of top overall draft picks from the last decade. After getting over that eight drafts have passed since the Falcons took Vick, I realize JaMarcus Russell owes Alex Smith a huge debt o' grat - without Smith, Russell would take the title of "worst top pick of the 21st century." Even David Carr had the excuse of playing for an expansion team. And to think, the Raiders could have selected Calvin Johnson, Joe Thomas, LaRon Landry, Adrian Peterson, Patrick Willis - yikes. PICK: San Diego

Overall: 0-0-0

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Walk hard

I think I've just decided on my tailgating drink of choice. Because this. Is. Awesome.

H/T: Hollywood Elsewhere.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Hell and Hunt

So that didn't take long.

Over the weekend, some juicy Rambo tidbits leaked out, including the new film's title. In 2011, Rambo V: The Savage Hunt will appear from a wall of mud, implant a steel knife into our collective bosom, drizzle blood upon our pantaloons - and we will giggle at the awesomeness of it all. (The cheap Photoshop job above was created to publicize the film at this week's Toronto Film Festival.)

Of course, I would expect a name change before the film hits theaters. The last entry was called Rambo IV, Rambo IV: In the Serpent's Eye, Rambo IV: Pearl of the Cobra and John Rambo, before being released as just Rambo. So accordingly, expect something like Ram. Or Bo.

From the sounds of multiple online reports, the script is based on James Byron Huggins' 1999 novel "Hunter," which Stallone optioned years ago. A synopsis from Amazon:

In the near future, illegal medical experiments in Alaska have created this nearly indestructible creature of incredible cunning and savagery, who goes on a rampage through the ranks of the research stations. To cover their blunder, the government sends out an elite team of special-operations warriors, led by the title character, Nathaniel Hunter, a mountain man born out of time and the best tracker in the world. Meanwhile, U.S. marshals are on the trail of the secret and the cover-up, intervening in the action in an unexpected way.
So Variety's report of a Taken-like standoff between Rambo and Mexican druglords seems plucked out of thin air (or maybe, hope hope hope, that is Rambo VI they refer to). Either way, it seems Stallone is going ahead with what he discussed last year - an opportunity to take the character into a new genre. Because that sounds very science-fictiony to me.

Don't believe me, though. Believe Stallone, who tried to clarify the reports in a voicemail to Ain't It Cool's Harry Knowles. In fact, if that clarified anything to you, clue me in.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Sucker punch

Oh Mr. Stallone, how you toy with my emotions.

Two days after the glorious, world-altering Rambo V announcement, Sylvester Stallone's The Expendables has been delayed from April 23rd to August 20th, 2010. (If you're unfamiliar with the film, punch yourself in the vag and read here, here, here and here.)

According to Variety, we pretty much have the irritatingly-titled-due-to-my-spelling-OCD Inglourious Basterds to thank for this. Quentin Tarantino's film proved a blood-drenched, male-driven action flick could thrive in the late summer, so Lionsgate decid - FUCK YOU, TARANTINO! DIE, YOU SON OF A BITCH! I HATE YOUR FACE!

Or maybe the delay will allow Stallone to make the film a little bit better, who knows? Like Michelangelo could have finished the Sistine Chapel and then the church dude was like, hey man, we're not having mass for three more weeks, and Michelangelo was like, ok, I guess I can add some blue over there, and now people are like, man, the use of blue right there is genius. So maybe that can happen to The Expendables.

Silver linings, man.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Five for fighting

In the midst of a rough week, I can always count on my best friend to try and lift my spirits. One who has been with me from the beginning, one who always lends a helping hand, one who knows what I need to hear when I'm down.

Yes, I'm referring to Sylvester Stallone. Obviously. On Monday, Variety announced Rambo V is coming to a theater near me, sooner than expected.

Nu Image/Millennium Films has greenlit the franchise's fifth installment, with Sylvester Stallone starring and directing, repeating his duties from 2008's "Rambo."

The upcoming project's storyline revolves around Rambo fighting his way through human traffickers and drug lords to rescue a young girl abducted near the U.S.-Mexico border. Production will start in the spring.
Ok, that's not quite the way Stanicek described it last night. He led me to believe Rambo was actually sitting at the border, in a rocking chair or something, picking off illegal immigrants with a sniper rifle - which of course was much cooler. But I'll gladly take a hard-R, blood-soaked version of Taken, because Taken was pretty cool and Stallone is only about a million times more talented than Liam Neeson. Heh-heh, more like Liam Neesuck.

To say I'll be there opening night is a given; to say I'll be stalking the set if it's within two hours of my sister's Arizona house is another one. For now, I will wait patiently, and resort to figuring out the eventual title.

Rambo V.
Rambo: First Blood Part V.
Rambo III Part 3.
John Rambo.
Rambo Kills The Mexis And Eats Their Tacos.

The possibilities are endless. And yet I will still come up with every one.