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