Saturday, April 29, 2006

What awful timing 

This news will be enough to make England fans cry. Wow. Wayne Rooney out for 6 weeks with a fractured right foot and England's World Cup opener exactly 6 weeks away, too. I was of the opinion that a full strength England squad would have at least a semifinal run in them. But this changes that outlook. The big question now is who pairs with Owen (himself recovering from injury) at forward? What a nightmare scenario for Sven.


Who is the favorite, now? 

*Hits play button on tape deck, bumps Usher* Yeah! What? Okay! Lakers looked sweet in Game 3, most notably because Kobe Bryant was notthe leading scorer! What?! Okay! Last night's game had absolutely no business being as close as it was, given how the Lakers were able to dominate tempo and keep the momentum for about 45 of the game's 48 minutes. But that's a credit to just how dangerous Phoenix's shooting is. Lakers killed them on the boards, got them in foul trouble, and yet the Suns were right there 'til the end. However, the Lakers missed a lot of free throws late just to make their fans sweat, I'm sure. Thank God we finally put a body on Tim Thomas. He single-handedly kept Phoenix in the game in the 1st quarter. Last night might be a watershed moment for Smush, Kwame, and Luke. All turned in strong games and they did it at the right time. In sports, confidence is everything, and it seems like these three have finally not only earned the right, but feel themselves that they deserve to share the court with Kobe and Lamar. And credit to the bench for stepping up once again, particularly Brian Cook who had 6 offensive boards. One thing LA has to focus on is making sure they stop the ball when Phoenix is driving down the court. Can't stress enough how many easy baskets Phoenix got out of that.

I think the shoe is now on the other foot as far as who the favorite is. I can't believe it, personally. Just a week ago, this scenario seemed laughable. This series is anything but over and the Suns know that they just took LA's best shot. Lakers just need to keep doing what they're doing, playing within themselves, and forcing the halfcourt game. Keep that up and we'll have only the fifth 2nd seed/7th seed upset in NBA history.


Thursday, April 27, 2006

Knotted up, 1-1 

So, the only NBA first round series I'm paying explicit attention to just got a lot more interesting. Game 2: Lakers 99 Suns 93.

After the first quarter, I noted that LA was looking pretty decent and absolutely doing as they pleased on the interior, but they weren't taking care of the basketball and turning it over non-stop. Then the second quarter began and, before anyone knew it, the Lakers went on a 16-0 run and the Suns scored just 4 points in 7 minutes. It was amazing! Holding Phoenix to 38 points at halftime??? I'm not sure I can adequately describe it. Suffice it to say, they were getting fewer open looks than in game one where the Lakers seemingly refused to guard the perimeter. I feel good about getting at least one victory in LA, but it's no gimmie. The Suns shot themselves out of the first half, but quickly shot themselves back into the game in the second half after being down by as many as 17. Lots of credit to the Lakeshow for not wilting each time Phoenix cut it down to three. Good win. I'm most impressed by how consistent we were, something everyone would highlight as a trouble spot for us. Lakers always have a hard time stringing together a good 48 minutes. But we did last night and look where it got us. And talk about a role reversal in bench production! Man alive! Sasha Vujacic, where have you been, buddy! Welcome back.

Kind of wish Smush Parker wasn't on the court during the second half. That guy just doesn't have a very good basketball IQ. Stupid mistakes all over the show from Smush.

We all know the blueprint for beating the Suns: dominate the interior, limit open shots, force a halfcourt game... but did the Lakers actually just execute that? I think they did. I think they just did! Ah, the benefits of having a good coach. And now that the Lakers have realized that blueprint for success against Phoenix, for the first time, I believe that we have a fighting chance at winning this series. Now for the tricky part: do it three more times.

Great lines for both Kobe (29/10/5) and Lamar (21/7/5) respectively.


Firefox smells terrific. It just does. 

Hey, everybody. Just want you all to know that I SMELL TERRIFIC thanks to Firefox web browser. Apparently the spec ad many of my friends put together, wherin I make a cameo, is now on Firefox's official website as a candidate to be "the big winner." So check it out, watch it, love it, then be so kind as to rate it five stars. That would be swell. DO IT!



Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Barry Bonds on the TV 

I'd be remissed if I didn't plug this latest issue of SMRT TV, featuring an article by yours truly about the Barry Bonds vehicle Bonds on Bonds.

Semi-related, in as much as it is about a character first seen on television, I'm going to an advanced screening tonight of the Borat movie directed by Seinfeld legend Larry Charles! I can only hope that the character will be able to sustain a feature-length film.


The 2nd movie of the 21st Century 

We're all, by now, familiar with the first film entry of the new millenium. A film that defies qualitative judgement at every turn. Until last Friday, I was sure that there could never be another. Then I saw Silent Hill. You have to understand, I was actually pretty excited about seeing this movie, having had so much fun playing the video game with my friends. The game is really creepy. Loads of fun when you're with bunches of people. The trailer, I thought, was just plain awesome and surely it would capture the feel of the video game and give me exactly what I want (much the way that Dreamcatcher suckered me in). Well, I got the video game, all right. Perhaps in too literal a form. It's as if they lifted the stilted acting and dialogue, the exact same music cues, and all the ethereal elements of the video game (including what is clearly a "save point") and put them on the screen, but forgot that they were making a movie. As is, the parts that comprise the video game don't translate into big-screen narrative at all. I can only imagine how maddening and confusing it must be to watch this movie without ever having seen or played the video game because, frankly, not even I (who played the game) had any fucking clue what was happening. It was amazing. FASCINATING. I walked out of the theater in a state of disappointment and utter curiousity and remarked to my friends that right then and there, at 1 a.m. when the film let out, that I could watch the whole thing again, right away. It's a study in pure nonsense and, really my friends, it has contributed more to the world of film than we may ever fully realize in our lifetime. Absolutely mad. You can be sure that a 21st Century double feature is on the bill as soon as this movie is released on DVD. Highlights of the film: how about anything that the cop character does? Ever. She's so awful. It's hypnotic. Personal highlight: the film goes to great lengths to make it clear that the town of Silent Hill perished in a fire. So, 2/3 of the way through the movie, when the main character walks into an abandoned building and remarks, "Looks like there was a fire here," I couldn't help but laugh "No shit!" It got a laugh.

Know what movie I watched again the other night out of sheer boredom? Major League! That movie is wonderfully ridiculous on several levels. yet totally satisfying. Especially -- ESPECIALLY -- the oft overlooked performance of terrific deadpan actor James Gammon.

Right now, I'm watching the Arsenal/Villareal soccer match. Coming back from halftime a drunk Spanish fan ran on to the field and delivered a Barcelona jersey to Arsenal forward Thierry Henry before getting tackled and handcuffed by security. The jersey actually had Henry's name on the back of it! Trust me, it was hilarious.


Sunday, April 23, 2006

Setting the tone 

Well, game one of the Suns/Lakers series just ended. Nothing surprising. Pretty much went as expected. Which is to say, the Suns won despite a late surge from LA.

You really really really have to wonder what some of these "analysts" are thinking picking the Lakers to win this series. If we were playing Denver, the Clippers, Sacramento, or even Dallas, I'd pick the Kobes. However, the Lakers have done nothing this season to prove that they can hang with Phoenix. Our defense is nowhere near consistent enough to keep up with the Suns' manic pace. Kwame Brown has played well down the stretch, but he can hardly be counted on, game-in-game-out, to impose his presence down low. His game simply isn't there yet. Unless Steve Nash goes down, we're toast.

The Lakers are so bad at defending the perimeter that the only way the Suns lose this series is if they shoot their way out of it. The Lakers shoot 58% in the first quarter and were still down by 10 at the end of it. Teams who shoot the three as well as Phoenix does don't lose many when they are consistently getting wide open looks at the basket.

Now, that being said, Lamar Odom had a strong game. Kwame was a contributor and Luke Walton really stepped it up. It was actually Kobe of all people who couldn't establish a rhythm. Particularly in the fourth quarter.

Credit the Lakers for coming back from 14 points down and making it interesting, but I can't help but feel they tied it up by accident. That is to say, Phoenix wasn't hitting any 3s in the 2nd and 3rd quarter. I'm not convinced that the Lakers made any significant adjustments. Bizarre that Kobe didn't take over in the 4th. That's something I would've bet on after it was tied 75-75 after three quarters.

Tim Thomas killed us with open basket after wide open basket. Lakers are a year away from being able to beat the Suns in a seven-game series. Hopefully our fortunes are better on Wednesday. You can bet that Kobe will erupt for some big points, but will he be able to get his teammates as involved as they were today? But that's always the quandry. Bryant gets his teammates involved and you have the chance he doesn't have a rhythm. If he goes for 40, you have guys standing around. Their best chance in this series is keeping the rest of the Lakers pounding the soft Suns D rather than relying on just Kobe. Regardless, you still expect your best player (the league's best player) to show up in crunch time. Especially against a team that has as much difficulty closing out games as the Suns do. Sheesh, I haven't seen such a lack of killer instinct from an "elite" team in a very long time.


Friday, April 21, 2006

"Me too!" 

Shouts the NBA. "I know you much prefer the NHL, Master, but please talk about us, won't you? It would be ever so much fun."

If there's anything I don't care for, it's groveling. Very well, NBA, I'll give you your time, as well. But know that while you are entertaining in the later stages, you are utterly predictable. Last season, I called every single playoff series. The trick? Pick the better team. Unlike the radically different construct which is ice hockey, basketball is designed with little-to-no room for upsets.

So, as I watch the 8th seed Edmonton Oilers lead the top-seeded Detroit Red Wings 2-1 in the 3rd period on the ice, on a day where I heard a small child on the Hollywood Walk of Fame ask, "Where's Kelly Clarkson's star?" (I shit you not, this country is going to hell in a handbasket) and I saw a Subway employee dining at In N' Out (that was priceless), let's talk some playoff hoops.

First off, it's a forgone conclusion that the Finals will be between San Antonio and Detroit. Do not let anyone try and convince you otherwise. Neither Phoenix or Dallas will be able to unseat the Spurs out West and Detroit's consistency in the East is too much for either Miami or New Jersey to handle in a seven-game series.

Eastern Conference
1 Detroit vs 8 Milwaukee - The underdog Bucks have a good team. Maybe next year, they'll have the record to match. They have a lot of talent, but are simply outclassed in every department. Sweep! Detroit in four.

2 Miami vs 7 Chicago - Pundits seem to think that Chicago has a fighting chance. Number of go-to-guys on the Heat: 2. On Chicago: 0. Shaq and Wade make short work of the gritty Bulls. Miami in five.

3 New Jersey vs 6 Indiana - Without a doubt, the best first round matchup in the entire playoffs. Jersey fans are nervous and they should be. They don't have an adequate answer for Jermaine O'Neal down in the post. But the Pacers' inconsistency has plagued them all season and, much like their hockey counterparts, the New Jersey Nets ended the regular season as the hottest team in the league. Jason Kidd is back on his A-game, which means Vince Carter is actually going to give an honest effort. Good series. New Jersey in seven.

4 Cleveland vs 5 Washington - Should be a high-scoring affair between these two sides. Both have elite scorers in LeBron and Gilbert Arenas, but Washington has the experience of last season's 2nd round appearance on their side. If there are ever upsets in the NBA playoffs, they are in the 4/5 matchup. The Cavs need major contributions from their supporting cast, but I don't think they'll outshine the role-players on the Wizards. Washington in seven.

2nd Round
1 Detroit vs 5 Washington - The Pistons will be well-rested and the Wizards will still be recovering after outlasting Cleveland. The rust costs Chauncey, Ben, Rip, Rasheed, and Tayshaun one game. Detroit in five.

2 Miami vs 3 New Jersey - If New Jersey is going to have trouble with Jermaine O'Neal in the first round, you better believe Shaq is going to be a tough assignment. However! Last summer, Miami foolishly jettisoned some of the key players that made them so dangerous last season in favor of players like Antoine Walker and Jason Williams. This is where the mistake of those acqusitions comes back to haunt the Heat. Let's not forget, by the way, that Shaq Daddy isn't 100%. In a bit of an upset, New Jersey in seven.

Conference Final
1 Detroit vs 3 New Jersey - Once again, the Pistons will be rested and their opposition will be spent from the series before. The Nets play fast and fun. Detroit knows how to defend that, as well as run with it. They're tougher than Jersey, too. Making a third successive trip to the NBA Finals, Detroit in five.

Western Conference
1 San Antonio vs 8 Sacramento - The Kings are playing well, but they have their work cut out for them. They'll give the defending champs a battle, though they'll be fighting uphill all the way. San Antonio in six.

2 Phoenix vs 7 Los Angeles Lakers - Here we go, Lakers, here we go. Convincing arguments can be made on behalf of Kobe Bryant for MVP and Phil Jackson for Coach of the Year. The Lakeshow improved 11 games over last season's misery and are playing their best basketball of the season down the stretch. Lamar Odom has been present more often than not ('bout damn time) and Kwame Brown (that piece of crap?) is finding a steady rhythm down low. Both of those players are the key to beating Phoenix. The Lakers can beat any team on any given night (with the possible exception of San Antonio). The problem, however, is that there aren't many contenders that they can beat in a series. The Suns are one of them. Forget their last game of the season when Steve Nash and Raja Bell didn't play, the Suns pretty much swept through the Lakers this year. If they dictate tempo and play their game on the perimeter, this series should be over quickly. Kobe will go off for at least 40 points in each game, but I'm picking Phoenix in five (go Lakers!).

3 Denver vs 6 Los Angeles Clippers - Sigh... the Nuggets won their division, but it's the Clippers that have homecourt advantage because of a better record. I ask you, powers that be, WHAT THE HELL IS THE POINT OF HAVING DIVISIONS IF THERE IS NO REWARD FOR WINNING THEM?!? Why not just have two conferences and do away with divisions altogether??? You know what? It doesn't even matter. This series is completely an afterthought. Regardless of who wins, that team will fall to either Phoenix or the Lakers in round two. Fact is, this won't be an upset because of the Clippers' superior record and the fact that Denver isn't that good. Who ever thought they'd see the day when the Clippers advance further than the Lakers in the playoffs? Los Angeles in six.

4 Dallas vs 5 Memphis - The Grizzlies are 0-8 in the playoffs. They'll finish this season 2-12. Pity them for not being as fortunate as the Clippers. I'm still not convinced of anything by Dallas, but they'll win this one. Dallas in six.

2nd Round
1 San Antonio vs 4 Dallas - As I was saying, the Mavericks are still the ultimate paper tiger in sports. They can win all the regular season games in the world, but it means nothing if you can't beat the top dogs when it counts -- something the Mavericks have NEVER been able to do. The Spurs play better defense, will be absolutely dominant in the low post, and have superior guard play. This series won't be as close as the division race for the Southwest was. San Antonio in five.

2 Phoenix vs 6 Los Angeles Clippers - If they can beat the Lakers, they can probably beat the Clippers. However, Phoenix's big challenge this series will be Elton Brand on the interior. If the Suns can find a way to isolate the rest of the Clippers so that Brand is the only one contributing (as they'll certainly do with Kobe in the first round), they'll be okay. Kurt Thomas may even be back for the Suns late in the series. Phoenix in six.

Conference Final
1 San Antonio vs 2 Phoenix - Did you see last year's conference finals between these two? Remember what a walk it was for the Spurs? Okay, now remember that the Suns don't have Amare Stoudemire. Phoenix can control tempo against anyone except for the Spurs (and even the Pistons to a lesser extent). A lack of killer instinct will bite them in the butt. More of the same, San Antonio in five.

NBA Finals
Detroit vs San Antonio - A rematch of last year's listless finals, where the first four games were nothing short of torture to sit through. A Finals series full of blowouts? Who needs it? Who cares for that? No one. Thank God for Robert Horry injecting some life into that monstosity in game five. I have faith, though, that this year will see a much more open series as Flip Saunders is allowing his Pistons to play looser on offense. Just like last year, this one is going the distance. Flip a coin, but I like San Antonio in seven. That would be back-to-back championships for the Spurs and three times in four years. Finals MVP: Tim Duncan (duh).

Let's hoop it up.

By the way, the Red Wings and Oilers just went to overtime. Oh man, overtime hockey in the playoffs?? SO exciting!

Have a good weekend.


Some justice in the world 

Hooray! Malins is vindicated! Too bad Friends was such a lousy show.


Thank You For Smoking (and other things) 

Saw Thank You For Smoking a couple days ago. Immensely entertaining. Really, really enjoyed it. Very light, doesn't take itself too seriously. Funniest movie since Steve Carrell was a titular virgin. Perhaps the film's biggest drawback, though, is how much it LOVES Nik Naylor. It's apparent to you and me that he's slimey, but he sure is coated with chocolate and sprinkles the whole way through. I am perfectly happy with him being the protagonist, but he is so damn likable. It's a great contradiction. Still, really really enjoyed it. Very funny. I can only hope that this finally propels Aaron Eckhart into the more high profile roles he so richly deserves. Fantastic, underrated, underappreciated actor. If there are ten movies this year that are better than Brick and Thank You For Smoking, then it's going to be a good year.

Brief review of... things...

I have written for two shows that are currently on the air. They both air on Tuesday night, in fact, making for an hour and half of power. I wish I got residuals off of those...

The other night, Alex brought over a DVD of the Garfield the cat holiday specials. The Halloween special roughly holds up. The Thanksgiving episode makes John look like an abbhorent monster in every way. The man forces his grandmother at the last minute to prepare an impromptu Thanksgiving dinner (probably her second Thanksgiving meal preparation of the day) for him and his date. It's their first date, too. And they're the only two people eating. Meaning that their families don't love them. The Christmas episode is just simply AWFUL! Garfield, John, and Odie go to John's parent's house for Christmas dinner and presents. That's it. Nothing else happens. There's no story. They just go there. There aren't even any attempts at JOKES. It also becomes readily apparent that we have mistaken John Arbuckle and his brother, "Doc Boy," for their mid-thirties when in fact they're clearly still fifteen. Ugh... disturbing.

Nothing beats hanging out 'til late with your friends, shmoozing, relaxing, drinking, doing nothing in particular. Related to that, a limerick:
I often drink a lot of booze,
It makes me think I'll never lose.
I've eaten three cats,
I call my nipples, "Fats,"
Look at me, I'm Tom Cruise!

Quote of the day:
Albert Einstein - "It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer."

I should be working in a month and in the meantime relax. I could be in Cape Town, right now, and be back before the job started. But I'm not. Because things are dumb. So, PLEASE, do yourself a favor and watch that "Apu" post below once more.


The greatest campaign ad ever 

If you're living in Ohio, you probably already know, but for everyone else, bask in the glory that is this campaign ad for Ohio attorney general in which Subodh Chandra compares himself to one Apu Nahasapeemapetilon. It's just the best. I know nothing about this guy, but I'd vote for him based on this alone. Here's a man that knows how to win me over: with The Simpsons.


Thursday, April 20, 2006

Finally! April becomes relevant! 

To me, anyway. For you see, folks... it's playoff time. Oh yeah... oh, oh, don't stop... yeah... And it's a rare playoff time, at that. Thanks to hockey's two-week break for the Olympics, both the NHL and NBA will be starting up this weekend. Actually, the NHL drops on Friday. Which is why I'll preview them first (you'll get the NBA sometime later).

Really quickly, the LA Kings (a.k.a. "my team") completed an obscene free-fall to wrap the season. In January, they stood second place in the Western Conference. They finished tenth. Utterly shameful. Coach Andy Murray was fired last month and, yesterday, after the season finale (a surprising, albeit meaningless 4-0 win over San Jose), general manager Dave Taylor also got the axe. The positive news is that things can only get better next season. Right? Right???

Eastern Conference

1 Ottawa vs 8 Tampa Bay - An excellent first round matchup, but even if Dominik Hasek isn't available in goal, Ottawa is just too good to relent to the defending Cup champs. For most of the season, the Senators were the best team in the league. Their firepower is out of this world and their defensemen are incredible. They've got all the pieces to win this crazy thing, but it all depends on Hasek's health. Tampa puts up a valient effort, but they earned this 8-seed with a mediocre regular season. Ottawa in five.

2 Carolina vs 7 Montreal - The Hurricanes lost out on the top spot in the Eastern Conference on the last day of the season and may actually have received a more favorable first round playoff matchup because of it. The Canadiens are riding the lighting of netminder Cristobal Huet who has all of zero playoff experience. As Huet goes, so do the Habs. Martin Gerber isn't exactly Captain Experience for Carolina either, but players like Doug Weight will see to it that the popular pundit pick to reach the Stanley Cup at least moves on to round two. Carolina in six.

3 New Jersey vs 6 New York Rangers - Oh my... this is it. The first round series to watch featuring the hottest team in the league taking on likely the league MVP. Jersey had absolutely no business winning the Atlantic division, but the fact is that they're the hottest team in hockey and everything is clicking for them. Conversely, the Rangers lost the last five games to end the season, letting home-ice advantage slip away. A classic rivalry, but one team definitely looks much better than the other, right now. New Jersey in five.

4 Buffalo vs 5 Philadelphia - What we have here is perhaps the toughest first round series to call. Buffalo surpassed everyone's expectations this season by leaps and bounds and then some. They were supposed to be a last place team. The return of Jochen Hecht only bolsters their fortunes. The Flyers, though, have enough talent to win the Eastern Conference. Maybe even the Stanley Cup if things break right for them. Sabres' goalie, Ryan Miller, enters his first playoff series against a very tough opponent. One that will be hard to beat if Peter Forsberg is playing. It's the playoffs. I'm betting he musters up the nerve to get on the ice. Philadelphia in seven.

2nd round
1 Ottawa vs 5 Philadelphia - This one depends largely on the health of two of the world's best: Hasek and Forsberg. So let's call it a wash and say that both are hampered. The Senators are still the best team and the Flyers still have Robert Esche in goal, waiting to self-destruct at any second. Ottawa in six.

2 Carolina vs 3 New Jersey - Does anyone want to be playing the Devils, right now? Hell no. Martin Brodeur is the best goalie in hockey and NJ's defense lays the clamps down as well as anyone. A magnificent season ends here for the game Hurricanes as the Devils' experience propels them forward. New Jersey in seven.

Conference Final
1 Ottawa vs 3 New Jersey - Wow. If this comes to pass, it'll be a treat to watch. A large part of me is saying that I should stick with my pre-season pick of Ottawa to win the Stanley Cup, but who can pick against the Devils, right now? Oy vey. Senators in seven.

Western Conference
1 Detroit vs 8 Edmonton - The Red Wings secured home ice advantage throughout the playoffs yet again with another sterling regular season. During that regular season, they had their way with the Oilers. I see no reason why that should change. Edmonton manages to steal one game. Detroit in five.

2 Dallas vs 7 Colorado - Wow! In the first round?! These two?! Awesome. My dad loves Dallas as the team to beat out West and in this matchup, it's hard to argue. The Stars are absolutely built for the playoffs with veteran leadership and grit to spare. Joe Sakic & Co. out in the first round? I can't believe it either. Dallas in six.

3 Calgary vs 6 Anaheim - Another fantastic first round matchup, this one between the last two Western Conference champions. Goalie Mikka Kipprusoff anchors the best defense in the league in Calgary. I'm a bit shocked that no one seems to be talking about the Flames when picking teams to win the title. They face a Ducks team that was on a tear over the last month of the season. Teemu Selanne was racking up goals like it was his rookie season (when he netted 76!). I think home ice advantage will be the critical decider as this one goes the distance. Calgary in seven.

4 Nashville vs 5 San Jose - Poor Nashville. Yes, they have home ice, but they lost their star goalie, Tomas Vokoun, just days ago. To make matters worse, the Sharks are currently the hottest team in the Western Conference. I don't think the individual games will be blowouts, but this series will end quickly thanks to the super-combo of Joe Thornton and Jonathan Cheechoo. Sweep! San Jose in four.

2nd round
1 Detroit vs 5 San Jose - You have to love this matchup. It's essentially the Ottawa/New Jersey of the West. But in this one, I like the upset. If the Sharks can stay focused, they're primed to steal one or two games at Joe Louis Arena and spoil what could be Steve Yzerman's swan song. Do you know the way? (sorry) San Jose in seven.

2 Dallas vs 3 Calgary - Excellent goaltender matchup in Turco vs Kipprusoff. Here's why I like the Flames in this defensive battle: 1) Jarome Iginla is the best player between the two teams and he will have a great series. 2) I've seen the Stars fall apart late in games (witness the dominance the Kings held over them this season). 3) I picked the Flames to win the West at the start of the year and see no reason to back off of that just yet. Going the distance. Calgary in seven.

Conference Final
3 Calgary vs 5 San Jose - Well looky here. A rematch of the 2004 Western Conference Finals. As I just said, I have the Flames coming out of the West, but my lord do they have a tough road ahead of them. I have them going the distance in the first two series, so why not this one, too? Afterall, the Sharks may still be riding the high of upsetting Detroit. Calgary in seven.

Ottawa vs Calgary - That's right. I managed to justify a way to get my finals prediction to match what I called in the preseason. In some respects, I'm a stubborn man. It's heartbreak for the Flames, once again. Though this time they'll be spared the game seven defeat they suffered against Tampa Bay in 2004. The Senators possess the most dangerous skating unit on the ice and the line of Spezza, Alfredsson, and Heatley will cement their greatness with spectacular Stanley Cup performance. The Hasek/Emery platoon in goal should be enough to hold the fort on defense thanks to a top defensive corps lead by Zdeno Chara and Wade Redden. Your Stanley Cup Champions: The Ottawa Senators. Six games. Conn Smyth Trophy winner (playoff MVP): Daniel Alfredsson.

So there you have it. I loves me some playoff hockey. Bring on the games!


Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Hulk SMASH! 

Yeah, so I'm back in LA from Phoenix. While away, I did the following:
- Saw friends and had plenty of oh so quality time with the fam.
- Won $300,000 betting on the ponies
- Got married
- Bought a house
- Annulled marriage
- Was the only car on an otherwise busy highway at 2 a.m. on a Saturday night. It was surreal, especially after being in LA.
- Encountered a billboard reading simply, "One nation under me" -- God

Some of those are true. Some are not.

I was wearing a judge's robe this morning. I got to slam a gavel.

There's an Incredible Hulk marathon on Sci-Fi Channel today. I don't know why. Surely, there must be something else I can be doing. Hey, remember when Lou Ferrigno was "green" and Bill Bixby was "alive?" Wild.


Thursday, April 13, 2006

That wasn't worth $6.50 

I saw Inside Man this afternoon. How best to describe this movie... hmm... okay, Inside Man is like getting a really bad handjob. To a tee. While you're getting it, you become less and less convinced that it's worth the hassle, but you stick around because the promise for something more exciting looms. But there is no more excitement and all you're left with is a bad handjob -- You can't say it was worth sitting through and there are better things to spend your money on. Furthermore, the person administering the handjob (or making this film, as is the case) had more fun doing so than you did receiving it.

Two shows you need to be watching if you aren't already.
1. Bonds on Bonds - Perhaps the most interested I have ever been in reality television. Genius show.

2. The Colbert Report - I've been watching this show with more and more frequency as of late and I'll be damned if Stephen Colbert isn't a damn funny man. Perfect compliment to Daily. Furthermore, I propose a reimaging called The Daly Show starring Tim Daly. Doesn't necessarily have to be a satire of the news. Could just be his day-to-day routine. Greenlight that ish, mofo!

Ever wondered what the world would be like if racism were illegal? Just go to Brazil.


Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Everybody! I have an important announcement! 

In recapping my escapades in San Francisco this past weekend, I neglected to mention seeing my friend, Roberto, the Hakushaku for the first time in ages. He brought this to my attention. So, I just want everyone to be clear that I saw Roberto. In San Francisco. Where Roberto lives. Roberto is going to law school at Hastings. His girlfriend is moving this summer from Japan to live with him. "Him" being Roberto. The same Roberto who wants it to be known that I saw him this past weekend.

On a serious note, I implore each and every one of you to read and re-read his blog. Comic gold.

PS - Did I mention that I saw Roberto last weekend?


Why, hello there 

Feel like doing a little catching up? No? Well, hold still just a moment. This won't hurt but a little bit.

A.P.E. in San Francisco was a pretty fun time. San Fran, itself, is pretty grand. Would've been nice to have had a couple extra days just to kick around in the city, exploring and getting into trouble. As it was, the A.P.E. dominated most of our posse's time. I will say this, though. Whether you're drunk or sober, San Francisco is an absolute nightmare to navigate through if you're a visitor. The only difference between being lost when drunk versus sober is that you're enjoying yourself when you're drunk. For anyone living in L.A. that hasn't been to SF, think of Silverlake and how horrible it is to get around the streets there. Now imagine that Silverlake is the entire city. Sucks, doesn't it?

As for A.P.E. I didn't really know what to expect heading into the weekend. All I knew is that I was donning the uniform of Ca$h Milliondollars and philandering around the convention hall, promoting the ever-loving hell out of Asa's online comic (for which I am the muse). And that's what I did. Bling, blazer, captain's hat, white snakeskin shoes (which cut the hell out of my achilles tendons), monacle and all. I was pretty well in character on Saturday and as I dropped fliers and sample strips from booth-to-booth, I encountered mostly warm, positive responses. Here's the gammit of welcomes I received and my response to each:

Them - Nice hat, Captain.
Me - Why thank you. It's mine.

Them - Hey, I really like your monacle (got many many compliments on the monacle)!
Me - Oh sure, had it specially made with custom plastics. Rare.

Them - Hey, Captain. Where's Tenile?
Me - The fuck you think she is? I hacked her up into little pieces, some of which you can find in the dumpster out back. By the way, I fucked your mother and then pissed on your father's rotting corpse. Here... have a flier. We're at the booth down on the righthand side.

Generally a very friendly lot on the whole. As you might imagine, I ran into several people either later on Saturday afternoon, Saturday night, and/or Sunday who would snag me aside to say hi to the Captain. It was swell. Much smaller convention than I had expected, but the one panel I attended was a fairly accurate encapsulation of who was in attendance. As opposed to the super-nerds one might find at Comic Con, these were predominantly struggling, independant artists with a very workman-like ethic, dreaming of success while firmly grounded in the reality of how exceedingly difficult it is to excel in the comic book industry. Much less the mini-comic industry. It's a sensibility that I found true and respectable. I like it.

The drive back to LA on Sunday night went off without a hitch. Monday was filled with recupperation and organization, but over the course of the day I encountered little scenes that made me take stock in people or shun them. I did neither outwardly, but just observing can do wonders for your perspective. Walking back from lunch on Hollywood Blvd, I saw two elderly men, perhaps in their 60s, enjoying the Hollywood Walk of Fame. They were clearly from out of town and having a ball. One knelt down in front of Alfred Hitchcock's star while the other took a picture of him. The song "Old Friends" by Simon and Garfunkel immediately sprung to mind and I was actually really touched by the moment.

A little later, walking to the metro to pick up my car from the shop, I stopped at a crosswalk and hit the crosswalk button. As I do so, I see a pair of ladies arriving at the same time I do, observing me pressing the button. A beat and then one of the women hits the button, too. Why? Why'd she do that? She saw me press it. Two seconds earlier! I just gave her a glare as she slurped her stupid Jamba Juice. I'll teach her not to trust my button-pushing abilities. With a staredown!

So I hop on the Metro headed for downtown, grab a seat. A stop later, two high school girls sit next to me. They're gabbing and whatever and it's melodramatic and yadda yadda yadda. Then one drops a bomb on the other, revealing that the guy her friend doesn't like took her virginity and that's why she's stuck with him for so long. Not only that, but they did it unprotected. The girl with the confession begins to weep openly and her friend hugs her, burying her face in her bosom. The tears fade away and it seems as if a palpable weight has been lifted off the shoulders of not only this girl, but the whole train. The friends walk off at their stop, arm-in-arm. They couldn't have been older than 16.

Later, at the post office, I was sending off my taxes. Reaching the window, I asked for a pen so that I could write down the addresses on the envelopes. So I step out of line to do so, will come right back when I'm done, let the next person go ahead. But that next person... man... his face was totally fucked. Sounds harsh, but the guy's nose was literally bone thin -- the type of nose that could only have resulted from having your face burned off. But the guy wasn't a burn victim. Just his nose. And he had really long, stringy, greasy hair. Anyway, he steps up to the counter and the postal employee asks if Burnface's envelope was picked up at this location. If so, he'd had to pay for it. Simple question. Burnface got all red. Obsenities, personal attacks on the employee. It was ugly. Finally the employee relents and Burnface asks for a stapler so that he can "be sure his package is sealed. (tee hee)" This leads to another squabble as the employee states calmly that they're not supposed to staple packages. "WHY?" asks Burnface. He's told that the staples could hurt some postal worker's fingers (admittedly weak reasoning, but okay). Burnface's response, "Aww, well we wouldn't want that, huh? We wouldn't want anyone to hurt themselves on the staples. Let me ask you, does it make you sad to hear about all those dead soldiers in Iraq? Does it make you sad? Huh? Just answer the question, does it make you sad to hear about Iraq?" At this point, my head is buried deeply in my hands and I, like everyone else in the room, just wanted this guy out. For crying out loud, Burnface, just because you have a not-burn-face, doesn't mean you have to be a royal prick to this rarest of rare beings -- the polite, friendly postal worker. God! Quit being such a Burnface. "What the hell do you even have a stapler for, then," he snaps. "To staple receipts." ... "Oh."

Watched a surprising crowd-pleaser yesterday in Millions. Judging from the preview, I thought it would be the sappiest, syrupiest saccharine this side puppies and teddy bears giving Valentines to small children with cancer. What I found instead was an incredibly wonderful piece of storytelling. It's simple, clever, sweet, and sincere. And never does it once attempt to trivialize the emotions or actions of our young protagonists. Good film. Check it out.

I bet you're tired. You? Hey, I just drove into Phoenix, today. The travels don't stop on this white hot bus of passion. A.K.A. my bod. Went out to dinner tonight with my dad before he jetted off to work at an establishment called "Bahama Breeze." More like, "Diarrhea Breeze." No, actually, the food was fine. But the place was exactly like an Islands restaurant. Everything about it. The interior, the staff uniforms, menus, layout, you name it. Shit, even the front of the menus said, "Welcome to the Islands," which I found pretty funny. Anyway, I urge that you all refer to that place as "Diarrhea Breeze."

Good night.


Thursday, April 06, 2006


Ahoy, ahoy. Unemployment, as I'm sure you're all aware of, is stupid and boring. I job hunt, work the phones, check the web for any new gigs, motivate myself to do some writing, blast through a season of Winning Eleven 9, and watch DVDs. Actually, those last three aren't so bad, but it's the hustling that's a pain. Though, I'll tell ya, it's nice finally having an opportunity to get some of the clerical aspects of my life in order. Like taxes, car maintenance, groceries, attending more Guild functions and rallying the proletariat. I'm boring myself writing this. Fortunately for everyone, Cash Milliondollars will be hitting the Alternative Press Expo in San Francisco this weekend in support of Mastodon City (it's where mastodons live). I just referred to myself in the third person, didn't I? I'm such a twat. Anyway, those Atrox kids will also be in SF, tearing it up with us. Plus there's a bachelor party that needs attending. You've been warned, San Francisco. I haven't visited you since I was nine. Be ready. The monacle will be in full effect.

And then, next week, yeah, I suppose I'll be in Phoenix for a few days. Driving in on Tuesday, primarily to spend Passover with the family and... (ugh) family friends. That'll be a treat. I look forward to a steady stream of the following two questions: "How do you like LA?" "What exactly do you do?" Yup. That'll be great... (no, it won't).

Just rewatched the entire series of The Office-UK. Still utterly brilliant.

I'll leave you with this: Hugh Laurie vs Bob Balaban. Deathmatch. Who wins? You know that Laurie has the height and reach advantage, but I think Balaban may have a little more fire in him. Plus the English tend to be a bit reserved, don't they? Advantage Balaban. They're both scrappers, though, so who can say? For now, I'll put my nickel on the American underdog.

Look forward to even more infrequent updates.


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

I watched a lousy basketball game last night 

But I did it on a 72" projector, so it wasn't all bad. Really, though, Florida's thrashing of UCLA is barely even worth a mention except to say that Florida proved every step of the way that they were the best team, not only at the Final Four (which I had said heading into the weekend), but in the whole tournament. The Bruins last night? Man, that was not the same team that had won 12 straight. Nope. That was the team I saw when I went to Pauley Pavillion to watch them play Arizona St. On that night, UCLA was sloppy with the basketball, terrible at finishing, and completely unfocused. That's the same team I saw last night. Wouldn't have mattered, though, because the Gators outclassed them every step. I leaned over to my friend and sent out text messages only 7 minutes into the game when the score was Florida 16 UCLA 11 that this one was going to get ugly. Anyone who has ever watched a basketball game before could sense it. And sure enough... By the way, was anyone counting how many dunks Florida had? Seems like nearly every possession they had in the second half resulted in an uncontested dunk. All the credit to Florida. Bruins didn't have an answer for Al Horford, Corey Brewer was Steals McGee, and Taurean Green made swiss cheese of UCLA's full court trap. Perhaps the most unlikely champion since Arizona in '97. No doubt in anyone's mind that Joakim Noah was the Most Outstanding Player of the tourney. The guy was unstoppable, but I still think he's about a year away from being ready for the pros. If he declares for the NBA draft now, he's almost definitely a top ten pick, but he'll suffer. If the sophomore stays another year in school to refine his game a little more, put on some muscle, he could be great.


Monday, April 03, 2006

What's that noise? I'm scared. 

You ever been in that nebulous state of mind where you know you should go to sleep, but you don't feel like going to sleep nor can you think of anything worth waking up for the next morning? I'm there. It's not fun or particularly assuring. These are the times when you feel most alone. Reading a book or watching TV might just knock you out and God forbid you should be left alone with your eerie dreams of isolation. You turn to a blinking cursor on a stupid computer screen instead. This is solace. This is avoiding the screaming in your head. I know you know what I'm talking about.

I saw Brick tonight. What a terrific film. My expectations: exceeded. Upon seeing the trailer, I thought, "Huh... interesting. Maybe I'll check it out." Let me tell you, it's just great. I actually wanted more when the end credits were rolling. That rarely happens. Brick would've made for an excellent TV show. A natural comparison arises between this film and Veronica Mars. I'll take the former any day. I mean, the Mars is good, but it's high school universe has all of two interesting characters (Veronica and Logan, if you're keeping score at home). Brick takes itself so seriously that all of the pretences associated with the teen genre (smug irony, sexcapades, etc) fall by the wayside and, man, are we happy about that! Joseph Gordon Levitt manages to carry off the most cartoonish noir lingo superbly, which is a saving grace of this movie. His scene with Richard Roundtree is perhaps the only one that deserved any ironic laughter from the audience because, wow, it's just a ridiculous exchange. But it works and it works well. You shouldn't be able to make a noir film set in a high school and make it in complete earnestness, but they did it. A very dense genre piece -- and I love it for that, you better pay attention or it's your own fault because the movie assumes you're intelligent enough to keep up (yay!) -- so if you like your noir, check it out. Highly recommended.


Sunday, April 02, 2006

You're an April Tool 

I know, always derogatory. Well, I just lost an hour of the day, so whaddya want? Stupid daylight savings. Here's the big rundown:

- Yesterday might be the first time I've experienced April Fool's Day without any sort of foolery to speak of. Hell, there was barely even a mention. I forgot it was even April 1st at all. I'm quite okay with that.

- I have written for two shows that are currently on air (both on Tuesday nights -- I've got an hour and half block, yo!), but you wouldn't know it from looking at my bank account. It's not like I see a dime from residuals. If I did, I'd be a fucking millionaire seeing as how both of these shows are on cable and have repeat showings ALL. THE. TIME. My last day at the recent, better, fresher gig was this past Friday. Left on good terms and a return to those folks seems a strong possibility. So without jinxing it too much, keep your fingers crossed. Wouldn't it be nice to have enough compensation to travel while I search for my next job, though? Maybe even a little medical insurance? Enough cash to get my car fixed up without worrying if it'll put me in the poor house. Of course, I don't expect your pity, but I know what my job description entitles me to and, damn it, I should be rewarded.

- I nearly forgot that, last weekend, I saw the Russian film Nightwatch. That's not a good thing, huh? This film is alternately really cool to watch and painfully boring to endure. There are many promising storylines that are simply never paid off and while the one major payoff (re: his son) is pretty awesome, it stems from the dullest, most uninspired plot line in the movie. So while being really cool, it still manages to be dissatisfying.

- A wonderful movie I saw recently: Junebug. Excellent film that has stuck with me over the last several days. I think it's one of the five best films from 2005. It pleases me in many ways that Me, You, and Everyone We Know (decent film) could not if only because it wasn't drenched in rose-colored optimism and self-importance. Junebug considers the both the importance of one's family and their roots while taking into account what a burden they can be to bare. And I love that. That sort of dichotomy is littered throughout the film, from the uncultured bigot artist to the O.C. trying so desperately to record a program on muir cats for his pregnant girlfriend, then scolding her for checking to see if he's okay. It's good to be home, but we realize a universal truth in that sometimes it's even better to not. 'Cause, yo, relatives be taxing. The movie makes no easy choices, either. Embeth Davidtz easily could've been nothing more than an elitist, the O.C. nothing more than an asshole, Amy Adams nothing more than a crazy person, but each character is rich and redeeming in their own way. Can't say enough about how terrific Amy Adams' performance is. Well done. Oh, and something else I realized while watching the film: what an unbelievably fresh perspective for a getting-to-know-you romance. What better way to learn about the man you married after only knowing him for a week than to see how he interacts with his family and small-town community? Great film.

- Speaking of taxing families, I may spend a couple days in Phoenix this month. I'm not terribly excited by the prospect, but I should see my folks for Passover and before they take off for their trip to Cape Town... ugh. No way I'm going during the summer, either.

- The dream is over. George Mason lost yesterday. What a shitty pair of Final Fours games, by the way. Each completely misrepresent how incredbile this NCAA tournament has been. For Mason, they couldn't hit a three-pointer to save their lives. Conversely, Florida couldn't miss. And that is the only difference. As for UCLA's impressive thrashing of LSU, two things. 1) The Bruins played incredibly defense, forcing turnovers and bad shots from LSU left and right. 2) SEC player of the year, Glen "Big Baby" Davis, looked like the worst basketball player on the face of the planet! He was so awful! Not only did UCLA have the physical big men to match up with him, but they created an up-tempo flow to the game that had Davis huffing and puffing after only five minutes. Unless his conditioning improves by a zillion percent, no way in hell is this guy going to make it in the pros. He's already like a present-day Shawn Kemp and who the hell wants that? Really, I still can't get over how horrible he was.

- As far as I'm concerned, the LA Kings need to win all of their remaining games to make the playoffs. They shocked me by beating Dallas last night (although they've got Dallas' number this year with a 6-2 record) because they looked like the worst team in the league this past week during losses to Vancouver, Calgary, and Edmonton -- three games they needed to win, each of which they showed up for toothless and unmotivated. Three points out of the final playoff spot, now, and another must-win versus Vancouver tomorrow. But even if they do make the playoffs, I don't like our chances against anyone with the possible exception of Dallas. For that matchup to happen, however, the Kings would need the 7-seed. Doubtful that'll happen.

- Major League Soccer returned yesterday! I know, I had no idea either! Though I did catch that entertaining 3-2 Dallas win over Chicago. Only two months until the World Cup!

- Baseball starts back up, too... Well, if it's not about Barry Bonds, no one cares until September. Go A's.


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