Books, Volver, Peyton, UFC
I haven't posted much recently due to the fact that I've been funnelling my creative juices into novel-writing. I'm working on two pieces....one is a comic mystery, and the other is a more serious relationshippy kind of book, kind of like a homeless man's Anne Tyler. Writing two things at once is actually kind of helpful for combatting writer's block, especially two books that are different in tones. When I'm in a funny mood, I work on the comedy. When I'm not in a funny mood (or, more accurately, when I'm trying to be funny and failing miserably), I work on the other one. At my current rate, expect both books on the shelves by 2023.
Went to see Volver the other night, and wasn't overly impressed. I loved Pedro Almodovar's Talk To Her, and liked his Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (which is also one of the best titles ever for a movie), but Volver left me a bit cold. You shouldn't be leaving an Almodovar movie with the dominant thought being 'Boy, the lead actress was hot,' like it was a Michael Bay popcorn flick, but that was the case here. The film had a lot of interesting elements to it, but whereas most Almodovar films tie these together for a big crescendo in the end, Volver just kind of piddles out.
I'm disappointed, since I figured this one would be a big contender at next month's Markademy Awards (stay tuned). On the bright side, Penelope Cruz did in fact look hot, so Cruz fans should definitely check this one out. It was also probably her best performance, to boot. If they gave out Oscars based on both acting ability* and attractiveness, Cruz would destroy Helen Mirren.
* = wait, they give out Oscars based on acting ability? coughcoughJuliaRobertsKimBasingerCubaGoodingHaingNgorcoughcough
Emmett asked in the comments section about why I dislike Peyton Manning. I think I went into greater detail about this a few posts ago, but basically I dislike how he seems to choke in big games and has a tendency to turn the blame on others (i.e. Vanderjagt, the NFL rulebook and how it used to 'let' the Patriots secondary get away with stuff when it was really just his crappy passes, his offensive linemen in last year's AFC semi-final) rather than himself. This is compounded by the fact that advertisers, announcers and the NFL in general treat him like a god, when he is pretty A-Rodish in my books.
Frankly, the whole Manning clan seems like a bunch of punks. Archie never won anything in New Orleans, though he seems to have been retconned by the media as a quarterback who could've been a legend who was held back by his crappy team -- maybe this is where Peyton learned his 'blame others' routine. There's Peyton, who hasn't won anything in the NFL or in college, despite being Mr. Everything. Then there's Eli, perhaps the biggest loser of all. He and Archie raised a stink about how Eli didn't want to play in San Diego in his draft year, and thus forced the Chargers to trade the #1 pick to New York. The last laugh ended up being with San Diego, as as the three draft picks they got from New York led to three Pro Bowlers (Nate Kaeding, Phil Rivers and Shawne Merriman), while Eli has struggled mightly in NYC.
I think it was Bill Simmons who came up with the best comparison to the Manning family. They're like the Cushmans in Jerry Maguire -- the hotshot #1 pick quarterback and the domineering father. Except in this case it's two hotshot #1 pick quarterbacks.
I've become a big UFC fan over the last year, and usually their pay per views make me full of giddiness about the onset of violence I'll get to watch. I may be the first person to ever use the word 'giddiness' to describe UFC, but c'est la vie. This Saturday's PPV, however, is perhaps the least excited I've been about a UFC card. Not so unexcited that I won't watch, but this is the most WWE-like UFC card I've seen.
Let me explain: longtime wrestling fans remember WWF Superstars or the WWF Wrestling Challenge on Saturday morning TV back in childhood. Those shows were full of what are known in wresting as 'squash' matches, where an established star wrestler would destroy a 'jobber' to get over his character and establish himself as a tough wrestler. The matches would feature, say, the Undertaker versus some guy in generic tights named Bill Smith or something.
Fast forward a couple of decades to UFC, and essentially the same thing is happening this weekend on PPV. The whole event is centered around the UFC debuts of Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson and Mirko Cro Cop, two top fighters from Japan's PRIDE organization. UFC has big-money matchups up the wazoo planned for these two, and so for their first fights, UFC has scheduled a couple of little-known fighters essentially as job guys. Now, since UFC isn't like pro wrestling and is actually real, the chance exists that one of these guys could step up and score a huge upset. Rampage's opponent, a guy named Marvin Eastman, actually holds a win over Rampage from a few years ago. But what I like about UFC is competitive fights. I'm excited to see guys like Cro Cop and Rampage fight, since I've heard great things about them, but seeing them against glorified jobbers doesn't get my pulse racing. Furthermore, the PPV's main event is (or, was) a title match between middleweight champ Anderson Silva and challenger Travis Lutter, who won his shot by winning the latest season of the Ultimate Fighter reality series. For non-UFC fans, that sounds horrible -- "he won his shot on a reality show" -- but this version of the series featured established fighters who had suffered a setback in their careers, and were fighting to gain a final shot at glory. From this Rocky-esque premise came a series of pretty dull fights and fairly uninteresting winners in Lutter and light-heavyweight division winner Matt Serra. The interest of the other UF series was that up-and-coming fighters were getting their first shots in the UFC, but in this case, you got guys like Lutter and Serra who had already hit their peaks. There is also no chance in hell that these two journeymen can knock off Silva or light-heavy champ Georges St. Pierre, who are two of the best pound for pound fighters in the world.
This event was supposed to feature both TUF title shots, but St. Pierre got hurt and thus his match with Serra has been pushed back a couple of months. Now, Lutter apparently didn't make weight, so his match with Silva will be a non-title affair, which makes it even more pointless. I presume that Lutter has lost his prize by not making weight, so we will be spared the spectacle of Silva destroying Lutter here, and then Lutter demanding a rematch because he was 'guaranteed' a shot. WTF is up with Lutter, anyway? He doesn't make weight? Are you kidding? I had a few classes at Western with a guy on the wrestling team, and he was always saying how he had to make weight for that weekend's tournament. He always made the weight limit, and he wasn't fighting in the title match of a multi-million dollar pay-per-view event. Lutter was a pound and a half over the weight limit, so he had two hours to lose the weight before a secondary weigh-in. Two hours later, he was only a half-pound lighter. So much for being like Rocky. Man, even I can lose two pounds just by going on the bike at the gym for 45 minutes.
Anyway, I'll still watch UFC 67 on Saturday night, but it's not exactly going to be a barn-burner. It's funny that the event is subtitled "All or Nothing," since in terms of fight quality, it'll be a lot closer to nothing. It can only be saved if Jackson comes out in either a lizard, ape or werewolf costume as a tribute to the old arcade game Rampage. That game was awesome.