Friday, December 31, 2010

The Best Posts Of 2010



Ah, 2010. What a year. We shared some laughs, cried a few tears, and had a number of adventures with Alec King and Aunt Hetty. Wait, I may be confusing my life with 'Road to Avonlea.' This is Prince Edward Island, right? IS ISN'T?? WHAT THE DEUCE. Don't tell me I downloaded Blogger's special potato font for nothing. (It's a font that smells like potatoes when you scratch it. I'm not sure how the technology works myself, but then again, I'm still baffled by garage door openers. I'm weeping and half-ecstatic like the Double Rainbows guy every time I pull into my driveway.)

Anyway, that was rambling. And it you liked that ramble, enjoy these other terrific rambles (and other stuff) from the past year in blog posts!

December 30: From, uh, yesterday, I ramble on like a boastful idiot about a 15-week perfect streak in my survival football league.

December 20: I rip the NFL Network for their ridiculous ranking of Peyton Manning #8 on their list of the best players in football history. I suppose I shouldn't have gotten worked up over any 'best' list that included Joe Namath, but even still, eighth!

November 30: I look at 127 Hours, Love & Other Drugs, RED and the latest Harry Potter movie. There's also much talk of Anne Hathaway's nudity, though no pictures. I run a family-friendly blog that can be enjoyed by the entire family. There won't be any smut or bad language on my watch. Fuckers.

November 12: The title of the post says it all, Other People's Writing. It's basically a collection of (interesting) links and videos from all over the internet. Looking back on it, I really phoned it in in November. Basically all I did that month was post links. Lay to the Z.

October 29: Werner Herzog eats his shoe, and there's a short film to prove it. I have half a mind to devote my blog entirely to Herzog's crazy life and times.

October 18: I throw in the towel on Green Bay's playoff chances six weeks into the year. Though the Packers can get into the playoffs by winning on Sunday against Chicago, I stand by these criticisms. I'll be stunned if Green Bay can actually put together a decent playoff run.

October 14: Another spectacular edition of Random Nonsense, featuring questions about Facebook, a joke about a 'Wire' version of Monopoly that I would totally buy if it was real, and a review of The Town.

September 29: Facts about dreams, sort of a spinoff of my legendary 'dream analyses' posts. Not as good a spinoff as Frasier, but at least better than AfterM*A*S*H.

September 7: Another 'On Notice,' this one all about adventures in Toronto. Not making the cut was the time I bought a hot dog from a street vendor. Man, that was a good hot dog. Probably the highlight of my 2010. (Not true.)

August 30: A collection of random top 10 and top 5 lists. This was easily in the top five posts I wrote all year about various top 10s. (Awful joke.)

August 18: A list of the startling similarities between Brett Favre and Hamlet. Another difference: Hamlet went out with a bang. Favre is going out in just about the worst way possible. I'm looking forward to seeing him sign with Arizona next year! (Please, god, no....)

July 28: The sad tale of how my family has been cursed by NFL apparel. It just occurs to me now that spilling milk on my Brett Favre jersey back in 1998 may not have just cursed me, but also Favre himself. He sure hasn't won any Super Bowls since, has he?

July 8: The alterna-Emmys, a.k.a. Mark complains about the lousy actual Emmy nominations. I still can't get over Community being entirely snubbed.

July 4: An edition of Random Nonsense highlighted by my dissection of the Clue board game and tormenting my buddy Trev with one of my weird-ass dreams. Trev, by the way, wins the blog award for best supporting actor in 2010. Well done, Trevor! I'll present you with the trophy at our daughters' lesbian wedding.

July 1: If you ever need to get into a patriotic mood, look no further than this compilation of Canadian videos I linked to for Canada Day.

June 29: Some musings on who should/could replace Steve Carell on The Office. I still like my Michael Emerson idea.

June 22: My year-in-review piece about my favourite TV shows of the year. To update things a bit with shows I've watched since, S2 of Party Down is around the bottom end of the top ten, and S5 of It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia makes the top fifteen.

June 16: I bemoan the lack of cultural memory about the "Looks like I picked the wrong to quit sniffin' glue" line from Airplane!

June 13: I predict Brazil over Argentina in the World Cup final. What accuracy!

May 28: Two movie reviews for the price of one --- I look at both An Education and Fish Tank as companion pieces to each other.

May 24: My impossibly-long wrap of the LOST series finale and, really, the entire series itself. This is a bit sad to admit given how much I enjoyed and wrote about the show, but that last season really took a lot of the steam off of LOST for me. I've barely thought about the series since it wrapped up. Compare that to The Wire, which I watched over a year ago and am still obsessing over. Not exactly a news flash ("The Wire better than Lost? No kidding") but still, it's disappointing.

May 13
May 15: My two-part summer movie preview. Man, was I ever off-base with Dinner For Schmucks. That movie was a piece of garbage.

May 3: The annual tragi-comic recap of my attempts to find a place to live in Toronto. I still can't believe that one girl actually mentioned her roommate's kleptomaniac tendencies when I asked about the other renters. Worst sales job since Charlie from LOST tried to tell those photocopiers while going through heroin withdrawal. (Hey, the show is still having an impact on me after all!)

April 28: A bear is shot in London. The London Free Press writes a dogcrap article about it. I write a post about the lousy article. The circle of life continues. 'BEAR DEAD' is also probably my favourite blog title of the year.

April 9: Maybe the funniest video clip I linked to all year long --- soccer broadcaster Chris Kamara completely biffing an on-the-spot report. "I don't know, Jeff!"

March 7: The Markademy Awards! Looking back on the field, it was not a particularly great year for movies, aside from Inglourious Basterds. Also weird is the fact that three of my top five films had the word 'man' in the titles.

March 3: Looking back at the Winter Olympics. Man, that was a fun Olympic Games. Can they have it in Vancouver every four years? I really see no possible downside, unless the next Winter Olympics have already been promised to Qatar.

February 27: A particularly strong entry of the 'Hot! Live! Music!' feature. And, all of the links still work for this one, so it's doubly good. Fans of Antony and the Johnsons, Radiohead, Pulp, Bruce Springsteen, Ben Lee, the Cardigans and MGMT should check this one out.

February 10: I make up the ideal all-star casts for Survivor. This turned out to be kinda pointless, since the actual Survivor all-star season (Heroes vs. Villains) ended up being awesome and it identified the greatest Survivor player of all time. Could it be that the Survivor producers actually know more about their own show than I? No, I refuse to believe that.

January 28: I recount the best movies of the 2000's. I'm still very impressed by my top 13 'premier' selections. What a great collection of flicks. Good job, me!

January 14: My personal (or, technically, not personal) encounters with former London mayor Anne Marie DeCicco. Ol' Anne Marie was beaten in her re-election bid this fall, and I like to think this post had something to do with it. Wait, does this mean I helped elect....Joe Fontana? /screams

January 6: Some Japanese guy married a video game character. We all laughed, but admit it, if Sonic the Hedgehog hit on you at a bar, you'd blush furiously.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Streak

Suicide football pools (or, 'survival football pools,' if you're one of the more politically correct folks at Yahoo Sports) have a seemingly simple premise. You must pick the result of just one NFL game per week, for all 17 weeks of the NFL season. No point spread, just a straight winner. The catch is that you can't pick the same team twice, so a top team like the Patriots is only useful to you for one week. If you get your game wrong, you're out of the league. The last player standing wins.

These leagues have grown in popularity in recent years because it's the kind of deceptively hard challenge that still appeals to even casual football fans. Anyone can pick just ONE correct result per week, right? One sure thing? Obviously, though, it's harder than it seems, especially in this age of a parity-driven NFL. I used the Pats as my example earlier and while they were a safe bet for most of the season, their Week 9 loss to Cleveland surely ended thousands of runs in survival leagues the world over. There's no such thing as a surefire, deadbolt lock in the NFL. You never know when a star player might get injured, or a bad team might return a couple of kicks and/or get a few lucky tipped interceptions, or when a good team might just plain stink one week.

For a suicide pool, you might as well make a random crapshoot of it, like one year when my pal Dave (who isn't a big football fan) just decided bask in his lack of NFL knowledge and just made his picks via alphabetical order. In Week One, he picked Arizona. In Week Two, Atlanta. Week Three, the Baltimore Ravens. So and so forth and I'll be damned if Dave didn't somehow win that league in a complete slap in the face to the rest of us. Ye gods.

So now that I've gotten over just how difficult it is to carry on a long run in a suicide league, I'll brag about the near-record setting streak that led me to victory. My pal Kyle ran a six-person mini-league (I like to think of it as the Premiership) that, to make things interesting, gave each player a second 'strike,' so you had to get two games wrong before you were eliminated. This second strike proved to not matter a whit, since I managed to pick 15 correct games in a row, winning the league and nearly running the table entirely before Philadelphia's upset loss to the Vikings last Tuesday.

Fifteen weeks. The majority of suicide leagues usually have a winner decided by around the midpoint of the NFL season, so the eighth or ninth week of games. A multi-strike league could conceivably have a winner that survives deep into the season, but 15 weeks? That's getting into 2007 Patriots or 1986 Bears territory.

My strategy was simple: ride the good teams early and pick on the bad teams. Many an eliminated survival league player tries to be clever and 'save' the best teams for later in the season. This adds unnecessary risk to the game, in my opinion. It usually takes a month or so to suss out which NFL teams are truly good, bad or average, but even from the preseason, you can identify one or two teams that will be really solid (if not great) and one or two that will really suck. Until you've had a few weeks to get a feel for how the NFL will stack up, why handicap yourself by not picking one of the few surefire good teams? Get the locks out of the way early and go from there.

For instance, I came into this year knowing that the Patriots, Packers, Ravens, Saints and Colts were all going to be pretty good. Ergo, they were my picks over the first five weeks of the NFL season. All five were playing at home, and all five were playing bad teams --- the Bengals, Bills, Browns, Panthers and, the one exception, the Chiefs, who are a great home team but an average club on the road. I'm not saying these were all no-sweaters (the Saints edged the Panthers by two points, and the Chiefs gave Indy a tough game), but still, five wins in the books to start.

The next step was to pick some teams that had proven themselves as solid as the season had progressed. For instance, as I mentioned about K.C., they were a terrific home team, so they were the pick in Week Seven over Jacksonville since the game was held at Arrowhead Stadium. The lowly St. Louis Rams were also a good home side, so they got the pick in Week Eight, especially since they were hosting the godawful Panthers. The Panthers, incidentally, were the opponent I targeted the most. I picked against them four times, and that fourth one was nearly the killer, since Cleveland eked out a 24-23 win over Carolina in a terribly-played game that both teams seemed to want to lose. But, nonetheless, Cleveland still won, extending me past Week 12.

The most remarkable part of the streak, however, wasn't just that I was pulling it off week after week, but also that Kyle was keeping pace. Through 14 weeks, NEITHER of us had gotten a game wrong. It was stunning. It was like if Ted Williams had a consecutive-games hitting streak going at the same time as Joe DiMaggio's in 1941. The other four players in the league had all gotten their two strikes by Week 10, so it was just Kyle and I battling for the championship of each other down the stretch. Finally, Kyle succumbed in Week 15 and in ironic fashion --- his beloved Lions picked up their first road win in three years by beating Tampa Bay. It would've been a proud moment for a diehard Lion fan like Kyle, were it not for the fact that he'd picked the Bucs as his sure thing for the week. This was Kyle's first strike, and he would take his second strike the very next week, watching Jacksonville lose in overtime to Washington and clinching me the league title. The fact that my perfect run ended that same week was of no consequence, since I had just the one strike to his two. Game over, man, game over.

Good lord, I've really gone on and on about this, haven't I? I'm hardly a savant at these survival leagues; this might be the first one I've ever even won, let alone had a streak of any significant length. Some years I've been knocked out in the very first week of the season, so needless to say, my strategies are hardly foolproof. But man, a 15-week perfect streak deserves a bit of boasting. This is my version of Edwin Moses not losing a 400m hurdles race for a solid decade. This is my version of the UConn women's basketball team winning 90 straight games. This is my version of CSI Miami being on the air for nine seasons and never having a well-acted episode. When old men take their grandsons on their knees and tell them tales of survival football leagues, they will forever whisper the legend of the near-perfect season. Then, the grandsons will wonder why Pop-Pop is wasting everyone's time with such an inane story and think it's time to contact a nursing home. But still....LEGEND.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

UFC 125 Predictions

You know, I really should go back and examine my past picks sometime to count up my overall records at these picks. For all I know, I could be either a savant at picking MMA fighters or a complete moron. Ah, living in ignorance. What fun!

* Brian Stann over Chris Leben, decision
My logic in picking this result is based on the UFC's shoddy history in trying to 'build' to fights, which is obviously hard to do in a non-fixed sport. Clearly the company is trying to build Chris Leben into a bit of a second-tier drawing card and all signs are pointing towards a Leben/Wanderlei Silva fight in a few months. Of course, since Murphy's law has struck down many of Dana White's fantasies, this means Stann will probably frustrate Leben and outwork him for a decision. Stann is not a great fighter but he's a tough out, so I don't think Leben will be able to knock him cold.

* Thiago Silva over Brandon Vera, knockout, R2
Probably a loser-gets-cut fight here between two of the more notable light-heavyweights in the division. Silva has lost two of his last three and he hasn't fought since losing a decision to Rashad Evans last January. Vera is also coming off a long layoff, since he basically had his face rearranged by Jon Jones last March. That was Vera's second loss in a row, though the first of those losses was a sketchy decision defeat to Randy Couture. So, in a nutshell, both of these guys need a win really badly. I think Silva is a decent second-tier fighter, whereas the ship sailed on Vera being relevant a few years ago, so I'll do with Thiago to end yet another match by looking into the camera and doing the throat-cut gesture.

* Dong Hyun Kim over Nate Diaz, decision
Really tough fight here that could go either way. Either Diaz could counter Kim's wrestling with a submission (someone nobody has ever done against the unbeaten Kim), or else DHK could stifle Diaz all night in a decision reminiscent of Diaz's loss to Clay Guida, except with less wild hair-whipping. I'll pick the latter result since Diaz is an easily-frustrated mental midget who will probably try to counter Kim's judo with sloppy boxing. Odds of Diaz making a dong joke during the post-fight interview: 7-1

* Takanori Gomi over Clay Guida, knockout, R3
Can Clay Guida avoid a Gomi strike for 15 minutes? Nope. Reports of Gomi being washed up were apparently a bit exaggerated given how he became the first fighter to KO Tyson Griffin last summer. Gomi still has some pop in his hands, and while Guida's wrestling is his bread-and-butter, Guida has shown that he won't hesitate to stand with anyone in his efforts to make a fight as entertaining as possible. Guida won't be resist to stand for just a little bit, and that might be all Gomi needs. Gomi doesn't have the submission game to finish Gomi on the ground.

* Gray Maynard over Frankie Edgar, decision
When the Jose Aldo/Josh Grispi and Roy Nelson/Shane Carwin fights were pulled from the show due to injuries to Aldo and Nelson, the world shuddered as it faced the prospect of paying for a UFC pay-per-view headlined by Gray Maynard and Frankie Edgar. Nothing against these two talent-wise...they're clearly the two best lightweights in the UFC, with Edgar having proved his championship caliber by beating BJ Penn twice and Maynard by riding a perfect 10-0 record into the match. The only problem is, neither of these guys are exciting to watch. Edgar is at least active with his constant-jab boxing style, but Maynard is the dullest grind-it-out fighter this side of Jon Fitch. This has a 25-minute decision written all over it. Maynard beat Edgar back in April 2008 by outwrestling him and while Edgar has improved since then, I'm just not sure enough has changed for a different result. It's too bad that this unappealing main event sits atop this otherwise very entertaining card --- a lot of people will choose to skip it and miss out on some quality fights.

Undercard....
* Josh Grispi over Dustin Poirier, submission, R2....side note on Grispi, this poor guy gets busted down from featherweight title shot against Aldo to an undercard bout against a dangerous opponent. If Grispi loses, he goes right to the back of the pack at FW and his UFC career is already behind the eightball. Tough break.
* Mike Brown over Diego Nunes, decision
* Antonio McKee over Jacob Volkmann, decision
* Daniel Roberts over Greg Soto, decision
* Brad Tavares over Phil Baroni, TKO, R2
* Jeremy Stephens over Marcus Davis, decision

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Bloggin' On Christmas

Well, it's come to this. I'm writing a post on Christmas Day itself. Jesus Christ (literally). Christmas in my household is like the Ryder Cup. We have the morning sessions of breakfast and opening presents with my adult cousins on my dad's side and their little kids, and the afternoon sessions, featuring more presents and dinner with my mom's side of the family. In between these two gatherings, we have some downtime, hence why I'm on the ol' blogatron 3000.

Okay, there, I've justified that one! Next up, my excuse for why I've posted something at 12:03 AM on January 1.

The present tally for the day thus far stands at one gift certificate for the Swiss Chalet family of restaurants. I'm not going to lie, the gift-getting aspect of the holiday has really faded over the years. The Xmas I received a Ghostbusters firehall set is still probably in the top ten happiest days of my life, but that was all the way back in 2008....uh, um, er, I mean, 1988. Yeah, that's the ticket. The real gift of Christmas now is just being able to spend time with family and friends and I'm the only person to ever ever make that realization.

Moreso than gifts, Xmas is now about traditions. With my family, it's things like the aforementioned two-family morning/afternoon split, plus things like my great aunt's animatronic singing moose and recounting the time my grandfather's glass of tomato juice exploded over our dinner table. Between my friends, it's newly-formed traditions like gathering at my house on Christmas Eve to watch a movie and play video games, specifically a wrestling game from 2004 that we all still inexplicably keep playing and finding entertaining; in my defense, it's always entertaining to play as the Undertaker and tombstone someone into the ground.

On Xmas Day itself, we gather for a late-night movie at a local theatre. In past years it's specifically been a 'shitty' movie (the Punisher sequel and the Aliens vs. Predator sequel), but last year it was Up In The Air, so we broke our streak of non-quality. I almost feel like we should go see something extra-awful this year to make up for it, but there's no chance of True Grit being bad. The real challenge will be next year; we've seen two crapbags and two terrific movies, so now the next pattern will be to watch perfectly middling films on Xmas 2011 and 2012. How are we supposed to know a film is totally middling before watching it? Should we just cross our fingers and hope that Luke Wilson gets a couple more starring vehicles?

Well, I've killed enough time before the afternoon session. Enjoy the day, everyone, and don't forget to make love to Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Random Nonsense



I'm chatting with a friend recently over MSN Messenger and we both commented on the fact that, well, nobody really uses Messenger anymore. GChat, Facebook chat, or just texting that seemingly made the ol' Messenger a relic of the past. It had a nice run of about 5-6 years as the top online instant messaging service, but its time it nearing the end. "Hey," I joked, "Messenger at least lasted longer than ICQ."

This piqued out curiosity, and imagine our surprise to discover that ICQ still exists! www.ICQ.com, there it is, big as life. And not just it is alive, it's doing its best to adapt to modern technology --- you can download ICQ for your iPhone, Android, etc. Going over this website, I felt like I was either in an alternate universe where ICQ didn't drop off the face of the planet, or I felt that ICQ is the online messaging equivalent of a middle-aged guy trying to stay relevant by adopting new trends. Basically, ICQ is Bruce McCulloch's "He's hip, he's cool, he's 45" character. Fitting, since I think ICQ was last relevant when the Kids In The Hall were still on the air.

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Someone with more video editing experience than I (or, someone who has all of the Office DVDs) needs to make a montage of scenes where Michael reacts to eating bad food. One of Steve Carell's most underrated running gags on that show.

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Today's challenge: Paula Malcomson vs. Rosemarie Dewitt. The question is, whose weird-ass nose stands out more on the actress' otherwise very pretty face? Now, I may be biased from watching 'Deadwood' and seeing Malcomson's nose stick out like a sore thumb over so many episodes, but Paula is the clear winner to me. Just looking at those IMDB links, Dewitt has several pictures of herself where you can't quite tell that her nose is wonky. With Malcomson, it's impossible to avoid. (I almost wrote 'the elephant in the room,' but I'm already pointing out her big nose as it is, no reason to bring up an elephant as well.) When I was watching Deadwood, I just presumed that the nose was an affectation created by the makeup team as a reminder of how Swearingen beats Trixie in the first couple of episodes. But, nope, once we got into the second season and it was still there, I began to catch on.

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Speaking of ruinous body parts....Reese Witherspoon's chin. Damn you, Seth Macfarlane. Were it not for that one Family Guy gag, I would never have noticed just how sharp Witherspoon's chin actually is. Now I can't NOT see it. This is even worse than the time Mena Suvari was ruined for me when she hosted Saturday Night Live and portrayed Aaron Carter in a sketch, and she looked EXACTLY LIKE AARON CARTER. No truth to the rumour that I spent the evening shuddering in a bathtub like the Crying Game guy.

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So I'm on Facebook, and I see a Netflix banner ad advertising, of all movies, What Happens In Vegas. Remember that one? Came out a couple of years ago, Ashton Kutcher and Cameron Diaz in Vegas having hijinks? Disappeared from theatres in about 20 seconds? Yeah, that one. So naturally, it's the logical choice for Netflix to promote its service. 'Watch 'What Happens In Vegas' Any Time!' Gee, thanks, Netflix.

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Finally, let's end this edition of Random Nonsense with a bit of Christmas cheer. Namely, a mashup of Roxanne and Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer. Yeah. If you listen closely to Stewart Copeland's interviews, his voice gets almost as squeaky as Hermie's does when Stewart is whining about Sting.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Community Comics

Are you a Community fan? If not, then WTF, people? It's quite possibly the funniest and most interesting comedy on television. If you are a fan, then you'll want to check out/decorate your computer screensaver with the images from the Community Comics Tumblir site. Hell, if you're artistically inclined, submit something yourself. This is one instance where you can draw pictures of Alison Brie and not be considered kind of a pervert! Win win!






Monday, December 20, 2010

GOAT #8



The NFL Network's list of the top 100 players in NFL history, like any top-whatever list in history, was designed to generate controversy, get people watching the countdown shows and build up some buzz. Even with full knowledge of this, I'm going to stumble right into the hornet's nest and debate one particular placement: Peyton Manning at #8.

Now, it's no secret that I'm not a Peyton Manning fan. I have been riding this guy for years, calling him overrated, a choke artist and even 'Princess Peyton' based on his post-loss excuses and complaints (which sometimes threw his teammates under the bus) and the Colts' propensity for actually trying to get the NFL's rules changed to better help their team's passing attack. I gave up this nickname since it's an insult to princesses; Zelda has been kidnapped umpteen times by Ganon, but do you hear her whining? No dice.

Despite my criticism, I'm not so deluded to think that Manning isn't a fantastic quarterback, a no-doubt Hall-of-Famer and one of the best QBs in NFL history. What I take issue with is placing the guy among the very upper tier of all-time greats, and for the NFL Network's list to place Manning at eighth of EVERYONE to ever play in the NFL is just ridiculous on many levels. In fact, dig this: watch as I argue that Manning is barely even in the top eight of quarterbacks in NFL history.

* Joe Montana and Johnny Unitas. These are no-brainers. Even the most ardent Manning fan would put these two guys ahead of Peyton. The NFL Network's list had Montana at #4 (matching his number of Super Bowls won) and Unitas at #6, so even their uber-Peyton fandom wasn't enough to overwhelm the sheer common sense that these two guys are the best QBs to ever play the game. The debate is which of these two legendary stars had a better to-go comic reference. Johnny U had his Simpsons double-shot of "Now Johnny Unitas, there's a haircut you could set your watch to!" and his endorsement of the Lady Krusty Mustache Trimmer ("It's Krusteriffic, Johnny Unitas! But is my upper lip supposed to bleed like this?" "Probably."), whereas Montana had his SNL co-hosting gig with Walter Payton in 1986. Who wins? Well, clearly, it's Montana. Nothing tops the Sincere Guy Stu sketch. Nothing.

* Tom Brady. I was gobsmacked to learn that Brady was 21st on the Top 100 list, a full 13 points behind Manning. Now, the Brady/Manning debate has been going on for the better part of eight years, but my question is why is it a debate? Peyton has gaudier passing stats, but Brady has two more Super Bowl rings (and, it should be noted, never threw a pick-six to blow his losing Super Bowl like Manning did) and was dealing with overall lesser offensive talent in New England. When Brady did have a Colts-like array of weapons at his disposal in 2007, he blew away the NFL and almost led the Patriots to a perfect record. If I had to pick between one of these two men to quarterback a game for my life, I'd take Brady without a second thought.

* Steve Young. "But Mark, Young was injury-prone and didn't play nearly as long as Young did!" True, but even playing with a bunch of concussions, Young's numbers were ridiculous.

* Dan Marino. Okay, now given that I've cited championships as a factor in my judgement, it seems hypocritical to rank the famously-ringless Marino ahead of Manning. But well, Marino put up his insane numbers in an era that wasn't nearly as offense-friendly as today's. Also, Marino would've won at least one Super Bowl to his name if Ray Finkle hadn't botched that field goal. Finkle's argument that Marino screwed up the hold loses a lot of its weight when you consider that Finkle was straight-up insane. Man, now I'm remember Marino's wooden performance in that movie and wondering if I should dock him points. Best to just move on.

* Sammy Baugh. Now we get into the old-timers, and the evaluations get slightly dicey. Old-time NFL football is so removed from the modern game that it's hard to compare the different eras with any authority. In terms of pure quarterbacking skills, Manning might be better than Baugh. In pure football player skills, however, Baugh is clearly better. As Bill Belichick put it on the Top 100 special (Baugh ranked #14th), "Sammy Baugh would be a combination of today's version Tom Brady, Brian Moorman, and Ed Reed: three All-Star players at their positions all rolled into one. Sammy was a league-leading passer, a league-leading punter, and a league-leading interceptor." Nuff said. Is this unfair to Manning since he never got a chance to play DB or punt? Yeah, but Baugh also played in an era where he didn't get 15 yards extra when a defensive player committed a 'roughing penalty' against a star QB. In short, I'll take Slingin' Sammy. If Manning had decided to prove Mike "Idiot Kicker" Vanderjagt wrong by trying a few field goals himself, it might be a different story.

* Otto Graham. Just a straight-up winner. He quarterbacked the Browns to ten straight (!) championship games from 1946 to 1955 in the AAFC and the NFL, winning seven of them. Obviously Graham didn't do it by himself and his stats pale in comparison to the gaudy numbers that Manning puts up...but when you consider the era, Graham might well be the greatest of all time.

So there's seven guys. Peyton Manning, congratulations, you are the eighth-best NFL quarterback of all time. Super impressive, yeah, but also realistic, and not an insane overrating like the NFL Network's Top 100 evaluators placed upon your head. On the bright side, at least Manning is ahead of Brett Favre. I don't consider cock photographs to be a valid statistical measurement.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Goodbye WEC (or, 'The Showtime Kick')

My monthly UFC predictions are a staple of this blog, but really, I probably should've been giving equal attention to the WEC this entire time. World Extreme Cagefighting has been the UFC's sister promotion for the last four years, for the last couple only focusing on the lower weight classes of lightweight (155 pounds), featherweight (145) and bantamweight (135) to distinguish it from the larger UFC fighters. The beauty of an entire promotion full of smaller and more energetic fighters is the fights are almost entirely non-stop action; sure, some fights are better than others, but by and large, if you watch a WEC bout, it's almost guaranteed to be exciting.

Now, however, the WEC is closing its doors. The UFC is absorbing the company and instituting its own bantamweight and featherweight divisions (plus merging the two 155-pound divisions, which I'll get back to in a second). It's a win-win in many ways --- the fighters get more money and exposure fighting in the 'big leagues' of the UFC, we'll get better and more exciting fights for our money on UFC pay-per-views, and basically everyone wins. The only drawback is that it ends the WEC itself, thus robbing MMA fans of a surefire fantastic show every six weeks. The promotion will absolutely be missed, but its legacy lies in the terrific array of fighters that we'll now see carry on under the UFC banner.

Okay, enough waxing poetic, let's get to the dude being kicked in the face. So last night was the WEC's final event, headlined by a lightweight title match between champ Ben Henderson and challenger Anthony "Showtime" Pettis. The winner would carry the belt into the UFC and get an immediate title shot at the winner of the UFC lightweight title bout on January 1 between Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard. Big stakes, and Henderson and Pettis fought a match worthy of those stakes. It was nothing but back-and-forth action for the full five rounds....and then this happened with about a minute left.



Sweet Georgia Brown. Henderson, to his credit, managed to finish the match, but it was Pettis who was awarded the judges' decision and the championship. But blah blah results, HOLY LORD was that incredible. That might be the single greatest move I've ever seen performed inside an MMA cage. It's the kind of move that, if you saw it in an MMA-related movie, you'd get mad at the film for including such an unrealistic strike. The "Showtime Kick" is destined to be shown on MMA highlight reels for decades to come, and Pettis made himself an instant star as he's headed into the UFC.

WEC, you will be missed. But you went out on the highest possible note.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Every Movie Of The Year

"Exit Through The Gift Shop" doesn't seem to be in here, and it's arguably the best film of the year. Still, 270 other movies in six minutes is pretty good. See it now before YouTube pulls the clip due to objections from every studio in Hollywood!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Demotivational Posters, Vol. 2, Part III

Another month, another round of demotivational posters! The Beatles one gets top billing due to today's date, but I enjoy the Optimus Prime one the most. My buddy Trev will especially love it --- he's such a huge Transformers fan that he even liked Transformers 2. And he plans to name his first-born son Starscream. True story.










Tuesday, December 07, 2010

UFC 124 Predictions

* Stefan Struve over Sean McCorkle, KO, second round
A word to UFC bookers: please put a bit more effort into your cards. I'm worried that the UFC's increased number of events is watering down the quality as a whole. Case in point, Struve vs. McCorkle is somehow the co-main event of the evening. My information has to be wrong here, there's no way this bout between not-even-top 20 heavyweights is second from the top. Can it? I mean, if this match had been on the untelevised undercard I wouldn't have batted an eye. A real co-main event shouldn't get that reaction. Anyway, McCorkle is unbeaten and this fight will probably devolve into a slugfest, but I'll take Struve just because I know he can take a punch and hold his own in brawls (that is, against everyone but Roy Nelson and Junior Dos Santos).

* Jim Miller over Charles Oliveira, decision
This is a sneaky-important bout in the lightweight division. Oliveira is being built into the next prospect to watch, while Miller has won seven of eight UFC fights and only lost to Gray Maynard and Frankie Edgar in his career. Miller's never been finished, while Oliveira (who's 14-0 lifetime) has gotten finishes in 13 of his career bouts. Something has to give in this fight. I can see the winner next fighting Evan Dunham, another knocking-on-the-door prospect in the LW division, for a potential future title shot. Oliveira's record of finishes is superb, but I can see Miller grinding him out on the ground to eke out a decision. Wouldn't surprise me at all if Oliviera wins, though. This is the hardest fight on the card to predict.

* Joe Stevenson over Mac Danzig, submission, second round
Hell, I'll even specify the sub in this case; Joe Daddy wins it with his ol' guillotine. Mac Danzig has dropped four of his last five fights and wouldn't be in the UFC anymore if he wasn't a former Ultimate Fighter winner. Stevenson gives him his pink slip for good here. Joe (himself a former TUF winner) can't match up to the top guys in the LW division but is as solid a gatekeeper as they come, and he'll thoroughly shut the door in Danzig's face. It's pretty stunning in hindsight that Danzig was able to win a TUF season that featured the likes of George Sotiropoulos and Ben Saunders, but both those guys were beaten by Tommy Speer, who has pretty much dropped off the face of the MMA map. Weird. It's almost like TUF is a specialized environment that doesn't really determine the best fighters, but rather the guys who can stay healthy for 4-5 fights in six weeks. But that's just preposterous!

* Thiago Alves over John Howard, KO, round one
I have a feeling this one won't be pretty. Alves, once the consensus #3 welterweight in the world, lost a title bout against Georges St. Pierre in July 2009. Following a long injury rehab and a career-threatening brain injury, he lost to Jon Fitch last August. Losing to Howard probably gets Alves cut, but c'mon, surely the guy can be cut some slack over losing to GSP/Fitch and almost having his brain explode. (Note: medical diagnosis may not be accurate.) Alves should be healthy, free of ring rust and ready to go knock Doomsday Howard's head into next week. I guess you could say Doomsday won't be "evolving" past this defeat. Chortle, chortle. N.B. I recently tried to explain the origin and powers of Doomsday the Superman villain to my non-comic book reading buddy Trev. It was complicated as hell. I finally just broke it down by saying, "it's comic books, just deal with it, Trev." When last we heard, he was dealing with it.

* Georges St. Pierre over Josh Koscheck, TKO, round two
The recently-completed season of the Ultimate Fighter had a deserving winner in Jon Brookins, and was a 'win' overall since it featured quite a few entertaining and quality fighters and fights. But the real victor of the series was coach Georges St. Pierre and the real loser was Josh Koscheck. First of all, Team GSP was much more successful in the competition itself, going 8-3 in intra-team fights and placing two fighters in the finals. Secondly, Josh Koscheck's worst enemy could not have done a more effective job of editing this show to make St. Pierre look like a great, classy guy and Kos look like a complete moron. In 11 episodes, Koscheck a) got into a fight with the medical guy on St. Pierre's team after repeatedly taunting this guy for being 'a male nurse,' b) said he would be so excited if one of his guys won a fight that he would "just go up to Georges and motorboat his ass." Uh, Josh, I do not think that word means what you think it means. c) was intentionally allowed to see a fake list of "GSP's top picks" and drafted his team otherwise, thus allowing St. Pierre to take Michael Johnson with the first pick as he really wanted, d) made roughly 45,000 sophomoric fratboy jokes, e) picked on opposing team fighter Cody McKenzie, f) looked like he was at least doing a decent job of coaching his guys, before we saw them in the final episode complaining about being bored in training and ripping on Koscheck for constantly texting during workout sessions. Though, I guess in Koscheck's defense, Marc Stevens (the guy who lost twice to guillotine chokes, including one in 15 seconds) is the last person who should be criticizing anyone. g) criticized GSP for being a 'boring, lay-and-pray fighter' when Koscheck did this himself for half his career, h) basically just was himself. Nuff said.

In short, the series did its promotional job, since there will no doubt be a lot of people buying this PPV to see Koscheck have his face caved in by St. Pierre. And a cave-in they'll be getting. I would be shocked beyond words if Kos somehow upset arguably the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. GSP has beaten him before, and in the three years since, has improved his wrestling tenfold and is still a better striker than Koscheck. I'm not sure there's a thing Kos can do to win, and to boot, the fight is in GSP's hometown of Montreal. If Koscheck somehow wins, there might actually be a sports riot not seen in Montreal since the days of Rocket Richard. But the Richard Riot was an isolated incident --- the rest of the time in the Rocket's era, the Canadiens pretty much won every championship in sight. Expect GSP to continue that tradition on Saturday.


Undercard...
* John Makdessi over Pat Audinwood, decision
* Rafael Natal over Jesse Bongfeldt, submission, round three
* Dustin Hazelett over Mark Bocek, submission, round two
* Dan Miller over Joe Doerksen, submission, round two
* Matt Riddle over Sean Pierson, TKO, round one
* Ricardo Almeida over TJ Grant, decision

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Reviews Of Mediocre-To-Decent Movies

So the big news is, there's a solid 20 minutes of Anne Hathaway nudity in Love & Other Drugs. It's ridiculous. Her breasts had about as much screentime as Hank Azaria. Twenty minutes is a rough estimate since, uh, I wasn't exactly paying close attention to my watch during the scenes, but man alive, ol' Anne sure has some spicy material for the next entry in her Princess diary. Jake Gyllenhaal matches her nudity cheek for cheek, so don't worry ladies, there's some eye candy for you too. Two things: firstly, Anne and Jake are reunited after Brokeback Mountain. Did you also completely forget she was in that movie? Hell, she even gets topless in that one too. It's almost like there was some other relationship in Brokeback that grabbed all the attention. Secondly, Hathaway is but one of many lovely women (including personal favourite Judy Greer!) who Gyllenhaal beds throughout the film. Now obviously, Gyllenhaal's character is pretty pleased about this turn of events, but I think he oversold the happiness. Here was the expression he wore on his face during every sex scene:



Controversial. Anyway, yeah, the movie. Not great. It's the story of a mid-1990's pharmaceutical rep who basically bangs his way into becoming one of Pfizer's top salesmen, and along the way he falls for a free spirit with early-onset Parkinson's. Note: Hathaway isn't an actual free spirit, but rather that cliched brand of Hollywood Female Free Spirit that immediately domesticates herself upon entering a relationship since deep down, gosh darnit, all she wants is true love. You can tell when her character officially flips the switch when in one scene, her wardrobe suddenly goes from eclectic to the white cashmere sweater o'doom.

L&OD is directed by Ed Zwick, who has yet to make a solid movie in his life. Courage Under Fire, Blood Diamond, Last Samurai, Glory, Legends Of The Fall --- they're all in the same bin of generally okay, but rather than actually good. This film falls into the same category. I don't want to say that a movie about a Parkinson's sufferer has a shaky premise, but the plot lopes back and forth from a romantic comedy to a very poor man's Social Network-esque recent period piece about the rise of a major business (Gyllenhaal's sales rival even looks like the Winklevoss twins) to a wacky sex comedy with a load of Viagra jokes to a weepie about a couple forced apart by one of the partners' serious illness. The last scene, where Hathaway and Gyllenhaal have their big romantic confrontation, is one of the worst movie scenes I've witnessed in some time. The dialogue is a mash of Jerry Maguire cliches, the edits between the two characters' reaction shots don't match and it's just two minutes of total shittiness. Zwick's been making movies for 30 years, so I can't figure out how he submitted such an amateurish sequence.

In summation, there's not much here. It's almost like Zwick went to his leads and said, "Guys, I just saw the rough cut, and this thing is a mess. Would you mind if we went back and threw in a bunch of nudity, since otherwise we....whoa!" He reacted since Gyllenhaal and Hathaway both suddenly torn their clothes off in one swift motion, ready to go. What troopers.

Four Anne Hathaway notes....

* She is a solid catch-all selection for the "she looks kind of like..." game we all play about people we know, but with the twist that she doesn't usually look like one person, but rather a combination of two people. It's like the Joker's Smilex poison in the Michael Keaton Batman movie --- tainted lipstick alone won't kill you, but tainted lipstick and hairspray will. But, thankfully, comparing looks is much less murderous. For instance, Hathaway looks like a cross between my friends Caitlin and Kat, who are friends themselves so this comparison will actually be relevant to them. Hathaway also looks like the result of what would happen if Community's Gillian Jacobs and Alison Brie were morphed into one person. So if you're ever having a Jacobs/Brie looks debate (as my buddy Trev and I recently did; I was on Team Brie), Hathaway is an excellent middle ground.

* She is a fantastic SNL host. I'm ready to induct Hathaway into the pantheon after just two hosting gigs. Good impressionist, clearly up for anything, fits right in with the rest of the cast and even sings. She's basically the female Timberlake, except just lacking in iconic sketches to really put her over the top.

* Attractive, which comes in handy when you're getting naked in every other film. The key to Hathaway's attractiveness is that she's plausibly good-looking; you probably know a woman that looks as good or better than Anne Hathaway. She isn't some absurdly hot creature like Megan Fox who gives off a vibe that she's a concoction of makeup and lighting effects. There's no effort made to hide the fact that when Hathaway smiles, her face suddenly gets really wrinkly. Like, "she'll be playing character parts by her late 30's" wrinkly. It's all the more endearing, however, since this is what normal people look like! I cannot believe a recent comment in a Bill Simmons chat about how he attended a wedding where Hathaway was also a guest, and "nobody hit on her the whole night." What? Simmons spins it into a theory about how famous people pass a point of no return where only other famous or rich people have the guts to approach them. My only theory is that when Simmons said 'wedding,' he really meant 'commitment ceremony.' NOBODY hit on ANNE HATHAWAY? Every single guy at that wedding should be ashamed of himself.

* Hosting the Oscars alongside James Franco. Huh? Speaking of which....


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...127 Hours is the first James Franco movie where Franco literally gets stoned. Aron Ralston (Franco) is an avid biker/hiker/outdoorsy guy who famously got stranded in the Utah desert with his arm caught between a boulder and a cave wall. Since this story got national attention for its sheer OMFGness, I'm not spoiling anything by saying that he takes rather extreme measures to free himself. The actual arm-hacking scene is surprisingly short and not 'too' graphic, and the rest of the film is basically Danny Boyle showing off director's tricks. It's not a bad film by any stretch, and it's actually quite gripping to see Ralston's escape strategies even when you know how he'll eventually have to get loose. But, Boyle's style works when he has a sprawling story like Slumdog Millionaire, where the scope of the picture almost demands a stylized treatment. When the story is just a guy in a cave for 80 minutes, one might want a bit more claustrophobia. Fortunately, Danny Boyle will get to redeem himself when he directs the upcoming '127 Ohers,' the sequel to The Blind Side.

Top 5 rejected options for that concluding joke...

5. "...when he directs the upcoming 127 Powers, the latest Austin Powers sequel. Austin Powers 4-126 will all be released within the next two years, one after the other. Hope you like dick jokes."
4. "...when he directs the upcoming 127 Orrs, an illustrated history of Parry Sound, Ontario."
3. "...when he directs the upcoming 127 Whores, the story of the most swingin' bordello in all of Manchester."
2. "...when he directs the upcoming 127 Ar's, the new Pirates of the Caribbean sequel."
1. "...when he directs the upcoming 120 Centaurs, an action movie based around Greek mythology."


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RED is notable only because the climactic shootout was filmed in my old parking garage in Toronto. It's true! My beloved Toyota Echo proudly sat overnight in the same spot where Helen Mirren stood with the mounted machine gun. In fact, I'll bet those empty shell casings I found under my car were from her gun! (At least, I hope they were...since I fused them into a heart-shaped locket containing Mirren's picture.) I'll say something about living in Toronto, it's become much easier to spot which movies are filmed in the city. Not only did RED feature my old parking garage, but it also featured the "Chicago Fairmont" --- clearly the Royal York --- and Bruce Willis driving his limo down the Gardiner in front of TO's well-known skyline. Not to mention the climactic scene when Willis punches Karl Urban out of a helicopter and Urban is impaled on the top of the CN Tower, which is called the "Chicago Space Needle." Or when Willis and Morgan Freeman enjoy a Chicago Argonauts game.

Well, I'm out of jokes. The movie stunk. The worst part is, if any person goes into a video store in the next few years and asks for the Krzysztof Kieslowski masterpiece 'Red' (part of the Three Colours trilogy), the clueless clerk will surely hand him a copy of this movie instead. Thank god all video stores in the world might be bankrupt within the next 56 hours.

Mary-Louise Parker is also, for the record, definitely a few stages ahead of Hathaway on the old smile/wrinkle scale. MLP is approaching Teri Hatcher territory. You have to cut Parker some slack since she is 18 years older than Hathaway, though...and by the way, whoa, MLP is 46? Huh. (golf clap) I'll also cut both Parker and Hathaway some slack since the boulder in '127 Hours' had way more wrinkles than the both of them combined. Should've used some Head & Shoulders, boulder!....wait, is there a Head & Shoulders-brand face moisturizer? Let's pretend there is, lest that rhyme make no goddamned sense.


**************************

Remember when you were reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and were bored by that 60-70 page segment where Harry, Ron and Hermione literally sit around in the woods and bitch at each other? And remember when you thought that scene would be an insta-cut from the eventual film version? Well, I'll bet your 2007 self didn't count on Warner Brothers wanting to squeeze every last drop of cash from the Potter franchise and splitting 'Deathly Hallows' into two movies. Twice the screentime means that the forest sequence is included into DH1, and it's just as interminable to watch as it was to read. There's seriously a two-month gap in story time when they're just moping about, made all the more absurd by a) Harry figuring out a clue and then a few weeks passing before Hermione thinks of a follow-up that should've instantly come to her after hearing Harry's info and b) a Harry/Hermione dance sequence that serves less than zero purpose. Ooh, is this stoking a love triangle? No, because everyone on the goddamn earth knows that Hermione and Ron end up together! Why bother making up that scene, especially when we already saw a passionate kiss between Harry and his actual love Ginny Weasley* earlier in the movie? In short, the entire forest sequence once again came back to haunt us, and I'm sure it will be there to haunt us again when the Harry Potter franchise is reimagined in five years with a new director and cast. Oh wait, that's just the Spider-Man franchise. [/bitter]

* Bonnie Wright, the actress who plays Ginny, is...wait, let me check up IMDB...okay, she's turning 20 in two months, go ahead...Bonnie Wright, the actress who plays Ginny Weasley, is getting about 25 percent more attractive with each passing film. Well done, Harry! And well done to the casting directors for lucking into a young red-haired actress that seems to be turning normal, rather than into a freckled nightmare like some gingers. It would've taken a lot of steam out of Harry's victory if he'd ended up with the "It's A Fact!" girl from Kids In The Hall.

Forest sequence aside, HPATHD1 is about what you've come to expect from a David Yates-directed Potter movie. Competently well done, humourous bits involving the three kids that are oddly strained since only Rupert Grint has a modicum of comic timing, excellent special effects and overall a solid way to spend, yikes, two and a half hours. The last film is out next year, bringing an end to one of the longest and most average franchises in movie history. Maybe the Potter series really was unfilmable. Maybe it would've been better served as a TV series on HBO or something, preferably helmed by David Simon. "Where the boy at, Severus? Where the boy at?"

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Hot! Live! Music!

Florence and the Machine, Halo
Ever thought you'd read a comparison of Beyonce and Leonard Cohen? Well, buckle up. The similarity exists since both Beyonce and Cohen's songs unerringly sound better when covered by other artists. Have you ever actually heard Cohen's original "Hallelujah"? It's boring as hell. I made the mistake of throwing it on the air unheard during my college radio days since I figured hey, Hallelujah, why not. Let's just say that Jeff Buckley, Rufus Wainwright, John Cale, k.d. lang, etc. all made that song what it is, not Cohen himself. The same is true for Beyonce --- Antony & the Johnsons rose to fame on their cover of 'Crazy In Love,' Reba McEntire is having a mild comeback with her awesome version of 'If I Was A Boy,' and now there's this take on Halo by Florence + The Machine (which is actually just Florence Welch and a rotating series of side musicians). Florence gets the repost here since she's my latest musical obsession; picked up 'Lungs' a couple of months ago and have been listening to it ever since. The only downside is that the image chosen for this YouTube video is about the uglier picture you could've taken of poor Florence. I wouldn't call her attractive per se, but...remember the 'Two-Face' girl on Seinfeld who looked good or bad depending on the lighting? I'll take the Batman villain analogy a step further and say that Florence is a Clayface. These women don't just look good or bad in different lights, but rather completely different every time you see them. Tina Weymouth from Talking Heads is another well-known musical example of this phenomenon. Florence Welch could walk into my house right now and I wouldn't recognize her. But still, whatever she looks like, trust me, she has to look a damn sight better than that YouTube picture.



James Dean Bradfield, An English Gentleman
Hey, remember the Manic Street Preachers? Late-90's, early-2000's English rock/pop group? Made a middling impact on this side of the pond? Well, they're still around, but their lead singer (JDB) has also stepped out for a couple of solo records. This is one of his solo singles.

"Mark, you do realize that this might be your most obscure Hot Live Music entry yet, right?"

Oh yeah.



U2, A Celebration
'A Celebration' is kind of an oddity in U2's catalogue. It was actually released as a single in 1982 between the October and War albums (kind of as a 'hey, keep us in mind' single) but it didn't actually appear on an actual official U2 recording until the remastered version of October came out a couple of years ago. Why the long delay? For one, U2 aren't big fans of the song. The Edge is on record as saying that he's forgotten how to play it, which is part of the reason the band hasn't done a live cut of the song in, oh, almost 30 years or so. U2 may not like it, but I love it. 'A Celebration' ranked absurdly high on my Top 100 U2 songs list and even though I'd put that list through a big revision if written today, this track would still be a top-twenty entry. Also, everything about this live performance is hysterical. Bono's Rod Stewart outfit, the completely rhythmless dancing of the studio audience, and, in the perfect marriage between these two things, Bono inviting a girl in overalls up on stage. She's up there for, like, five seconds, too. Presumably it took that long for Bono to think, 'Oh yikes, she looked better from ten feet away.'



Mark Knopfler, Romeo and Juliet
That U2 video got me in a "Hey, remember the 80's?' mood, so here's a recent live version of 'Romeo & Juliet,' arguably the best song by one of the more underrated 80's bands, Dire Straits. Fun fact: at its peak, Dire Straits' record "Brothers In Arms" was owned by one in every five UK households. Also, Knopfler (who was the lead singer and songwriter of the Straits, I should note) wrote Tina Turner's big hit "Private Dancer" after he didn't think it would work well as performed by the Straits on their own album 'Love Over Gold.' Now, these two anecdotes are kind of pointless because 'Romeo & Juliet' appeared on neither of those cited albums but....uh, yeah. You know it's a good song when you have a line like "When we made love you used to cry" and nobody even thinks twice about laughing.



Gorillaz, Crystalised
Like the Florence track, this one is an entry from the BBC Live Lounge program. It's obviously another cover though, since we all know the real Gorillaz are 2D, Russel, Murdoch and Noodle. They must've not been able to make it into studio that day.



U2, North Star
Oh that's right, another U2 entry! On their current tour, U2 have been taking the unusual (for them) tack of playing unreleased songs in an effort to test them in front of a live audience to see if they're album-worthy. Based on the quality of this version of 'North Star,' this one's good to go. Here's hoping it stays in the set long enough for me to hear it in Toronto next summer. Also, if U2 wouldn't mind releasing that next album between now and July, that would be appreciated. Nuts to this 4-5 year gap between records.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Fifty Musicians I Have Seen Play Live

My buddy Jeff recently wrote up a blog post listing 50 bands/artists that he's seen play live. Well, I think I've seen 50 in my lifetime, but a good chunk of that are anonymous bar bands or toque-wearing coffee house jerks. In terms of actual bands that I've specifically gone to see (well, or at least seen as opening acts), here's the honour roll. Now, even as I post this, I have a nagging feeling I'm omitting at least a few acts from this list, so feel free to correct me if you've ever attended a concert with me and know of at least one more musician that should be here. Also, please don't be offended that I've apparently forgotten this time we hung out. Uh, I apologize?

I'll start by listing these three acts whose names I don't remember, and then we'll get into the alphabetical list....

* The AC/DC cover band that played when I was a doorman at my campus bar

* The Led Zeppelin cover band that played at a UWO soph event that I attended, in spite of never being a campus soph

* My friend Sarah's ex-boyfriend's shitty metal/screamo band that are easily the worst act on this list

Andrew Austin (thrice)
Basia Bulat
Britta B and the Banter
Collective Soul
Dashboard Confessional
Diamond Rings
Peter Elkas
Garbage
Girl Parts (at least twice)
Grizzly Bear
Sarah Harmer
PJ Harvey
Hot Hot Heat
I Mother Earth
Elton John
Rick McGhie
No Doubt
Pearl Jam (twice)
Fred Penner
Joel Plaskett
Radiohead (twice)
Raffi
Ben Raftus
The Rolling Stones
Sharon, Lois & Bram
Sarah Slean (three times)
Sleater-Kinney
The Slow Clap
The Snipes (twice)
Snow Patrol
Bruce Springsteen (thrice)
Teenage Fanclub
Three Seasons & The Move (twice)
U2 (five times)
The White Stripes

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cookie Monster Hosts SNL

Yeah, this has to, HAS TO happen. An all-Muppets Saturday Night Live would eclipse even the Betty White episode's ratings.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Arnold Screaming

We've had seven years to adjust to it, but still....can you really believe this guy was governor of California?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

UFC 123 Predictions



* Maiquel Falcao over Gerald Harris, decision
I know literally nothing about Falcao aside from his awesome name, but since I always pick at least one upset on these cards, I might as well go with the unknown quantity. Some might argue that this is a stupid tactic given that I'm not just picking an upset, I'm picking against Harris, a guy who hasn't lost a fight in over three years (discounting his loss to Amir Sadollah on TUF, which technically was an exhibition defeat) and has quietly been one of the UFC's more aggressive finishers. But since there's at least a small chance that Falcao comes to the ring to "Rock Me Amadeus," I cannot pick against the man.

* George Sotiropoulos over Joe Lauzon, decision
Big fight for George. A win puts his record at 7-0 in the UFC and probably puts him in line for a lightweight title shot. When this shot happens is anyone's guess --- Edgar defends against Maynard in January and then the winner there faces the WEC lightweight champ in a unification bout --- so Sotiropoulos may choose to take another fight in the interim just to keep from going on the sidelines for 9-10 months. The UFC might also want to save a Sotiropoulos title challenge for a future PPV in Australia. Lauzon is a good fighter but he's not a top-tier guy.

* Phil Davis over Tim Boetsch, submission, round one
My pal Morgan recently commented on the incongruity of Phil Davis' "Mr. Wonderful" nickname. If Davis is going down that road, he should go all the way with it and start wearing sequined robes to the cage. Too bad the piledriver is banned in MMA. Davis might want to consider a "Mr. Perfect" nickname should he continue his unbeaten record here. Boetsch is no small challenge and could definitely score a knockout given Davis' less-than-wonderful striking ability, but Davis should be able to wrestle Boetsch down and pound him out.

* Matt Hughes over BJ Penn, decision
If you had told me seven months ago that I'd be picking Hughes over Penn in a fight, I would've laughed in your face. That was before Penn laid two straight stinkbombs in fights against Frankie Edgar and went from undisputed lightweight champion to guy at a career crossroads. Hughes, meanwhile, was written off two years ago following consecutive losses to Thiago Alves and GSP, but has quietly put together a three-fight winning streak. (Well, two of those were over Renzo Gracie and Matt Serra, but submitting Ricardo Almeida was a solid victory.) Leaving Marv Marinovich's training camp was the worst mistake of Penn's career; he's too old to get by on natural talent anymore. At least with Hughes, you know he'll come in prepared and in good shape. Hughes can outwork BJ for two out of three rounds and 'win' their rivalry by the same score. After this bout, I'd like to see Hughes take on someone like Jon Fitch or Josh Koscheck just to see where Hughes really stands in the welterweight division these days.

* Lyoto Machida over Rampage Jackson, decision
Sort of like how I'm picking against Penn, I'm going with Machida since the jury is still out on if Rampage is still a fighter or if he's in the twilight of his career. A long layoff, shooting 'A-Team' and then showing up out of shape in the Rashad Evans bout didn't exactly do much to convince me that Jackson is still a contender. There's also the fact that Machida needs a big win here to get back on track after (virtual) back-to-back losses to Shogun Rua, and the fact that Machida is pretty much the worst possible style matchup for Rampage's straight-forward style. This has all the makings of a classic three-round unanimous decision for Machida, followed by a whiny Rampage interview complaining about how he came to fight and Machida came to dance.


Undercard....

* Edson Barboza over Mike Luilo, KO, round two
* Dennis Hallman over Karo Parisyan, forfeit, since Karo will probably duck out at the very last minute again
* Mark Munoz over Aaron Simpson, KO, round three
* Brian Foster over Matt Brown, submission, round two
* Nik Lentz over Tyson Griffin, decision
* Paul Kelly over T.J. O'Brien, decision

Friday, November 19, 2010

Out-Of-Context Texts In My Phone Inbox, Volume X

It's hard to believe this is the tenth edition of the out-of-contexts. How time flies. It seems like just yesterday that crusty Blogger editor J. James Jonahson stormed into my cubicle and announced that I had to produce more material or else I'd be out on my can. The joke's on him --- my can is so fat that I would've landed safely on the pavement none the worse for wear. I might've been bounced down the street on it like Tigger from Winnie the Pooh.

But, fortunately, that didn't happen.



"Hey Mark, Sarah and I are at the Gladstone, waiting and starved."

"Yes please!"

"There is another Charlie Brown on!!!"

"Ok, I will be there."

"We were a classic Lions gag job away from being the only two teams left in the survivor pool."

"You driving?"

"Last time college #1s have lost in three consecutive weeks?"

"Jon Hamm on SNL next week!"

"Yeah, madness."

"Have your postcard here in London."

"Can you let me know that you are still coming and ballpark time? Thanz."

"I am at the Blue Bombers game. Clearly a new low in my life."

"Almost there!"

"Okay! Let me know when you are there!"

"Wow, bottom of the eighth!"

"Are you picking me up or vice versa?"

"Have your watch with me."

"Hey, must have misunderstood. I thought you would be here at 1?"

"I retract 'fucking terrible.' However, I think that's been consistently been called a ball throughout the game. Also, seemed like he hesitated. How's UFC?"

"Hey man, no briefcases. Sorry."

"2 left. No misses."

"Come downstairs. Trev needs drinks."

"I'm concerned there aren't nearly enough reaction shots during these telecasts."

"Game on, my boy."

"Yo! Where r we going for ur birthday?"

"Orrrrr borderline."

"Awesome. At the car. See you in the car, Milhouse!"

"Got postcard #2 today. Bring to you in three weeks!"

"LOL"

"Hey! So far I see two towels, your watch and your postcard."

"Indeed."

"Nailbiter! What was that!"

"Nathan Riva should not see the field for the rest of the year...he is awful."

"Excellent."

"WOW...fucking terrible call."

"I'd call it Bloody Sunday if my wife weren't Irish and would thus be horribly offended..."

"It is cold, yes. But it's fun to see downtrodden people lose their last glimmer of hope in life."

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Like A Bosh

Part of me is pained by linking this video since Chris Bosh is probably my Raptors-loving grandmother's favourite player of all time. Then again, my grandma has no time for overrated power forwards.

TBJ exclusive: Like A Bosh from The Basketball Jones on Vimeo.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Other People's Writing


(photo credit: from the Onion caption, "Evil Red Wings Owner Wario Lemieux Steals Stanley Cup")

It's Friday, I'm itching for the weekend, so let's just have a bunch of posts and videos and whatnot from others. Surely I can't be counted on to produce original material. What am I, a machine?

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Not a machine like, say, Florence & The Machine, my current favourite band (ok, well, really a solo act) of the moment. I am kicking myself for not attending their show in Toronto last week. My reaction to seeing that live show would've been similar to how this baby reacts to "Dog Days Are Over." Warning: this may be the most adorable thing you see today. Diabetes sufferers, have your epi-pen handy due to the overwhelming sweetness.

(Added hilarity: the YouTube commenters chewing the mother out for not properly fastening the child into the car seat. If God decides to use YouTube comments as his basis for deciding if humanity deserves another flood or something, we're all in big trouble.)



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The great Joe Posnanski is back with another fantastic post about his father, Bruce Springsteen's forgotten classic "The Promise" and the recent release of songs Springsteen recorded around the time of his Darkness At The Edge Of Town album. If you're a Boss fan, this is a must-read. If you're not a Boss fan, then a) what's the matter with you? and b) read it anyway.

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The Jersey Shore RPG. There are no words.

See more at CollegeHumor.


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In the spirit of Conan O'Brien returning to TV this week, here's a compilation of some of Conan's best sketches and routines from his old Late Show (and one from the Tonight Show). It's not a bad set but it's omitting any of the great Conan/Andy staring contests, or that segment where Tom Selleck mercy-killed his old mustache. I love how that sentence makes absolutely no sense out of context.

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A great movie review can be a joy to read, but perhaps just as joyous is a terrible movie review. Not a review of a terrible movie --- I mean a review that is in itself horrible. This is where 'This Is Not Helpful' site comes into play. They take the most asinine Amazon reviewer comments for various films/TV shows/books/music/etc. and repost them for the entire world to enjoy. For instance, these mini-reviews of UP and CRANK 2. I, for one, would also pay to see Jason Statham play a disciple. "Oi, is dis da blood of Christ?"




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I've had 'best music videos ever list' written down as a potential blog topic for a while now, but there's one major setback keeping me from writing it. I can do a 'best movies' list since I go to a lot of movies. I can do a 'best TV shows' list since I watch a lot of TV. I can't really do a best videos list, however, since I simply don't watch a lot of music videos. Unless I'm specifically pointed to them on the internet, what other vehicle exists for a person to sit down and actually take in a few music videos in a row? Certainly not MTV or Much or music stations that devote their programming day to actual programs. If I made such a list, it would be almost entirely comprised of videos from the 1990's since (surprise) that was the only time when I was frequently exposed to the medium.

What modern videos would be on this hypothetical list? The well-known stuff from major artists and video directors, naturally (i.e. Beyonce's Single Ladies video, OK Go's stuff, pretty much anything from Michel Gondry or Spike Jonze) but the real weakness would be an omission of great videos from lesser-known artists like, say, Oren Lavie. His video for the song "Her Morning Elegance" is jaw-droppingly awesome, but I'm only seeing this two-year-old video now based on pure chance. Lavie's video was a minor viral hit, but it's not like the old days when a keen video would be as or more effective as song in making someone a one-hit wonder. For example, how many people still remember Daft Punk as the "dog head video" guys?

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Demotivational Posters, Vol. 2, Part II

My brother and I made a gentleman's wager of five bucks on the Giants-Seahawks game today. I picked Seattle. As I write this, it's currently 38-0 for New York with about 10 minutes left in the third quarter. :(

To cheer myself up, it's time for some more wacky demotivational posters. Yes, I realize that this does against the logic of these posters being 'demotivational,' but give me a break.