Sunday, October 31, 2010

Demotivational Posters, Vol. 2, Part I

Hey, remember the 80's? And beyond that, remember my demotivational poster posts? Well now they're back, and in POG form! I'm still in negotiations to get the pogs into stores by Christmas season, but in meantime, you'll just have to see these in a plain ol' post. My personal favourites of this batch include the road sign and extreme chess.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sterling's Gold

As fun as a Mr. Men/Mad Men series would actually be, the only Mad Men-related book on the market this winter is "Sterling's Gold," the autobiography of Roger Sterling himself. You can seriously pre-order it right now from Amazon.

Now, if you recall from the show, Roger's memoirs were widely mocked by Don and Peggy (and most everyone who read it) as a hilariously bad vanity project run amok. So, ironically, Mad Men did a bit of back-handed marketing on pushing this as a must-read, but since the target audience is just fans of the show anyways, I doubt it'll affect sales. Also, I suspect the real-life Sterling's Gold is going to be either a collection of Roger one-liners or a 'guide to life' type of thing like Barney Stinson's Bro Code.

So, did I have a point to this post besides just saying that book is a thing that exists? Not really. But if anyone feels like getting me a Christmas gift as a reward for all these free posts you've enjoyed all year...

Friday, October 22, 2010

The NBA: Where Superheroes Happen

I've always been more of a Sports Illustrated guy, but I have to give credit for ESPN The Magazine for its awesome use of stylized Marvel comic-book drawings for their upcoming NBA Preview issue. Each team gets its own personalized image, and they range from cool to incredible. The Raptors as Alpha Flight! The Celtics as Green Lanterns! (even though Green Lantern is a DC character) Dwight Howard as Wolverine! Steve Nash as Phoenix!...which I guess fits even though it makes more sense to have Nash as Wolverine but still! The best of the bunch is the Cavaliers entry, which is a brilliant take on one of the more famous images in comic book history. This is the last time in a while we'll hear the phrase 'Cavaliers' and 'best' in the same sentence for a while.

The full gallery is here, but I couldn't resist posting a few of the highlights.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

UFC 121 Predictions

* Matt Hamill over Tito Ortiz, decision
The question here isn't what the result of the fight will be, since Tito Ortiz hasn't won a fight since 2006 and that was against the more-than-washed up Ken Shamrock. (Actually, with the two Shamrock fights, the draw with Rashad Evans and the two questionable split decisions over Belfort and Griffin, Tito arguably hasn't won a fight since 2004. Good lord.) Nope, the real question is what excuse will Tito use after he loses. He's already complained about his bad back numerous times, there have been various personal issues he's pointed the finger at, and last time out he blamed a skull fracture for his loss. A skull fracture. Really. Anyway, Hamill wins and Tito blames the result on a wizard's curse.

* Martin Kampmann over Jake Shields, decision
Kind of an upset here, but I'm confident based on the long history of UFC "planned" fights that go awry. It seems like whenever the UFC tries to push a contender into a future title bout, he loses and plans are all screwed up. Shields is the anti-Tito, having not LOST since 2004 and going 14-0 through smaller promotions like EliteXC and Strikeforce. If Shields wins, it seems a lock that he'll get a shot at the winner of the GSP/Josh Koscheck title fight. (Fun fact: the UFC is coming to Toronto in April, and if you don't think GSP is headlining that show and drawing 60,000 fans to the Rogers Centre, you're nuts.) If Kampmann wins, however? The UFC is forced to go with deserving but dull Jon Fitch for the next welterweight title bout. It's just a bit too perfect. Kampmann catches Shields or else outworks him for a surprise decision and the WW title picture is once again put into question.

* Paulo Thiago over Diego Sanchez, decision
Speaking of the WW title picture, here's a fight between two guys that are trying desperately just to get into that picture. Thiago's only lost twice in his life, and those were decision losses to Fitch and Kampmann. Thiago at worst looks like a solid gatekeeper in the division. Sanchez, on the other hand, is on a two-fight losing streak and could face a cut from the UFC unless he drops back down to lightweight with a loss here. Diego has more to gain, but I dunno, it just seems like Diego is yesterday's news. He dropped weight classes since he couldn't cut it at 170 at begin with, so I don't see what coming back years later will accomplish. The unibrow beats the YESman.

* Gabriel Gonzaga over Brendan Schaub, knockout, R2
Thiago might be a gatekeeper, but Gonzaga definitely is. His only defeats have come to top-tier heavyweights, so if Schaub beats him, then that definitely means Schaub is a player. Unfortunately for Schaub, I don't think he's on that level yet, if he ever gets there at all.

* Brock Lesnar over Cain Velasquez, R3, TKO
This is a hard, hard main event to predict. These guys are so similar in so many ways that the only reason I'm picking Lesnar is just on the size advantage. Some argue that Velasquez has the striking edge but knocking out Ben Rothwell and old man Nogueira just doesn't do it for me. In his fight with Cheick Kongo, Kongo tagged Cain a few times but Velasquez was able to regain control through his wrestling. If Lesnar tags Cain, then CV won't have that edge since Lesnar is on his same level on the ground. It wouldn't shock me at all if Velasquez wins this one, even in a blowout fashion, but if I'm making a pick, I'm going with the champ to retain. It's even tougher since the last time Lesnar fought a notable Mexican-American in a championship bout, he lost the WWE Title to Eddie Guerrero. Will I ever stop making pro wrestling jokes about Lesnar? The answer is no.

* Jon Madsen over Gilbert Yvel, decision
* Patrick Cote over Tom Lawlor, decision
* Dong Yi Yang over Chris Camozzi, submission, R2
* Sam Stout over Paul Taylor, decision (fight of the night, right here)
* Daniel Roberts over Mike Guymon, submission, R1
* Court McGee over Ryan Jensen, decision

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Packers Ain't Making No Super Bowl

Looking back over my long history of NFL picks, it's clear that I'm kind of an idiot.

2009 Super Bowl pick: New England over New York
(actual Super Bowl: New Orleans over Indianapolis. The Patriots were blown out in the first round of the playoffs, and the Giants finished 8-8)

2008: New England over Seattle
(actual SB: Pittsburgh over Arizona. NE finished 11-5 and somehow out of the playoffs, Seattle finished 4-12)

2007: New England over Seattle
(actual SB: New York over New England. Seattle lost to Green Bay in the quarter-finals)

2006: Carolina over New England
(actual SB: Indy over Chicago. Carolina finished 8-8 and out of the playoffs, New England lost the AFC title game to the Colts)

I also seem to recall picking a Denver/Seattle Super Bowl matchup in an NFL column for my school paper in the first half of the decade. Two themes emerge from these picks. A) I put a lot of faith in the Patriots dynasty lasting longer than it actually did and B) man, was I ever over-impressed with the Seattle Seahawks. Seemingly the only year I didn't pick them to reach the Super Bowl was in 2005, when they actually did get there and lost to Pittsburgh.

So basically what I'm saying is that it's no surprise that my most recent NFL predictions are already shot thanks to the mediocrity of my beloved Green Bay Packers. Picking Green Bay to actually win the Super Bowl is a classic case of heart-over-head, but it's especially pronounced in this case given that I actually cited several reasons for the Packers' downfall in my original piece. Lack of offensive line depth, check. Charles Woodson unable to repeat his great 2009 season, check (though Woodson hasn't been terrible or anything). I can't believe I didn't mention their shaky running game, since even Ryan Grant by himself didn't provide enough of a punch. Now with Grant out for the season, Green Bay's run attack is down to career bench-warmer Brandon Jackson.

Green Bay is currently 3-3 and could/should be 6-0 had they actually been a good team. Their loss to Miami yesterday could've gone either way. They should've whipped Washington two weeks ago but couldn't convert on red zone scoring chances, thus letting the Redskins stick around and eventually beat them in overtime. And the loss to Chicago was probably the most frustrating loss I've seen in 18 years of Packer fandom. Green Bay totally outplayed the Bears, are obviously the better team...and lost due to 20 goddamn penalties. Twenty. Disgraceful.

Let's look at the top five reasons why Green Bay isn't winning the Super Bowl this year.

5. Offensive line, as noted. Seeing Bryan Bulaga get pwned by Cameron Wake all game long tells me that Bulaga is still a work in progress.

4. Woodson. He isn't a shutdown corner, he's a veteran corner that seemingly has the mystical power to make the referees ignore the pushoff and holding penalties he commits on pretty much every play.

3. The penalties. Not just in the Chicago game, but Green Bay has been one of the NFL's most penalized teams for the last few seasons (they're currently sixth in the league). It represents a straight-up lack of discipline and, frankly, a lot of stupidity. The penalty problem seems to have begun when....

2. ...Mike McCarthy was hired as the team's coach. I'm officially off the McCarthy bandwagon. This guy is, at best, Andy Reid, except for the fact that Reid at least got his team to perform well in SOME big games. If Green Bay loses to Minnesota next week, I may go into 'Mike Sherman Mode,' a.k.a. when you want your team to just crater out in the hopes that it'll at least get the coach fired.

1. Injuries. Now, admittedly, Green Bay has been badly hit by the injury bug. Grant, Burnett, Barnett, Finley --- all key cogs in the Packer machine, all gone for the season. Aaron Rodgers had a minor concussion last week. Clay Matthews, easily GB's best defensive player, has a lingering hamstring injury. O-linemen Mark Tauscher and Chad Clifton are both always banged up. It's hard to contend when you're losing this many quality players.

Am I jumping off the Green Bay bandwagon too early? Quite possibly. After all, the NFC is completely wide-open, since all of the really good clubs in the NFL this season (Baltimore, Pittsburgh, New England, the Jets) seem to be in the AFC. It's not inconceivable that the Packers get their heads on straight by midseason, go on a hot streak and then carry on through January to a Super Bowl appearance. Stranger things have happened. But, unfortunately, Green Bay's problems are deeper than just the superficial injuries that many/most will blame as the cause if the Packers come up short in 2010. Even if Green Bay was at full strength, an ill-timed penalty, dumb play-calling or Woodson getting burned on a deep ball would still prevent the team from its full potential.

On the bright side, at least I picked Baltimore to be in the Super Bowl and they're looking like world-beaters at this point. Stay tuned as I pick them and Seattle for each of the next four seasons.

"Hey Mark, did you include a double-negative in your post title just to subtly cheer the Packers on?"

Shut up, grammar man.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Random Nonsense

I don't see what the big deal is about this Chilean rescue mission. My Minesweeper scores are way higher than 33.

(backup joke: In a related story, 33 Chilean minors were also rescued from Gary Glitter's basement.)


The Poke is sort of like a British, poor man's version of The Onion, which is why their recent story about a version of Monopoly based on 'The Wire' was both half-assed and not that funny. It's also a bit depressing since frankly, an actual Wire Monopoly game would be bad-ass. I'd buy one. You and your friends would have a board set up at each person's house, and you'd all play individually while sending your moves to each other via pager messages. If someone tried to cheat on their own board, they're given a Scott Templeton penalty. (Unless they have a Maury Levy card that allows them to do whatever they want.) In addition to the regular cash, you could also have cheques to be passed around, but only on the circumstance that they be signed with a clowny-ass signature.

Man, the more I think about this, the better it sounds. I'm actually upset that this isn't an actual game. Lance Reddick is pissed too --- he wants those royalty cheques!


'The Town' was a decent enough action thriller, around the 6-out-of-10 range. But I can't help wonder if I would've enjoyed it more if.... (SPOILER ALERT!)

* ...Ben Affleck hadn't been the lead actor. I actually have high hopes for Affleck the director. Between this film and Gone Baby Gone, he already has a better directing resume than Jodie Foster, Warren Beatty and Kevin Costner combined. (Yeah, that's right, Costner. More like 'Dances With Boredom,' amirite? *holds up hand for a high-five that never comes*) But as we all know, Affleck the actor has his limitations. In spite of growing up in Boston, Affleck's Bawsten accent is so put-upon that it makes him sound like he's doing a half-assed Adam Sandler impression. I also have to throw a penalty flag on Affleck co-writing, directing and then starring in a project where he gets sex scenes with both Rebecca Hall and Blake Lively. I mean, Woody Allen has been making movies for years where he scores with women way out of his league, but at least Woody never included a scene where he's shirtless and doing reps on a chin-up bar. Show a bit of humility, Affleck.

* ...Affleck's character has been even somewhat likable. The film was working hard to at least explain, if not justify, the gang's crimes by showing their crappy childhoods, dangerous neighbourhood, the Florist's influence, etc. But that doesn't really make up for the fact that all four of the bank robbers are total reprobates. Affleck, the alleged nice guy of the bunch, still carries on a relationship with his hostage victim after the fact and apparently has no problem with blowing away cops, security guards, or whomever gets between them and a clean getaway. Putting up the cash for a skating rink doesn't wash away multiple first-degree murders.

* ...Rebecca Hall's character hadn't been so pathetic. So let me get this straight: she's taken hostage during a bank robbery, blindfolded, and left by the side of a river where she took the "longest walk of her life." She is clearly traumatized by the event, even to the point of quitting her job at the bank. Her only solace is the nice construction worker she just started dating. They have, like, four dates and he buys her a pretty necklace and then she finds out HE WAS ONE OF THE BANK ROBBERS. While upset, she decides that those four dates were pretty special and gives him the heads-up about the cops staking out her apartment. Are you fucking serious? In what world is Hall not scarred for life and either a) shuts down completely or b) devotes herself to doing everything in her power to having this guy arrested and/or shot? The slam-dunk ending for this movie was, I figured, Hall somehow setting up Affleck to be captured by police and thus getting her revenge. But, nope, she seems pleased that he gets away. Just ridiculous. Those must've been four pretty damn romantic dates. They slept together too, so presumably Affleck's character was just such a stud that it makes theoretically reasonable women think "Well, on the one hand he did kidnap me in the most life-alteringly terrifying morning of my life. But on the other hand, he was a good lay. Aww, let's let hiim go!" Again, humility is apparently an alien concept for Ben Affleck.

* ....the cops were played by actors other than Jon Hamm and Titus Welliver. So not only are the crooks degenerates, you're now asking me to root against a TV dream team of Don Draper and the Smoke Monster? Yeah right. This is another instance of how 'The Town' overrates the empathy the audience feels for Affleck and his crew. Are we not supposed to like Welliver's character since (gasp!) he grew up in Charlestown himself and now has 'sold out' by busting his old neighbourhood mates? Is Hamm suddenly the villain because he treats witnesses, namely Rebecca Hall, rather brusquely? Actually, given that Hamm initially thought she was in on the robbery and she ended up helping Affleck in the end, it looks like Hamm's police work was bang-on. If nothing else comes from this film, at least hopefully it'll get the ball rolling on a spinoff cop drama starring Hamm and Welliver --- though not as their Town characters, but just as Draper and the Man In Black. The show can be called 'Drinking And Smoking.'

But yeah, these criticisms aside, good movie (?)


Facebook question! You know the 'Photo Memories' box or the "so-and-so is tagged in a picture" item that appears on the right side of your screen? Why are all of these pictures from the same six or seven people? It's very peculiar. Even odder is the fact that these people aren't randomly selected, they all seem to come in sets of two like Noah's Ark. Two are brother and sister, two are a couple and two are best friends. The one stand-alone has no connection to the other six and wouldn't be notable at all other than the fact that she's one of the more attractive members of my Friends list.

...wait, on second thought, never mind.


Speaking of Facebook, here's a Social Networked trailer for Between Two Ferns! They couldn't find a way to work in a shot of that chick in the Stanford underwear? (On the bright side, no shots of Bradley Cooper in Stanford underwear.)


Speaking of Between Two Ferns, here's a new edition of Between Two Ferns! With Bruce Willis! "When you were making 'The Whole Ten Yards,' did you worry that it would be TOO good?"

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Conaw Is Coming

I, for one, can't wait until November 8. Lots of Conan-related material and promos are available on this YouTube channel. Here's just a taste, a morsel, a look all the way to the month 11/2010.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Grover Is On A Horse

If you ever get into a 'Greatest TV Show Ever' argument, bringing up Sesame Street is a good way to make the others in the argument so "Ohhhh, yeah...."

Friday, October 08, 2010

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

When I say that these texters will remain anonymous, do I really mean it? To ensure that I'm not full of shit, I time-traveled to the year 2070 and, sure enough, the identities of these texters is still a mystery. What isn't a mystery in 2070, however, is the Loch Ness Monster. He's real! RUN

"My man crush is stronger than ever."

"Well, I still think you should take a run at her."

"Your mom sent a postcard!!"

"Is this the lawyer chick?"

"We'll have to see something else then! Audition went well -- was filming for it this morning!"

"Hey! How was the Chaplin flick?"

"Sweeet! Thanks dood!"

"You're not making it easy to justify stealing his girl."

"No worries we r on our way back now."

"Play sounds good! What time meet for dinner? How much are tickets?"

"I need three fantasy points from Rodgers, Finley, Jennings here."

"Sorry to cancel now. Can we pls raincheck?! Again so sorry."

"U triviaing tonight?"

"Sure, np. Let me know when here and I'll come outside."

"Eastbound premiered on Sunday night."

"I have no idea for Rovers time, ha ha. Uh, sure?"

"Anyone want to hit the ballpark this aft? We can mess around, hit some balls then maybe BBQ at my place till we hit Rovers for UFC. COME ON"

"I'm in the back so I'll meet u out front when u arrive."

"There you go!"

"That could be one of several hundred girls."

"Sounds like a douche"

"Dude...fb post...who is this person that was distracted by work but liked hanging out? If it's a chick you need to get on that."

"But it makes sense!"

"Fuckin' kills me."

"Ok thanks Mark! Enjoy the film!"

"We've known for YEARS that he was amazing, and the US media didn't pay attention. Now all of a sudden he's a master ace, blah blah."

"Ah yea cool. C U next week."

"Hai is this still you? Have you gotteb tix yet? Can you please get an extra one?"

"Unbelievable, isn't it"

"Dude --- any interest in coming by for the UFC? Dave and his dudefriend are ordering it and I told them you like it."

"Know what I mean?"

"Do you have a fourth for tonight? Ryan and I are wondering."

"Sounds good! We can figure out where to eat from there."

"Avoid Yonge and King. Apparently there is a fire there."

"It's like getting a divorce from your wife because she won't have sex, then watching her get remarried and then a sex tape is released."

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Hockey Season!

NHL To Allow Finishing Moves In Fights This Season

NEW YORK—In a policy shift that seems to run counter to the recent emphasis on professional hockey as a game of speed and finesse, the NHL announced Wednesday that it will allow exceptionally graphic finishing moves for the 2010-2011 season. "At any point during an on-ice altercation, if one participant in a fight becomes dizzy or dazed, the arena announcer shall exclaim 'Finish him!'; whereupon the victor shall be given the choice of turning into a dragon and biting off his opponent's torso, ripping the other skater in half with a razor-sharp hat, or removing his hockey mask to reveal a fire-breathing skeletal face before burning his opponent to a crisp," the statement from the NHL Competition Committee read in part. "A two-minute minor penalty will be added to the five-minute fighting major if one combatant turns the other into an infant or offers him a wrapped present." The drastic rule change is believed to be prompted by an on-ice altercation last season after which the Oilers' Zack Stortini held up the skull and spine of the Rangers' Donald Brashear, receiving a three-minute standing ovation.

Okay, this is from The Onion. But just imagine, wouldn't this be great?

Anyway, onto actual predictions.

1. Washington
2. New Jersey
3. Boston
4. Pittsburgh
5. Buffalo
6. Philadelphia
7. Tampa Bay
8. Toronto (yep, I'll keep dreaming)

1. San Jose
2. Vancouver
3. Chicago
4. Detroit
5. Los Angeles
6. Colorado
7. Anaheim
8. Calgary

*Sharks over Flames because it's the first round
*Canucks over Ducks in the rhymiest possible NHL series
*Blackhawks over Avalanche when the experienced youngsters beat the young youngsters
*Red Wings over Kings in the second-rhymiest possible series
*Capitals over Maple Leafs as I'm satisfied with his briefest taste of playoff hockey after so many, many years
*Devils over Lightning since let's be honest, I'm stretching just having the Bolts here
*Bruins over Flyers because of revenge
*Penguins over Sabres because Ryan Miller is not Superman

*Red Wings over Sharks because it's the second round
*Canucks over Blackhawks when the Sedins use the old Killer Bees' mask-switching routine to fool Jonathan Toews
*Penguins over Capitals as Alex Ovechkin's personal hell continues
*Devils over Bruins but then the NHL voids the result, but then they allow it at the penalty of making Martin Brodeur play with one eye closed in the next series.

*Canucks over Red Wings in the most exciting hockey-related moment in Vancouver since....well, you know
*Penguins over Devils since who wouldn't root for a cute little penguin over Satan?

Stanley Cup Finals: Penguins over Canucks. Eat it, city of Vancouver.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010


My friend and colleague Chris called it 'the greatest photo ever,' and it's hard to argue. It's at least got to be in the running for the greatest sports photo ever, right up there with Bobby Orr flying through the air, Michael Jordan in mid-shot with the Utah home crowd staring in horror, and Ali holding his arm while jawing at an unconscious Sonny Liston. This is the kind of shot that couldn't be replicated if you set up a camera and had Tiger fire 1000 balls at it. (Insert obligatory Tiger Woods/balls joke here.)