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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
"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!
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.
* 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