1. Chicago 2. Miami 3. Brooklyn 4. Indiana 5. New York 6. Detroit 7. Atlanta 8. Washington
So, the East has five good teams and then it's just a battle of mediocrity to see who will be the first-round elimination fodder for the top three seeds. The Cavaliers, Bucks and maybe even the Raptors also have a shot at being the ones who get the honour of getting blitzed by the division winners. Whatever, none of these teams matter. The Knicks and Nets also don't really matter since LOL the Knicks actually winning anything and the Nets don't have a time machine to 2008, so I don't see what good importing Pierce and Garnett will do at this stage.
Nope, it comes down to just three teams with legitimate chances to win the conference. Chicago, astoundingly, still played great even without Derrick Rose and gave Miami all it could handle in the second round, so with Rose back and presumably healthy, they're title contenders. Indiana just keeps on improving and Paul George could be a superstar now. It's tempting to think about one of these teams winning the East but since the NBA is no fun, the Heat will just win it again. Sure, they'll be banged up come playoff time and they'll lose a few games to make people sweat, but LeBron is still LeBron. Case closed.
1. San Antonio 2. LA Clippers 3. Oklahoma City 4. Golden State 5. Memphis 6. Houston 7. Dallas 8. Minnesota
The West is, as usual, much more interesting. It also has a logjam at the bottom, since Portland, New Orleans and maybe Utah have a shot at those last two seeds. I'm picking the Mavericks just because I like Dirk and because the poor Timberwolves need to have one year where everyone is healthy and playing well, right?
That leaves the top six, who are really the top three (the Grizzlies are tough and gritty but are clearly a step behind the elite level; the Warriors are exciting and cool but are clearly a step behind the elite level; the Rockets wasted their time and energy for the chronic disappointment that is Dwight Howard). The Clippers will be way better simply by dint of the fact that Doc Rivers is an immense upgrade over Vinny Del Confusion as head coach. The Spurs are the Spurs. The Thunder have Kevin Durant, nuff said, even with Russell Westbrook still hurt. While I appreciate the possibility of Westbrook returning somewhat fresh partway through the season and then helping OKC go on a run…actually wait, yeah, I'll go with this, sounds good. A lot of things went right for the Spurs last season and it seems unlikely it'll all break that way again.
So Miami vs. Oklahoma City in the Finals, and of course the Heat will win again. #Boring
We've published "everyday dialogue I adopted from The Simpsons" posts not once, not twice, but thrice now, so here's the...uh, quorce edition? Yes, quorce, that's a perfectly cromulent word.
"I was unaware! I was unaware!" "Excuse me, Professor Brainiac…" "It's the least I can do. Well, the least I can do is absolutely nothing but I'll do you one better!" "If we don't come back, avenge our deaths!" "Hot stuff, coming through!" "How do you figure, boy?" "Ah, that's better. I can ride a bike again!" "Looks like it's suicide again for me." "And that's the end of THAT chapter." "Speed holes. They make the car go faster." "This both sucks and blows." "And that's the end of THAT chapter!" "You'll have to speak up, I'm wearing a towel." "Par-tee down?" "Yes!" "Have the Rolling Stones killed." "Mmmm….64 slices of American cheese." "Be quiet, you awful man!" "Those are chock full of……heady goodness!" "Sit perfectly still. Only I may dance." "He's got me there." "This isn't a bleeding…splish-splash show." "Oh you'll pay. Don't think you won't pay!" "Why does it have to be zany?" "I've seen plays that were better than this. Honest to god, PLAYS!"
I, a 31-year-old man, still wore my Superman logo t-shirt when I went to see "Man Of Steel" on its opening day this past summer. I couldn't help it, despite the fact that between the shirt and my bald giant freak head, I look sort like Sloth from the Goonies. Still, a kid on the streetcar happily pointed at my shirt and said, "Superman!" and I high-fived him, so it was totally worth it.
It says something about modern society that Superman is seen as a passé or dated heroic archetype. Even worse, the best filmmakers can do with Superman is make him into a thinly-veiled Christ figure --- yeah, since THAT'll make him relatable. Superman isn't meant to be a messiah or a boy scout or a "symbol of a failed America" as Frank Miller would have you believe, but in the end, he's just a great guy who always does the right thing. People flail to add layers to Superman's character but he Always. Does. The. Right. Thing. He can struggle with what the right thing is, but he'll always make the right choice in the end because he's a fictional character and they can do that.
There is no malice or arrogance in Superman. You can argue that Bruce Wayne's work as the Batman makes him a psychotic or if he's endangering Gotham by opening it up to a greater level of psychopath; 80% of all Spider-Man stories hinge on how being Spidey has been a raw deal for Peter Parker; Wolverine is in many ways a lunatic. Superman, however, is just a good guy who does good deeds because they need to be done. This sort of matter-of-fact goodness is what makes Superman such an enduring hero. If I met someone who said they were living their lives by following Superman's example, that'd be a little weird but generally, I'd be in favour of this person's way of life. If I met someone who patterned themselves after the Punisher, I'd be looking for an exit.
Hey, forget about Superman, I also idolized Clark Kent. In some small way, I firmly believe that I'm a journalist today because Clark, Lois, Jimmy, Perry and the rest of the Daily Planet gang made being a reporter seem like the coolest job in the world. Didn't the Daily Planet ever need a sportswriter? I could totally move to Metropolis, provided I could find decent rental insurance given that half the city is destroyed every other month.
While we're on the subject, Lois Lane! Lois was the best. Sure, there were 10-15 years there when Lois was presented merely as a schemer looking to win/steal Superman's heart, but for the most part, Lois Lane stands out as an iconic comic character in her own right. Hell, I'd argue she's probably the greatest female comic book character of all time, given how Wonder Woman's premise changes every decade (honourable mention to Storm or Invisible Woman). In any incarnation, however, Lois has always been a hell of a reporter. How many generations of journalists have been inspired to get into the business due to Lois Lane?
If my Supes fandom wasn't enough, my buddy Kyle wrote an entire Ph.D. paper about Superman at Western a few years ago. While I'm not officially cited as a source since (in layman's terms) didn't contribute a damn thing, I feel I was the Mr. Mxyzptlk to Kyle's Superman on this essay.
In honour of Superman's 75th anniversary, Zack Snyder and Bruce Timm produced this animated short that details his history. Me, I'm just going to blast the John Williams Superman score on my car radio while driving up and down Joe Shuster Way in Toronto. To each their own.
I'm only 31 for a couple more weeks, so I've got to get this Garfunkel & Oates song posted sooner rather than later. Also, Garfunkel & Oates are AWESOME. Super-catchy songs, very funny lyrics, what's not to like? Apparently they're getting their own TV show next year, which has legit Flight Of The Conchords potential. Oooh, crossover!
This is my 1000th post on this blog. It might not always be --- it's possible I go back and erase an old post, or drastically rewrite something, or realize I've saved a draft somewhere in the archives that counts in my number total, etc. It's a pretty fluid situation as far as milestones go, which kind of sums up this blog's existence.
I'm probably going to continue blogging for the rest of my life, which seems like an odd thing to say. "Blogs" will probably exist in one form or another as long as the internet exists*, even if this specific Blogger outlet no longer functions or the idea of an old-fashioned "blog" goes out of style. Hell, it probably already has. Several of my friends who used to have lots of thoughts to share have now switched just to Tumblr or Instagram, communicating through pictures rather than words. Admittedly, that's because my friends are all getting into their late 20s/early 30s and it seems like a very teenage/early 20's university student thing to do, thinking that the world JUST HAS TO HEAR your brilliant opinions.
* = right? Well, who knows. In ten years time, I could have a kid, and upon seeing the old man sit down to write a blog post, Mark Jr. or Marquette would react with as much disdain as if I had been writing on a typewriter. Then again, good lord, would I not want my future kids to ever know I had a blog. "Geez Dad, you were really into Lost?"
Thanks to everyone who's been reading for the last eight years and you can probably look forward to eight more. I'll likely never get tired of posting weird pop culture items or writing about whatever comes to mind. Stay tuned for the 2000th post when I write a similarly half-assed "whoa, I guess this is an anniversary" item and then perhaps let my future child write a paragraph talking about how their dad is a technological dinosaur.
* Bryan Curtis writes about the tragedy of Maurice Stokes, his lifelong friendship with Jack Twyman and the creation of "The Stokes Game" in his honour. Terrific, moving story and one that has been somewhat lost over time given that Stokes died over 40 years ago.
* With "Gravity" kicking ass with critics and making a fortune at the box office, Emily Yoshida details the career of Alfonso Cuaron. I might as well take this opportunity to say that I LOVED "Gravity" and it's my favourite movie of the year thus far (sorry, "Mud"). Since Cuaron directed, co-wrote, co-produced and co-edited the film, I'm guessing he's walking away with at least one trophy on Oscar night, and it's very well deserved.
* Emily Yoshida is the MVP of this month's Other People's Writing, as here she is again for her retrospective of Myst on the 20th anniversary of the game's release. I must admit, I've never played Myst before in my life but the idea is pretty fascinating. It's one of those cases where I whole-heartedly support the concept and feel that more games like Myst should be made, even if I have no particular interest in playing such games myself. How magnanimous of me!
* Pros: Sean Fennessey's story about Harry Nilsson's life and career
is really good. Cons: It inspires one to actually listen to some of
Nilsson's music, which, yeah, didn't quite live up to the hype. Is it
possible I had the misfortune of picking Nilsson's four worst songs on a
random YouTube search? ("Without You" is excepted since it's not a
cover, not a real 'Nilsson song,' and because it's an awesome tune)
* And finally, we end on some pure insanity from Shea Serrano as he lists the top 15 splits of Jean-Claude Van Damme's movie career. It was either this or picking the top 15 splits of Gary Cooper's movie career, which would've been a lot harder. While we're discussing JCVD, I demand to know everything about how his current role in a GoDaddy ad campaign came about, since it is delightful.
As part of my ongoing effort to chronicle the Conan O'Brien/Jordan Schlansky rivalry and Zach Galifianakis' leapsintotalk show-hostinglegend, here is Conan battling wits with Jordan again, plus Zach interviewing Justin Bieber. Two things...
1. Bieber is one weird-looking dude.
2. Conan's staff needs their own show. Or, just a reality show of Sona going about her day in the office and/or dealing with Conan's nonsense.
The way the NHL's new alignment works is that the top three in each division make the playoffs, with two more wild cards coming from anywhere in the conference to fill out the postseason bracket. Also, the conferences aren't being ranked 1-8 based on record, there are intra-divisional playoff matchups to survive first. So for simplicity's sake, here's what I think the Stanley Cup playoff bracket will end up looking like….
Penguins vs. Maple Leafs Rangers vs. Capitals Bruins vs. Canadiens Senators vs. Red Wings Blackhawks vs. Oilers Blues vs. Jets Kings vs. Sharks Ducks vs. Canucks
The winners all move on to face each other in that order, so there's no more reshuffling of seeds after a round, either. So if, for instance, the Blackhawks and Blues end up posting the two highest point totals in the NHL, they'll be facing each other only in the second round, rather than a conference finals.
It's going to a weird season given these new divisions, some new rivalries created, some old rivalries (Red Wings against three of their old Original Six foes!) renewed and basically, the Eastern Conference teams getting hosed since there are 16 of them fighting for eight playoff spots while the Western Conference has 14 teams fighting for eight spots. Not that I'm suggesting the NHL expand when they still have a number of teams in shaky markets, but just for conference balance alone, they should get the Seattle Hipchecksters and the Albuquerque Heisenbergs up and running as soon as possible.
I'm down on my Leafs and frankly, I kind of doubt that they'll have another season of everything going right. I'm picking them to make the playoffs solely based on heart and nostalgia, rather than logic. Maybe the hockey gods had enough fun screwing the Leafs in Game Seven last year and are now content to just let them play. If nothing else, at least the Leafs will get some bad karma in the form of Dallas Eakins finally getting the Oilers to gel while Randy "Two Goons" Carlyle continues misusing young talent. I've got an old couch in my garage that apparently I could've traded for Joe Colborne last week except the Flames beat me to it.
From that aforementioned Stanley Cup bracket, I'm going to be as uncreative as possible and predict a Blackhawks vs. Penguins final, with Chicago taking down its second straight Cup and third in five seasons. The Hawks' young core is the envy of the league and they might have two or three more championships in them before they're through.