Saturday, September 30, 2006

Quick Hits on Week 5

* Ohio State is clearly the number one team in the nation, and they've proven it on the field. They've now handled two top-fifteen teams (Texas and Iowa) on the road with relative ease. Anthony Gonzalez may be the most dangerous WR in college football.

* USC is clearly not the second- or third-best team. They narrowly defeated Washington State, the same WSU that Auburn clocked by 26 points. The Cougars outgained the Trojans in total yardage, 418 to 404. On the plus side for Southern Cal, it remembered that Steve Smith is still on the team. A Jarrett-Smith tandem spells T-R-O-U-B-L-E for opposing secondaries.

* Doesn't it seem like LSU QB JaMarcus Russell completes 20 of 30 passes for 300 yards and three touchdowns every other week? Granted, Louisiana-Lafayette and Mississippi State aren't world-beaters, but Russell is clearly among the best playcallers in America.

* Speaking of playcallers, Georgia had better find one to stick with. Soon.

* Attention to the nation: Oregon is legit. Yes, they probably should've lost to Oklahoma, but the fact remains that the Ducks have averaged 40 points against the aforementioned Sooners, Stanford, Fresno State and Arizona State. Oh, and Oregon is giving up half as many points as it scores.

* Would you like a mulligan on the Rudy Carpenter-Sam Keller decision, Coach Koetter?

10-Second Film Reviews #7

More dangerous than a bottle of painkillers and less coherent than Terrell Owens' publicist: it's my 10-second film reviews!

Movies I've seen this past week, along with my Netflix ratings:

Cheats: Four guys cheat through high school; hijinxs ensue. More of a series of loosely-connected scenes than a complete story. Some of the more stylish shots work well. However, there's never a real build-up of conflict or emotion. Not enough comedy. People don't act sensibly in this movie; they are caricatured to artificially move the plodding plot along. (**)

Detective Story: Good doses of comedy and drama in this 50's melodrama. Kirk Douglas and a strong supporting cast experience a hectic and hallowing day inside a NYPD precinct. Felt a little longer. On more than a few occasions the dialogue was awkward and unintentionally funny, which blunted whatever emotional momentum the story had building. (****)

Auto Focus: Greg Kinnear is the late Bob Crane, who played the titular character in the 70's TV show Hogan's Heroes. Willem Dafoe acts as the devious sex addict who helps Crane descend into immortality and destitution. Sometimes the story moves along briskly, sometimes too briskly. Too many conflicts are solved too quickly and easily, causing the last third of the film to falter. (***)

Thursday, September 28, 2006

If You Hear Anguished Screams Coming From the Northwest...

...now you'll know why:
In an open letter to season-ticket holders Thursday, the Mariners said that they will retain general manager Bill Bavasi and manager Mike Hargrove for the 2007 season.
I speak for all Mariners fans when I say FUCK!


UPDATE 9/28/06: Okay, I may be pissed about Seattle baseball, but this guy is REALLY pissed about Michigan State football: MSU Radio Host Melts Fucking Down On the Air

Monday, September 25, 2006

Clearly We're Not Speaking the Same Language

A British newspaper had some interesting ways to describe Luol Deng, who was raised in England and recently signed a contract extension with the Chicago Bulls.
Basketball player Luol Deng became one of the highest-paid sports stars in the world when he signed a new five-year, £41.6million deal with the Chicago Bulls.
What? Deng's extension doesn't even put him in the upper-echeleon of NBA earners. Hell, five Knicks will make more this season than Luol.
The 21-year-old's meteoric success means he will now earn £160,000 a week - reputedly £60,000 a week more than Britain's biggest footballer, Beckham.
Meteoric success? 13 points and 6 rebounds is considered meteoric? The comparison to Beckham is also misleading. The highest-paid sports stars (Beckham, Tiger Woods, Michael Schumacher) make most of their income from endorsements. Comparing team paychecks, Deng will earn more than David. Luol, however, doesn't rake in the $23 million annually that Beckham reportedly earns.
Six-feet nine-inches tall Luol, who grew up in Stanger Road, is already a massive star in the US but is less well known here.
If Luol is a massive star, what the hell is LeBron? The universe?

I like Luol Deng. He's a good player who has overcome adversity (his family fled from war-torn Sudan when he was child) and worked hard to get where he is. But this is clearly a desperate attempt by the British media to champion one of its own.

Talk about HoopsHype.

UPDATE: The story was erroneous (as if that wasn't apparent). There was no contract extension.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Rare Defensive Showcase in Pac-10

Arizona vs. #3 USC

Neither the Wildcats nor Trojans could muster much on offense the entire night. In the end it was USC's defense that was difference maker in a 20-3 victory. They controlled the line of scrimmage the entire game. Using various blitz schemes, the Trojan D constantly pressured Arizona QB Willie Tuitama, sacking Tuitama five times and limiting him to 169 passing yards. The Wildcats ground game was even worse with -16 rushing yards.

The Arizona defense gave a commendable performance. CB Antoine Cason hounded All-American WR Dwayne Jarrett all over the field and had an interception. Jarrett did manage to snag a 3-yard touchdown catch early in the third quarter before leaving the game with a shoulder injury. It was Dwayne's 32rd career touchdown reception, which ties the conference record.

DE Louis Holmes was a big reason for Trojan QB John David Booty having a mediocre game. Booty finished with 180 yards and a pick. The Trojans were uncharacteristically turnover-prone. RB Emmanuel Moody, who had an otherwise stellar game with 130 rushing yards and a score, nearly had the ball stripped on multiple carries. Chauncey Washington lost a fumble during a run. Despite the two turnovers, Arizona could never capitalize. The offense sputtered the entire game, going 2 for 12 on third-down conversions.


Other Notes on the Game

* Stanley Havili went down with a broken fibula, adding to the toll of injured USC fullbacks. Brandon Hancock and Ryan Powdrell are already out for the season, and Havili is expected to miss a month.


Notes on Other Games

#1 Ohio State vs.#24 Penn State

The weather was the determining factor as the Buckeyes won 28-6 over the Nittany Lions. The soggy and outdated grass (the turf is being replaced in the next month) severely impacted the explosive OSU offense. The game was a lot closer than the final score, as the Buckeyes secondary returned two interceptions for touchdowns late in the fourth quarter. Both linebacking corps were stellar; James Laurinaitis, Paul Posluszny and Dan Connor have surreal talent and instincts. Joe Paterno ran across the field and into the locker room in the second quarter because of the flu. Troy Smith's Heisman hopes were slightly dented by throwing two interceptions.

10-Second Film Reviews #6

Deadlier than Joey Porter's pit bull and sexier than Tiger Woods' wife: it's my 10-second film reviews!

Movies I've seen this past week, along with my Netflix ratings:

Bruce Almighty: A comedy with ample one-liners, but few big laughs. It's a great concept that's decently executed. Jim Carrey's character is too mean-spiritred and selfish to care about for most of the movie. The physical antics feels forced and the special FXs are subpar. Morgan Freeman plays a cool and caring God. The last third of the movie is solid. (***)

Pillow Talk: Rock Hudson and Doris Day are splendid, whether they're falling in love or at each other's throats. Tony Randall also gives a strong performance. Strong story, stronger dialogue, ripe with double-meanings and sexual innuendos. A few subplots feel forced and mediocre compared to the rest of the movie. (****)

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy: Not very funny, or enjoyable for that matter. Plot was minimal and nonsensical. The movie is 90 minutes, but it feels longer due to the plodding story stumbling around, grasping for desperate laughs. Steve Carrell was the only enjoyable sidekick. There is little chemistry between Will Ferrell and Christina Applegate. (**)

Soylent Green: A bleak detective story set in the future. New York City in 2020 looks a lot like New York City in the 1970s... Production design is weak, as is the majority of the acting. But the story has enough twists and turns for a satisfying journey. If the ending comes as a surprise, then either pay more attention to the movie or shore up on pop culture... (***)

Ebony and Ivory


Isiah Thomas. Larry Brown. It's the story that keeps on giving:
Larry Brown is seeking a $53.5-million payoff from the Knicks for firing him after only one season as the team's coach. Along with the $41 million that remained on the original five-year contract he signed last summer, Brown is asking for an additional 25 percent of the original value of the $50-million contract - an additional $12.5 million - as "liquidated damages" as a result of the firing.
And if that weren't enough:
Commissioner David Stern is expected to serve as an arbitrator between the sides Friday in Manhattan.
Let the good times roll.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Apparently This Beat Is Still Very Vital

File this in the "You have got to be freakin' kidding me" section:
On Friday, attorneys representing The Knack's Doug Fieger and Berton Averre — songwriters of the 1979 chart-topping hit "My Sharona" — filed a copyright-infringement lawsuit in Los Angeles against the members of Run-DMC, claiming the rappers did not have permission to sample the song's core riff in one of their most recognizable tracks, "It's Tricky."
The plaintiffs want money (of course), but – get this – the lawsuit also includes Rick Rubin, Arista Records, Rush Groove Music, Rush Communications, online music retailers Yahoo, Amazon, Napster, iTunes and others as defendents. Additionally, the songwriters demand the "permanent injunction barring the sale, reproduction, and commercial release of 'It's Tricky.'" So basically, Fieger and Averre want to vanquish the song from the face of the Earth and receive royalties from it. They also would like to know if a tree makes a sound when it falls but no one is there to hear it.

Of course, the obvious question is, why the hell wasn't any legal action taken sooner? After all, "It's Tricky" was released in 1986. Apparently, for the past twenty years Fieger and Averre have lived under a rock that died under a larger rock, because they never heard "It's Tricky" until 2005. In the year 2020 Fieger and Averre will discover the internet and start a complaint at PetitionOnline.com

Instead of suing Run-D.M.C., the songwriters should be grateful that "It's Tricky" sampled their song. As if the enormous success of the hip-hop group somehow diminished the significance or sales of "My Sharona." If anything, "It's Tricky" probably crossed-over hip-hop fans to listen and buy The Knack's records.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Gammons Is Back, Life Is Good

Peter Gammons is officially back at work. ESPN's baseball guru reported from his favorite stomping grounds, Fenway Park, on Wednesday. He also wrote a column for ESPN.com. Peter is an eloquent and joyful writer as always, and this column is a must-read. But what makes it so incredible is that after retelling the terrible ordeal of a brain aneurysm and giving heartfelt thank yous to well-wishers, Gammons delves right back into baseball factoids and whatnots.

Gammons nearly died a few months ago, yet mere mortality can't keep him away from the ballpark. As he succintly said to Karl Ravech on Baseball Tonight, "this is what I do." The man seriously loves baseball, and the game and its fans are grateful for that.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Clash of the Trojans

This year Southern Cal -- oops USC -- has implemented a limit for student seating at home football games. The folks in the Athletic Department figured 8,000 seats were enough to satsify the kiddies.

Err, guess again.

Thousands of students were left bruised and battered, physically and psychologically. And those were the ones lucky enough to get into the Coliseum! Details of the debacle can be found here, here, here and here. Was this a college football game or a concert for The Who?

Of course, those that were denied stadium entry weren't the only ones barred from watching the game in person. Hundreds of USC students, myself included, have been denied Spirit Activities Cards due to excessive sales. The Spirit Card is the USC student pass that allows access to all sports home games, including football. So besides the thousands turned away on game day at Gate 28, you also have to take into account those that never even had a chance to get turned away at Gate 28.
"We need to improve some things, no question," said Steve Lopes, senior associate athletic director. "But overall, everyone got into the game and hopefully they're happy about that."
"But overall, everyone got into the game and hopefull they're happy about that?" Like that one guy that tried to hop the fence and got arrested? Maybe the chick that puked on the person in front of her? Or the graduate couple that left the line, fearing for their baby's safety? Perhaps the dude that lost three toenails?

Mr. Lopes: you sir, are a fucking liar.


UPDATE 9/19/06: USC responds to the critics. I love this little morsel regarding the decision to limit student seating to 8,000:
The largest attendance at a home game by students during the 2005 season occurred at the Stanford game, with 7,540 attending.
Is the Athletic Department serious? More USC students went to the game against Stanford than for the regular-season finale against UCLA? You know, the annual contest against crosstown-rivals that also happened to be Matt Leinart's final game at the Coliseum.

I guess so, since USC says students preferred attending a game against trees.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Gone Fishin'


Kenny went fishin' today and I'm not referring to The Jet. I went to Redondo Beach this afternoon and caught my first fish... then seven more. Because I was too busy hooking bait, gutting mackarel and standing around on a pier, I didn't have much time to watch college football. I did catch Michigan beating down the Irish and the awesome finish between LSU and Auburn, but that's about it.

I'm not going to write about any of Saturday's games, but I will say that Oklahoma got jobbed.

10-Second Film Reviews #5

More potent than Louisville's offense, more insightful that Ron Jaworski's analysis and more valuable than Rick DiPietro's contract: it's my 10-second film reviews!

Movies I've seen this past week, along with my Netflix ratings:

Imitation of Life: A romantic melodrama. This movie feels like an epic, given the scope and length of the story. The characters are mined for emotions, especially Juanita Moore, who gives a stirring, Oscar-nominated performance as an overworked and underloved maid. Director Douglas Sirk gives the film a sharp visual style. The ending falters. (****)

2001: A Space Odyssey: An ambitious, ambiguous sci-fi flick that deals with mankind's genesis and perhaps its destiny. The first and third chapters are slow. Shots constantly drag on endlessly. Stanley Kubrick clearly fell in love with the images. It's hard to blame him, however, considering the production design and visuals are among the most spectacular ever photographed. (*****)

Friday, September 15, 2006

Quick Hits

* Which Bush should be mored concerned about approval ratings: George W. or Reggie?

* I smile every time Michelle Wie struggles at a men's event. She needs to win at every level before playing against the best. Now Annika, she's more than welcome to play against the big boys in my book. And that includes The Masters (but not because a crazed feminist group demands it).

* I feel bad for Franciso Liriano, the Minnesota Twins and baseball fans everywhere. Let's hope the mild ligament tear won't have long-term effects on the pitching phenom's career.

* Outside the Lines: First Report is so good. If enough people watch the show, it'll send a message to the folks at ESPN that OTL is the type of quality sports news programming viewers want. Because, you know, all ESPN cares about is ratings.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Monday, September 11, 2006

Let the Brady Quinn Sweepstakes Begin


Thankfully I didn't watch a second of tonight's 27-0 thrashing against the Chargers, in Oakland no less. I guess the Black Hole was broke or something because the only thing that sucked tonight was the entire team. The Raiders offense produced only 129 total yards and allowed nine sacks. The D gave up almost 200 rushing yards.

Lately things are getting real ugly for the Silver and Black. A couple days ago Randy Moss went on a nonsensical rant, Jerry Porter (Oakland's #2 receiver) was inactive for the season opener and now this lovely goose egg performance.

I miss the preseason, when Oakland only had off-the-field problems.

UPDATE 9/12/06: Looks like the situation is getting worse. Apparently Porter really enjoyed seeing his quarterback get pummeled last night.

UPDATE 9/13/06: Porter denies cheering against his own team. He says he wasn't even watching the game.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Buckeyes Return the Favor

#2 Texas vs. #1 Ohio State

A fourth-quarter touchdown run by Antonio Pittman sealed the 24-7 victory for the top-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes, who defeated the defending National Champion Texas Longhorns. By winning in Austin, Ohio State flipped the script from last year, when Texas beat the Buckeyes in Columbus.

Troy Smith was the player of the game. He was cool, calm and collected from beginning to end, completing 16 of 27 passes for 269 yards and two scores, a performance which vaunted him to the top of the Heisman watchlist. Anthony Gonzalez and Ted Ginn Jr. each caught a touchdown. Both were wide-open the entire night against the depleted Texas secondary and combined for 239 receiving yards.

Colt McCoy, the man with the unenviable task of replacing Vince Young, did not play well in his first true test as a college QB. He connected with Billy Pittman for a score, but not much else. McCoy threw a bad interception to start the second half and finished with only 181 throwing yards against a Buckeye defense that replaced nine starters from a year ago.

Bright spots for Texas were the offensive line and the running game. McCoy was rarely pressured inside the pocket, and Selvin Young and Jamaal Charles combined for 164 rushing yards on 27 carries.

Ohio State now controls its own destiny, while Texas will need a little help to have a chance to repeat as national champions, although a Big 12 Title and BCS berth still remain very possible.

Other Notes on the Game

* Texas had its 21-game winning streak snapped. TCU now has the nation's longest-winning streak at 11.

* A Buckeye booster paid $225,000 to bring the Ohio State band to play at Royal-Memorial Stadium.


Notes on Other Games

#15 Oklahoma vs. Washington

The game was still in the balance at halftime until the Sooners pulled away for a 37-20 win. Isaiah Stanbeck is an outstanding athlete, but he's an average quarterback. His superior arm strength, awesome agility and blazing speed were all on display at times, but as the saying goes, the parts are greater than the whole. Isaiah completes only 51% of his passes, making him only sort of a dual-threat quarterback. Oklahoma's arsenal is loaded. Besides Adrian Peterson, the Sooners have all-around threat Reggie Smith and a go-to-guy in the receiving corps with Malcolm Kelly. Paul Thompson threw a couple terrific floaters today and showed much improvement from last week. OU's run defense, however, continues to get bum rushed.

10-Second Film Reviews #4

More powerful than Ryan Howard's swing, less accurate than Michelle Wie's tee shot and as nasty as Roger Federer's backhand: it's my 10-second film reviews!

Movies I've seen this past week, along with my Netflix ratings:

Starsky & Hutch: There are a few laugh out loud moments in this buddy cop movie starring Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson. Will Ferrell has a funny cameo. But overall, the comedy was lacking. Story and character aren't strong suits either. There's a nice scene that homages (or parodies?) Easy Rider. Poor ending. (**)

Body Heat: A hot and sexy thriller. Kathleen Turner sizzles, William Hurt is good. Despite having only a few action-packed scenes, the film's pacing is great for all but a few scenes. One or two story points were too convenient for story's sake. The movie really comes together in the final scenes. (****)

Sweet Smell of Success: Drama about the seedy world of gossip columnists. The constant close-ups and shadows gives '50s New York City a real gritty, unglamorous facade. Tony Curtis and Burt Lancaster are a dynamite duo on-screen. Lightning-quick, clever dialogue makes this movie a delightful experience. (****)

The King of Comedy: A very dark comedy about a wannabe stand-up. Jerry Lewis is phenomenal. Robert De Niro is also great as usual. The film's not heavy on laughs, but it's more about quality comedy than quantity. The movie's commentary on celebrity and the media is more relevant today than it was 20 years ago. (****)

Deep Impact: Good disaster flick. There's some outstanding emotional moments happening while the world is ending. Alas, some of it did become overly melodramatic. Too many branching story lines as well. Téa Leoni was wonderful, as was Morgan Freeman. The special effects were very good. The plot had significant holes and lacked logic. (***)

Mmm-mmm Bad

There's a dance craze taking over NYC. The city that introduced the world to uprocking, pop-locking, breaking and many other memorable moves now brings us... the Chicken Noodle Soup?!

Yes, there is a dance called the Chicken Noodle Soup. And for proof, behold its creators partaking in its delicious glory:



Frankly, I think Julia Louis-Dreyfus should sue for royalties:

Thursday, September 07, 2006

WeHateTheNewClockRules.com

Came across this via WeAreSC.com:
This site is a campaign by college football fans to let the TV networks and, more importantly, the NCAA Football Rules Committee know that we hate the new clock rules, and we want them gone after the 2006 season!
WeHateTheNewClockRules.com

If you hate the new clock rules (like myself), sign the petition.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Lions Exposed Before the Season Even Starts


Sometimes comedy writes itself:
A Detroit Lions assistant coach was arrested twice in the past two weeks -- once while police say he was driving nude and a week later on suspicion of drunken driving.
Joe Cullen is certainly giving Eddie Griffin a run for his money. Mo was cocked and ready but at least he kept his pants on.

The Lions organization released this statement:
"We are obviously very disappointed. These are very serious matters that will be handled sternly and appropriately by our organization."
It's worth noting that the statement was directed not toward Cullen's recklessness, but at Matt Millen's incompetence.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Trojans Toast Hogs

On Saturday afternoon I went over to my old roommate's pad to watch the Arkansas-USC game (no cable remember?). All in all, it was a glorious time. A bucket of KFC and 7 hours of football. It doesn't get much better than that.

Arkansas vs. USC

The new-look Trojans did not disappoint the SC faithful. The Trojans eventually pulled away to cruise to a 50-14 victory. John David Booty played a solid game in his first start at QB, completing 24 of 35 passes for 261 yards, 3 touchdowns and no interceptions. But the real star of the game was the Trojan D. Much maligned (and injuried) in 2005, the '06 defense was tenacious, forcing 5 turnovers and limiting the Razorbacks running game to 130 yards.

The game was in still in the balance at halftime with USC ahead 16-7, and that was only after Mario Danelo made a 44-yard FG to end the half. Both offenses struggled early. USC emphasized the running game, but neither Chauncey Washington or C.J. Gable could penetrate the Arkansas defense. Meanwhile the Trojan secondary halted the Hogs passing attack.

In the second half, Booty came out firing. At one point he completed 9 of 10 passes, with two tosses being for TDs. The touchdown throws were particulary impressive; one was a beautiful strike to a diving Patrick Turner in the corner, while the other was a laser to a leaping Fred Davis. Booty showed why he was the man chosen to lead this new era of Trojan football.

Three of the freshmen Trojan tailbacks played, with each scoring a TD. Gable (the first true freshman ever to start at the position for USC) was the most consistent runner in between the tackles. Emmanuel Moody was the quickest and flashiest, and Allen Bradford was more of a bruiser. If comparisons have to be made, Gable was reminiscent of Herschel Dennis, Moody was Bush-esque and Bradford was a less-agile LenDale. Stafon Johnson, arguable the most heralded of the incoming running backs, didn't play. It will be interesting to see if Stafon will be redshirted due to the depth at RB.

Other Notes on the Game

* USC's defensive line never pressured the Arkansas QB, recording only one sack. The Razorbacks had one of better offensive lines in the SEC last season, and this year looks to be no different.

* Mitch Mustain had the best start to a career I've ever seen for a true freshman quarterback on opening day. This is how Mitch began his first-ever offensive drive:

- 3-yard completion
- 2-yard completion
- USC offsides penalty for 5 yards
- Felix Jones runs for 24 yards
- 42-yard completion
- 4-yard touchdown run

The remaining Hog fans at the game were rooting and roaring for Mustain, and with good reason. There's no reason to think he won't be a future star. And that future may be real soon.


Notes on Other Games

Tennessee vs. California

Way to lay an egg, Golden Bears. Actually, it wasn't the entire team that failed, only most of it. First and foremost, the secondary was atrocious. At least three of Tennessee's touchdowns were the direct result of terrible tackling. Or non-tackling I should say. Cal is really going to miss losing stud CB Tim Mixon for the year. Also it appears the QB situation is still in flux. Neither Nathan Longshore or Joe Ayoob were on target. The type of offense Jeff Tedford runs requires an accurate arm to be successful (see Aaron Rodgers). Whether there's one on the Cal roster remains to be seen.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

10-Second Film Reviews #3

More exciting than college football, pennant races and NASCAR combined: it's my 10-second film reviews!

Movies I've seen this past week, along with my Netflix ratings:

Chinatown: One of my favorite movies. A neo-film noir classic. Polanski directed it, Towne wrote it and Nicholson stars in it. Three legends working in unison, making movie magic. Faye Dunaway is fantastic as usual. Mesmerizing plotline. Some fantastic comedic moments are interspersed throughout this gritty detective flick. (*****)

Napoleon Dynamite: Not very funny or compelling, yet interesting nonetheless. Deb is the glue that keeps this movie together. Napoleon is worth watching for his odd quirks and injections, even though his character doesn't do or change much. The tone and style was consistent. Also the movie doesn't resort to cursing or low-brow material; definitely a good thing. (***)

How to Marry a Millionaire: Great satire. It's a little light on laughs, but the story and characters are wonderfully crafted. Marilyn Monroe is stunning, and her character steals every scene she's in. It was the first feature made using CinemaScope, and the movie took advantage of the new technology. There's some terrific visuals (and that's not even including the girls). (****)

Shoot the Piano Player: A French New Wave film about a pianist's troubles, past and present. The frenetic style mostly works. In these types of movies characters tend to do and say things that make you scratch your head. It's no different here, although that's part of the New Wave charm. Noteworthy is a fantastic singing scene in the bar. (****)