Saturday, December 30, 2006

10-Second Film Reviews #20

As exciting as conference play in college basketball and as boring as mediocre bowl games in college football: it's my 10-second film reviews!

Movies I've seen this past week, along with my Netflix ratings (out of five stars):

Patton: George C. Scott portrays the arrogant, compassionate, brave and flawed WWII general. The battles in the war are secondary to the fighting between Patton and the American government. Newsreels convey the progress on the Allies in a swift and interesting matter. The film's story is secondary to the main character, which makes the three-plus hours somewhat of a laborious experience. (***)

The Manchurian Candidate: John Frankenheimer's politically-charged thriller holds up just as well as did during the Red Scare. Laurence Harvey and Frank Sinatra are something to behold as disillusioned soldiers who take different paths toward salvation. Yet it's Angela Lansbury as the cold-blooded matriarch who ends up stealing the show. The few blemishes in the plot did little to disrupt this classic. (*****)

The Girl Next Door: This movie nails most of the mediocre comedy-flick requirements. Ridiculous plot? Check. Gorgeous love interest? Big check. Lame-brained, undercooked characters? Check. A loud, overbearing soundtrack? Check. Excessive use of montage, slow-motion and close-ups? Huge check. Occasional laughs? Check. Mediocre experience? Checkmate. (**)

Strange Maintenance

So I updated the blog's template, which added the nifty "Labels" menu on the right-hand column. Unfortunately, it screwed with the "Links" section. Now links can no longer be arranged by subject (NBA, NFL, hip-hop, etc.). Also the text is kinda screwy now. Every time I quote something... squeezes the spacing in between lines.
Just look at how wide the spacing is in the first paragraph.
And notice how constricted it is down here.
Weird isn't it?

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Trojans Win 2-OT Thriller Against Huskies in Conference Opener

USC and Washington started Pac-10 play in style with an exciting double-overtime contest. The Trojans, led by Nick Young, Taj Gibson and Gabe Pruitt, out dueled the Huskies 86-79.

Gibson, the breakout star for the Trojans this season, recorded his 7th double-double of the year and finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Young led all scorers with 25. Pruitt, playing in only his third game of the season due to academic ineligibility, contributed 18 points, 5 rebounds and two steals.

Spencer Hawes, the highly-hyped freshman phenom for Washington, didn't disappoint. The 6-11 center had 24 points, 5 rebounds and a three-pointer at the buzzer to send the game to a second overtime. Ryan Appleby was stellar from the outside, hitting six of nine attempts from downtown. The Huskies made half their shots from deep (13 for 26), keeping the game close throughout. Washington led 36-31 at the half.

The refs constantly blew their whistles, usually against Washington. The Huskies received 30 fouls, while the Trojans were called for 17 infractions. Questionable calls/non-calls affected the game late:

-- Young appeared to be fouled by a defender with less than five seconds left in the second half and the score tied at 64. He settled for a fadeaway and missed, sending the game to overtime.

-- Near the end of the first OT, with the score 73-70 in favor of the Trojans, the refs awarded Washington the ball with 1.4 seconds left. Replays seemed to indicate a Husky player last touched the ball before it went out of bounds. Nonetheless, Washington got the ball and made the most of it with Hawes' buzzer-beater.

-- Finally, in the second overtime Quincy Pondexter was called for a foul on what appeared to be a clean steal. The Trojans would never relinquish momentum or the lead again.

This was the first Pac-10 contest ever played in the Galen Center. Hopefully there'll be many more memorable games to come.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Damn the Mariners. Damn, Damn, Damn the Mariners!

Jason A. Churchill of Prospect Insider writes the quintessential Seattle-Mariners-fan-angst-piece (and also manages to take a dig at his local power company). There's simply so much here to absorb here, but I'll try to hit the key points:
They aren’t even good at maximizing their financial position, even though we all know that the cash is what’s most important to the ownership group as a whole. The Mariners had it all, lost it all, and have no idea how to repeat their glorious run to riches, wins and the proverbial cash-cow status that was Safeco Field.
The main reason for baseball fans in the Northwest to bemoan is the fact the folks running the Mariners have two concerns: 1) making money and 2) making as much of it as quickly as possible. When ownership is more concerned about raking in dollars than assembling a quality team, there tends to be dire consequences in the standings and on the pocketbook. Conversely, owners who make coming to the ballpark an enjoyable (winning) experience often enjoy success on and off the field (see Moreno, Arturo and the LA Angels). The sad truth is that the Seattle Mariners are not committed to winning. Victories just coincide with profits.
In Seattle, it’s not about baseball. It’s about Lincoln proving to his bosses that he can make them money. It’s about the owners making sure they don’t take any hits to their profits.
Once it got a whiff of fiscal success in the early 2000's (due to a combination of Ichiro, a new stadium and winning) ownership was determined to milk the cash cow as long as possible. Thus began the systematic process of overspending on not-good-but-good-enough squads season in and season out.
Instead of thinking like a baseball team, the suits chose to do whatever it took to keep 3 million asses glued to the seats at the Safe. When they should have been starting to retool (not rebuild), they went in the other direction, hanging on to veterans for longer than they were capable of producing and handing out contracts to aging talents that were clearly past their primes.
Scott Spiezio, Jeff Cirillo, Rich Aurilia, Fernando Vina and Carl Everett were some of the more memorable "contributors."
There was no eye toward 2006 or 2007. None at all. It was about how much money they could make right this freakin’ second. Today. Tomorrow. THIS homestand, THIS month, THIS season.
And the deluge is already well underway:

Year Record Attendance
116-46 3,512,326
2002 93-69 3,540,482
2003 93-69 3,268,509
2004 63-99 2,940,731
2005 69-93 2,689,529
78-84 2,480,717

Sadly the future doesn't look much better:
The M’s needed to come out of this calendar year with their balls dangling proudly and a payroll full of flexibility and bursting with room to add valuable talent.

Instead, they head toward a very critical future with their nuts in a sling, attendance dropping like a Matt Hasselbeck pass to Jeramy Stevens, and not an end to the foolishness in sight.

The Seattle Mariners are a colossal mess.

10-Second Film Reviews #19

As violent as an NBA brawl but without the sucker punch: it's my 10-second film reviews!

Movies I've seen this past week, along with my Netflix ratings (out of five stars):

Fallen Angel: A film noir with plenty of mood and mystique to spare. The dialogue is quick, hard and tough. The middle of the story is the movie's crescendo. The interesting second act is sandwiched by a dull beginning and an absurd ending (***)

Accepted: Never mind the plot doesn't make much sense. In these sorts of sordid comedies the story isn't relegated to the backseat; it goes flying out the trunk. The character are lame when they're supposed to be funny and wooden in the dramatic moments (see protagonist's parents), although Jonah Hill delivers a few good laughs. (*)

Elevator to the Gallows: There's a bit too much reliance on chance and fortune to truly believe this murder drama, but it's an intriguing story nonetheless. Situations the characters endure (either through coincidence or their own volition) are tense, amusing and even a little wry. (****)

Laura: An excellent detective film. Dana Andrews, who also appears in Fallen Angel, gives a great performance as the persuasive cop. Gene Tierney is stunning and cryptic as the titular character everyone falls in love with. The entire cast is stellar. Directed by Otto Preminger, who crafts a stark world of slights and shadiness in this wonderful whodunit. (*****)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Michelle Wie: Asian First, Golfer Second

Michelle Wie intends to follow in the footsteps of another famous Asian golf, Eldrick "Tiger" Woods, and attend Stanford University.

Unlike Tiger, however, Michelle will not play golf at the collegiate level as she is already a professional on the LPGA Tour. She doesn't know what her major will be, although she plans on leaving college as another snot-nosed, high-brow Korean. As if there weren't enough of those around...

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Things That Make You Go "Huh?"

I was browsing when I came across Anton Ponkrashov's profile:

NBA Comparison: Zoran Planinic (less athletic)

A less athletic version of Zoran Planinic? What's that? Regular folk?

Monday, December 18, 2006

Quick Hits

* The suspensions handed by out Commissioner Stern for Saturday's night brawl are fair for the most part. I don't see why Mardy Collins should sit six games for committing a really hard foul though.

* The Oakland Raiders are on the clock...

* Johnny Damon and Roy Oswalt are freakin' bargains compared to what free agents are earning this offseason.

* Florida v. Ohio State. Screw the BCS Championship Game. I'm watching Noah v. Oden on Saturday.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Link of the Year

Someone on the sports forum I visit posted a link to a very awesome website that links to episodes of TV shows. I've been to sites like this one before, but Your TV Links actually works. I mean, I'm watching an episode of "Mythbusters" right now.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

10-Second Film Reviews #18

More indulgent than chocolate and with only twice the fat; it's my 10-second film reviews!

Movies I've seen this past week, along with my Netflix ratings (out of five stars):

Criss Cross: An adequate film noir. Burt Lancaster has some moments, but the plodding story and strange staging constantly kill momentum. The lighting and settings are adequate but not engrossing. Much of the time passes by with dialogue that's not particularly sharp or emotionally stirring. The last third of the story -- the action sequence -- is exhilarating, although it's mired by a somewhat dull ending. (***)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Seattle and Its Supreme Bogusness

It was bad enough that Seattle Mariners GM Bill "Bogus" Bavasi traded away Rafael Soriano to the Atlanta Braves for Horacio Ramirez. Although the M's traded a great relief pitcher for an average starter with history of injuries -- basically getting 50 cents for a dollar -- at least the team made a move to improve its most glaring weakness: starting pitching.

Now Bogus Bavasi has made another transaction. This one, however, is indefensible by any standard. Seattle is on the verge of trading Chris Snelling (oft-injured yet very promising corner outfielder) and Emiliano Fruto (a live arm) to the Washington Nationals for Jose Vidro, a declining hitter with a suspect glove. Barring a botched physical exam, it appears this debacle of a deal will go down.

So the M's basically give away two young commodities for a decent second baseman who is owed $16 million for the next two years. It's bad enough Bogus Bavasi has agreed to pay $12 million of Jose's salary, but where exactly does Seattle expect Jose to pay? The Mariners already have 2006 All-Star second baseman Jose Lopez. Oh well, Seattle can plug Jose at first base. That's where the Nationals stashed Lopez when his glove started sucking. But wait! Seattle already has Richie Sexson, the definition of an expensive first baseman that can't play defense.

Not surprising, reaction has been swift and severe.

What's the over-under for the 2007 Seattle Mariners now: 75 wins and 2 million home fans?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

PETA Sore Over Fake Balls

TrueHoop reports the whackos folks at PETA aren't too happy about the NBA's decision to switch from the synthetic ball back to the leather one.

I'd still like to know how much influence they had with the new balls to begin with. It's not as if there was anything wrong with the old ball, except that it was made from a material that could be divisive to animal rights folks -- possibly affecting fan and advertising opportunities.

Whatever. The leather ball is back and order is restored to the universe... until it's splattered by a bucket of red paint.

As the Iverson Carousel Goes Round and Round

Question: where will the Answer end up? Most fans (myself included) would like to see AI teamed up with Kevin Garnett in Minnesota. However, as Chad Ford points out today in his Daily Dish podcast, Timberwolves GM Kevin McHale has pretty much adhered to a scorched-earth policy with his team. There's no payroll flexibility to acquire Allen and his huge contract straight up. Minnesota can't entice Philly with future prospects either since the Twolves have already traded the rights to their 2007 and 2009 first-round picks. The debacle that is the McHale era can be summed up by Marc Stein's witty remark on today's show: "A first-round pick and Sam Cassell for Marko Jaric. That wasn't a good deal?"

And now that Charlotte is out of the picture, it appears Boston, Sacramento and possibly Golden State may end up with Iverson's services (practice not included).

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Pac-10 Shines at Wooden Classic

#1 UCLA squeaked out a tough win against #6 Texas A&M in the opening game. Arron Afflalo showed why he's a candidate for Player of the Year. Despite not having his best game, he scored when it mattered most to seal the 63-60 win for the Bruins. Ben Howland's team, with Afflalo, Jordan Shipp, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Darren Collison, has the talent and depth to return to the Final Four. Joseph Jones played well for the Aggies, but an ill-advised three-point attempt near the end of the game killed any chance for a comeback. Great win for UCLA in front of the architect of Bruin basketball himself, John Wooden.

While the first contest was a nail-biter, the afternoon game appeared all but over by halftime. George Washington took advantage of USC's youth and jumped out to a 29-16 lead. The paltry 16 points at half was an all-time low for the Wooden Classic. However, if the Trojans were stagnant to start the game they were scintillating the rest of the way. Led by Taj Gibson, Daniel Hackett and Lodrick Stewart, USC tripled its production in the second half, scoring 58 points and emerging with a 74-65 victory. Gibson, the Trojans' most consistent (and perhaps only) low-post presence, finished with 16 points and 17 rebounds. He provided the stout defense and consistent offense necessary for Tim Floyd's squad to chip away at what was once a 20-point deficit.

10-Second Film Reviews #17

More anticipated than winter break and more devastating than food poisoning; it's my 10-second film reviews!

Movies I've seen this past week, along with my Netflix ratings (out of five stars):

After Hours: A movie -- by the great Martin Scorsese, no less -- that I actively hated as it went on. About halfway through the film I wished -- just like the protagonist -- that the nightmare would end. There's not much plot to speak of. Rather, a series of very loosely-connected circumstances and coincidences comprise the story. Hours isn't a black comedy, it's just twisted. (*)

The Break-Up: The first comedy I've seen Vince Vaughn strain not only for laughs but also for emotional plausibility. The romantic, comedic and dramatic elements come and go in sporadic splashes; everything's half-baked. There's a lot of pretty things to look at: a nice apartment, the Chicago skyline, Jennifer Aniston. Unfortunately, it's not enough to mask the fallacies in the story and characters. (**)

Thursday, December 07, 2006

As I Lay Dying and Ode to the LA Times

This bout of food poisoning has hampered my life quite a bit. Anyway, while I have some free time before my final exam on Tuesday I thought I'd mention J.A. Adande's blog.

Most people recognize J.A. as a frequent guest on "Around the Horn" or as an occasional fill-in on "Pardon the Interruption." I had the benefit of reading Adande growing up. In fact the D section of the LA Times was my portal to the world of sports back when print media, cable television and the radio were the only sources of information. I was lucky enough to read the works of Adande, Tim Brown, Chris Dufrense, Mark Heisler Jim Murray, Ross Newhan, Bill Plaschke, Diane Pucin and T.J. Simers on a daily basis. A lot of my sports fanaticism can be attributed to the Times; without its fascinating stories and passionate writers -- who knows? I may be into Fabergé eggs or something *shudder*

J.A.'s blog is well-written, full of wit and insight. It's a bit more freestyle compared to his usual column, which gives him space to operate "Adande Lounge"-style. The blog's definitely worth a click.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Rodriguez to Bama?

ESPN is reporting that Alabama will decide to offer West Virginia head coach Rich Rodriguez its vacant coaching spot within the next 72 hours.

I read somewhere that not only has the Crimson Tide already offered Rodriguez a 7-year, $26-million deal, but Rich would formally accept the job on Thursday. But that's just a rumor for now.

UPDATE 12/7/06: The offer is in. Sources say Rodriguez has a 6-year, $12-million deal on the table, which would double his current contract.

UPDATE 12/8/06: Thanks, but no thanks. Rich wants to stay in the Big East.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Things Colored Cardinal That Lay Eggs

I planned on posting my rant about USC football this morning, but I have too much to say and I'm way too tired. Unfortunately the semester's coming to an end, which means I have homework due. Since I'm a diligent Asian, I'll be putting off the rant post until the weekend so I can finish school assignments. Me so sowwy.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

College Football's Top Teams and Heisman Hopefuls: End of the Regular Season

The epic upset of USC by crosstown-rival UCLA plummets the Trojans to tenth in the standings. It also dashes any hopes for the Men of Troy of having a chance at the national championship. Trust me, I'll have more words on the Trojans in the near future. Florida, despite winning the SEC Championship remains at third. Simply put, I believe Michigan is the second-best team in the country. If that means having a rematch between OSU/UM and possibly crowning a national title to a team that didn't even win its own conference, well so be it. West Virginia vaunts up to 7th after winning a thrilling triple-overtime contest against Rutgers. Not only did the Mountaineers deny the Scarlet Knights a BCS Bowl berth, but they did so with a redshirt freshman QB making his first collegiate start. The Sooners slot in at the 8 spot after winning the Big 12 Championship, knocking Notre Dame off the Top Ten. Arkansas drops out as well after being defeated by the Gators.

No change in the Heisman list. Those fellows deserve a trip to NYC, and Troy Smith had better be a unanimous pick for the award.

Top Ten Teams

Last Week
1) Ohio State 1
2) Michigan 2
3) Florida
4) Louisville
5) Wisconsin
6) LSU
7) West Virginia
8) Oklahoma
9) Boise State
10) USC

Dropped Out: #8 Notre Dame, #9 Arkansas

Heisman Hopefuls

Name College Position Year Last Week
1) Troy Smith Ohio State QB Sr. 1
2) Brady Quinn Notre Dame QB Sr. 2
3) Michael Hart
RB Jr. 3
4) Colt Brennan
QB Jr. 4
5) Steve Slaton
West Virginia

Dropped out: none

Friday, December 01, 2006

Before There Was Borat

I haven't seen the Borat mockumentary nor will I until it comes out on DVD. Heard great things about it, but that's just the life I live. Anyway, here's a hilarious roundtable with Sacha Cohen's first alter-ego from Da Ali G Show:

SoaS Road Trip

Road trip on the 10 and 405 freeways up to Pasadena anyway. Going to the Rose Bowl tomorrow to watch the USC-UCLA game. Blurry pictures and half-assed commentary will be provided.

10-Second Film Reviews #16

More intense than Rivalry Week and more revealing than a Britney crotch-shot; it's my 10-second film reviews!

Movies I've seen this past week, along with my Netflix ratings (out of five stars):

The Wild Bunch: A violent and awesome Western. This movie has some of the most memorable and influential shootout scenes ever. Yet beyond all the betrayal and bloodshed is a captivating story about a fading era and eroding morals. William Holden, as the leader of the pack, delivers a strong performace as the most ferocious and fragmented cowboy. (*****)

Cool Hand Luke: Paul Newman stars as a prisoner who can't help getting into trouble. You really root for him as he fights against a crooked system and breaks for freedom. The film, clocking in at over two hours, has a bit more fat than it can chew. Weak ending. (****)