Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Thoughts on the Lakers-Spurs Game

* What a great game. Playoff-like intensity. Reminded me why I love basketball. The Spurs have played sluggish all year, and this game was no different. At one point the entire team was shooting 30% from the field. But like championship-caliber squads tend to do San Antonio played an excellent second-half. The bench especially stepped up, culminating with Michael Finley's game-winning three with 1.3 seconds left in overtime.

Meanwhile the Laker suffered another collapse. This team is like a roller coaster ride: one day they beat the Mavs, the next day they lose to the Bobcats. No consistency. Now they go on a brutal 8-game road trip. This stretch should reveal whether the Lakers are contenders or pretenders.

* Kobe's forced to sit out a game because of smacking Manu's dome:



* Some people think Bryant was trying to draw a foul. Another possibility is Kobe swings at Ginobli to push him away. Kobe probably didn't meant to clock the Argentinean in the kisser, but Mamba knew there was enough time to get up another shot and wanted to clear out the defender. He deliberately threw an arm out, which incidentally hit a defender in the face.

Does that warrant a suspension? Tough call, but the slow-mo video doesn't help Kobe.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

10-Second Film Reviews #24

Almost as boring as the week leading up to the Super Bowl: it's my 10-second film reviews!

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

The Grapes of Wrath: John Ford's adaptation of the Steinbeck novel about an Okie family displaced by the Dust Bowl. The portrayal of poverty and despair is heart-wrenching. Ma Joad, the family matriarch and an Oscar-winning character, has moments of martyrdom, but prolonged monologues curtail her effectiveness. The movie constantly derails and undercuts itself with uninspired drama, leaving the juicy stuff hanging there still waiting to be picked. (**)

Lost in Translation: Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson play disenchanted and displaced people that form an odd couple. The chemistry between the stars is strong and engaging, which crescendos with a great ending. The story, which earned writer-director Sophia Coppola an Oscar, was okay. The visuals and edit were dull, playing the film like a depressed series of postcards. (***)

The Ax: A thriller with a touch of humor and a heavy dose of social commentary. The main character, who goes on a rampage to keep his family together (or so he thinks), is played with an insatiable mania by José Garcia. The suspense at its apex is edge-of-your-seat, nail-biting stuff. Yet the plot yields a fair share of twists and turns, although there a handful of situations that are downright ludricous. (***; currently not available on Netflix)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

I Wonder if Chris Rock Likes the Bubbly



This classic takes me back a few years. Pay attention to the awesome sampling of "Rock Box."

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

One Reason the Orlando Magic Are Underachieving

Courtesy of 82games.com:

Production
On Court/Off Court
Roland
Player
Min
Own
Opp
Net
On
Off
Net
Rating
Milicic
46%
13.1
12.8
+0.3
+1.3
+0.4
+1.0
+0.5
Battie
50%
9.6
18.0
-8.5
-0.8
+2.4
-3.3
-7.0

Memo to Brian Hill: change the bleepin' rotation!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Best of Barkley

Here's a link with older clips from Inside the NBA.

Highlights include the Chuckster:

- tipping the scales with then-WBC welterweight champion Vernon Forrest by his side. You'd be surprised to see if Barkley is over or under 300 pounds.

- explaining the business model of McDonald's and Dairy Queen.

- making a bogus argument about how The Masters intentionally made its course more difficult for Tiger Woods.

- interviewing diehard Clippers fan Billy Crystal.

- receiving snacks from Mike Fratello.

The TNT guys also poke fun of "The Magic Hour" with Earvin.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

10-Second Film Reviews #23

Not as liquored up as Paula Abdul, but just as incoherent: it's my 10-second film reviews!

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

Tootsie: Wonderful film. Dustin Hoffman pulls off a comedic coup as a struggling actor who dresses in drag to star in a soap opera. Hilarious dialogue propels the intriguing plot. The budding love story also works well, managing to be sweet and not sappy. The last part of the movie, however, seemed to drag a bit. Still, this is one of the funniest and most enjoyable movies I've ever seen. (*****)

In a Lonely Place: The murder mystery -- the central conflict of the movie -- interweaves with a melodramatic relationship between Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame. The various tensions between the people and police is palpable up to a point. Then the story spirals into silliness; the relationship becomes unwatchable and the murder is solved in a most ridiculous manner. (**)

To Catch a Thief:
One helluva Hitchcockian ride. The whodunit plot isn't all that exciting or surprising. The stunning visuals, from Grace Kelly to the French Riviera, are something to behold. Kelly and Grant are a magnificent couple and exchange the type of racy, whimsical dialogue only found (and suitable) for a movie. (*****)

Nacho Libre: I liked this movie in spite of itself. There is no real plot, character development, or dialogue to speak of. The love story is ludicrous: how the hell (pardon the pun) are a friar and a nun supposed to express their passion? They don't. A handshake and a lot of starry gazes are what this film passes off for romance. Still, Jack Black is amusing as the titular hero and the wrestling scenes are action-packed entertainment. They're pretty funny too. (***)

Because I Said So: Wretched romantic comedy. The emotional beats completely miss; you laugh when characters cry and vice-versa. Mostly to blame are the silly dialogue and sillier characters. Diane Keaton manages brief moments of brilliance despite playing a horribly under-developed and over-the-top mom. The snippets of funny scattered throughout the movie are the only saving graces. (*)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

More Photoshop Fun With Kwame

Ode to Kwame and Marie


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Kwame Brown Wants Your Cake and Steal It Too

Adding to the sordid resume of Kwame Brown:

HERMOSA BEACH, Calif. -- A man walking down the street at bar-closing time with a $190 cake in his arms claimed Los Angeles Lakers center Kwame Brown swiped his birthday treat.

But authorities said the cake caper won't be prosecuted.

In a police report, Alexander Martinez said he left his 30th birthday celebration at the Shore Restaurant and Lounge at about 1:45 a.m. Saturday with the uneaten 2-by-2-foot cake and walked north toward the Blue 32 nightclub.

Martinez told police he first came upon Lakers forward Ronny Turiaf, who he said agreed to pose for a photograph with him and the chocolate cake.

But outside of Blue 32, the 6-foot-11, 270-pound Brown came along, grabbed the cake and threw it at Martinez, according to the report. Brown got into a white limousine and left, Martinez claimed in the report, although he didn't suggest any reason for the cake toss.

Authorities decided not to prosecute after determining Kwame intended to take the cake strong to the basket, but instead fumbled the confection out of bounds.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

10-Second Film Reviews #22

As stout as the Raven's defense and as convincing as Barry Bonds' excuses: it's my 10-second film reviews!

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

Pan's Labyrinth: A mesmerizing and frustrating fable. Make no mistake; this is a very dark fairytale. The imagery is poetic, stunning, terrifying and rapturous. Yet some of the CGI effects are downright corny. The plot interweaves between parallel stories, usually with success. There are times where I was shaking my head, either due to the film's incoherence or predictability. Talk is cheap; there's no subtlety in the dialogue. (***)

Out of the Past: A love story and crime thriller combined into one exciting flick. Robert Mitchum is the hero, Jane Greer is the femme fatale and Kirk Douglas is the ferocious scoundrel. The three engage in a tangled web of love, lies and greed that spans across years and countries. One quibble with this celebrated classic is some problems are too easily resolved. (****)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

China Wants to Woo (Not Wu) You (Not Yu)

Beautifying China, $1.5 billion at a time:

"Beijing is to spend about 12 billion yuan ($1.54 billion) this year on giving the Chinese capital a facelift ahead of the 2008 Olympics, officials said on Wednesday.

Thousands of buildings will be cleaned and repainted, hundreds more knocked down and replaced with parkland while special attention will be paid to the look of the city's major arterial roads and sites such as Tiananmen Square."

No word as to whether any of the money will go toward trimming bowl cuts or deporting people that don't look like each other.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

YES! YES! SWEET MERCY YES!

Delirious drops on February 7th! In less than a month you can own a copy of the greatest stand-up performance ever.

I'm so giddy I want to scream goony google.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

College Football's Top Teams: End of Bowl Season

No change in the programs that comprise the top ten teams, but there was still plenty of shakeup in the rankings.

The Florida Gators vault to the top spot after thumping Ohio State in the BCS Championship. The Buckeyes fall to #3. Louisville, with a decisive win over Wake Forest in the Orange Bowl, bumps up to #2. Wisconsin won a close contest against Arkansas in the Capital One Bowl. As a result the Badgers move into the #4 slot. LSU benefitted from some home cooking, trouncing Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl. The Tigers finish at #5. USC's thumping over Michigan in the Rose Bowl raises the Trojans to #7. Michigan drops seven slots to #9. The Fiesta Bowl thriller between Boise State and Oklahoma was one of the greatest games ever. The undefeated Broncos rank #6 while the Sooners round out the Top Ten.

Top Ten Teams

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

Dropped Out: None

Saturday, January 06, 2007

RIP Mario Danelo

USC kicker found dead.

10-Second Film Reviews #21

As honest as Nick Saban but without the $32 million: it's my 10-second film reviews!

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

The Trial: Orson Welles' adaptation of the Franz Kafka novel is a confusing, intriguing and ultimately adequate mystery. Anthony Perkins channels the Norman Bates character from years earlier in Psycho to effectively portray a confused, tortured young man who's accused on an unknown crime.The story, which keeps the protagonist and the audience in the dark, is fuzzy intentionally. Oftentimes the viewer has to persuade himself to deem the plot worthy of attention. The cinematography is excellent, with a handful of stunning shots and long takes that will dazzle with a majestic, Citizen Kane-esque quality. (***)

The Big Combo: Great detective flick. Fast and furious. The film doesn't have the most sympathetic characters or a highly sophisticated plot, but it'll do just fine. John Alton gives the film a sensational look. Some of the imagery is so powerful and ironic, it's the stuff of noir lore. (****)

8½: It's hard to tell when Fellini is showing a dream, fantasy or flashback. Or maybe what we see is the surreal experience called life. Regardless, this semi-autobiographical movie about a film director struggling for inspiration is one of the most exhilarating, thoughtful and magnificent movies ever. Although it's a little too long and slow at times, mesmerizes with majestic imagery and genuine dialogue. (*****)

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Raiders News

ESPN's Michael Smith reports that Oakland head coach Art Shell will inform his staff tomorrow that he is resigning. Smith also notes that Raiders defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who revitalized the Silver and Black defense in an otherwise forgettable 2-14 season, is a favorite to replace Shell.

After watching JaMarcus Russell outplay Brady Quinn in LSU's 41-14 thumping over Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl, Oakland would be wise to select Russell with the first overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft. Russell is expected to leave LSU a year early, and frankly, after last night's performance he doesn't have anything left to prove in the college game. Russell has a unique combination of size, speed, talent and leadership that makes him the franchise QB the Raiders so desperately need.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Quick Hits

* That Fiesta Bowl was the greatest game ever. I have trouble watching the highlights just because I feel so bad for Oklahoma fans.

* Speaking of the Sooners, maybe Oakland shouldn't draft Adrian Peterson with the #1 pick (assuming AD declares himself eligible). He didn't look so hot against Boise State's defense. The Raiders should pilfer picks from Cleveland. That way the Browns can pick local boy Brady Quinn and the Raiders can stockpile more picks, and maybe still come away with Peterson with the #3 or #4 selection.

* Nice to see AI bitching and whining after only six games. First he takes a crack at his old coach and GM, then has a subpar performance against his old crew and gets ejected from the game. After the contest AI was rambling about how referee Steve Javie ejected him because "it's been something personal with me and him since I got in the league." Get over yourself Allen. By the way, Denver is 2-4 since acquiring the Answer.

* I'll lose a lot of respect for Nick Saban if he bolts for Bama tomorrow morning. Keep your word coach.

Monday, January 01, 2007

USC Starts '07 in Style, Wins Rose Bowl

The Rose Bowl in Pasadena wasn't kind to USC in 2006. First there was the thrilling 41-38 loss in the BCS Title Game against Texas on January 4th. Then last month the Trojans, seemingly destined to be on their way to a third-consecutive BCS Title Game, were shocked by crosstown rival UCLA 13-9. Knocked out of championship contention, USC had a month to regroup and prepare for the 2007 Rose Bowl.

Their opponent was Michigan, a team that felt slighted after being leapfrogged by Florida in the BCS poll, which denied the Wolverines a rematch with Ohio State for the national championship. Already stinging from losing to its rival and being shut out of the title game, Michigan suffered another major blow on Tuesday when former president and standout Wolverine offensive lineman Gerald Ford passed away on Tuesday.

The Rose Bowl came to be perceived as the Consolation Bowl, with both participants having to settle for the Grandaddy of Them All instead of the national championship on January 8th. And early on it appeared both offenses didn't come to play. The running game was non-existent in the early going. The Trojans racked 19 yards on the ground. The Wolverines were even worse; limited to -2 rushing yards, thanks in large part to a tenacious USC defense that sacked QB Chad Henne six times.

As much as the offenses were stagnant, the defenses were ferocious. Lawrence Jackson, Sedrick Ellis and Brian Cushing constantly pressured Henne and stopped Wolverine star RB Michael Hart. LaMarr Woodley, Shawn Crable and the Michigan defense disrupted the Trojan attack, stifling the run and forcing a fumble from QB John David Booty. The teams exchanged field goals and ended the first half tied at 3.

The second half was a completely different story. Booty and the Trojans aired out the ball, usually with success. Junior WR Dwayne Jarrett, likely playing his last game in college, caught TD passes of 22 and 62 yards. DJ finished with 11 receptions, 205 yards, two scores and a highlight reel for NFL teams looking for a polished 6-5, 215 pound receiver. Seniors Steve Smith and Chris McFoy also caught touchdown passes. Booty finished with 27-for-45 for 391 yards and four TD's, leading USC to a convincing 32-18 win and erasing at least some of the bad Rose Bowl memories from '06.

Henne, despite being under constant duress, also had a fine performance. Henne threw 26-for-41 for 309 yards, two TD's and an interception. Michigan's two touchdowns came on fantastic plays; a blistering strike to a diving Adrian Arrington and a nice catch and 41-yard scamper by Steve Breaston.

Still it was the Trojans who make all the big plays this New Year's.

Early in the third, with the game still deadlocked, the Trojans swarmed Henne and forced a bad throw. Jackson intercepted the pass, energizing the USC bench and giving the offense great field position. After a fantastic 25-yard catch by Jarrett in double-coverage, Booty connected on the next play with a wide-open McFoy in the endzone. After a Michigan three-and-out, Booty hit Smith for 35 yards, down to the Michigan 22. Before the next play Booty recognized Jarrett one-on-one with the defender. Booty called an audible at the line. Jarrett ran an inside slant. Booty delivered the ball and Jarrett did the rest, knocking down the cornerback and jaunting in for the score.

Late in the third quarter, after the Wolverines cut the lead to 19-11, momentum seemed to be mounting for Michigan. USC had 3rd down and 10 on its own 38. How did the Trojans respond to the pressure? With a 62-yard connection from Booty to Jarrett. Touchdown.

As good as that sounds, the Trojans saved the best for last.

With the score 25-11 and 7:37 left in the game, many expected the Trojans to play conservative. Running the ball and relying on the defense made the most sense. Pete Carroll, however, determined the best defense is a good offense. Starting on their own 15-yard line, the Trojans put the game away with an amazing display of offensive finesse and dynamic playcalling. Booty first hit Smith down the left sideline for 25 yards. Next was a 29-yard haul by Jarrett in double-coverage. Following that was a 23-yard fade to TE Fred Davis. Booty completed the impressive drive with a 7-yard TD pass to Smith.

Four plays, four passes, four first downs, 85 yards, 70 seconds and the finishing touch in a 2007 Rose Bowl victory.