Tuesday, June 30, 2009

How Did I Miss This?

*JUST NOW found this disappointing news from NewYorkMagazine.com (original article ran May 18):

"It does appear that Saturday's show just might have been the last for longtime announcer Don Pardo. The 91 year-old was inducted into the Rhode Island Radio Hall of Fame last week, at which time he casually mentioned that
the Will Ferrell/Green Day show would be his last as the show's announcer.

That said, the door will likely still be open for his return should Pardo have a change of heart when next September rolls around. While Pardo officially retired from NBC a few years back, Lorne Michaels has so far been able to convince the legendary announcer to come in to do the opening "It's Saturday Night Live" voice-over work he's been doing since the show's 1975 debut."

Monday, June 29, 2009

Wave Riding

On September 24, 1998 I did something that, to this day, I am still not proud of.

Based on national hype, great reviews, and recommendations, I tuned in and watched the season five premiere of "Friends". What's even worse is that I loved it, watched every episode until the end of the series from then on, and now own all 10 seasons on DVD.

While most people might not find anything wrong with what I did, it embarrasses me that I dabbled in a disturbing practice that I now find most heinous.

I rode the Second Wave.

When it comes to pop culture entertainment (movies, TV shows, music, etc.) Wave Riding is very real and not necessarily always negative. In fact with every new "Big Thing" there are three different waves: the First Wave, the Second Wave, and the Drift-Into-Shore-Years-Later Wave. How you feel about yourself and how others will look at you just all comes down to which one you ride in on.

Now anyone that knows me knows that I hate anything that becomes too popular.

I can't really explain it, don't really understand it myself; but for as long as I can remember, if any person, place, or thing gets to be too big, I bail on it - no matter how much I may have once loved or appreciated it - so this make wave riding a little more difficult, and even poignant for me.

I can better describe the three waves with personal examples that have happened to me in my pop culture life.

The First Wave - "Garden State"

As "Scrubs" fans (and thereby a Zach Braff fan) from day one, my buddy Gray and I had heard about Braff's directorial debut "Garden State" about a year before anyone else. We kept trying to tell people about it, but no one cared. Didn't bother us and Gray and I saw it opening night and I genuinely loved it. I was on the First Wave.

About two weeks later, everyone else finally saw it, but then a funny thing happened. Everyone started acting like they had seen it first. It was like they had discovered string cheese. This instantly turned me off and am proud to say that I haven't watched that movie since.

All of those Johnny Come Latelys were guilty of category number two:

The Second Wave - "Sideways"

I had heard about "Sideways" for a while before it was released in the theater but didn't get to see it right away. Of course, it hit big and I was conflicted. I almost didn't want to see it at all for fear of riding the Second Wave but reluctantly gave in a couple of months after it originally come out.

Privately I loved it, but after the "Friends" fiasco, I still won't admit that I liked it publicly.

I will never let myself get accused of riding the Second Wave.

The Drift-Into-Shore-Years-Later Wave - "When Harry Met Sally"

For my entire life I've had people tell me that I NEEDED TO WATCH "WHEN HARRY MET SALLY". Especially when I interned up at Letterman and especially when I was trying to be a comedy writer.

Under those kind of circumstances, I was dead set on NEVER watching that movie because it was just too big of a Second Wave to ride in."

I made it almost 10 years before I finally gave in this past fall - due to a very stern suggestion from my Fiance - and I absolutely loved it. Very few times in my life have I had something become an "instant classic" for me and this was one of those times.

At first I felt kinda guilty about riding a Second Wave, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it had been almost 20 years since the movie had come out. I wasn't riding a Second Wave; I had been left for dead and was now Drifting Into Shore Years Later.

A very reassuring wave in case you ever miss something the first time around.

You have to understand that I don't judge other Wave Riders. This is all about me. I'm sure I ride the Second Wave in other, various areas of life but when it comes to entertainment, I hold myself to another standard.

I want to be the guy telling others about new shows or upcoming movies. I feel fulfilled when I get someone to ride the Second Wave on something I've been tuned into for a while.

ALL OF THAT TO SAY I have recently been confronted with an unprecedented situation.

Back in July of 2007 I started watching a show on AMC called "Mad Men". Set in the 1960's world of advertising in New York City, it was right up my alley but no one else was watching it or talking about it.

I mentioned it to a couple of friends back then and most of them didn't even know AMC was a network, let alone know what a "Mad Men" was.

So, like so many other First Waves that I had crashed in on before ("Ed", "Boomtown", "Arrested Development", etc). I bailed on "Men" because I thought for sure it would get cancelled and I didn't want to have to go through the heartbreak again.

I first questioned my decision last fall when season one of "Men" was not only nominated for, but then won, the Emmy for Outstanding Drama. I shrugged it off because "Arrested Development" had also won its most prestigious award and still was prematurely axed.

They weren't going to hurt me again.

Within the past few weeks I have noticed a lot more buzz about the upcoming season three premiere and I KNEW I had made the wrong choice when I started seeing a lot more Tweets about the show amongst my friends.

Crap.

I have never been confronted with this kind of scenario before: ride the First Wave, voluntarily get off and then subsequently try to ride the Second Wave? As crazy as it sounded, I didn't care. I genuinely loved what I had seen of the show and despite what others might think of me, I can rest with the knowledge that I was there on Day One.

Besides, only season one is available on DVD right now (season two comes out mid-July) so technically I'm still not that far behind (there is no way I could give myself a free pass on this one if season two was out on DVD and season three had already started).

I decided to test the waters a bit and told a few of my closest friends that I was purchasing season one this weekend.

All of them couldn't believe that I hadn't been on board sooner - every one of them thought it was a Josh Mahler-type series.

Hmmm... A show filled with smoking, drinking, general moral ambiguity. I don't know whether to be honored or concerned.

But it really is. I tore through all 13 episodes on Saturday and Sunday and am stoked about season two coming out in a few weeks. Maybe other than being an adult in the 1980s, the 60s are one era that I really would have enjoyed. From the suits to the style to the American angst, from everything I've read, "Men" really captures the vibe of what the world was like back then.

Basically I don't know what wave I am on with "Mad Men" at this point, but I'm enjoying the ride. Paul called dibs on a regular blog for season three (probably a good thing seeing how the season premiere is a day after my wedding and I'm not really making any new commitments until at least October) and I plan on being a regular contributor to that forum if allowed.

All in all, it's been a good lesson for me. You either like something or you don't - doesn't matter when you pick it up. I need to give myself a break and see if there are any other waves I'm missing.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Watching the Draft Together

As much as I love living out here in Denver, there have been some major sacrifices that I have had to make being so far from home. One of the most difficult ones has been missing watching the NFL and NBA college drafts with my buddies Kevin and Paul.

This was probably the first year in more than a decade where I didn't get to watch either draft with at least one of them.

Thanks to the miracle of technology, we always text our thoughts and opinions to each other; but a funny thing happened during the NBA draft last Thursday night - Paul and I just kept texting and kept texting and kept texting.

It was almost like we were watching it together.

Now the three of us have always had this revolutionary idea that there should be an alternative television coverage to sporting events. Instead of listening to Jay Bilas talk about "wingspan" and "upside" on ESPN wouldn't you rather listen to real guys talk like real guys on a network like HBO or something?

I'm definitely going to try to make this happen someday.

So here you go - our uncensored, brutally honest, insightful coverage of the worst draft in NBA history.

(All times MOUNTAIN STANDARD TIME)


Paul (5:37PM): 1st pick P Phipps

Paul (5:46PM): Zzzzzzz.... thabeet

Paul (5:58PM): Minni gets rubio... huge trade



The New York Knicks select Jordan Hill with the 8th pick



Paul (6:22PM): Officially not a knicks fan... hate him

Josh (6:22PM): Feel ya

Paul (6:23PM): ...And he was never heard from again... no one w hair is ever good

Josh (6:24PM): Yeah that's bosh's problem now

Josh (6:30PM): Do you really want to see "must improve: shooting consistency" about the 8th pick? Ugh. What a turd of a draft

Paul (6:31PM): For reals... booo



Milwaukee takes Brandon Jennings at #10



Josh (6:35PM): Other than Knicks has there been one team you would ever remember if they went away? Booorrrring

Paul (6:37PM): Jennings is a lil interesting



Terrence Williams goes to New Jersey at 11



Josh (6:39PM): Who is this guy? I feel like an old man. I don't know any of these player

Paul (6:41PM): T-Wil. Duh

Josh (6:41PM): Sorry don't have sound here. Right now draft is on small tv and an alec baldwin narrated spring training baseball special is on the big tv with sound

Paul (6:40PM): If ur a senior who averages 12 ppg what is your nba ceiling?

Josh (6:41PM): What's next? Must improve: general basketball skills?



With the 12th pick, Charlotte takes Duke forward Gerald Henderson



Paul (6:46PM): So the bobcats really only draft players from NC or got overhyped in tourney

Josh (6:48PM): Instead of paying guys like Henderson a dime, don't you save some cash and trade your picks for a good parking spot at the mall? Worst draft.



UNC's Tyler Hansbrough is taken by Indiana at 13



Paul (6:50PM): Indiana just got whiter

Josh (6:51PM): HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE??

Paul (6:53PM): How do u improve 'finishing above the rim'? Isn't that like saying 'must improve height or talent'?

Josh (6:54PM): Do you think there are any black people that would ever be caught dead wearing a Hansbourough Indiana jersey? Even a homeless guy?

Paul (6:56PM): Not even a blind homeless 120 year old non english speaking black woman



In a bizarre sequence of events, the Phoenix Suns select Earl Clark but David Stern announces Clark is not in the building. Instead Brandon Jennings comes out and shakes hands with the Commish



Josh (6:57PM): What is going on? Earl is not here. Jennings is here. C'mon NBA!

Paul (6:58PM): Bizarre... the gameday awards wouldn't do that bullshit

Josh (6:58PM): What is Phoenix doing? Did Earl Clark even know he was getting drafting tonight? He's at the arcade right now

Paul (6:59PM): He still doesn't know... ps tell this dude that "I still went top 10" is weak when u went 10 can came back late bc u were scared of the drop

Josh (6:59PM): Was jennings in the bathroon when he originally got picked



Austin Daye goes to the Pistons at 15. He is like the 67th guy taken whose dad played in the league as well



Paul (7:03PM): Things u don't want to be when ur 6'10" - my weight

Josh (7:03PM): You know how the last pick of the draft is called Mr. Irrelevant? How bad is it that we've already established that status at 15

Josh (7:06PM): I would almost be tempted to take the Daye dad over the son. he looks better



Chicago selects James Johnson from Wake Forest at 16



Paul (7:09PM): ACC guy I never heard of... not a good sign for bulls

Josh (7:10PM): Is he at the arcade with the other guy?

Paul (7:11PM): He is robbing a liquor store... he makes Daye's dad look like a middle schooler



Philadelphia goes on the clock and subsequently picks Jrue Holliday from UCLA



Josh (7:12PM): Sixers on the clock! LOVE that logo!

Josh (7:15PM): If he needs to improve shooting range AND consistency, doesn't he just need to improve shooting?

Paul (7:16PM): Must improve "skin too dark"

Paul (7:17PM): Seriously, Pacers wanted him but there is a "too dark" limit in Indiana



Minnesota takes their third point guard of the night when they select UNC's Ty Lawson at 18



Josh (7:19PM): Minn is redifining "going small"

Paul (7:20PM): Gonna talk mugsey bouges out of retirement!

Josh (7:20PM): Can they please play one game with only point guards?


Paul (7:21PM): Pretty please



At 19, Paul's Atlanta Hawks select Jeff Teague from Wake



Josh (7:23PM): Like the pick?

Paul (7:24PM): Like him... but... must improve "nba game"



We began to lose interest at this point



Josh (7:59PM): Are they just making up names Madden style now?

Paul (7:59PM): Must be... even Stern is struggling



The Memphis Grizzlies... do something and ESPN zooms in on the one Grizz fan in Madison Square Garden



Josh (8:07PM): Was that the only memphis fan in america? I just always thought their jerseys and tshirts got distributed to 3rd world countries

Paul (8:07PM):
Honestly never seen their gear before



We have completely lost interest



Josh (9:16PM): Enjoyed watchin the draft with you buddy. Have a good one.

Paul (9:16PM): That was amazing

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Did the Cavs Just Acquire the Title Last Night?

That was the question I texted out to everyone I knew this morning.

Here were some of the answers I received in return:

- "Yes"

- "I don't think so... drinkin the Kobe cool-aid hard... I think he has more"

- "Yes cause the celtics are getting old and thats the list of possible contenders"

- "I think they might have"


- "Hell no"

- "I believe so"

- "Yes. Unless shaq dies"

- "Champs for sure"

- "Shaq is 37!"

- "Definitely a step in the right direction"

And my personal favorite:

- "My testicles are tingly"

Gotta love my friends.

Now, a couple of my own thoughts on the deal:

1. Whether you like the deal or not or whether it's going to deliver a title to Cleveland or not, you have to understand that after finishing the regular season with the best record in the NBA and then subsequently getting embarrassed in the playoffs, the Cavs HAD to do something. This feels very similar to when the Philadelphia Eagles lost three straight NFC Championships and then HAD to go get T.O. That move obviously worked out and then obviously did not, but the point is that's what they had to do in that moment.

2. I personally like the trade because: (A) Shaq always gets rejuvenated in a new town, (B) He is in a contract year and will bust his butt, (C) LeBron LOVES Shaq so there won't be any "Shaq is relegated to LeBron's sidekick" nonsense - if anything LeBron might even turn himself into Shaq's sidekick. He has always had a lot of respect for the Big Diesel, (D) did I mention that right or wrong, the Cavs HAD to do it?

3. Even though it's a year away, I am salivating at the thought of a Lakers-Cavs Finals in June of 2010. Kobe vs. LeBron AND Shaq would be a match up of movie-like proportions. Seriously, it would take on a "Star Wars"-esque feel right down to LeBron as the up-and-coming Jedi Knight, Luke Skywalker, Shaq as the grizzled old Han Solo, and Kobe as the once great Jedi warrior turned Evil Sith Lord, Darth Vader.

In the 2009-10 season, I will enjoy the Sixers going back to their old school logo and uniforms, I will enjoy going to as many Nuggets games as I can, and I actually believe the Spurs made the best move of the off-season by getting Richard Jefferson, but I AM SALIVATING at the thought of a LA-Cleveland Finals.

4. I have some bad news for Cleveland fans though. If it comes down to the Lakers and the Cavs for the title next summer, I can't see the Rebel forces defeating the Evil Empire this time - and it's not because Kobe is better than LeBron or because Shaq will be old and tired.

What's being lost in the whole topic is that MIKE BROWN IS STILL THE COACH OF THE CAVALIERS.

The man got very badly outcoached by a porn star in the East Finals and then that porn star went on to get very badly outcoached by Phil Jackson in the NBA Finals.

I know a lot of people don't put too much stock in coaching, especially at the NBA level - believe me, I'm one of them - but this year, it was so painfully obvious to watch.

And you know the Cavs know this because there were legit rumors a couple of days after the Finals about Cleveland thinking about firing Brown - and that's after he just had won the Coach of the Year for the season.

I know Phil has had Michael, Shaq, and Kobe - and that definitely helps - but sometimes when teams are so evenly matched at the end of the season, it really comes down to a coach getting creative offensively, making necessary adjustments on both ends of the court, getting the most out of every player, and generally feeling the flow of the game and moving accordingly with it. Phil Jackson has been the best at those things during my lifetime and THAT's why he has 10 rings.

Forgive me for stealing a Simmons' joke here but during the Orlando series, Mike Brown reminded me of the coach in the state championship game of "Hoosier" that just SAT THERE watching his team blow a sure thing.

And this wasn't his first time. I know the Spurs were way better than the Cavs in the '07 Finals, but San Antonio head coach Greg Popovich almost seemed amused running circles around Brown.

This is a real thing people.

I'm sure Cleveland will probably do a good job of managing Shaq's playing time during the season (can't see him playing more than 70 games - if that) and at the same time keeping him in shape for the postseason. The Cavs didn't give up anything for Shaq so they will still be formidable and I'm not going to underestimate a pissed off LeBron.

Other than the Celtics and maybe Orlando (you have to think Boston is going to make some moves - maybe even today), Cleveland will be right there again in the East. But with Jackson, I still think the Lakers are better than the Cavs and with the Jefferson trade as a shot in the arm, I think the Spurs may be the team to beat in the league (Ugh).

So while I have to give the Cavaliers credit for making a necessary move, it just wasn't the right one.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

For All the Hockey Fans - All Two of You - Out There

*Love that the NHL has established this as a New Year's Day tradition and am happy that the Flyers are going to be apart of it this year. It's the ONE hockey game I make it a point to watch every season.

This just in from ESPN.com:

The
Philadelphia Flyers will accept an invitation to play the Boston Bruins in the NHL Winter Classic in Fenway Park on New Year's Day, a source told ESPN.com's EJ Hradek.

Earlier reports indicated the
Washington Capitals would play the Bruins in the third Winter Classic. But the NHL has an eye on matching the Capitals and the Rangers at the new Yankee Stadium on New Year's Day 2011.

Also, a plan for a New Year's Day 2010 Winter Classic doubleheader (Flyers vs. Bruins at Fenway; Leafs vs. Flames at McMahon Stadium in Calgary) continues to move forward. The first game is set. The second half of the twinbill should get the approval of the league's competition committee, which will meet tomorrow morning in Montreal.

Hittin' the Spot

After the week I've already endured (it's ONLY Wednesday!), I could sure use some cheering up. Yesterday, I found a website via a Jesse Phipps' Tweet that has been just the cure.

The site is GarfieldMinusGarfield.net and here is the site description from the website itself:

Garfield Minus Garfield is a site dedicated to removing Garfield from the Garfield comic strips in order to reveal the existential angst of a certain young Mr. Jon Arbuckle. It is a journey deep into the mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against loneliness and depression in a quiet American suburb.


Here is a sample:



Brilliant.

I hate when people starting spreading the word about cool things and then they become uncool, so my apologies if I'm participating in that heinous practice now; but this concept is just too good and it's hitting too close to home right now to keep quiet.

So check it out if you need a good laugh or just want to feel better about your life.

It works, trust me.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

FINALLY!!!

*The Sixers must have known that the Nuggets have been flirting with me for my affections. If this is Philly's way of trying to win me back, it's a pretty good start.

This just in from the 76ers website:

Philadelphia, Pa. – June 23, 2009 – The Philadelphia 76ers have officially changed their primary logo and color scheme with a return to the traditional “76ers basketball” logo and the red, white and blue color scheme. The basketball logo was last used during the 1996-97 season and consists of a color scheme that was originally established in 1963 and used during the Sixers’ two championship seasons in 1966-67 and 1982-83.

"By bringing back the old Sixers logo, we are connecting the past with the future," said Comcast-Spectacor Chairman Ed Snider. "This logo evokes memories of some of this franchise's proudest moments. We also made this change because we understood how much this logo means to our fans, this franchise and to our city. The fans had a big input on this decision. We're excited and we want the entire City of Philadelphia to be excited for Sixers basketball."

"The 76ers logo is one of the more iconic in all of professional sports and we are sure fans will appreciate the Sixers returning to their core colors and ball icon," said Christopher Arena, NBA Vice President Apparel, Sporting Goods & Basketball Partnerships.

This is the first major logo change for the Sixers since the 1997-98 season, when the logo was modernized to incorporate black, silver and gold into a stylized “76ers” wordmark that featured a predominant red and silver star to the left and a gold ball with blue stripes below. From 1963 through 1997, the Sixers' identity revolved around a “76” in red and royal blue and a star configuration above the number seven, which was an identity that defined the team through two NBA Championships. The 76 and stars were utilized within a bell symbol from 1963-77 and then the “ers” was added to the "76" and contained in a ball. The ball form of the logo is what is most recognized and most associated with the “Fo’, Fi’, Fo’” championship team of 82-83, one of the greatest teams in NBA history. The only enhancement with the new logo will be a rectangular “court” shaped enclosure around the ball logo with the city name “PHILADELPHIA” grounded along the bottom and silver accent shaping the entire perimeter.

The Sixers will introduce a new secondary logo and wordmark at a later date. Additionally, the team will unveil a new court design and uniforms later this summer.

All-Time Top 30 Draft Picks By Slot

*Found this from CNNSI.com (can't wait for this year's draft on Thursday night!):

Claiming to know the greatest draft pick of all time in each of the top 30 slots is a good way to start an argument. In this case, I leaned toward draft picks who helped create team success. While going through the lists year by year, I was reminded just how difficult it is to find impact players -- even when dealing with a top-three pick. To go through the draft lists over the last six decades is to realize that the likes of Bill Russell and Michael Jordan are rarely discovered.

While researching the draft through a variety of resources, it became clear that different sources defined the older drafts by different means. Territorial picks, which existed through 1965, were the big variable. To quote from the 76ers' media guide: "To enable teams to take advantage of the regional popularity of college stars, they were given the option of forfeiting their first-round picks and instead selecting, before the start of the draft, a player from the franchise's immediate geographical area. These 'territorial picks' are not factored into the overall selection count of the draft."

This makes draft history a bit confusing. For instance, John Havlicek has been referred to as both the seventh and ninth pick of the 1962 draft because of two territorial picks that year. I didn't use territorial picks for this list and thus put Havlicek at No. 7 below.

1. Magic Johnson, Lakers, 1979: A difficult choice among other top picks -- including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar,
Shaquille O'Neal and Tim Duncan (Oscar Robertson was a territorial pick and LeBron James has a lot more time to improve his body of work and win titles) -- but Magic not only won five championships but also rescued the NBA through his West-East rivalry with Larry Bird. He recast the league as an entertainment company led by likable stars. Would the NBA ever have become so popular without him?

2. Bill Russell, Celtics, 1956: In my book, Russell is the most important draft pick in league history because he instituted the team-first leadership skills that defined success in the NBA and were emulated by Michael Jordan and many other stars thereafter. Because of this pick -- acquired by Red Auerbach in a bold trade that sent All-Star Ed Macauley and future All-Star Cliff Hagan to the St. Louis Hawks -- the Celtics became the most dominant team in sports history, winning 11 of 13 championships around Russell's unprecedented defensive dominance.

3. Michael Jordan, Bulls, 1984: It continues to defy reason that the
Trail Blazers passed on Jordan to take center Sam Bowie with the No. 2 pick. (The Rockets used the No. 1 pick on Hakeem Olajuwon, an acceptable decision as he would deliver two championships to Houston.) Jordan became the greatest player of the modern era, and the only basketball player ever to be acknowledged as the most popular athlete in the world.

4. Dave Cowens, Celtics, 1970: The 6-foot-9 Hall of Famer was an undersized center who won all of the meaningful awards (co-Rookie of the Year, MVP, All-NBA and All-Defensive first team) as well as leading Boston to two championships as Russell's unlikely successor.

5.
Kevin Garnett, Timberwolves, 1995: Minnesota took an enormous risk in picking Garnett so high -- players without college experience being unproven products in '95 -- and he turned into one of the most influential big men of his era. Scottie Pippen, Dwyane Wade, Walt Frazier, Charles Barkley and Ray Allen were also No. 5 picks, but Garnett's dominance in virtually all phases of the game sets the standard here.

6. Larry Bird, Celtics, 1978: So valuable was Bird that Auerbach drafted him before his final season at Indiana State, exploiting a loophole that has since been closed. When Bird showed up in Boston one year later, he proved that he was worth the wait.

7. John Havlicek, Celtics, 1962:
Manu Ginobili is his era's version of Hondo -- a versatile, high-energy swingman so selfless that he doesn't care whether he starts or comes off the bench. Havlicek retired in 1978 with eight championships and he remains the leading scorer in Celtics history.

8. Sam Jones, Celtics, 1957: Originally chosen by the Minneapolis Lakers a year earlier, the 6-4 Jones reentered the draft after military service and became the Celtics' version of Mr. Clutch, hitting huge playoff shots in a 12-year career that included 10 championships. Nineteen years after Jones' selection, the Warriors turned the No. 8 pick into Robert Parish, who also helped deliver championships to Boston.

9.
Dirk Nowitzki, Bucks, 1998: In a prearranged draft-night trade that turned into one of the most lopsided deals in history, the Mavericks sent No. 6 pick Robert Traylor to the Bucks for Nowitzki and No. 19 pick Pat Garrity, whom Dallas dealt to Phoenix for Steve Nash. Nowitzki's three-point shooting as a 7-footer transformed the NBA's view of the power forward position. He led the Mavericks to the 2006 NBA Finals and was named league MVP a year later.

10.
Paul Pierce, Celtics, 1998: Viewed as a potential top-three pick, Pierce slid to No. 10. He was on the verge of requesting a trade when the Celtics acquired Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to help Pierce win the 2008 championship. Within two seasons, he should surpass Bird as Boston's No. 2 all-time scorer.

11.
Reggie Miller, Pacers, 1987: This has been a good slot in which to acquire shooting: Allan Houston, Robert Horryand Kiki Vandeweghe were all No. 11 picks, as was Jamaal Wilkes. But none made a bigger impact on the team that drafted him than Miller, a clutch scorer who matured to set a standard of leadership for the Pacers.

12. Julius Erving, Bucks, 1972: Had Erving signed with Milwaukee, he would have been teammates with Abdul-Jabbar and Robertson; instead, he moved to the ABA, where he won three MVPs and two championships in five seasons before a merger with the NBA shifted him to the 76ers at age 26. More than a creator of highlights, Erving won an MVP award and a championship in 11 years with Philadelphia. But his majestic finishing around the basket set a standard for athletic elegance that remains unmatched.

13.
Kobe Bryant, Charlotte Hornets, 1996: The Hornets took him for the Lakers, who traded Vlade Divac to Charlotte in a cap-clearing move that enabled them to sign Shaq that summer. Consider this to be a lucky place to find talent: In 1985, the Jazz drafted "undersized'' power forward Karl Malone at No. 13.

14. Clyde Drexler, Trail Blazers, 1983: He turned out to be the best player in his draft. He lasted to this spot because his Phi Slamma Jamma years in college created the mistaken impression that he was a one-dimensional dunker, but he turned into a skilled and versatile Hall of Fame scorer who helped his former University of Houston teammate Olajuwon win a championship with the Rockets in 1995.

15. Steve Nash, Suns, 1996: A self-made Canadian point guard with one NCAA scholarship offer (from Santa Clara), Nash began his pro career as the Suns' third-string point guard behind
Jason Kidd and Kevin Johnson. Phoenix traded him in 1998 to Dallas, where he overcame a rough start to emerge as a star in his fifth NBA season. He then further surprised the Mavericks by blooming into a two-time league MVP after returning to the Suns as a free agent.

16.
John Stockton, Jazz, 1984: Picking up Stockton at No. 16 is like the 49ers discovering Joe Montana in Round 3 of the NFL draft. Ron Artest has been the next-best player from this slot.

17.
Shawn Kemp, Seattle SuperSonics, 1989: Entering the NBA as the youngest player in the league, the 6-10 Kemp turned into a six-time All-Star who joined with guard Gary Payton to lead Seattle to the 1996 Finals. He averaged 16.8 points and 9.5 rebounds over his 11-year career. He may be challenged in this slot someday by Danny Granger, a 2005 pick of the Pacers who was named the NBA's Most Improved Player while averaging 25.8 points as an All-Star in 2008-09.

18. Joe Dumars, Pistons, 1985: A complement to Isiah Thomas, the Hall of Fame guard helped the Pistons earn two championships (as well as another one two decades later as the team president). Calvin Murphy,
Mark Jackson and David West were other surprisingly outstanding picks here.

19. Nate Archibald, Cincinnati Royals, 1970: A small guard who could weave his way through any defense, the Hall of Famer led the NBA in scoring (34.0) and assists (11.4) in 1972-73, the only player to win both categories in the same season in league history.
Rod Strickland (No. 8 on all-time assists list) and Bulls champion John Paxson also were picked here.

20. Gus Williams, Warriors, 1975: The two-time All-NBA guard and second-round pick (the NBA had fewer teams then) averaged 17.1 points in 12 seasons, including six defining years with the Sonics, whom he led to the 1979 championship while averaging 28.6 points in the Finals. More recently in this slot, the Magic are benefiting from the development of
Jameer Nelson, a first-time All-Star in 2008-09.

21.
Michael Finley, Suns, 1995:Rajon Rondo, drafted 21st in 2006, may be viewed as the best pick at this spot someday. For now, the choice is Finley, who turned into one of the league's elite scorers after being traded to Dallas, and later became a champion with the Spurs.

22. Reggie Lewis, Celtics, 1987:George McGinnis and Norm Nixon were fine choices here as well, but Lewis -- a sixth man on his high school team -- would have made multiple All-Star teams if not for the heart condition that killed him at age 27.

23. Alex English, 1976, Bucks: After three-plus middling seasons with Milwaukee and Indiana, the second-round pick found his niche with the score-first Nuggets. When he retired in 1991, the future Hall of Famer was the NBA's No. 6 all-time scorer.

24.
Sam Cassell, 1993, Rockets: Talk about a steal: As a late-pick rookie, Cassell helped lead the Rockets to their first NBA championship. It was no fluke, as his 16-year career would attest. A lot of long-term value has been unearthed at No. 24, including Arvydas Sabonis,Andrei Kirilenkoand Latrell Sprewell, as well as Lakers champions Rick Fox, Brian Shaw and Derek Fisher.

25. Mark Price, 1986, Cavaliers: He was the face of the Cavaliers for a decade as well as a surprisingly effective shooter for his size. Price edges out John Drew,
Gerald Wallace and Bob Gross, the small forward on Portland's 1977 championship team.

26.
Vlade Divac, 1989, Lakers: How often do you get a 16-year center this late in the draft? Divac was one of the best passing big men in the modern era. Kevin Martin, who was also taken at this spot, needs several more years of excellence to surpass Divac.

27. Dennis Rodman, Pistons, 1986: He became so much more than anyone could have predicted -- in all kinds of ways. Rodman contributed to five championship teams in Detroit (two) and Chicago (three), exemplifying the kind of high-effort defender and rebounder teams are often seeking with a late pick.

28.
Tony Parker, Spurs, 2001: Yes, the Spurs were lucky to win the lottery twice when David Robinson and Duncan were the No. 1 picks. But they also discovered Ginobili at No. 57 and their elite point guard and future NBA Finals MVP at this slot.

29. Dennis Johnson, 1976, Seattle SuperSonics: Johnson, a second-round pick, was never viewed as a great shooter; he nonetheless helped lead Seattle and Boston to three championships combined while playing the kind of defense that should posthumously earn him a place in the Hall of Fame.

30.
Gilbert Arenas, 2001, Warriors: Another second-round pick, Arenas drew laughs at his introductory Golden State news conference when he predicted he would be a starter in his rookie year. Not only did he prove to be correct in that assessment, but he also turned into an All-NBA point guard with the Wizards.

By Ian Thomsen

Monday, June 22, 2009

"Moneyball" Strikes Out at Columbia

*Found this interesting article from Variety.com:

Columbia Pictures has dropped the ball on "Moneyball," the Steven Soderbergh-directed Brad Pitt starrer that was supposed to begin production on Monday in Phoenix.

On Friday, Columbia Pictures topper Amy Pascal placed the picture into "limited turnaround," giving the filmmaker the chance to set it up at another studio, with Warner Bros. and Paramount the prime targets.

The move came after Pascal read a rewrite that Soderbergh did to Steven Zaillian's script and found it very different from the earlier scripts she championed. Pascal was uncomfortable enough with how the vision had changed that she applied the brakes.

Soderbergh and Pitt's CAA reps spent the weekend attempting to get another studio to play ball.

If a new financier doesn't emerge by today, Columbia will re-examine options that include replacing Soderbergh (and hoping Pitt doesn't ankle), delaying the film until Pascal and the filmmaker find themselves in synch on the script or pulling the plug.

Columbia's move to jettison a Pitt pic is ironic. Pitt dropped out of "State of Play" just before that picture was to begin production, when he read the studio-approved shooting script that veered too far from the draft that prompted him to sign on. It is unusual to see a studio step off a film to which a superstar like Pitt is firmly committed.

Even in the climate of heightened studio caution, the turnaround news on "Moneyball" is surprising given that the project had reached the equivalent of third base. It was just 96 hours before the participants were ready to take the field, following three months of prep and with camera tests completed and cast and budget in place.

Pascal's wariness is hardly unfathomable. Even though it was approved by Major League Baseball, the script doesn't follow the traditional narrative structure of most sports yarns.

"Moneyball" is based on the bestselling Michael Lewis book about Billy Beane (Pitt), the former player who resurfaced as the Oakland A's general manager and found success fielding competitive teams for low cost.

Aside from actors like Pitt and Demetri Martin, Soderbergh is using real ballplayers -- such as former A's Scott Hatteberg and David Justice -- as actors, and he also has shot interviews with such ballplayers as Beane's former Mets teammates Lenny Dykstra, Mookie Wilson and Darryl Strawberry. Those vignettes would be interspersed in the film.While Soderbergh is confident his take will work visually, Columbia brass had doubts on a film that costs north of $50 million. That is reasonable for a studio-funded pic that includes the discounted salary of a global star like Pitt, but baseball films traditionally don't fare well on the global playing field.


By PETER BART, MICHAEL FLEMING

Friday, June 19, 2009

Gotta Keep the Ladies Happy

*Don't ever let it be said that Just Being Josh doesn't appeal to all demographics.

ABC Makes It Official: Heigl Is Staying on Grey's

Katherine Heigl will return to Grey's Anatomy for Season 6, according to a statement from ABC. The news comes just hours after T.R. Knight's Grey's Anatomy exit was finally confirmed — by both the actor and series creator Shonda Rhimes.

ABC declined TVGuide.com's request for further comment from Rhimes (who did issue a statement on Friday regarding Knight's departure). Similarly, Heigl's rep said no statement was forthcoming from the actress.

The announcement ends months of speculation over Heigl's future with the show. In June 2008, she made statements about her Emmy worthiness that appeared to cast aspersion on the Grey's Anatomy writing staff. Not long after that controversy, there were reports that Rhimes would exact a sort of "payback" by killing off Izzie Stevens, Heigl's character. Seemingly confirming such speculation, Izzie was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic brain cancer and appeared to flat-line in the season-finale episode.

In other Grey's news, ABC also officially announced that Jessica Capshaw, whose Dr. Arizona Robbins has been a breath of fresh air in the often angsty halls of Seattle Grace, will continue with the show — now as a series regular.

Ready for the Weekend

My dad flew into to town last night and we've got a great weekend planned. Gonna be fun.

My laptop is STILL in the shop so I'm not counting on getting a real column done by Monday. So frustrating.


Question of the week - Is "Year One" gonna be any good? I have my doubts.

(I've already seen the two best movies of the year, so I'm not expecting much from the rest of 2009 - and they were "The Soloist" and "The Hangover" for those of you not paying attention).

OH, bonus question - I had to leave trivia early last night (was on kind of a personal roll before I left though) but Aarron and Shareef guided us towards a third place finish - our second top three finish in our first two weeks, mind you!

Here was the final question of the night (I answered it correctly when Aaron texted it over to me later last night): What were the Top 5 grossing movies of 2007?

There actually was a distinct theme to that summer if you can remember - if you figure that out, you will have most of the answers (the others are definitely getable if you just think it through).

No cheating!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Who's In Your Top 5?

As my buddy Aarron and I got bored watching the Rockies' 11-game winning streak come to an uncerimonious end the other night, we started debating the current baseball greats.

Since baseball is in such a transitional state right now, it strangely became a somewhat difficult task to lock down the current Top 5 players in the game right now. Just a couple of years ago, it seemed a little easier, but we are currently witnessing the end of the steroids era (Manny and A-Rod speculations) and the beginning of a new era of stars (Longoria, Hamels, Lincecum, etc.).

Aarron would probably disagree with me on having Manny in here, but here is my final Top 5 list of the best current baseball players:

1. Albert Pujols - with a bullet

2. Manny Ramirez - still waiting to get all the info about any kind of PEDs but regardless, he is still the best pure hitter in baseball

3. Johan Santana - the only truly dominant pitcher in the game right now when on

4. Hanley Ramirez - Potential has no limits

5. Chase Utley - explanation below

Ok... Let's take a moment for everyone to breathe (especially anyone that is freaking out that A-Rod is not on the list).

I know a lot of people are going to see me including Utley as a homer pick on my part, but just hear me out (believe me, I was TRYING to get Chase off of the list, but after the following reasons, just couldn't do it).

Yes, A-Rod has the power and has been a pretty solid defensive player for most of his career, but here's the bigger question: for what other reason should he be on the list?

Utley has a ring - and was a big part of the title run (most noteably, he saved the NLCS Game 1 with a clutch home run and got things going with a first inning homer in Game 1 of the World Series).

I think the bigger point becomes is A-Rod even the best third baseman in baseball right now? You could definitley make arguments for Wright and Longoria; but who is even in the same conversation as Utley at his position. I know second base is not sexy, but he is kinda making it sexy.

I've thought about this for two days now, trying to change my list, but the more I think about it, the more solid it feels.

Open to suggestions.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

No Post Today

Just putting up a post to let you know that I won't be able to post today.

Laptop at home is currently getting repaired and my computer at work is down for the day as well (I'm writing this on an office laptop that I got to use for just a few minutes).


Thanks for your patience, be back when I can!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Figures

I'm just a couple weeks into posting everyday and writing regularly and of course my laptop goes down - like it literally will not turn on. So I currently have no internet/writing access outside of work right now - and I always have to keep it short and sweet while - at work, so that therefore greatly limits my writing ability right now.

Ugh.

I will keep posting interesting articles and tidbits that I find but please bare with me until I get my laptop up and running again.

Until then, I found the following article about Eagles' quarterback, Donovan McNabb, on CNNSI.com by Ross Tucker - From where I stand as I life long Philly fan, this is probably the best outside perspective on McNabb's tenure that I have ever read.

In light of the Philadelphia Eagles' giving Donovan McNabb a significant pay raise over the next two years, it occurred to me that he has to be among the most underappreciated players in NFL history.

I grew up near Philadelphia and most, if not all of my family and friends are diehard Eagles fans. They have had, for the most part, a love-hate relationship with their signal-caller, even though he has led the franchise to a remarkable run of prosperity, including five NFC Championship games in the past eight seasons. That is a stretch of success that that would bring tears of joy to fans of the teams I played with during my career, those in New England being the exception.

So how can a quarterback with virtually every Eagles passing record still get a mixed response from his diehard fan base?

The most legitimate critiques of McNabb are the football ones, which focus primarily on his inconsistent accuracy and inability to bring home a championship. In fact, he probably never will get his just due in some circles until he wins a Super Bowl. Most discussions about all-time great quarterbacks begin with that all-important resume-topper. But it makes one wonder whether Eagles fans would rather have won one Super Bowl and been 4-12 every other season or been in the thick of things, as they have been with McNabb, playing important postseason contests late into January on nearly an annual basis.

The other critiques of McNabb are much more superficial. Most fans of the Birds with whom I have spoken can't stand his almost perpetual smile while he's playing, even when things aren't going well. Call it Dwight Howard syndrome. His injury history is the other big beef, as if McNabb should have his toughness questioned for tearing an ACL or suffering a broken leg. I wonder if Tom Brady would face the same wrath if he got injured in 2010 or '11. In fact, McNabb's persistence and resiliency in the face of these injuries is one reason he should be more revered than he is.

McNabb has provided Eagles fans with an exciting decade of football with an extremely entertaining style. Just like most of other teams would take the Eagles' success in a heartbeat, the same goes for franchises that would love to have him under center. He is a proven winner who has stood in the face of intense criticism for years and handled it with aplomb. Now if only Eagles fans could see as much.

Everything written is legitimately true, fair, and understandable - but I don't need to defend the Donovan McNabb era from an Eagle fan's point of view to anyone that has not experienced EVERY SINGLE GAME of #5's career. Don't have to defend it to any one that has, because they already know.

With that said, I'm rooting harder for Don to win a championship than I have for anyone else ever.

Friday, June 12, 2009

We Are All Witnesses

The only thing I like more than reading my own blogs and columns is reading blogs and columns from other writers that I really respect and inspire me.

And, as you can see from the "Other Recommended Sites" list (to the right of this post, underneath my Twitter updates), I like to pass the inspiration along to you.

Well, I've got a new one for ya:


My buddy Ross Costanza has decided to start blogging again in addition to continue posting some of his fantastic photography (Rossie, your pics of Red Rocks are STILL hanging over my couch - first thing I see when I walk into my place and it makes me happy every time).

So definitely check out his site, As Blog Is My Witness, and enjoy his unique perspectives and obvious artistic abilities.

Good stuff, for sure.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Cavs may fire Coach of the Year

From CNNSI.com's "Truth and Rumors":

Could this season's NBA Coach of the Year be looking for a job before the start of next season? It sounds ridiculous but it just might be the case for Cleveland's Mike Brown, according to several sources close to the situation. The Cavaliers' front office has reportedly been in disarray since the team was bounced by Orlando in the Eastern Conference finals -- despite finishing with a league-best record of 66-16 and possessing NBA MVP LeBron James. Some key members of the organization feel Brown was badly out-coached by Orlando's Stan Van Gundy, according to sources. One source said Cavs management wasn't only disappointed in the losses, "but equally disappointed in the (two) wins" in a series that went six games.
- probasketballnews.com

Don't know if Cleveland has the stones to do it, but after their woeful performance in the Eastern Conference Finals in which Brown was clearly outcoached by a veteran porn star, it may not be the worst idea in the world.

Thoughts?

Seriously?

John Hollinger just posted his list of the NBA franchises in order of greatness at ESPN.com; and while you could debate the Lakers and Celtics as the #1 team until the end of time, I have a major contention with him ranking the Spurs (he has them at #3) over the Bulls (at #4).

I know the Bulls only had one good decade and did nothing before and have done nothing since, but that is one of the best decades in sports EVER. Despite all of the Spurs' "continual success" they still only have four titles - the Bulls won SIX in that one 10 year span.

How is that not still more impressive?


And if nothing else, THEY DRAFTED THE GREATEST PLAYER TO EVER PLAY THE GAME. And it's not like they lucked into Jordan with the first pick, they took him at three.

Oh, and how does Hollinger have Phoenix at five with NO title wins? At some point doesn't common sense have to factor into all of the stats? Doesn't perception hold any weight on these topics?

Click here for Hollinger's list, but here is my Top 10:

1. LA Lakers
2. Boston
3. Chicago
4. San Antonio
5. Detroit
6. Houston
7. Philadelphia
8. Portland
9. New York
10. Utah

Let the debate rage...

How Movies for Grown-Ups Became Hollywood's Endangered Species

*Check out this great - but chilling - article from EW.Com about the current decline of films geared towards adults that appreciate being mentally and emotionally moved:

(PS - I'm not friends with any of you until you see "The Soloist". Best movie I've seen in years)

Give Robert Downey Jr. a glass of scotch and a suit made of metal, and lines will form around the block. But cast him as a newspaper columnist who befriends a cello-playing homeless man, and these days the only crowds gathering will be for the movie playing next door. The latter Downey project, a onetime Best Picture hopeful called The Soloist, cost $50 million to produce and has grossed just $30 million. Reviews were less than rapturous, but producer Gary Foster thinks there was something deeper at play. ''Audiences don't want to be reminded of the darkness in the world,'' he says. ''They want to laugh, get taken to space, watch things in a museum come to life.''

But what if your idea of entertainment involves more than watching Ben Stiller get slapped by monkeys? The pickings are slim and getting slimmer. In the wake of high-profile dramas flopping at the box office — including Frost/Nixon, Australia, Revolutionary Road, and State of Play — studios are increasingly gun-shy about making movies that don't offer pure escapism. Even the frothy, adult-oriented caper Duplicity struggled to find a wide audience. One producer who specializes in dramas says the climate is as brutal as he's ever seen it: ''Anything that can't be sold as a genre film or wasn't conceived as a franchise is dead.''

Even projects that might once have been considered Oscar bait have fallen prey to executives' squeamishness. Paramount turned down director Bill Condon's planned biopic about Richard Pryor, with Eddie Murphy attached to star. Universal axed a drama starring Naomi Watts about a global activist. ''With the economy being what it is, no one wants to get blamed for a failure,'' says one agent. ''If you greenlight something that's [totally mainstream] and it fails, it's not your fault. If you greenlight an adult drama and it tanks, you lose your job.''

Who's to blame for the sorry state of the adult drama? Filmmakers fault studio marketers for not effectively selling serious fare. Producers blame the studios for making poor choices and spending too much money, setting dramas up for failure. Meanwhile, some executives say the films themselves simply aren't compelling enough. ''Frankly, a lot of the dramas just aren't as good as they purport to be,'' says one studio exec. To break through these days, a dramatic film needs to have more than simply an Oscar winner or two and a worthwhile tale to tell. ''The adult drama today has to be more than, say, a meditation on alcoholism,'' says Roberto Orci, co-writer and executive producer of Star Trek, who's trying to get his own drama, 28th Amendment, off the ground at Warner Bros. ''You have to tell that story in a new way.''

It also helps if you can give your drama the commercial hook of a genre film — like last year's hit Gran Torino, a meditation on tolerance wrapped in the guise of a movie with a gun-toting Clint Eastwood and a cool car. ''That movie worked because you could put a 30-second spot together where people said, 'Oh, that sounds kick-ass,''' says Foster. Universal seems to be following a similar playbook for their July release Public Enemies. The studio's great, heart-thumping trailer suggests an action movie more than a character-driven historical drama. Likewise, judging from the pulse-pounding ads for The Weinstein Company's post-apocalyptic drama The Road, you'd think the film was The Road Warrior, not a somber tale of societal breakdown.

As bleak as things look for the adult drama, many believe the genre is simply in the midst of a cyclical downturn, and that it will eventually make a comeback. ''People are turned off to stuff that's holding a mirror up to their lives,'' says one prominent producer. ''But that will all change when we return to a more solid economic footing.'' Producer Mark Johnson (The Notebook) agrees. ''You have to have faith in a mature audience,'' he says. ''The strike zone may be getting smaller and smaller, but if you throw it right, it can still work.'' He'd better hope so. His child-with-cancer weeper My Sister's Keeper opens June 26 — just two days after a little robot drama called Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.


By Nicole Sperling

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

New DVD Releases

Here are some of the new DVDs that are available today (for a complete list, click here) :

- Fired Up! (Comedy)

- Gran Torino (Drama)

- The International (Thriller)

- Jack Lemmon Film Collection

-
Reaper: Season Two (Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, TV)

- The Shield: Season 7 - The Final Act (Crime, Drama)

Not Surprised

Check out this great article from TIME.com (written late Sunday afternoon) recapping the unprecedented events we just witnessed this past weekend in the Hollywood box office:

According to official industry estimates, the Pixar feature Up won the weekend with $44.2 million, with Warner Bros.' The Hangover a close second at $43.3 million, and the Ferrell time-travel jape, Universal's Land of the Lost, a remote and depleted third at $19.5 million. That would make Up the first movie of the summer season (which on Hollywood's calendar begins May 1) to finish No. 1 two weeks in a row.

But wait a minute — or, rather, a day. The numbers that shape box-office reports like this are announced each Sunday at noon, before anyone's so much as bought a ticket for today's shows, and are therefore based only on Friday and Saturday ticket sales. The prediction of final weekend grosses thus involve much entrail-reading, analysis of the success of earlier films in the same genre and the possible use of Ouija boards. The tense to be used in these stories really shouldn't be the past ("won") but the future perfect ("will have") or, more cautiously, the conditional ("may").

In fact, for the two days for which there's hard data, The Hangover led Up, $31.4 million to $30.7 million. Industry swamis are presumably banking on kids and their grandparents streaming to the Pixar movie on a summer Sunday, while the Warner puke-fest will have exhausted its core constituency. But that ignores The Hangover's very strong word of mouth; people who might not have gone now know this is the movie de jour. (Everybody who needs to know about Up already knows.) And as Dan Fellman, Warner's distribution chief, told the AP, "Sunday's always good for a hangover." By tomorrow, when the final figures come in, there could be a photo finish for first place.

**ED. NOTE - - "Hangover" did win the weekend (sorry Paulie, thought the Time article posted the final results). "Hangover" finished with $44,979,319 just barely beating out "Up" at $44,138,266 for the win - and it also became the third highest Rated-R comedy opening ever.**

As the road-movie comedy about the old man and a kid battles the road-movie comedy with three men and a baby for weekend supremacy, the road-movie comedy about a scientist dousing himself in dinosaur urine is news for what it didn't achieve. Ferrell, the one familiar star name among the leads in the week's big movies, promoted his film on nearly every media outlet. (Helms told his tooth story on the NPR quiz show Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me.) Yet Land of the Lost was creamed by movies whose top-billed actors are Ed Asner and Bradley Cooper.

Since establishing his star status in 2003 with the Christmas comedy Elf, Ferrell has had an up-and-down relationship with audiences: they go, then they don't go. Hits like Talladega Nights, Blades of Glory and Step Brothers, all of which earned more than $100 million at the North American box office, are sandwiched by underachievers like Kicking and Screaming, Stranger Than Fiction and Semi-Pro, all of which took in less than $60 million.

Aside from Ferrell fatigue and near-libelous reviews, there's another explanation for Land of the Lost's becoming the season's first pricey roadkill. After Night at the Museum 2 and Up, it was the third consecutive action comedy with at least one prehistoric beast. In two weeks, Jack Black and Michael Cera will play the dino-comedy card again with Year One. Sony, the film's distributor, might want to reposition Year One's marketing to emphasize its pedigree as a Judd Apatow comedy (from which The Hangover was clearly spawned), and to sell the primitive wilderness that Black and Cera wander through as Vegas without the neon. And maybe the CGI techies could quickly black out one of Jack's teeth.

A couple of quick thougths:

1. I'm sure it's happened before, but in the time that I've been paying attention to the box office, I've never seen a movie declared the winner for the weekend on Sunday afternoon only to have another movie make a late evening charge to claim the top spot.

I was one of the apparent millions that saw "The Hangover" on Sunday afternoon and I was worried walking into the theater. I have this thing about seeing a brand new comedy on opening night (typically Friday) because that's when you get the best, most involved audience and that just adds to the experience. I thought the theater was going to be dead on a late Sunday afternoon, but to my surprise, the place was packed and it felt like a Friday night.

2. I know I wrote on Friday that I would reluctantly watch "Land of the Lost" just because it's Ferrell but I'm taking that back now. The movie looks horrible, has gotten horrible reviews, and is poised to be the first bona-fide BOMB of the year.
Which leads me to...

3. Is anyone surprised? This is the VERY FIRST TIME that I've seen box office experts predict a big summer weekend so wrong. Many were wondering if "Land of the Lost" would challenge "Up" for first place - it was a forgone conclusion that it would beat out "Hangover" - and it wound up getting waxed by both.

Maybe this was the weekend we needed to show the "A" list stars that we aren't going to throw our money away on crap just because they're in it. This might start a nice trend of moviegoers following the funny instead of a name.

We fell in love with Sandler, Carrell, and Ferrell because of "Billy Madison", "The 40-Year Old Virgin" and "Anchorman" but then they expect us to follow them to "Zohan", "Evan Almighty", and "Land of the Lost"?

I had never even heard Zach Galifianakis speak before this movie, but he totally stole the show. I'm sure he and Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms will go off and each do multiple big budget "blockbusters" that are horrible (Cooper is in offical talks to star in the upcoming "A-Team" remake) and they will get their big paychecks but they need to understand that we will move on to the next genuinely funny people or film.

"The Hangover" was directed by Todd Phillips who directed, "Old School". There's no reason that some combination of Ferrell, and Vince Vaughn, and Owen/Luke Wilson, and Ben Stiller couldn't have done "Hangover" and it would have been just as equally good - but they didn't. They're all off doing awful big budget films that no one cares about but maybe this was just the event needed to make Hollywood realize something we have known all along.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Nature Boy

Well the street lights shine
Down on Blessing Avenue
Lovers they walk by
Holdin' hands two by two
A breeze crosses the porch
Bicycle spokes spin 'round
Jacket's on, I'm out the door
Tonight I'm gonna burn this town down


Despite what I may have led you to believe in the past, I’m not really much of a Great Outdoors type of person.

Shocking, I know.

I used to be. When I was a kid, you couldn’t drag me inside. The only way we knew that it was time to head indoors was when it got too dark to see the baseball – and the only way we knew it had gotten to that point was because someone had most likely gotten hit by a baseball because it was too dark to see it anymore.

I hate playing this card, but I think I sometimes forget how much that stupid stomach disease slowed me down and changed me.

At least back East, I could always use the heat, humidity, and bugs as an excuse to stay inside – and believe me, those all provide a valid defense in that region – but I don’t have that luxury anymore. I know everyone gets tired of me talking about how perfect the weather is out here in Colorado and it’s probably starting to lose some of its effect, so let me put it this way: it’s June and I haven’t turned on my air conditioning yet. Not in the house, not in the car, nothing. Don’t need to.

Again, it’s perfect all the time out here.

So much so that I actually began feeling the inklings of a desire to be outdoors this summer but I didn’t know where to start or what to jump into. I refuse to be a poser that moves into a new area and then starts doing everything that the locals do just to fit in. That’s the reason I didn’t ski this past winter and I wasn’t going to climb a 14er the first week of summer.

(Hey, how’d you like that 14er reference? Dropping a little CO lingo on you there!)

So I thought I would start slow.

Kid's rubber ball smacks
Off the gutter 'neath the lamp light
Big bank clock chimes
Off go the sleepy front porch lights
Downtown the store's alive
As the evening's underway
Things been a little tight
But I know they're gonna turn my way


I have recently found a great church that I’ve been going to and beyond my natural, neurotic instincts, I am actually trying to hang out with new people and be somewhat social.

The young adults group at the church is very active and they are always doing outdoorsy activities. Figuring I could only say “no” so many times before they would shun me, I agreed to go play some Frisbee Golf with the group last weekend.

Again, starting slow.

For those of you not familiar with Frisbee Golf, its like regular golf but instead of swinging a club and hitting a ball down the fairway, you are throwing a Frisbee disc (PS. Microsoft Word keeps capitalizing “Frisbee” on its own every time I type it, so I’m just going to roll with that).

Even though I had never played this kind of golf before, I thought this would be a good way to get outside and socialize a little because I love golf and was an Ultimate Frisbee Hall of Famer back in high school.

Seriously, I was the Lynn Swann of Ultimate Frisbee. I could go up and catch ANYTHING.

But then on the way to the Frisbee Golf course (yes, there’s an actual course just for Frisbee Golf) I had a sickening revelation. There’s no catching in Frisbee Golf, just throwing. And while I may be the Greatest Frisbee Receiver that has ever walked the planet, I can’t throw a Frisbee to save my life. To the point where my Ultimate Frisbee teams wouldn’t ever let me throw the disc during a game – I would just run down to the end zone and catch it.

Not good.

I honestly think that if I had been driving by myself, I would have turned around and never gone to that church again just to avoid the pending embarrassment but unfortunately I was riding with other people. The way I saw it, my options now became either: (A) start throwing up all over the car so that they have would take me back home or (B) suck it up like a man and just get out there and do it.

I decided to suck it up and and once we got to the course and started playing, I continued to suck it up.

I think my first throw went about 10 feet straight and probably 50-60 feet to the left. It only took me a couple of holes to realize that if I just started out by aiming 50-60 feet the right, I could actually get the Frisbee to land straight ahead.

Unbelievable.

The highlight of the afternoon had to be when we saw some coyotes just walking around on the fourth and fifth holes. One guy in the group tried to calm me by saying that if they were going to attack us, they probably would have done it by now.

Oh, good to know.

My only question was if they ever did intend to attack would they send up some sort of warning flare or would it have just been a surprise massacre?

Just life in the Wild West, I guess.

She went away
She cut me like a knife
Had a beautiful thing
Maybe you just saved my life
In just a glance
Down here on Magic Street
Love's a fool's dance
I ain't got much sense but I still got my feet

A couple of days after the Frisbee Golf debacle, one of the guys from the group called me and invited me to go camping with them.Camping?!

Going from Frisbee Golf to Camping is like going from beer league softball straight to the Majors.

I started thinking about it and the last time that I went camping, the last time I slept-in-a-tent-outside-under-the-stars-camping was in 1994 and I was 14 years old. For those of you doing the math at home, that’s 15 years ago.

The Arizona Diamondbacks haven't even been around 15 years.

Reluctantly I agreed and spent the entire week miserable because I was abruptly confronted with how spoiled I had become over the last decade and a half in the Great Indoors.

Here were a couple of things that crept up throughout the week that made me a little nervous about camping:

- I fall asleep every night watching TV and have done so for years. There’s obviously no TV when you’re camping so unless Conan O'Brien brought his act to my tent, would I even be able to sleep or would I just lie there wide awake all night long?

- Over the past couple of years I have developed this fun little nightly ritual where I have to use the restroom two-to-three times throughout the night. What was I going to do in a tent? Would there even be restrooms out there or would I just have to use nature’s restroom?

And probably the biggest concern I had was this:

- I will 100% of the time get a head cold if I fall asleep and there is a bedroom window even barely cracked open. Here I was going to be sleeping OUT IN THE OPEN. I was positive that I would be dead by the morning.

It got to the point where I was about to cancel and not even bother with it, but then it hit me. The main reason why I hate to do new things and get outside of my comfort zone is that I don’t like to fail.

I’ve noticed it at my new job as well. I’m not afraid of getting on the phones and talking to people, I’m afraid of getting on the phones and talking to people and not know an answer. Maybe that's why I've been staying inside for all of these years. It was startling to remember how adventurous I used to be and how soft I have become.

When I really started to think about it, things like my job, or playing Frisbee Golf, or camping are all endeavors I would eventually like to do well; but it's just gonna take time.

When we got up to the campsite this past Friday night, one of the guys showed me how to set up my tent (granted, it was a pop-up tent but as you can see from the picture to the right, I was still pretty proud of myself) and the following morning another guy showed me how to light a campfire. I just wanted to throw a match on a bunch of logs but that’s obviously not the way it works. You have to start with small kindling and then add some medium size wood to keep the fire going and THEN you can add the bigger logs.

From that point on I just let myself be bad at something so that I could eventually get good at it. I was like a third grader in an astrophysics class. No matter how dumb or elementary, I asked every camping question I could think of and no one seemed to mind.

I know that I'm never going to be the ultimate outdoorsman - and I don't necessarily want to be - but I would like to know how to at least properly set up a campsite since it looks like we're going to be in this area a while.

That's realistic... right?

And there's a lot of other things I'd like to try in this lifetime, both indoors and out. Hopefully these recent experiences will give me the motivation to suck at those things for a while until I can figure them out as well.

Can’t wait to see what I get into next.

Let the failing begin.

And the girls in their summer clothes
In the cool of the evening light
The girls in their summer clothes
Pass me by