Friday, October 30, 2009

Random Question

Was the world really clamoring for a 3-D version of "A Christmas Carol?"

A Top 25 Bonus - "Crazy"

Another great song from an album that didn't quite crack the Top 25 - "Crazy," by Gnarls Barkley. In my family we call this our "Hawaii song," because it was in heavy rotation the summer that we took our trip there. often do you get to see Chewbacca playing drums?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

It's Got A Good Beat, And You Can Dance To It

Top 25 of the 2000s, #18 - "Is This It," The Strokes

“Great groove band, end of story--I wish. True grooves extend toward infinity, for one thing; here the beats implode, clashing/resolving with punky brevity and gnarly faux simplicity.”

I’ve always had an odd relationship with “Is This It,” the album that put The Strokes on the map. Obviously, I like it a lot. Every time I play it, I think to myself, “damn, this album is good.” Then I file it away, and like the protagonist in “Memento,” forget everything about it. Even today, if you handed me the list of song titles in random order and started playing the album, I doubt I’d be able to match more than a few of the titles with the correct song.

And that’s why I led off with the Christgau quote that appears above. Because I think he’s right – with The Strokes, I’m not sure the words matter, or even the songs themselves. What matters is the groove, and on “Is This It,” the band manages to sustain that groove over the course of an entire album. They’ve never been able to do that since, and based on what I’ve read in recent articles about their disagreements over the album they’re currently recording, they’re never going to get there again.

It feels like I should say more, but to be perfectly honest, I’m not sure there’s anything more to say. I’d stop short of calling The Strokes a great band, but I would call “Is This It” a great groove album – even if I can’t name a single song (aside from the title track) with confidence. But I promise you, if you throw it in the CD player and turn it up real loud, you’ll have yourself a good time, and you’ll be moving with the music in no time at all.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Muhammad and Larry

I admit it - when I was growing up, I consistently rooted against Muhammad Ali. I think it was because I was a huge Joe Frazier fan. Even at an early age, it aggravated me that Nat Fleischer's Ring Magazine refused to recognize Frazier as the World Heavyweight Champion [when Ali was barred from fighting], until he defeated Ali in the legendary 1971 bout. But what did I know? I was too young to have seen Ali fight, and had seen several key Frazier fights - Quarry, Ellis, Foster, even Bonavena. I was also too young to understand the meaning of Ali, and why he meant so much to so many people.

That would change over time. More has been written about Muhammad Ali than perhaps any other athlete in my lifetime, and over the years I've read well more than my share. And great writers have gravitated to Ali - in The Muhammad Ali reader alone, one can find A.J. Liebling, Tom Wolfe, George Plimpton, Leroi Jones, Norman Mailer, Roger Kahn, Garry Wills, Hunter S. Thompson, Mark Kram, Joyce Carol Oates, and Gay Talese. Today, that should come as no surprise. As an athlete, Ali was a unique combination of charisma, talent and history that has not been matched in my lifetime, and probably has never been matched.

If the story of all great fighters ends in tragedy, then it would make sense that the greatest tragedy of all would involve the greatest fighter of our time. No one dies in "Muhammad and Larry," but it is a tragedy, nonetheless. It tells the story of a fight which should never have taken place - Muhammad Ali vs. Larry Holmes, in the fall of 1980. There have been a lot of fights over the years which should never have taken place. But when your primary subject is Muhammad Ali, the moment of decline represented by the fight brings with it a pain that sears through your soul - a pain that makes you wonder whether all of those people who have written for so many years that boxing is nothing more than savagery are right.

The Sports Illustrated cover shown above is from late September 1980, shortly before the Ali-Holmes fight. SI bought into the illusion, like everyone else did at the time - simply because he was Ali, it was conceivable that the fight could be won. Logic, common sense and simple analysis dictated otherwise, but that didn't stop anyone from hoping. This was Muhammad Ali!

That the story's ending was so obviously pre-determined is what makes "Muhammad and Larry" so painful and sad to watch today. Larry Holmes was an outstanding fighter who, like many fighters of that era, had the misfortune to be practicing his craft at exactly the same time as the most charismatic athlete of the time. Holmes was also a decent man, and not a stupid one. He knew that there was no way he could lose to a 38-year old Muhammad Ali, an Ali who had not fought for over 2 years. Had it been his choice alone, he might not have fought Ali. But at the same time, he had to fight Muhammad Ali, if he was going to make his mark, place his name in the pantheon of great heavyweights. And so fight him he did. And the beating which Ali took that night, no doubt, played a key role in the degeneration that was to come.

It wasn't easy to watch, but so far it has easily been the best of the outstanding "30 for 30" series of films currently running on ESPN.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Report From Cowboys Stadium

Special Stuff Running 'Round My Head correspondent Craig K. reports from his first visit to Cowboys Stadium:

1. I don’t think I have ever been to a sports event where the car traffic flows were so well managed. I played golf before the game and figured we would get there late, leaving the course at 2:15 for a 3:15 game 20 miles away. Was in my seat by 2:55.

2. The Stadium is HUGE! You can see it for miles away and it is this big, gleaming glass structure.

3. The SRO areas are really not too bad, and I would guess there were 10,000 to 15,000 standing in 6 areas.

4. Okay, the key observation is (and I hate to admit it) that this is really a fantastic place to watch a football game. The seats are comfortable, not too squished together. The steepness of the stands makes for great sight lines and makes all seats surprisingly close to the action.

5. I think the best way to think of it is like a double-sized basketball arena. Steep vertically like the newer arenas are and sounds similarly loud when fans get into the game. The roof and sides were closed because of the possibility of thunderstorms, so that may have made it seem more that way than it would if it were open.

6. The video board is absolutely, freaking awesome. I was determined to hate the intrusion of a big TV interrupting my football game, but in fact, after I got over the novelty distraction of it, I came to the conclusion that it simply improved the experience. In this case, the attached picture does this justice. In the photo, looking at the field you can see the Cowboy offense and Falcon defense huddling and if you look toward the Dallas sideline, you can see the kick return team guys leaving the field around the 25 yard line. If you then look to the screen, you can see those same players clearly. After a quarter or so of experimenting with different viewing strategies, here is how I concluded I could maximize the experience. I watch the field at the snap of the ball and if it is a pass play, I keep my eyes there. That way, you can see the whole field and see the receivers coming open, etc. If it is a running play, I switched my eyes up about 10 degrees and watched the big screen. Since the cameras are at the line of scrimmage, it was much easier to follow the runner, rather than from my end zone corner seats. Then, of course, you get the replay afterward and I can’t emphasize this enough, the picture is HD clear and great to watch. And, there are no announcers to distract you. Sometimes, traditional is not actually better and technology can improve things.

7. My only knock on the stadium is that it felt a bit sterile. Maybe it was due to it being closed rather than open, but it felt too clean, too perfect. But, when the place got loud, that feeling did dissipate some.

8. One other weird observation, it is strange they oriented the field east/west. It did bring the sun into play through the end windows (those same windows open like a folding closet door if the weather permits) later in the game. You can see some shadows in the picture on the field through the window at right. I can’t think of a reason not to have oriented it north/south.
(photo by Craig K.)

Jeff now speaking:
I'm going to have to give some thought to #6. There's still something about the whole enterprise that just doesn't feel right to me. But at the same time, when I attend a live sporting events there are plenty of times when I wish could watch a replay. So, maybe I'm just being stubborn because I hate the Cowboys so much. Although I have to admit it's hard to work up much passion about this version, with T.O. gone and all.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Rourke's Amazing Turn in "The Wrestler"

It’s stating the obvious to say that Mickey Rourke is the only actor working today who could have starred in “The Wrestler.” The parallels between the careers of Randy “Ram” Robinson and Rourke are so striking that it’s impossible to imagine anyone else in the role. Those parallels lend the movie its power, a power that it otherwise might not have had. And while I’ve yet to see Sean Penn’s Oscar-winning performance in “Milk,” I find it hard to believe that Penn’s performance was up to the level of Rourke’s.

It’s a cliché, but in this case it’s true – the screen comes alive when Rourke is on it, and in “The Wrestler” he’s in nearly every scene. Darren Aronofsky’s story is far from sentimental; “The Wrestler” feels almost like the polar opposite of “Rocky.” That’s not a criticism of “Rocky,” but just a way to point out that “The Wrestler” is not about feel-good moments. There are small triumphs, but those are few and far between, and are usually followed by failure, frustration, or even humiliation.

There are times when the emotions feel so real that it’s difficult to watch what is unfolding. But whether it’s the violence of the wrestling scenes, the tenderness (and later on, pain) of the scenes with his estranged daughter, or the camaraderie with the fellow wrestlers, it always feels real – this is a person who wants to do better, but at the same time recognizes that maybe he just doesn’t have it in him. And all along, deep down he knows there is but one thing that he does truly well.

Marisa Tomei also deserves major kudos for her role as Cassidy, the stripper who in lesser hands might have nothing more than the “stripper with a heart of gold” cliché. Aronofsky’s script never lets Cassidy descend to that level, and as played by Tomei the character is a perfect counterpart to Rourke’s Robinson.

One can only hope that this isn’t the last we’ll hear of Rourke.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

"It's Hard To Even Take Its Measure"

"The crime you see now, it's hard to even take its measure. It's not that I'm afraid of it. I always knew you had to be willing to die to even do this job. But, I don't want to push my chips forward and go out and meet something I don't understand."

Those lines spoken by Tommy Lee Jones come at the beginning of "No Country for Old Men," and the movie then proceeds to tell a story that proves them to be true.

This was our second Netflix flick, and obviously with this one we were a little late to the party. Just as obviously, there's not much I can say about it that adds to what has already been written. I agree that it's a great movie, but after seeing it once I'd put it a notch below "Fargo." Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin are both as good as everyone said, and Woody Harrelson turns in another strong performance, but it's the performance of Javier Bardem that people are going to remember 50 years from now. His Anton Chigurh makes Hannibal Lecter look like Jerry Lewis, but at the same time, it's not over the top (with the exception of the haircut).

The movie plays like a minimalist painting, almost as if the characters from one of Edward Hopper's late period paintings had come to life. It may not be a "fun" ride, but it's certainly one worth taking.

Top 25 of the 2000s, #19 - "Everything Must Go," Steely Dan

Sometimes with music, timing is everything. And in the summer of 1974, I was ready to have my musical horizons broadened. Up until that point, I had been strictly an AM radio type of guy. Don’t get me wrong – I’ll go to my grave defending that portion of my musical education, because it was the diversity of music and artists that you heard on AM radio in those days that led me down so many different musical paths – classic rock ‘n roll, soul, jazz, punk, new wave, pop, country, reggae, folk... A wise man once said that there are two kinds of music – good music, and the other kind. And that was exactly what you heard on AM radio.

But in the summer of 1974, the sounds of AM radio were beginning to sound monotonous, carrying with them a faint whiff of garbage. For every glorious song like George McCrae’s “Rock Your Baby” and Elton John’s “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” (not to mention his deliciously nasty “The Bitch is Back;” who knew at the time that he was referring to himself!), there was a piece of utter dreck like Paper Lace’s “The Night Chicago Died” – a song that I hesitate to even mention, for fear that I’ll wake up some evening unable to get it out of my mind. It was an era of channel-changing, and in that regard there weren’t a lot of options.

So where does Steely Dan fit into this tale?

That summer, I spent a lot of time at my friend Richard’s house. They had a pool, they had a ping-pong table, and they had a really cool stereo system (at the time, we had a piece of furniture with a Magnavox record player in it). I had just finished the 8th grade, Richard had just finished his sophomore year in high school, and his brother David had just graduated and was preparing to head off to the Air Force Academy. David’s friends also hung around a lot that summer, and we would take turns challenging each other to one-on-one, two-on-one, and two-on-two ping-pong matches.

And all the while, our soundtrack was two albums by Steely Dan. “Can’t Buy A Thrill,” the debut, and “Countdown to Ecstasy,” their sophomore effort. Their masterpiece, “Pretzel Logic,” had just been released, but no one had bought that one yet. And when I say that our soundtrack was Steely Dan, I mean that was pretty much all we listened to, all summer long. The rest of the guys hated Elton John, so even though I had just forked out the dough (not insignificant at the time) to buy “Honky Chateau” and “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” I had to listen to those at my house.

Of course, I had heard Steely Dan before that. “Do It Again” and “Reeling in the Years” were both big AM radio hits, and a new song – the magnificent “Rikki, Don’t Lose That Number” – was just beginning to hit the airwaves that June. But at the time, that was literally the extent of my exposure to the band. So songs like “Bodhisattva,” “Razor Boy,” “My Old School,” “Dirty Work,” “Fire in the Hole,” and “Changing of the Guard” sounded like the greatest thing since sliced bread. And they opened up for me a whole new world, one that could be found only on FM radio. And while I would remain a fan of much of what I heard on the AM side of the dial, I would never go completely back.

Sometimes with music, timing is everything.

Flash forward to the late spring of 2003, literally a lifetime away from that long-ago summer. Steely Dan is back, although looking little like the band that hit a 14-year old boy’s psyche by storm two decades earlier. The tale of how Steely Dan evolved in the latter part of the 1970s is not a tale that needs to be told here. Suffice to say that after 1980’s “Gaucho,” Donald Fagen and Walter Becker decided to close up shop, and go their own ways. Fagen recorded infrequently, Becker less than that. They did some Steely Dan concerts in the mid-1990s, started up a Web site, and engaged in a hilarious (and ultimately successful) campaign to get themselves inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And then, just after the turn of the century, they released an album, “Two Against Nature.” It was great, and sounded like they literally had picked up right where they left off.

Three years later, they released “Everything Must Go.” According to Wikipedia, it has been the least successful Steely Dan album ever released, the only one which has failed to be certified gold. It didn’t get very good reviews; in fact, Robert Christgau, a long-time admirer (and one who gave the previous album an “A”), hated it, saying “Dying in Stereo, nothing left to say.” And that is the entire review!

So naturally, I think it’s great; good enough to select it as #19 on my list of the Top 25 albums of the decade.

On first listen, I’m not sure I thought the album was that strong – in fact, I’m sure that I didn’t. But one thing I quickly became certain about was the album’s final song – the title track. And that’s where the timing thing comes in. At the time, I was working in the Governmental Affairs office for the California State University system; in fact, close to beginning what would turn out to be my 13th and final year there. A week or so before the album was released, the results of a state audit of the University was released. I’ll spare everyone the gory details because they don’t really matter, but suffice to say it was a very bad audit, and one that made the University look very bad. And it quickly became topic #1 in the state Legislature, and it’s probably fair to say that we pretty much got our asses kicked for the remainder of that entire legislative session – which didn’t end until mid-September.

Given everything that was going on at the time, it was only natural that I’d gravitate towards the lyrics of “Everything Must Go:”

It's high time for a walk on the real side
Let's admit the bastards beat us
I move to dissolve the corporation
In a pool of margaritas
So let's switch off all the lights
And light up all the Luckies
Crankin' up the afterglow
'Cause we're goin' out of business
Everything must go

Talk about your major pain and suffering
Now our self-esteem is shattered
Show the world our mighty hidey-ho face
As we go sliding down the ladder
It was sweet up at the top
'Til that ill wind started blowing
Now it's cozy down below
'Cause we're goin' out of business
Everything must go

And let me tell you – that is exactly how we were feeling at that moment. So this song, and this album, was exactly what I needed to hear.

Listening to all of it again, I can see why some thought it was nothing more than an exercise in pop – something that Becker and Fagen could pull off in their sleep. But hey, what can I say – sometimes, an album just clicks for you, and you can’t explain it. All I know is that I really, really liked it – “Green Book,” “Pixeleen,” “Lunch with Gina,” even the first-ever Becker vocal on a Dan album, “Slang of Ages.”

And as I said before – sometimes with music, timing is everything.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

One of the long list of thngs that irks me

When college football writers characterize a loss by USC to another Pac-10 team as a "mystifying loss." It's there again, in Andy Staples' Top 25 on SI.Com.

If Florida or Alabama were to lose to another team in the SEC, it would become proof of the SEC's dominance. Yet, when a Pac-10 team beats USC, it becomes "mystifying."

Maybe, just maybe, the Pac-10 is pretty good, and the teams are actually good enough to beat USC every so often?

Perfect Pop Songs: "Linger"

This is one of those "perfect pop songs" that always brightens my day when I hear it on the radio. Which is the only place I hear it, because I don't own anything by The Cranberries.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Top 25 of the 2000s Special

I'm going to try and feature some of my favorite songs from the past decade that are on albums that won't make the Top 25 list. Kicking the party off today is Elvis Costello, with "When I Was Cruel No. 2."

Sunday, October 18, 2009

"The Athletes of God"

"Dancers are the athletes of God." - Albert Einstein

Last night we saw the first show of what, if memory serves, is the 22nd year of being season subscribers to the Sacramento Ballet. For the first time, the season kicked off with a choreography competition, and also for the first time, a program was held at Sacramento's historic Crest Theater.

It was a great show, but what made it particularly memorable was that we had seats in the front row. The stage was 12 feet in front of us, and on a couple of occasions, the choreographers made great use of the facility by having the dancers jump onto stage from the front, or use the front as a "prop" at various stages of the dances. On those occasions, the dancers were so close that I would reflexively pull my feet back, for fear that I was going to trip them.

We have good seats when we see the company at the Sacramento Community Theatre, but seeing them "up close and personal" was a revelation. Hearing them breathe, seeing the perspiration fly off of them, and seeing the expressions on their faces as they were performing added a dimension to the performance that I've never really felt before. The fact that each choreographer had only six days to work with the company made the program all the more impressive. I'm no expert, but if there were any flaws in the performances, I sure couldn't see them.

The Crest only sits 975, and even with that the show was not sold out, which is a shame. The company had to cancel most of its season last year because of financial issues, and I hope we're not going to see a repeat of that disappointment. Because this was a terrific change of pace, and a terrific show.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

It's the Not Knowing That Will Get You

Any kid who grew up in Northern California in the late 1960s is going to remember the Zodiac killings. I was one of those kids, and can attest that there was something about them that was absolutely terrifying. The Manson Family murders were bad enough, but at least they caught the Manson Family. But when you're nine years old, and you're trying to go to sleep on a hot summer night with your window open, and you just know there's this crazy killer out there...well, that makes quite an impression.

The sections of Zodiac which depict the killings convey that terror with stunning clarity. There's no gore to speak of, and you know what's going to happen, but the sense of dread - the sense of why is this happening - is so stark, and so stunning that it threatens to overwhelm the entire film. It's a testament to director David Fincher that the film never flags, never lets up. The sense of mystery - the need to reach closure, as elusive as it may be - fuels the film, and makes everything that happens throughout riveting.

The actors and performances are uniformly outstanding - Jake Gyllenhall as the cartoonist who takes it upon himself to bring closure to the case and turns his quest into an obsession, Robert Downey Jr. as the dissolute but dedicated reporter who becomes Zodiac's pen-pal, Mark Ruffalo and Anthony Edwards as the detectives who are ultimately defeated by the case, and John Carroll Lynch as a Zodiac suspect.

But in the end, it's the sense of mystery, the obsession, and the terror that drive the movie, and make it work.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I've Figured Out the MNF Crew

I've put my finger on what I can't stand about the current Monday Night Football announcing crew.


I can understand yelling on an amazing play - like Gus Johnson having kittens when Denver pulled off that miracle win against Cincinnati in Week 1. Or Cal's Joe Starkey with his legendary call of the Stanford band play. But my God, these guys are yelling on every single play!

Contrast what you hear on a typical Monday night with Pat Summerall's call of the 49ers' first touchdown against Chicago in the 1988 NFC Championship Game (you'll have to fast-forward to 7:30 if you're in a hurry). Listen to how calm Summerall is - just a hint of urgency in his voice, and letting the play speak for itself.

Now, imagine what you'd hear if a play like that occurred during a Monday night game.

And I'm pretty sure it's Jon Gruden's fault. Someone needs to tell Jon that he's no longer out on the field, and with that microphone right in front of him, we can hear him just fine. But he's always so loud, Jaworski and Tirico end up having to yell, just to be heard above the din. And I know Tirico can call sports in a normal voice - he does golf, for crying out loud.

So - producers of MNF - consider this a plea to turn down the sound!

Thank you very much.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Top 25 Albums of the 2000s, #20 - "Back to Me," Kathleen Edwards

One of the things I’ve most enjoyed about compiling this list has been the opportunity to go back and refresh my memory about albums that had fallen out of the regular rotation. What I’ve come to learn is that my lasting impression of an album is often based on the strength of just a handful of songs. What I’ve tried to do – and believe me, it’s a lot harder than it sounds – is to avoid “overrating” an album just because it happens to have three or four awesome songs on it.

[As an aside, some brief comments on the concept of “overrated.” It’s a loaded term and a surefire argument starter, because when someone hears someone else referring to their favorite album as “overrated,” they usually interpret that as meaning “that album sucks.” That’s not what I mean when I use the term. For example, I think the most overrated album in rock history is Sgt. Pepper. That doesn’t mean I think it’s a bad album; I don’t. It’s a very good album with a handful of classic cuts. But every critics poll in memory has chosen it as the greatest album of the rock era, and I think that’s silly, because to my ears it’s only the fourth or fifth best Beatles album. Hence, “overrated.”]

You’re probably wondering by now what any of this has to do with Kathleen Edwards, but I told the story to illustrate how difficult it was deciding which of her albums would make this list. As recently as last year I wrote that I thought Asking for Flowers was her best album, but after taking the time to listen to both back-to-back I’ve reached the conclusion that, based on its consistency, Back to Me gets the nod. In the end it’s somewhat of a pointless debate, because Asking for Flowers would probably rank somewhere between 26-35, if I took the time to extend the list a bit.

The first time I heard Back to Me was on a listening station at a Borders in Santa Cruz, thinking that for once I was going to be able to leave the store without buying something (we were only there to kill a little time before going to a movie). But it didn’t quite work out that way. I put on the first song, “In State,” and thought to myself, “Hmm…this is pretty good.” Fast-forwarding on to the second song, “Back to Me,” I thought, “wow…this is really good.” And, so on from there. If I had to describe her music, I’d peg it as country rock with a bit of pop and folk thrown in, although that hardly does it justice. Think of Rosanne Cash circa 1985 (or maybe even Patty Griffin, on some tunes), and you get the idea. On songs like “Pink Emerson Radio” and “Away,” the accompaniment is spare and acoustic. Songs like “Summerlong” and “Copied Keys” have a great pop sheen, while songs like the aforementioned “In State” and “Back to Me” are flat-out rockers.

What they all have in common is a finely realized sense of detail, perhaps epitomized by the lyrics to “Pink Emerson Radio”:

Painted over the walls
the saddest color of blue
posters covered in glass
favorite curbside grab
red Valentine's card
stuck on the mirror to keep
record player made of tubes
spinning Tommy by The Who

There's no time to waste
There's no time to wait

Keys on the hook by the door
for the truck sold years ago
standing guitars in the case
filling up closet space
vintage 40's wardrobe pink Emerson radio

old lace dress I bought in the store
motorcycle boots on the floor

From start to finish, Back to Me is a winner. #20 in my list of the Top 25 albums of the decade.

A Monday Kind of Song

"Hate Me," by Blue October. This song came out in 2006, but it never registered much with me - in fact, I don't remember hearing it that often. For whatever reason, it now seems to be in heavy rotation on a couple of the local radio stations, and every time I hear it, it sticks in my mind for the entire day. I'm not even sure what it's about, but I'm willing to hazard a guess that it's not a happy song. Thereby, making it a Monday kind of song.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

If You're Gonna Survive Zombies, You've Got to Nut Up or Shut Up

Zombieland is the latest entry in the unlikely "zombie comedy" genre, and while it may not be quite as good as Shaun of the Dead (to my knowledge, the only other entry in the genre), it definitely has its moments.

Aside from the zombies (who differ from any other zombies that I've seen, in that they are really, really fast), there are only four characters in the movie with significant screen time. As Columbus (no names, just hometowns), Jesse Eisenberg looks exactly like the kind of geeky kid who would create a running list of rules to deal with zombies (up to 32 at last count), while Emma Stone (Wichita) and Abigail Breslin (Little Rock) acquit themselves well as sisters who continue to run cons in Zombieland just like they did in the good ol' USA. But the real star of the show, in a great performance, is Woody Harrelson as Tallahassee. All he really wants is to find a twinkie (as he says, "pretty soon lifes little twinkie gauge is gonna go empty"), and kill him some zombies.

The plot, such as it is, isn't much. It's essentially a road film, where the protagonists learn a bit about each other, and try to survive in an inhospitable world where most of those left just want to rip your intestines out and eat them. But the jokes are good, and as you may have heard, there's a great cameo featuring a big, big comedy star that is worth the price of admission all by itself.

So if you only have time to see one zombie comedy this fall, by all means - make it Zombieland.

Catching Up

Last week was a long week, featuring some travel down to Anaheim. Even though there was plenty of stuff running round my head, it was hard to focus long enough to get any of it down. At this point, I've probably forgotten half of the posts that I was planning for the week, but I'm going to give it a try.

LeGarrette Blount. Blount, as you may recall, is the Oregon running back who was suspended for the season when he cold-cocked a Boise State player following the Ducks' opening night loss to the Broncos. Now Oregon is talking about reinstating Blount sometime in November, leading to some healthy skepticism with the coaching staff and athletic department. Sure, now that it looks as if we might have a shot at BCS glory after all, let's bring him back. I'm a cynical guy, but I'm not quite that cynical. The seeming indecision does prove that Oregon was a little hasty in its reaction after the brouhaha. I believe I'm on record as stating that a 4-game suspension was in order, and now Oregon probably wishes they'd thought it through a little more carefully. Suspend him for a month, set some goals, and then reinstate him. Now, no matter what they do, they look like they don't know what they're doing.

Jeff Tedford. Sure, Cal's losses to Oregon and USC were incredibly disappointing. But the calls for Jeff Tedford's head are just ridiculous. Hello folks, anyone remember the Tom Holmoe era? Those years when being competitive into the second half counted as a moral victory? That year when the Bears had to win their last game just to go 1-10? C'mon folks, give him a break. Even if Cal were to somehow miss out on a bowl game this season, Tedford deserves the benefit of the doubt and another season.

Brett Favre. Things are going very well right now for Brett and the Vikings. Check back again in December, and we'll talk.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Random Comment

Right now on, there is an column titled "Titans may be best 0-4 team ever."

I wasn't aware they gave out an award for that.

Monday, October 05, 2009

No Doubt About It... one does hype quite like ESPN. Watching the last half-hour or so of pre-game coverage, one would be hard pressed not to reach the conclusion that the game about to commence is the single greatest and most significant event in the history of competitive sports.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

They're Taunting Me, I Tell You

After last night's game, THIS is what I find on the front page of the paper?

Hardly seems fair.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Memo to ESPN

A great Brett Favre pass to win a game in Week 3 does not equate to "legendary victory."

Friday, October 02, 2009

Eagles Stomp the Herd

Pleasant Grove 24, Elk Grove 10. As their signs said, they may have been here first...but now they're worst. As in the worst high school football team in Elk Grove. Just a few short years ago, such a statement wouldn't have seemed possible. But times change, and high school football is no exception.

This shot is of "the flock," and they need to work on their game - and they could start by actually watching the game.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Do We Really Need This Information?

During the lunch hour, I trekked to the Target Store that is closest to our office building and bought enough Halloween candy to keep my office candy dish filled up for the month of October. Looking at the packs of minis, I see that they now have detailed nutritional information on the bags, including handy little drawings that allow the consumer to easily determine the amount of calories he/she is consuming when he/she throws that little Three Musketeers bar into his/her mouth.

I suppose this is all well and good, but I have to wonder - can't we just stipulate that some things are not good for you, but that we're going to eat those things anyway? Is that nutritional information really going to help me in the decision-making process on whether to stop at two, or say to heck with it, I'm going with three Twix bars today?

It won't help me, that's for sure. And just for the record, I did not eat three Twix bars today.

Thought for the Day

Courtesy of George Carlin:

"I'm not a person who thinks he can have it all, but I certainly feel that with a bit of effort and guile I should be able to have more than my fair share."