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Monday, November 30, 2009

Tiptoes

Tiptoes, starring Matthew McConaughey and Gary Oldman, screened at the Deauville Film Festival in late 2003 and went straight to DVD in mid-2004. The trailer (which may or may not have been edited by Tommy Wiseau) caught a lot of attention last spring, but I was watching it again the other day and thought I'd post it for those who have yet to see it. I also recently learned how to screengrab and wanted to give that a go.



The trailer for Tiptoes speaks for itself, and but there was a YouTube comment worth noting.

Someone pointed out the people walking backwards at 1:44. That sort of epitomizes the trailer for me.

If you missed A Simple Man, consider this the next best thing. Mazel tov!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Untitled SAL LUPO Project trailer

By James



Sal Lupo is a New York City cab driver and an aspiring filmmaker. Here's the trailer for his upcoming film. It's a work in progress but we wish Sal the best and can't wait to see his stuff on the big screen!

Neverland Ranch Liquidation Sale!

By Rob

In an article on Guardian UK, Chris Campion writes: "The contents of Neverland are officially up for auction"

This article is around 1,000 words and I'd suggest reading it if you have the same perverse curiosity in Michael Jackson's estate as I do. At the very least you should check out the highlights:

"In April, an extraordinary auction will provide an unprecedented look into the private world of Michael Jackson. More than 2,000 items, ranging from personal effects and costumes to pieces from Jackson's private art collection as well as fittings and furnishings from his Neverland ranch, will be up for sale at a four-day public auction at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Los Angeles.

...This new auction seems to mark Jackson's severance from Neverland, his Xanadu and a symbol of his success as well as his largesse. The ranch opened as a private amusement park in 1988, with its own zoo and Ferris wheel, roller coaster and bumper cars. It was named after Peter Pan's fantasy island where children never grow up, and for years children would arrive by the busload, invited to play freely in its grounds. But following the 2005 child molestation trial - which saw Jackson acquitted of all charges - the singer never returned to the 2,800-acre property in the Santa Ynez Valley, 130 miles west of Los Angeles. There were stories of him pitching up in Dubai, Dublin and Las Vegas before he started renting a seven-bedroom mansion in Bel-Air, Los Angeles, earlier this year. The 50-year-old star was said to be defaulting on payments on vast loans, and while he is thought to retain an interest in Neverland through his involvement with a private investment company, Colony Capital, he has said that the police investigation of the premises "violated" it in his eyes.

...Before it was recently renamed Sycamore Valley Ranch, and at Jackson's request, Darren Julien and his team were brought in to scrutinise the ranch. What they found inside was the most astonishing collection of objects these experienced auctioneers said they had ever seen in a celebrity home. "It seemed as if everything he owned was made of bronze and marble and gold," says Michael Doyle, who catalogued the sale items, as well as determining their value.'"

Does he still own the rights to a significant portion of the Beatles catalog? I couldn't find any recent articles on the status of the catalog -- at least not from credible sources. Anyone?...

Anyway, it should come as no surprise that Neverland is full of some of the most "extravagant" or... "fucking crazy" stuff you'll ever see. Of the 29 items that Chris Campion takes a look at, here are my top 3 favorite:

#1. A portrait of Michael Jackson dressed as a king, oil on canvas, signed and dated 1995 and housed in an elaborate gold frame. Guide price $4,000-$6,000

#2. An electric cart featuring an image of Jackson as Peter Pan on the bonnet and Peter Pan cushions. Guide price $4,000-$6,000

#3. A painting on stretched canvas featuring iconic figures such as Abraham Lincoln and Albert Einstein wearing Jackson's trademark sunglasses and glove. Guide price $1,000-$2,000


You can see the rest here.

King James for a season or C-Webb for 15?

By Rob

In my most recent post, I embedded a video: NBA TV's Top 10 Plays of Chris Webber's Career

Overall it was OK. I really liked #3 and I LOVED #2, but the rest was surprisingly underwhelming. It got me thinking about some of the other Top 10's I've seen on NBA TV and, well... I think Lebron James' Top 10 Plays of 2007 is cooler than C-Webb's Career Top 10 Plays.

Now let me establish a couple things:
1). I don't believe that NBA TV actually showed the top 10 plays of C-Webb's career. A few of the bottom 5 were on par with a half court buzzer beater to end the first half of a regular season game (a little wordy but I think you get it) and I can't fathom them being among the best plays of his career. C-Webb played in 831 games over 15 seasons.. c'mon, NBA TV! Dig a little deeper into the archives.
2). It's likely that NBA TV has compiled a more impressive single-season Top 10 for an individual player than the one for Lebron in 2007.

That being said, have a look at Lebron's '07 highlight reel:



LBJ's dunk in the Eastern Conference finals is nasty... Click here to check out C-Webb's highlight reel.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Is C-Webb Hall of Fame bound?

By Rob

NOTE: All statistics were recovered using basketball-reference.com. Statistics are accurate as of Feb. 16, 2009. Certain statistical categories were not kept track of until later into the game's history.

Is Chris Webber a Hall of Famer? It's hard to say. Webber was drafted first overall in the 1993 NBA draft, voted the 93-94 Rookie of the Year, and made the All-Rookie first team. In 14 seasons that would follow (13 seasons if you choose not to count the 9 games he played in 07-08 season before calling it quits), Webber would make 5 All-NBA teams and play in 5 All-Star Games.



I can't think of a player who presents a HOF case as interesting as C-Webbs' -- it's teetering on the edge.

The Pros:
He averaged 20-10 (20.7 points, 9.8 rebounds to be exact) over his career -- a feat achieved by few (see below). Career averages of 1+ blocks and 1+ steals per game aren't as unheard of (C-Webb averaged 1.4 in both categories) but to do so in addition to 20-10? That's incredibly rare. (see slightly further below)

The Cons:
Before you begin to talk about if/how he performed in the clutch or what his post-season play was like (he's mssing some jewelry), there's another, more prevailing hurdle to be faced. I think Webber personifies the NBA superstar transitioning from the 90s to the 2000s. Not because he played roughly the first half of his career in the 90s and the latter half in the new millenium (although that is a cute touch) but because he was a very unique kind of supertstar -- at least statisically speaking. He wasn't quite a traditional 90s PF (like Malone, Sir Charles, David Robinson, etc.) nor was he the jack of all trade's SF/PF/C we're accustomed to today (KG, Shawn Marion, Lebron, etc.). He was in an "in-betweener".

He averaged 20-10 but he was never an overwhelming force on the boards or a big-time shot blocker (although his game appeared to be headed in that direction in the strike-shortened 98-99 season). He averaged 4 assists, 1 steal and 1 block per game but he shot just 65% from the foul line. He's not an easy guy to label, and I think that hurts him more than almost anything else.

Well, I'll leave the rest to you. I don't want to look too closely at his post-season play, or how he performed in the clutch, because I don't think that's what people associate C-Webb with. Sacramento's championship aspirations were dashed more than once by some unbelievable L.A. teams (most notably when the Kings fell to LA in Game 7 of the 2002 Western Conference finals) but I don't know if the voters think about the [very] GOOD teams you were on or the times you ALMOST made it... He wasn't a NBA champion and he's better remembered for calling a time out at the end of the NCAA championship game than for any positive clutch moments as a pro. His best bet for enshrinement are his numbers.

...Click here to read the rest of Rob's post

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

What's "G"?... Wait, what's a "Jabbawockee"?

By Rob

I'm sure by now everyone who owns a TV is familiar with the recent Gatorade ad campaign, "What's G?" It's simple, mildly clever and seemingly effective.



The format is simple. Lil' Wayne narrates as the camera scrolls past athletes shot in black-and-white, from the waist up, before eventually landing on the "G" logo. There are a few versions of the commercial, starring different athletes, and some are stronger (in terms of featured talent) than others.

There's a great streak of cool athletes in this particular ad, and I don't know if it can be beat. In order, we see the following:

Derek Jeter: "Mr. November"; captain of the New York Yankees; perhaps one of the most recognizable athletes the sport of baseball has ever had... Jeter has 4 well-deserved World Series rings and is, with 9 All-Star games, a clear fan favorite. He's a Hall of Famer. Nice pick, Gatorade. Let's move on...

Bill Russell: Synonomous with the word "champion." In a 13-year career, Russell was an 11-time NBA Champion, 5-time NBA MVP, 12-time NBA All-Star, the first African-American NBA coach (2 NBA championships as a player-coach), and more... He won two NCAA championsips at San Francisco and a gold medal in the 1956 Olympics. He's a pro and college Hall of Famer. I never grow tired of seeing the big guy donning a big smile. Thanks, G.

Muhammad Ali: "The Greatest"... "The Champ"... Ali was a 3-time heavyweight champion of the world, a gold medal winner in the 1960 Olympics, and was named Sports Illustrated's "Sportsman of the Century". When you talk about recognition in sports, there's Ali and Jordan, and then there's everybody else. Bill Russell then Ali? Is this a dream? Where can I buy whatever it is you're selling? Is this enough? (dumps out wallet)

Chaz Ortiz: He's a push. Yes, he's the skateboarding prodigy (at age 14 he's the youngest person to ever win a pro contest) but where was, say, Tony Hawk or Shaun White? Too expensive? Locked up with another drink/soda? Well, admittedly, it's nice to have "the future" represented.

So OK guys, that's the commercial. Pretty neat, right? My next post will be--

Wait, what?...

There's someone else?...

The what? ...Who are the Jabbawockeez?...

A dance troupe?! Wasn't Muhammad Ali like right before them? But.. he beat up people for a living...

What is Gatorade trying to do by putting them in this? What new market are they trying to crack? Derek Jeter is a respected athlete and has dated most of the Maxim Hot 100 list. Bill Russell was one of the greatest athletes of the past century. Ali is Ali. And sure, Ortiz was questionable but he's like the next Tony Hawk. These are rising talents, true sportsmen, icons... What do the Jabbawockeez bring to the table? How very, very strange

Movie Links!

By Rob

Two cool links coming from Heath McKnight at ScreenRant.com

DreamWorks Dumps Universal For Disney

It’s official: DreamWorks has entered into an exclusive distribution deal with Disney, while leaving its deal with Universal in the dust. All of this was tied to the $250 million DreamWorks needed to keep their deal with an Indian entertainment company alive.
How Is The Economy Affecting Movie Studios?

With things looking bad worldwide economically, why are movie studios hurting even though box office, TV ratings and DVD rentals are all up? Why is the big DreamWorks/Bollywood deal about to go south? With ratings up, why are networks still hurting for money? And finally, why are DVD sales being affected (aside from Netflix cannibalizing them)?


I like what they're doing with their site.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Jimmy Kimmel on Gawker.com

By Rob

The video is very old (it was posted on YouTube in April 2007) but the faces made by Emily Gould, editor of Gawker.com, transcend time and space. I hate the paparazzi as much as anyone, but I'd be consider boycotting Google if this lady was representing it.



She looks genuinely surprised by every remark made contrary to Gawker. I'm interested to know what her expectations were prior to going on the show. Didn't Gawker have anyone else they could have sent? Even if the only other person working on the site is this guy, I'd take my chances with him over her any day.

Monday, February 2, 2009

O Brother, Where Art Thou?

By Chris Larsen

Many of you know the story of Jesus and his affair with Mary. Many of you also can count to three, but this is not in its own unusual or special. But, I'm willing to bet you don't know the true story of Jesus' brother, Calliope. Of course you know that he was his half brother from God's first marriage, and that he was an inn keeper (magician) in Bethlehem. What you probably didn't know is that Calliope is Greek for beautiful voice, and is also a female name. How rotten of God to spite his first born like this, how embarrassed he must have been when everyone found out he was named after a vaginal species. Jesus is known for his wonderful powers, he could make the blind see, he could turn a rock into a pet rock. Unfortunately, this wasn't Jesus doing all of this, it was in fact, Calliope! He was the worlds premiere magician, doing three shows a night on the B-town strip. Calliope was so kind too. He would help out the poor all the time by throwing them from a 500 foot cliff. Wait, that's mean. No, there was a pretend magic coin at the bottom, and if the poor soul (literally) made it to the bottom alive (nobody ever did), they could keep the coin (that was a pretend magic coin).

He trusted everybody, believing that everyone was pure at heart, except his father whom he decided to get even with by emancipating himself at 4. This was ugly for a few years, he had no money and God refused to pay alimony (they were never "legally" married, but Calliope swore to his death bed God had asked). In order to make enough to pay off the bears and to buy food, he was forced to do magic on the street corners. Some days he ate a muffin, other days (he ate nothing...didn't want to say, but I had to, its tough to think about). 10 percent of the time somebody would rob him, 100 percent of the time this was Jesus. This worried Calliope, for he was beginning to see Jesus go down a path that would lead to a CROSSroads (that's an inside joke, you probably won't get it, I do however). He decided to take Jesus under his wing, to nurture him, feed him the first Gerber baby foods. Carrot, that was his favorite, but he could only get it once in a while, it was a treat, and he so badly needed the discipline.

Calliope decided to enroll him into the prestigious School of Jesus, named after a different Jesus that might have been Spanish. Too bad. So sad. It wasn't two minutes before Jesus was expelled from school for mutilating a small dwarf child. And when I say mutilate, I mean he ripped of his little pieces and hung them from a telephone wire like the lil' shoes in the "ghetto". How could they possibly have telephones back then Chris, George Washington didn't invent it yet. Well small adults, Washington didn't even invent it, and I never said they had telephones. They just needed to put the town employees to work so they made them make polls with wire connecting them. Anyways, Jesus was now beginning to prove himself a major problem to Calliope. He couldn't possibly keep both Jesus and his magic career, thus resulting in the most difficult decision in his life (he lived to age 14). Well, obviously Calliope decided to kill Jesus and hang him from a cross because of his severe allergic reaction to crosses. Jerk.

But please, before you judge him, realize that magic was really cool and just beginning, and Jesus always took credit for everything Calliope did, making him famous and Calliope a dud. In the end, Calliope became the greatest magician of his time. He could make people blind by gauging out their eyeballs, the likes of which had never before been seen. At age 10, he wrote a book titled, My Life: The Calliope Christ Story and assorted candies. At 12, he developed severe finger cuts, and at age 13, he died of old age. Calliope Christ, dead at 13 (he never made it to 14 like I previously stated. I was simply hoping for some updated information that would confirm my long held belief that he was actually older than he stated on his birth certificate, which had long thought to be a fake copy).

Chris Larsen is a beat writer for TWOTF
He has a dog, some fish, and a book of poems

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Cahiers du Cinema

By Luke
Cahiers du Cinema is the famous French film magazine that back in the 60's launched the careers of critics-turned-directors Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard. While it's reputation isn't quite as lofty today as it once was, I assume it's still an interesting place for film criticism (not that I can find English translations of their articles anywhere on the internets).

Anyway, Cahiers has made their top 10 of 2008:

1. Redacted (DePalma)
2. Colossal Youth (Costa)
3. Cloverfield (Reeves)
4. No Country for Old Men (Coens)
5. Two Lovers (Gray)
6. Waltz with Bashir (Folman)
7. Dernier Maquis (Ameur-Zaimeche)
8. Hunger (McQueen)
9. A Short Film about the Indio Nacional (Martin)
10. On War (Bonello)

It's an interesting departure from the usual top 10 lists we see, and it raises some interesting questions. First of all, "Redacted"? I haven't seen it, but that's because it got almost universally brutal reviews. To provide a little context, Cahiers favors specific directors like no other. "Mission to Mars" was their #4 of 2000, "Snake Eyes" was their #9 of 1998, "Mission Impossible" was their #7 of 1997, and "Carlito's Way" was their #1 of the 1990's! I wonder if even DePalma thinks those recent efforts were worth such high rankings. Somewhere, Armond White is smiling.

One of the major criticisms of "Redacted" in America was the bad acting, and I wonder if a French audience is less inclined to care about the performances in an English speaking movie. It's also interesting to see "Cloverfield" at #3, since from what I know of "Redacted," the two movies use similar "handheld" techniques, exploring the possibility that characters within the film are shooting the action. I doubt even "Cloverfield"'s biggest supporters in the US would make a case for it being a "greater" movie than "No Country for Old Men," but it's an interesting juxtaposition.

Candid photo of a French audience as they watch Brian DePalma take a dump.

The recently announced Oscar nominations have shown, at least to me, that the US hasn't quite figured out what the "best" movies of a given year are; they favor Hollywood-produced prestige dramas ("The Reader," "Frost/Nixon," "Benjamin Button") over more interesting, innovative movies. Why are we so quick to dismiss a movie like "Cloverfield"? I would have found that a much more satisfying Best Picture nominee. And are there other ways of seeing movies that Americans can't grasp, hence the love for "Redacted" and "Lady in the Water" (another recent Cahiers favorite). I want to live in a world where film criticism isn't in such lockstep, where top 10 lists aren't just the last 10 movies those critics saw in December. I don't know whether or not I'll like "Redacted," but I applaud Cahiers for finding a way into that movie and for being willing to put it at the top.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Secret of the Grain/Rachel Getting Married

By Luke

If you haven't heard of "The Secret of the Grain," you are part of 99% of America. Despite New York Times critic A.O. Scott calling it one of the best movies of the year and it winning the Cesar Award for Best Film (France's equivalent of the Oscars), it was only released in New York and Los Angeles (one theater in each city) and as far as I can tell will never get any further.

This is really a shame because "Grain" is a completely involving movie, full of intense human drama. Slimane is the elderly patriarch of a large Franco-Arabic family, torn between the wife and children (and grandchildren) he left after thirty-five years and the woman and her daughter he lives with now. To make matters worse, Slimane is being laid off from his job, a victim of modernization and, he suspects, some bias against his culture. However, all the characters have their own personal story lines, and "Grain" weaves in and out of lives young and old, male and female, never losing an acute eye for detail. Some of the conflicts are trivial (the 2 year-old won't stop using diapers), some are tragic (Slimane's ex-wife enables one of her sons to cheat on his Russian wife), but all of the characters share an awareness of their imperfections and a desire to improve their lives. "Grain" is not just a "French" movie or an "art" movie. It's not going to do "Dark Knight" or even "Milk" box office, but the way it's been buried is a travesty. All you have to do is have a pulse to relate to these characters and be drawn into their lives, and "Grain" never loses its firm grasp on the drama of the everyday.

Conversely, "Rachel Getting Married," which has been fairly popular in the US and netted Anne Hathaway a Best Actress Oscar nomination, struck me as fake and overdone. While Jonathan Demme's portrait of two families getting together for a wedding has some wonderful moments, they are overshadowed by screenwriter Jenny Lumet's need to push the Hollywood cliche of the proverbial "fuck-up" (played by Hathaway) in our faces. She has huge screaming matches with her family, then feels unwanted, makes hateful toasts at the dinner table (a classic movie device that was recently satirized in "A Christmas Tale"), then gets drunk and drives a car into a tree. In "Rachel"'s most contrived scene, a joyous full-family gathering in the kitchen suddenly goes south when Rachel's dad sees a plate drawn by his dead son. The whole movie feels manufactured to make us "feel" what family life is really like, but it's overloaded with so much melodrama (and one movie star acting like "one of us" with Oscar dreams firmly planted in her brain) that it feels removed from anything "true."

"Rachel"'s success concerns me because it's been treated as one of the great movies of the year, which is reflective of what passes for artful drama these days. People, spend some time with "The Secret of the Grain," bask in the wonderful, lifelike performances, and tell me why it can't make a blip in theaters.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Lane Kiffin's Remarkable Rise to the Top

By Rob

2007-2008 NBA Rookie of the Year Kevin Durant won every award imaginable as a freshman at Texas, signed a Nike deal in 2007, has a salary of $4,484,040 for the 2008-2009 season and, at 20 years old, is something like 4-6 months younger than me. As for myself... I know someone who wears Nikes; I know that 4,484,040 is a number; and I like to watch basketball when I'm not doing homework or at my part-time job.

I now know what it's like to watch someone who's younger than you make a fortune and re-write the record books. But this is expected of athletes. It's inevitable. The next batch of great athletes are breaching 'greatness' far sooner than the 'greatest' did. Coaching, however, is fairly static. Yes, there are more coaching changes now than there were in the distant past, but the long and somewhat tedious climb up the coaching ladder has been an established expectation for some time. As the title of this post indicates, there is one extraordinary exception whose climb is of endless fascination to me... Lane Kiffin.

You wouldn't be too far off if you thought Kiffin made a name for himself overnight. It was only 10 years after graduating from college that he became the head coach of a NFL franchise.

A Miniature Timeline:

1975: (May 9) Kiffin is born (approx. 0 years old)
1994: graduates from high school in Minnesota (19 years old)
1994: enrolls in Fresno State University where he plays basketball, baseball and backup QB for the Fresno State Bulldogs (19 years old)
1997: gives up playing football his senior season; becomes a Student Assistant Coach at Fresno State (22 years old)
1998: graduates from Fresno State (23 years old)
1999: works as a Graduate Assistant at Colorado State University for one year; works with the offensive line
2000: works with the Jacksonville Jaguars as a Quality Control Assistant for one year 2001: hired as a Tight Ends Coach at University of Southern California (USC)
2002: becomes the Wide Receivers Coach at USC
2004: becomes Passing Game Coordinator; retains Wide Receivers Coach position at USC
2005: is promoted to Offensive Coordinator at USC and becomes Recruiting Coordinator; retains position as Wide Receivers Coach
2007: (January 23) hired as the Head Coach of the Oakland Raiders; the youngest Head Coach in NFL history. (age 31)
2008: (September 30) Lane Kiffin is fired as Raiders' Head Coach.
2008: named Head Coach of the Tennessee Volunteers football program (age 33)

He surpassed many of his former bosses in his quick climb up the coaching ladder. For instance, when he was a Student Assistant Coach at Fresno State, his position coach was Jeff Tedford, current Head Coach at the University of California.

From '93 to '97, Tedford was the Offensive Coordinator at Fresno State where he coached Kiffin. Then from 1998 to 2001, Tedford helped build Oregon's football program as its Offensive Coordinator. Meanwhile Kiffin was in the fast lane: he worked with a pro team and was hired by Pete Carroll to work as a Positions Coach with the best college football program in the country.
Since 2002, Tedford's been the Head Coach at Cal, and has won two Pac-10 Coach of the Year awards, so I don't mean to undermine his success. However, Tedford was in his early-40s when he won his first Coach of the Year award, and that's entirely my point.

At age 33, Kiffin will be the youngest Head Coach in Division-1 football. I'm not saying he'll be a great college coach (although when he was the Recruiting Coordinator at USC the team had the #1 recruitment class all 3 years) but I think he's capable of turning around an already talented Tennessee team (ranked 18th in preseason polls last year) after a shocking 5-7 finish last season. He's positioned to haul in a SEC Coach of the Year award in the near future, and he will do it in his 30s.

Resume Summary:
1997–1998 Fresno State (Positions)
1999 Colorado State (Positions)
2000 Jacksonville Jaguars (Asst)
2001–2006 USC (Positions/OC)
2007–2008 Oakland Raiders (Head Coach)
2009–Present Tennessee (Head Coach)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

LA Times Auto Critic on "Gran Torino"

By Rob

I am a big fan of Clint Eastwood's newest film, Gran Torino. I don't know anything about cars and, fortunately, you don't really need to in order to enjoy the film. However, it certainly doesn't hurt to know a thing or two going in. In an insightful article by Los Angeles Times Automotive Critic Dan Neil, the signifiance of the car itself -- Walt Kowalski's 1972 Gran Torino -- is discussed.

At one point, Dan Neil says:

You could prowl vintage car shows for years and not find an automobile that, in its malign typicality, better summarizes Detroit's fall than the 1972 Gran Torino. Let's begin with the thing itself: The car was tubby and it was awkward. It handled like a block of ice with a steering wheel. It lacked even minimum corrosion proofing and so rusted with relish in northern climates.

OK, it summarizes the Detroit's fall. Got it. But "tubby" and "awkward"? My Uncle had a 1972 Gran Torino, and my dad said that even brand new it was an awful, "ugly" car. I don't get it. As far as asthetics go, I think it looks pretty cool, and I'm very surprised to find I'm in the minority.

The article should be of particular interest to fans of the movie without a significant car IQ. You can read Dan Neil's complete article for free here. I should note that I came across the article via an online post by the Detroit Free Press.

As for the film itself:

The story is outstanding and may very well be the best of any movie I've seen from 2008. There were a few poor performances, and they came mostly from non-actors. (None of the Hmong actors in the cast had acted in a film before except Doua Moua.) I suggest seeing it ahead of just about every movie currently in release. (Run, don't walk, to see Paul Blart: Mall Cop!)

Miracle on 34th Street

By Chris Larsen

Thursday's incident in which an airplane leaving New York crashed landed in the Hudson river made me do a little soul searching. After getting lost in the middle of nowhere, I asked for directions and found that I had a few questions in the back of my mind. Well, the first thing is just more of a statement that I've got to get off my chest. How can you call it the "Miracle on the Hudson" when it should so clearly be called Miracle on 34th street. I mean for publicity purposes, naming after a movie in which the girl from Matilda starred would be a hell of a place to start. Now you may be saying, "hey there Chris, that kinda sounds like an ole question to me." Well sir/madame, I've read the Bible (I haven't), and I think I've been guided a little better by The Lord than you have.

Anyway, I believe I may have gotten a wee bit off topic; oh wait, there it is (the topic silly). So yeah, "Miracle on the Hudson" is a bad name, the worst apple on the lot. It's like naming your first born Adolf Hitler Campbell, as one couple did in New Jersey. Yeah sure, its a cute name, but the backlash your going to get from that knit picking Jewish community just isn't worth it. They really should have minded their P's and Q's on this one, bad decision on their part (the couple, not the Jew's). It also brings up the discussion, exactly what are they putting in the water in New Jersey. I mean who's the last big name to come out of that town (doesn't deserve the title of an American state)? I'm putting my money on Whitney Houston (pictured at right, clearly high on life), the lovable singer actress who inspires us all. And while she's been a model citizen and savior to the doping community, there has got to be something on her I can dig up to prove my point. Well, I can't, but let us get back to that plane in the sky, er... Hudson.

So they say that "supposedly" a flock of birds flew into the engine and caused it to explode. I have learned a couple of things from this little factoid. First off, this tells me that American hunters just aren't as good as they used to be, and are clearly inferior to their European counterparts. Whens the last time a plane from Europe when down because of birds? Answer, never, they have no birds in Europe. Why? Because the hunters have killed them all. Another thing I've picked up is that being a bird just isn't as good as it used to be. I mean what happened to make all of these birds so depressed that they choose to fly towards death faster then Japs the a boat. I'm no bird, but I think in a flying zone as big as the freaking sky, I could avoid a couple engines flying around. The more I think about it, I kind of want an autopsy done on all the little birds and their body parts. I mean, imagine the commander in chief of the birds air team. He's flying along, starts to day dream about his wife and kids on the coast on Mexico, enjoying the breeze, chomping on some Mexican jumping beans, living the life. Next thing he knows, a giant turbine is 10 feet from his head. Being the skilled diver he is, he's able to avoid disaster... barely. Unfortunately, the rest of his men (and one woman lieutenant who got into the air unit through lawsuit) weren't so lucky. He led them right into their death, they never saw it coming, having complete faith in their leader. Now imagine this, you are solely responsible for the killings of several heroes back home and will have to face the family's of these brave men ( and one woman lieutenant who got into the air unit through lawsuit). I'm thinking that instead of going back home, we might find this commanders body along with the rest, only he won't be quite as chewed up as the rest. I'm willing to bet that we will find a single bird with a single BB gun pellet lodged in his head. It's a sad sad story, but somebody had to tell it. That's why this prestigious group here at TWOTF hired me to write, because I'm willing to go where nobody dare go. Well, I went there, and you are welcome.

Chris Larsen is a beat writer for TWOTF
He has a dog, some fish, and a killer smile.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

24 by Chris Larsen

I'm trying to find my place in this blog, and I still don't have a clue where that could possibly be. I see that Luke is the movie reviewer; Rob seems mostly into sports and concerts; James is weird; and I'm unsure where that leaves me. I guess I'm supposed to be the comic relief to these duds, but even Lance Bass has to let the cat out of the bag after holding the group together for so many years.

I'm the butter, they are the toast. Without me, they are nothing; something that is incomplete, missing a key element. My butter is that key element. Unfortunately I can't seem to find any butter in my refrigerator these days.

I want to write about random stuff, but my life seems to get more boring as the days go on. No, this isn't a suicide note, although it probably should be. Now after that wonderful introduction, you could probably tell by the title I am going to talk a little about 24 and how I've welcomed Jack Bauer back into my precious lifestyle.

So I started watching 24 in its fifth season – a little behind most followers – but I had heard much about it and gave it a shot. That was a magical season. Jack could make a rabbit disappear and reappear where ever he wished. I thought I had another show to add to my "must watch" list.

In case you are wondering: yeah, I watch a bucketlist of TV. I could sit around for days watching anything and would only occasionally forget to breathe… Other than that, I'd be happy as a clam (an uneaten clam).

Anyways, I had a wonderful new action thriller to add to my weeknights. Unfortunately, the following season tanked like Ricky Lake in her early years (see Hairspray for confirmation, and no, not the one with the adorable and impalpable Zac Efron). I could only bare to watch a few episodes of the season before I gave up entirely. 24 had lost its touch – it was crap and I had run out of toilet paper. I needed it out of my life.

For two years, I was happy, I had forgotten all about 24 with the help of many other outstanding shows, and had moved on. While Jack Bauer was getting arrested in real life for stuff Nick Nolte could only dream of, I was sleeping next to a nice Gregory House doll. And to make this clear, I don't like Kiefer Sutherland – I think he is a poor man's Daniel Baldwin (unless of course Daniel Baldwin is now a poor man himself, but you understand what I mean). He almost annoys me sometimes with his poor portrayal of an angry agent yelling at a bad guy. His deep angry “yell voice” is almost as bad as Christian Bale's take on Batman (my favorite DC Comics hero). It's the awesome stories and the usually great action sequences that made me fall in love with people attacking our country. If terrorism serves one purpose in life, it’s for others to make movies and TV shows about it, and Allah bless them for that.

So I had fallen out of love with 24; no biggy, didn't care, didn't want to care. I had already shed enough tears over the loss of the lovable Edgar in season 5 to poisonous gas. I felt like it should now be reduced to being called 23; it didn't deserve the honor of being an American day. I was done with 24 for good… or so I thought....... Dun Dun DUUUUNNNN

I went over to my bitch girlfriends’ house this past Sunday to hang with the fam, feed my fishlets, grab some grub, trims the hedges… you know, everyday stuff. So as I sitting there I find out her mother, “the bitch from Ipswich” as I calls her (she was born and raised in Lexington), was a huge fan of 24. So I'm thinking: “what the snail, I hate my life anyways, I'll put myself through this again.”


I start watching and although it didn't start off any better then it had ended, it rapidly began to get better and better. I watched the first 2-hour premiere Sunday and was excited about seeing another two hours on Monday. I watched that, was blown away at the awesomeness, and immediately fell back in love with 24.

There are twists and turns galore, and I just want more Jack. The once fat and disgusting Ricky Lake (24 - season 6) has now blossomed into beautiful talk show host Ricky Lake (24 - season 7). I just want to go on record as having known this would happen and always, always having faith in Allah (who doesn't exist).

Chris Larsen is a beat writer for TWOTF
He has a dog, some fish, and a hell of a back swing

10 Best Movies of 2008

By Luke

My top ten list...with stupid quips intended to convey my main impression after each title.

1. A Christmas Tale
Too good to write about.

2. The Wrestler
The best American movie of the year. Premise is a man in suburban Jersey caught between two "families" and The Sopranos comparisons only start there.

3. Reprise A cinematic novel

4. Vicky Cristina Barcelona I don't get what people who say this is B-grade Woody see in some of his other movies that they can't find here. It's funny and fresh from beginning to end, with some very good performances.

5. Mister Lonely Lyrical is not a word I would use in real life, but it might be the best way to describe this movie. It's funny too.

6. Be Kind, RewindSort of a guilty pleasure, but Mos Def, Danny Glover, and Jack Black are all so charming and the movie has good vibes to spare.

7. Chop Shop A true "indie" movie that lives up to the "slice of life" label so many Sundance pretenders flaunt. There isn't a false note in the whole movie and it extracts some fascinating performances from local nonactors.

8. Milk

Gus Van Sant's opera.

[See Luke's review of Milk here.]

9. Flight of the Red Balloon The Indiewire critics poll is the best place to figure out what the "best movies of the year" were because of the number of high caliber critics it includes. I've lost the link to this year's list, but I know Flight of the Red Balloon was #1, which is reason enough to check it out.

10. Speed RacerClever, creative, exciting. A kids' movie I actually liked because it was too busy being insane to hit all the predictable kiddy story beats.

The next 10 (in order of appearance vis a vis the alphabet): Blindness, Burn After Reading, Che, Cloverfield, The Dark Knight, Encounters at the End of the World, The Fall, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Gran Torino, In Bruges, Step Brothers.

Some of the significant movies I didn't see and might have liked: Waltz with Bashir, The Class, Gomorrah, Silent Light, In the City of Sylvia, The Last Mistress.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Greg Oden (Part 2)

By Rob

NOTE: Statistics are valid as of December 30, 2008

Greg Oden has played in 26 of Portland’s 32 games. He’s started in 19 of those 26. What does he have to show for it? (Other than a 16-10 record, of course)

His season averages aren’t overly impressive (even for a rookie):
8.1 PPG, 53.2% FG (2.9-5.5), 7.4 REB (2.8 OFF; 4.7 DEF), 64.8% FT (2.3-3.5), 0.7 AST, 1.5 TO, 0.4 STL, 1.3 BLK, 3.8 PF

As it stands, New Jersey Nets' center Brook Lopez has been the best of all first-year big men. He's played in all of New Jersey's games and, with the exception of FG% (Lopez is shooting a more modest 45.9%) and TO (Lopez is averaging 1.7 TO per game), has Oden beat in every statistical category.

But when Oden plays 20 or more minutes, his average numbers are as good as any other rookie big man:

11 PTS, 58 FG%, 9.53 REB, 68.9 FT%, .86 AST, 1.8 TO, .3 STL, 1.46 BLK, 3.73 PF

He shoots 58% from the field and 69% from the free throw line. He averages 9.5 rebounds and 11 points per game. He turns over the ball 1.8 times and blocks 1.46 shots... Plus the Trail Blazers at 9-6 in such games.

If you removed his 21-minute performance in Portland’s December 22nd loss from the equation (a game in which Oden had only 3 rebounds) then he’d have averaged 10 rebounds per game over 14 games with 20 or more minutes.

There aren’t many guys who can shoot nearly 60% from the field and nearly 70% from the free throw line. There aren’t many guys who can average 1.5+ blocks per game while turning over the ball less than 2 times per game, either. Toss in a double-double and you’ve got a special kind of player…

How special?

26 players finished the 2007-2008 season averaging 8.0 or more rebounds per game. (8+ rebounds is a pretty common expectation for a big man, although I admit I chose it somewhat arbitrarily.)
Notable players, capable of 8+ rebounds, who otherwise would have made the list: Lebron James (7.9) and LaMarcus Aldridge (7.6). Seven more players averaged between 7.2 and 7.7 rebpg. Chris Kaman (56 games – 12.7 rebounds per), Andrew Bynum (35 games - 10.2 rebounds per) and Elton Brand (8 games – 8.0 rebounds per) were ineligible.

20 [players] of those 26 shot 60+% from the free throw line.
The 6 players eliminated: Ben Wallace (42.6%), Jeff Foster (59.3%), Andrew Bogut (58.7%), Emeka Okafor (57.0%), Tyson Chandler (59.3%), Dwight Howard (59.0%)

17 [players] of those 20 also averaged 10.0+ points per game.
Players eliminated: Joel Przybilla (4.8), Nick Collison (9.8), Marcus Camby (9.1)

10 [players] of the remaining 17 averaged 1.0+ blocks per game.
Players eliminated: Antonio McDyess (.7), Dirk Nowitzki (.9), David Lee (.4), Al Horford (.9), Antawn Jamison (.4), Carlos Boozer (.5), Lamar Odom (.9)

That’s 10 players who averaged 10+ points, 8+ rebounds, and 1+ block per game, while shooting 60+% from the FT line last season. To me, those minimums represent the basic expectations of a well-rounded center in the NBA.

Who were the 10?
1. Josh Smith
2. David West
3. Amar'e Stoudamire
4. Kevin Garnett
5. Zydrunas Ilgauskas
6. Brad Miller
7. Andris Biedrins
8. Samuel Dalembert
9. Al Jefferson
10. Tim Duncan

Even if you’re kind about the guidelines I’ve set in place, you’d have 21 players*** on that list.

*** Those on the fringe:
Lebron James was .1 rebound off. Dirk Nowitzki, Al Horford, and Lamar Odom were .1 blocks shy, while Antonio McDyess was off by .3 blocks. Marcus Camby was .9 points per game away.
Nick Collison averaged 9.8 ppg and .8 blocks. Dwight Howard shot 59.0% from the FT line; Tyson Chandler shot 59.3%, Emeka Okafor shot 57.0%, Andrew Bogut shot 58.7%.

So what? Well, there's a lot of non-believers coming out recently, and what I'm trying to do is put 20-year-old Greg Oden in context; explain through use of statistics why he's hyped up the way he is and why not to jump off the bandwagon just yet.

In a recent article by Johnny Ludden for Yahoo! Sports, Ludden sums up my point well:
...[Oden is] also a little more than two weeks shy of his 21st birthday and his NBA career has spanned all of 28 games. He spent one year in college then sat out all of his first season with the Blazers after undergoing microfracture surgery on his right knee.

Even healthy, few big men have dominated with so little experience. The same Dwight Howard who now terrorizes the league is the same Dwight Howard who averaged 12 points, 10 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in nearly 33 minutes per game as a rookie. Oden’s averages this season: 8.0 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 23 minutes per game.

Patience everyone. The time of Oden may be right around the corner.

Greg Oden's 20+ Minute Game Log:
Dec 30 (W) 35:35 – 5/9 FG, 3/5 FT, 4-7=11 REB, 3 AST, 2 TO, 0 STL, 0 BLK, 3 PF, 13 PTS
Dec 27 (W) 28:21 – 5/7 FG, 6/6 FT, 7-3=10 REB, 0 AST, 1 TO, 0 STL, 1 BLK, 3 PF, 16 PTS
Dec 25 (L) 25:25 – 2/6 FG, 0/3 FT, 2-3=5 REB, 1 AST, 3 TO, 1 STL, 0 BLK, 4 PF, 4 PTS
Dec 22 (L) 21:36 – 4/5 FG, 2/2 FT, 2-1=3 REB, 2 AST, 0 TO, 0 STL, 2 BLK, 6 PF, 10 PTS
Dec 16 (W) 21:11 – 3/6 FG, 2/2 FT, 3-7=10 REB, 0 AST, 0 TO, 0 STL, 0 BLK, 4 PF, 8 PTS
Dec 12 (L) 42:03 – 6/10 FG, 3/4 FT, 6-9=15 REB, 0 AST, 2 TO, 0 STL, 1 BLK, 2 PF, 15 PTS
Dec 11 (L) 31:53 – 4/6 FG, 0/3 FT, 4-5=9 REB, 0 AST, 3 TO, 0 STL, 1 BLK, 3 PF, 8 PTS
Dec 7 (W) 27:35 – 3/10 FG, 4/6 FT, 5-5=10 REB, 0 AST, 2 TO, 0 STL, 2 BLK, 4 PF, 10 PTS
Dec 3 (W) 31:06 – 4/6 FG, 5/6 FT, 3-7=10 REB, 0 AST, 3 TO, 0 STL, 1 BLK, 2 PF, 13 PTS
Nov 30 (W) 30:49 – 3/4 FG, 5/6 FT, 2-11=13 REB, 1 AST, 2 TO, 1 STL, 3 BLK, 5 PF, 11 PTS
Nov 28 (W) 23:53 – 0/2 FG, 1/4 FT, 3-5=8 REB, 3 AST, 1 TO, 0 STL, 1 BLK, 2 PF, 1 PTS
Nov 26 (W) 25:38 – 4/6 FG, 2/2 FT, 4-6=10 REB, 0 AST, 1 TO, 0 STL, 1 BLK, 4 PF, 10 PTS
Nov 18 (L) 29:40 – 8/12 FG, 6/8 FT, 4-6=10 REB, 2 AST, 5 TO, 1 STL, 2 BLK, 5 PF, 22 PTS
Nov 15 (W) 23:53 – 4/8 FG, 5/8 FT, 2-6=8 REB, 1 AST, 2 TO, 2 STL, 3 BLK, 5 PF, 13 PTS
Nov 14 (L) 24:10 – 3/3 FG, 5/6 FT, 1-10=11 REB, 0 AST, 0 TO, 0 STL, 4 BLK, 4 PF, 11 PTS

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Don't Touch Kids by Chris Larsen

I learned that lesson the hard way. Unfortunately for you, before I get into that nonsense story, I'm going to tell you a little about me, myself. I was born Chris Larsen Jr, son of Chris and Cynthia, in Concord, MA on September 7th 1988. In a bit of bad luck, I made if past the first few days of birth and was released from the hospital. Since then my parents would continuously tell me they regret not smothering me with a yellow pillow (I guess yellow is their least favorite color, or race, it's all a little fuzzy). I am a white male, and I molest children. Seems almost cliché nowadays, which is why I never cared to tell anybody. I mean, I'm just another Joe Smith getting some from little Johnny, and that just doesn't make the headlines anymore. Anyways, forty to life is the reason I tell the kids I'm Santa Claus and if they tell anyone, they won't get any presents.

On a more serious note, today was the first day I had learned about this blog. I had a tough time trying to figure out what to write about. I had a serious case of writers block, and this stone wall wasn't going to be knocked down by some David Hasselhoff, no way no how, too strong. So I asks myself, "do you write about yourself?" "No" is the proper answer. I'm a loser and I'm boring. What about a little boy on a log, thinking about his mother and adopted sister kneading dough? Well, this one I had to think out. I mean its solid, but I want to appeal to a large audience, and the child molester market is hot right now, while the dough kneading has really taken a hit with the economy in its current state of dieting. I guess in the future I'll write about my life (which sucks) or anything that may pop into my head at any given moment (which sucks), but I was forced to post on the first day, and I knew I shouldn't.

The Celtics just lost, and that saddened me, but then Adam Morrison was talking post game and that lifted my spirits. This one also goes out to my mom. Tommy Heinsohn said "The Celtics need a mental vacation," and I would like to think that he was talking about me right there. I mean, I seem to be the solution of every problem of every person; male, female, Chinese (who aren't as smart as they appear to be).

Life becomes too much to handle, and so I write... To this I write to thee, and now I will go and play Gears Of War 2 with my bro Nicholas, who got his first Mohawk today and makes a big brother proud once in a blue moon. Don't smoke pot.