Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Mike D'Antoni leaves Suns?

ESPN is reporting that Mike D'Antoni is stepping down as Phoenix Suns head coach. This would be disastrous for them. While Nash and Shaq being old, I see the Suns going the way of the Kings. Wow, a Western powerhouse bites the dust.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Carolyn Jessop's Escape

I've started reading this book by an ex-FLDS member. You see her give the ex-FLDS view every time there's a new development in the Texas case. It's very disturbing how they view the world and how they treat their children. They waterboarded babies.

That said, I'm still not sure how I feel about all 400-something kids being removed. Seems like an overreach, but they HAVE found several legitimate cases of abuse there.

Suns fans can be mad

No players from the Celtics-Hawks altercation will be suspended. Excuse me? Kevin Garnett pushed a referee! Last time Jerry Sloan did that he was suspended SEVEN games! Kendrick Perkins got off the bench and set foot on the court. Last year, David Stern was letter of the law in handing the Spurs-Suns series to the Spurs by suspending Amare Stoudamire and Brois Diaw when they got off the bench after Robert Horry hipchecked Steve Nash into the scorers' table. I would follow Tim legler's logic that the NBA is just following common sense this year, but there was no announcement at any point this year they were going to follow common sense. All we heard from Stern last year was "Letter of the law, letter of the law." Now we get common sense? I think it's great for Celtic fans, and I think it's a stupid rule to begin with, but it's a giant double standard to not suspend KG and Perkins. You think they'd still not be suspended if Celtics were up 3-1 instead of being tied at 2-2?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

NBA Playoff Observations

- Kudos to Luis Scola for not crying when he was called for his foul on Andrei Kirilenko. Yes, Andrei waving his arms after he was pushed helped draw attention to the foul, but the call was made very clearly before Bobby Jackson shot the 3, so for Rick Adelman and Tracy McGrady to bellyache that the "flop" negated three points, well, it's disingenuous at best.

- It's easy to hate the Lakers, but it's also easy to admire their second unit. Jordan Farmar, Sasha Vujacic, Luke Walton, DJ Mbenga, all of them play with speed and earnestness, and the bench of the Lakers is going to be key for them.

- If the Mavericks had known they were going to get the Hornets in the first round, would they have still traded away Devin Harris, one of the best defensive point guards in the NBA, for Jason Kidd, whose best days are behind him?

- The Nuggets will likely get swept, maybe go five games, and have another first-round exit. Can this team stand pat? Is George Karl's job safe? The Nugs need a real point guard. They had one in Andre Miller, but that's water under the bridge.

Hillary's Shamelessness Is Back

Hillary Clinton and her surrogates are now claiming that she's ahead in the popular vote. Uh, actually Barack Obama is ahead. So how can she make this claim? Oh, by counting the votes from Michigan and Florida that she agreed in advance with the other candidates wouldn't count. Obama's name wasn't even on the ballot in Michigan. And she will get away with this. She will still be behind in delegates and actual popular votes by convention time, but she'll find a way to strong-arm enough superdelegates to give her the nomination. I'm just getting a creeping feeling about this.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

My Summer Box Office Predictions

Last summer seventeen movies made it past the $100 million mark, with seven of those passing $200 million.

1. INDIANA JONES & THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL - $350 million - This has something for all generations, and even though early buzz if that it's good but not great, I imagine it'll be better than The Phantom Menace. It also has no new action competition for three weeks after it opens.

2. THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: PRINCE CASPIAN - $323 million - Now that people know Walden Media can make decent movies out of these books, I anticipate it will do a little better than The Lion The Witch & The Wardrobe.

3. IRON MAN - $290 million - It's not Marvel's most famous commodity, but it's had a killer marketing campaign and regardless of how well known the title is, the cast looks great, it has a trustworthy director (Jon Favreau) and the first weekend of May for a PG-13 comic book movie has proven to be huge in the past.

4. WALL-E - $240 million - Pixar can do no wrong. I repeat, Pixar can do no wrong.

5. THE DARK KNIGHT - $230 million - This will be dark enough that many parents won't want their young'uns to see it, but the buzz over Heath Ledger's final performance will grow, and Chris Nolan has erased all signs of Joel Schumacher from this franchise.

6. HANCOCK - $205 million - Will Smith's July 4 weekend may seem unstoppable, but I remember a little movie called Wild Wild West. Still, I anticipate the publicity will pick up once all the May juggernauts are out of the way.

7. THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR - $178 million - This special effects extravaganze should rule August. Stephen Sommers isn't directing, which might help.

8. KUNG FU PANDA - $155 million - DreamWorks Animation has a good campaign going for this, and it still hasn't revealed much of the story. As long as it's better than Madagascar it should be a hit.

9. THE INCREDIBLE HULK - $129 million - Had the Ang Lee movie not happened, there'd be a lot more anticipation for this project.

10. GET SMART - $125 million - Steve Carell should beat Mike Myers with their dueling comedies on opening weekend, and I base that on their trailers. Get Smart looks funny; The Love Guru looks like it might as well be called Austin Powers 4: The Leftovers.

11. SPEED RACER - $108 million - This could be a big hit or a big bomb. Can't really tell at this point.

12. TROPIC THUNDER - $106 million - Probably could have made over $130 million had it not gone the R-rated route.

13. STEP BROTHERS - $100 million - Will Ferrell should be able to forget that little basketball movie he did with another summer hit.

14. HELLBOY 2 - $88 million - The first one became a mild hit on DVD, and now that Guillermo Del Toro has more street-cred with Pan's Labyrinth, the marketing is focussing on the visual inventiveness.

15. YOU DON'T MESS WITH THE ZOHAN - $85 million - I see this doing about as well as Click did, which was a bit of an underperformer for Adam Sandler.

16. THE HAPPENING - $80 million - Lady in the Water really hurt the M. Night Shyamalan brand, plus it's his first R-rated movie, which will hurt ticket sales.

17. MAMMA MIA! - $75 million - Hairspray was a summer hit, although who knows how many of those tickets were sold by Zac Efron.

18. PINEAPPLE EXPRESS - $67 million - I'm going to guess based on Judd Apatow's string of successes that this one finds an audience too.

19. MEET DAVE - $63 million - The trailer's not great, but it could pique the interest of those pining for a Honey I Shrunk the Kids remake. And Eddie Murphy carried Norbit past $90 million.

20. WANTED - $59 million - Angelina Jolie's shoot-em-up was moved from spring to summer, but I think it will wind up backfiring. (Who knew that Semi-Pro and 10,000 BC would both underperform?)

Predicted bombs:

JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH 3-D - Brendan Fraser has had a couple titles go straight-to-DVD lately, so he's not the star he once was, and my feeling is people will skip this one and see him in Mummy 3.

THE LOVE GURU - Mike Myers runs out of gas.

SEX & THE CITY - Between this, Made of Honor, What Happens in Vegas, He's Just Not That into You, and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, one of these chick flicks will be in the Top 20, but I can't picture which one.

SPACE CHIMPS - From Vanguard, the makers of Valiant. So, yeah, not a lot of faith in this one.

STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS - It feels like something intended for TV or DVD release that's being thrown into theaters instead. Plus aren't we ready to move from Anakin and Padme and go back to our happy memories of Luke, Han and Leia?

THE X-FILES 2 - I watched the show for a while, but I bailed before David Duchovny left the show, and I never did see the first movie, so this movie's curiosity factor for me is zero. I imagine this is for people who watched all nine seasons and saw the movie and have been waiting for it. So yeah, I don't see it breaking $50 million.

Last year's Top 20 of summer:
1. Spider-Man 3
2. Shrek the Third
3. Transformers
4. Pirates of the Caribbean: AWE
5. Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix
6. The Bourne Ultimatum
7. Ratatouille
8. The Simpsons Movie
9. Knocked Up
10. Rush Hour 3
11. Live Free or Die Hard
12. Fantastic Four: ROTSS
13. Superbad
14. I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry
15. Hairspray
16. Ocean's Thirteen
17. Evan Almighty
18. 1408
19. Surf's Up
20. Halloween

Game 2 reactions

Cavs over Wizards - Wow, I thought Gilbert Arenas would play better than he did in Game 1, not worse. And how big a punk is DeShawn Stevenson for blowing on his fingers after hitting a three when they're down by 15 and he's missed most of his shots? It made me glad the Jazz traded him for Gordan Giricek who they then traded for Kyle Korver. Now I don't see how the Wizards can win this series.

Jazz over Rockets - Another game, another no-show in the fourth quarter by Tracy McGrady. Deron Williams is a stud, and if one Jazzman underperforms, another one steps up. Okur was absent in Game 1 so AK47 had his best game in weeks. In Game 2 Boozer got into early foul trouble so Okur put up 16 and 16. It seems like T-Mac has already given up on the season.

Spin doctors

I'm watching a campaign guy for Hillary and a campaign guy for Barack "debate the issues" on Meet the Press. Barack's guy is scoring more points but both of them seem to start every answer with the something to the effect of "What he just said is untrue." Really, what's the point of having spin-doctors on at all?

Monday, April 21, 2008

NBA Games 1

NBA Game 1 Reactions


Lakers over Nuggets - Marcus Camby is a great defender, but that D-bug has not been caught by any other player on the team. The Nuggets had a good game plan in focussing on Kobe Bryant, but there was a lot of good passing by the Lakeshow, and Pau Gasol had a monster game. New prediction: Lakers in 5

Hornets over Mavericks - The inexperienced Hornets fought back in the second half, but this series is far from over. Chris Paul can run circles around Jason Kidd; Josh Howard and David West cancel each other out; Dirk Nowitzki is going to get his numbers each game; and Tyson Chandler is a better defender than Erick Dampier. And the Hornets have Peja playing like his old Kings days. New prediction: Hornets in 7

Spurs over Suns - The Spurs made some monster shots in that instant-classic game, and there's no subtraction from that. However, the Spurs used up a lot of credibility with all their flopping, flying and crying. Shaq said it best: "It'd be nice if they'd compete instead of fall down." That aside, Tim Duncan didn't seem phased if he was guarded by Amare Stoudamire or Shaquille O'Neal, as a four-time champion should be, and Manu Ginobili and Brent Barry came back just in time. Then again, the Suns had the Spurs on the ropes, and they are going to be that much more determined. New prediction: Suns in 6

Jazz over Rockets - The ESPN crew called the game like Houston homers, but otherwise it was a solid outing by the Jazz. When Okur faded, Kirilenko stepped up. Rafer Alston still can't go tonight, and the Jazz are unbeatable at home. New prediction: Jazz in 4


Celtics over Hawks - It's fun to watch so many talented guys on one team take it seriously. If the All-Star game was like this, it would be the game of the year. The Hawks look like they have a future, but not against this squad. What's impressive is how the non Big Three play. One can forget about Rajon Rondo, Sam Cassell, Kendrick Perkins and James Posey. New prediction: Celtics in 4

Sixers over Pistons - Detroit knows they have this series wrapped up, but it's going to take a loss to wake them up. New prediction: Pistons in 7

Magic over Raptors - Dwight Howard passed his first test. They looked vulnerable though. New prediction: Magic in 7

Cavaliers over Wizards - Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison make for a better core than LeBron James, Big Z and... who? Wally Szczerbiak? Ben Wallace? LBJ can win games by himself, but despite his game 1 performance, I don't know if he can do that three more times against this team. New prediction: Wizards in 6

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead - DVD Review

BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU'RE DEAD (***1/2) - Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Albert Finney, Marisa Tomei, Rosemary Harris, Amy Ryan, Michael Shannon and Brian F. O'Byrne.
Written by Kelly Masterson.
Directed by Sidney Lumet.

If Hoffman had not won the Academy Award for Capote, and had he not been nominated for Charlie Wilson's War, he surely would have been nominated for this. He is interesting in everything he does, and his slow burn here is really cool to watch.

He and Ethan Hawke play brothers Andy and Hank. They look nothing alike, but I could overlook that. Both are in financial dire straits, and elder brother Andy (Hoffman) comes up with a plan. They'll rob their parents' jewelry store. They can get six figures out of it, Mom and Dad will get compensated by insurance; it's a win-win. But the robbery goes awry, and the walls start closing in on the brothers, who grow more and more desperate to cover their tracks.

This is a movie that deserves to get discovered on DVD, as it tanked at the box-office. Finney is great as the father, a good-hearted man who gets more volcanic as it eats at him who would rob his store. In the end, when push comes to shove, basically good people can do tragic things when they feel trapped.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

NBA Lottery Teams - What to Do?

My Quick, Uninformed, Scattershot, Random Analysis of What the NBA Lottery Teams Need to Do:


1. Miami - Get a new coach. Pat Riley can no longer do it. Then they need one good veteran to pair with Dwayne Wade. Shawn Marion could be that guy, but early rumblings are that the Matrix and the Heat are far apart on what they think his extension should be worth. Then they need to draft Derrick Rose or OJ Mayo. Let Jason Williams, Ricky Davis, and Alonzo Mourning go.

2. New York - Fi-re Isi-ah! Clap clap. Donnie Walsh is a good move. The 2008-2009 season already looks like a goner with their salary cap issues, but if he can somehow miraculously trade away Stephon Marbury, that'd be a start. He and Malik Rose are in the last year of their contracts, so actually a move could happen. They might be able to draft Rose or Mayo too. Coaching-wise, I'd probably see if Jeff Van Gundy would be interested in coming back, or lure Rick Carlisle away.

3. Milwaukee - They certainly underachieved this year. It just seems like Michael Redd, Andrew Bogut, Mo Williams, Yi Jianlian, Charlie Villenueva, etc., should be able to do more. They need Sen. Herb Kohl to sell the team. Then a real owner can hire a new GM and new coach and start over. It's a young team, so a blow-up isn't necessary unless they can blow it up the way Boston did. They should see what they can get for Bobby Simmons and/or Desmond Mason.

4. Charlotte - Okay, the Jason Richardson gamble didn't work, despite his 21.7 points per game. This team has been cursed with injuries for years. Maybe it's time to see what offers they can get for Emeka Okafor in a sign-and-trade, but they're more likely to see if they actually have a team when Sean May and Adam Morrison come back from their season-long injuries.

5. New Jersey - They're going to be fine. I'd keep Lawrence Frank, give him a full year with Devin Harris, Vince Carter, Richard Jefferson, Stromile Swift, etc. They should decide quickly if they want to re-sign DaSagna Diop or Nenad Krstic or both. It might not hurt to see if they can get a good trade for Vince Carter.

6. Chicago - This team has been dying for a big trade for years (Larry Hughes doesn't count). The current young combo isn't doing it. Surely there's an All-Star out there they can pair with Kirk Hinrich and Luol Deng. Jermaine O'Neal, perhaps? Then again, maybe the right coach can make sense of this roster and make it work.

7. Indiana - Get a real point guard! Do they blow it up and start over? They came close to making the playoffs, but even then, what does making the 8th seed really do for this team? I think it's time to move O'Neal. They can move him if they offer the expiring contracts of Jeff Foster and/or Ike Diogu in a deal.


1. Seattle - Or should I say, Oklahoma City? They need to get some vets around Kevin Durant, Chris Wilcox, Jeff Green, and whoever their draft pick will be. If they wind up with Rose, it's time to trade away Earl Watson or Luke Ridnour (actually, one should go anyway). They need Swift or Sene to develop some consistency (assuming they keep Swift). This team is still a year or two away from the playoffs.

2. Minnesota - Fire Kevin McHale. Hope that you land in the Top 3 in the draft and that the other two ping-pong balls go to Eastern teams. You don't still have Antoine Walker, do you?
Al Jefferson and Randy Foye are keepers; everyone else is expendable.

3. LA Clippers - Donald Sterling needs to sell the team. Beyond that, they need Elton Brand to be healthy and they should give up on the Shaun Livingston experiment and get a real starting point guard. They should see what they can get for Corey Maggette, who's coming off a career year.

4. Memphis - I'd say keep Marc Iavaroni as coach. Give him another year to see what he can do. Draft a big guy, preferrably Michael Beasley. If Rose is still on the b oard, take him and trade him for the moon, or trade away two of Conley, Lowry and Crittendon.

5. Sacramento - Hiring Reggie Theus was a step in the right direction, as was trading Mike Bibby for some valuable picks and cap space. Maybe they should see if they can get Ridnour away from Seattle.

6. Portland - They're doing everything right. They waived Darius Miles. They'll have Greg Oden back, they can move LaMarcus Aldridge to be a full-time PF, they'll get another lottery pick, they still have Nate McMillan as their coach, Brandon Roy will be a year better... I'd be surprised if they miss the playoffs next year. Dumping Raef laFrentz's contract could be the icing on their cake of a summer.

7. Golden State - Obviously Jason Richardson meant a little more to their franchise than they estimated, but then again, they'll finish at 49-33, which would be a playoff team any other year. It just highlights how the West is so much deeper than the East and it's been that way for years. With the task at hand, they have a lot of free agents, and they need to decide who to keep. Monta Ellis, yes, but can they keep Mickael Pietrus and Andris Biedrins as well? Will they let Matt Barnes go for nothing?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Southland Tales - DVD Review

SOUTHLAND TALES (*1/2) - Starring Dwayne Johnson, Seann William Scott, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Justin Timberlake, Mandy Moore, Miranda Richardson, Jon Lovitz, Wallace Shawn, Nora Dunn, Amy Poehler, Holmes Osborne, John Larroquette, Bai Ling, Cheri Oteri, Will Sasso, Christopher Lambert, Kevin Smith, Wood Harris, Lou Taylor Pucci, Curtis Armstrong, Sab Shimono, Beth Grant, Joe Campana, Michelle Durrett, Jill Ritchie and Zelda Rubenstein.
Written & Directed by Richard Kelly.

Ebert once said of Death to Smoochy, it take truly talented people to make a movie this bad. That quote came to me during the movie's only brilliant scene, when war vet Justin Timberlake takes a hallucinegenic and start lip-syncing to The Killers' "All the Things That I Have Done." If the writer/director had more scenes like that, and had cut an hour of running time, this might have been a good movie.

The one scene happens at the 1-hour-15 mark, and that's only halfway through. It's staggering that the final cut was two hours and thirty minutes and adds up to so little.

I won't deny there's a lot going on. Kelly has about 50 ideas and he's trying to smash them all into one picture. We get several minutes of narrated set-up to understand this slightly futuristic 2008, but the deeper we go in, the mroe the story tries to take shape, the less interesting it becomes. Two-thirds through the movie is not the time to start introducing rifts in the time-space continuum. All that does is signal to the viewers that things are going to find a way to get even more confusing and incoherent.

The movie bounces around from sci-fi to comedy to thriller to satire, commenting on politics, music, corporate greed, movies, but rambling in its commentary. This might have worked better as a 600-page book. As a film, it takes the largest, wackiest cast in years and squanders them.

In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale - DVD Review

IN THE NAME OF THE KING: A DUNGEON SIEGE TALE (*1/2) - Starring Jason Statham, Leelee Sobieski, Burt Reynolds, Ray Liotta, John Rhys-Davies, Ron Perlman, Claire Forlani, Matthew Lillard, Kristanna Loken, Brian White and Will Sanderson.
Written by Doug Taylor & Jason Rappaport.
Directed by Uwe Boll.

This is Uwe Boll's Lord of the Rings rip-off. It reminds me of the fantasy flicks from the late 1970's / early 1980's, with people of various accents traipsing through forests, fighting cheesy magicians and occasioanlly battling orc-like creatures. The orc rip-offs here are called Krug, and they walk like apes, grunt like guys in ape suits, but at least their masks look like they're from the planet Tatooine. How dumb are they? They light themselves on fire to get launched in a catapult.

Jason Statham's career seems above being in this kind of thing, but maybe he saw this as the only chance he'd ever get to do a period piece. He plays a farmer named Farmer, who just wants to grow fake turnips and be left alone with his idyllic family. The Krug invade at the behest of an evil magician played by Ray Liotta as part of a plan by a weaselly prince (Scooby Doo's Matthew Lillard) to get his uncle's throne. I'm pretty sure that's the plot, but Boll's not known for fluid story structure.

This movie is no different from my Boll rule. Give me the same cast and basic plot and I could still make a better movie. It'd be a challenge, given that Statham, Lillard, Liotta, Reynolds, etc., are such modern actors, but I could do it. Burt Reynolds looks the whole time like he wishes he were anywhere else.

Boll's slowly improving with each movie. House of the Dead and Alone in the Dark were the madir films of their years, but BloodRayne was not the worst movie of 2006 and I doubt this will end up being the worst movie of 2008. At this rate, by 2058 he'll make a movie I could honestly recommend.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

NBA end-of-season awards

If I Were Voting...


1. Kobe Bryant (Lakers) - Going by his on-court displays, he is the best player in the game today, and he has never won this award. Think about that. It was his sheer force of will that kept the Lakers above .500 until the Pau Gasol trade that suddenly made them the favorites to win the Western Conference. No one is better in the clutch, and he truly has learned how to get his teammates involved. (And he's probably my favorite player to hate.)

2. Kevin Garnett (Celtics) - You know those "Where I remember happens" ads? KG's presense turned a perennial lottery team into a legitimate favorite for the NBA title. Shouldn't that be a factor in NBA MVP? If you were betting money, wouldn't you put it on the Celtics, with three veterans all of the same age and experience playing like it's war and they're getting paid by piece-rate?

3. (Tie) Chris Paul (Hornets) & Deron Williams (Jazz) - CP3 has better individual stats, but there are two things to think about with these two. If they switched teams, would the records of either team be that much better or worse? Also, when they face each other, D-Will dominates Paul. If they face each other in the playoffs, I have very little doubt the Jazz would win the series, so while their regular season record is great, I have no faith in the Hornets making it out of the West. That said, who could have guessed that the lottery-team Hornets would still hold the #1 seed in the West at this point?

5. Tracy McGrady (Rockets) - 22 in a row, half without Yao Ming. He carried his team.

Others: Amare Stoudamire (Suns), LeBron James (Cavs), Tim Duncan (Spurs), Dwight Howard (Magic), Dirk Nowitzki (Mavs).

Last Place: Stephon Marbury (Knicks). Every team he goes to is worse when he gets there and is better when he leaves.


1. Jerry Sloan (Jazz) - I'm totally biased. Any season they get over 50 wins, his name should be written first until he gets the award. That, or change the name of the award to Coach of the Year Who Exceeded ESPN's Expectations. How can he not have this award yet? He should have won this the year the Jazz went 67-15 (it went to Doc Rivers of the 41-41 Magic) or the year he brought the thinnest roster in history (AK47, Carlos Arroyo, Tom Gugliotta, Milt Palacio, Ben Handlogten, Mikki Moore, Michael Ruffin, Jarron Collins, etc.) to a 42-40 season (it went to Hubie Brown of the Grizzlies; a little harder to complain about that one).

2. Rick Adelman (Rockets) - Weird to think he's never won this either. The Rockets are having their best season since the days of Hakeem, and they're doing it with their star center out. Many teams might have crumpled at that point, but Adelman kept believing.

3. Byron Scott (Hornets) - Their bench isn't that deep, but they find ways to win. Who knows what the Nets could have done if Kidd hadn't run him out of town? Clearly the guy knows what he's doing.

4. Stan Van Gundy (Magic) - Anyone think that Miami would be the worst team in the league if Riley hadn't stabbed SVG in the back to swoop in and win a title? If the Magic could upgrade Jameer Nelson and get Fran Vasquez to come over, they'd be title contenders.

5. Flip Saunders (Pistons) - He knows how to get this team to the Eastern Conference finals ever year, and he's developing the bench behind the All-Stars.

Others: Phil Jackson (Lakers), Doc Rivers (Celtics), Gregg Popovich (Spurs), Mike D'Antoni (Suns), Maurice Cheeks (Sixers).

Last Place: Pat Riley (Heat). He quit on his team when the going got rough, then Stan Van Gundy turned them around. Then he took the team back. When the going got rough this year, he took time off here and there all year.


1. Kevin Durant (Sonics) - No one else is even close.

Others: Al Horford (Hawks), Luis Scola (Rockets), Jeff Green (Sonics), Thaddeus Young (Sixers), Al Thornton (Clippers), Jamario Moon (Raptors).

Last Place: Greg Oden (Blazers). What's the dude thinking, playing a pick-up game? If he has been out all season, won't next year really count as his rookie year? He might as well have been a Euro stashed overseas.


1. Danny Ainge (Celtics) - Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen? Are you kidding? Hands down.

2. Mitch Kupchek (Lakers) - Any other year, he'd probably win, by getting Pau Gasol for nothing, leading to other desperation trades around the NBA (so, Mavs, how's Kidd working out for you? So, Suns, how's Shaq's salary going to look next year?)

3. Kevin O'Connor (Jazz) - Since the Kyle Korver trade, the Jazz have gone 36-10. But yeah, he's a distant third.

Others: I won't pretend to know the names of all of them, but the guys from the Hornets, Blazers, Sixers, Pistons and Magic deserve credit.

Last Place: Isiah Thomas (Knicks). For some reason, Zeke has never figured out the meaning of the word "chemistry" the way most other GM's have. Headcase after headcase has been brought to the MSG to squander away time and talent. There is not one contract still in New York from when Isiah took over, yet they're in worse shape than when Scott Layden was trading away Nene for Antonio McDyess. It'll be at least two years before Donnie Walsh can clean up the salary purgatory Zeke has put them in.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Battlestar Galactica - The coolest show ever?

Name one that's frakkin' cooler. I just finished watching Season 3 on DVD, which had one of the best cliffhangers in TV series history. Can't wait to get into Season 4, and I'm sad this is its last season. Then again, it's good for a series to have a planned beginning, middle and end.

Leatherheads - Movie Review

LEATHERHEADS (**1/2) - Starring George Clooney, Renee Zellweger, John Krasinski, Jonathan Pryce, Peter Gerety, Jack Thompson, Stephen Root and Grant Heslov.
Written by Duncan Brantley & Rick Reilly.
Directed by George Clooney.

Clooney has learned a thing or two about screwball comedy from the Coen brothers, and I look forward to this next collaboration with them. However, his efforts here fall just a wee bit short. I'd say his biggest mistake was taking a decade-old screenplay written by two sports writers and rewriting it to fit a screwball-comedy mold. His second biggest mistake was thinking Renee Zellweger could match Rosalind Russell in her ability to deliver witty banter. Anyone who saw Down with Love saw Zellweger couldn't match Doris Day to Ewan McGregor's Rock Hudson, so what chance does she have to do Russell to Clooney's Cary Grant?

Zellweger is a good actress, but she has to be in the right parts. She's not a chameleon. She was great in films like Jerry Maguire and Cold Mountain. Here, you can feel Clooney doing the heavy lifting in their verbal sparring scenes, almost like he's pretending he's still talking to Catherine Zeta-Jones in Intolerable Cruelty.

The script's original point seemed to be that too many rules have ruined pro-football. They mention rules a couple times in the first minute of the movie, and then they don't revisit the theme until the Big Game at the climax of the movie. For over 75 minutes, it's completely ignored, a symptom of a screenplay that's been reworked a few times through the years.

Yet Clooney the Director doesn't completely fumble on this, his third effort (the first two were Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and Good Night & Good Luck). His scenes with The Office's John Krasinski, as the war-hero college stud out to make pro-football relevant, bounce along nicely, and the biggest laughs come from their scenes.

So I enjoyed a lot about it. Zellweger didn't work for me, and it could've been tightened up easily. It felt about fifteen minutes too long. It's probably better as a $1 theater viewing or a DVD rental.

P.S. Before we got tickets, I kept having to remind my wife this wasn't a horror flick. "It's not Leatherfaces; it's Leatherheads."

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Good Night - DVD Review

THE GOOD NIGHT (**) - Starring Martin Freeman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Penelope Cruz, Simon Pegg, Danny DeVito and Michael Gambon.
Written & directed by Jake Paltrow.

A recommendation from Roeper and a great cast is what plopped this into my Blockbuster queue. Alas, great casts in artsy movies can only do so much when given flimsy material. It felt like a remake of The Science of Sleep, minus any interesting visuals.

Martin Freeman (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) plays a jingle-writer who's grown bored with his live-in girlfriend (Gwyneth Paltrow). In his dreams, he has a fantasy woman (Penelope Cruz) who grows more and more real to him, so he puts his efforts into getting the most out of dreaming. Then one day he sees the woman in real life.

I'll always love Freeman from BBC's The Office, and Simon Pegg (Hot Fuzz) is great as the horndog best friend. Gwyneth's writer-director brother hasn't given her much more than to be shrewish, and Cruz's job is to stand there and look pretty. The movie swirls about as a collection of ideas that never culminates into much. It fades from memory as quickly as a mediocre dream.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Tight NBA playoff race continues

Looking at their schedules, this is where I think the West will end:
1. New Orleans
Utah - Loss
At Minnesota - Win
At LA Lakers - Loss
At Sacramento - Win
LA Clippers - Win
At Dallas - Win
Final record - 58-24

2. San Antonio
At Portland - Win
Phoenix - Win
Seattle - Win
At LA Lakers - Win
At Sacramento - Loss
Utah - Win
Final record - 57-25

3. L.A. Lakers
At Sacramento - Win
At Portland - Loss
At LA CLippers - Win
New Orleans - Win
San Antonio - Loss
Sacramento - Win
Final record - 56-26

4. Utah
At New Orleans - Win
At Dallas - Loss
Denver - Win
Houston - Win
At San Antonio - Loss
Final record 54-28

5. Phoenix
Dallas - Loss
At Memphis - Win
At San Antonio - Loss
At Houston - Loss
Golden State - Loss
Portland - Win
Final record - 53-29 (move to #6)

6. Houston
At LA Clippers - Win
Seattle - Win
Phoenix - Win
At Denver - Loss
At Utah - Loss
LA Clippers - Win
Final record - 55-27 (move to #5)

7. Dallas
At Phoenix - Win
Seattle - Win
Utah - Win
At Portland - Win
At Seattle - Win
New Orleans - Loss
Final record - 52-30

8. Denver
At Seattle - Loss
At LA Clippers - Win
At Golden State - Loss
At Utah - Loss
Houston - Win
Memphis - Win
Final record - 49-33 (move to #9)

9. Golden State
Sacramento - Win
Denver - Win
LA Clippers - Win
At Phoenix - Win
Seattle - Win
Final record - 51-31 (move to #8)

So my playoff prediction bracket for the West has
1-New Orleans vs. 8-Golden State
This will be an exciting run-and-gun series. Chris Paul vs. Baron Davis. Nellie vs. Scott. The Warriors don't have much playoff experience, but they have more than the Hornets. Another #1 seed upset is a realistic possibility. But...
Hornets in 7

2-San Antonio vs. 7-Dallas
This will be another intense series. The Spurs may seem like they're on the decline, but it's foolish to ever count them out. The Mavs have been in disarray ever since mark Cuban mortgaged away their future on Jason Kidd. I think most games will be close, but Pops will out-coach Avery in the fourth.
Spurs in 5

3-LA Lakers vs. 6-Phoenix
Kobe vs. Shaq. The epic playoff battle we've been wanting ever since Shaq left town. Both men will be motivated to the gills. But Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum will be healthy, and the Suns' lack of defense will mean Kobe will have more than one 15-point 4th quarter.
Lakers in 6

4-Utah vs. 5-Houston
A rematch from last year, except now there's no Yao Ming.
Jazz in 7

From there, the Jazz beat the Hornets and the Lakers beat the Spurs. From there, the Jazz need to hope Gasol and/or Bynum went down with injury to have a shot at beating them, but methinks the Powers That Be want a Lakers/Celtics Finals, and there's no Tim Donaghy to stand in their way.

August Rush - DVD Review

AUGUST RUSH (***) - Starring Freddie Highmore, Keri Russell, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Robin Williams, Terrence Howard and William Sadler.
Written by Nick Castle & James V. Hart.
Directed by Kirsten Sheridan.

The cranky curmudgeonly critics at give this a 37% rating, most of them complaining about how unrealistic it is. Well, duh, it's a fantasy. Enchanted wasn't realistic either.

It's about a pair of musicians who meet for a one-night stand. They separate, and she believes the baby died in an accident, and so man and woman live their lives, stagnant, feeling empty somehow. The baby grows up to be 11-year-old August Rush (Freddie Highmore), an orphan and a musical prodigy. He bounces around, eventually landing in a circle of homeless kids run by the Fagin-esque "Wizard", played by Robin Williams. When I first saw him in that Bono hat, I thought Williams would bug me, but he didn't. His character worked.

Through the whole movie is the theme of music, how transcedent it can be. There is a series of coincidences and contrivances that make characters cross paths like stick-boats in a summer stream. It adds up to the sentimental climax, which hit me. Probably because I let it, and the fanciful way the movie plays with destiny made me want to let it.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

10,000 B.C. - Movie Review

10,000 B.C. (**) - Starring Steven Strait, Camilla Belle and Cliff Curtis.
Written by Roland Emmerich & Harald Kloser.
Directed by Roland Emmerich.

I started out enjoying this movie. Despite the hokey narration, I was ready to let myself get enveloped into this world. I didn't care about historical accuracy; if you want to tell me wooly mammoths and sabre-toothed tigers and giant killer ostriches lived at the same time as these dredlocked tribesmen, fine. I'm here for the ride.

Unfortunately, this movie is a hodgepodge of Clan of the Cave Bear, Stargate, 300 and mostly Apocalypto. Apocalypto had a peaceful village ravaged by fearsome warriors, with some of them kidnapped and taken on a long journey to their capital city, where they worship their gods and offer human sacrifice. Same plot here.

So while I could enjoy individual scenes or sequences, cool effects of a herd of mammoths and so forth, other elements kept pulling me out. Did men outnumber women 20 to 1 back then? Why does the journey bring them to a completely different climate every day and a half? They literally walk from a snow-covered mountain into a lush rain forest.

But it all comes back to Apocalypto. That movie had more compelling actors, a more focussed story, better cinematography, lusher jungles, and the best 20-minute foot-chase in history. This movie has giant killer ostriches.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Imam calls all non-Muslims guilty,2933,344409,00.html

What scares me is that there are thousands of other Muslims in the world who agree with this guy.

Oliver Stone's W

oelivar ston's jorj v bush biopik has begun philming kaanphirmed are josh brolin as jorj, yelijbeth bainks as viphe lunraa, yend jems kromvell & yellen burstyan as his parents, jorj hav yend barbar rumored but not kaanphirmed are jephphre vright as kaaliin povel yend robart duvaall as disk chenii should be a good moovii aaeetii maay not be achkuraate, viiring more tovaatd jphk thaan nikson, but i thought ston vaas pheyar yenough in nikson, yend i yekspekt no les phrom him hiyar, his parsanal politiks aside.

This was originally a bug that converted my stuff to Hindi if I wanted it to or not. I thought it was an April Fool's joke by Google, but it never went away.p=p]\[