Sunday, October 29, 2006

Fresh blood

It's halftime of the Dallas/Carolina game and Tony Romo is one of the story lines they're pushing from the broadcast booth.

For the non-football junkies, Romo has taken over as the starting quarterback in Big D after two seasons of Drew Bledsoe residing there as the top stopgap solution for the Cowboys.

Following the retirement of Troy Aikman, there's been a bit of a revolving door in the Lone Star State and Bledsoe is just the latest victim there.

That's not what has me thinking, though.

I just can't imagine being the big dog for years and then having to get used to the idea of being benched and essentially knowing that your career - and to a greater extent, your identity - is drawing to a close.

With few exceptions, quarterbacks and other athletes are simply not useful at some point in their careers and are dumped without much afterthought. Except for the superstars who make their way through the league and are kept on past their expiration dates, most simply fade away, replaced by a younger player with a stronger arm or livelier legs.

Contrast this against the jobs most of us settle into. You keep working and keep learning and eventually become a bigger asset to your organization on the day of your retirement than you were on the day of your hiring.

Teachers, accountants and salepeople all gather knowledge and skill sets that are built upon and added to as they progress and in more cases than not, they become more valuable as they pile on the years.

It has to be somewhat jarring to know that you peak fairly early as an athlete and after a few good years you can spend all your time studying, but your body will eventually betray you.

So, I'm now watching Bledsoe ride the pine and hang on to a clipboard for Bill Parcels, but it's exactly how things are supposed to be. Planned obsolescence is a part of the game, but it can't be any easier to take when it happens on an individual basis. I don't even have a particular attatchment to the guy and it's still pretty interesting to watch.

Imagine being the best athlete at your grammar school with a cannon arm in third grade, picked to be the all-time quarterback in playground games at recess, taking over the high school team as a sophomore, having colleges break down your door to get you to take a free diploma from their school, being a Top 5 pick and making a splash in the NFL.

You don't even have to be an NFL starter to follow that career arc - even the last guy on the roster was probably the best player his county ever produced, and definitely the best player ever to play at his high school.

Now, you're blog fodder for disgruntled fans and angry talk radio callers - people make a living making fun of you on ESPN and the general consensus is that your team is better off with you sitting on the sidelines.

That has to be harsh to wake up one morning and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the naysayers are right and that you're on borrowed time as the alpha dog. The game isn't about to stop and you only have years ahead of empty Sundays, watching the next big thing do your old job.

Some people really bash away on athletes who take too long to leave or are always around the game after retirement, but it has to be very difficult to walk away from it cold turkey.

Let's face it, there is only so much space in a broadcast booth to stash away the league's alumni.

(Photo from

Friday, October 27, 2006

Freaking amateurs...

When I was in college, we'd go through the dorms and round up the sample-sized shampoos, toothpaste tubes and razors that came free when we bought our books. See, the story was that all these companies would give us travel-sized shit in the hopes that we'd develop brand loyalty.

Want to know how to get college kids to buy your shit? Price it 50 cents to a dollar cheaper than similar products, it's just that simple.

While you might assume - especially given my history - that I was using this to make bathtub meth or something of that ilk, you'd be wrong. We'd use the Residence Hall Association to round up all of these tiny samples, drop them in boxes and I'd take them over to the city's shelters.

When you end up at a shelter, chances are that personal hygiene isn't a top priority at the moment you arrive, if you get the drift.

Long story short is that shelters of all kinds are slammed around the holidays. People shelters, dog shelters, any and all of the above are flush with cash and food from Thanksgiving to New Year's and they have a hard time making the ends meet in June and July.

While you'll feel like a prick turning down donation requests in the winter, trust me - give your money in the summertime and they'll cash your check that afternoon. (Make up a half dozen sandwiches in December if you feel that guilty.)

I wonder if ghost hunters get pissy about people getting jacked up for Halloween because no one pays attention until now. Do you think they pack it in and go on vacation this week, or are they even more excited about dead stuff than usual?

(Photo from

Thursday, October 26, 2006

How badass is that?

I needed to pick up a test DVD today so I can watch movies while pretending to work... uh, properly test audio and visual solutions for today and tomorrow. (For the record, I grabbed The Muppets Take Manhattan because it's live-action and contains no curse words. Also, the Swedish Chef is my own personal Jesus, but that's neither here nor there.)

I swung through the video game aisle and couldn't pass on the Warriors game by Rockstar. For those of you who talked to girls before your early-20s, Rockstar makes the Grand Theft Auto series and brand new Bully.

They're one of my favorite companies these days, and I seriously contend that the music snobs of today fighting about Capitol Records versus RCA will fight in 10 years about Rockstar versus Electronic Arts.

I could be wrong.

Anyways, I've only played about a half hour, but so far I've beaten a homeless man, mugged someone, stolen a car radio, broke into a medical supply store and took drugs.

Needless to say, The Girl isn't as excited as I am to have this thing in our house.

Oh, and for the record, I'm going to make the shittiest parent when it comes to parental controls. I'll either have to be a raging hypocrite or hide my super-awesome and ultra-violent games like most guys hide porn.

(Image from:

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Finding new ways to feel inferior

Don't get me wrong - I like my job most days occasionally but lately I keep getting beaten around by the overwhelming feeling that there has to be something else to do in this town.

Granted, I never set out to do what I do and loved my job as a writer/editor much more than anything I've done in the half-decade since, but that doesn't stop me from being good at the jobs I do in the interim.

Now I'm in audio-visual technologies and I take care of making sure all of the installs go through as smoothly as possible, which is to say, not smoothly at all, but with enough apologies that the customers don't usually sue the pants off of us.

Lately, this has been a bit problematic, because despite my best attempts to be mediocre, I'm somehow being seen as an asset to the company and as such, I'm given more work. This both surprises and stresses me.

It pay's good enough, the hours can be pretty flexible and no one micro-manages me, but I'm faced with the simple fact that I will never be talking to someone and say with pride, "See that mid- to low-level local company? I made sure they can play DVDs at staff meetings for them.

Doesn't have much of a ring to it.

The sorry thing is that the big push for me was our guilty pleasure TV show, How I Met Your Mother where one of the characters is an architect and is talking about pointing out his first building.

I have the feeling that the ship has sailed on that one for me. The strange thing is that I feel no more or less pride in the jobs I do here than similar ones I've done before - in comparson I took a great deal of pride in writing a good story or helping one of my reporters get rolling or finished, so it's not really apples to apples there - it's just a feeling that I really hate taking pride in jobs I do now.

I don't tank them, but when they're done there's not a lot left to be said.

I think we need to start selling strictly to orphanages and crippled dogs. That and I need to shut up and work - when I'm worrying about the impact of my day's work through the prism of a network sitcom, I obviously have bigger issues at play here.

(Photo from

Catching up with friends

I've been a bad Interweb buddy - Chronically Insane has been breaking the comedy bank over at his site, which has a handy link to the right.

From his revelation that he's getting older and losing a little off the top of his sick, sick head to a stunning opus on whether or not to bash the hell out of a possum in his garbage, it's been pretty outstanding lately.

And I haven't shoved anyone over there...

Man, I'm a total cyber-douche.


(Incidentally, if I'm him, I go for the stubble-head if I'm going to go that way. Shaved down to the scalp just seems a little weird to me. Plus, it works as velcro for winter hats. No, seriously, it does.)

26.19999 Miles of greatness

The majesty of man battling the elements and his own body to cover 26.2 gruelling miles.

Going further and faster on foot than one would think would be humanly possible.

Watching Kenyans totally eat it at the finish line.

Ah, who doesn't love a marathon, huh kids?

And in a move that should surprise no one but the very old and very stupid, there's an investigation afoot to figure out just what happened this weekend... Uh, I could save them a couple thousand dollars in research fees, but then again, I'm no expert on friction coefficients and the wisdom of placing smooth surfaces on wet days at the end of a very long and draining race.

I'm sorry, but I'm just not that guy.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

In communist Russia, leaves rake you!

Someday, when my child asks me why communism bit it, I'll smile, pat them on the head and go back to watching baseball.

Eventually, when their incessant bitching finally wears me down, I hope that breakdown occurs in the fall, because then life will be easy.

I'll take them out into the yard, watch the leaves swirl around and ask why in the hell anyone would rake the lawn when the wind and busy-bee neighbors will do the same work for free and without having to give up a perfectly good weekend day.

You see, there's no real reason to clean up your yard when the problem becomes not yours every time the wind blows. It's a perfect little world, no? USA! USA!

I mean, the public good is fine and all, but really, if you choose not to do your part, it doesn't impact your world that much except that the neighbors might give you the stink eye.

Really, what's in it for me, other than a sore back?

Why doesn't Communism work, little one? Because people like Daddy are jerks. Stupid, selfish jerks.

(Image from

Monday, October 16, 2006

The Cubs might kill this man

Reports from Chicago are that Lou Piniella is the new manager of the Chicago Cubs and I have no idea what to do with this information.

Frank the Tank (when not watching his StatCounter tally roll over like a long-haul trucker's odometer thanks to the Deadspin love today) was on the e-mail offensive today as we went back and forth over the Cubs and their impending decision. He's saying that this is the right move for the Cubs and I think he might be right, but I was thinking maybe we'd get someone a little less... combustible.

Put it this way, it's not that hard to find a picture of Piniella going off the deep end.

Even the page I found for the picture at the right was a compilation of managers who'd gone apeshit at one point or another. Number Two? The Lee Elia tirade, still a personal favorite.

One the other hand, you'll be replacing Dusty Baker - known for being nearly comatose (not safe to be narcoleptic with a toothpick in your mouth) and a "players' manager" with Sweet Lou, who may have a blood type of gunpowder.

When you have a historically underperforming team, this just seems like a recipe for disaster.

Piniella excused himself from several positions because he's sick of being around rebuilding years with teams that faded fast. I'm really worried about the guy's physical and mental health.

He's not getting any younger and if the Cubs play the way they have - and remain subject to the obscure laws of physics and bad luck known as Cubdom - there's a very real possibility that Piniella could end up in the hospital like the manager in Major League, screaming at a television from a hospital bed.

Still, I'm feeling better already about the Cubs' prospects in 2007 (laugh all you want) because Dustyball wasn't working. While I think that a heavy hand would have been more effective with the team a few seasons ago - primarily to tell Sammy to knock off all of his silly shit - maybe it'll be the shock to the team's system and help to get things back on track for the North Siders.

My real wish is for a solid, injury-resistant arm or four to take the place of the telethon-ready rotation that's been on the opening day roster lately. Let's just hope upper management doesn't hide behind the signing of a new manager and then go dormant until pitchers and catchers report.

I'm not a proponent of "change for change's sake," but when someone isn't getting the job done, there comes a point where you have to shake things up a bit. This is a good start.

Now, excuse me while I gosay a short prayer to keep A-Rod out of the Friendly Confines.

(This posting has been re-posted from the sister site.)

Update: ESPN has the signing as official now (as of 8:30 p.m.) Thank goodness, our long national nightmare is over...

(Photo from

Friday, October 13, 2006

Cribbing Aaron Sorkin

When the new TV season’s lineups were being pimped by the networks at the end of the summer, there were only a handful of shows that I thought would be worth the time and effort to watch them.

Of those, only a few seemed even remotely new and fresh.

After most of the new lineup has made its debut, I can safely say there’s only one new show I can’t live without. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.

It shouldn’t have been a surprise, having been penned by my favorite television writer and all, but now that 30 Rock has premiered (and fallen flat) I can safely call the competition for Studio 60. It’s not even close.

First off, I thought having two very similar shows was strange to say the least. In a time when America steals its game shows from England (not to mention The Office) it should be expected, but I completely missed the fact that these are both NBC shows.

How does that happen? You have two shows, based on working in the office of a sketch comedy that isn't Saturday Night Live and premiere them on the same network? How stupid is that?

The funny thing is I was prepped to hate Studio 60 with Matthew Perry in a dramatic-ish role andlatch onto 30 Rock with its cast. Couldn't have been more wrong. Aside from Tracy Morgan running around in his underpants claiming to be a Jedi and whacking cars with a light sabre, the pilot sucked pretty hard.

By comparison, I was asking when the first season of Studio 60 was coming out on DVD. After a TiVo issue for the second episode, we bought the iTunes version when the feed went a little haywire. That's probably the best compliment I can pay the show - when I missed it, I tried to get a copy and had no problem paying for what's free on TV to keep up.

After a few sour seasons of The West Wing it was nice to have Sorkin back on network TV and I've been a loyal follower since (OK, it's three weeks, but still...)

30 Rock was a big disappointment and I can't see watching another episode on purpose. I'm pretty sure I saw the three jokes play out and I have no real reason to go back.
In all, NBC should have stuck to one of the two and had they asked anyone with an ounce of taste, the decision would have been clear. When you have a drama that's funnier than a comedy, go with the drama.
(Image from:

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

You don't want to know how I find this stuff

I remember pumpkin contests at my old job.

We won pizza once. It was pretty rad.

Check out this link, though.

Some people are sick in the head and they do things to pumpkins that would force me to buy my kid a bag of candy and keep them home on Halloween instead of taking them to the homes of people who do stuff like this.

That said, some of these are really creative though I have two small issues.

1.) I question the safety of installing pyro into a vegetable and blowing a three-foot flame from the top.

2.) I question the sanity of letting a pumpkin rot in a trash bag full of water on your front porch. That just seems like it's a public health violation of some sort.

(Photo from

Revenge of Mr. Irrelevant

The last man picked in every draft is known by football fans as Mr. Irrelevant.

I'm pretty sure most teams don't even know who they're picking at that point. When I play a Madden season, my last pick is usually the lesser of 12 evils, with two offensive linemen and 10 kickers/punters left over to keep me from seeing the actual bottom of the barrel.

I found this gem today through a links page that took a new spin on the topic.

Enjoy an open letter to John Madden from Ethan Albright, the man rated least talented in Madden: 07.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Some things bear repeating

Months back, I wrote a pretty lengthy post about Buck O'Neil and Minnie Minoso when both were shut out from the Hall of Fame that can be found here. I still get sporadic hits on both men, looking for more information on their careers and reasons for or against induction to the Hall.

This weekend, O'Neil passed away at age 94, having fallen one vote shy for Hall of Fame induction this spring, but philosophical to the end.

"Shed no tears for Buck," he said. "I couldn't attend Sarasota High School. That hurt. I couldn't attend the University of Florida. That hurt.

"But not going into the Hall of Fame, that ain't going to hurt me that much, no. Before, I wouldn't even have a chance. But this time I had that chance.

"Just keep loving old Buck."

And people did, right to the end. While there is only one story left on on O'Neil - fittingly enough by Steve Wulf who wrote a touching piece on him that I quoted heavily from in the first post - people are still coming forward with their memories today.

For my small addition to the conversation, I was only around the man once, this summer at a Twins game.

O'Neil's presence pulled cheers from the fans who cheer regardless of the person holding the ball for the first pitch and as those who realized exactly the man was, a standing ovation slowly spread across the crowd.

As O'Neil went through his quick act - undoubtly replayed at ballparks across the country - where he'd wind up, shuffle a few yards closer to the dish, wind again, shuffle again and repeat until he could hand the ball to the catcher, the crowd fell in love with him.

What I'll always remember was watching him make the rounds, shaking hands, saying hello, shuffling from the infield to the right field bullpen, making his way to the elevators in the tunnel in right.

He was old, and there was no way around that fact, but he moved with grace. It was striking to see someone who was the same time that frail and that powerful. I'll just remember him beaming the whole time.

Seeing grown men, from security guards to professional ballplayers, falling all over themselves just to shake his hand, it was pretty amazing just to be in the same building as him.

I won't make too big a deal of any of this, except to say that all of the reports of him lighting up a room were true. It didn't seem to matter if he shared it with a president or if the room seated over 40,000 people. For a fan, it was hard to take your eyes off of him and I missed the first pitch that night watching him cross the field.

I toyed with the idea of running over to try and catch him in the concourse, but figured that I didn't have a shot at timing it right, but now I regret that decision.

For a man who spent so much of his golden years defending how his life lined up when it came to baseball, I'm betting he would have appreciated something like that.

If I had to take anything from the stories I've read and appearances I've seen him make, it's always amazed me how well he's taken everything in stride. Personally, I think there's a lot to be said for playing the cards you're dealt and asking for nothing more than a chance.

It's been oddly comforting to see that he'd shown some flashes of frustration or anger from time to time, but overall he kept an even keel and I find that unendingly admirable.

I can't think of better things to teach a child than to show up, do your best, not to sweat the things you can't change and not to look back on your life with anger or disappointment.

Even while those close to him refused to believe that his heart wasn't broken when the Hall left him out this year, he kept his chin up, kept visiting ballparks and was a fixture in Kansas City. Personally I think another decade of Buck O'Neil wouldn't have been enough and not for his stature as a ballplayer, but for his contributions as a human being.

I'm pretty sure Buck would insist he was right on time.

"There's nothing greater for a human being than to get his body to react to all the things one does on a ball field," O'Neil said. "It's as good as sex; it's as good as music. It fills you up. Waste no tears for me. I didn't come along too early. I was right on time."

- Buck O'Neil

(Photos from / - Philadelphia, Pa.)

Must be something important

So, off the last link I pulled a picture from a site I've been to and forgotten about 20 or 30 times in my life - Hollywood is Calling.

The premise is that for $30 you can have Mr. Belding, Horshack or Timmy (now that Lassie pulled his ass from some God-foresaken well for the 50th time) call your buddies and say hello. For $300 a pop, the Soup Nazi will call in as you open your car wash in the misle of nowhere (which has to be sublimely ridiculous).

I should point out that the four actors named above are the cream of the crop as far as recognizable names go - plenty of pictures for you to say, "Oh, that dude!" - most of them are mid-level on the cool/kitsch factor.

Want to waste 20 minutes of your day? Try and figure out what the unavailable stars are up too on a given day.

Which reminds me, I wonder what Leon Spinks is up to today...

(Photo from

Those Martinez brothers are brutal!

Yes, it's a baseball post away from the sister site, but this was too entertaining to hide over there, so kickass story, welcome to the Mothership.

For a little background, Jeff Kent can be a bit of a pain in the ass (he had a few run-ins with Barry Bonds in San Francisco among other high-profile blowouts) but this story may trump all the others. Additionally, it makes me wonder when someone will be banned from baseball for throwing a game so their fantasy team wins its league.

It seems that Tom Candiotti, a former pitcher who is a TV guy for the Diamondbacks these days, was in a fantasy league when he was in the league and Kent wasn't on his team.

From the San Francisco Chronicle and thanks to Deadspin for putting this on everyone's radar:

"It's '92 or '93," Candiotti says. "I'm playing for the Dodgers, Jeff Kent is with the Mets. I'm in a fantasy baseball league. I don't have Kent on my team and he's off to a torrid start and he's killing me."

The Dodgers are in New York to play the Mets. Ramon Martinez is warming up in the Dodgers' bullpen to pitch the series opener. Candiotti strolls to the pen and, within earshot of Martinez, tells pitching coach Ron Perranoski, "Perry, I just talked to Bret Saberhagen, and Sabes told me that if Kent gets drilled his first time up, he's mush for the rest of the series."

First inning, Kent steps to the plate.

"Ramon just absolutely buries one in Kent's ribs," Candiotti says. "It was so bad that he went down on one knee, and he had to come out of the game. I sat there thinking, 'What did you just do? You told a complete lie, you got this guy drilled!'

"After that, it was funny. Pedro Martinez (Ramon's brother) started drilling Kent, and so did all the other Dominican pitchers. For years, Ramon drilled Kent every time."

I don't know what's funnier, the retelling of this story, the fact that we all suspected it for years or that at some dinner for the Martinez brothers, Ramon tells Petey, "Hey, drill Jeff Kent when you see him. You do that, and he's your bitch all season..."

Guess it'll carry a little more weight next time I yell from the crowd, "Hey, Underperforming major leaguer to be named later! Get your ass in gear, you're killing my fantasy team!"

Chances are, they are killing theirs as well.

(Photo from

Are you ready for some football? Because the Pack isn't

I'm trying to get up for the NFL, I really am.

My teams are dead in the baseball postseason, the Twins are dead in the postseason and hockey?

Well, hockey has been dead to me for a few years now. In fact, it's nothing to me now. It's not a brother, it's not a friend. I don't want to know it or what it does. I don't want to see it at the hotels, I don't want it near my house. When sees our mother, I want to know a day in advance, so I won't be there.

It's that bad - but that's for another time.

In just five short weeks, though I have developed a foolproof way for filling out my pick sheets in Frank the Tank's Pick 'Em League. At the risk of tipping off the other guys, I will share these simple rules.

Quickly, a Pick 'Em League requires that you pick the winner of each game each week. Some require you to pick with the spread in play, ours lets you weight each game in order of confidence. You pick your game that you're most sure of the result in and weight it with a 16 and if it ends up the way you'd guess, you'd get 16 points towards your week's total.

I know, if you're really interested, you know how this rolls and it you needed and if you don't care you quit reading at the headline... moving on.

The foolproof system this year runs as follows -

Pick against:


Pick for:

Saints at home

That's it. Just that simple.
I swear that if you're struggling in your league and you do that, you'll be better than average in January. For anything more than that, you've got me... I always suck at fantasy football.

(Photo from

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Great white hype

Nikolai Valuev versus Monte Barrett just wrapped on HBO and I'm pretty sure The Girl was not impressed with her first extended viewing of a prizefight.

Then again, I hyped the fight as a beating at the carnival, so that might not have been the best line to take on this one.

Valuev is a seven-foot tall Russian who took Barrett's lunch money for 10 rounds before Barrett's trainer needed to step in and end the fight. That was a decision so rational that Mike Tyson would have made it, so that's where the fight stood near the end there.

It was distracting to watch and a pretty sad fight overall and it makes me a little nostalgic for a time I wasn't even around for. Most of the recent big-name title fights have fallen flat and so it's no surprise that boxing has lost its audience.

No longer are there hordes of men in there 20s clamoring for title fights in their hometowns (Don King arranged a fight last year in Chicago at the United Center that was far from a sellout and this fight was downgraded to Rosemont) and why would they?

This is not even the heyday of Mike Tyson when I was in grammar school and everyone knew he was the undisputed champ, even snot-nosed fourth graders.

Now, of the four fighters holding belts today, they are all Eastern European (which isn't very appealing to an American audience) and there hasn't been a decent high-profile fight in years. When I think back to the Lennox Lewis/Michael Grant fight I remember that the fight lasted a few minutes and that the highlight of the evening was the undercard that went the distance.

Lewis/Tyson? Same story. That was just a pitiful showing, despite the bales of cash collected for the pay-per-view. While there are fights that appeal to the hard core boxing fans, for the casual fan like me, it's a bummer that there hasn't been a decent bout in recent memory.

To put it in perspective, imagine if the last five Super Bowls had all been 45-7 blowouts or if the only teams in the World Series were from tiny markets and comprised of players from the Eastern bloc. It just takes some of the fun out of it.

I don't really have a point in all of this, except that I wish things were different and that there was a reason to book a flight to Vegas or Atlantic City with a group of friends to see a big bout.

Well that, and a boxing world where nine out of ten passersby on the street could name the heavyweight champ. Say what you will about Mike Tyson, but at least everyone knew his name.

(Photo from

Friday, October 06, 2006

Jeopardy! A lifetime of shame

Remember Ken Jennings? The guy who ran up the score on Jeopardy! He has a blog.

Well really, who doesn't?

It's worth a quick giggle and one of these days I need to compile an All-Star Team of pseudo-celebrity blogs. I'll probably post a picture of a train wreck next to it.

That's not why I'm checking in today, the real reason is something that's rattled around in my head for a few weeks now - how badly it'd suck to be on Jeopardy.

A friend of The Girl's is dating a guy who just got word that he'll be on Jeopardy! (enough with the exclamation points, already! Damn, I did it again.) and I have nothing but an uneasy feeling in my gut for the poor bastard.

Remember the school spelling bees in grammar school? And how the smartest kid in the class always seemed to bow out pretty quickly? Then for weeks, people would badger them about the two L's in llama or how to spell "yacht?" Well, do you think any of us have grown up at all?

Forget the outright jerks of the world, what about the well-meaning tactless yokels?

Let's say for the sake of discussion that the answer Alex wants is Vitamin E and you guess Vitamin B - do you think you'd hear the end of that within a year? A decade? A lifetime?

I'd like to be enough of a grown up to say that the reason I'll not appear on the show is that the process or my lack of general knowledge, but instead I'll blame my friends and coworkers. If you guys weren't suck pricks, I'd totally be on easy street by now.

(Photo from

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Easy come, easy go

If anyone gets a chance, Showtime on Demand has a "documentary" on about a homeless man who the filmmakers gave $100,000 cash to, you know, just for giggles.

Reversal of Fortune is a passable exercise in hypothetical math, though I'd be lying if I didn't tune in to see if it would be a train wreck. While it could have been a major exploitation of Ted, the homeless man involved, they pretty much gave him the cash and backed away.


The guy pretty much pisses away every dime on trashy women, weed and a new truck worth nearly $40 large. Oh, and he didn't bother to haggle down the price and bought all the add-ons. Let's just say it shed quite a bit of light on how things got to be so bad for him.

I'm not saying that he was homeless because he wasted his money as a younger man, but when you're given a lump sum, maybe you shouldn't start dumping money into top-of-the-line trucks when you don't even have a drivers license.

It's worth noting that he was thrown to the wolves by the producer - a financial planner and homeless advocate were both quickly dismissed as carpetbaggers - Ted decided he knew what was best and saw his life didn't necessarily get better with the cash.

Mo money, mo problems, I suppose.

Anyways, it's easy to overlook this movie, but it's pretty quick and disgustingly entertaining. If you have a few hours to kill, it's worth a look.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

R.I.P. Maxim Magazine

I am a big fan of streaks.

Hitting streaks, unbeaten streaks, games with a touchdown or defenses holding teams without a touchdown, I really dig stringing together unbroken runs.

When I had more time, I'd keep track of unofficial blog streaks - number of days with one post per day, number of days with 20 or more hits - so I tend to pay attention to that sort of thing.

Since college, I've subscribed to every Maxim Magazine that's been available. While I missed the first two or three, a friend at the newspaper I was working at tipped me off when Maxim ran a feature on the 100 greatest guy movies and those of us in the house took it as an unofficial challenge.

Keep in mind, these were the pre-Netflix days, so you really had to hunt down titles as you worked to complete the list. It kept us busy all summer.

Since then (and this year in particular) the magazine has really fallen off the table to shockingly low levels of quality when you look back at the first few years of issues.

The first step to mediocrity was when they became more of a softcore porn magazine as opposed to a guy's magazine. This might seem like a subtle distinction but what was once a magazine focusing on music, movies, video games, cars, grilling and fashion with sexy women splashed on top, Maxim has switched the formula of late to invert the ratios.

Adding insult to injury, while you used to get fairly meaty (hot dog meaty, not steak meaty) features on adventure stories and football/baseball previews, those have gone bye-bye as well.

This year's football preview was barely noticeable after 30 pages of half-naked cheerleaders. Wait, why am I arguing against Maxim again? Oh, yeah, the actual football portion of the football preview was two or three pages at best.

The features and reviews that used to pretty right on are now simple sentences strung together with fewer words than the average barfly can muster after a night of heavy drinking. In short, a magazine that used to be entertaining, well-written and locked in to our generation's tastes is now just a cheap excuse to show someone in their underwear.

Gone are features and tech articles that, while light reading, were actually worthwhile.

I used to defend Maxim to those who would dismiss it as the frat version of Playboy I won't be doing that any more. I guess the phrase "It's like a male Cosmo," can now be striken from my vocabulary. While Playboy has maintained its edge as a smart and well-done publication Maxim has lost its way and this subscriber.

It's always such a shame to see a streak come to an end. Then again, there's no shortage of frat boys to take my place on their list.