Monday, June 26, 2006

"...and then I just took them all out."

My summer’s the last few years have revolved around two basic concepts: the Buccos and the box office. I enjoy a good night out at the ballpark or a Friday night premiere of a new blockbuster more than anything else during the long, hot months devoid of school, when friends are strewn across the country working and shared voicemails after seeing Mr. and Mrs. Smith or Wedding Crashers serve as one of the best ways of communication. The Pirates, and PNC Park, serve as a solidifier of relationships back home, as nothing says “friend” like the person who will blow thirty bucks for overpriced seats, overpriced food and a 85% chance of seeing the hometown team lose. Still, Hollywood usually provides you with a happy ending, and the Pirates usually provide you with some hope, so summer never veers too far off a friendly course.

The Pirates have reached a new low, starting the season slow, showing brief signs of life towards the end of May and beginning of June before falling off in dramatic fashion: the current eleven game losing streak that includes a sweep at the hands of the KANSAS CITY FUCKING ROYALS. I feel the downward streak started two Tuesday nights ago, with the Buccos coming home from a winning road trip where they took three-of-four from San Francisco and were facing a Pujols-less Cardinals team. Jim Tracy sat Jose Castillo in place of The Artist Formerly Known as Joe Randa, the team struck out fourteen times against reigning Cy Young winner Chris Carpenter and we’ve won one game since that debacle. I’ve now sworn off PNC Park, and am strongly considering selling my Home Run Derby ticket and investing it in something more valuable, such as some compost or perhaps some roadkill.

As odd as this is, we’re not rooting against the Pirates. It was a little awkward and a little painful at first, but it’s a necessary evil. Nobody wants to discipline their child or tell them no, but you have to do it for the good of the future. The same goes for the Buccos, as if they lose enough going into the All-Star break – and a winless path is possible, with the White Sox, Tigers, Mets and Phillies all on the docket before the Midsummer Classic – there’ll be no way the national and local media won’t skewer Kevin McClatchey (our cheapskate, owner), David Littlefield (our bumbling, idiotic GM) and Jim Tracy (our disloyal, match-up-obsessed manager) out of town, thus paving the Clemente Bridge with gold for Mark Cuban to come into town and save the day. Plus, as opposed to cheering for the Pirates, which ends in heartbreak most of the time, cheering against them is much like rooting for the casino to come out ahead on any given night: you’re going to be in the corner of the winner.

As crazy as this may sound, the box office may be in even worse shape. At this time last year, we already had Batman Begins and Mr. and Mrs. Smith, while all we have so far this summer season is...well….Nacho Libre? Cars? The abomination known as The Break-Up? Not pretty. Thankfully, Superman Returns comes out on Wednesday and is doing quite well over at RottenTomatoes, but that won’t be without flaws, as the movie is 157 minutes long. That’s not King Kong-long, but it’s approaching. Can Kevin Spacey spew out enough maniacal laughter and one-liners to keep things fresh for over two and a half hours? Hopefully.

They'll always be Lois and Clark to me...

Thankfully, as mentioned in this space last Monday, the future is much brighter. As soon as July rolls around and the World Cup ends, Hollywood has a few tricks up its sleeve. Pirates of the Caribbean 2; Talladega Nights; You, Me and Dupree (hopefully Owen Wilson follows up Crashers better than his partner did); and of course, Snakes on a Plane, which might actually be too creepy – as MacGyver says in Season One, Episode Two, we all have an innate fear of snakes – for me to see in the theater, but the last few months are guaranteed to be better than May and June, if only by default.

So to sum things up: The box office is looking up, the Buccos are looking down.

(Bonus Superman Returns factor: How about a Spiderman 3 trailer? Tingly.)

California, Version 1.0: Running out of things to watch while I bike, I popped in the first season of The OC I’ve had lying around for a while. It’s almost sad to watch the potential of the pilot while realizing what the show devolves into. The grainy camera letting in tons of light when Sandy Cohen is in Chino? Never to be seen again. The depth of the adults, save for Julie, whose underutilized early? They actually lose most of their character traits, getting stripped down to caricatures of their early, potential-laden selves. The fact that these kids go to high school, and there are clique, cool kids and a hierarchy one must attempt to navigate through and exist in? Never seen after the first season.

Somebody could write a book about what went wrong with The OC ­– a timeslot change it definitely wasn’t ready for, Josh Schwartz becoming much too full of himself and loading each episode with inside jokes at the industry and current state of the series, the fact Mischa Barton cannot act, and when Samaire Armstrong left, she had more responsibility thrust up her – but I’m intrigued to watch where things go really wrong. Still, it’s great to see Chris Carmack back and punching people, and I can’t wait for Episode Four and the “Confidence, Cohen” speech by the fantastic Samaire.

One additional thing that I don’t think can be left out is that I don’t think Rachel Bilson is ever hotter than she is in the first episode. Whether it’s the fact when she’s a bitch she’s hot, or just the fact that when she’s wearing a jean skirt and bikini top she can’t look any better, I think Summer becoming so much like Seth maybe wasn’t the best thing in the world. While her transformation was happening, it seemed cool, but their relationship lost a lot of its intrigue when she was no longer part of the cool crowd, he one of the outcasts.

Somebody actually made a collage of how hot Summer is in "The Pilot". Enjoy.

Again, too much time spent on a show that could be cancelled and I wouldn’t bat an eye, but it’s nice to catch up with old friends like Jimmy Cooper and Luke. They are missed.

NetFlix-related Quote of the Week: From Patrick, fresh off renting the first season of Grey’s Anatomy: “Yeah, the first season is a lot better. I think it’s because Meredith doesn’t cry nearly as much.”

Adding it to the queue…now.

My Ex-Boyfriend’s Back, and You’re Going To Be In Trouble: How familiar are you all with the concept of pheromones? More prevalent in the non-human animal kingdom, they’re used to attract mates. After much deliberation, I’ve came to believe that Jason, of Big Ben-lookalike and Laguna Beach/The Hills fame, was either born with or had some form of pheromone dispersal system placed into his body. At least, the majority of the women in California – at least those existing in the Liz Gateley world – should hope this is true, as otherwise they’ve all been plowed by a guy whose goatee is sketch at best and whose conversational skills rival that of a caveman. To be fair to Jason, though, he actually did display a rather rudimentary grasp of the English language on Wednesday night’s episode of The Hills. Still, after watching the Tivoed break-up episode of Laguna – the one highlighted by the fashion show, LC’s white skirt and the Backstreet Boys – back-to-back with the newest episode of LC's Vision Quest in LA, its hard to imagine her going back to him in real life.

Then again, on The Real World, which I guess is somewhat more lifelike than Gateley’s SoCal reality realm, you have Paula getting back together with her boyfriend Keith, who put her in the hospital. But hey, he did go to those court-mandated anger management classes and drive through a hurricane to see her for a couple of hours, so maybe things will work out for those crazy kids.

(I’m not sure if anyone saw it, but Real World was fantastic on Tuesday night. Not only did you have a classic Paula hyperventilation breakdown and the whole house making fun of Svetlana, but some real-life drama with Hurricane Wilma hitting Ft. Lauderdale and laying waste to the hotel the roommates were staying in. And that, folks, is why I did not tend the University of Miami. That, and the insane peer pressure put on by the Seventh Floor Crew.)

Say What?: This from’s “Truth and Rumors” today:

A league source with intimate knowledge of the applicable NCAA regulations tells us that Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis might have rendered quarterback Brady Quinn and other incoming seniors ineligible. --

What?! Where the hell did that come from? Nothing on BlueGraySky about it, and nothing on any outlet more credible than, but still, where does something like this get started? Tommy Z just boxed a professional fight and got paid, yet he’s going to be eligible, so I’m guessing Chuck Dubbs has some idea of the regulations he’s working with. This is either going to be the sweetest season of all time, or an extremely long one.

The opener in Hotlanta is only a little over two months away...

To Add To Your Summer Reading List: If your interests include baseball, sports or business as a whole, you probably need to check out Moneyball. Just a fascinating look at how resources – see: players - discarded by other companies – see: teams – can, with some ingenuity and thinking outside of the box, compete with those who have more money. They say the truth is stranger than fiction, and that certainly holds in the case of Billy Beane, former first-round draft pick and uber-athlete turned GM whose system revolves around finding the players that most resemble what he appeared to be as prospects and staying as far away from them as possible. Also, if you don’t already have an opinion on analyst Joe Morgan, the afterword will certainly feel that there is definitely a need to fire him.

A Warning: Before we finish up, and I apologize for this in advance, the next few days on the Blog O’ Fun – and yes, I will be posting – are going to revolve around Wednesday night’s NBA draft. Now I know that the draft is maybe the least interesting thing to a lot of you, but I love it, so please stay with me until the weekend. For those of you in Western Pennsylvania, the third annual Wilson Ranchero NBA Draft Spectacular will be taking place at 7:00 on Wednesday night, although I’m sure they’ll be some pick-up games and A-T-L going on before that. Alright, finally…

Your Office Clip of the Day: I’m not sure how many times we watched this when it first aired, but the pay-off about putting nickels in the phone? Absolutely priceless.

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