Sunday, July 09, 2006

So A Pirate and A Guy In Tights Walk Into A Bar...

A thousand apologies for the delay, but it was decided we were going to Niagara Falls this past weekend, and considering the gambling problem I have, it’s against my nature to pass up any trip north of the border unless there’s a really good reason. I also need to apologize for the fact I haven’t seen Pirates of the Caribbean 2 yet, and it’s been over a week since Superman Returns came out and I’m just now going to touch upon it. My one role for the two dozen people who read this blog and the greater cyberspace is to A) Watch a lot of television during the school year so you don’t have to waste your time on subpar programming and B) See the summer blockbusters/dark horses and let you know about them. Basically, I’m sucking at my job right now. Still, we move on…

Are You Ready For Some Football?: I was working out on the road last week, and we were in the Freeport area. We cruised past a house which had a car parked outside proudly displaying a large yellow jacket sticker on the back window. I immediately had a visceral reaction, my stomach churning and an unreasonable hatred towards that enlarged hornet simply because we are under two months away from the Notre Dame/Georgia Tech game, and sides must be taken. I also pored over the Georgia Tech section in Phil Steele’s preview magazine, and while I’m slightly worried, if we keep the turnovers down, we’ll be fine.

Also on the Georgia Tech game line of thought, things are slowly coming together for our massive road trip down to Atlanta, which will also involve some terrific stops in both Dayton, Ohio, and Athens, Georgia. Unless there’s either a breaking of our automobile or Brady Quinn’s leg, I can’t envision this trip falling anywhere short of legendary.

(Also, for you Penn Staters reading this, the lowest ticket price for your beat down on September 9th is up to 623 dollars. Save your money to buy alcohol to console yourself after the horrific loss.)

And The Whole Time, All I Thought About Was Dean Cain, Teri Hatcher and Rachel McAdams: I went into Superman Returns like I had went into no movie before it: I really wanted to hate it, had no real desire to see it, but felt that it was unfair for me to bash a movie I hadn’t seen. It’s sort of like why I always watched Steeler games, even after Sunday Ticket, as its ignorant to hate on something that you’re not well-informed on.

Superman Returns, as much as I’d like it to be, isn’t a total bomb, but it is no way on the same level as Spiderman 2 or Batman Begins. Do I feel this way simply because I find the character of Superman and the fact he’s utterly invincible rather boring when put against the humanity and angst of Bruce Wayne and Peter Parker? Probably, although I’ll give Brandon Routh credit for playing a pretty game Man of Steel and mild-mannered Clark Kent. He was suitably dorky as Kent, and fit into the blue tights pretty well in the action scenes there were.

I loved the Jimmy Olsen, missed Lane Smith as Perry White, thought Kevin Spacey was great as Lex Luthor, enjoyed the cameo of Kumar as one of his henchmen but couldn’t get over the fact Kate Bosworth was just sort of there was Lois Lane. She wasn’t that heroic, she wasn’t that sassy, she never seemed that smart or in need. I just kept thinking how utterly perfect Rachel McAdams would have played the role, and I wish she’d been offered more money or whatever it took to get her into the role. If she was worried about being typecast, I doubt there was any way it would have happened, considering the popular conscience already views her as “that girl from The Notebook” or “that girl from Wedding Crashers”.

While I thought the casting would be the main problem, the real problems arose with the plot. Luthor’s plot didn’t really make sense considering his new continent seemed to have the marketable traits of a rock quarry, and I can’t imagine someone viewed as a criminal the caliber of Lex wouldn’t at least had tabs kept on him upon his release from prison. The other problem falls to the fact that anytime they bust out the “Oh, Superman might die” card, it’s less believable then when applied to any other hero. They drug it out for way too long, considering there was no way he dies, and it just felt like even though the movie was nearly three hours long, they didn’t fit that much into it. Limited interaction between Lois and Clark, although I did really like the fact Lois was winning her Pulitzer for an article entitled “Why The World Doesn’t Need Superman”, then was faced with the fact that it really did.

Overall, I’d give it somewhere around a B-. If you’re not a Superman or super hero fan in general, don’t bother, despite the flashes of goodness involved.

On The Other Box Office Hand…: I’m glad Johnny Depp showed the Superman crew a thing or two about a summer blockbuster, putting up $132 million over the opening weekend. To put that into perspective, despite the Man of Steel having an eight day head start, it has grossed a mere nine million more than Pirates at this point in time. That really is amazing, and the early feedback I’m getting back from people – my sister, Kady – basically state that it’s not as good as the original, but still definitely worth seeing. There’s some sort of cliffhanger ending (I’ve stayed away from reviews in order to avoid any sort of spoilers), but just remember that as far as trilogies go, both the Star Wars and Back to the Future trilogies had massive cliffhangers after their second act, and Temple of Doom was by far the worst Indiana Jones offering, but they all turned out to have acceptable-to-great finales.

I also feel I’m really going to have to see The Devil Wears Prada just for Meryl Streep’s performance. And as we sobered up in the hotel room Saturday morning, ESPN ran an extended commercial for Talladega Nights. Good to see Will Ferrell able to cut loose and be his Anchorman self again. High expectations for that flick.

A Blackjack Lesson For All Of You: We (and by we, I mainly mean Andy MacKrell) always floated a theory around the gambling parlors that if you simply doubled your bet after every loss, you were sure to eventually recoup your money and get back on track. At one point on Saturday night, Pete and I were cruising along and I was up so big that I decided to run the experiment part of the scientific method on that hypothesis. I actually cut it short, thankfully, maxing my bets out at fifty when they should have probably reached two hundred at the rate I was losing, but the final analysis comes down to this:

Never, under any circumstances, chase your money. Granted, it would be harder for anyone to have a colder streak than I did over the period of time I decided to bet big – and people claim karma doesn’t exist – but simply do not try it. I didn’t win a hand for so long that if our table had been a televised sporting event, they would have put up a “Time Since Chris Wilson Last Won A Hand” clock in the corner of the screen.

This picture is really inaccurate, as under no circumstance should you ever touch your cards.

That being said, after subtracting hotel, food, booze, gas and tolls, I still cleared enough to buy an XBox 360 and NCAA Football 2007. But my, what could have been…

“The Rest is Still Unwritten”: I’ve realized that I’m not really enjoying watch television at all this summer, as Netflix, work and sleeping take up a lot of the time I would generally spend surfing channels. I still love to stumble upon the random Monk or Twilight Zone marathon (both of which were on during the 4th of July), but I can’t wait for the Darwinian process of network television to start up again in September. Still, MTV provides the bright spots, with 22 minutes of laughing at beautiful, rich people for being as petty and maladjusted as the not-so-beautiful and not-so-rich of us.

As entertaining and addictive as The Hills is, the new Real World/Road Rules Challenge has been just as lame as the last one, which means I can justifiably base it on the fact TJ Lavin is the worst host in the history of reality programming. I think if you put him onto Survivor in place of Jeff Probst, they would have cancelled it in the middle of their first run; that’s how bad he is.

My New Favorite Book (Or, It Will Be Once I Fittingly Read It While Flying To Los Angeles): Despite the fact there’s still a couple of books bought for this summer ahead of it in the queue, I decided that I simply had to have this text, which I have been eyeing since the day late last semester Amazon e-mailed me it as a suggestion. If any book was ever written specifically for me to supplement my argument that parents who somehow feel depriving their children of television will make them better off in the long run are misguided, this was it. After I get done reading it, I’ll be able to provide a better argument than “Well, I watched a lot of television and played a lot of video games as a kid, and I’m smarter than you are”, which I hesitate to bring out too much.

By the way, this book might be the antithesis of everything I believe in. If it wasn’t 500 pages long, I’d buy it just for the reasons mentioned previously in discussing Superman Returns. The author actually spoke at Notre Dame one of the last weekends of the semester, but I was too busy to attend his lecture which no doubt made no mention of how the internet connections people without the need for social gatherings and that television actually serves as a unifying force in many cases. I’m not going to talk about how angry this very concept makes me, so let’s just move on…

People Are Caring About Baseball In Pittsburgh: But Only until Tuesday night whenever the All-Star game is over, but the North Shore was absolutely buzzing today with the All-star Fanfest and various events taking place inside PNC Park. Dill and I are heading down tomorrow night for the Home Run Derby, either to attend it and enjoy seeing the likes of David Ortiz and Miguel Cabrera mashing homeruns (sadly, no Pujols or Thome) or to sell our tickets for a tidy profit, pick up some Primanti’s and retire to the Ranchero to watch the entire thing in HD. I think that if you looked up “Win-Win Situation” in the dictionary, that very situation would be listed. Hopefully this showcase of the ballpark and area around it bring some national attention to how awful the Pirate ownership and administration is, but even if it doesn’t, The Saxophone Guy On the Clemente Bridge should get a lot of deserved tips.

(Also, hat tip to Dill for finding this: Who would be cast in the Pittsburgh Pirates movie?)

Chris Quinn and Torin Francis, Together Again: As startling as this is to anyone who ever watched him play at Our Lady’s University, the World Champion Miami Heat actually offered Torin Francis a spot on their summer league team. Perhaps Chris Quinn was just helping him out, as Quinn has also signed onto play along with some of the younger Heat players and other hopefuls during the NBA offseason. Burkavage sent me an e-mail while I was in North Carolina that contained this article, informing me that not only had the two ND players been picked up by the Heat, but so had a bunch of guys I really think could make it in the Association: West Virginia’s Mike Gansey and Kevin Pittsnogle, Michigan’s Daniel Horton and Minnesota’s Vincent Grier.

While obviously Torin won’t have a chance in hell of making an NBA team unless he channels his 2005 game against UConn into an everyday occurrence, Quinn provides some interesting options for the Heat. Gary Payton is either at or very close his retirement and Jason Williams is ever-erratic, leading to the potential of the former Notre Dame point guard either slipping onto the Heat as a back-up point guard or playing off-guard to Dwyane Wade when the Finals MVP is bringing the ball up the floor, providing another spot-up shooter when teams begin to quadruple team Wade. I’ll follow Quinn’s progress – and Torin’s, if anything is ever written about him – on DraftExpress, along with every other summer league game. I thought there were a lot of college football sites across the web, but when you start looking for them, the NBA realm is just as vast and just as thorough.


Consider the comments open for any musings on summer television or Pirates/Prada/Superman. I doubt there will be any updates tomorrow, although there will be no huge gaps like there have been the last week and a half. Road trips with no internet access really kill you.

I also wanted to thank all of you who frequent this, putting up with my typos, lack of consistency in updates and the extended delves into the NBA when nobody cares about it. I’m currently somewhere just north of 28,150 hits according to the counter you’ll find at the bottom of the page, and assuming we’ll get to 30,000 before the end of summer. That number is nothing for a lot of sites, but considering this is just frequented by friends and a few surprise visitors who pop up and drop me e-mails from time-to-time, it makes a guy feel good.

An early Happy Monday. Ugh.

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