Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Chris Benoit? What the...?

My top ten favorite wrestlers/tag teams of the last forever...

10... The British Bulldog, Davey Boy Smith
9... Jake "The Snake" Roberts
8... Demolition
7... Chris Benoit
6... "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase
5... John Cena
4... Degeneration X (Triple H & Shawn Michaels)
3... Rowdy Roddy Piper
2... Sting
1... Bret "The Hitman" Hart

I've been a wrestling fan for twenty three years, back when Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan was in their heyday, back when Hulk Hogan's "Rock & Wrestling" was on Saturday morning cartoons lineup.

I watched all through the years, back when USA featured WWF's Primetime Wrestling, hosted
by Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, not with live shows but with taped matches around the country. Then I watched the rise of the NWA, as it turned into the WCW on the back of Sting and Ric Flair's Four Horseman, and all through the 90s, I bore witness to the WWF vs WCW Monday Night War...

WWF lost the lawsuit to the World Wildlife Foundation for the WWF acronym, then changed its name to the WWE, and all the while, I enjoyed this silly man-opera, scripted, as they officially declared their "sport" as "sports entertainment".

And usually, I get to watch WWE Raw on Monday nights, featuring my current favorites John Cena and Randy Orton and Triple H and Shawn Michaels and, until this weekend, Chris Benoit (ben-WAH).

In the history of wrestling, there is an alarming number of former stars that aren't here anymore... this list is disturbing because I recognize alot of these names (and didn't know some were dead)... but none is more disturbing than Chris Benoit.

Came home from work last night around 930, turned on the last half of Raw, expecting to see more of the current goofy storyline featuring "the death" of Chairman Vince McMahon, only to see footage from the Wrestlemania XX match with HHH, Shawn Michaels and Benoit. I watch a little while longer, confused, as I check my email and the news online... then I see something about Chris Benoit's death.

During Raw, weekly announcers Jim Ross and Jerry "The King" Lawler appear, in an empty arena, both somber, both speaking softly, with Lawler actually looking like he's going to cry. And then they drop the bombshell... Benoit, his wife Nancy and his 7 year old son Daniel were dead.

To the 'net I go, finding out that Benoit had not shown up to this past weekend's big event, WWE Vengeance, due to "personal reasons". Early Monday, the Benoit family was found dead their Atlanta home. And on my way home today, I heard what I pretty already knew... Benoit killed his family, then himself.

The details are simply... well, not "simply", there is no "simply" here... he strangled his wife on Friday night, smothered his son on Saturday, laying a Bible by both bodies, and then sometime early Sunday, he hung himself using pulley cables from his free weight machines. Authorities found steroid medication at the home.

First of all... Benoit? WTF? If I were a cursing man, I'd spell that out, but for now, WTF? I checked the WWE website today for any more updates, and all the video montages, all the wrestler voices and comments and affections, all gone. The WWE store took all Benoit merch out, and they even took his name off the WrestleMania XX dvd, even though he was one of the headliners.

Even if it was a Roid Rage event, I can't imagine someone taking enough juice to take out his wife and kids... in one moment of rage, maybe, but over three days? It could have been steroid rage, or it could have been another issue, or a combo of both. His wife was bound and gagged, an act of deliberation. Truth is, I don't know, and it sucks. This guy was a magnificent wrestler, he was a technical wrestler to a tee, and was a great athlete, even at 40.

This is a huge, huge, huge blow to the WWE. For someone who only knows the name "Chris Benoit" from the news stories you've heard today, understand that Benoit was one of the top five to ten wrestlers in the WWE's entire company. With the departure of such celebrities of The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin, and the repeated injuries of Triple HHH and Shawn Michaels (who comprise one of the most popular teams in history, Degeneration X), the WWE was looking to leaders and veterans like Benoit to continue to train new talent and up and coming personalities.

Not to mention the perception of wrestling that you have. Trust me, long gone are the days that only two-teeth, wife beater wearing, beer guzzling rednecks named Clint and Brooks were fans... those guys still exist, but wrestling is BIG. I mean, really BIG. But now, the popular opinion that everyone in wrestling is a steroid monster will only be fueled by this, the latest death of dozens that is, at least indirectly, linked to the juice.

Eddie Guerrero's death in November 2005 was a big blow to the WWE. Eddie was much beloved by fans and by the league, and he was the poster child for where you can go when you give up the drug lifestyle. Clean for years, he died of heart failure, a heart weakened by his former years of steroid and drug usage.

Chris Benoit is a murderer, a disturbed man troubled by something we'll never fully know. And the WWE has to do what it can to distance itself from a guy they were set to push hard.

Benoit was rolling in dough. It wasn't as if he was a washed out has-been, hitting the bottle and needles, he was set for a huge push in part of the WWE (a push is when the writers--yes, the writers--set up a certain wrestler or personality for main events, success and feature him prominently in shows, "pushing" him to the forefront of the league). For whatever reason, Benoit decided that wasn't enough. And it was over, not just for him, but for his wife and son. No respect for you now, Benoit, none.

I guess when wrestlers are at the end of their rope, they do one of three things--they end it all, they find God, or they continue their fame somehow. My top ten above?

Some just keep being famous...
Bret Hart is a freakin' icon on par with Hulk Hogan
Triple HHH is recovering from a knee injury

Some found God...
Jake Roberts
Sting, who balked at a WWE contract when the WCW folded, despite being one of the most popular wrestlers in history, because the then-trashines of the league offended his faith
Ted DiBiase, who put me in the Million Dollar Hold once. It rocked.
Shawn Michaels, who is still famous, has a great autobiography out, charting his rise to fame and faith.
Lex Lugar, who was messed up like you wouldn't believe, even possibly being implicated in the death of Miss Elizabeth

And some ended it all... like Davey Boy Smith (painkillers and steroids), "Mr Perfect" Curt Hennig (cocaine and steroids), "Ravishing" Rick Rude (GHB and steroids), and now, Chris Benoit.

The difference is, when Smith, Rude and Hennig had enough, they were the only bodies at the scene.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

My Favorite Movies (preface)

Okay... the challenge was to not only come up with a list of my favorite movies, but narrow it down to 100, and rank them top to bottom. One hundred movies, out of the thousands and thousands that I've seen.

Essentially, before I made my "nomination list", I ask myself two questions:

1) Can I watch this movie over and over? Can I see it again and again, and not tire of it, still find it funny, or still find it heartwarming, or at last have scenes in the movie that give chills or take my breath away?

2) When I pass by this movie as I'm flipping channels, do I stop? At least for a minute?

Now, because this list & ranking is in its early early stages, I still have much further to go. My plan is to ask some of you to comment on several of the movies (not yet, I'll let you know) and do a Vh1 mixed with an AFI Top 100 commentary. I know that my friends NYC Jenni, Paula Maddox, Scotty Latta, Matta Latta, Mikey Nipp, Wendi Deckermiller, K-Dub and several more could give great insight to movies they love.

So, here are the movies in contention for Dave's Top 100 Movies of All Time:

The Abyss, Adventures in Babysitting, Air Force One, Airplane!, Aladdin, Alien, Aliens, Almost Famous (the directors cut), American Graffiti, American Pie 2, The American President, An Affair to Remember, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burghundy, Apollo 13, The Aristocats, Armageddon, Back to School, Back to the Future, Beaches, Beauty & the Beast, Beavis & Butthead Do America, Beetle Juice, Big , The Big Chill, The Birds, Black Dog, The Bodyguard, Born in East LA, Bowfinger, Braveheart, Breakdown, Breakfast at Tiffany's, The Breakfast Club, Broken Arrow, A Bug's Life, Cars, Casablanca, Castaway, A Christmas Story, Christmas Vacation (National Lampoon's), City Hall, Cliffhanger, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Collateral, Coming to America, Con Air, Crimson Tide, Dave, Dazed & Confused, Deuce Bigalow, Die Hard, Die Hard 2: Die Harder, Die Hard with a Vengeance, Dirty Dancing, The Dirty Dozen, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, Dogma, Dumb & Dumber, Election, Erin Brockovich, Ever After, Evolution, Face/Off, A Few Good Men, Fight Club, Finding Nemo, The Firm, A Fish Called Wanda, For Love of the Game, Forrest Gump, The Fugitive, Full Metal Jacket, Galaxy Quest, Get Shorty, Ghost, Ghostbusters, Gladiator, Glory, The Godfather, Gone in 60 Seconds, The Goonies, Grease, The Great Muppet Caper, The Green Mile, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, Gung Ho, Happy Gilmore, Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets, Heist, Hercules, High Fidelity, Hoosiers, The Incredibles, Independence Day, Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom & the Last Crusade, Inside Man, It Takes Two (starring Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen... no Chris Hansen hasn't visited my house, shut up), The Italian Job (the new one), Jaws, Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back, The Jerk, Jerry Maguire, Jumanji, Jurassic Park, The Karate Kid, The King & I (the one with Yul Brenner being a pimp), The Last Boy Scout, The Last of the Mohicans (the one with Daniel-Day Lewis being a pimp), Legally Blond, Lethal Weapon 1, 2, 3 and 4, License to Drive (Corey Haim & Feldman's magnum opus), The Lion King, Lord of the Rings: Fellowship, Towers, King, The Lost Boys, Major League, The Man in the Moon (the Reese Witherspoon one), The Manhattan Project, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Mary Poppins, The Matrix, Maverick, Mean Girls, Meet Me in St. Louis, Men in Black, Midnight Run, Minority Report, Misery, Mission Impossible, Mo' Money, The Money Pit, Monster's Inc, The Muppet Movie, The Muppets Take Manhattan, My Best Friend's Wedding, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, My Cousin Vinnie, My Life, Mystery Men, National Treasure, Necessary Roughness, The Negotiator, New Jack City, The Night They Saved Christmas, North By Northwest, Notting Hill, Oceans 11 and 12, Office Space, One Crazy Summer, Out of Sight, Panic Room, The Paper, The Parent Trap (with Hayley, not Lindsey), Patriot Games, The Pelican Brief, Philadelphia, Philadelphia Story, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, Pleasantville, Point Blank, Poltergeist, Predator, Pretty Woman, Primal Fear, Primary Colors, The Princess Bride, The Princess Diaries, Psycho, Pulp Fiction, Pure Country, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Raising Arizona, Remember the Titans, Reservoir Dogs, Revenge of the Nerds, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, The Rock, Rocky I, II, III & IV (we know and accept that V never happened), Roman Holiday, Roxanne, Rudy, The Rundown, The Running Man, Ruthless People, Sabrina (the old one), Say Anything..., Scream, Scrooged, Se7en, Sea of Love, Sense & Sensibility (the lovely Steph Leann is raising her eyebrows, but yet, I really did like this movie a lot), The Shawshank Redemption, Short Circuit, Signs, The Silence of the Lambs, Singing in the Rain, Sixth Sense, Sleepless in Seattle, Snake Eyes, Soapdish, Spaceballs, Speed, Spiderman 2, Stand By Me, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, All six Star Wars episodes will be considered, State & Main, Steel Magnolias, Strictly Ballroom, Superman, Superman II, The Terminal, The Terminator, The Terminator 2: Judgment Day, There's Something About Mary, Three Kings, Titanic, To Kill a Mockingbird, Tombstone, Top Gun, Total Recall, Toy Story, Toy Story 2, Trading Places, Training Day, True Lies, The Truman Show, 12 Angry Men (the 1997 version), Twister, UHF, Unbreakable, United 93, The Usual Suspects, Wall Street, WarGames, The Waterboy, The Wedding Crashers, Wet Hot American Summer, When Harry Met Sally.., While You Were Sleeping, Witness, The Wizard of Oz, Working Girl, X-Men, X2: X-Men United and You've Got Mail.

All in all, 260 or so movies to think about, weed out and enjoy. I'm sure a few more will come to me (I just thought about Dumb & Dumber today, which is a movie I am pretty sure will be on the final list) and I'll add them as they do.

You might wonder where the classics are, like Network or Godfather II, or Apocalypse Now... well, I only listed movies I've seen at least twice, and I had to have seen them the first time last summer or before (which cuts out Knocked Up, 40 Year Old Virgin, The Holiday and a few other movies that have potential to really be a Dave Fave)... Steph Leann and I are going to try to catch up on some classics like Dr. Strangelove and 2001: A Space Odyssey this summer, and they may make the list in my five year revision, but this is only movies I've already seen and had a chance to really get to know and love.

You're comments, omissions and suggestions are welcome, nay, expected.

Monday, June 18, 2007


Ya know, sometimes there just isn't much to say... that's why I just haven't posted a thing lately...

Um... "Ratatouille" is awesome. We saw the sneak preview this past Saturday night, and its well worth the price of admission. Its funny, charming, great voices, great story... right up there with "Finding Nemo" and "The Incredibles"...

Speaking of which, how do you pick a favorite Pixar movie? "Nemo", "Incredibles", "Cars", "Monster's Inc", "Toy Story 1 & 2", "A Bug's Life"... I mean, its like standing at the cheesecake counter at The Cheesecake Factory, being asked to pick the best. Its tough.

Watching WWE Raw. They have a storyline where the Chairman, Mr. Vince McMahon got all blowed up in a limo. Not sure if I like it or not.

"The Starter Wife" is great. It's a new USA Network series with Debra Messing, who could have been my Ashley Judd in a different universe. Anyway, sh'es the wife of a rich Hollywood mogul who gets dumped... and its really funny... and sweet. Sure to make my "Coolest Things of 2007 List".

Other things that will probably make the list so far:
"Pirates 3", Jenny Ross, Psapp's "Cosy in the Rocket", "Barack the Magic Negro", Robot Chicken's Star Wars Special, Stephen King's "Cell" and Andrea Brobst gettin' hitched. Yeah, I have been keeping a list all year. Don't want to forget anything.

Okay... here's my new challenge. My Favorite 100 Movies, Ever. Like, making a list of movies that I like, that I watch over and over, that I consider the best movies, to me, ever made. So I've got 194 movies on the nominated list... I'm sure I'll add 50 or 60 more before I begin to whittle it down then rank them. And then post them of course.

Alright... so what are your favorite movies? What are movies that when you're flipping channels, you stop immediately when you see it on? I'm not talking about the greatest movies ever made... I mean YOUR favorite movies, no matter how bad the quality... ("Mo' Money" with Damon Wayans? Stupid movie. Love it)

Send me an email, leave me a comment... I might ask you to help me when I start posting my own list... I want to do an online ranking with a Vh1-type commentary from all over.

You down for the struggle?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

5 Movies, 5 Days

It's been a movie kinda weekend for me... you know, where somehow the planets align, the stars twinkle just right, the time falls where it may, and you get the chance to watch several movies you've been wanting to see, all in a few days...

Friday Night -- "Ocean's Thirteen"
Loved "Ocean's Eleven". Thought it was clever, at the time it was original, and its funny. And its one of the few movies that I can totally recommend the commentary on the DVD (Pretty boy or not, Brad Pitt is a really funny guy)

"Ocean's Twelve" was different. I walked out disappointed. Didn't watch it again until it came on HBO a year later, then I gave it another shot... and liked it. Then I saw it again a few days later... and really liked it. It grew on me quickly, and though I don't consider it on par with the first, I can watch it and not be disappointed now.
So, "Oceans Thirteen" is out, and I wasn't sure what to expect. Reviews were really good, so I hoped it would live up... and it did. The gang is back, out to avenge the injuries suffered by Reuben at the hands of Willy Banks (a smarmy good Al Pacino). I won't go into detail about the plans, but know that Linus (a great Matt Damon) gets a main part this time, Turk & Virgil lead a workers strike in Mexico, Basher channels his inner Apollo Creed mixed with Evel Kneviel, someone cries over Oprah, you feel great sympathy for That Guy Hall of Famer David Paymer, and both Bruiser and Toulour make appearances, as does Terry Benedict. What happened to Tess? You find that out too. And only because I had a huge crush on her in 1989, I'm taking Ellen Barkin over a combined Catherine Zeta-Jones and Julia Roberts (For, like, two months, "Sea of Love" was my favorite movie of all time in 1989).

Like Twelve, Thirteen is like one big inside joke, but unlike Twelve, Thirteen lets you in on the joke so you can laugh too. And like Eleven, you may not laugh all the way through Thirteen, but you'll find your self amused the whole time.

Saturday -- "Knocked Up"
If you didn't liked "The 40 Year Old Virgin", then you won't like this. Directed by the same guy, Judd Apatow, it has a lot of the same people, including Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann, and Seth Rogan is promoted to leading man. Steve Carell even makes a cameo.

Hotness Katherine Heigl is an up and coming E! news reporter who, while hanging out with her sister, gets a little too drunk. She has a foolish one night stand with Ben, a guy that it would take a very drunk hot chick to be with, and kicks him out the next day. Eight weeks later, she discovers she's going to have a baby. Ben's baby.

So the movie progresses as Alison and Ben try to make a relationship work, at first just for the baby, and then after finding out they really do like each other, for each other. This movie is rude, crude, lots of F-bombs, a couple of boobage scenes (though only one is real, the others are the guys watching boobage on tv, which is part of Ben's job. You'll find out why when you see it) and is actually lots of fun. Several things I liked about this movie...

  • Paul Rudd. This guy is really funny. He's been in "Clueless" (which Steph Leann loves), "Wet Hot American Summer" (a highly underrated comedy), "Anchorman" and much more, and each time, he's fantastic.
  • Katherine Heigl. I'm so glad she's more than Izzie from "Grey's Anatomy", and "Nicole" from "My Father the Hero"
  • Abortion was never really considered. It is mentioned as an option, but without explaining how she came to the decision, Alison decides to keep the baby, as if its the only thing she could do. I respect that.
  • Ben's buddies. Several no-names, including Jonah Hill, who was in "40 Year Old Virgin" and "Accepted", make up Ben's entourage, and its classic. If the Deuce Guys weren't Christ-followers, and were into weed and bongs, this might be them. I'd be Ben, of course, with the hot chick.
  • Ryan Seacrest. Hearing the "American Idol" host curse is just about the funniest thing in the movie.
  • Leslie Mann. Also in "Virgin", where has she been? Why am I just now discovering her?
  • It's good that Steve the Pirate is still working
  • Maggie Seaver! We missed you!
  • The pop culture references. From Meg Ryan's boobage to Matthew Fox ("You know whats interesting about Matthew Fox? Nothing!") to a hilarious Steely Dan dis to various other movies and celebrities that are randomly dropped in, it sounds like the Deuce guys sitting around. Without the weed and bongs.
I recommend it only if you wanted to see it--its worth the laughs. But know what you are getting into.

Sidebar: Speaking of Paul Rudd, if you ever have the chance to rent or watch Neil LaBute's "Bash: Latter-Day Plays", do so. It premiered on Showtime in 2001, shot as it was being performed onstage. Three separate pieces, one each with Calista Flockhart (who knew she could do more than Ally McBeal?) and Ron Eldard, both engaging in violence in different ways. The jewel, however, is the middle one with Calista and Paul Rudd portraying a couple attending a wedding. The night drags on, with the girls hanging at the hotel, and the boys going out for a night on the town... and end up precipitating a vicious hate crime. Paul's story telling, and the evil in his character, is chilling. If ever I was to direct theater outside of church, I'd do this in a heartbeat. You can pick up a copy of the script online.

Monday -- "The 40 Year Old Virgin"
I might have been one of nine people in the world who had not seen this movie, and I laughed all the way through it. If you don't like American Pie humor, this is not for you. I say American Pie, but the humor is not as directed at teenagers, as it is directed at the side of us that laughs at things we know we shouldn't laugh at.

Steve Carell, in his star making turn, plays Andy. Andy works at SmartTech, collects valuable toys and though 40, has never had sex. When his buddies Dave (Paul Rudd), Cal (Seth Rogan) and Jay (Romany Malco) discover this, they make it their mission to... well, make him not a virgin. One attempt includes a funny turn by Leslie Mann, but it, like others, fail miserably. Enter Trish (Catherine Keener, who we'll get to in a minute), who works across the street at the eBay store

Though very crude, with lots of F-bombs and lots of crude terms for various things, this is, at its heart, a sweet movie. And oh, its funny... I laughed for ten minutes when Dave used the phrase "Man-o-lantern". First, the fact he's a virgin is met with very little ridicule, which is great considering this world wants you to have as much sex as possible. Secondly, though morons they may be, his friends turn out to be pretty loyal in the end. And third, Catherine Keener.

I really liked this film, even better than "Knocked Up"... Seth Rogan was funnier here, and Katherine Heigl is no Catherine Keener, who delivers a Sydney Ellen Wade performance.

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What can I say? I really like Cat's part in this movie. She sparkled.

Sidebar: "Sydney Ellen Wade Performance". Its time we had a term for this. Every so often, when watching a movie, there is a leading lady who just shines. I mean, maybe not just acting wise, like Charlize Theron in Monster, but perhaps a performance that just... glows. As in, she lights up every scene she's in. Charlize, who was devastatingly good in "Monster" does not, at any time, glow.

This might be subjective, but the epitome of this was Annette Bening in "The American President". Her character, Sydney Ellen Wade, made me love this movie. Annette never looked as good before, or since, that movie. She just... glowed. Lit up the screen with every step, every word. No, its not subjective... I'm right.

Now, I was tempted to call this rare phenomenon an "Audrey Hepburn Performance", but that was too broad a term--Audrey was in a class all by herself, so I use Sydney Ellen Wade to describe such a performance. Other Sydney Ellen Wade performances? Meg Ryan in "You've Got Mail" and Brittany Snow in "John Tucker Must Die" (I didn't say the movie had to be good... but she owns that flick). Oh yeah, and now Catherine Keener in "the 40 Year Old Virgin".

Tuesday -- "Breach"
If you don't know the story, in early 2001, Robert Hanssen, a top dog in the upper crust of the FBI, was arrested and charged with treason. He had been selling US government and military secrets to the Soviets and Russians for the better part of 16 years. On the outside, he looked like a great family man and patriot, but the truth was he was a total jerkweed in every way. Wikipedia has his story here.

"Breach" is the film version of that story, starring Chris Cooper as Hanssen, and Ryan Phillippe as Eric O'Neill, a young FBI agent wannabe assigned to be Hanssen's aide, and to be undercover for the FBI to swipe Hanssen's palm pilot, copy documents and so on.

Based on a true story, and with the real O'Neill serving as film advisor, this is pretty close to how it went down, if I understand it correctly. This is not a film to watch when you are sleepy, but it is a great movie. It builds slowly, with the first 45 minutes showing you what a great guy Hanssen is, almost wanting you to play the part of all the people that knew him before the truth was known. After that, however, you begin to see how... well, evil Hanssen is. His actions and spying ended up putting dozens of US undercover agents in danger, including three who were executed in Russia as a direct result.

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This picture of the real Robert Hanssen always creeped me out. Either he looks like too nice of a guy to do these things, or he looks like a child molester.

One thing the film does is portray Hanssen as a brilliant mind who spied not for the money, but for the game, because he felt unappreciated and underused by his own country. Gary Cole (whom I feel bad for, because no matter what he does, he'll always be Lumbergh), President Palmer and an always fantastic Laura Linney (one of my top ten favorite actors... though I can't decide if she's pretty in a Jennifer Herndon sort of way, or just pretty...) are supporting roles, while Chris Cooper is awesome, and Ryan Phillippe makes me believe in his character, something I'm not sure he's ever done. Well, except for maybe in "Antitrust".

Sidebar: If you get the dvd, make sure to watch the "Dateline" segment in the special features. It originally aired in 2001, right after Hanssen had been arrested, and Chris Hanson is the host. He's got huge hair, and the segment is grainy (what, NBC didn't preserve its film six years ago?), but you still expect Robert Hanssen to be sitting at the counter eating cookies, with Chris Hansen appearing, asking him to sit down. "Um... I didn't know they were Russians, sir"... "I know you knew they were Russians--I've got the documents right here. What are you doing??"

Tuesday -- "Ghost Rider"
By the time "Breach" was over, my mind was wiped out. Tense, taut political thriller, I needed something light and campy. Enter "Ghost Rider".

Based on the Marvel comic, "Ghost Rider" tells the story of Johnny Blaze, who sells his soul to the devil to save his father. Well, the devil's son is loose and trying to take over, and so the devil will let Johnny Blaze out his contract if he'll take on the son and... does it matter?

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The skull guy was Nic Cage's original costar in Face/Off, but he dropped out and was replace by Travolta weeks before shooting. Somewhere, at least one of three Lattas is laughing.

Lots of cartoony violence, a skull on fire riding a chopper on fire, Nic Cage at his "I've got my Oscar, I don't care anymore" best (see: "Capt. Crap's Mandolin", "Lord of War", "The Wicker/Weather/Family Man"), and... Sam Elliott. You cannot go wrong with any movie that has Sam Elliott in it, especially if he's narrating. When they make the movie of my life, I want Sam doing the intro.

It's hard for me to root for an ingenue that I don't find attractive (which is why I avoid Angelina Jolie movies... well, that and most of them suck), so it was hard to root for Nic Cage and Eva Mendes to get together... beyond that, however, I found "Ghost Rider" to be fun, breezy, not too serious and likable. And that's important.

And hey... I'm off Wednesday and Thursday... who knows what I'll get watched by then...

Friday, June 08, 2007

The Real Global Problem

Our planet is in danger. Our planet is dying. Bottom line... our climate is changing so much, due to our recklessness and stupidity, and though I refused to admit it, I am forced to do so at this time.

Have you noticed the facts?
First, in the last 100 years, our global temperature has risen a fraction of a degree? Secondly, Tropical Storm Andrea emerged in the Atlantic Ocean one month before the official start of hurricane season? Third, scientists agree on it, as a consensus.

That's right. I'm talking about... Global Cooling.

I got up yesterday morning, here in Birmingham, AL, in the beginnings of June, and the wind was blowing. And it was only 74 degrees. That's just unnatural! It should be, what, at least 80, even by 515 in the morning?

Did you know that here in the heart of the Southern Heat Belt, I was wearing long sleeves a couple of times in early May? I mean, its ridiculous! May is HOT! May is not supposed to be in the 50s! Ever!!

And this past winter, for the northeast? Whew! One of the coldest on record, ever. I mean, ever.

Plus, check this out... Tropical Storm Andrea appeared a month before any hurricanes were supposed to. I mean, we set this June 1st date on hurricane season, and God has the nerve to allow some weather activity to appear? Who does He is, ruler of all and creator of all? Not to mention the fact that the tropical storm appeared due to unnaturally COLD AIR pushing it down from the Arctic.

Finally, if that doesn't do it, then this will. Our temperature has risen over the last century about a half of a degree. I mean, this past century has brought the boom of civilization, from cars to factories to power plants to everything else... and we could only make it rise ONE HALF OF ONE DEGREE??? That means right now, it's 85 degrees... and 100 years ago, it was 84.5 degrees. Crazy! We're in sooooo much trouble!

We've got to act now against this threat. I mean, in 1997,
only 17 percent of Meteorological Society and the American Geophysical Society thought global warming was the problem, which means that 83 percent must think its the opposite--GLOBAL COOLING!!

Remember, consensus equals science, right? Doesn't matter if the facts support it or not, as long as there is a consensus to an idea, then it MUST BE TRUE! If I can convince some of you that global cooling is real, then it will become so! Of course, to make it real, I have to get the Hollywood types involved, because only Martin Sheen (who was president for 8 years on tv, so he knows what he's talking about), Sean Penn and Alec Baldwin (who, thankfully, has not moved out of the country even after promising to do so) and Sheryl Crow (you might not want to shake her hand...) have had scientific training in weather patterns, so they know.

Thankfully, there are people leading the way...

Algore is a pioneer in the efforts to stop global cooling. Even though the United States is trying to stop the solution, he refuses to condemn China for their carbon emissions, and thereby is allowing China to help heat this planet. Go Chi-Coms!

Escapism from the problem is effective too. What better way to stop thinking about the dangers of Global Cooling than to sit for two hours at the comedy he put out last year? I mean, the fantasy took my mind off things.

And the fact that Algore and his family live in the 10,000 square foot, 20 room, 8 bedroom home in Nashville (the one that has the annual $30,000 power bill), plus another 4,000 square foot home in Virginia, plus, he refuses to buy into this whole "wind power" argument, nor has he (or will he) dumped his stock in Occidental Petroleum (he owns 100s of thousands of stock dollars here) means tha Algore is living a warming lifestyle. And I thank him for that.

Thank you to Paula Maddox, Matt Latta and a number of you that drive SUVs. You are helping to warm this planet, though admittedly, not much. But my friend, Daniel Powell, who drives a Prius? You, Daniel, are allowing this planet to cool, and should be admonished.

Thanks to Europe,
who's global emissions are up 16.4%, and to Canada, 23.6%, both estimates from 1990 to 2002. Other countries who deserve admiration for their efforts to warm the planet? Ireland, 40.3%. Portugal, 59%. Spain, 46.9%. As for the United States, our global emissions only rose 16.7%. We deserve the condemnation done by Algore, Leonardo de Caprio, John F Kerry (who served in Vietnam) and others... with what has been said about our country worldwide, you'd think our percentage rise would be 50 or 60%, but no... only 16.7%, despite being essentially the economic drive behind the entire world. We can do much more to warm this planet and we must.

I do appreciate the mass media giving us feel-good reporting. Not a peep about global warming during the cold, cold winter suffered in the northern United States, but they are so great about letting us know every single day about global warming now that its getting warmer. Who knew that summer would bring about hot temperatures? I mean, it caught me off guard too.

Plus, taking that picture of the polar bears on the ice, and telling us all that the bears were trapped on the ice, ice that had melted because of global warming... good effort to warm our spirits. I mean, its not hard to know that picture was misrepresented, especially when the photographer came out and admitted the two bears weren't trapped on melting ice, they were playing on that ice, and
the original story the picture was from had nothing to do with global warming.

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If only Global Warming was real! Then we'd have a fighting chance against this deadly cooling!

Personally, I think the best way to do this is to get the President to fire up his hurricane machines, and head for minority areas. I mean, since he doesn't like black people, and he (and not School Bus Nagin and Gov'nr Mary in LA) is solely responsible for everything that happened in New Orleans (but not Mississippi, who was hit just as hard, but has a Republican Gov'nr, so they don't count), he's the best person to get this global cooling fight underway. Do something, now, Mister President. Screw this stupid protecting America conflict in Iraq. GLOBAL COOLING is the real fight.

We've got to act now. I beg of you, my dozen or more readers, will you help me?

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Hey... Lionel Richie Is Universal

We're sitting at The Purple Onion, a great Greek place here in The Ham, and just having great conversation like best friends do. Over head, we hear "You are the sun, you are the rain, you make my life a foolish game...", so turn to Steph Leann and say "Hmm... kinda weird we'd hear Lionel in The Purple Onion.

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Say you. Say me. Say it for always. Lional Richie.

Without missing a beat, she says, "Hey... Lionel Richie is universal". So, then, a few weeks later, I'm sitting and watching Vh1's Most Softsational Songs, and during "Hello", one of the commentators says "Did you know Lionel Richie is huge in Iraq?" Cut to L-Rich himself who says "It's weird, because they know every word to every song...", and then you see an Iraqi woman who says, in broken English, "Allo... is it me you look for? I wonder where you are..."
So, yes, Lionel Richie truly is universal.

Here's some links and stories to pass the time today...

I just discovered Scott Baio has his own reality show, coming on Vh1. The title? "Scott Baio is 45 and Single"

Okay, so when I said "Scott Baio raise your hand if the first thing you thought of was "I want Charles in charge of my days and my nights..."? And I'll bet 90% of you who did not raise your hand haven't ever heard of Scott Baio, and that saddens me.

Unfortuntely, I don't have many font options here on Blogger. Though I prefer Trebechet, it doesn't transfer well to MySpace, so I just use Georgia, the default font. When doing documents and spreadsheets, my font of choice is Arial Narrow. Count me in the crowd that thinks Comic Sans is overrated and overused. However, I must beg the question, what's up with Helvetica?

Ever bought a CD because of a great song, only to find out its the only good song on the whole album? This happened to me in 1992 when I picked up The Proclaimers "Sunshine on Leith", because "500 Miles (I Would Walk)". Terrible album, save for one single good track. Rolling Stone has issued their own list of the 25 greatest songs from bad albums. Elton John is listed twice.

Along the same lines, Spinner Magazine listed its choices for the 25 Most Monumental Album Flops. I was a little shocked, yet amused, that U2 was first band on the list. (By the way, I totally own "Fairweather Johnson" and think its awesome. So there. Of course, I also own "Glitter", but... um, next link)

Here's something fun... what would Lilly Rush from "Cold Case" make? Or, what about Lynette from "Desperate Housewives"? As in, what would they make in the real world? And Meredith Grey makes far less that I would have imagined...

And speaking of Grey's Anatomy, Katherine Heigl is a smoker. That turns me off totally... of course, as the episodes have rolled by, and Steph Leann and I have watched them season by season, I'm beginning to think that I find Meredith more attractive than Izzie. My lovely wife, however, is still a McDreamy fan.

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Shouldn't the twentysometing hot blonde be preferrable to the late 30s brunette? Perhaps not. Maybe is a sign 'm getting older. I mean, thirtysomething Steph Leann is preferrable any blonde I know.

FYI... just saw this story on Fox News. Because I know her, I actually knew this months ago. I've seen them together. It was so odd, I called my wife and my sister to tell them so. Personally, I am surprised it took this long to hit the news, but really don't think its a big deal.

Want a way to kill, like, an hour when you should be working? I got four words for ya...
Celebrity Mustache dot com

It has a great picture of a mulleted Michael Bolton AND a Stamos sighting

Crap! I can't believe we missed it! Bidding ended on June 1st! (well, it cost $5,000 to ship, so I guess its okay that I didn't win it)

Went to Wal-Mart earlier tonight, and three things caught my attention...

1) As I was driving through the parking lot, the ice cream truck was pulled over. Next to it were three police cars, officers walking around the truck, and some dude being interrogated. I was expecting Chris Hansen to walk out holding chat transcript and say "why don't you have a seat right there". (by the way, I'm totally buying his book)

2) I stopped by Sonic (settle down, settle down, I had a grilled chicken sandwich and a Coke. No tots. For those who know me well, "no tots" is a big sacrifice). While I waited for the food, I heard Gwen Stefani's "Sweet Escape" over head. Now, I like this song, I really do... but I have heard it SIX times this weekend, none on the radio--its in restaurants, gas stations and on tv shows. And I always hear Akon's "woo-hoo! wee-hoo! woo-hoo! wee-hoo!"

3) Every Wal-Mart has this aisle they just throw various crap like books, toys, electronics, socks, baby gear, and slap a red sticker on it with a "get this crap outta here!" price on it. While perusing the aisle, I noticed a radio/cassette Walkman. When I was in 8th grade (in 1989), I wanted one soooo badly. It was like, $40, and no 8th grader has $40 lying around. So I never got one. Tonight, however? $4. Four dollars. I almost bought it just on principal.

As reported to me first by my friend Nikki, they are planning to build a Harry Potter theme park in Orlando's Universal Studios. How much fun will that be? Perhaps it will be done by Thanksgiving, when we head that way.

Watching some of MTV's Movie Awards, and like it has been the past few years, its pretty boring. Of course, Sarah Silverman's really dirty (but really, really funny) jab at Paris Hilton was great, if only because they cut to Paris in the audience, and she was not happy.

Mike Myers got the Generation Award, or whatever they call it, and though I like Mike Myers, it surprised me that when he came out to accept it, he got a good applause... but no standing ovation. They always give standing O's when getting a special award like this... but not this time. The Sports Guy said it once, and I agree... has any series of movies held up worse over time (as in, we just don't quote or talk about them like we did when they were new) than the Austin Powers movies? Except maybe the Wayne's World movies?

Two songs I just downloaded... "What a Fool Believes" by The Doobie Brothers (with Michael McDonald singing lead), and "This Is It" by Kenny Loggins.

New movie called "Good Luck Chuck" coming out this summer. Starring Dane Cook, its about a guy who finds himself the victim of some curse because when he sleeps with a girl, she finds the man of her dreams. This makes him very popular with the ladies who are looking to settle down.

The only reason I mention this is because this has been done before... well, not exactly, but I found myself in the midst of a similar situation. Like, from 1993 to 1996, I was in this streak where six out of seven girls I dated married the guy they dated after me, including Chrissy Bullock, Heather Howell and Melanie Jackson, (whom I count because she didn't really date Reggie McCallister).

Because I've always loved her, even since college, I naturally try to see any movie featuring The Hollywood Goddess. Her latest flick, "Bug", stars said Goddess and some guy named Michael Shannon, who starred in the stage play the film is based on.

The Hollywood Goddess plays Agnes, who, for whatever reason, actually lives in a rundown Oklahoma middle-of-nowhere motel room. She works in a lesbetarian bar with her friend R.C., and one night R.C. brings into Agnes' room a strange guy named Peter Evans (Michael Shannon). He actually sounds like Peter Weller, to be honest.

Anyway, long story short, Peter gets paranoid that he is crawling with bugs, internally and externally, and Agnes is so lonely and desperate for anything to believe in, she hangs on his every word... and slowly, the couple... (wait for the cliche)... descends into madness.

This movie was weird. I'm not even sure if this qualifies for The McGriddle Effect, to be honest with you. As soon as the lights came on at the end, this brother and his boo in the front row both stood up, and he shouted "We gotta get up outta here".

"Bug" makes for another entry into a unfortunately growing longer line of crap that The Goddess has found herself a part of. Perhaps after I finally do my Nic Cage blog, I'll do one about my love and devotion to Ashley Judd.

And finally, my favorite Lionel Richie song is "Stuck On You". Its a great little that says "Im stuck on you, I got this feelin' down deepin my soul that I just can't lose... I guess I'm on my way. I needed a friend, and the way I feel now I guess I'll be with you 'til the end... I guess I'm on my way. I'm mighty glad you stayed."

Story goes that Lionel was on tour in the early 80s, and he was at a truck stop. Big trucker dude came up, and told Lionel how much he loved that "Once, two times, three times my lady" song. Lionel smiled, accepted the compliment, and the trucker followed it up with, "Yeah, reminds me of my ol' lady. We been together a long time. I shore am stuck on her."
The phrase "stuck" with Lionel and he went back to his hotel room and wrote "Stuck On You" in about thirty minutes. And now you know.
And knowing is half the battle. (GI JOE!!! Woo-hoo! Wee-hoo! Woo-hoo! Wee-hoo!)

Saturday, June 02, 2007

The Fat Boy Chronicles

I feel fat.

No, actually, I am fat. Or at least, a little bit overweight. Truthfully, I'm right at 192 pounds, which is great for someone who is 6'2, but as I'm 5'7, it's just not good... or healthy. My lovely wife, Steph Leann, has had this ongoing bet for about two years now, a bet that relies on both of us reaching our goal weights... and conversely, a bet of which neither of us has come close to winning.

My goal weight? 163. Thirty pounds. I think I can do it... maybe... the reason I haven't really tried is that I just haven't wanted to. I mean, I guess I should have, as currently there are sticks of Land O'Lakes in my arteries, still in the wrapper.

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Me, with my buddy Zurg, at NYC's Carnage Deli in 2005. Note the Dr. Brown's Cherry Soda and the big honkin' piece of cheesecake in front of me. This is how I ended up actually gaining five pounds on a mission trip. This is pretty much me now.

My problem is like everyone else's... I like to eat. Notably, I like to eat fried foods, and I just luvs luvs luvs me some sweet tea. But I think the tubbiness is getting to me, and I just don't like it. Summer time is coming quickly, and one of these days I'd like to be able to take my shirt off poolside without fear that the small children will need therapy. Plus, I'm nearing the point where man-boobs develop. I don't want man-boobs. Who does?

You're thinking to yourself "Why the heck is he taking up good blog space about movies and music and everything else to talk about his chunk?", and I answer you, first, "Because it's my blog, and I can."

Secondly, I can explain the goal so you can follow the progress... here on Saturday, June 2nd, 2007, I'm at 193 pounds. The goal is to lose 30 pounds by Thanksgiving week. I am going with Steph Leann and her family to spend 8 days at Walt Disney World, and I think that's a good, realistic goal time, that being six months. How will I do it? Leave that to me.

Oh, the bet? Steph Leann and I both have realistic, comparable goal weights. If she gets to her goal weight first, then I have to sit with her and watch the unbearable, horrible crap that is "The Way We Were", starring Barbra Streisand (I mean, come on... she whines all the time, and isn't even a little good looking--not even in a Jennifer Herndon sort of way). What's worse, I can't make jokes. I have to smile forcibly and pretend I'm having the time of my life.

If I get to my goal weight first, then she sits with me for a fun, action filled evening with a screening of the Oscar winning, Patrick Swayze/Meat Loaf magnum opus "Black Dog". Nominated for six Academy Awards, including Randy Travis for Best Supporting Actor, (Debra Neil-Fisher & Sabrina Plisco-Morris got the lone win for Film Editing), its a joy of a film that I'm excited to use as a tool to further strengthen an already great marriage

On an unrelated note, I was flipping channels and one channel has "Godzilla" from 1998, and the next channel has "Minority Report", which I'm watching now. There isn't much more room for a leap in quality when you go from "Godzilla", an absolute piece of bantha poodoo, to "Minority Report", a brilliant movie that only gets better with age. It's like having old Spam for lunch, then filet for dinner. Or watching "The Way We Were" on one channel, then seeing "Black Dog" on the next.

As this begins tomorrow--and yes, I know, people say "My diet starts tomorrow!", but hear me out--I've determined there are two things to do... once "final meal", and one "final glass". What I'm venturing on isn't really a diet, per se, its more of a major adjustment to what I eat and a commitment to more exercise, and it deserves a last treat.

One I just had. Dinner at Top China Buffet. Some of you may remember the last time I ate there, this happened. Well, I went back, didn't eat nearly as much this time around, and am happy with my "last meal" selection. My other treat... a big glass of sweet tea from Guthrie's Chicken Restaurant. No chicken, just the tea. But since this might be the hardest thing to give up, I'm going to do it once more, to savor it, to enjoy it, to have it once more... I might even sleep with the empty cup tonight.

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This is me much cuter, 10 years ago, hanging with my friends Heather Howell (left) and Shelby Logan (right). This is how I'm hoping to look, add 10 years, by November.

One more thing. Remember those potato sack rugby hoodie shirts that were popular in the early 90s? My friend Miranda Bryant gave me one my freshman year in college. Loved that shirt. Its in the back of my closet. My goal is to wear that shirt on the Disney trip.

Alright, that's my piece. I dared to humble myself by admitting how much I weigh, only so I'll look awesome when I blog in November that the goal has been reached. Now, I'm off for tea.