Thursday, August 23, 2012

What August 23rd Means To Me: Neglecting the Blog!

As you can tell, I've been neglecting the blog!

But there is a good reason (well, kinda), I've just been really busy.  Not necessarily with anything fun and worthwhile, but it's been taking up my time regardless.  But I do have lots I want to talk about and once things settle back down, I'll be back at it!

I do go away next week for what promises to be an awesome trip, and once back, I'll be writing.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

What August 15th Means To Me: Hard Knocks

One of the sadder casualties from last year's NFL lockout was HBO's decision not to air a season of it's football/inside training camp reality show, Hard Knocks.  But now it has returned.  Which means my Tuesday nights in August are back to...

Thank God.  I need something until the Amazing Race comes back to tuck me in every Sunday night this fall.

While I do think a football fan would appreciate the show more than someone who doesn't know the game, I have a feeling Hard Knocks will resonate with anyone, as it concentrates more on the human element of the NFL rather than X's and O's. I imagine that if you can get sucked into something like the Kardashians, you should have no problem enjoying the drama of Hard Knocks. 

And every so often it gives us some real reality television.  We were fortunate enough to have the Miami Dolphins as this year's subject, which means we were treated to a candid moment with coach Joe Philbin and Chad Johnson, who recently got arrested for headbutting his wife.  The altercation was the last straw for the enigmatic receiver, and he was promptly released from the team shortly after his arrest.

And because HBO has all access, his actual release has been documented for posterity.  Uncomfortable fidgets and all. (hopefully HBO doesn't take this video down in 5 minutes):

Now, if that was staged, give them both Emmys.  I look forward to the rest of the season. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

What August 14th Means To Me: Tug Of War.

Did you know Tug Of War used to be an Olympic Event?  Yeah, for real. 

Which begs the question...why the hell did they ever get rid of something so cool?  If you've ever been in a Tug-Of War, you know there aren't many better feelings than the moment where momentum has swung your way.  Hell, I remember when we made "Field Day" teams in elementary school, we tried to design our teams with an eye to win Tug Of War, even though most events revolved around sprinting. Why? Because what's cooler than Tug Of War! The Olympics used to have medals for sculpture and poetry (its the early part of the 20th century), and while it's no secret why those programs were abandoned (because they're fucking stupid), why would you also eliminate the ultimate event in team strength?

My father first brought this to my attention over the weekend, then I noticed Bill Simmons over at Grantland kicked the idea into overdrive in his latest mailbag.   In typical Simmons fashion, he suggests we have some reality television version of Olympic tug of war where Gold Medal winners of each country go head to head during the closing ceremonies.  Perhaps the losers could fall into a pit of snakes (or at least mud).  I have to admit, the idea of Phelps and Lochte standing beside Lebron, pullin' rope for the US would be pretty cool.  Like imagine little Gabby Douglas up front, staring down Aliya Mustafina of Russia, desperately trying to avenge her loss in the uneven bars while praying the Commie face plants into a pool of mud (or snakes!).  Yes Commie! Because even though Russia hasn't been communist in 20 years, you know that old hatred would immediately return the moment the tug commences. Pretty entertaining stuff. 

But if we're going to reinstate Tug Of War into Olympic competition, it would make sense if it were less of a show and more a display of strength.  This isn't to suggest that this asshole..

...should be our anchor, but you know which group of participants would excite not only America, but probably the rest of the world?  Soldiers.  The military!

Seriously, is there a greater sign of a nation's strength than it's military?  Regardless of its size?  If you ask the average American who the baddest dudes on the planet are, most would probably point to those Navy Seals who shot Bin Laden.  If not them, some other branch would probably come to mind.  I can safely assume it's similar in other countries.  Also, our greatest Olympic moments (the 1980 USA/USSR Hockey Game, Jesse Owens, etc) took place in front of a heavy political backdrop, and we took immense pride in the strength of our athletes.  Well, why not place the baddest guys on the planet in the ultimate feat of strength?  As mentioned, you know old Cold War resentment would rise again during our Tug Of War with Russia (but, at least, in a safe environment).  Can you imagine the USA/North Korea ratings?  North Korea would train for decades in hopes to beat us in that.  USA and China, the economic powers of the world, putting inflation and interest rates aside, and facing off in the ultimate event of raw power?  Even Revolutionary War analogies would be made when America faced Great Britain (and maybe Prince Harry can be on the squad).  It would easily be a top five Olympic event.

IOC, please let us exert our imperialistic muscle in a healthy way.  Bring back the Tug Of War. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

What August 13th Means To Me: Random Thoughts

Some quick random weekend thoughts!

1) Paul Ryan as VP?:

One word comes to mind:  Rich asshole picks runningmate who loves supporting rich assholes.  Oh wait, that's nine.  Desperation.  OK, that's one.  Often times, if a race is close, a candidate will choose a runningmate from a battleground state in an effort to gain voters in that important area.  That is, unless they feel they are fighting a losing battle and need a "gamechanger."  Does this sound familiar...Sarah Palin?  Now, to be fair, Paul Ryan is not an idiot, and he's a pretty skilled politician.  Joe Biden will have his work cut out for him in the debates.  But Paul Ryan's signature imprint on Washington is his utterly Draconian (and incredibly unrealistic) budget plan that promises to revamp Medicare, privatize Social Security, and shrink all other expenses (infrastructure, military, FBI) to less than 4 percent of the GDP (when, currently, those "others" make up over 12...good luck).  During special elections, Democrats used the budget plan in attack ads to gain seats in traditional republican districts.  Not to mention, old white people were the only demo that had a McCain majority in 2008...and now Romney selects a guy looking to tweak Medicare?  Hmmm...curious choice.  They are getting desperate, methinks.

2) Celeste and Jesse Forever:

Saw this over the weekend.  I liked it.  Never been a huge Andy Samberg fan, but he and Rashida Jones are awesome together.  It's probably trying to be the new 500 Days Of Summer, and it's not, but I thought it was a nice twist on the romcom.  Though not everyone in my theater agreed, judging by the dim comments I heard while walking back to the parking structure.  The Vaseline scene is worth the price of admission alone. 

3) Breaking Bad

The train scene?  Think it took a year off my life. I hate when television makes me so nervous.  The last time I was that nervous watching TV was that episode of Six Feet Under when the crack addict kidnapped David.  Remember that shit? 

4) I got sunburn!


Thursday, August 9, 2012

What August 9th Means To Me: Broncos Football Is Back

I don't care if it's just the first preseason game, I'm beyond excited to watch some football. Here are my thoughts on the upcoming Broncos season...

...through gifs, of course!

Back in April, when I first heard the Broncos officially got Peyton Manning I was ...

I knew he was coming off four neck surgeries, so I was also a lil...

But then after watching him throw in training camp, and reading the glowing  reports, I'm back to feelin' like...

And Bronco nations is all... our opponents. Now, should Peyton get hurt after his first hit, I'll be all..

And when people try to console me, they will be gettin a...

Then, after I calm, and I'm asked my thoughts on the rest of the season, Ill probably just say...

Because if Caleb Hanie ever takes a meaningful snap for the Broncos, the season will be...

Go Broncos!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

What August 8th Means To Me: The Bourne Legacy

I caught a screening of The Bourne Legacy last night, but this isn't really a review of the film.

But if you're curious as to what I thought of it, my favorite part was the ending.  Not because it was explosive and exciting, but because the movie finally ended.  I think it was fifteen hours long. Seriously. But I digress.

When you work in corporate America for as long as I have, it's easy to pick holes in financial logic.  For entities that are all about the bottom line, it's an interesting exercise to see where pennies are pinched and where money is burned.  And since "profit" trumps all, they often sacrifice more for the "product" than they do for the employees that make and design it, so its not odd to see salaries stagnate and perks eliminated, while they freely spend and waste to "improve" the product.

Which brings me back to The Bourne Legacy; which was just an overbloated shitshow of celluloid.  The Bourne series was a pretty good moneymaker for Universal, so it's not a complete surprise that they'd provide the filmmakers carte blanche during production. But having said that, come the fuck on.  I couldn't help but notice there was scene after unnecessary scene, location after unnecessary location just for the sake of grandeur.  Did we really need to see agents die in actual Pakistan and South Korea when the scenes/locations had zero bearing on the plot?  Why bother shooting those scenes at all?  And how expensive was it to go shoot these extraneous scenes?  The movie had numerous places where costs could have been cut, and it wouldn't have affected the crappy movie one way or another.  But, on the flip side, I guarantee you Universal counts how many sheets of paper are used in every copy machine in their home offices.  Throw tons of money at the product and watch it waste away, but cut overtime for some overworked dude because the crappy product shockingly didn't make enough. 

I'm not really sure how to get to my overall point here, but I suppose I can't stand when corporations bitch about the bottom line, fire workers, while wasting money on unnecessary "improvements" to their "product."  There's a happy medium to be had here, but they have no desire to search for it.  Until then, corporations still aren't people, Mitt.   

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

What August 7th Means To Me: Nine Friggin' Years

When I first moved to Los Angeles, a common question I received was "for how long?" as if my decision was some momentary lapse of reason that I'd soon consider to be a mistake.  And I guess I bought into their logic after I was asked for the 60th time.  So my answer became some version of "I'm gonna try it out for a year, ya know, see what happens, and ya know, I'll just see...ya know...ya know" <shrug shrug elbow elbow> "ya know..."

Well, nine years later, I'm still here, and I haven't heard that question since 2007.  I guess since I've now spent more than a quarter of my life in Los Angeles (it still feels weird to put it in that context), it's officially home.  I can't really remember any real goals I had, aside from nebulous ideas of "success", or where I thought I'd be by this point when I first started driving to California nine years ago, but I'm fairly certain it was different from this.  No real complaints or anything, but I supposed the best laid plans rarely come to fruition. I was just a kid then, really, now I suppose I'm an adult (most of the time, anyway).

LA is kind of a weird place; the inertia of it makes it hard to leave.  It's a unique environment that roots itself in dreams and possibilities (and all that shit), and even if such things are mostly a mirage, sometimes it's fun to live in the fantasy.  After all, false hope is still hope, and if living "in the present," is a suggested goal of life, then whatever satisfies that need will suffice.  And LA definitely does that.  Not to mention the weather is great.  Oh yeah and Disneyland is close by...and a few casinos. 

I often consider what it would be like to leave LA, and I'm hardly against the notion, but I have no real intentions on it, and I would miss the lifestyle more than I probably can imagine.  But chapters often open and close without much warning, so I'll see where the next nine years take me. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

What Aug 3rd Means To Me: Women's Gymnastics

I don't care if it's not manly; I love watching women's gymnastics at the Olympics.  Love it.

Yes, every four years, I look forward to seeing a bunch of underaged girls in leotards flying through the air in an effort to achieve perfection.  Was that the creepiest sentence I ever wrote?  Probably. But who cares? Women's gymnastics is really fuckin' cool.

The top level of any sport requires an insane amount of preparation for an insaner degree of difficulty.  Yes, playing in the NFL requires speed and strength I don't have.  Playing major league basefull calls for coordination and quickness I don't have.  NBA basketball?  Too short.  But having said all that, I can physically hit a baseball, I'm ablebodied enough to catch and throw footballs, and last I checked, I can hit a three pointer from time to time.  But I couldn't stand on a balance beam for more than 3 seconds without falling, let alone flipping across one.  Flying off a vault? Please.  Uneven bars?  I might as well save myself the trouble of going to the gym and just flinging myself from a 2 story building and go straight to the hospital.  In fact, I bet the sight of me trying to perform a simple cartwheel would be worth a week of lulz. 

But here are these young women consistently doing the impossible.  In fact, the announcer on last night's broadcast of the women's all around final kept saying shit like "now, she's making it look easier than it is."  And I'm sitting there, shoving food in my face, thinking, "ummm NONE OF THIS LOOKS REMOTELY EASY,WTF ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT."  I feel like I got injured just watching it. 

But, as I was watching, here's the thing that struck me most:  In golf and tennis, the atmosphere requires silence so the athletes can concentrate on their craft.  This makes sense since their sport is detail oriented and requires quite a level of concentration.  The same can easily be said with gymnastics, except at a gymnastics meet, there is generally a number of events occurring at the same time, not to mention odd Russian folk music stopping and starting while someone named Oksana does her floor routine (when's someone gonna dance to something the Five Dollar Footlong song?). I was watching a balance beam routine (which again seems like the hardest thing in the world, and requires an infinite amount of concentration), and the gymnast had to deal with random bursts of cheers for other events AND the annoying music from the adjacent floor routine.  And, despite the odd distractions, none of them ever wavered up there.  If someone farts during Tiger Woods's backswing, he impales the fan with his driver and bitches them out for ruining his life.  It makes me wonder if these gymnasts are actually human. 

So, yes, Russian silver medalist who was crying after not taking the gold, I feel your pain.  You're a competitor, an athlete, you want to do your best and achieve the top level. But take solace in the fact that you have a talent pretty much no one in the world has. 
You're all amazingly cool in my book.  I'm already looking forward to the meet in Rio.