Feb 28, 2008

My Dirty Movie Secret

As anyone who is familiar with my hobbies, etc, knows, I love movies. I love the whole industry. I keep up with the movie rumors and development. I am interested in box office developments. And I love to break down movies and look at themes, messages, imagery, and how they can be seen in the light of a biblical worldview. Movies are today’s art form, in many ways. That’s why I have my movie review page over at Rotten Tomatoes and why I do stuff about the Oscars, etc. I enjoy movies.

All of that being said, I was listening to "Mike and Mike in the Morning" radio show this week. And they were razzing the guest host because he had never seen Gladiator. They said it is required viewing for all guys. That turned into a discussion on what movies “all guys” should have seen. That, combined with a discussion we had with some friends of ours the other day about movies, got me thinking. Me, being a movie buff, have seen a LOT of movies. But there was a long stretch when I didn’t see movies. I wasn’t allowed to watch them growing up. So I had not seen many movies that were made before 1990. So what movies would you, my blog-loving public, be surprised to hear that I have never seen? I was thinking through this question. I wanted to put this up as a list on Rotten Tomatoes, but couldn’t get it to work. So I will put this on here instead. Feel free to post insulting comments.

I have tried to lump them into different categories, and I’ll offer explanations if I think they are necessary. (NOTE: There are no horror movies listed because I don’t watch horror movies. The End.)

These are pre-1974 movies that I never have gotten around to watching on video. All of these have at some point been the point of the following comment: “You haven’t seen that? It’s a classic!”
  • Jaws
  • Scarface (Never saw it when I though violence was cool. Too late now.)
  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  • Gone With the Wind
  • Ben Hur
  • Spartacus
  • Psycho
  • ANY Alfred Hitchcock movie
  • Great Escape
  • Dirty Dozen
  • American Graffiti
  • It’s a Wonderful Life (this one earned a “What’s wrong with you?” from Heather)
  • Miracle on 34th Street
  • Wizard of Oz (Never have seen it all – parts but not all)
  • King Kong (Old one)
  • Godzilla (Any of the old ones)
  • Sword and the Stone
  • The Artistocats
This would be the 1974-1989 era, when I was not allowed to watch movies. And, again, I haven’t gotten around to watching them since then.
  • E.T.
  • Goonies
  • Gremlins
  • Gremlins 2
  • Romancing the Stone
  • Jewel of the Nile
  • Grease (This also falls under No Desire, since I have actually AVOIDED watching this one)
  • Say Anything
  • Better Off Dead
  • Peggy Sue Got Married
  • Heathers
  • Porky’s
  • Meatballs
  • Revenge of the Nerds
  • Fast Times at Ridgemont High
  • Neverending Story (Any of them)
  • Land Before Time (Any of them)
  • Willow
  • Dark Crystal
  • Labyrinth
  • The Wiz
  • The Lost Boys
  • Stand By Me
  • Red Dawn
  • War Games
  • Soul Man
  • All Dogs Go to Heaven
  • Platoon
  • Full Metal Jacket
1990-Present. For some reason, I have not had a desire to see these movies.
  • The DaVinci Code (Rented it. Lasted about ten minutes.)
  • Moulin Rouge
  • South Park Movie
  • Beavis and Butthead Movie
  • Dazed and Confused
  • Reality Bites
  • Borat
  • Day After Tomorrow
  • Snakes on a Plane
  • A.I.: Artificial Intelligence
  • Pocahontas (Only seen parts with Natalie)
  • Stuart Little (Any of them)
1990-Present. I may have wanted to see them. I may even own them. But I have not gotten around to actually watching them.
  • Hulk
  • School of Rock (Own it – never get around to it)
  • Luther (Own it – but have had it usually is at someone else’s house.)
  • War of the Worlds (Own it - $5 – never in the mood for death on global scale)
  • The Green Mile

Feb 25, 2008

Oscar 2008: The Reaction

Well, this proves one thing - don't take me to a gambling facility and hope that I am any help.  I got four right.  Out of 24.  That is just pathetic.  I guess that is what happens when you have not seen anything that got nominated.  Although, the "expert" on Yahoo! Movies only got 12 of 24 right.  What's his excuse?

I can understand the idiocy when it comes to stuff like Art Direction (which I got right on Yahoo! and wrong on my blog - I apparently switched them.  Good move, Staples.  What did the SAT teach you?  Go with your first instincts.)  But, when it comes to technical awards, when I have actually seen some of the films, how do you miss those?  In my picks, I said that I though Bourne Ultimatum should have won everything it was up for.  And it did.  But I didn't pick it.  I overthought it.  I also used that same logic with Original Screenplay - pointing out how the ultimate winner should win, but then picking something else.  And best song.  I pointed out how having three nominations hurt Dreamgirls, but then picked Enchanted to win.  On my Box Office Mojo picks, I said the ultimate winning song "Should Win."  In fact, if I had actually picked my "Should Win" picks on Box Office Mojo, I would have gotten seven right.

So I am an idiot.  And I guess I have no right to even criticize the awards, so I won't.  The only beef I had was with Visual Effects.  It was the only category that I had seen all the nominees.  And there was no way Golden Compass should have won.  There were some great things in there - the fighting polar bears, the flying ships, the battle scene at the end.  But Transformers had to create all the robots digitally and make them look real - which they were VERY real.  And Pirates had so many effects - the maelstrom, Davy Jones, the multiple Jack Sparrows.  Whatever.  You don't get to gripe if you can't even get half right.

I was even off on the length of the show - by 36 minutes.  But, see, I was basing that on if Michael Moore had actually won...

Feb 24, 2008

Live Blog of the Oscars Has Died

Well, I wanted to live blog the Oscars.  But, thanks to the ineptitude and ignorance of Brighthouse Cable, that is not going to happen.  Our cable has been out for two days.  No one knows why.  The technician is coming tomorrow.  Until then, no television.  Somehow, though, our Brighthouse Internet works.  Weird.

But, as I just checking a running tote board of the Oscar winners, I realized that I suck at prognosticating.  I'll give my reactions to the awards this week.

Feb 22, 2008

OSCAR 2008: The Predictions

Well, the Oscars are just two days away.  That's right, two days until the nation apathetically looks up at their television screen, stares at all the pretty people for a couple minutes, and then watches the Bassmaster's Tournament on ESPN2.  I can honestly say that I have never heard less excitement about an Oscar telecast.  That should do wonders for the ratings.  I already explained why this buzzlessness is going on (I think I just created a word) back in my Nomination Reaction posting.  Either the industry needs to start making "Good movies" people care about or make the movies people care about good.  

That all being said, here are my Predictions.  Ordinarily, I would predict the major awards, since I wouldn't have a clue on some of the categories.  This year, though, I am in the unique position of not knowing diddly doo about anything.  Of all the fifty-seven movies nominated, I have seen six (Ratatouille, Bourne Ultimatum, Enchanted, Transformers, Pirates 3, Golden Compass).  Just over 10%.  So, all of my predictions are pretty much guesses.

BEST PICTURE: Michael Clayton
I know, this isn't even on the radar right now.  But here's one word for you: Crash.  Just a couple years ago, nothing was really jumping out at anyone.  There were some movies that were being touted as big things (Brokeback Mountain), but nothing was head and shoulders ahead as best picture.  This year is the same thing.  There are people who hated There Will Be Blood.  Most people hated the end of No Country for Old Men.  So, just like with Crash, people will go with the movie with all the actors everyone loves.  

BEST ACTOR: Daniel Day-Lewis
Everyone loves him.  The only person with a shot to upend him is Clooney.  But if the voters gave George's movie the nod, they won't feel bad shafting him.  Plus he won two years ago.

BEST ACTRESS: Julie Christie
No clue what the heck her movie is about.  I just know everyone is talking about how great she did.  There isn't enough buzz for Linney.  Ellen Page is too young and cute to win (her victory was the nomination, as they say).  And the voters wouldn't dare give Blanchett the award twice for playing the same person.

Two reasons.  One, he is supposedly really creepy and bad guys are hip recipients lately.  Two, it is to make up for his movie getting screwed over.  (Or, if I am way off, it is part of the sweep for his film.)  The sympathy goes to Hal Holbrook.  I just think sympathy won't go far enough.

People are torn between Amy Ryan and Cate Blanchett.  Which bodes well for Ruby Dee.  This is a case where sympathy may go far enough, since there is not a clear front-runner.  The one wild card is how many votes were cast after Heath Ledger died.  If some people hadn't voted yet, they may have voted for Blanchett out of respect for Ledger.  (Seriously, these clowns think that way.)

BEST DIRECTOR: Julian Schnabel
The apathy strikes again.  Enough people feel weakly enough that he could sneak through like he did at the earlier awards.  The nominees are not the "A-List" guys who usually rule - no Eastwood, Spielberg, Scorcese.  So there is not a huge amount of emotional voting - except for the Coen brothers.  I hear that everyone loves them.

I would love to see Ratatouille win, since it should have been up for Best Picture.  But that would be a huge stretch for an animated film to win.  My second choice would be Juno.  I mean, how often will we have a chance to have Diablo Cody (former stripper) on stage for an acceptance speech at the Oscars?  I just think this is part of the apology to Clooney for him not winning.

It has to win something besides Best Actor.  And this would get an award for Paul Anderson.

BEST EDITING - No Country for Old Men
This will actually get the Coen brothers an award, since they are Roderick Jaynes.  

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY - No Country for Old Men
It looks like something that would win this.

BEST ART DIRECTION - There Will Be Blood
I am entering into Guess Mode right about now.

They made a really big deal about the clothes in Atonement.

MAKEUP - Pirates 3
I just can't see anyone giving an Oscar to an Eddie Murphy comedy for anything.

I watched two of these.  I just can't see Michael Bay winning an Oscar, even though digitally creating 50 foot tall robots is impressive.  But that maelstrom was incredible in Pirates.

SOUND - No Country for Old Men
This seriously reminds me of Crash and Brokeback Mountain.  Brokeback cleaned up all the tech awards and then got nothing on the big stuff.

SOUND EDITING - No Country for Old Men
Personally, I think Bourne should win everything it is up for.  But that usually doesn't happen.

ORIGINAL SCORE - The Kite Runner
Don't ask me why.

ORIGINAL SONG - "That's How You Know" from Enchanted
The movie has three songs nominated.  That usually is a good sign.  But, sometimes it just means getting three shafts.  Ask Dreamgirls.

If it does not win, that would be an oversight on par with Saving Private Ryan losing to Shakespeare in Love.  I'm serious.  That is how much superior Ratatouille was to everything else.  It would be a "Top Five Greatest Snub" level mistake.

I don't know.  But, more importantly, I don't even care.

This could also go to No End in Sight.  This is the year - you can feel it.  People are itching to be very political this year.  With the election and the economy.  They want to have someone come up and take a huge shot at Bush and everyone.  Who better than Michael Moore, especially with Castro's resignation?  

For this touching profile of Mrs. Tom Cruise - Katie Holmes.  It uncovers the secrets behind her bizarre relationship with head whackjob Cruise.  What?  Oh, SARI'S Mother?  Whatever.

BEST ANIMATED SHORT - Even Pigeons Go To Heaven
You have to love that name.  

It's about time that the Lone Ranger's sidekick got his due - even if it is about the lives of the women BEHIND the legend.

CEREMONY LENGTH - 3 hours, 51 minutes

See you for the live blog.

Feb 17, 2008


In honor of Jumper, one of the worst movies I have seen in the theater in years, I decided to come up with a list of some of Samuel L. Jackson's worst movie choices.  I haven't seen all of these because I am a discriminating movie watcher.  My point about it is, Samuel L Jackson (with the possible exception of Christopher Walken) has the absolute weirdest taste in movie roles.  He has no problem signing on for complete idiocy - even though he is a really good actor and can do some amazing work (A Time to Kill, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown).

5. Loaded Weapon 1 - This 1993 satire of the Lethal Weapon series starred Jackson opposite Emilio Estevez.  It was so stupid.  I honestly cannot even remember any details of the movie.  I do distinctly remember one detail - I did not laugh during it.  Bad sign for a satire.  We need to cut Sam some slack here, though.  He had not really hit it big yet.  He had been in a few bigger roles, but his big breakout didn't come until the next year with Pulp Fiction.

4. Formula 51 - Jackson plays a master chemist in this 2002 mess.  Let's see.  He is a master chemist who has comes up with a drug 51 times more powerful than any high in history.  And he has cornrows.  And wears a kilt.  And ends up in England with Robert Carlyle.  Yeah, who can explain why it didn't set box office records.

3. The Man - It's 2005 and the movie industry just couldn't wait for the dream pairing of Samuel L Jackson and ... Eugene Levy?!?!  Everything about this movie seemed stupid.  There was nothing even remotely interesting.  Its $8 million haul and 12 rating seemed to show that everyone was equally down on the film.  I mean, when you receive comments like the following, you know you hit gold:  "Worthless movie."  "Utterly and fantastically boring and without purpose."  "This movie is completely unnecessary."

2. xXx: State of the Union - Okay. The original xXx starring Vin Diesel was stupid enough - trying to reboot the whole spy movie thing and combining it with Xtreme sports.  Jackson's character was superfluous and so beneath a C-List actor.  So coming back for the 2005 sequel - which even Diesel was smart enough to bail on - well that's just plain goofy.

1. The Long Kiss Goodnight - You have just come off of three of your biggest hits and best roles.  It seems natural for someone like Jackson to headline a big action film.  But, he just happened to pick one of the dumbest action film in the entire 1990s.  And that is saying a lot!  The movie stars Geena Davis as a housewife who begins to remember that she used to be a ... superstar assassin.  Jackson is a detective who helps her to figure out what is going on.  The movie is so stupid.  And it inexplicably turns ultra-violent at one point.  In addition, it has one of the five most ridiculous action scenes ever, as Jackson and Davis outrun a grenade explosion down a hall and jump out a window  Led me to one of my funnier lines, though.  "I guess that explosions aren't as fast as they used to be."

I know you probably expected to see Snakes on a Plane on the list.  But, even though the movie was horrendous, who else really could have done that role?  It isn't like he shouldn't have taken it and left it to someone else - DMX or Common come to mind.  He was the only choice.  The same goes for Die Hard 3.  Those weren't bad career moves.  And neither were the Star Wars Abominations 1-3.  This list is of movies he should have just bailed on.  And in time, I'm sure that Jumper will take its rightful place.

Feb 14, 2008

Valentine Ruminations

Well,  thanks to the first ever poll on ye olde site, you get to read a Valentine's Day posting.  I am sure that all five of you who voted for it are thrilled beyond belief.  And for the one person who wanted me to write about Buffalo, well, I guess that amazing story will have to wait for another day.  And it is a good one, too.  But since you all wanted Valentine's, that is what you get.
  • Valentine's cards are weird.  Jim Gaffigan makes a good point.  Where did this practice start?  "Ooo, I like what that guy said.  I'll just put my name on this here..."  Some of these things are so ridiculous, too.  "I know I don't say this nearly enough, but I love you."  How many years in a row can you get away with giving that one?  I read one today that said, "I know we don't get to see each other nearly enough."  Huh?  That's a bizarre comment for a Valentine's card.
  • When exactly did cherry start horning in on strawberry's place as "official Valentine's fruit?"  You know, it is interesting.  Each holiday has its own fruits and vegetables for its confections and desserts.  Thanksgiving has pumpkin and cranberry.  Christmas has mint and gingerbread.  But it is such a big holiday that it also lets pumpkin and cranberry crash on the couch and hang around.  Pomegranate is trying to break into the Christmas rotation, I noticed.  7Up had a Winter Themed Pomegranate soda.  It was really good, but I didn't feel all Christmassy drinking it.  Valentine's Day always had strawberries.  Now, cherry is making a breakthrough.  I am cool with that because chocolates and cherries is one of my favorite combos.  This year, Three Musketeers introduced a cherry version.  Dove had a cherry caramel filled chocolate.  I'm sure this feud is far from over, though.  
  • AMC was running a Valentine's Day marathon today.  They showed Father of the Bride 1 and 2.  Can you think of a less appropriate movie combo?  I always get depressed watching those films.  They aren't romantic.  They are sad.  I start thinking about Natalie growing up and I get upset. 
  • Speaking of getting upset about Natalie, Steven Curtis Chapman must have decided it had been too long since Bob Carlisle's Butterfly Kisses was out to make dad's miserable.  He has some new song that I had to turn off the other day.  I can't wait to hear it a thousand times now.
  • My mom and dad had their anniversary on Valentine's Day.  Pretty smart - you eliminate one date to remember.  It was the one night that they would get dressed up and go out.  My grandmother would come watch us.  They would go to Manero's or Raindancer or Beefeeters.  I always thought that was cool.  That was before every restaurant came up swith a Valentine's special to rip you off.  I'm surprised McDonald's hasn't come out with a "Couple's Double Dream - two double quarter pounders, two fries, two large cokes, and two apple pies for just $24.95."
  • When exactly did Valentine's Day become the new Halloween?  When I went to school, you were lucky if you got a cheap cruddy Valentine from half the class.  (I, of course, had to make them for everyone.)  Now it is mandatory to give everyone Valentines.  I think we were the only parents who didn't give more than a card.  Our kids got PlayDoh, chocolate, candy, and some other stuff.  They had a whole stuffed bag of junk that they got at school.  Far cry from the measly bag of generic valentines I came home with when I was young.
  • I don't get this new emphasis on giving gifts on Valentine's either.  Sure, couples doing that is fine.  But you see ads where parents are encouraged to buy their kids stuff like it is Christmas.  What's next?  Cupid is going to start flying around with a sack of goodies on his back?
  • You know what makes a good romantic dinner?  Buffalo steaks.  At least I would hug anyone who made those for me.
  • I would be remiss if I failed to at least mention the person who is my true Valentine - Brad Pitt.  Just kidding.  I, of course, am talking about Heather.  She's so awesome we don't even celebrate Valentine's Day.  Really, we don't.  We've been together for nine Valentine's Days.  I think we have done something special on maybe three or four.  We just don't see the sense in spending tons of money and fighting against huge crowds to prove we love each other.  We spent the night cleaning and watching Lost.  (Man, that show is good.)  I love Heather.  She is perfect for me.  As we move closer to our 10th Anniversary, I realize how much our lives have melded together.  And I am thrilled to be mixed up with her.  She is the coolest, funniest, wisest, smartest, most compassionate woman I know.  She is a great mom, great wife, great student, great friend.  And she'll make a great doctor too.  It's like God gave ME an awesome Valentine.  (We got engaged February 12, 2000)  That made up for all the lame years before.  And that's probably why I don't need to get tons of Valentine stuff now.  I'm still good with the Valentine who I'm mixed up with.  (all together now:  awwwwww)

Feb 10, 2008


Ah the wonder of the movies.  You get a wonderful idea, go through the whole process of getting the film made, release it, drink in your success.  Then twenty years later, you go back and watch it.  I personally believe that the true classics will either be just as moving and relevant in that twenty-year anniversary watching - or even better.  And then you have those movies that are just a complete joke.  At one point, they were somewhat enjoyed or respected.  (Which eliminated Virtuosity, Johnny Mnemonic, Judge Dredd, etc) At some point, something happened.  Some of them are left behind for technological reasons, others for cultural, others for acting.  Whatever the reason, some movies just do not stand the test of time.  For every Quiz Show or Schindler's List that age like a fine wine or premium steak, you have others - like these five - that age like a cheap pile of bologna or an open can of Sprite.

1 - THE NET - 1995 - This Sandra Bullock movie is shockingly bad - now.  I remember watching it when it first came out, back when the interwebs were still in their fledgling state.  The thought of someone ordering pizza online?  How shocking.  I left the film with a sense of worry, wondering if anyone really could do what was portrayed.  Now, I put more information on my Facebook account than the villains in this movie were able to retrieve.  This is movie that was cutting edge in its topic, but just got passed by innovation.  Don't feel bad, Sandra, lots of movies get burned by this.

2 - THE SAINT - 1997 - Val Kilmer was the dashing Simon Templar and Elisabeth Shue was the brilliant scientist (huh?) in this movie update of the classic spy television show.  I remember watching the movie and loving it.  Kilmer was so cool and ahead of the bad guys.  Shue was white hot, coming off of her Oscar nominated performance in Leaving Las Vegas.  There was suspense, romance, science, and a wicked cool new Volvo.  I watched this last night.  Good golly.  The dialogue sounded like rejected soap opera lines written by a non-WGA scribe.  The science was just stupid.  But what stunned me was the horrible acting.  I remember when America thought that Kilmer and Shue were good actors.  But watching them again, I realized that they were terrible.  Heather at one point looked at me and asked if there was a story-based reason why Shue was playing the scientist as a flighty air-head bimbo.  Sadly, I had to say, "No, that serves no purpose."  Even the car seemed dated.  Thanks to the Bourne trilogy, even the suspense and espionage seemed ridiculous.  Made me want to go and apologize to everyone who I recommended the film to over the last few years.

3 - STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE - 1979 - I know I stand on dangerous ground, daring to take shots at Star Trek.  I mean, it is Star Trek, and it was nominated for three Oscars.  But come on, this film was sketchy when it came out.  And it gets worse every year.  Now it HAS to be considered a comedy.  I mean, after the subsequent Star Trek series, we are seriously supposed to be threatened by a giant Simon game as a villain.  And the questions that a new viewer would ask.  Why is everyone in their jammies?  What is Brittney Spears doing in this movie?  Why is Rev. Camden getting uppity with Captain Kirk?  Did they forget to take the soft focus filter off the cameras?  Why did they actually go backwards in their technological advances as time went on?  Were these special effects by a teenager on his Mac?  It is a miracle this franchise survived.

4 - DANCES WITH WOLVES - 1990 - This movie is a perfect example of how an actor's later personal behaviors affect how a film is viewed.  In 1990, Kevin Costner was at the top of the acting world.  This film was smack in the middle of a nine picture winning streak to rival anyone in cinema history.  And Costner did one better by directing and everything.  It was like awards couldn't be thrown at the film fast enough.  Twelve Oscar nominations.  Seven Oscar wins, including Best Director and Picture.  It was a great, sweeping epic.  But Costner seemed to go on a ego-trip, partly as a result of it.  He went on to a much less successful streak, and some very questionable projects - especially the huge money pit Waterworld.   Now, films like this and JFK were seen not as masterpieces, but as an ego-stroking cheap version of history.  This was further reinforced by Costner himself, who just became unlikeable and narcissistic.  

5 - WAYNE'S WORLD 2 - 1993 - Most comedies can age pretty well.  I mean, if kicking someone in the groin is funny in 1950, it is going to be funny in 2020, right?  But in this case, this movie does not come close.  The original film was funny and original and (unfortunately) launched the Saturday Night Live movie mine.  But the sequel was everything the first was not - it was bloated and plodding and too orchestrated.  The producers figured by jamming the movie with celebrities and cameos, it would make up for a severe lack of plot or humor.  Instead, the whole movie just continues to disappoint.  When it came out, the characters and actors were popular enough it got a free pass for a while.  Now, if someone watches it, they will have no idea why the movie got made.  The first one had organic laughs and felt natural.  The second one could have been called "The Contractually Obligated Wayne's World Sequel."

Feb 5, 2008

Why I Voted for Huckabee

So today was Super Tuesday.  Something like sixteen states across our fine land cast their votes in their primaries.  Not down here in Florida.  Noooooo.  We moved our primaries up a week to mess with people's heads.  As a result, the Democrats penalized Florida and won't let their delegates sit at the convention.  (For now)  Probably for the best.  Apparently, hundreds of people called election offices in Florida to find out where to vote (huh?).  This was explained away by some people as saying it was confusion from people in California calling the Orange County, Florida election offices.  Um, the 407 area code didn't tip them off?

Anyway, I know that talking about politics is the sure way to get put on the jerk list - or to get punched in the mouth.  But after hearing so much of this political blather, I felt like someone needed to just come out and say how they felt.  I voted for Mike Huckabee last week.  I have been a big fan of his for many months - technically since before he officially was running.  And I have tried to spread the word.  Even after one of Fox News' "brilliant" talking heads said Huckabee was a non-entity and a dead campaign, I still thought there was something worth backing.  I don't think I have been this actively involved in an election ever.  Why?

I have been reading the Reagan Diaries book for many months - it takes a long time to slot through eight years of info.  One thing about Reagan that I was continually impressed by was his convictions.  I honestly didn't know if we ever would see another politician who combined strong convictions with the fortitude to back that up.  I've seen people have strong convictions (I would argue that W does).  And I have seen people have fortitude and competence.  But they don't seem to intersect that often.  Huckabee has very strong convictions.  They have been tested again and again by the news casters in charge of interviews and debates.  He is even willing to make sure that he keeps his convictions honored even if he looks stupid - like with the whole negative ad business when he killed a negative ad the day it was supposed to run.

But he also has been very competent.  His is the most eloquent and presidential in his debates.  The people of Arkansas LOVE him and think he did a great job (I actually got them from some Arkansas residents).  He seems unflappable.  He may not be the most trained on every single issue, but he is a tremendous leader and speaker.  And that is the kind of person Reagan was - and the kind of person people can get behind.

I have been ridiculed by others (even Republicans) for backing Huckabee because he is "unelectable" or because I am "wasting my vote."  I completely disagree.  First of all, it is a primary.  This is the perfect time to back someone who may not win it all.  How else do you show what you believe?  If Huckabee continues to be a pain to the Republicans with his victories and showings, he can't be ignored.  His approach, stances, policies have to be acknowledged.  Some have said that his presence hurts Romney.  I don't care.  Romney should have worked harder or something.  It is not MY job to help the candidate I don't back.

I like the way he ran his campaign.  I like the fact that he has not had much money, yet still is winning delegates and states.  I like his compassion for people.  I like his approach to taxation.  I like his stance on abortion.  I like his approach on health care.  I like his views on gun control and Iraq and blah blah blah.  Probably most importantly, I like him.  Huckabee is a man of integrity.  He is a GOOD man and a FAIR man.  And I for once wish we could have a President that we were proud of.  I know that as a person who voted for W - twice - there are many times I am embarrassed by things that happen.  And I know that some of the stupid decisions made in the last eight years will cost us for a long time.  

I admire Huckabee - his pluck, his drive, his decency, his faith, his family, his hope, his humor.  He is a not a lifelong politician who has guarded every step and sentence for decades to make sure that he was safe when he ran.  He is a normal guy who saw a broken government and thought he could fix it (Arkansas).  And he is doing the same thing now.  He saw a chance to  make a difference and did.  Go investigate how much money he has and see what he did with it.  At one point during the Florida campaign, Romney had spent $30 million on TV ads in Florida.  Huckabee had spent $7 million on his entire campaign.  Guiliani spent six months trying to win Florida.  Huckabee was there for five days and only lost to Rudy by 23K votes.  People like him.  People relate to him.  

I wish that more people had the guts to actually vote the way they wanted - no matter who it is for.  Stop listening to the news shows and the pundits and the spin doctors.  Find someone you trust and can be proud of and take a freaking stand.  Don't vote just based on who can win.  How else will anything get done?  Back someone who you believe in.  Who cares if they have a chance in the world.  If everyone did that, the parties would have to pay attention.  And in the meantime, your candidate may shock some people.  After all, Huckabee did win five states already tonight, and still could win or come close in a couple others.  So apparently he's not such a pointless vote after all.  Like him or not, I know one thing, you can't ignore him now.  I hope that didn't offend you too bad.

Should be Something Super

So I watched the entire Super Bowl on Sunday.  I mean the entire thing.  I missed maybe one commercial - and it wasn't very good.  What I saw - according to just about every sports journalist and talk show host was "THE GREATEST SUPER BOWL EVER!"  After all, it contained "THE GREATEST SUPER BOWL UPSET EVER!" and even had the "GREATEST SUPER BOWL PLAY EVER!"  At least, that is what they all said a million times and still are saying.

Want to know my assessment?  It was okay.  The game was very competitive, but it wasn't that exciting.  The last ten minutes were pretty thrilling, I will admit.  But I didn't sit there afterwards and just stare at the wall, trying to come to grips with what just happened.  In fact, I would say that at least four games this past year were better.  I don't know if it was because I don't have any interest in either team, and I don't know anyone who does.  In fact, the people who seemed the most happy about the outcome were Miami Dolphins fans and the 1972 Dolphins team.  

I wanted something, you know, Super.  I wanted something unbelievable.  I think this is the problem.  With the way that modern media is, nothing can possibly live up to the hype.  We have a solid week of media blitz before the Super Bowl and twelve hours of pregame activities.  This year, I tried a new approach.  I didn't read anything beyond my normal columnists (Peter King, Bill Simmons) and didn't listen to sports radio except for Mike and Mike for my usual 15 minutes a day.  I didn't watch any pregame stuff - except for Alicia Keys' mini concert [Side Note: Why don't they give HER the halftime show?  The girl can sing.  And she's had a hit since I was out of high school.  Guess I answered my own question.]

With my self-imposed media blackout, I nearly forgot about the game.  Well, not entirely.  But it was certainly not a huge event to me.  We had a fun dinner at home with lots of fun food.  I gave Josiah Mountain Dew for the first (and last) time.  We had banana splits.  The kids ran off to watch Backyardigans.  Heather called her sister-in-law.  I sat there with my four month old Gabriel and watched the game.  And mostly was unimpressed.  The commercials were okay - but nothing absolutely incredible.  The halftime show was okay, but hardly impressive.  The game was good and competitive, but not something I am going to be crowing about in ten years.  It was a blip.

Sports in general are becoming that to me.  Want to know how much of the BCS Bowl games I watched?  All combined, maybe three quarters.  I maybe watched ten minutes of the championship game.  I didn't care.  I watched none of the World Series.  I only watched bits and pieces of the NBA Finals.  Unless it is one of the few teams I am pretty serious about (UCF, Orlando Magic, Yankees, Jaguars) I don't want to be that invested in the whole thing.  I can't relate to these guys.  They are freaks of nature - huge mountains of men, towering over us.  They earn ridiculous amounts of money.  We know too much about them.  Back when sports coverage was limited to the paper and a few minutes on the local news, these guys were mysteries.  We didn't know they were dating supermodels and using HGH and fighting with ownership over money.  We never saw their agents.  They were these Titans for us to look up to.  

I remember when I was a kid, everyone had sports players as their heroes.  Nowadays, I would never steer my boys towards an athlete as a role model.  I mean, take a look at the people in the Super Bowl.  You have the Patriots, a very driven and business-like team that has drained every ounce of fun out of this "game."  Their coach is a humorless, rude, arrogant genius who treats everyone out of his circle like dirt.  Their star quarterback is a celebrity with shaky morals.  Their star receiver has been a cancer on every team he ever played on.  Their main running back was so spoiled and wussy that his own teammates turned on him before he got straightened out.  Their top defensive back held out for money - even though he was one of the five highest paid at that position.  Their top safety was suspended for steroids, and for illegal hits.  And the whole team has already been busted for cheating - and is probably going to be in bigger trouble soon.  And it goes on.

The Giants?  Their coach is a foul-mouthed and borderline abusive tyrant who only changed his ways when he was about to get fired.  Their quarterback is a churlish and spoiled brat who bullied the team who drafted him into trading him.  Their defensive star has publicly berated his coach, his teammates, and ownership and is one of the most arrogant and annoying players in the NFL.  Their (injured) tight end is a loud-mouthed party boy.  And it goes on.  The player most people were most happy to see win the title?  THE PUNTER!  

It is the same story in every sport.  We know too much, we hear too much, there is too much hype.  And these teams and games cannot live up to all of it.  As our access to sports grows and grows, I find that my interest gets smaller and smaller.  I don't like what I see at the center.  It covers all sports.  Once upon a time, the Olympics were my favorite thing on TV.  Now, I have a hard time getting into it.  There are so many stories and backgrounds and fluff pieces.  I just want to see the routines and races and fights.  I don't want to hear about all the other stuff.  I just want to know what country they play for.  I want to see spectacular, spontaneous, super sports feats.  I want to be blown away and awestruck - and not because the players or coaches or refs found a new way to screw up.  I don't want to see someone do something awesome and wonder how many drugs are in their system.  I don't want someone to have to tell me a hundred times that something was great - I want to be able to know it for myself.  

Feb 2, 2008


The Super Bowl is this Sunday!  Since I really don't have an active rooting interest in either team (although I would love to see the Pats go 19-0 to shut up those smarmy Dol-fans), I plan on doing what I do every year -- enjoying the spectacle of it all.  Oddly enough, when thinking about my five favorite Super Bowl Memories, most of them didn't involve a game.

1 - THE CARD TABLE AND PUBLIX PIZZA - Growing up we had a steadfast rule: you couldn't eat in the TV Room.  Well, mainly meals were included in that edict.  We would snack or eat ice cream, but my dad was never even too keen on those.  Often he would eat his snack at the dining room table.  As years went on, this rule eroded.  But for my formative childhood years, we never ate dinner in the TV room - except on Super Bowl Sunday.  My dad would come up with a bunch of snacks that he made.  We were allowed to pick TV dinners at Publix (another no-no at our house) or my mom would buy cold pizzas from the Publix deli case and we wold cook those.  We got the card table out and set it up in the TV room and ate dinner in there.  To this day, this is my favorite Super Bowl memory - and the first thing that pops in my head when I think of the Big Game.

2 - SUPER BOWL 27 AT THE WILD PIZZA - I had gone away to college at UCF and this was my first Super Bowl away from home.  Watching the game was a huge tradition for our family and I was missing the chance to be home.  What made it worse was that I was a lifelong Cowboys fan and they were playing in the Big Game against the Buffalo Bills.  Over the past few years, my brother's favorite team (Redskins - twice) and my dad's favorite team (Bears) had won the title.  But my team had not won since 1978, which I was way too young to remember.  [The first Super Bowl I remembered watching was 1981.]  Well, UCF was having a Super Bowl viewing party at The Wild Pizza (on campus restaurant).  It was free and up on the big movie screen.  My roommate Matt and I went and watched the whole thing - basically the last people to leave.  Thus began my new stage of SB watching - watching the Game at big Super Bowl Parties.

3 - SUPER BOWL 34 CHILI COOKOFF - This was my last Super Bowl in Tampa.  I had helped plan the Super Bowl parties at the BCM at USF for the previous three years.  This one, I took the lead on planning one for my church.  We had a churchwide chili and hot wing cookoff.  Then we subsidized with other snacks and food items.  After watching the game with a bunch of college students for the last, um, seven years, it was different to have people of all ages there.  It was a raging success.  I felt so good about being able to pull off an event like that for all ages.  And the game was amazing - with Tennessee coming up about a yard short in their upset bid against the Rams.  I felt very grown up.  I was about to get engaged (in Feb) and married (in Aug).  I had successfully made the transition to integral staff member at the church.  And I felt I really knew what I was doing with the college group.  Little did I know that by the end of this year, I would no longer be working at this church (or anywhere) and be expecting our first child.

4 - SUPER BOWL 38 AT TONEY'S HOUSE - With the exception of the first half of SB 39, I had now moved back into watching the games at homes.  I was tired of trying to watch with 100 people screaming.  I love commercials and the entire game - halftime show included.  Well, a bunch of the parties would turn non-game time off for giveaways or sermons.  So I was back to watching the game.  Toney had an awesome food spread, Natalie was just a little baby, and Josiah actually was watching some of the game (not much, but some).  It was another great game, too.  The Patriots barely pulled it out.  But this was the whole "Did you just see that?" Game.  I thought the halftime show was actually really good.  And then all of the sudden, "DID YOU JUST SEE THAT?"  Half of us had caught what happened and half had not.  As Lewis Black has brilliantly and hillariously commented in his stand-up on the issue, Janet Jackson for a split second revealed herself.  And nothing was ever the same on television.  (Wait a minute, that was a favorite memory?)

5 - SUPER BOWL 20 WHEN THE BEARS WON - I have had my favorite team win the Big Game four times in my life (3 for Dallas, 1 for Tampa - after the big switch in my allegiance).  My dad was a different story.  He was 56 years old and had rooted for the Chicago Bears for as long as he could remember.  This storied franchise had never even BEEN TO the Super Bowl.  His beloved Celtics had won before, but the Bears had never come close.  So in 1985, the Bears were the most dominant team I have ever seen (ever - even to this date - they would have destroyed the Patriots this year).  Their only loss came to the Dolphins on a Monday Night game - ironically the first professional game my dad ever went to.  So when the game came on, I was rooting for the Bears harder than I had ever rooted for a team in my life.  I wanted this for my dad.  I had been actively watching Super Bowls for six years, and I knew how much it meant to see your team win.  And my dad was so excited.  He was not often a happy man.  Much of the time he was kind of emotionless - and would mostly break that for burst of anger or unhappiness.  But on occasion he would bust into a huge belly laugh that wouldn't stop or actually get excited about something.  This game was one of those times.  And as we watched the Bears absolutely humiliate the Patriots, he enjoyed every second.  All the way until the team lifted both Mike Ditka and defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan up on their shoulders when the title was won.  Honestly, I think I enjoyed that win more than even the four of my team.  I was spoiled - I cheered for teams that did well often.  I didn't know what it was like to cheer twenty or thirty years for a team that never won.  I was just so happy for my dad that he was able to finally see that.  Even though I hated the Bears.