Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Rookie All Star Guesses

The 2009 NBA All-Star game will be played in Phoenix this season during the three-day period of February 13-15.

For the most part, I try to take in as much of the festivities as possible - but my favorite events are the NBA Rookie All-Star game and the 3-point shootout. To a lesser extent, I also enjoy the slam dunk contest and other events, but not as much as the other two.

So, before the team is announced I thought I would look over the two classes and see who would be making it to the rookie challenge this season.

For those that do not know, a few years ago the rookie challenge changed from an all rookie event, to the Rookies vs. Sophomores. Therefore, only nine players are usually selected from each class.

Also, as you will see, I am not totally sure about the rules for selection - but I will explain that after my picks.

For the Sophomores:
Kevin Durant (Thunder)
Daequan Cook (Heat)
Rodney Stuckey (Pistons)
Al Horford (Hawks)
Wilson Chandler (Knicks)
Luis Scola (Rockets)
Mike Conley (Grizzlies)
Jeff Green (Thunder)
Aaron Brooks (Rockets)

For the Rookies:
Derrick Rose (Bulls)
Michael Beasley (Heat)
OJ Mayo (Grizzlies)
Brooke Lopez (Nets)
DJ Augustine (Bobcats)
Eric Gordon (Clippers)
Greg Oden (Blazers)
Kevin Love (T-wolves)
Rudy Fernandez (Blazers)

Now, my main concern is for Oden - who technically would have been a sophomore had he not been injured for his entire rookie season - in my mind he is a rookie, but I am not sure where the league stands on this. That being said, I may also include Marc Gasol in the rookie list of the Grizzlies, who is having a great year as well.

That's funny, the rookie list was a lot harder to select because there are so many rookies on the cusp. So many on the fringe of being great, so narrowing it down to nine was difficult.

The sophomore list was actually hard as well, but for another reason - most of them just aren't having great years. It was difficult finding nine able bodies - in fact Al Horford is injured right now but should be able to play. Yi Jianlian of the Nets would have been eligible, but as of now is injured as well - and I think too injured to be able to play in this game.

Well, those are my predictions. I was looking to see when the announcement would be made, but I can't find it anywhere - so when they are announced we'll have to compare my predictions.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Top Ten: Movie Presidents

Well, seeing as how we are swearing in the 44th president of the United States today, I thought I would pull out the old Top Ten list for the occasion.

It has been quite a long time since I have made a Top Ten list, but again, this is (hopefully) a very special day in United States history - and (hopefully) the first day towards a better America.

So, here are my Top Ten Movie Presidents. These are, again, just my opinions - and of course I have not see every movie out there with a president.

Here they are (in reverse order as always):

10) Monroe Cole (Gene Hackman)/Welcome to Mooseport

9) President Camacho (Terry Crews)/Idiocracy

8) Thomas Benson (Lloyd Bridges)/Hot Shots! Part Deux

7) President Harris (Leslie Nielson)/Scary Movie 3 & 4

6) Robert Fowler (James Cromwell)/The Sum of All Fears

5) Richard M. Nixon (Dan Hedaya)/Dick

4) Tom Beck (Morgan Freeman)/Deep Impact

3) Dave Kovic/Bill Mitchell (Kevin Kline)/Dave

2) Thomas Whitmore (Bill Pullman)/Independence Day

1) James Marshall (Harrison Ford)/Air Force One

Monday, January 19, 2009

Super Steelers

I know this is two sports related blogs in a row, but I have to say something about my Steelers making it to the Super Bowl - don't I?

The Pittsburgh Steelers were 'the team' in the '70's. Marching through the playoffs to the tone of four Super Bowl victories.

Unfortunately, the Steelers captured the 1979 Super Bowl (of course played on January 20, 1980). Well, wouldn't you know that I would be born the following year and the Steelers would go into the crapper.

It took 15 years after my birth for the Steelers to reach another Super Bowl - and they fell to the Neil O'Donnell led Dallas Cowboys. Oh, wait - Neil O'Donnell wasn't on the Cowboys, you say? He was on the Steelers - WELL YOU COULD HAVE FOOLED ME.

Sorry, had to vent.

Anyway, the Steelers again were absent from the Super Bowl until 2005 when Pittsburgh finally captured the Vince Lombardi trophy in my lifetime.

So, who knows. On Sunday, the Steelers once again have moved themselves into a Super Bowl - this may be the start of yet another pattern, much like the one I missed in the '70's. Well I sure hope so.

Pittsburgh slipped by another hard hitting team in their rivals from Baltimore, 23-14 to move into the Super Bowl. Waiting for them two weeks from now - the Arizona Cardinals.

Now, on paper the Steelers should win this game easily. But, that has been said of each and every Cardinal opponent during this playoff stretch - and they are still standing. So I am in no way writing off this team.

The last few Super Bowls have been teams of destiny - including the '05 Steelers. Teams that have gone on magical runs to capture the championship, and I am afraid that destiny may be with the Cardinals this season. But, I am hoping that destiny may also want to repeat itself for a kid who was born just a little too late.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Hall of Fame(?)

Baseball will be inducting two new members into its Hall of Fame, Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice.

For Henderson, it was his first time being on the ballot - for Rice, it was his 15th and final time.

The baseball hall of fame appears to be tougher to get into than Fort Knox. I mean, was Rice not a hall of famer the other 14 times he was on the ballot? Did they have to make him sweat it out?

It seems like a flawed system to me. Which is only getting worse now that the steroid cloud hovers over most of the new players up for induction. Mark McGwire has already felt the wrath twice.

But, I am not that big of a baseball fan anyway - so I thought I would talk about the football hall of fame. They have narrowed down their finalists to Bruce Smith, Cris Carter, Andre Reed, Rod Woodson, Russ Grimm, Derrick Thomas, Paul Tagliabue, Ralph Wilson, Shannon Sharpe, Bob Hayes, Bob Kuechenberg, Claude Humphrey, Cortez Kennedy, Dermontti Dawson, Richard Dent, Randall McDaniel and John Randle.

From what I have read (but could not find to back up), the Hall of Fame inducts 4-7 members each year. So, with those guidelines I have come up witht he members of 2009.

Definite: Bruce Smith, Cris Carter, Rod Woodson.
Secondary: Shannon Sharpe, Derrick Thomas, Paul Tagliabue, Dermontti Dawson.

This also got be interested - who in today's game is either a lock, or on his way to being in the Hall of Fame. So, I have come up with the players I feel could be there when they are done playing.

Note: I have not included any offensive line or kicker/punter. I am not a great judge of an offensive lineman (though Allan Faneca and Orlando Pace are surely locks). And as of now, not one punter is in the Hall of Fame. Though in my mind, there are definitely some worthy kickers.

AFC: Ed Reed (Ravens), Ray Lewis (Ravens), Carson Palmer (Bengals), Donnie Edwards (Chiefs), Tony Gonzalez (Chiefs), Larry Johnson (Chiefs), Willie McGinest (Browns), James Harrison (Steelers), Troy Polamalu (Steelers), Ben Roethlisberger (Steelers), Hines Ward (Steelers), Joey Porter (Dolphins), Brett Favre (Jets), Andre Johnson (Texans), Mario Williams (Texans), Tom Brady (Patriots), Tedy Bruschi (Patriots), Randy Moss (Patriots), Junior Seau (Patriots), Richard Seymour (Patriots), Rodney Harrison (Patriots), Keith Bullock (Titans), Javon Kearse (Titans), Rashean Mathis (Jaguars), Fred Taylor (Jaguars), Champ Bailey (Broncos), D.J. Williams (Broncos), Antonio Cromartie (Chargers), Antonio Gates (Chargers), Shawne Merriman (Chargers), Philip Rivers (Chargers), LaDainian Tomlinson (Chargers), Jamal Williams (Chargers), Dwight Freeney (Colts), Marvin Harrison (Colts), Peyton Manning (Colts), Reggie Wayne (Colts), Bob Sanders (Colts).

NFC: Torry Holt (Rams), Julian Peterson (Seahawks), Patrick Kerney (Seahawks), Clinton Portis (Redskins), Jason Taylor (Redskins), Brian Dawkins (Eagles), Donovan McNabb (Eagles), Brian Westbrook (Eagles), Lito Sheppard (Eagles), Eli Manning (Giants), Antonio Pierce (Giants), Justin Tuck (Giants), Osi Umenyiora (Giants), Drew Brees (Saints), Marques Colston (Saints), Aaron Glenn (Saints), Jonathan Vilma (Saints), Ronde Barber (Buccaneers), Derrick Brooks (Buccaneers), Warrick Dunn (Buccaneers), Terrell Owens (Cowboys), Zach Thomas (Cowboys), DeMarcus Ware (Cowboys), Jason Witten (Cowboys), Larry Fitzgerald (Cardinals), Anquan Boldin (Cardinals), Kurt Warner (Cardinals), Edgerrin James (Cardinals), Adrian Wilson (Cardinals), Steve Smith (Panthers), John Abraham (Falcons), Keith Brooking (Falcons), Lawyer Milloy (Falcons), Jarred Allen (Vikings), Adrian Peterson (Vikings), Darren Sharper (Vikings), Kevin Williams (Vikings), Pat Williams (Vikings), Lance Briggs (Bears), Devin Hester (Bears), Brian Urlacher (Bears), Calvin Johnson (Lions), Takeo Spikes (49ers), Patrick Willis (49ers), Isaac Bruce (49ers), A.J. Hawk (Packers), Donald Driver (Packers), Charles Woodson (Packers), Al Harris (Packers).

That is my list. Obviously, some of these players are early on in their careers and could slip up. Some still need a few more things to go right for them as their careers wind down - and there are still others not on this list (Jay Cuter-Matt Forte-Chris Johnson-Aaron Rodgers) who have done well, but haven't had enough years to really prove themselves yet.

I am sure some people have there picks that may have been omitted, and some that are on my list that shouldn't be there. Let's get the talk flowing.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Step Brothers

This movie borders on the insane, yet still has that weird undertow that you sort of can follow.

Step Brothers stars Will Ferrell as Brennan Huff and John C. Reilly as Dale Doback. The two are each 40 year olds who still live at home with their single parents.

Huff lives with his mother, Nancy (Mary Steenburgen), and has at least tried to hold down a job in his life - despite recently being fired from PetSmart.

Doback stays with his father, Robert (Richard Jenkins) and from what I can tell tried to go to college, but decided to go into the family business - which is hard to do when your father is a doctor.

At a medical conference, Robert and Nancy meet and of course one thing leads to another. The families merge and become one big "happy" family.

It's pretty obvious at first that Dale and Brennan do not like their new arrangements - and even quarrel nonstop. So much so, that Robert and Nancy give them a small amount of time to find a job and then get out of the house.

At a family dinner, Nancy's other son, Derek (Adam Scott) and his family come to dinner. Derek is the more successful of the brothers - and in a flashback we learn crushed Brennan's dream to become a singer.

As Derek is making fun of both Brennan and Dale, Dale becomes enraged and punches Derek in the face - knocking him out of their treehouse. This not only impresses Brennan, but Derek's wife Alice (Kathryn Hahn) as well - who apparently is no longer into Derek.

It's here that Dale and Brennan find out that they have a ton in common and truly become brothers.

The movie is produced by Judd Apatow, who continues to reign over every comedy ever made (so it seems).

Ferrell and Reilly obviously have chemistry together, as they have been together a number of times - the movie was pretty funny and was pretty easy to watch and follow.

Not a high-end comedy in my opinion, but certainly one I could watch again.


Monday, January 12, 2009

Speed Racer

I don't know what all the complaining was about.

The only thing I have to say about Speed Racer is that I didn't get to see it in all of its 3-D glory - I am sure that would have been a wild ride.

What were people expecting? Had they never actually seen an episode of the television series?

This was amazingly done - sure it was cheesy, but so was the show.

It also must have hit pretty close to home for NASCAR. I just kept thinking, 'someone isn't going to be happy about this' during the whole Royalton/Speed scenes.

Speed Racer (Emile Hirsch) is all about racing. It's in his blood. It's what his family is all about.

His father, Pops (John Goodman), runs his own racing company, which Speed races for sans sponsorship.

After Speed becomes a pretty big racer, the sponsors are literally knocking at his door - he finally agrees to give one a chance and tours his company. After realizing he doesn't want to join the Royalton name, E.P. Arnold Royalton (Roger Allam) starts to ruin him and his families' business.

In order to get out from under his grasp, Speed must join with Racer X (Matthew Fox) and help Taejo Togokahn (Rain) win the Caso Cristo race - the same race that claimed his brother, Rex (Scott Proctor).

With the help of his girlfriend, Trixie (Christina Ricci) and eventually his family, Speed helps Togokahn win the race - and later gets the chance to race in the Grand Prix, a lifelong dream.

I thoroughly enjoyed this film. It also helps that it had Ricci, whom I have had a major thing for since she was little Wednesday Addams way back in the day. But, for it to be panned a disaster is way out of line. This isn't an epic tale - it's pure entertainment. And I was more than entertained.

I am still pissed I missed out on the 3-D though - that would have been insane.


Friday, January 9, 2009

Midseason Replacements

I have been totally lacking on my blog updates this week. I have not really had much to write about, unless you want me to talk about my even higher regard for The Big Bang Theory (I have been re-watching season one, and find myself laughing all over again).

I did, however, get a nice load of DVDs that I am hoping to watch at least one this weekend - so perhaps I will have something nice to write about next week.

Anyway, this week also happened to be the return of - most - television shows from their holiday breaks. And the official start of the Spring television season.

As you may remember from previous posts, I have an abundant amount of television shows that I am currently following - so many that I have been limited by my wife on any new shows that are coming out. This season, I think I got three - Fringe, Raising the Bar and Dollhouse.

Speaking of Dollhouse, it fits into my reason for this particular post. It is one of many midseason replacements for television networks.

I am not really sure when this came into effect - but I am guessing the networks already knew that a handful of their fall television shows wouldn't make it the full year, so they needed these shows to fill the voids that were left when shows were either canceled or finished their run.

It is sort of humorous though, that there were so many great midseason replacements. Shouldn't they have just been running all year round?

The main returnee for me is Lost. The scribes on the show have devised a plan - and an ending - which only allows for around 15-17 episodes per season, so I understand why ABC waits to put it on the air until the Spring. I am very interested in the new season - and with so many people getting early views of the first episodes, and having only good things to say, I am even more intrigued.

Scrubs was rescued off of its deathbed at NBC and popped up on ABC last Tuesday for a pair of new episodes. It felt a little odd, though, I have to admit. There are brand new interns that, according to my reading, could be the future of the show if the show continues past its eighth season (I am not sure I would be happy with the show without the original cast). The first episode welcomed in Courtney Cox as the new chief of medicine, and introduced us to the new interns. The second episode - which was much better - showed the new side of Scrubs the less zanier side, as Turk and JD helped a dying patient live out his last moments.

A show that I watched this summer when nothing else was on Flashpoint was also given the greenlight as a midseason replacement on CBS. The show follows a special tactical team that helps diffuse certain situations, mostly having to do with hostages. It was a pretty good show that certainly kept me interested this summer - and I am happy to have it back on the air.

As Ghost Hunters takes a sabatical, Ghost Hunters International started its new season on Wednesday. It's basically the same setup, but with a different crew and they are visiting much older places in different countries. The first episode already had an incredible find, and I look forward to rest of the season. I am torn about which show I like more, but I think I like Robb (the team leader of GHI) more than I like Jason (team leader of the original GH).

The only new show that has grabbed my attention as a midseason replacement is Joss Whedon's Dollhouse. It has been placed on the ill-fated Friday night, however, that claimed his last television show, Firefly. I was never a fan of Buffy or Angel, but I did enjoy Firefly and the movie, Serenity.

Finally, this show doesn't really qualify as a show I watch on television, because for some stupid reason I do not get the CW. But, Reaper returns in March - a show that I am forced to follow as they add their episodes online. The show was surprisingly entertaining and funny last season, but was one of the shows on the fence about being canceled. Luckily, they gave it another chance and I am pretty excited about its return - despite the stupidity of not having the CW.

Monday, January 5, 2009

John Tucker Must Die

I tend to bite the bullet a lot when it comes to watching movies - if only to actually spend some time with my wife.

So, I usually am 'forced' to watch some random chicky flick - but you know the sad thing is, I usually end up enjoying them.

This was no different then when I tossed in John Tucker Must Die on Saturday.

The good thing was - most of the female leads were pretty darn nice to look at.

Anyway, the film is about John Tucker (Jesse Metcalfe) is the toast of his high school. He is good looking and captain of the basketball team. He also just so happens to be dating many different girls in the school - none of which knows of the other.

His trick is that his father doesn't allow dating, especially during basketball season, so he tells each one that they have to keep it a secret.

Kate (Brittany Snow) is a nobody. She has bounced around so many different schools and towns because of her mother's (Jenny McCarthy) inability to settle down.

Kate, however, gets clued into Mr. Tucker's inner workings as he brings his dates to the restaurant that she happens to work at.

Not really knowing any of the girls, Kate keeps quiet. But fate intervenes as all three girls are tossed into the same gym class one day and the secret slips out. Kate gets involved to help the three girls get even.

The three girls are obviously completely different. Heather (Ashanti) is the head cheerleader; Carrie (Arielle Kebbel) is the smart girl; and Beth (Sophia Bush) is the naughty, not so bright girl.

All four girls come up with multiple plans to try and embarrass John and ruin his reputation - but with each attempt of embarrassment, John becomes even more popular.

At a final attempt, the girls decide to get John to fall in love with Kate - and then completely ambush him with a breakup - to get even.

I won't spoil the ending - but along the way Kate starts to fall for John's brother Scott (Penn Badgley) and I was happy that with the ending wasn't some over the top kiss out of nowhere. It was actually pretty real.

So another one bites the dust, as I enjoyed yet another of my wife's girly movies.


Friday, January 2, 2009

Revisit: NFL Predictions

The National Football League's playoffs begin tomorrow with a pair of wildcard games.

I felt it was time to revisit my preseason predictions - since I was totally wrong about the Super Bowl champion, I feel it's ok to do it a little prematurely.

Anyway here were my predictions:

Conference Champions
NFC East: Dallas Cowboys
NFC North: Green Bay Packers
NFC West: Arizona Cardinals
NFC South: New Orleans Saints

AFC East: New England Patriots
AFC North: Pittsburgh Steelers
AFC West: San Diego Chargers
AFC South: Indianapolis Colts

NFC: Philadelphia Eagles, Carolina Panthers
AFC: Jacksonville Jaguars, NY Jets

Dallas Cowboys vs. San Diego Chargers

Dallas Cowboys
My Super Bowl prediction was obviously way off - guess I shouldn't have watched the Dallas Cowboys on HBO's Hard Knocks before the season started.

The Cowboys were one of the many disappointing teams this season that had high expectations. Also among them were the Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Bucs, Green Bay Packers, N.Y. Jets and even the San Diego Chargers.

I will leave out the 0-16 Detroit Lions, who no one thought would be good - but they were flat out terrible.

Like every season there were certainly some surprises. I bet nobody thought the Tennessee Titans would be the best team in the NFL - led by backup Kerry Collins. The horrible Atlanta Falcons with a rookie QB Matt Ryan at the helm making the playoffs - as are the Baltimore Ravens, also with rookie QB Joe Flacco.

The biggest surprise may be the Miami Dolphins, however, who won just one game a year ago and made through the tough AFC East - including a valiant effort from the Tom Brady-less New England Patriots - to make the playoffs.

I know one person who is a little upset about that. Disgruntled Jason Taylor who was traded to the Washington Redskins in the offseason because he wanted a chance to win as the Dolphins rebuild. The Dolphins are in the playoffs - while the Redskins all have tee times this weekend.

Anyway, the regular season finished like this.

Conference Champions
NFC East: N.Y. Giants
NFC North: Minnesota Vikings
NFC West: Arizona Cardinals
NFC South: Carolina Panthers

AFC East: Miami Dolphins
AFC North: Pittsburgh Steelers
AFC West: San Diego Chargers
AFC South: Tennessee Titans

NFC: Philadelphia Eagles, Atlanta Falcons
AFC: Baltimore Ravens, Indianapolis Colts

So, I got three teams correct in each conference - perhaps not in their correct position - but not too bad, selecting exactly half of the playoff field.

I correctly picked the Steelers winning the AFC North, Chargers winning the AFC West - and had the Colts winning the South, which was wrong, but they still got in. I missed on the Dolphins, Titans and Ravens.

In the NFC, I correctly picked the Cardinals winning the West and the Eagles being a wildcard team. I selected the Panthers as the second wildcard team, but they ended up winning the South. I missed on the Falcons, Vikings and Giants.

This weekend looks to be a series of 'upsets' in my opinion.

Colts vs. Chargers. Falcons vs. Cardinals. Eagles vs. Vikings. Ravens vs. Dolphins.

I am picking a straight visiting-team victory. The Colts, Falcons, Eagles and Ravens will all move on to next weekends battles - while the Steeers, Titans, Giants and Panthers await their next foes.

Enjoy the games.

Eagle Eye

Jerry Shaw (Shia LaBeouf) has just lost his twin brother, Ethan, in Eagle Eye. Jerry is the black sheep of the family - Ethan has always been the go-getter, including being part of the military.

As Jerry tries to return to his normal life of evading his landlord and the Copy Cabana, he enters his apartment to find a ton of military weaponry and secrets.

Jerry's phone rings and a voice on the other end tries to get him out of the situation before the FBI arrives to arrest him. Jerry refuses and is taken into custody and questioned by Agent Thomas Morgan (Billy Bob Thornton).

Allowed one phone call, Jerry tries to call his parents when the same voice as before tells him to duck as a crane smacks open the windows of the room he is in and he is told to jump out of the building.

In another part of town, Rachel Holloman (Michelle Monaghan) has just dropped her son off at the train station for a trip to D.C. to play a concert. Rachel also receives a call from the same voice, and is told to wait in a car or her son's train will derail.

This is where both Jerry and Rachel meet up and a wild chase ensues for the rest of the film, until its climax.

The movie is action packed and very well done. Rosario Dawson, Michael Chiklis, Anthony Mackie and Ethan Embry also star in the film.

There was one thing that bothered me throughout the film, however, and that was the inclusion of Rachel. It was very obvious the reasoning behind Jerry's involvement - he looked and sounded exactly like his twin brother. But Rachel only seemed to picked at random - because her son was going to be on that train.

But, that was basically it. I know a lot of things went on in the film that seem a little crazy, but those things don't bother me that much - I know it's a film.

I, again, continue to be very impressed with LaBeouf. He has certainly come a long way and continues to climb up the A-list charts. I had only seen Monaghan a few times before this - but she also stood out in the film as the conflicted mother.

I have never been a Dawson fan, but I was not annoyed with her performance in this film. Thornton was very entertaining in his role as well.

If you are looking for pretty much non-stop action sequences then this is your film - and the ending was pretty well done, annd actually rather touching as you get to know the characters.