Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Loathsome People

Buffalo Beast presents The 50 Most Loathsome People in America, 2005.



What a great list, with everyone from Karl Rove ("decidedly not a genius; he is simply missing the part of his soul that prevents the rest of us from kicking elderly women in the face") to Johnny Damon ("Going from the Red Sox to the Yankees is like fucking the guy that murdered your husband") to Oprah Winfrey ("[her] entire life is an exercise in self-aggrandizement") to Larry the Cable Guy ("makes Jeff Foxworthy look like Chris Rock") to George Lucas ("an awful writer and a shitty, shitty director").

I think I hate every single person on this list (except #37). Outstanding! I can only assume Tedi Bruschi was #51. Great job, Beast!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Word "Cinephile" Sounds So Dirty

Okay, we established long ago that my opinion is of little consequence to anyone (see: title of blog). But I feel the need to explain myself a little here.

In the never-ending pursuit of eliminating negative space and adding clutter to my already cluttered blog, I have added a new list down the right-hand side (my left, your right) of the last 40 movies I've seen. I know that you don't care what I have recently seen because you, a) would hate the foreign-slash-indie crap that I watch, b) hate movies (I'm talking to you Javen and E.C. Paul) or c) don't give a crap what I think about anything and why the hell would the fact that I put a stupid list of stupid movies on the stupid sidebar change that?

Point taken.

But here's why I feel the need to explain myself. If you look at the list itself, I have included the movie title (helpful), the year it came out (to distinguish, for example, the new The Longest Yard with Adam Sandler from the old The Longest Yard with Burt Reynolds) and a rating of my own. Yes, folks, I have taken it upon myself to list my ratings for the last 40 movies I have seen. Let me give you a quick breakdown of what these ratings mean:

  • A - One of the best movies ever made or one of my favorite movies (eg. Lord of the Rings, The Right Stuff, GoodFellas)
  • A- - Maybe not quite at the apex of movie making, but much much better than average; a special movie (The Big Lebowski, sex, lies & videotape, All the President's Men)
  • B+ - Very solid, very entertaining movie. Better than average. (Dodgeball, In the Line of Fire, Back to the Future)
  • B - Worth seeing. Meets expectations. Basically not a waste of time. (Shakespeare in Love, Traffic, Gladiator)
  • B- - Underwhelming. Does not meet expectations in some way, slightly disappointing. (Magnolia, Ray, Good Will Hunting)
  • C+ - Not horrible, but disappointing. Unfocused usually, with a major flaw in either acting or plot. (Elf, In & Out, Jackie Brown, The Phantom Menace)
  • C - Severely disappointing and/or overrated. (Titanic, Chasing Amy, The Wedding Singer, The Blair Witch Project)
  • C- - Incompetent, usually a movie that is trying to be important but comes off as just plain stupid (Grand Canyon, Natural Born Killers, Gerry, Higher Learning)
  • D+ - Supremely incompetent -- yet sometimes perversely entertaining in a campy sort of way (Cellular, Freddy Got Fingered, Showgirls)
  • D - Supremely incompetent in a way that is not at all entertaining (Time Out, Any Given Sunday, Dogma, The Contender)
  • D- - Stupid and lazy beyond comprehension. (Deuce Bigelow: Male Gigolo, Scary Movie)
  • F - Utterly worthless and/or Vomit-inducing. (Heavy Traffic, Master P's I'm Bout It)

Okay, the reason I'm addressing this seemingly (okay, definitely) non-crucial issue is that if you look at the list, you will notice a lot of B+ grades. Lest you think I was one of those people who just defaulted to B+ because I have no guts, or because (GASP!) I haven't watched the movie, and this was my phony "book report" of sorts, fear not.

The reason I give out so many B+'s is that I read a lot about movies before I actually rent them. I used to joke that I would read 2 hours worth of online reviews before deciding whether to see a 90-minute film. (Yes, I know, my wit is boundless.) So when I decide to rent a DVD, or venture out into the anarchy that is the movie theater, I usually know what I'm getting into and know what to expect. Therefore, it is rare that I see something I don't like, because I am so selective in what I watch. So the B+'s listed represent the times that the movie has been just good enough for me to recommend it.

I don't want you to think I'm getting lazy, or being too lax on subpar films. No, you can always count on me to force my dull but honest opinions on you at every turn.

God bless.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Get Off Your Knees, Vanderjagt...

Many of you who know me know my intense, white-hot hatred for that overrated, arrogant Mike Vanderjagt. If you don't, please read this post from September 10, 2004.

I will reiterate a paragraph I wrote back then. I think you will find it eerily prescient:



...If you couple this arrogance with Vanderjagt's complete ineptitude in any kind of clutch situation, you get a man who is more gabber than game-winner. Off the top of my head I can name games he has blown: Against the Dolphins in the 2000 playoffs, in that...playoff game against the Jets in 2002. He even missed one against Tampa Bay on Monday Night Football in 2003 that was luckily (and questionably) called back on a Tampa "leaping" penalty....Bottom line: if an important game is on the line, Vanderjagt is not the one you want. - Me, September 10, 2004




I was rooting for the Colts in this game, but nothing in this world is more satisfying than watching a self-serving, shit-talking kicker miss so badly when not only a game, but the fortunes of an entire season are on the line. I can now add this, the worst field goal attempt I have ever seen, to the list above.

To Mike Vanderjagt: You are a disgrace. You are an embarassment. You should be ashamed of yourself. And I should hope to never hear a single cocky word out of your mouth again. I hope this event has humbled you. I have predicted for many years that you would miss a clutch field goal in a key game, and today my prophecy has come true. I hope that you realize now that you are but a field goal kicker, and one that has never made a truly important field goal in your entire career. So the next time I hear you making comments that you don't get enough credit for having the highest field goal percentage, and for making that one field goal against Denver in the regular season, I hope you will remember this day and that it will shame you.

Scott Norwood only missed his notorious field goal by about three yards in the Super Bowl, on the road, in an outdoor stadium, on grass. He was under far more pressure than you were, and he came far closer. Your kick was humiliating, and I hope you are humilated. I know you will likely never read this, but I hope somehow it gets to you. No matter what you do for the rest of your career, you will always be remembered for the time you destroyed a "Season of Destiny," wide to the right.

Dis. Respect.

Praise the Lord. The Champs are Dead.

The three B's of the New England Patriots are denied a third ring.

Belichick


Bruschi (with Vrabel)


Brady

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Overrated

Well now I'm gonna go on and do it. Something I've been meaning to do for about 10 years now. I'm gonna piss off both coasts.

I listen to a lot of rap music. Not as much as I used to, but still more than you, probably. Anyway, whenever some music critic from Spin or Rolling Stone or some other ignorant music rag comes up with one of their stupid lists or articles about the best rappers ever, the list usually looks like this (in no particular order):
  • Rakim
  • Jay-Z
  • Nas
  • Biggie Smalls
  • Tupac

It's a ridiculous list, first of all, because it only counts rappers non-connoisseurs have heard of. (I mean, would you come up with a list of greatest guitarists of all time and only include Nickelback and Linkin Park, etc?) Secondly, the only person on that list you could make a legitimate case for is Rakim, because he actually did something to revolutionize rapping, with a unusual-for-the-time flow and abstract, conceptual lyrics. The fact that the other four rappers listed have usurped the other four spots is ridiculous at best.

I mean, Jay-Z is fine, but he's only really been around since 1995 or so. And though he is a very skilled rapper, most of his beats are so lame that he hasn't really put out a really really good song since his first album. (Which is why The Grey Album by DJ Danger Mouse is so great, since it's Jigga's lyrics with superior production.)

Nas? Don't even get me started about Nas. Nas had a great first album, then a mediocre second album, then a bunch of really mediocre shit after that. One great album does not make you a legendary rapper; it makes you a one-hit wonder.

But the ones I'm offended by most are Biggie and Tupac. Because not only are they not two of the best five rappers ever, they weren't even really that good. First Tupac...

Tupac's first album was not good. Tupac was a dancer for Digital Underground. (You may remember them from the "Humpty Dance.") His original name was MC New York, which should give you a glimpse into his creativity. His first album had a bunch of lame-ass songs like "Brenda's Got a Baby," "If My Homie Calls" (and by the way, that word is spelled "h-o-m-e-y") and "Trapped." I remember when the videos were released that these were some boring-ass songs.

Then Tupac got a part in the movie Juice and got a higher profile, leading to his second album, Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z., which was better than the first one, but still unremarkable. You may notice by the title of this album that Tupac was starting to try his hand at controversy to give himself some publicity, and the media ate it up.

Tupac really started getting famous from 1993 - 1995, when he got shot (the first time), went to jail for rape (including the embarrassing time he kept yelling "Thug Life" after an arrest to promote his proteges... named "Thug Life", who released "Volume 1" in 1994. Predictably, there was no Volume 2.) and started trading on his mother Afeni Shakur's name, being that she was a high-profile member of the Black Panthers.

This is the point where Tupac transcended mere gangster rapdom and became an icon. He was seen as a brash revolutionary who wasn't scared to break the law or say things that were controversial. (I remember reading an article in The Source or something where Tupac said if he was walking down the street and a woman pulled her purse close to her, he would snatch it from her just for clutching it. Now that's the enlightened thinking we need to uplift urban youth!) But don't confuse this notoriety for being a good rapper. Because Tupac was really not a good rapper. In fact he sucked.

A good modern parallel is Snoop Dogg. Snoop used to be a good rapper, for about 2 songs. Then he became famous for all sorts of other reasons (attempted murder, smoking pot, making adult movies, playing himself in several movies, doing versions of "Nuthin' But a G Thang" and "Gin N Juice" even 12 years after they were originally popular). But for the most part, no one would call Snoop a good rapper. In fact, the reason Snoop has to continue to perform old songs is that he hasn't put out anything of any significance whatsoever since 1993. That's the cold truth, brotha.

Tupac was the same way. He was famous, for sure. He was actually a solid actor, if you ever saw Juice or Gridlock'd. But as a rapper, he was (at worst) shit, or (at best) nothing special. And the reason was that his flow was so simplistic. Yes, Tupac yelled a lot, and he said things that were inflammatory, but his delivery was about as basic and simplistic as you could get. He rapped in the same 4/4 delivery that Run DMC did, and even the fact that his vocals were all doubled over (so it sounded like there were Two-Pac's rapping at the same time) could not hide this. He is a clear example of style over substance. I remember that some college in California several years ago started a class that would study Tupac's lyrics as poetry. I was really disgusted, not that they would study rap lyrics as poetry, but that they would not pick somebody better.

Now, there are a ton of Tupac disciples out there, but my guess is that there is something about his charisma and/or material that makes him so popular. In my opinion -- and in the mind of many non-biased people from the East Coast -- Tupac was never really a great rapper at face value.



Now Biggie took a different path. He was a nobody who worked his way up the ranks and earned his stripes selling crack and battling on street corners. Biggie was actually a ferocious battle-rhymer in his early days, and many underground recordings can attest to this fact.

But this is not the era that Biggie fans remember. Rather, they remember the era after his debut album came out. I remember when it first came out, it got 4 1/2 "Mics" in the Source, so I knew it must have been good, and I remember it being one of the most disappointing albums of my young life. Most critics consider this a masterpiece, but I am not one of them. Because for every excellent hip hop song like "Unbelievable" or "Machine Gun Funk", there are two lackluster sell-out pop tracks, like "Juicy" (which, by the way, is a blatant ripoff of a 1989 "Wrecks N Effect" song of the same name), "Big Poppa," "One More Chance." I mean, any album that can make a duet with Method Man ("The What") sound boring can't be good.

So what we get is a rapper who eschewed the rapping that made him an underground legend, only to make pop-rap songs that would make him a mainstream legend. When people think of Biggie, they do not think of the slightly fat kid in a t-shirt rapping in front of a post office somewhere in Brooklyn. They think of the far less-compelling B.I.G. (he had to change his name because some white boy had already taken the name Biggy Smallz), a really really really fat guy in a white suit sunglasses sitting on a yacht or in the corner of a fancy club drinking Cristal and surrounded by a troop of sluts. You can practically trace the rampant materialism of mainstream rap and rap lyrics to the "Big Poppa" video.

Biggie had been a good rapper, but once he became a mainstream celebrity, his voice was gone. Instead, he became the image he felt people wanted him to be: big, rich fat guy who got a lot of women. He was no longer an interesting figure in music, not to me anyway. He was playing the role of the smooth kingpin, but all I wanted was the kid with the chip on his shoulder ready to battle.

I guess my point is this (wasn't sure if I had one or not): we live in such a knee-jerk society, especially when it comes to white people talking about rap music. Whenever superlatives are mentioned, people who don't know better and shouldn't talk go back to the same stock examples. People always mention MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice when they talk about pop-rap, or always mention Dr. Dre and Easy-E when talking about "gangsta rap," or always Lauren Hill and Common when discussing "conscious" or "positive rap." And when it comes to "best of all time," the five listed above tend to fall on the list. But have people who created these categories really given a listen to the product? Or are they rattling off the usual suspects?

Great, now I'm not safe on either coast.

Oh, and by the way, the greatest rappers of all time are (off the top of my head and in no particular order):

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Please God Kill Pat Robertson

Dear Lord, please take this evil, Satanic, self-serving hypocrite from the comfortable confines of earth and cast him down to the hoary netherworld where demons may sodomize him and feast upon his innards. Oh please oh please oh please...



Some of his better quotes:

  • "You say you're supposed to be nice to the Episcopalians and the Presbyterians and the Methodists and this, that, and the other thing. Nonsense. I don't have to be nice to the spirit of the Antichrist." - Showing he doesn't like other Protestant religions, January 14, 1991, on The 700 Club.

  • "[Feminism is a] socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians."

  • In a 2001 interview with Wolf Blitzer, he said of that the Chinese were "doing what they have to do," with regards to China's one child policy, sometimes enforced with forced abortions.

  • "If you look over the course of a hundred years, I think the gradual erosion of the consensus that’s held our country together is probably more serious than a few bearded terrorists who fly into buildings." - April 30, 2005, on ABC's This Week.

  • Of Venezuelan President Hugo Ch├ívez, "I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war, and I don’t think any oil shipments will stop." - August 22, 2005 broadcast of The 700 Club.

  • "I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: if there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city.... And don't wonder why He hasn't helped you when problems begin, if they begin....just remember, you just voted God out of your city. And if that's the case, don't ask for His help because he might not be there." - to the citizens of Dover, PA, for voting out members of their school board who believe in Intelligent Design, November 10, 2005 broadcast of The 700 Club.

  • "...One of the fundamental principles we have in America is that the president is the commander in chief of the armed forces and attempts to undermine the commander in chief during time of war amounts to treason." - December 7, 2005 on The 700 Club

  • "He was dividing God's land, and I would say, 'Woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the [European Union], the United Nations or the United States of America....God says, 'This land belongs to me, and you'd better leave it alone.'" - Referring to the health problems of Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Rise up against these megalomanical charlatans who operate from a position of false moral superiority. These are not Christian people, they are purveyors of hatred and divisiveness, wrapping themselves in the cloak of misinterpreted fundamentalist scripture and intolerance falsely masked in the supposed "word of God."

If you call yourself a Christian and you agree with people like this, you are in for a big, hot surprise after you die. This is not Christianity, it is hatred and evil. Die you God-damned evil pig, DIE.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Another Bush That (Probably) Shouldn't Have Won

After the huge second half USC's Reggie Bush had against Fresno State back in November, everyone has been touting him as the next dominant player in the NFL. He won the Heisman Trophy and is likely to be the number one pick in the 2006 NFL Draft.



That's all fine. But it may be another case of the sports media jumping on the hot topic or hot player and running away with it without stepping back and thinking, Hey, maybe Reggie Bush isn't the second coming of Eric Dickerson just yet.

But I'll tell you one thing, in the Rose Bowl this evening, the best player on the field was Vince Young.



It was one of the most entertaining college football games -- hell, one of the most entertaining pure football games, period -- that I've seen in years. And Vince Young had that glow about him. He carried the Texas Longhorns on his back and willed them to victory. You can see a certain halo around some players when they are in that zone, where you know, even if for just one game, they are just not going to be stopped. I saw John Elway do it in Super Bowl XXXII. I saw Tom Brady do it in the "Tuck Rule" game. I saw Byron Leftwich do it against Akron in 2002 where he literally had to be carried to the line. And Vince Young had it today.



It's the first game I've seen Young play where I was actually paying attention, and he sure elevated his game against an excellent USC team. He can throw, and he can run. He ran for 200 yards. This season he passed for 2,500 yards and ran for 1,000 yards. That's just not right.

The guy is a dude, no doubt about it.