Welcome to The Kolb Review; a daily blog covering all the pop-culture you could handle.

Expect some guest posts from our pop-culture liaison Leora Horowitz and sports and movie man Moshe Kolb.
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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Why Two movies Couldn’t Be More Different. (A Review of the Descendents and Haywire)

It has been quite some time since my last doubleheader. Of course I am referring to the act of seeing two movies back to back in the theaters. For those of you who are probably thinking that I didn’t pay for the second, you should know they were not even in the same theater so yes, I paid for both. It was a funny evening I spent with my friend BenDavis. The 735 showing of The Descendants at the AMC Empire 25 and the 1010 showing of Haywire (RPX) across the street at the Regal Cinemas. I was very excited to see both these movies for two very different reasons. The Descendants had been hyped for its directing, its script, and its superb acting. Haywire, the new Steven Soderbergh film, received much hype for introducing a new action star into Soderbergh’s unique film style. Unfortunately only one of my expectations was confirmed. Let’s begin with the good.
The Descendants is a “sometime humorous, sometime tragic journey” of a husband and his two daughters in the wake of the death of their wife and mother. The film, set on the islands of Hawaii revolves around Matt King (George Clooney) who re-examines his life after his wife is sent into a permanent coma after a boating accident. With her will’s requirement to let her pass imminent, King struggles to reconnect with his daughters, is involved in the biggest business deal of his life, and is then hit with the bomb that his wife was actually cheating on him before her accident. The film delves into the family dynamics, dealing with tragedy and how to pull through such events together. The film will have you crying as much as it will have you laughing. There is a subtle humor in the film that comes off beautifully. Directed by Alexander Payne (Sideways), the movie engrosses you into every thought, word and action the damaged family members take. George Clooney, coming off his Golden Globe win and Oscar nomination, is amazing as the conflicted husband who is balancing this array of life changing events. Clooney gives King an emotion that we have not quite seen in a long time and can have him in-line for the Oscar. There are plenty of beautifully casted supporting roles such as Robert Foster as the father-in-law to the injured wife and Amara Miller as the younger of the two daughters. But the breakout actor/actress of the film is Shailene Woodley who plays Alexandra King, the elder of the two daughters. Dirty mouth and all, Woodley plays the role of troubled yet wise adolescent teenage girl perfectly. She is tough, disobedient, lovable and courageous all at the same time. It is a battle between her and Clooney in every scene.
The true star of the film in my opinion was the superb script. The script, emotional yet funny, allowed the cast to really express every emotion that these characters went through. When you needed a laugh to calm the awkward situation, it was there. The script keeps the audience engaged and yet it brings you in with these characters and makes you feel part of the family. I apologize for the cheesiness but the script was really quite good and it’s hard to put into words. I guess the best way to say it is that the worst scripts are usually the ones you remember. This script just simply flows (in contrast see Haywire).
Overall the film was quite enjoyable and definitely full of emotion. With the Oscar Nominations out already, there is no doubt The Descendants will be bringing home quite a few awards come February.

The Descendants
: None, just a few references in conversation
Language: Lots of strong profanity and the reason for the R rating
Violence: None
Drugs and Drinking: A little drinking and cigarette smoking
Length: 1 hr 50 min.
Rated: R
Rating: 5 Stars

On the complete opposite of the spectrum is Soderbergh’s new film, Haywire. You know there is a saying that nothing good happens after 1 o’clock. Well nothing good can come from going to your second movie of the night after 10 pm. The film has been getting rave reviews from critics which too be honest I don’t quite understand. Rotten Tomatoes describes as follows, “Haywire is a fast and spare thriller, with cleanly staged set pieces that immerse you in the action.” As always I will be very honest with you. The action was awesome. The fight scenes are clean and crisp, you can feel every punch and hit. The chase scenes are well filmed and have a comforting ease to them. There is no nauseating camera work and I promise you will be following and feeling every turn and roof-top jump. So the truth is that the in terms of action and high-speed chases, the film is extremely well done and entertaining. I would expect no less form Soderbergh (Ocean’s Eleven). With any really good action film in which the action is the core of the film, you simply hope that the script, the plot and so called “in-between” shots don’t ruin the rest the movie. The problem with Haywire is that these pitfalls may be just that. The second the film was over BenDavis and I looked at each and said “except for the awesomely insane action, this film sucked.” I hate to do it but I sincerely did not enjoy anything about this film other than the action, in fact, it almost ruined the action for me.
In the thriller Mallory Kane, an operative who works for a government hired private security contractor, must unearth a conspiracy. Kane is a hard nosed, kick *ss chick who doesn’t stand down from anyone. Kane is played by new-comer and MMA superstar Gina Carano. The MMA star was essentially a stunt double when spotted to become an action star. She is a beautiful and strong woman who exudes confidence and even performs her own amazing high-stake stunts. The film is a classic revenge story as Kane is double-crossed by her boss, and ex-boyfriend Ewan McGregor. The film also boasts an impressive cast including Channing Tatum, another gun for hire; Antonio Banderas, another independent contractor with his own agenda; Bill Paxton, as Kane’s loyal father; Michael Douglas, as a government agent who would love to get rid of the contractors for hire; and Michael Fassbender, British agent. Douglas, Fassbender, and Paxton are quite good in their supporting roles but I found myself asking what Banderas was doing in the film and don’t get me started on Channing Tatum. Ok, get me started. I want Tatum to succeed and I think he has a place in Hollywood but every time I think he plays his role well, something happens that really bothers me. I actually thought he was well cast as the operative/love interest working with Agent Kane until literally his last 5 seconds in the film. Spoiler!!!!!!!! If you don’t want to know what happens, skip to the next paragraph. Tatum is eventually killed in the film’s final shootout; but is he really dead??? You see, usually when a character in a film dies, he stops breathing. Unfortunately for Tatum, I was watching on the Regal Premium Experience which just may be the clearest non-IMAX theater out there. And right there in front of me as Tatum’s character is pronounced dead, you clearly see him clear his throat and clench his jaw in an attempt to not breathe on camera. Was this really the best take they took for this scene? I hope not.
Additionally, can I just say (and I said this going to the film and was proven right) I hate McGregor cast as a villain. I find him to be quite weak and always afraid as a bad guy. He lacks the confidence and bravado that villains should have.
Perhaps I simply had too high of expectations going into the film. The truth is that the action was really good and clean. I was thoroughly entertaining every time Kane put her hands on someone. So for you action junkies out there, see the film. But just be aware the script is choppy, hard to follow at times and quite uninspiring, while the plot is pretty standard and expected.

Sex: Some intense kissing and implication of sex, some references in conversation
Language: Some profanity but not so bad
Violence: A lot of close hand to hand combat violence with some gruesome deaths
Drugs and Drinking: Very little
Length: 1 hr 33 min.
Rated: R
Rating: 2 Stars

It was quite the night for me and my friend. These were two very different films which each had their redeeming entertaining qualities. But if there was one thing I took out of this was that the difference between a movie that is slightly entertaining and one that is quite good is a fantastic script and a good supporting cast. In a night full of popcorn, bunch a crunch and the same 6 previews over and over again, I realized how different two movies could be.

Why Contraband Left Me a Little Confused But Not in The Way You Think.

Please do not get me wrong, I enjoyed Contraband and found it rather entertaining. However, there were some aspects to the film that left me a little confused, I will explain. Contraband is a better than average action/heist flick that Rotten-Tomatoes summed up perfectly: “It's more entertaining than your average January action thriller, but that isn't enough to excuse Contraband's lack of originality and unnecessarily convoluted plot.” The film revolves around Chris Farraday, played by mark Wahlberg as a criminal gone clean security system expert, who is thrown back into the “runners” game. Farraday, who apparently has a long reputation as one of the best contraband smugglers ever, must pull off one big job after his brother-in-law gets in trouble with a local criminal, Tim Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi). With the help of his long time friend and partner Sebastian (Ben Foster), Farraday must dig into his old bag of tricks as the final “run” constantly hits snags on the way. Farraday is in a race against the clock as the fate of his wife Kate (Kate Beckinsale) and two sons hangs in the balance. The film is a good action flick. There is plenty of action, guy catch-phrases (“I’m coming for you”), and decent plot twists. My problem with the film is the following.
When I go to the movies I think about what type of movie I am going to see and I change my mind-set to match the film. I don’t go in expecting more or less than what the movie is supposed to be. If I am going into a real drama, I won’t expect action; if I am going to a fun action flick, I am not looking for complete realistic action; if I am going to a stupid comedy, I buy into the mood. Nothing bothers me more than when someone comes out of an action film saying, “well that was not really possible…. Bruce Willis can’t shoot a cop car at a helicopter.” NEWS FLASH!!!! I know Bruce Willis can’t shoot a cop car at a helicopter. But I enjoy watching John McClane do the impossible because John McClane, not Bruce Willis is the frakking man (that’s my Battlestar Galactica reference for this post).

So when I went to the 11pm showing of Contraband with my brother and awesome girlfriend I put myself in the mindset of going to see a Mark Wahlberg action flick. I prepared myself to see a better version of Shooter, The Other Guys, Four Brothers, The Italian Job, and The Big Hit. What I got was exactly that, well at least from Wahlberg. You see, what bothered me about this film is that it wasted such good actors such as Giovanni Ribisi and Ben Foster. Ribisi is a great actor to me and was an excellent villain in this film. But being that this was Wahlberg’s action flick, he gets completely overshadowed and washed out. Complete with tattoos, facial hair and accent, Ribisi makes you hate his character yet want to see more of him.
But perhaps the most peculiar character of the film for me is Ben Foster. Ben Foster is one of my favorite Hollywood actors. The “relatively” unknown Foster has always received praise for his work. Foster doesn’t have a ton on his resume but there are few actors I enjoy more. He is perhaps most the most talented actor in this film. His performances in some of his earlier works including The Messenger, Rampart, The Mechanic, 3:10 to Yuma and Hostage were very intriguing. Even in his supporting roles he often is a scene stealer. His demented portrayal of a disturbed teenager in Hostage is one of my favorite and most memorable performances ever by a villain. Even his side-kick character in 3:10 to Yuma was a scene stealer for me. I won’t reveal too much about his character in Contraband but all I can say is that I wanted more of him. Beckinsale, (who I happen to be in love with) was actually pretty good in her supporting role as Farraday’s wife. Though her scenes and screen time are limited she definitely makes the most of it.
I guess what I am trying to say is that I definitely enjoyed the film but was slightly confused while watching it. From my action loving-guilty pleasure side, I definitely enjoyed the film despite its unnecessary plot twists, undeveloped characters, and ability to want me leaving more. I would have loved more Rabisi and Foster and could only wonder what a more serious film with those two could have been.

Sex: just a little bit of kissing Violence: yes, it’s an action flick Language: this is what probably got in the R rating Drugs: one instance of drug use Rated: R Run time: 109 min Grade: 3 Stars

Why I Love the Movie Bonanza!

With the Oscars coming up and us being in the middle of award season I thought it would be appropriate to focus on some movies for the next few days/weeks. Not all the movies I will be reviewing are nominated but I am simply in the movie mood.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Why I Hate This Year’s Superbowl Matchup.

By Moshe Kolb
The Following is one sports fan’s struggle with pure luck and its role in winning.
I love sports. I watch it. I follow it. I learn it. I study it. I play it. I coach it. I simply just love sports. Yet I can’t help being disappointed and bothered when championships are decided on nothing more than poor play and luck. 2008 (greatest football game / superbowl of all time (Pats vs. Giants), Final 4 of all #1 seeds for first time since 64 teams and the incredible finish of Memphis / Kansas, Phelps record setting Olympics and winning with .01 seconds while both teams shattering the world record, Usain Bolt shattering all records even those set by a cheetah as fastest mammal on planet, Woods winning the US Open on 1 leg in 19 hole playoff, and the crown jewel – the greatest sports match of all time --- Federer vs. Nadal in 5 hr. 5 set Wimbledon Finale over 3 days --

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers/jon_wertheim/06/18/strokes.ofgenius/index.html) epitomized why we all love rooting, following, watching and living sports. What made that year great was --- we can all see the breathtaking mind shattering athleticism, guts, determination, will and skill these athletes put into making memorable plays that will be remembered in sports history that deserved to win championships. These games and matches weren’t won on 3 players completely missing the net on penalty kicks in world cup finale, or who dropped the fewest in field pop ups like this years so called greatest world series game, or somehow a quarterback who hadn’t thrown a bad pass all year missing wide open receivers for an entire game, a hail mary that the defense completely sleeps on, or 2 teams going to the superbowl on dropped TD passes, missed chip shot FG, and two fumbles by a punt returner. I know its part of the game, and yes the winning teams didn’t make those mistakes. BUT I AM GOING TO VENT!! How as a fan that worships excellent play at the greatest level can I accept a championship being given to “the team that doesn’t do great things but makes the fewest dumb plays”? We all watched the Giants play football this year. Eli had a very good year, victor Cruz breakout player of the league, but lets call it as it is --- the giants were an absolute mediocre football team. They somehow win a crappy division because Romo and cowboys are somehow worse than the giants, once again get a crappy 1st round team aka Tampa in 07, somehow have the packers completely forget how to play football and fumble 5 times, get San Francisco to fumble a few more times and somehow ELI gets praises. Have they played better than they did all year --- certainly yes they are playing better than all year --- but my gd how many gifts can you get. As Simmons writes “Eli throws a ball into double coverage, should be easily intercepted, but no of course they collide, drop the ball and knock one of the guys out for the game. It isn’t only the giants. I know it happens for other teams as well. Don’t get me wrong. I know there is nothing that can be done and that it’s all a part of sports. I am not solely against the Giants – look at this past years World Cup. What stands out – that U.S. goal, that no matter how many times the referees screwed them with phantom offsides calls --- they were determined and fought to bring us memorable moments and finishes that we’ll remember for all time. Where was the Niners or Alex Smith’s determination, or better yet Aaron Rodgers and the so called ”greatest quarterback play in history of football Mike Francesca”. I am just a sports fan searching desperately to see great sports at its greatest won by excellence not by incompetence. And this year’s Superbowl is ruined and tainted cause I won’t remember it for the winner’s great play, but rather the loser’s poor play. Or maybe I’m just bitter as a guy who lost a championship game in OT on a fluke bounce of the puck off a helmet into one’s own net :(

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Why Tim Tebow’s Season Was a Success.

With his record-tying 6th touchdown pass, Tom Brady put an end to one of the most magical runs in NFL history. As the clock struck 12 on the Cinderella season of the Denver Broncos, Tim Tebow’s miraculous season came to an end. Arguably the most polarizing athlete since Muhammad Ali, Tebow has quickly taken the sports world by storm. There has not been a more debated player in over 50 years. What is amazing about Tebow is that he is a true enigma of our modern day athlete. Everyone will agree that his QB skills are average or below but at the same time, Tebow keeps on winning and according to a recent ESPN.com poll, is the most popular athlete in America.
The averaged armed, running loving quarterback took a 1-4 team to an 8-8 season, a division title, and a big playoff win over the #1 defense in football. He led miraculous comebacks and won a playoff game on an 80 yard TD pass in overtime. This was all at the same time as he broke records, bad records for fewest yards, fewest completions, worst passer ratings and so on. People debated whether he should start, be pulled, or throw more.
For those of you who know me, I have been a Tebow fan since his days at Florida. I have always loved him and here is my take on the controversial QB.
Tim Tebow is a below average NFL thrower. He runs the option very well and is very hard to take down for any defensive lineman. Tim Tebow is not a good stand in the pocket passer. What Tim Tebow is, is a winner. He is a closer, a gamer and a winner. If you give him the chance to win a game and believe in him, he will get the job done. You don’t need to be the most talented guy to be clutch; all you need is faith in yourself and a team with faith in you.
But all this is not the real reason his season was a success. The real reason for his success is also his most controversial/polarizing trait. It is Tim Tebow the Christian, Tim Tebow the Man. Tebow is polarizing because of his faith and how he openly attributes his success and failures to God. His clean cut image has won over his team and the nation. Tebow is a devout Christian, self proclaimed virgin, doesn’t drink, doesn’t party, doesn’t smoke, or do anything else an NFL player normally does. He spends his time and money doing charity and does it all with a sincere heart. Tim Tebow is for real and the reason his season was a success is because he is a good man.
Signs flood NFL stadiums begging Tim Tebow to “marry my daughter” because who wouldn’t want a young man like this as their son-in-law. While other players are out partying, Tebow is at the local town restaurant getting to know the locals; while other athletes have 10 kids with 8 women in 8 cities, Tebow is waiting for a mature adult relationship; while players are listening to rap music and cursing left and right, Tebow is quoting the bible and signing Christian rock; while others are starting pre-game scuffles with the other team before kickoff, Tebow is meeting with a little girl who has cancer half an hour before kickoff; while other players are working endorsement deals and partying after a big win, Tebow is meeting a yet another kid who has cancer.
If not a great QB, Tim Tebow is a great man. His devout faith and refusal to give up on anyone or anything has his teammates believing in him and has him being successful on and off the field. So whether or not you think he should be a starting QB or not, Tim Tebow showed us what a good man and a little faith could do, and for that, his season was a success.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Why I Need to Proofread More.

Shortage of time is no real excuse to have errors and incorrect information in my posts but it happens to be the excuse I will use this time. You may have noticed there were some mistakes and inaccurate information in my piece on The Big Bang Theory. These errors have been corrected. I apologize and hope to correct such issues in the future.
Stay tuned for a new post tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Why the Big Bang Theory may just be the best comedy on TV.

If Sheldon Cooper is not already a household name to you then where have you been? Sheldon Cooper, brilliantly played by the Emmy winning actor Jim Parsons is the star of the CBS comedy The Big Bang Theory. The show revolves around seven characters: Roommates (1)Leonard Hofstadter and (2)Sheldon Cooper, two physicists who work at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech); (3)Penny, a blonde waitress and aspiring actress who lives across the hall; and Leonard and Sheldon's equally geeky and socially awkward friends and co-workers aerospace engineer (4)Howard Wolowitz and astrophysicist (5)Rajesh Koothrappali. The show also includes(6)Bernadette Rostenkowski, a microbiologist and part-time waitress alongside Penny, and Howard's love interest as well as (7)Amy Farrah Fowler, a neurobiologist who joins the group after being matched to Sheldon on a dating website.

The shows comedy mostly revolves around the hysterically O.C.D., eccentric, and brilliant Sheldon as well as the contrasting character Penny who is an in-the-clouds social blond bombshell. Without divulging too much at this point I would like to present to five reasons why this may just be the funniest show on television. It is already one of the highest rated and viewed shows on a weekly basis.

1. Jim Parsons
As mentioned, Jim Parson’s portrayal of Sheldon Cooper has already been recognized with numerous awards by all the critics. His character has grown and developed over the 5 seasons. Sheldon was originally the comedic roommate to Leonard; whose romance with Penny dominated the beginning of the show. But as the show progressed, the produces realized how popular Sheldon became and how his character could become so much more than the nerdiest of the nerds. His character’s brilliance and eccentric behavior has become absolutely laugh out loud funny. His sarcasm and unyielding obedience of science and fact is so different than any character ever portrayed on television. His social awkwardness such as his refusal to drive or “roommate contracts” is so outrageous you can almost imagine someone this awkward doing things like this. While his character his unyielding in many ways the character has grown over the years. Firstly, his relationship with women has grown from viewing them as simply sources of procreation to his extremely uncomfortable and unconventional “relationship” or “arrangement” with the hysterical Amy Farrah Fowler. Secondly, the show truly took a turn for greatness when Sheldon learned to have a sense of humor. I deliberately use the word learned because an entire episode was designated to Sheldon learning how to tell a joke. Once introduced to the idea of a “gotcha” joke, Sheldon immediately fell in love with the ability to “prank” others and thus we were introduced to the catchphrase “Bazinga” (already copyrighted and trademarked by CBS). Every night I fall asleep staring at a huge poster on my wall of Sheldon yelling Bazinga! Watching Sheldon learn how to tell a joke and fail miserably at the usage of his Bazinga was truly one of the most enjoyable television experiences of my life. If you don’t watch this show you should and if for nothing else than one of the funniest characters in TV history.

2. Geek Humor
The second reason The Big Bang Theory (“TBBT”) has become such a hit is that its source of comedy and humor is founded in a world that no TV show has ever approached, the world of the Geek. Some have said that Chuck, NBC’s sitcom and fan favorite about a “BuyMore” (aka Best Buy) geek squad member becoming a spy for the CIA is a geek comedy. But while Chuck originally delved a lot more into the world of science, video games, magic cards and Lord of the Rings, it now only occasionally mentions it; TBBT lives in the world of comic books, math theorems and scientific jargon. Every episode is intuitively worded into some type of theory, calculation, or hypothesis like “The Infestation Hypothesis”, “The Good Guy Fluctuation” and “The Desperation Emanation.” Entire episodes revolve around comic books, video games, and even anti-mater metaphysical theories. The humor is so quick and witty and yet very intelligent in its content that you will find yourself asking if the show is written by geeks who are funny or comics who are also geeks.

One of the funniest if not the funniest episodes of all time is Season 2 Episode 11, entitled, “The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis.” In this episode, Sheldon is worried about getting Penny a gift for the Christmas holidays. After deciding on a basket of bath items he discovers a wide selection and is unable to decide on which one since he does not know what Penny will get him. Being the logical person he is, Sheldon purchases all of gift baskets planning on giving a reciprocal gift once Penny delivers hers. Penny eventually shocks Sheldon with a signed and used napkin by Leonard Nimoy, thus containing DNA for Sheldon to clone his own Mr. Spock. In one of the funniest sequences I have ever witnessed, Sheldon flips out at how good the gift is and winds up giving Penny all the baskets and a hug ta boot. The episode received such amazing reviews it was submitted as part of Jim Parson’s resume for his eventual win of the Emmy for Best Actor. Watch the final clip below (the entire episode is recommended).

3. Not quite Friends, but close.
One of the major contributors to the show’s success is the wide array of hysterical characters. The show over the last few seasons has attempted to create a Friends-like atmosphere with 4 guys, 3 girls and an array of occasional characters. While many TV shows have attempted to copy the Friends’ atmosphere of roommates, friends, lovers, and apartment hangouts, they have all fell by the waste side. TBBT has obviously not reached the level of friends (yet) but it has established the required concepts required for the long run success. Let’s examine and prepare yourself, this might scare you.
· Most of the comedic relief from Friends originated from the hysterical banter and stories of two roommates, roles originally played by Chandler and Joey, now held by Sheldon and Leonard.
· Inter group relationships, on and off, were a staple of the NBC sitcom and TBBT is full of them including Leonard and Penny; Sheldon and Amy; and Wolowitz and Bernadette.
· While Chandler and Monica were the stable and lovable relationship on Friends, Bernadette and Wolowitz’s relationship, while dealing with issues once in a while, is a steady and reliable staple among the crew.
· Perhaps the most famous, lovable and emotional relationships ever documented on TV, Ross and Rachel set the bar for all on and off relationships. But who could not fall in love with the mismatched couple of the tall, confident and beautiful Penny with the short, lovable and eager Leonard who were on and off with each other for almost 3 seasons.
· No Friends episode was complete without a hilarious conversation or game of Bamboozle held in the apartment hang out of the Friends gang. TBBT is no different as many/most scenes are anchored in the roommates’ apartment including their weekly Chinese meals from a very specific restaurant and weekly showings of the Star Wars Trilogy.
· When not chilling by Joey & Chandler or Monica & Rachel’s, the gang was almost always hanging out at Central Perk. It was their home away from home. TBBT is no different. Just instead of hanging out in a hipster coffee shop, the gang weekly spends their nights at the local comic book shop where they have funny encounters and comical acquaintances.
· What would Central Perk be without the lovable and stalkerish Gunther. The coffee shop waiter/manager always wants to be part of the gang but never quite makes the cut. Stuart, the always awkward and also quite stalkerish, comic book store manager seems to always provide a laugh or two when the boys visit the store and occasionally gets some more attention. He is eerily similar to Gunther.
As is evident, there are tons of similarities between these shows. What does this mean? It means that TBBT has the necessities for a long run sitcom. All of its characters are different, funny in their own way and provide something different to the show. From Wolowitz’s typical (sometimes stereotypical) Jewish banter and classic Jewish mother, to Koothrappali’s adorable Indian accent and shyness around girls (he can’t speak in front of pretty girls), to Amy Farrah Fowler’s weird obsession of Penny, and Leonard’s embarrassing Christian loving mother, there is no shortage of funny characters for everyone to enjoy. So while it may never reach the grandeur of Friends, The Big Bang Theory is getting awfully close.

4. Continuity of Jokes
The success of any good TV show is continuity. Not any continuity but intriguing, relative and witty continuity of jokes or characters. TBBT excels at building up jokes, character personalities and similar situations. This quality is perhaps the only reason the almost endless goal of How I Met Your Mother can be completely pushed off season after season. Who cares about who Ted is going to marry when you can constantly hear more about the “Bro Code” and anticipate the next Slap Bet? TBBT does this just as well. Recurring jokes and themes are found throughout the show. Whether it is Sheldon’s Bazinga, Amy’s obsession with Penny or Sheldon’s on-going feud with former Star Trek star Will Wheaton, TBBT is constantly connecting the dots. This is something that the show can and hopefully will get even better at. Some other recurring gags include the “Soft Kitty” song that Sheldon needs to fall asleep, visits from Leonard and Sheldon’s parents and some sort of costume dress up (Halloween, Renaissance Fair).

5. We are Geeks, deep down!
We may all be very cool dudes now in our older age but deep down we all love channeling that nerd in us. How many of you played Dungeons and Dragons, obsessed over your Lego sets and always had a fascination with the planets. Somehow, someway there is a Geek in each and every one of us and this show will bring it out in you and remind you just how much you love it. You may not be obsessed with particle physics, World of Warcraft or even Battlestar Galactica, but being that there is some Geek in you, you can definitely appreciate it.

In summation, I know that there are many of you who think Modern Family is the best comedy on television and I can respect that. I am embarrassed to say I have a TV/movie/sports blog and don’t consistently watch Modern Family. That being said, in my humble opinion The Big Bang Theory is a work of comedic gold. And in the mind of this blogger, it may just be the best out there.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Why I Love Pump Up Speeches. Part II

Welcome Back and I hope everyone had a good weekend. Here is part II of the Pump Up Speech Special. As we delve into the top 10, I just want to remind everyone to get in the right mindset and that this post only works if you spend the time watching the clips. The clips range from 0:40 to 5:00 so it won’t take too long. Enjoy!

#10- “Ducks Fly Together” (Mighty Ducks 2)
Gordon Bombay will go down as one of the greatest movie coaches of all time. The leader of the Mighty Ducks (which inspired an NHL team) was always good for some inspirational words to his crew of misfits. Without a doubt his best speech came at the end of the second film when the USA Junior Olympic Hockey team recognizes each other as a team of ducks and not individuals from different states. It was a great moment that will always win you over.

#9- “I Guarantee You That” (Tim Tebow)
The legend that is Tim Tebow needs no explanation. The winner of all winners first established himself as a household name and a true leader back in his days at Florida University. Tebow was famous for doing anything that was needed to win and had the support of his team more than any other player in college sports. Some say he had the best college football career ever. The following clip occurred during the halftime of the 2008 BCS National Championship game against Oklahoma. The speech not only inspired his team to win the National Championship but it added to the legend that is Tim Tebow.

#8- “Echoes in Eternity” (Gladiator)
My favorite movie character of all time, in my favorite movie of all time, Maximus Decimus Meridius, brilliantly played by Russell Crowe is first introduced to us leading his soldiers into battle. Maximus inspires his troops as they head on the attack with a quick message. “What we do in life… echoes in eternity” can be found as both my yearbook quotes. Maximus is always good for war cry and this was perhaps his best.

#7- “Being Perfect” (Friday Night Lights-Film)
With one of my favorite soundtrack songs of all time (Your Hand in Mine- Explosion in the sky) in the background, the half time speech from FNL was one of the best speeches ever. The speech simply pulls at your heart and makes you think. It was a beautiful moment as the Coach, played by Billy Bob Thorton, delivers the speech about what being perfect means to you and those around you. This was a special speech and a special moment in cinema. The story of the small town Texas football team became an instant cult hit and inspired the successful TV series (See later on)

#6- “It’s Your Time” (Miracle)
Miracle, which may be the most inspirational sports film ever made, covers the most inspirational US moment in sports history. Miracle tells the true story of Herb Brooks (played by Kurt Russell), the player-turned-coach who led the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team to victory over the seemingly invincible Russian squad. The Coach tells his young squad that the Russian time of dominance is over. It’s their time, their opportunity to shine. I highly recommend this movie and in context this speech was perfect. It suited the characters, the feel of the movie and the moment. Warning: after this one you may find yourself standing up chanting, “USA! USA! USA!”

*********************************MUST WATCH***********************************
The following link is a video of 5 year old kid delivering this Herb Brooks speech to the fan filled Fenway Park. 5 year old Joshua Sacco gives his beloved Red Sox a morphed version of hockey coach Herb Brook's "Miracle Speech". The Red-Sox loving, Yankee hating delivers the speech with such confidence and conviction I could see him becoming President.

#5 “Freedom” (Braveheart)
Arguably the most famous and quoted movie speech of all time starts off the top 5. As William Wallace’s army stands there outnumbered before the mighty English Army, Wallace encourages his men by reminding them of the power of freedom. If you haven’t heard or no part of this by heart you are not a movie fan. Once again, I will let the video/speech speak for itself but here is just the last and most inspirational line.
“Aye, fight and you may die. Run, and you'll live... at least a while. And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willin' to trade all the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they'll never take... OUR FREEDOM!”

#4- “I Am A Champion” (High School Coach)
This is an amazing speech given by a HS Football Coach to his team. “I am a Champion” has become an instant classic and was viral all over the Internet. The speech is not a football pump up speech; it is a life pump up speech. “Defeat, Retreat are not in my vocabulary! I Am A Champion!” After hearing this speech you may just want to go tackle a lion. Let the video speak for itself.

#3- “Last Play” (Coach Burke)
Coach Ed Burke's speech to his Falcon football team prior to semi-final game is an intense and inspirational speech. It was such a real life approach for the coach to take to his team. “This is an emotional game” the coach yelled. It is an emotional game where every play can be your last, do you play like it’s your last, do you live your life likes its your last day. Wow, if you watch this and then say you didn’t get chills. That makes you a liar.

#2- “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Cant Lose-Coach Taylor” (Friday Night Lights- TV)
The number 2 spot on the list is not a speech; it is a character who is the greatest speech giver in TV/Movie history. Coach Taylor of the Dillon Panthers from the hit TV show Friday Night Lights is known for his almost weekly speeches. Every time he addressed his team, a player, or his family in this film, inspirational gold spewed out. He was awarded an Emmy for his work but his writers should have won an Emmy for awesomeness. One clip alone could not possibly cover just how good his speeches were. Please watch all of these and then you will understand why this is not only one of my favorite TV shows of all time but why Coach Taylor may just be my favorite TV Character of all time.

“We Will Be Tested” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_2vWfLceuo
“Expectation” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNb675ACdKI&feature=related
“What Kind of Man Am I” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qUL_-p4XLsA&feature=related

#1- “Game of Inches” (Any Given Sunday)
This is the greatest pump up speech of all-time. Period. In the underrated film, Any Given Sunday, Coach Tony D’Amato (Al Pacino) tells his boys what it means to be on a team. His message about life and football will move even the harshest critics. His words are so real and can relate to any person. Don’t regret life and don’t give up. “Fight for that inch! Because that’s what living is!” Despite the fact that the team immediately starts playing like crap before eventually coming back, this speech will in fact “echo in eternity.”

Friday, January 20, 2012

Stay Tuned!

I hope everyone enjoyed the posts this week. Stay tuned for some amazing posts next week:
Why the Big Bang Theory may be the best comedy on TV.
Why I Love Pump Up Speeches. Part II
Why you shouldn't cancel your Netflix account.
Why Tim Tebow's Season was a success.

PS. The cast of the Big Bang Theory played Settlers of Catan on last nights episode. I loved every minute of it.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Why I Love Pump Up Speeches. Part 1

When I listen to a song that I enjoy there is always that one moment that just wins me over. Often part of the bridge or coming out of the bridge back to the high part, it’s that point in an amazing song that gets you lost, gives you chills and gets you revved up. As strange as it sounds whether I’m watching a TV show or watching a film, I look for that emotional moment. In all sports movies/ sports TV shows, this moment is crucial and usually is connected to a pump up speech. In almost every good sports movie, and I emphasize good, your emotional climax may arrive at two possible points. One being the climax moment in the athletic game and the second being that all empowering and emotion-driven pump up speech. Pump up speeches are not only found in sports movies are used to inspire armies, friends, and even workers.

A good pump up speech pulls at your heart, gets you revved up, and simply makes you want to go out and do something amazing. Whether it is going into battle in war or battle on the field, there is almost no better cinematic moment than a well placed motivating speech. The best pump up speeches are not full of cliches, rather they create cliches. In this two part blog I will discuss some aspects of pump up speeches a little further and list my Top Pump Up Speeches of all time. Before we begin, let’s get you in the mood. Here is a small compilation of some of the best speeches ever, many of which will be on our list.


The thing about pump up speeches is that every person is different and different things can get someone’s engine roaring. So if any of the videos below offend anyone or don’t pump you up just move on to the next and I promise that there is something in this list that you will love. To prove my point, and to throw in a little humor among this post of emotional, soul moving videos, enjoy this little bit proving that every person has their own style of motivation.


#15- “We Are Marshall” (We Are Marshall)
This is the speech given by Matthew McConaughey as Coach Jack Lengyel at the graves of the fallen Marshall players and coaches. Although Marshall lost the game, the pre-game speech as the Thundering Herd gets ready to play Xavier is definitely moving. While his accent is slightly annoying and I wish those sideburns didn’t exist this was an uplifting boost to the squad after the devastating plane crash that killed members of the team. Despite the cliche’ speech (“they don’t know you heart, I do, you have shown it to me”), the speech was easily the highpoint of the film.

#14-“Immortality” (Troy)
Though only 30 seconds long, Achillies’ speech to his Myrmidons right before the land on the beaches of Troy will last in the aura of pump up speeches. The speech is ingrained in our minds probably from being shown in every clip of Troy that is ever shown. But the speech was used brilliantly in the scene and did create that moment right before the landing on the beach. Being that it is so short, I have included the whole speech for you.
"Myrmidons, my brothers of the sword. I'd rather fight beside you than any army of thousands. HUH!Let no man forget how menacing we are, we are lions! Huh huh huh!Do you know what's there, waiting, beyond that beach? Immortality! Take it, it's yours!"

#13- “Believe in Yourself” (Rocky Balboa)
The Rocky movie series is arguably the most inspirational movie franchise ever. The films are filled with inspirational moments and music. In fact, there are rumors that the word montage was created after the Rocky films. Though the earlier films are amazing they do lack motivational speeches. The last film was not great but was not bad either and did make me nostalgic. The following clip is a speech Rocky gives his son after hearing his son’s excuses for not making more of himself. The speech is actually pretty good and earned its way on the list.

#12- “The Brave 300” (300)
In a movie that is pretty much an entire pump up speech, there were numerous speeches that were on the cusp of making this list. But perhaps no speech (“Dine in Hell”, “Give ‘em Hell”) in the film of 300 was as so pump up as when Dilios (David Wenham) recounts the story of King Leonidas and the 300 Spartans whose courage and strength held off hundreds of thousands of Persians at the gates of Thermopylae. Here, outnumbered once again, the Greeks prepare to fight, but this time, in the name of Leonidas and the brave 300! As the speech climaxes the camera pans out revealing the Spartan army and if you did not get some chills, you have issues.

#11- “Remember the Titans” (Remember The Titans)
Another film full of great moments and smaller speeches was highlighted by one in-game speech by Bill Yoast (Will Patton. The Coach calls in his Defense to motivate them for the following play. He demands they play like men, play like winners. He simply tells his Defense to make sure the other team remembers for all time, the game in which they played the Titans. This will always be a quickie but a goody.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elLpwwfQ3XI&feature=related

Stay Tuned for Part 2

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Why “The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo” was one of the most entertaining films this year.

In David Fincher’s adaptation of Steig Larsson’s international best seller, the novel is brought to life in one of the most entertaining and visual movies this year. Fincher, director of two of my favorite movies ever, Fight Club and Seven, as well as the excellent The Social Network is at the helm and I could not have been happier with his work. If you don’t already know, the novel revolves around a Swedish Journalist Mikael Blomkvit, played by Daniel Craig, who is hired by one of the wealthiest Swedish families to investigate the 40 year old disappearance of a woman. The movie does an excellent job following the book and provides a complete story. At almost 3 hours, the movie should. But at no point in the 158 minute film do you get bored or lose track of the story. The film moves with a good and deliberate pace even throwing in a joke here and there. Though shunned by some of the award groups, I felt TGWTDT was one of the most if not the most entertaining films of the year. The story had drama, mystery and action. Like any novel adaption the progression of certain details gets a little lost and part of the investigation is rushed but Fincher does an overall good job of tying it all together. If I were to come up with a criticism it would be that Fincher seems to shy away from the revered Vanguard family. The presentation of the wealthy family made up of quarreling siblings, anti-Semitic Nazis and creepy cousins seems a little rushed. I would have enjoyed a little bit more of how messed up this family really is. However, given the already lengthy time of the film, I think Fincher did an excellent job. I enjoyed Craig in the role of the journalist but did feel at times he simply took a back seat to Mara (read ahead). I didn’t love his performance but definitely did not have any major issues with it either.

But the truth is that when you walk about this film the person you will be thinking about is new-comer Rooney Mara (she also played the girl dumping Jesse Eisenberg's Mark Zuckerberg in the opening scene of The Social Network). Mara is astonishing as Lisbeth Salander, the pierced, bisexual, tattooed twentysomething hacker who teams up with Mikael Blomkvist to unearth the mystery of the woman’s disappearance. Mara bares it all in more ways than one. Stealing every scene she is in, Mara’s Lisbeth is simply riveting. She is a character you just want to know everything about. Lisbeth is quite the complicated character, rejecting society, being cast out as a “ward of the state” and yet seeking companionship and acceptance. I found her character one of the most interesting film personalities of the last few years.

The film is extremely graphic and not for the faint of heart. The film includes a rather lengthy and completely graphic rape scene, as well as numerous instances of nudity and sex. Thankfully, unlike other directors who allow these scenes to overrun the rest of the film, Fincher uses the graphic nature of the film to help and enhance his story.

Sex: If you care to read this then don’t see the movie.
Language: Lots of strong profanity, including f-words and s-words and etc
Violence: Very graphic pictures and violence
Drugs and Drinking: Plenty of drinking and some drugs
Length: 1 hr 58 min.
Rated: R
Rating: 4 Stars

My Birthday!!!!

On this regular Wednesday in mid January I have officially been alive for a quarter of a century. Yes, today is my 25th Birthday. But it is not only my birthday. I share this special day with some stars such as Mark Messier (NY Rangers), Jason Siegal (How I Met Your Mother), Kevin Costner (Waterworld), Dave Bautista (WWE), and Jesse Martin (Rent and Law and Order).
Yesterday was actually a sad day for me. When I was younger I was once told I shared a birthday with the one and only Champion Muhammad Ali. Apparently I was incorrect my entire life as I found out that Ali celebrated his birthday yesterday on the 17th. Now I have to get excited that I share a birthday with Maulik Pancholy, yes this is Alec Baldwin's secretary on 30 Rock!
Anyways, just wanted to wish all these celebs Happy Birthday and thank all of you for the BDay wishes.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Why the Golden Globes Matter.

By: Leora Horowitz

The Golden Globes ceremony is one of the more interesting to air during the January, February crop of award shows. Alcohol abounds, controversial hosts are rebuked and then re-hired, and, while by all appearances the Globes are just as glamorous if not more so than any other ceremony, many view this particular award as lacking the glory and prestige as others. Or, as Ricky Gervais put it last night, “They’re like the Oscars without all the esteem.”

It’s understandable to see where this reputation stems from. The SAG Awards bestow actors with accolades from their fellow actors, and praise from your peers is among the highest kind. The Oscars are the timeless standard by which all praise and elegance is generally measured, as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is made up of true movie professionals, with representatives from all of the crafts associated with making a movie. Meanwhile, the Globes are the awards of the Hollywood Foreign Press, a group whose choices have long garnered criticism and scorn. For example, last year’s The Tourist garnering three nominations? Gervais was right to mock it then, and his follow-up this year, asking Johnny Depp if he had actually seen it yet, was spot-on. Meanwhile, while this year’s motion picture nominees were largely accurate, the TV choices left many questions unanswered. Callie Thorne nominated for Necessary Roughness? Thomas Jane for Hung? Kelsey Grammer beating Bryan Cranston for best Actor in a TV Drama????? Competent performances to be sure, but this was a great year for TV, and surely there were better choices. Plus, any show that can find room for two performances from the tepid Carnage and yet ignore Melissa McCarthy’s stellar work in Bridesmaids is worthy of criticism.

Unusual selections such as these, coupled with an alcohol-infused vibe that gives way to generous amounts of raunchy humor (more on that later) gives many the impression that the Golden Globes is the “lesser” of awards shows. But last night, I felt anything but, and there are several reasons why.

1. You’d be hard pressed to find another show where penis humor is so acceptable.
Perhaps because there is more of an informal feel at the Globes, presenters and winners alike speak at the podium with an ease that makes for great laughs. From Seth Rogen’s proclamation that “I currently have an erection” whilst presenting with the admittedly stunning Kate Beckinsale, to George Clooney’s discussion of Michael Fassbender’s full frontal nudity (golfing will never be the same), those who take the stage at the Globes provide a nonchalance and humor that the audience can appreciate. Ricky Gervais was tamer than last year, but still managed to throw in a joke about Jodie Foster’s “The Beaver,” and Madonna’s back and forth banter with the host furthered the theme.

2. The layout relates a sense of Hollywood camaraderie that is easily replicated.
There are few things more adorable then seeing Tina Fey peek her head into the snapshot of her good friend Amy Poehler as her name is announced as a nominee, or funnier than seeing Jesse Tyler Ferguson hold up a “Whatever” sign as his screen partner Eric Stonestreet is called for his nomination. At the Golden Globes, the actors sit at circular tables, and the span of the camera allows you to see the interactions of Hollywood’s elite, and they’re often quite pleasant! As I spent the night with my friends playing our Golden Globe prediction game, (I predicted the winner before each category, and money was donated either to me or from me depending on the outcome. I got 15 right and 8 wrong—not too shabby, if I do say so myself!)Our laughter and friendship was replicated on TV as friends Brad Pitt and the “Cloonmeister General” riffed on each other, and Fey and Poehler shared laughs. See—celebrities: they’re just like us…albeit in the smallest of ways.

3. It’s still an award and an honor.
Perhaps my favorite moment of the night came when Octavia Spencer won the award for best Supporting Actress in a movie. This is an actress who we have all seen countless of times in bit parts—Woman on Line, Woman behind the Counter, Crazy Nurse, etc. And she just won a Golden Globe—and deservedly so. Her emotion and excitement were matched by other actors in the audience, such as Melissa McCarthy, who recognized that struggle of working to become an actor, and being rewarded with this recognition. You saw similar glee in Shailene Woodley, an actress who, before her nomination for Supporting Actress, was best known as the Pregnant Girl from that poorly written ABC Family show. Her excitement at being a member of the cast of the Best Picture winning The Descendents was palpable, and conveys to the audience just how real and important the Golden Globes can be.

Here is a list of the nominees and winners from last night’s broadcast. Green represents a prediction I got right, red represents my wrong guesses.

Best Drama
The Descendants
The Help
The Ides of March
War Horse

Best Comedy/Musical
The Artist
Midnight in Paris
My Week With Marilyn

Best Animated Film
Arthur Christmas
Cars 2
Puss in Boots
The Adventures of Tintin

Best Foreign Language Film
The Flowers of War
In the Land of Blood and Honey
The Kid With a Bike
A Separation
The Skin I Live In

Best Actor in a Drama
George Clooney, The Descendants
Brad Pitt, Moneyball
Ryan Gosling, The Ides of March
Michael Fassbender, Shame
Leonardo DiCaprio, J. Edgar

Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical
Jean Dujardin, The Artist--silent thank, tap dance
Brendan Gleeson, The Guard
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, 50/50
Ryan Gosling, Crazy, Stupid, Love.
Owen Wilson, Midnight in Paris

Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture
Kenneth Branagh, My Week With Marilyn
Albert Brooks, Drive
Jonah Hill, Moneyball
Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Viggo Mortensen, A Dangerous Method

Best Actress in a Drama
Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis, The Help
Rooney Mara, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk About Kevin

Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy
Jodie Foster, Carnage
Charlize Theron, Young Adult
Kristen Wiig, Bridesmaids
Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn
Kate Winslet, Carnage

Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
Shailene Woodley, The Descendants
Octavia Spencer, The Help
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
Berenice Bejo, The Artist
Jessica Chastain, The Help

Best Director
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
George Clooney, The Ides of March
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Alexander Payne, The Descendants
Martin Scorsese, Hugo

Best Screenplay for a Motion Picture
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash, Kaui Hart Hemmings, The Descendants
Steve Zallian, Aaron Sorkin, Stan Chervin, Michael Lewis, Moneyball
George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Beau Willimon, The Ides of March

Best TV Drama
American Horror Story
Boardwalk Empire
Game of Thrones

Best TV Comedy or Musical
Modern Family
New Girl

Best Miniseries or Motion Picture
Cinema Verite
Downton Abbey
The Hour
Mildred Pierce
Too Big to Fail

Best Actor in a TV Drama
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire
Damian Lewis, Homeland
Jeremy Irons, The Borgias
Kelsey Grammer, Boss

Best Actor in a TV Musical or Comedy
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
David Duchovny, Californication
Johnny Galecki, The Big Bang Theory
Thomas Jane, Hung
Matt LeBlanc, Episodes

Best Actor in a Miniseries or Made-for-TV Movie
Hugh Bonneville, Downton Abbey
Idris Elba, Luther
William Hurt, Too Big to Fail
Bill Nighy, Page Eight
Dominic West, The Hour

Best Supporting Actor in TV Series, Miniseries, or Made-for-TV Movie
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Paul Giamatti, Too Big to Fail
Guy Pearce, Mildred Pierce
Tim Robbins, Cinema Verite
Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family

Best Actress in a TV Drama
Claire Danes, Homeland
Mireille Enos, The Killing
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Madeleine Stowe, Revenge
Callie Thorne, Necessary Roughness

Best Actress in a TV Musical or Comedy
Laura Dern, Enlightened
Zooey Deschanel, New Girl
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Laura Linney, The Big C
Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation

Best Actress in a Miniseries or Made-for-TV Movie
Romola Garai, The Hour
Diane Lane, Cinema Verite
Elizabeth McGovern, Downton Abbey
Emily Watson, Appropriate Adult
Kate Winslet, Mildred Pierce

Best Supporting Actress in TV Series, Miniseries, or Made-for-TV Movie
Jessica Lange, American Horror Story
Kelly Macdonald, Boardwalk Empire
Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
Sofia Vergara, Modern Family
Evan Rachel Wood, Mildred Pierce

Monday, January 16, 2012

Upcoming this week!

Golden Globe Recap
Why Tim Tebow's season was a success.
Why you should not cancel your Netflix subscription.

Why the New York Rangers are exciting this season.

It is mid-January 2012. The NFL playoffs are going on, the NBA is in full flight after a lockout, Tiger Woods is back, the Olympics are coming this summer, Pitchers and Catchers is only a few months away and the sports world has tons to be excited about. But the most exciting thing in NY sports today is none other than the Blue Shirts, aka the New York Rangers. The Rangers currently sit atop the East Standings are close to having the best record in the NHL. They are currently getting solid scoring from 4-7 guys and boast one of the youngest and best defenses in the NHL. Backing them all is the soon to be Vezina Trophy winner, the wall known as Henrik Lundqvist. The Swedish goaltender is leading the NHL in a number of categories and is reliable for one or two highlight reel saves a night. He has saved the Rangers on numerous occasions. This team is just different than any other team since the great teams of the mid-90’s. They are getting solid production from 4 lines, are deeper than they have ever been and play with a grittiness and desire to win on a daily basis. They are dominating good teams and have avoided any major losing streaks this summer. Perhaps their greatest quality is that this team doesn’t give up. Every single night, every single minute, this team skates hard and puts the pressure on. They are not the most talented team in the league but they play the hardest. Perhaps no one better personifies this team than its Captain, Ryan Callahan. Cally as they call him is arguably the toughest little guy in hockey. He is scoring, passing, and fighting his way to the being considered one of the best leaders in the NHL. He backs down to no one and all the while producing on offense. Marion Gaborik, the prolific scorer, is back to form and has already scored more goals than he did all of last season. The biggest off season addition, Brad Richards has brought a ton to this team. He is another consistent scorer along with Gabby and he is a proven veteran who has won it all. Additionally, he has provided a much needed shooter on the power play that has been missing the last few years.

I recently started a new job and in my 3rd week at the firm, one of my first clients offered me a ticket to a charity event/dinner they run. This event happens to be at MSG and involves several past and present New York Rangers spending time with under privileged kids. It was quite the scene and after pushing many kids out of the way I got my chance to spend some time with some of the Rangers including Dan Girardi, Michael Del Zotto and the Half of Famer, Adam Graves. The first thing I want to mention is what amazing people these guys were. Dan Girardi is a fantastic guy and was amazing with the kids, I would let him watch my kids any day. I chatted with Girardi for a little bit and he is just an unbelievable guy. I also spent a solid 15 minutes chatting with the only #9 I knew growing up, Adam Graves. Other than the fact that he is one of the most charitable and community active NY athletes, Graves is the man. He was super nice and talked about everything from the ’94 team, Winter Classic, Gretzky, Messier, Shanahan (or Shanny as he called him), the current team, John Tortorella, and Lundqvist. He made a few fascinating points. Firstly, he could not say enough about how Messier was the greatest leader he has ever played with or seen. He also mentioned that this is the best team since ’94 and he himself has never been so excited. He then pointed out how John Tortorella has created such an amazing locker room. He is a no nonsense guy who tells it like it is and earns the respect of his team. With Tororella earning this respect the locker room has a confidence to it. He also mentioned that King Lundqvist is the best goalie he has ever seen.

I have to be honest, I most enjoyed talking to Del Zotto. Del Zotto is really just the nicest young man. He felt like he was my buddy from school or home who I could hang out with any day of the week. The young defenseman is a tough guy as he sported a nice shiner on his right eye. We spoke about the whole season and how he has tried so hard to just get wins and he views the +/- stat as a great indicator of how well rounded he and the entire team has played. We spoke about the Winter Classic and more importantly how there is just a confidence on the team right now that he has never been a part of. It was actually quite interesting that he pointed out that the team is playing so well right now and want to keep it going that the team and players actually can’t wait for the next game. They want to play every night. This is a team I want to root for. This is a team I want to succeed and from the looks of it, I think come April time, they will.

Friday, January 13, 2012

What a Week!

Just saw Girl with a Dragon Tatoo and the season 3 finale of Battlestar Galactica in the same week. Wow, both amazing. Stay tuned for my thoughts.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Why the National Championship game helped me regain my faith.

I spent my Sunday night watching the Collegiate Football NCAA National Championship football game. The Alabama Crimson Tide absolutely dominated the LSU Tigers 21-0 to win their second national championship in only three years. While this was arguably the worst final ever this game may have had the biggest impact on me of any college football game since Boise St.-Oklahoma. In fact, I may go as far as saying this game saved my faith in college football. Let me explain.

First, in the weeks leading up to the BCS National Championship I watched the many (too many) other Bowl games in the background on my TV every night. As usual, there were some very exciting games and some blowouts that were not worth the airtime they took up. A few games really stood out for me. Of course there was the good back and forth game between Stanford and Oklahoma State. In this high scoring (79 combined points) match the Cowboys ended up grabbing the win but there was a more important takeaway from this game. That being that Andrew Luck is the real deal. I had seen a game or two of his from earlier this season including one in which he was outplayed by Matt Barkley at USC but this game reestablished to me why this guy is going to be a star. 27/31 for 347, Luck was making throw after throw and throwing bullets while on the run and escaping pressure. In arguably the best bowl game this year, the biggest star that came out of it will be heading to the NFL next season.

While entertained by the Stanford game, there were really two games that stood out for me and had me thinking; West Virginia- Clemson and Baylor-Washington. These two games combined for 226 points scored. Let that sink in for a second. There was a combined 226 points scored by 4 teams in just 2 total games. That only comes out to a modest 56.5 points per team. I watched both these games and felt like I was watching a backyard shootout where my friends would let the other team score on defense just because they wanted to play offense the whole time. All four of these teams should be embarrassed by the way they played defense. It was as if each offensive team was playing a high school defense. While entertaining, I found myself quite upset with how bad the teams were. If a running back broke one tackle there was no secondary pressure, if a wide receiver caught a pass he went untouched for a touchdown and if the quarterback needed time, he had all day. I have always been a fan, though I have to admit, not a devout fan of college football but these two games actually made me think college football was stupid. Accross the nation, teams were scoring 50-60 points. I found myself thinking that college football is done, the game is stupid now. Thankfully I had the national championship game.

As mentioned, the complete dismantling of the #1 Tiger was a horrible game in which the Bama Tide, who I thought played better in both games, was rightfully crowned the national championship. Despite its shortcomings, this game reminded us of one thing; there are college football programs that play big-boy football. I am talking about teams that are solid top to bottom and know how to hit and play some defense. Don’t get me wrong, I love the high scoring games and always enjoy a shootout but football at its essence is a game of inches. If you don’t believe me then just listen to Al Pacino.


While losing 21-0 even LSU was able to show how it played defense. They may have given up some points and a lot of yards, but they also held Bama to 1 touchdown on 9 drives that got within their own 30 yard line. They were beaten but weren’t missing tackles left and right. And Bama’s defense need no explanation but I will give one anyway. They held the #1 team in the nation, albeit with a mediocre QB, to under 100 yards. The defense was absolutely shut down covering end-line to end-line. No LSU player got open or was able to break a run. It took the Tigers almost 55 minutes to cross the 50 yard line. This type of defense is unheard of. Watching the game I was honestly shocked by every first down the Tigers were able to gain. This defense gave up only 9 touchdowns all year. To give you perspective, there were two teams that scored 9 touchdowns in their respective bowl games this year. This can very arguably be called the greatest college football defense of all time. This overall defensive performance reminded me that there are college players out there that can play hardnosed football and are willing to fight for every single inch, “because that’s what football is!” So to the LSU Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the worst National Championship game in history. It made me love college football again.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

If you have not seen this movie, don’t. I have to be very honest hear and this may have been one of the most un-enjoyable movie experiences of my life. I remember when I was around 9 years old my father took me to me to see a Tom Arnold movie titled The Stupids. That was the most painful and excruciating hour and a half of my life. I am not trying to say this movie is as bad of a film as that 1996 debacle was but it terms of my movie going experience, it is close. The story which comes from the successful novel revolves around the espionage world in the days of the Cold War. Set in England, the story revolves around an MI6 veteran, George Smiley (Gary Oldman-The Dark Knight) who is tasked with discovering an undercover soviet spy who holds a top position within the MI6 outfit. The cast is fantastic including the reliable Mark Strong, John Hurt, Tom Hardy and the usually fantastic Colin Firth. The problem with this film was not the cast but the story itself. The story was not very exciting or even intriguing for that matter. We are not told much more than the fact that there is a spy within the MI6 honchos. The story takes a while to get started and the first 10-15 minutes were extremely hard to understand and follow. It almost felt like that the director was trying too hard to be artistic. There are one or two thrilling moments at the most which are usually the staple of any good espionage film. My favorite espionage film growing up, Spy Game was everything this film was not. In comparison, this film falls flat. I was expecting twists and turns that not only excited me but made me rethink the story that was unfolding before me. This movie did none of that. To be honest, other than 10-15 minutes of the film, I was either confused or completely disenchanted from what I was seeing. The only saving grace would have been good character development but even that was non-existent. Smiley, who is the focus of the film is presented by not analyzed. Even in the last scene of the film I found myself asking who George Smiley is and what made him go. The film moved slowly and simply failed to deliver. It would appear that this Cold War thriller was colder than intended.

Sex: one couple from a distance, no nudity
Violence: Close range and graphic shooting
Language: a little cursing
Drugs: smoking cigarettes and drinking
Rated: R
Run time: 127 min
Grade: 1 Stars