Thursday, February 28, 2008

The "quarterlife" Experiment

I believe it was Kierkegaard or Dick Van Patten who said, "If you label me, you negate me."

It's always interesting to hear what people with an outside perspective have of "my generation." If you're going by the Gens then I guess we're Gen Y, which in a nutshell seems to say we're a lot more about selling out and better at using computers than Gen X. Some social critics and advertisers peg us as the "internet generation," a tech reared bunch of cyborgs whose birth coincided with that of the personal computer and came of age in wilds of the information revolution, whose daily lives consist of nothing but social networking and iPods. If you ask Mr. Lee we're all a bunch of underachieving slouches whose access to unprecedented advantages and opportunities give us an undeserved sense of entitlement. According to Pepsi we just want to drink Pepsi over Coke.

I can't tell you what we are but I can certainly tell you what we aren't. We aren't anything like the offensive stock caricatures of "quarterlife." I have to admit it fills me with an overwhelming sense of satisfaction and even a little bit of pride that our generation (and apparently nearly every other generation) either saw through the show's phoniness or was indifferent enough to have it bomb historically.

When I first saw a quick ad for it a few weeks back I was quite suspicious. When I looked it up and the more I read about it, I became down right angry. Here was a show claiming to be this insightful, truthful, look at the lives of people like me whose set up and premise was so contrived and disingenuous. It's a bunch of idealistic twentysomethings, living and loving in New York. It's a tired old concept that's been done to death through a broad spectrum of genres with varying quality (Friends, Time of Your Life, Rent, How I Met Your Mother). You can just picture all the scenes ahead of time. There'll be scenes of crying, group hugs, and TV14 casual hookups. There'll be a nearly all white cast (with some roles played by people in their 30s) all beautiful, all keeping it real in either unaffordably large loft apartments or bohemian hovels so modest that they'd be condemned in reality. Conversations will no doubt be padded with forced pop culture references, sardonic sarcasm, lame pretensions about their lives. Even the brief descriptions of some of the main characters on the wikipedia page sound like something out of central casting:
  • Dylan - "a self-proclaimed writer who works as an associate editor at a magazine called Attitude."
  • Lisa - "in acting school and works as a bartender. Lisa also reluctantly becomes a singer for a band despite her low self-confidence."
  • Jed - "next-door neighbor to the girls and a film maker fresh out of film school."
  • Eric - "old friend of Debra's who comes to visit her and then stays to pursue a relationship with Dylan. Eric is an environmental activist."
What really gets me is the show's ambition to be something important, like a statement on what it's like out there. Sitcoms with such a setup at least by virtue of their medium admit that things aren't really like that and something like a musical like Rent is so dramatized that it's obviously not trying to be a reflection of real life. "quarterlife" seems to filter out all the entertaining elements of those other types of shows and wrap what's left in a blanket of a corporate network's think tank view of genuineness. Even the title itself is contemptible; an uncapitalized, made up word intentionally contrived to be like it was typed in a text message or IM.

I would not have nearly as much vitriol for the show if it stayed in its nice little corner of the internet where it wouldn't be of any harm. However, putting it on a national, primetime stage and broadcasting this warped view of twentysomethings to the general public; that's when it crossed the line into a public menace. The only reason a show like this was even allowed on network television is the deluded, greedy mindset of network brass thinking that the key advertising demographics portrayed in the show would be duped by this and herded in. In that sense its an insult to the intelligence of every 18-40 television watcher. I hope the acute failure of this show gives a message to NBC that we although we are young we have been exposed to far more media than any graying baby boomer and we are pretty good at spotting a phony. The entertainment industry can manipulate people under 18 (Hannah Montana, High School Musical, etc.) and people over 50 (basically anything on CBS) but you can't expect to easily tame that mass in the middle (especially with weak shit like this).

For series creators Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick, may this be your lesson in hubris. You both had great success with "thirtysomething" in the 80s, which is basically a prototype for this show down to the titling, because you guys were that age at the time and had considerable insight in the matter. Also it was a fresh new idea with a massive built in audience of millions of relatable baby boomers. You hit it again in the 90s with "My So-Called Life", which at least was a critical success. While the disconnect might have been even greater between creator and subject, it's fairly easy to appeal to confused, angst ridden, high schoolers. However, in the depths of your tragic confidence did you really think a bunch of fifty something guys could write a show about twenty somethings that would really resonate with them?

I wrote a while back about how nobody wants to watch a show about college kids (at least not involving hot co-ed sex) because we live uneventful, selfish, immoral, pointless existences. This doesn't appeal to adults because it's unrelatable and it doesn't appeal to college kids because we'd rather live our pointless lives than watch a bastardized version of it on TV. The same can be said here. One thing this generation has is a delayed development of maturity and independence. With things like the commercialization and fetishizing of our childhood nostolgia, later marriages, a hostile economy that's making a majority of college grads moving back home, most of us don't hit anything nearing adulthood until we're at least 30. Most of us aren't doing anything of particular difference with college outside of paying off our massive student loans and finding/starting work. If you're gonna portray this at least get your story straight and let us fucking, curse.

As a young man in the prime of his "quarterlife" living and going to school in the New York area, let this be a cautionary message to all future producers trying to capture a true cultural tableau of this generation: don't bother (or if you're going to, air it on Showtime).

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Another Oscar ceremony is the can and another record low for viewership. For those of you keeping track I came out at a respectable 8 of 11 in my prediction of the major award catagories (what can I say I voted with my heart for "War/Dance" for best doc). In my final parting shot at the whole thing, I just want to bring up one burning question: where the hell was Brad Renfro?

To give a little background; the highlight of every Oscar ceremony for me (aside from the sardonic red carpet barbs of Joan and Melissa Rivers) is the "people who died in the past year" montage. As an aficionado of celebrity passings, the death montage always manages to surprise me with people who I had forgotten died earlier in the year (Jack Valenti), people I had no idea passed (Roscoe Lee Brown), or people who I thought were already dead (Barry Nelson). Also for a lot of the honorees, especially those behind the scenes players who had to have the films they've worked on along side their pictures, it is probably the only time they will have ever have the spotlight on them. What's also kind of amusing is the awkward, perverse, postmortem popularity contest that goes on as some people get more applause and cheers than others. For me, applauding for the deceased, seemed like they were celebrating the fact that person was dead.

In contrast to previous years, 2007's in memoriam class to me seemed to be lacking in overall star power. It did have some major icons like Antonioni and Bergmann; Deborah Kerr and Jane Wyman were big stars in their day; and of course there was the tragedy of Heath Ledger. However, in the end it just seemed like a highly disproportionate number of forgotten directors, make-up artists, studio executives, and even two agents. Which makes the omission of the recent death of Brad Renfro all the more puzzling.

It's not like Renfro's brief body of work was completely ignored by the Academy. I recall he was in at least three films that where nominated for Oscars (The Client, Ghost World, and yes even Sleepers). I remember they gave a shout out to Jim "Earnest" Varney in 2001 and his decades long career had no role that was anywhere near Oscar consideration (aside from his two cameos as the Slinky dog in the Toy Story movies). So it probably wasn't related to his past output.

Was it possible snow job by the Academy to hide the fact that Renfro had a sorted death of a drug overdose? It can be said that Heath Ledger did die as well of a drug overdose but accidentally popping too many sleeping pills seems a lot more innocent than overdosing on heroin and morphine. However, the Academy doesn't seem to have had problems with overdoses and suicides in the past. Chris Farley died in one of the most notorious ways possible after a day long orgy or alcohol, drugs, and food; but when the '98 Oscars came around he was up there on the screen. Robert Pastorelli was remembered in 2005, Chris Penn in 2007 (I seem to sense a trend about fat people and cocaine). On top of that, these guys hardly had a career full of Oscar gold.

So if it wasn't his career as an actor nor his dark demise, what could it have been? A personal vendetta? An editing mistake? An unspoken quota on young blonde actor deaths? An indirect chastising of Larry Clarke and anyone who participates in his movies? Or maybe like most of the world when we first heard he had died, they had just forgotten about him.

Brad Renfro

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Everybody In the Pool: Oscar Edition

Call it, Friendo...

Well the Razzie winners were announced earlier today and as many predicted it was a banner year for "I Know Who Killed Me" and "Norbit" as the two dominated the awards. "IKWKM" apparently set a new Razzie record by bringing home 8 awards; one wonders if any movie will top this historic haul (although I'm placing a lot of hope on you next year "Meet the Spartans"). My predictions turned out to be equally successful coming in at an impressive 9 out of 11, far above expectations.

So emboldened by my recent success I now turn my powers of prognostication towards that other movie awards show. I know you'd all like to know my two cents on the always heated races in makeup and sound editing, for the sake of brevity and interest I'll stick to the more publicized categories:

Best Animated Feature
Surf's Up

Are the standards for even being nominated so high that only three movies even got nominated? I mean they could have padded this list up a little bit like they do with all the other categories. You could probably throw in a respect "Simpsons Movie" nomination up there just out of respects a la Ruby Dee. Of course I haven't seen any of these movies but from what I hear, "Ratauille" is as money as Carl Lewis at the Special Olympics so I gotta go with the Pixar pic.

Best Documentary Feature
No End in Sight
Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience
Taxi to the Dark Side

It seems that the Iraq war is providing ample fodder for recent documentarians, and ironically it's not Michael Moore. I feel like all the war documentaries will cancel themselves out in a fatal Mexican standoff of shocking truth and gritty realities. I would go with "Sicko" but I don't know if the academy likes to award multiple documentary Oscars. So I guess it's the dark horse "War/Dance."

Best Cinematography
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood

I actually did see "No Country" so there is a little bit of a bias here. However, I must say that there was some grand sweeping cinematography that made something as dull and ugly as 1980s bumblefuck Texas look like this majestic, hypnotic, epic landscape. I heard some good things about all the other ones too, "There Will Be Blood" and "Atonement" definitely looked expensive and meticulously filmed so they have a puncher's chance as well.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Away From Her
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
No Country For Old Men
There Will Be Blood

I think they should give an extra statue as a little extra "kudos" to the people (or the families of those) who wrote the original screenplays. It all starts with great source material after all. I'm going to go with "No Country" since I think it's a pretty difficult task in capturing the uniqueness of a Cormac McCarthy novel and they actually pulled it off quite nicely here.

Best Original Screenplay
Lars and the Real Girl
Michael Clayton
The Savages

Everybody keeps saying how great that Juno screenplay is. I personally am rooting against it. Not only do I not find it all that well written but I hate it when people (that aren't me) get immediate success right off the bat. Give it to the people that have put in their dues and have the experience. Alas, the the urge for the old fossils of the Academy to try to appear hip and with it by cozying up to chic Diablo Cody appears too great.

Best Director
Paul Thomas Anderson - There Will Be Blood
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen - No Country for Old Men
Tony Gilroy - Michael Clayton
Jason Reitman - Juno
Julian Schnabel - The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

I think the Academy will find this to be the best opportunity to award the Coen Brothers their long deserved Oscars. The movie itself is also well deserving, I could see that every scene seemed painstakingly rendered. It really works out well for them since they directed the movie together, instead of taking turns as director or producer, so they can be rightfully praised at the two headed iconoclastic directing monsters they are.

Best Supporting Actress
Cate Blanchett - I'm Not Here
Ruby Dee - American Gangster
Saoirse Ronan - Atonement
Amy Ryan - Gone Baby Gone
Tilda Swinton - Michael Clayton

Ah the supporting actor categories where children, foreign actors, and the really old go win surprising awards. I heard Amy Ryan's the inside favorite here, with a strong meaty Oscar-tastic role. However, I fear she's too obvious for the crazy world of supporting actress Oscars who Ruby Dee and her 10 minutes of screen time could very well come out and Herbie Hancock the whole thing.

Best Supporting Actor
Casey Affleck - The Assassination of...
Javier Bardem - No Country for Old Men
Philip Seymour Hoffman - Charlie Wilson's War
Hal Holbrook - Into the Wild
Tom Wilkinson - Michael Clayton

I think Bardem's got this one fairly locked up. His frightening performance was the kind of work the Oscars just eat up. I would like to see Tom Wilkinson win one one of these days and I'm fairly sure Hal Holbrook will die Oscar-less if he doesn't win here, but alas this is the same hard ass Academy that told 87 year old Gloria Stuart to sit on it in 1997. Also, who hasn't been seduced by this ruggedly handsome, sexy, suave, Spaniard?

Best Actress
Cate Blanchett - Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Julie Christie - Away From Her
Marion Cotillard - La Vie en Rose
Laura Linney - The Savages
Ellen Page - Juno

I'm going to with the old school Oscar favorite Christie, but basically I hope anyone but Ellen Page wins this one. Part of it goes back to my wait your turn philosophy, but another part just doesn't think it was all that great of an acting job. Her super sassy teen portrayal was great but had all the subtlety and nuance of a brick to the face. Christie's role seems adequately difficult, heartbreaking, and melodramatic for the Academy.

Best Actor
George Clooney - Michael Clayton
Daniel Day-Lewis - There Will Be Blood
Johnny Depp - Sweeney Todd
Tommy Lee Jones - In the Valley of Elah
Viggo Mortensen - Eastern Promises

I'm sure Daniel Day-Lewis puts his pants on one leg at a time, except when they're on he wins Oscars. Basically this guy disappears and shows up every couple of years to put on some powerhouse awards worthy performance. If one was attempting to win an acting Oscar they would be best served to mimic all the elements of Day-Lewis' performance in "There Will Be Blood"; the accent, the screaming, the super intensity, the weirdness, it's the stuff Oscars are made of.

Best Picture
Michael Clayton
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood

This is really a crap shoot as any one of these movies have a legitimate chance of bringing home the bacon (yes even upset special Juno which would fill me with such sadness). Atonement seems Oscar friendly to a fault as does Michael Clayton. I think it is likely to come down to "No Country" and "There Will Be Blood"; with the Oscar going to "No Country" for being slightly less crazy, a little more brilliant. Plus, they probably want some symmetry with the best directing winners.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Everybody In the Pool: Razzie Edition

I've always found peoples' interest in Oscar pools to be a little odd. It's not like making picks in sports where most people interested have presumably watched and followed the past efforts of teams and players; and used that (along with a little bit of bias at times) to predict who's going to win. In contrast, most people (outside of professional movie critics and big movie buffs) haven't seen most to many of the films nominated to give any real insight into their predictions. Furthermore, even if you have seen all the movies and have contemplated all the performances, you're most likely not picking the ones you feel deserve to win, but trying to predict the cryptic and mysterious workings of the voters of the Academy. Even many movies critics who post their Oscar picks separate their predictions into "who they personally feel should win" and "what probably would win."

It all seems to add up to a betting situation that's slightly less arbitrary and random than picking bingo numbers or playing Russian roulette. There seems to be little difference in predicting Oscar picks than predicting what the weather man will say in his five day forecast, or who's going to die in a slasher film, or what you'll get in the mail today. So why do we do it? I think deep down, we all just have this inherent desire to predict and wager on events, and the bigger the event the more easily we can find people willing to play along. Overall it's definitely a spice that enhances everything it's applied to; and lord knows we need all the spice we can get to last through that routinely over 4 hour industry circle jerk.

Far be it for me to not play along with the rest of America; I'll be posting up my unresearched, hearsay based, Oscar picks tomorrow, the night before the big event. As for tonight I'll be throwing out my picks for that other major celebration of cinema, the Razzies. Every year the Razzies call out the worst movies of the year, the day before the Oscars, in a nondescript, unglamorous, starless (except for that one time Halle Barry showed up to proudly claim her "Catwoman" award) affair that only gets reported in fluff "oddly enough" or "in other news" segments by lazy news editors. However this year I hope to help in getting it a little bit more coverage and respect by giving out some picks of my own. Who knows...perhaps in the coming years Razzie pools will become all the rage; hey, it's just another opportunity to predict and bet.

So without further ado Victor's 2008 Official Razzie Picks:

Worst Excuse For A Horror Movie
Alien vs. Predator: Requiem
Hannibal Rising
Hostel: Part II
I Know Who Killed Me

Every few years, one movie seems to capture the collective bile of the voters and bring home the lion's share of Razzies; "Basic Instinct 2" last year, "Gigli" in 2003, "Showgirls" in 1995. Judging from my memories of the hateful critical reaction and it's quick exit from the theatres, I have a feeling "I Know Who Killed Me" has reached that special degree of awfulness.

Worst Screenplay
Daddy Day Camp
Epic Movie
I Know Who Killed Me
I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry

Of course the first question that goes through one's mind is: these movies actually had screenplays? As difficult as it is to imagine a human being penning these films, somebody is responsible. I'm going against my instinct for "I Know Who Killed Me" and going with the dynamic duo of Friedberg and Seltzer in "Epic Movie" because any movie written by them should not even be considered written work but merely strings of catchphrases pasted together.

Worst Director
Dennis Dugan - I Pronounce You Chuck & Larry
Roland Joffe - Captivity
Brian Robbins - Norbit
Fred Savage - Daddy Day Camp
Chris Siverston - I Know Who Killed Me

Yes, it is that Fred Savage of Wonder Years fame that directed "Daddy Day Camp." Also, I don't know how many other times it has happened in the past but Roland Joffe now has the dubious distinction of being nominated for a Best Director Oscar (twice!) and a Worst Director Razzie. However, in the end another Golden statue for "I Know Who Killed Me."

Worst Prequel or Sequel
Alien vs. Predator: Requiem
Daddy Day Camp
Evan Almighty
Hannibal Rising
Hostel: Part II

I like the Razzies' dynamic practice of changing and making up new categories year to year. This is an especially pertinent category in a movie year defined by prequels and sequels. This also appears to be one of the most wide open categories in this year's field. I'm going with my gut and picking Daddy Day Camp. At least the other prequels and sequels had tenuously rational excuses for their existence, there is no need whatsoever for Daddy Day Camp.

Worst Remake or Rip-Off

Are We Done Yet? (Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House)
Bratz (Rip-off of the toys)
Epic Movie (Rip-off of every movie it rips off)
I Know Who Killed Me (Hostel, Saw, and the Patty Duke Show)
Who's Your Caddy (Caddy Shack)

The term rip-off in this category is used fairly loosely. Everyone of these seems to be an unintentional rip-off on the part of the filmmakers and there are no actual remakes per se. In another fairly muddled field, I'm just going to have to go with the favorite "IKWKM."

Worst Screen Couple

Jessica Alba & EITHER Hayden Christensen (AWAKE)

Any Combination of Two Totally Air-Headed Characters

Lindsay Lohan & Lindsay Lohan (as The Yang to Her Own Yin)

Eddie Murphy (as Norbit) & EITHER Eddie Murphy (as Mr. Wong)
Eddie Murphy (as Rasputia)

Adam Sandler & EITHER Kevin James
Jessica Biel

This is actually an exceedingly complicated set of scenarios. While Lindsey Lohan's twisted remake of her breakthrough role in the "Parent Trap" deserves much credit, Eddie Murphy has been a long time Razzie favorite. He's not only the king of the annoying multiple role performance, he also has a lot of Razzie history on his side.

Worst Supporting Actress
Jessica Biel – I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry and Next
Carmen Electra – Epic Movie
Eddie Murphy (as Rasputia) - Norbit
Julia Ormond - I Know Who Killed Me
Nicolette Sheridan – Code Name: The Cleaner

I had totally forgotten about "Code Name: The Cleaner." It apparently came out early in 2007. Like Oscar nominees, I imagine that had it come out a few months ago it would have been far more competitive. I'm going to have to go with Eddie again, as ridiculous as it seems for a male to win the worst supporting actress award. Hey, these are the sort of insane results that develop when ranking the worst of the worst.

Worst Supporting Actor
Orlando Bloom - Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
Kevin James - I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry
Eddie Murphy (as Mr. Wong) - Norbit
Rob Schneider - I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry
Jon Voight - Bratz, National Treasure 2, September Dawn, and Transformers

Well, it's nice to see Jon Voight is hard at work on that second Oscar. For me in the end it came down to Eddie Murphy's embarrassing Asian stereotype role against Rob Schneider's embarrassing Asian stereotype role. Both were terribly offensive, both were Razzie regulars, but I had to go with man with the longer track record.

Worst Actress
Jessica Alba – Awake, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer and Good Luck Chuck
Logan Browning, Janel Parrish, Nathalia Ramos & Skyler Shaye (A Four-for-One Deal!) - Bratz
Elisha Cuthbert - Captivity
Diane Keaton – Because I Said So
Lindsay Lohan (as Aubrey) - I Know Who Killed Me
Lindsay Lohan (as Dakota) – I Know Who Killed Me

This would be a slam dunk for Lindsay Lohan, but I do wonder if her dual nomination would cost her. If it does significantly split up the votes it may very well go to Jessica Alba for the sheer quantity of her work for 2007. I still am optimistic that it will end up being a two way tie with both performances being rightfully awarded.

Worst Actor
Nicolas Cage - Ghost Rider, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, and Next
Jim Carrey – The Number 23
Cuba Gooding, Jr. – Daddy Day Camp and Norbit
Eddie Murphy (as Norbit) - Norbit
Adam Sandler - I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry

That's right I'm calling it; a three out of four acting sweep for Eddie Murphy in "Norbit." He really does deserve all the credit this year, "Norbit" just wouldn't have been "Norbit" without Murphy's omnipresence. If they haven't, they should really give him some sort of life time achievement award for his commitment to Razzie quality work. Although I wonder if his frequent Razzie appearances may have been a factor in his Oscar loss last year.

Worst Picture
Daddy Day Camp
I Know Who Killed Me
I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry

When it finally comes down to the big prize, I stick to my guns in predicting a big Razzie haul for "I Know Who Killed Me." This essentially boils down to a two movie race between "IKWKM" and "Norbit" and I just think that the former has momentum on its side. It also helps a little bit that "IKWKM" was a total flop at the box office, while Norbit was a undeniable hit. In the Razzie world that sort of popular mandate hurts more than it helps.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

As dry and bland as a saltine

Now, normally I wouldn't divert what meager traffic I have by providing an entry and a link touting another internet blog, but every once in a while I make an exception. During one of my usual journeys through the blogosphere I ran across the aptly titled "Stuff White People Like." The concept is as straight forward as the name; a daily listing of "stuff white people like" ranging from Apple products to irony.

Now I am an Asian male who has lived a majority of his life among white people. I've read their fiction novels, been to their birthday parties, eaten at their chain restaurants, watched their hockey, loved their women, and went to their institutional learning facilities. And I can say through my somewhat detached cultural vantage point that while the blog's observations are (most likely) tongue and cheek, there's still a disturbing center of truthfulness to a lot of these observations. Now while the blog's definition of white people is somewhat narrow to the point of middle to upper class, mostly educated, somewhat waspy, folks; having lived in the suburbs of Jersey and attended school and worked in New York City, these are essentially the kind of white people that inhabit my life.

Interestingly enough white person favorite #57 "Juno" echoed my recent views on the film and its seemingly whitewashed fantasy world.

Some of the more notable things were:

Monday, February 18, 2008

Hail to the Chiefs

Oh sweet, sweet Presidents day; that lone verdant oasis in the barren holiday-less wasteland of February. You give me the strength to solider on through the cold winter to the warm shores of Easter and spring break. What a stroke of cosmic luck that America's two most distinguished and revered presidents managed to be born in the same month. Without that, we would have really strained ourselves to make up a holiday in February. So in honor of the executive branch and to avoid doing any homework for tomorrow here are three of the best movie presidents and (to not appear partisan) three of the worst movie presidents.


President James Marshall
Harrison Ford
Most notable achievements: Taking a firm stance against international terrorism, not tolerating stowaways on his plane.

Oh like you didn't see this coming. Presidents just don't get anymore bad ass than Ford in "Air Force One." How did they ever sell such a ridiculously brilliant concept? In any case it worked! No other branch of the government could have had a movie like this, it's a team effort with them (although a movie about a rag tag group of Supreme Court Justices fighting crime sounds quite appealing). No other film displays the singular independent power that is the head of the Executive branch than Ford here.

President Thomas Whitmore
Bill Pullman
Most Notable Achievements: Saving America from alien invasion, making the unlikely tandem of Smith and Goldblum work.

Lincoln only had to deal with the Confederacy, Pullman had to hold the country together against a hostile alien race of bionic supermen in "Independence Day." Not only did he manage to fend off the invincible armada of ships via the totally ridiculous loophole discovered by Goldblum, he actually fought alongside his men; making him the only Commander in Chief to actually fight the war he creates. As ridiculous as the set up was he looked pretty legit in that flight oppose to some other current heads of state. Oh and in between he also gives the Gettysburg Address of movie president speeches.

The President of the United States
Donald Pleasence
Most Notable Achievement: Escaping the prison colony of New York, clarifying who's the Duke of New York.

Never sell short the heart of a survivor, and that's what Donald Pleasence's unnamed President was in "Escape from New York." His plane gets shot down in the hell on earth prison colony that he was responsible in creating; he survives that. He gets captured, tortured, and used for target practice by the Duke; he survives that. He makes a daring escape off the island aided by Snake Plissken; he survives that too (and then opens up a can of executive decision on the Duke). Sure he was kind of a dick at times, and totally deserved getting double crossed by Snake at the end, but you can't deny his toughness under the circumstances.


President James Dale
Jack Nicholson
Most Notable Achievements: Nearly allowing the US to be conquered by Martians, starring in "Mars Attacks!"

Was there ever a President more ill prepared to handle a national crisis (don't answer that)? Through his entire existence in the movie to the part where he meets his pitiful end (literally) at the hands of the Martians he's indecisive, makes poor choices, and generally is baffled by the whole thing. When your daughter shows more leadership and intuitiveness than you; you may not be the best wartime president. His initial blunders in handling the aliens may have led to the complete take over of the US if it weren't for a lame deus ex machina plot device. One of many reasons I never liked this movie.

President Merkin Muffley
Peter Sellers
Most Notable Achievements: The destruction of all life on earth, commencing his worrying and loving the bomb.

Peter Sellers' performance in "Dr. Strangelove" was genius, but as for the character himself...not so good, Al. Although by comparison he was the sane voice of reason surrounded by all the insane characters around him, he was too weak willed, cerebral, polite to do anything but watch the bombs start dropping by the end. No matter how good your actions or intentions were, having Armageddon on your presidential resume is a real deal breaker. He also let that Commie spy take pictures of the war room...and the big board! If this was the kind of presidency that Adlai Stevenson was promising, then I sure liked Ike (wow, how topical...over 50 years ago).

President Mackenzie
Michael Keaton
Most Notable Achievements: Having a first daughter, failing in raising said first daughter.

The way a person handles their personal life can be an important indicator of how they handle their professional life. In that respect, Michael Keaton has let down his daughter and the country in "First Daughter." While I appreciate the president's work ethic and involvement in the issues, he has obviously mismanaged the rearing of his daughter Katie Holmes to the point where she suffers a severe crisis of identity when he enters college. Also is it really good parenting to be screwing around with your daughter's fragile emotions by making the cute boy she falls in love with to be a secret service agent? By comparison the Bush daughters are fine models of quality parenting.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Junoverse and you

Just the other day I finally got around to seeing "Juno" the season's most highly acclaimed unwanted pregnancy movie (will there ever be another year in film where there'll be enough notable movies in this category, i.e. "Knocked Up", "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days", for it to be actually competitive?). Along with "No Country For Old Men" back in December, this makes it two of five best picture nominees I've seen in theaters. This is a significant event for me considering in my entire life I had only seen best picture nominated film in theaters (a very bored screening of "Return of the King" in '03). It's also a testament to the completely weird and unexpected pool of movies that have been nominated for best picture this year. I mean, will they really give a best picture Oscar to such bizarre, non-traditional, idiosyncratic movies like "No Country" or "There Will Be Blood" or even "Juno"? I guess "Atonement" looks boring and safe enough to be a solid cop out vote. I suppose "Michael Clayton" looks equally serious and Oscar friendly (although those cryptic commercials I see make it look like two plus hours of people in suits arguing angrily).

As for "Juno", on the whole I liked it, but in the end I didn't think it was anything special, especially not to the level that most critics seem to put it. I recall laughing more (or better yet laughing period) and being more emotionally affected watching "Knocked Up." I still believe that if "Juno" and "Knocked Up" had switched release dates, we'd be calling "Juno" the summer comedy smash and "Knocked Up" the unlikely Oscar contender. I don't know, maybe my opinions will change if I see it a few more times. It does seems like the type of movie that I would probably appreciate more if I see it again. But for now it was good, not great.

The thing I realized about "Juno" halfway into the film was that it obviously takes place in another dimension. Oh sure, there are trees and cars and everybody looks human. People will refer to real life things that exist in our universe like specific types of food, music, history. However, in the end the movie might as well have taken place in Narnia. The Junoverse basically exists somewhere in-between the reality of our world and the hyper-precious, doll house, universe of Wes Anderson movies.

One of the main indications that one is stranded in the Junoverse is that every one's a "character." I mean, everyone is a character obviously, but everybody in the film would be plenty weird on their own in the real world. Everybody is quirky, distinctly dressed, and behave and communicate with each other in a manner that doesn't exist in reality. Juno herself is a great, unique, and interesting character but some of that is diluted by the fact that everyone she meets around her is oddly quirky themselves; the local pharmacy clerk, the abortion receptionist, students, teachers, etc. Everyone would have to be a character to put up with her inhuman levels of sarcasm and sass. Does anybody question the outrageous behavior and dialog of this most unusual high school junior? Of course not, because that's how offbeat pregnant teens act like in the Junoverse. Have you also ever noticed that no black people exist in these quirky universes? Some Asians here and there for comic effect, but hardly any black folk.

Aside from the characters that inhabit it, every setting has to be meticulously set. Juno's room and house reflect her personality perfectly, while Paulie's room and house represent him to a T, and over the top nature of the rich adoptive couple's house perfectly reflects them. Every piece of furniture, stain, picture, lighting, smell, has to constantly empathize something or someone. This goes to the clothes people wear, which act more like uniforms that reinforce that character to the point where someone in real life could dress like them for Halloween and there would be no ambiguity of who they are.

Of course every universe like this has to have their own amazing soundtrack, which the Junoverse has in spades. The soundtrack was as quirky and youthful and precious as the movie, if not more. It definitely fit the film like a glove, but please, there's only so much Moldy Peaches and Kimya Dawson a man could take. Every other scene there was that folksy guitar and nonsensical lyrics about love and kissing. I found the Jason Bateman character really odd in the way that he kept talking about and introducing songs into the film that kind of went against the overwhelming folky-ness of the general soundtrack, with his love of grunge and alternative music. I also can't believe they mentioned that crazy alternative Carpenters cover album, I thought I was the only person in the world who had that CD (the Shonen Knife cover of "Top of the World" is one of my all time favorite cover songs).

In the end though, these aren't really criticisms (except for the Moldy Peaches, that's just bad. Bad, bad, bad), just an observation. I'm actually a big fan of the imaginative, meticulously rendered Wes Anderson universes and was disappointed when Bottle Rocket didn't have enough of it. That sort of film making displays an inspiring amount of imagination, a dedication to detail, and is the most faithful to the spirit of escapism that only film can give us. However, as much as it is entertaining, there's a sense of detachment for me because for me it's as relatable to me as watching Noh theater. "Knocked Up", as all the other recent Judd Apatow hits always had the uncanny ability to really strike a realistic chord with somebody making a comment or doing something that I would have exactly done at that bizarre moment. "Juno", for a movie that's suppose to have all this heart along with the humor, I just couldn't connect. In that sense I thought it was a flawed film.

Or maybe it was just all that damn Moldy Peaches...

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Negligent like candy.

The latest bit of celebrity controversy that's filling America's news hole is, singer/actress/tween demigod, Miley Cyrus being called out by Consumer Reports for failing to wear a seat belt in a scene from the her recent hit Hannah Montana concert movie. As you can read, the whole affair even elicited a public achy breaky apology from daddy Billy Ray.

Now I'm all for automobile safety. Although I grew up not wearing a seatbelt, nowadays I feel practically naked in a car unless I buckle up. Also given the fact that the whole Hannah Montana phenomenon has shown that she exerts a Charles Manson like influence over tween America, it would be good policy on her part to set good examples. However, in the end I think she's getting a raw deal. She was apparently caught not wearing a seat belt in the back seat (the back seat of a freakin' Land Rover as oppose to a Fiat) which in my book is totally optional. Secondly, in contrast to contemporary teen queens like Vanessa Hudgens and Jamie Lynn Spears, not remembering to click it is about as edgy as Angela Lansbury at the public library. Finally, other teenie boppers have gotten away with a lot more; case in point the ludicrous display that was Mandy Moore's "Candy."

Watching the video now, as cliched as it sounds, really does takes one back to a simpler time. Mandy and I are both the same age and I'm fairly sure she has similar feelings of nostalgia mixed with healthy embarrassment every time she watches the video too. The whole thing feels so forced, so amateur, so nauseatingly mediocre. I give her nothing but the highest props for growing and changing into the star she is today; because if one had to judge based on "Candy" it would appear she would have forever been pegged a fourth tier, one hit, teen fad, rubbing elbows with the boys of 5ive, or Wila Ford on some VH-1 celebreality train wreck.

Viewing the video with a critical eye reveals other wrongs beyond just ascetics though. One overarching issue that permeates the whole video is just how jailbaity the whole thing is. I didn't notice it myself as a fellow 15 year old watching it, but as I got older and video Mandy stayed the same, I notice how creepy and awkward a 14 year old trying to look like a sex kitten appears. At least Britney was 17 when "...Baby One More Time" came out.

The real issue comes up when all of Mandy's "BFF"s show up and they all decide to hop into Mandy's lime green (apparently license plate-less) Beetle and head on over to the malt shop. Even generously assuming that this is some state that allows a 14 year old to drive...four kids, one car, no seat belts! Their trip there is the very model of extreme recklessness. Everybody seems too absorbed in singing the song to pay attention to the road as they barrel down the suburban streets. I don't think at any point in this murderous joyride does Mandy even look at the road. She's either singing and making suggestive faces out the window or staring at the sky through the open sun roof, or trying to pick up that blue shirted goon (who looks damn near 30) with the bike. After enjoying their hearty meal of complimentary water (possible endorsement of anorexia?) they go out and to their required impromptu choreographed dance sequence in the parking lot. This is enough to attract that random pedophile and his friends again and they just take off on his scooter...with total disregard for helmet laws. They end up in some empty pool in the backyard of a house that you expect Chris Hanson to pop out of any second, where they continue their step routine surrounded by daredevil skaters (who also aren't wearing any protection).

So to review, in the course of under 4 minutes, "Candy" has advised the impressionable youth of my generation to:
  • Drive at 14
  • Not wear seat belts
  • Speed with impunity
  • Not actually look at the road while driving
  • Possibly not eat
  • Dance with impunity
  • Not wear helmets on motorbikes
  • Pick up strangers who are twice your age
  • Trespass empty pools
  • Do crazy stunts on skate boards in said pool
  • Don't wear helmets while doing said stunts in said pool
  • Dance with impunity some more
We were better off watching our Eminem videos. And now the media's pointing a finger at Miley Cyrus for not buckling up in the back seat? Boy, standards sure have changed in the last 8 or so years.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Ain't that a fucking coincidence, cocksucka!

All through elementary school and early middle school, while everyone else was reading Goosebumps, Fear Street, and Sweet Valley High, I was completely immersed in Choose Your Own Adventure Books. For someone of my limited attention span reading a book from front to back just seemed too linear and boring. I always figured, why be a slave to the narrative when you can make dynamic off the cuff choices that had life or death (usually death) consequences?

One of my all time favorite of the series was number 8: Deadwood City; great plot, interesting choices, great variety of endings. The setup was you're a young traveler in the Old West who wanders into the lawless western town of Deadwood City looking to make a name for yourself and facing all sorts of interesting characters and dangerous situations. Hmmm...sounds oddly familiar....

Aside from the freaky coincidences of the similarly named title locales and the fact that the main antagonist in the books looks eerily like Ian McShane's Al Swearengen, there are a few other striking similarities. Due to the divergent nature of the Choose Your Own Adventure book, any one of your story choices can lead you down a path that seemingly coincides with some of the broad themes of the TV series. You can explore the brutal and ruthless world of unfettered wild west capitalism by becoming a rancher, or trying to pan for gold, or working for a stagecoach company. You can delve into the struggle between the law and the west as seen in the ongoing rivalry between Swearengen and Bullock, by becoming a sheriff and trying to stop the lawless actions of the book's antagonist. The overarching theme of the taming of the west can be seen as you encounter exploited Native Americans, greedy businessmen, the everyday struggles of the average town folk, and witness the overall development of the town. Even the level of violence is almost comparable since about as the case with most CYOA books you die a terrible dead in roughly half the endings. Just about the only difference is the intelligible dialog, lack of hookers, and no anachronistic cussing.

But you know the freakiest similairty for me is? There are 37 possible endings for Deadwood City, Deadwood the show in 3 seasons ran 36 episodes! It's something to consider.

For next week:
Book #32: Treasure Diver
actually the basis for...

Into the Blue?

Monday, February 11, 2008

It's Herbie Hancock. Duh!

Another spectacular, lavish, boisterous, and ultimately pointless Grammy ceremony has passed us by. For those who actually gave it half a notice, the entertainment news and blogosphere is a buzz with the biggest surprise of the night (aside from the relatively healthy looking appearance of Amy Winehouse), the Album of the Year going to Herbie Hancock's "River: The Joni Letters." In the face of more popular, younger, more critically acclaimed acts, this inexplicable album, that I can't imagine is owned by anyone but turtlenecked Herbie Hancock fans and Starbucks Cafes, comes through with the shocking upset of the century. However, as I look back at the best album winners for this decade, I see that it would have been an unbelievable upset if any other album won!

No other major entertainment industry award has had such a great disconnect from what the viewers expect and what the industry voters choose. The Oscars have let in some real dogs and have dolled out undeserving pity Oscars here and there; the Emmy's have given awards to shows that don't even exist at the time of the presentation; even, the Kid's Choice award has shown some questionable decisions at times. The Grammys, however, have shown such unpredictable and inconsistent results, that such behavior by them has become well...consistent.

Whether it's awarding Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance to Jethro Tull over Metallica, giving Sir Mix-a-Lot a best rap song Grammy, almost always getting it wrong with the Best New Artists, or FIVE Grammys in one night for Christopher Cross; the Grammy's brazen dissent from popular opinion of music buyers almost borders on antagonism. Some of the most egregious of these examples can be seen throughout the history of their most prestigious award, The Best Album Grammy. Looking at the track record for the past decade it seems pretty apparent just how beautiful a textbook example "River" is of the qualities that make up a "surprise" Best Album Winner. [Note none of these applies to the unexplainable fluke year of 2004 when Outkast won]

Be the oldest artist nominated (extra points if you're dead)
This is a pretty important quality. You're already doing pretty well if you're the oldest; if you've died it's basically in the bag. Every year's list of nominations has at least one new release by an established artist that is well past their prime (Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, Paul McCartney, etc.) who is always within striking distance of pulling away. I'm not sure who exactly votes for these things but whoever they are, I suspect they're graying, rockist, and have a whole closet full of confiscated Frisbees. Every few years they seem to look forward to striking a blow for the old guard by sticking it those young whipper snappers and their scary music ("so you're all excited about Kid A? How about this Steely Dan album!").

Have a whole bunch of other artists collaborating
If there's one thing the Grammys love more than old, established artists, it's a whole bunch of old established artists collaborating together, possibly singing old songs. "River" had a who's who of Grammy friendly duets: Tina Turner, Norah Jones, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, and Corinne Bailey Rae; a stellar line up. "Supernatural" and the "O Brother Where Art Thou" Soundtrack are duet heavy, but the critically acclaimed clusterfuck that was Ray Charles' "Genius Love Company" really sets the bar for all future albums.

Have Norah Jones sing on your album
Has there been any artists in recent memory more perfect for the Grammys than Norah Jones? Whatever sensual, contemplative, contemporary soul, fusion, country, folk, thing she plays that fits so well in coffee houses and bookstores is the kind of classy music that the voters can't get enough. So aside from winning her own Best Album Grammy she provided her unique brand of Grammy gold to both "Genius Love Company" and "River". She's like a hired gunslinger, have Grammy will travel.

Be outsold by the other nominees
You know for an award given out by the record industry, album sales has on most occasions, little to do with the winner. I'm not saying it's a sales contest but, shouldn't the ability to sell, some albums, get your single on the charts, count of for something? "River" was by far and away the least commercial of the albums nominated, as were most of the other classic winners (with the distinct exception of Supernatural). To the Grammy voters it seems the more popular you are, the more you're probably associated with the unseemly elements of the "younger generation".

Be nominated against Kanye West
It just seems that the Grammy voters have some sort of personal vendetta against Kanye. Every album he has released thus far had been the inside favorite to win and have fallen to less than spectacular albums by older artists; "Genius Loves Company" (again!) and U2's forgettable "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb". This year was probably his best chance too, but alas he was no match Herbie. I feel like the voter's will continue to play this sadistic cat and mouse game if only to see how he'll react every time. You better believe there'll be another titanic upset when "Post Graduation" gets nominated.

That's basically the rough layout of the formula, at least for this decade. So take heed all you faded legends of yesteryear; relevance is just an obscure, Norah Jones duet laden, collaborative cover of old standards away. For extra insurance have it coincide with a Kanye album or fake your death.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Picture This!

So around the end of last year I noticed the most recent effort from The National "Boxer" kept popping up on a bunch of people's best albums of 2007 lists. Never heard of them. I'm not really hip to that "independent rock" that some of the young kids are listening to these days and frankly I don't know how all these long haired bands and not traditionally good looking girls are ever gonna make a dime with that kind of sound. Nevertheless what it did remind me of was the short lived 70s band "Boxer" who's only claim to fame was one of the most inappropriate and hilariously misogynistic album covers by a band not named the Scorpions. I had five minutes to kill,

So through the magic of computers...

Boxer, round 2. Say what you may but there's definitely more to look at here then some old wedding photo. This definitely would have sold a few more records...or alienated all their fans...whichever.

Also I probably should have done some NSFW warning and linking; but I figure shame on you for idly surfing the net reading blogs while at work and school. Is this what the internet was made for?

Monday, February 04, 2008

Judgment Day

Well Super Bowl XLII is in the can and while most people would have considered it an exciting and memorable game; I for one was disappointed in nearly every single way. As I mentioned in previous posts, I have nothing but personal animosity for both teams so whatever result would have been loss loss anyway. After the game, however as I sat there watching the confetti falling, the fans in blue exploding in ecstasy, Michael Strahan flashing his large gap toothed grin, and the perpetually smug and evil Bill Belichick being deservingly humbled, I realized...I would have preferred the Patriots win.

There's something unsettling and unfair about the Giants being declared the superior team over the Patriots. On one side you have a team that has demonstrated week in and week out a historically superior level of play. They broke records by the handful, they embarrassingly blew out opponents, and in the close ones, always came in the clutch. Then you have the Giants, a team full of question marks, unproven players, whose uneven play all season and general weakness of the NFC backed them into the playoffs as a wild card team. From an objective perspective (I guess hating both teams is objective) does it seem fair that the previously undefeated, record breaking squad be considered inferior to a 10-6 wild card team? I'm all for upsets, but I'm also for history. If this was a seven game series I would be fairly confident that the inherent talent of the Patriots would overwhelm the Giants, but alas these are the breaks, everyone only gets one shot, for better or for worse. Aside from the universal unfairness of the situation, now I have to deal with all the blow hard Giants fans proclaiming their champion status like they caught that final touchdown for a whole year; as oppose to if the Pats won, all the arrogance and championship apparel would be far away from me up north.

As disappointing as the game was for me, it paled in comparison with the disappointment I felt with the slate of Super Bowl ads presented. In the ever competitive task of trying to get the consumer's attention towards their product or service, advertisers seem to have eschewed trying to be creative or clever for just crudely trying to catch your eye with shock or straight up confusion. One of my all time favorite Super Bowl commercials was by FedEx from a few years ago. It is so accurate in its breaking down of the unique beast that is the Super Bowl ad that I have used it to judge all other ads that came since. After watching all the commercials I can't recall a single commercial that amused with a clever joke or attempted to convey a genuine emotion. There were just so many CGI filled ads with things crashing (FedEx pigeons, Dell computer demolition); people getting beat up (Justin Timberlake, that Doritos commercial with the rat); cameos that served no purpose (James Carvelle and Bill Frist? Oh look it's Shaq on a horse, hilarious!); and of course animals, animal, animals (those Sobe people sure must have spent a lot of money to turn me off to their product). While I do enjoy all these things and feel no piece of media is perfect unless it contains at least one of these elements, after you get my attention with your gimmick there should be something behind it.

Of course, the only thing worst than a Super Bowl ad are the endless promos for whatever show the host network is trying to push or show after the game. This time around you had a whole bunch of standard issue ads for the new "House MD" episode afterwards, but they were dwarfed by the landslide of "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" promos that took up every other unoccupied piece of advertising real estate all night long. However, while the regular promos were uniformly generic and awful, the most satisfying and genuinely surprising moment for the whole night was when the trademark Terminator robot suddenly came out of nowhere to beat the crap out of that Fox NFL robot.

For anyone who has seen their share of NFL games on Fox, I know you are more than familiar with that annoying, bulky metal monstrosity. Every game while the network is rattling off logos and lists of sponsors there it is (apparently Cletus is his actual name) doing it's never ending assortment calisthenics and stretching exercises. If you can somehow manage to go beyond the question of why a ROBOT would need to do stretching exercises, the real annoying thing about it is that it never DOES ANYTHING ELSE! For probably the last five years it has done precisely nothing but that, get ready to play, sometimes even do a point out, but never actually play football. The thing obviously looks like was created to play football, I refuse to entertain the profoundly idiotic notion that someone would have made this gigantic robot just to demonstrate warm ups. For years we had to put up with its no talk and no walk while some voice mentioned that the game was brought to you by Bud Light, but then somewhere around the second quarter it finally happened.

From out of the wall itself a random Terminator robot burst through and immediately began to apply the beat down that all of us watching at home have only dreamed about for years. It just threw that robot around like a little bitch. A completely unexpected scene, that alone I would gladly watched the next episode of the "Chronicles" in gratitude for. But it didn't end there. A short while later another promo showed that Terminator continuing his beating of Cletus. Cletus did mange a dirty move here and there, but clearly the Terminator has the upper hand throughout. If this wasn't enough, towards the end of the game, a third spot ran where the Terminator clearly showed the true cowardly nature of Cletus. After throwing him around yet again, you see that Cletus is pitifully clawing at the ground as he is dragged away by the Terminator. This would have been the end of him if it weren't for the two other identical goons that show up to rescue him. Although the commercial ends there, I'd like to believe that the Terminator robot welcomes the challenge and ends up beating up all three robots into a large pile of scrap.

You can see all these showdowns here under promos; however this will involve going to a myspace page, something that's always better to avoid. They should find a reason to do this every year the Super Bowl's on Fox. With the demise of the Bud Bowl, there is definitely a gaping hole in America's need for violent sports with inanimate objects. It's the least the network could offer the fans for putting up with that robot's crap for 17 weeks plus playoffs. This piece of sweet commercial vindication almost put right the no win situation of the game and the lackluster plate of advertisements...almost.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

I'm not here to start no trouble...2008

Well another Super Bowl is upon us. However, in contrast to last year's big game where my attitude towards the competitors was general ambivalence; it is now outright hatred. A perfect storm of circumstances led to the two teams that I wanted least to get to the Super Bowl squaring off against each other. After all the hype, dramatics and pageantry of the playoffs we find ourselves right back to week 17.

There really isn't much about the two teams and my feeling concerning them I haven't already covered back in December. The Patriots are still an amalgam of every evil team from every sports movie ever made while I still bear my idiosyncratic vendetta against the Giants for past and present personal transgressions. In terms of outcome, barring an unexpected ruling by the commissioner that both teams and their fans suck and that both teams must shamefully forfeit, there really in no positive one for me. I've been actively avoiding the media blitz about both teams and may not even give that much of an effort to watch the game tomorrow. However, in the grand spirit of Groundhog's Day and for all you compulsive types out there I'll at least throw out my predictions.

Now every sports commentator, sports expert, gambler, celebrity, co-worker, man on the street, dog, and cat are giving their predictions on the big game. They, for the most part, probably take in the strengths and weaknesses of the teams, past performance, seasoned with some personal biases to come out with a prediction. These people are wrong. As the time tested ritual of Groundhog's Day has taught us, straight logic, reasoning, and informed hypothesis can only get us so far. True prognostication comes from one looking beyond rational sources to find meaning in the random and seemingly irrelevant. Sure, the people of Punxsutawney could look to sophisticated equipment and trained meteorologists for answers but no, they come out in the cold to worship a giant rat and get their forecasting from him. So instead of looking at past match ups or commentaries or game match ups, I'm going to look at some alternate sources.

A real Giant versus a real Patriot
This is a no-brainer. While I will no doubt concede that an 18th century American patriot will have more motivation and would want it more; come on it's a Giant. And if the official team depiction of a Giant is to an accurate scale, he will tower over the dedicated by ultimately undersized Patriot. The Patriot may possibly be packing a musket, but in the end that would hardly give him much of an advantage, maybe take out one of the Giant's eyes in the best case scenario. There might be an argument that the Patriot's size and swiftness may give him an outside shot, but again look at that freakin' picture! Imagine Cloverfield taking place in colonial Williamsburg, that's how I see it'll turn out. Advantage: Giants

Tecmo Super Bowl: Giants vs. Patriots
There's no better way to determine the results of this modern day Super Bowl than to crudely simulate it on a NES game with rosters from 1990. The chips are quite unfairly stacked in the Giants' favor yet again since their roster is based off the team that won the Super Bowl that year while the Patriots (who went 1-15 that year) fight a constant battle with the Indianapolis Colts for worst team in the game. If I had simmed this game 100 times 99 of them would have ended with blow out victories for the Giants. Phil Simms would have about 400 yards of passing, Otis Anderson or Dave Meggett would have like 150 on the ground, and both would have a mess of touchdowns. While they don't show the defensive stats, I'm pretty sure Lawrence Taylor would have broken Steve Grogan (by far the worst QB in the game) in half, while WR Irving Fryer (their only good player) watched helplessly down field wishing he was on a better team. However, perhaps in a telling omen of things to come the Pats actually came out on top 35-30! Anyone familiar with Tecmo Super Bowl will know that this is roughly the equivalent of the miracle on ice or Appalachian State over Michigan. Perhaps the stars really are aligning for those cheaters from up north. Advantage : Patriots

Film Factor
When looking at the portrayals of both teams on film, this is a total Giants run away. This is mainly due to the fact that I can't think of a single movie about the Patriots. There's a movie about the Celtics (Celtic Pride), a movie about the Red Sox (Fever Pitch), but alas winning three Super Bowls doesn't seem to account for much in New England film these days. I guess aside from the first Super Bowl against the Rams, the Pats don't have much of a feel good story ("here's the pitch...favored team, wins big game"). The Giants on the other hand have the benefit of one of my favorite movies of my youth, "Little Giants". Now there's a textbook inspiring underdog story for ya. Forget studying game footage Coughlin, just show a dvd of this to the team before the game and they'll be plenty fired up. How sweet would it be if they broke out "The Annexation of Puerto Rico" on the big stage? Advantage: Giants

Super Bowl Shuffle Factor
Since the Chicago Bears breakthrough song and video in 1985, developing a sweet Super Bowl based, poorly performed, team song has always been a factor to consider on the road to the big game. Although wikipedia mentions it, I have yet to hear the 1990 Super Bowl champion Giants parody "Walk Like A Giant" which I guess counts as a song. I should technically award the Giants this category since the Patriots don't have a song (No movie? No song? It's like all you guys do is play football?). However, I have to throw a flag out for the truly horrific Jim Jones NY Giants Remix of "We Fly High", which takes an already awful song and adds a bunch of ham fisted Giants references in there. That's a 15 yard penalty. Advantage: Patriots

Coin Toss
As with all things in life, in the even of a tie or bout of indecision, one has to look towards the perfect arbitration of the coin toss. Hey, if it's good enough for Two-Face then it's good enough for me. Using a random quarter from my change jar, I assigned Patriots heads, Giants tails. In the end the toss that rendered all my previous analysis irrelevant was heads. Advantage: Patriots

So in conclusion it appears the Patriots are due for their perfect season and every member of the team will be able to get free drinks for life in every sports bar in Boston. However, it'll probably be very close, decided perhaps by a field goal; like every other Patriots Super Bowl victory. If I had to throw a score on it: Patriots 27 Giants 24 with the MVP going to Wes Welker for getting about a dozen annoying 10 yard, first down receptions.