I'll be letting my paid LiveJournal account at this URL expire when the time comes up in about a month. I'm working on new digs and a new format. For anyone that cares, I'll let you know where you can find me when the time comes.
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Winter Classic

I know modern sports fans are supposed to be cynical and unhappy and complain about everything that's wrong with their game. Some, like the people who foolishly believe that there was ever a "Golden Age" of Hollywood reigned by nothing but glamour, happiness, and artistic purity, probably even yearn for the imaginary years where sports was just about the game and nobody cared if they made money or got famous as long as their fans were happy and they could donate ponies to children's hospitals. No age ever existed, and I have no doubt that there are just as many - if not more, given that leagues are larger - guys playing today with heart and dedication as there has always been. The media just got better at profiling the douchebags and self-promotion rose to a professional artform. I'll save any rants about corporate and commercial exploitation for another time.

That's because yesterday's NHL "Winter Classic" was awesome. A few glitches with the ice aside, it went off almost perfect. Despite the cold, the stadium was packed with 70,000+ fans that traveled from all over the US and Canada, the players looked as giddy as little kids on Christmas morning, and the NHL's Golden Boy, Sidney Crosby, even scored the winning goal for his team in the overtime shoot-out (and a slight aside - Bob Costas' story about an unpleasant encounter he once had with Goldie Goldthorpe when he was a budding, 21-year-old sports reporter was priceless). It was a ton of fun to watch. I must have been a blast to actually be there. I still think it wasn't all that bright of an idea to stage it on New Year's Day when there is so much football to compete with, but the whole event kind of restored a little bit of my faith in the National Hockey League.

I hope they do it every year.

UPDATE: The cynic rears his head, though hockey-bashing is a pretty regular venture at ESPN. "Somebody could have gotten hurt!" Give me a bleeping break. These are big boys - professional hockey players, for goodness sake - many of whom grew up playing on outdoor ponds and rinks, in the cold, with snow in their eyes, on bad ice with chips and kinks in it. And of course the style of play was slower because the puck moved differently in reaction to the weather conditions. It's not like anyone's recommending the entire game be moved outdoors full time. Given the number of people in the comments who responded to Scott Burnside's pessimistic article by either calling him a stupid grump or noting that they were non-fans who stumbled on the game while channel surfing and ended up staying put because it was so entertaining to watch, I'd say he's outnumbered. Wasn't roping in new fans the whole point of the game? Heaven forbid that happens so that ESPN might actually have to pay the sport a little respect now and then.
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Post-Christmas Rundown

*I finally saw Atonement. Maybe it was just the months and months of critical praise that had been heaped on it that left me disappointed, but it was definitely a let-down. I'm not one of those "the movie can never be as good as the book" snobs, but I think there's something about the novel that just didn't translate well. There's not much to work with in terms of the story - a young, foolish girl tells a lie that ruins a man's life and feels really bad about it when she's old enough to realize the gravity of what she had done, most of it set to the back drop of World War II. But there were too many long shots of characters staring meaningfully into space, an otherwise useless 30 minute "war is hell" scene, and one of those overbearing musical scores that shout "feel! emotion! HERE!" It wasn't awful, but it's not something I'm anxious to see again.

*The Gateway to Hell is located somewhere within the confines of the Del Amo Mall in Torrance, California. That is the only thing that could possibly explain the existence of a place so evil. It's beyond huge and hard enough to navigate when you aren't surrounded by thousands of people still pissed off that it took them an hour to park their car.

*It seems like every book I've read in the last month has been about either murder or war and it's getting pretty damn depressing. I've skipped a few titles down the stack and will pick up Ed Willes' Gretzky to Lemieux: The Story of the 1987 Canada Cup. I don't care if it's boring, badly written, horribly edited, and turns out to be more about the native plant life of Alberta than hockey. As long as nobody dies in it, I'll be happy.

*I now have somewhere around $200 in Starbucks gift cards. I don't think I'll have to pay for a cup of coffee for the next year year. It's pretty awesome.

*I have dragged my aunt kicking and screaming into the 21st Century by setting up the DVD player that my parents bought her for Christmas. I now get calls from her about twice a day asking some sort of highly technical question like "how do I get it to play?"

*I finally got around to watching the 2007 Stanley Cup DVD I've had for months. I was on the edge of my seat, even covering my eyes for part of it, especially during the series against Detroit. I had to remind myself more than once that I knew how it was going to end. Duh.

*Anybody need a scenic calendar of American landmarks? I got about 20 this year from customers and clients.

*Sorry, honey. I'll give you the part about not particularly enjoying the "inappropriate touching," but you were a bleeping ice bunny. Big tits and make-up are not unreasonable job requirements. I don't have a problem with cheerleaders and ice bunnies (or "Power Players," as they are absurdly named in Anaheim), but it gets a wee bit annoying when women actively (and in the cases where they're somewhat high-profile, even viciously) pursue positions on those type of squads and then turn around to complain that the ogling men aren't taking the time to recognize the profundity of their inner tortured poet.

*Which reminds me, I caught about eight seconds of a paid programming advert for "Girls Gone Wild" during my last bout with insomnia, and all I have to say about those brief, suffering moments is that any guy who has ever bought or watched one of those things on purpose is a goddamm LOSER. Seriously, just buy regular porn like a real man.

That's probably it until next year. Have a Happy New Year, everybody!
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    cheerful cheerful

Christmas Meme

I got tagged by Tommy for this Christmas meme, so in the only display of Christmas spirit I intend on expressing this year outside of buying my nephews presents, here you go:

1) Link to the person that tagged you, and post the rules on your blog.
2) Share Christmas facts about yourself.
3) Tag 7 random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.
4) Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

1. Wrapping or gift bags?


2. Real or artificial tree?

I don't put up a tree. I live alone, Christmas decorations don't really cheer me up, and they're otherwise a pain to put up just to take down a few weeks later. In other words, I'm too damn lazy. Personal aside: this drives my step-mother nuts. She's German and very rigid about these things. It's Christmas. You're supposed to put up decorations and play only Christmas music and watch Christmas movies and eat Christmas food. It's almost as if she was told boogey man stories about some secret police force that will come to your house if aren't displaying enough holiday spirit and throw you in a Christmas gulag for crimes against the season. When my parents still lived out here in L.A., she'd show up at my apartment every year with one of those pre-decorated mini-trees and various other crap like stockings and Santa figurines because it kept her awake at night that I didn't have Christmas shit all over the place. I was sad when they moved to a different state, except for the relief that I would not have to put up with her Christmas OCD anymore.

3. When do you put up the tree?

See above.

4. When do you take the tree down?


5. Do you like eggnog?

No. I hate it, even if there's booze in it.

6. Favorite gift received as a child?

Stuffed Snoopy.

7. Do you have a nativity scene?


8. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?

It was the year Grandma decided that instead of a check, she was going to send me an ugly sweater that I never wore.

(And seriously - the person who gave Tommy socks in a GI Joe Motorcycle box is plain cruel. Why not just put cat turds that spell out "FUCK YOU" inside and show your real contempt?)

9. Mail or email Christmas cards?

Neither. I'm not a total Scrooge, but people have never come to expect Christmas cards from me, so why break tradition?

10. Favorite Christmas movie?

It's a Wonderful Life.

11. When do you start shopping for Christmas?

The only real Christmas tradition I have established for myself as an adult is to wait to do my shopping until the last minute and then make a pledge to not do the same thing next year. And then do the same thing next year.

12. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?

My sister makes prime rib every year.

13. Clear lights or colored?

Colored, but I have those hanging all over the place all year long.

14. Favorite Christmas song?

I don't have one.

15. Travel at Christmas or stay at home?

Stay home.

16. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer?

Let's, Pronger and Nixon and Dundee and Blixer? Something like that? In other words, no.

17. Angel or star on the top of your tree?

I think it would be difficult to put either on top of a tree I don't have.

18. Open your presents Christmas Eve or Christmas morning?

Christmas Eve.

19. Most annoying thing about this time of year?

How early some people start celebrating it. A local radio station switched to their annual "All Christmas/All the time" format a week before Thanksgiving. Stores start their Christmas! Sale! blitz around that time as well. Some years, I look more forward to the end of the holiday than the holiday itself. It seems to happen earlier and earlier every year, to the point where I can see the day where Macy's starts putting up their decorations in June.

20. What do you leave for Santa?

Nothing specific, but he knows he's welcome to anything in the fridge.

21. Least favorite holiday song?

I think the one song that gets on my nerves the most is "Do They Know It's Christmas" by that Band-Aid charity the Brits did about 20 years ago (Jeez, has it been that long? That makes me feel old). Over the last five years or so, I've noticed a lot of bloggers pick on that song for it's provincial stupidity and ignorance ("nothing ever grows" in a continent covered in jungles? "No rain or rivers flow"? None? Really? "Do they know it's Christmas?" More appropriately, do they even care? Etc., etc. I think my favorite line is "there won't be snow in Africa this Christmas time." Poor dears. There won't be snow in Los Angeles either. Please send me money!). I mean, charity is a wonderful idea, but you shouldn't insult the beneficiaries of your efforts by applying stereotypes that describe about 30% of their homeland to the entire continent.

22. Do you decorate your tree with any specific theme or color?

If I had one, I probably wouldn't. I prefer crazy trees with lots of color and silly ornaments and fun, home-made stuff like popcorn garland, not those neat, symmetric, perfectly trimmed kind.

23. Favorite ornament?

The Grinch one wins over the two others that I actually own just in case I ever decide to get around to actually putting up a tree some year.

<----- end of meme ----->

I'm going to break the rules and not tag anyone, because I'm a rebel like that, but if anyone else thinks this looks like fun, give it a go and drop a link in the comments.

Oh yeah...and MERRY CHRISTMAS!
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    silly silly

The Moment of Truth

I don't like reality television. I'm not a snob about it. If other people enjoy it, good for them. But I have to draw the line at this crap. I saw a bunch of previews for it yesterday and I find the premise of this "game show" absolutely disgusting. Contestants come on and agree to be strapped to a lie detector while answering a series of intensely personal questions. Anyone who can make it through 21 questions without setting off the detector wins $50,000. The thing is, they're not just innocuous questions that can only harm or embarrass the contestants themselves, like "how many times a week do you masturbate?" It's stuff like "are there things about your spouse that you can't stand?" and "have you ever told a serious lie to your mother?"

The kind of questions where other people who have not agreed to be party to this show get hurt. And they're making no disguise of this in the previews. "Watch marriages get wrecked and families torn apart!" For entertainment? No thanks. It's one thing if you want to make an asshole of yourself on "Big Brother" or be stupid enough to let Paris Hilton mind your kids for a day just to get a little attention. It's another thing entirely to put yourself in a position where you know that people you are supposed to love might suffer for the shot at fleeting fame and quick cash.
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    pissed off pissed off

The Saturday Movie Ritual

I saw I Am Legend yesterday. I like Will Smith enough that I could watch him recite the stock report and be entertained, but I was still slightly worried that this movie would be along the lines of the borefest that was Castaway (two hours of Tom Hanks talking to a volleyball? ZZZZZZzzzz). It wasn't. It was actually really, really good. Smith had to basically carry half of the movie by himself, and he did an excellent job. His character was a guy who hadn't had any human social contact in three years and develops a mild psychosis as a result - he talks to mannequins, gives them names, even hits on one of the pretty ones - but he never grandstands it in that grating I am playing the part of a crazy person!!!! fashion. To be able to pull that off in a believable, engrossing way, to have your character be central to a movie yet still be secondary to the story and where it's heading, is an exceptionally difficult thing to do, and Smith nailed it. I love that guy.

That, and it's really nice to get back to having choices at the box office that don't involve somebody else shoving their political conscience down my throat (then turning around when it bombs after being panned as crap and blaming me because I was too stupid/apathetic/socially unaware to go see it. Talk about not getting it - maybe the reason people are skipping movies about Iraq is because we've had to digest the horrible news of it day after day, and that, when the time comes to put our feet up, we just might not have to watch more goddamm war). Hail to the end of Really Important Movie™ season!
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Teh Fanbois (Or Why I've Sworn Off of Sports Forums Forever)

1) There are always fanboys/girs there who have to turn it in to a pissing contest to prove that they are the one fan who is the bestest and knows the most about just everything.

2) The jackass who always has to say "you clearly know nothing about [insert sport here]" when someone has stated an opinion or anything else that is not a cut and dry, provable matter of fact.

3) The super-jackass who has to insist that you are "clearly not a fan" when you do not worship a team and all of their players/coaches/managers from head to toe 100% without question.

4) The condescending buttmunch who always has to show up when people are upset about a player being traded who feels it is his duty to explain to everyone that sports is a business and that these things happen.

No shit, Sherlock.

It looks like one of my favorite players from the Ducks is going to get traded to St. Louis. As I am writing this, it's just a rumor, but a reliable one. I toddled over to the Ducks board at their official site (not to post, just to read up on the speculation) and a lot of other people aren't happy as well. But sure enough, Uppity Dickwad Guy made his appearance to enlighten us all about the way things work in professional sports. I know the way they work. I know guys get sent up and down and are regularly passed around the league like herpes at a Weather Underground meeting. That doesn't mean I have to like it. Joseph Smith on a crutch, do people of this sort also tell someone who's hurt when their grandmother passes away that they shouldn't be upset because she was in hospital and, like, people totally die in those places all the time? Give me a bleeping break.

PS - I slipped away to check on the updates and it's just been confirmed. Farewell, #19. Take care of him, St. Louis.
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Invisible Resume

When you're a public figure, there is such a thing. While most of us can quietly leave off or shroud habits like excessive drinking from our resumes, a celebrity famous for it cannot. The same goes for any other kind of behavior that might seem detrimental to the marketability of a film or television show (see: Tom Cruise). That's why I was pretty surprised when Katherine Heigl made some flippant remark not too long ago about how hard it was for her to love Knocked Up. She's since back-pedaled from the comment and is now saying it was the bestest, grooviest experience of her life. Even if her contract didn't require her to refrain from speaking negatively about the film in public, having things on your invisible resume like "tends to talk shit about the movies she's been in shortly after they are released on DVD" isn't exactly going to make people excited about working with you.

I especially love some of the comments attached to the article linked above (yes, I went there) in the vein of OhMyGod! Freespeech! Sheisentitledtoheropinion! It's not like the FBI arrested her and threw her in jail for what she said. She is only owed free speech by the government; it doesn't mean she shouldn't have to suffer any consequences when she says something stupid. Of course she's entitled to her opinion. But she'd be smart to know there are times when she should keep it to herself.
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