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October 27, 2007

USC 17 Oregon 24

Nysmbw Chadvw
Click images for desktop size: "NY" by Chad VW
Southern California wasn't on TV here so we had an early Halloween movie party.
Started it with the flash "Underworld: Evolution" then the childhood flic, "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein". On to the sci-fi horror of Burgess/Kubrick's "A Clockwork Orange" and then ended the night with the fascinating Val Lewton "The Seventh Victim".
There was one great exchange in "The Seventh Victim". There's a poet and a psychiatrist. Their professions make them natural enemies, but they are both so civilized about it, that its disconcerting to the point of being nearly shocking. The poet suspects that the psychiatrist murdered the girl he loved about 10 years ago.
Notorious Xlg - 1946 It stopped the poet from writing and stayed with him every day, even worse when he saw the psychiatrist in their crisscrossed social circles.
Near the climax of the film, they find themselves uneasy allies, Cyrano's not emotionally involved in the drama but invested in its outcome. When the psychiatrist says out of the blue, "That girl you saw me with is in an insane asylum. She's a terrifying raving thing." He pauses and lights a cigarette. "I didn't tell you because I wanted to spare your feelings."
The poet stares at him and then says, "That means that for all these years you've actually been my friend." Its a slight little scene. It ties up a loose plot thread that most people would have forgotten anyway. It has power and I found it fetchingly beautiful.
Then today watched, "Constantine"; another roller coaster attraction type movie, engaging without meaning anything. The Hong Kong horror, "Mr Vampire 3", then the engaging and touching, "Bubba Ho Tep".
Finally ending the horror night with "Cube". Its a film that's cheap and intriguing. It has enough of those old fashioned existentialist concepts (Hell is other people) and decent enough acting to inspire someone else to make their movie. I like that a lot.
To wash the night of terror away we watched "The Boondock Saints". A violent comedy that has stunning acting and deserves a little bit more cult status, in my opinion.
All in all, except for USC's defeat, it made a good weekend for me. I love movies. I love stories. I love watching stories with loved ones who see things differently than I do. I love hearing how they find things different.
With my puppy begging for pets and treats its hard to imagine a much better time.

I've updated the movie listing. This time just the look of it. Got it prettier and fancier. It looks geeky until you push the buttons to the right of each title. Then I think its kind of fun!
Sky Is The Limit1-Askudesigns
Click images for desktop size: "The Sky Is The Limit" by Asku Designs
I've installed Leopard on my computer. I like it. Much more for the under the hood stuff. I've been dismantling most of the eye candy stuff. I like my work space to look elegant but not distracting.
There are enough enhancements to make work easier that I can recommend it. I like the new core audio functions, the improved aac codec and command line access to it especially.
There are still reasons to cringe every time I touch a machine running Windows. I sometimes think that Windows has such a silly learning curve that people have to become experts to just try and live with the machine. I prefer just working.

Last week I went 10-4 in my football picks. Some of my nutsy picks worked out and one, in retrospect, seems even more insane. I did pick the Colts to lose to the Jaguars. What was I thinking.
1969-Klein Mister Freedom Three of my losses pleased me - I mean I was glad to see the Lions, Buffalo and Denver rise up and win.
Of course that being pleased doesn't make up for me not winning a prize! My picks last week put me in the top 37% for the week and the top 22% for the season. A long way to go for prizey goodness!
Its not a very interesting week in the pros.
This seems to be a schedule designed to keep interest up for the World Series. I thought game 2 was brilliant, game 1 was too overpowering to be entertaining.
This week my picks are, as usual, in Bold.
Cleveland at St Louis - This is saved from cruddy game of the week honors because Cleveland has looked better this year. At least better than the Rams. The rams may still rise up angry and win a game or two but you can't go wrong right now picking against them.

Detroit at Chicago - The Bears look stronger each week behind Griese, who has been nothing but a journey man QB, and that fearsome Bear Defense seems almost like a distant memory. The Lions keep playing well. I like them. I don't think the revenge thing will play too well for Chicago. The Lions will be confident.

Indianapolis at Carolina - If Vinnie Testaverde can come up and knock off the Colts this week it will be sensational and the greatest upset of the year. You have to lose a million to make a thousand playing long shots. I have to pick straight up or else I would take the Panthers and the points.

NY Giants at Miami - How do you make a cruddy game of the week into the GAME OF THE WEEK? Move both teams 3,000 miles away from home and put it in London. I'm pleased that my kids other there will be able to see a real NFL game, the speed, the poetry and beauty of it. Even the cruddy Dolphins will show them more than they've ever seen before.
"Red Sunset" - 1600 X 1200 - Le-Redsunset
Click images for desktop size: "Red Sunset" by Lawn Elf
Oakland at Tennessee - Vince Young should be back and that's enough to offset the improving Raiders.

Philadelphia at Minnesota - One of the more intriguing games, which doesn't mean good. Jackson, the Vikings QB, is pretty banged up and there's not much behind him. Adrian Peterson will be at home and eager to make up for his poor performance at Dallas. But the Eagles are not a team in disarray, even if their loses make it look that way. The Eagles know that a loss here will wreck them in the city that loves to hate them.

Pittsburgh at Cincinnati - Boy, do I want to take the Bengals. I just can't bear being disappointed again. I would have taken them if the Steelers had won in Denver. Coming off a loss means they'll come in looking to punish a division rival.

Buffalo at New York Jets - I'm confidently picking the Bills! Its good to see them right themselves. They are looking good and poised to make a show of things for a community that needs them. The Jets are confused and angry and without Vilma at LB even weaker.
1935 - A Night At Opera(Lc)3Xs Houston at San Diego - I think the Charger players have woken up, the front office and coaching staff may be lost but this team has too much talent for the Texans to win.

Jacksonville at Tampa Bay - I'm picking yet another road underdog . . . I think the Jaguar defense can get after Garcia, who will be dangerous. The Buc's D seems to be getting weaker as they get deeper into the season.

New Orleans at San Francisco - Another road team but not an underdog. The 49's D is improving and starting to look tough. But Reggie Bush is stepping well into his full time role. Brees always plays his best when he's playing with a lead. And the 49er's are rushing Smith back too soon.

Green Bay at Denver - My game of the week and another road dog for my pick. Brett Favre has to decide if this is the year he goes to his last Super Bowl. Denver brutalized the Steelers and needs to keep whening to contend in the up for grabs West. What could be more fun?
Apo Spiral 140605 002
Click images for desktop size: "Spiral" by Apo
Washington at New England - They say that New England isn't all that good and the hype is just because sports writers need something to hype. They say that the Redskins D will be the first true test for Tom Brady. They say a lot of things and most of them are crap. Billicheck and Brady each play every game like they are cast off underdogs. This will be no different. The Redskins QB will be playing injured. I'm pick the Patriots 38-17.

Anyone using my picks for advice will be considered a terrible raving thing.

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October 23, 2007

Stop feeling your pain and listen to me
Kim Seu Yung

Stormbrewing-Scottyp89
Click images for desktop size: "Storm Brewing" by Scotty P89
I woke up this morning and discovered that the page has actually had 1,000,000 unique hits.
One million is a cool number. I have little feelings beyond that. (Not in general, just about the number.)
It still feels like something. My friend threw confetti on me when we discovered the change.
(It's down at the bottom of the page - I was kind of disappointed that it read all 7 digits. I was hoping it would be all zero's like an old car odometer.)
King Kong(1933)08Xs Some perspectives are that apple.com gets over 3 million hits a day. Many porn sites get well over that. So, my page is about .3% as popular as computers and porn . . . I can live with that.
To mark the occasion I've finally updated the Movie Library. In the little link above you can see the listing for about 2000 movies. I'm not selling any of them but will always entertain the idea of trading!
This list is still short about 500 titles. I'll try and get it updated soon . . .
Since numbers are the theme today I'll point out that according to the numbers my fave genre is horror! There are 327 horror titles. (Sometime I'll have to break those out into sub genres, like slasher, zombies, vampires, etc)
I was surprised. I would have picked Westerns where there are only 113 titles.
Per the numbers my favorite directors are Chang Cheh, Takashi Miike, Don Siegal, Clint Eastwood, Johnny To and Martin Scorsese. That's not too askew but I guess some of my faves just don't make enough movies.
Actors are a bit daunting - Clint Eastwood leads the pack with 23 titles! Followed by Robert De Nero and Jet Li with 16 apiece. They're followed by Jean Claude Van Damme, Lung Ti and Simon Yam. Close behind is some guy named Siu Keung Cheng with 10 titles . . . I have no idea who he is.
The only other interesting things numbers provide is an odd blip. Not surprisingly the 2000-2007 years are the most numerous but then out of nowhere the eighth most popular is 1973 followed by 1971, 1974 then 1999.
I wonder if when I enter my final dementia if this means I'll drift back to those golden 70's. Its odd is all.

I was 10-4 in my football picks this weekend. And 3-3 for getting head coaches names wrong!
No prizes for either of those. Two of the losses I was happy about. One surprised me and one (The Colts victory) made me look foolish.

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October 20, 2007

Notre Dame 0 USC 38

Wanderers Remembering-Blurburger
Click images for desktop size: "Wanders Remembering" by Blurburger

It was sad fun watching USC beat Notre Dame. Sad because Notre Dame used to be fun to beat. Now Charlie Weiss has turned them into the most miserable excuse for a football team I've ever seen. I've seen some pretty awful teams.
The elation at USC's biggest win ever in the series was dampened when Notre Dame couldn't score a touchdown against out 2nd and 3rd string defense.
The Trojan kids played well. Joe McKnight is fun to watch and the slap dash O-Line played better than expected. Now the schedule gets rough with UCLA, Oregon and Oregon St AND Arizona State huge barriers on the way to the Rose Bowl.
Bitter%20Tea%20Of%C9Eneral%20Yen1XsThe dogs loved cheering for, singing for and dancing for the Trojans.

And the dreaded E Bike has been through its repairs and will be ready next week. WHEELS! I'm excited about getting to whiz through town again. Even if I can't drive i like to be able to move about.
Last week I was a pretty sad 9-4 in my picks. I was surprised to see that put me in the top 67% and raised me up to the top 73% for the season!
I didn't win the watch though.
I did get to see some games and that's exciting and educational. I've always been a Tom Brady fan but my oh my. There's no superlatives left.
My picks this week should make a little more sense, although that doesn't mean they'll be anymore accurate.
My picks are in Bold.

San Francisco at New York Giants - I don't think the Giants are a very good team but San Francisco is terrible. I can't really imagine the 49er's pulling off the upset. Eli Manning should make enough plays to keep this from being the cruddy game of the week.

New England at Miami - Billichek is too driven to look past a poor team like Miami. The Patriots are breathing ozone, dreaming of immortality and even after the reprehensible dirty play of the Cowboys they are healthy enough to make this a rout.

Tampa Bay at Detroit - This is my game of the week. Being able to watch some of the game opened my eyes. I didn't realize the Buc's had picked up Jeff Garcia! I also really like the Lions with Kitna in control. I'm picking the Buc's as they clearly have the better defense but this is one I really wouldn't mind seeing come down to a last send field goal for either team.
Tiger
Click images for desktop size: "Tiger" by Apple Inc

Tennessee at Houston - This has become an intriguing matchup. Vince Young of the Titans is banged up. After a solid start the Texans are pretty cold right now. I haven't seen anything of either team, so I'm picking the Titans just because I think less of Greg Landry's coaching style.

Arizona at Washington - The heart of a Joe Gibbs offense is the O-Line and the Redskins line is as banged up as USC's! The Cardinals have lost Matt Linhart for the season. He did a rather heart rending post about it on his blog. But Kurt Warner is playing with a bum arm, even if it isn't his throwing arm I don't know how much pain he can take against a pretty decent Washington front 7. It would be majestic to see Warner stand tough and bring in a winner but majestic things are too rare a thing to waste on a pro football game like this.
Day The Earth Stood Still, The
Atlanta at New Orleans - Did you see our boy Reggie last week against the SeaHawks? It was so pretty. Atlanta is rallying but I still don't see them rallying enough. The Saints are rallying too and have a lot more to play for.

Baltimore at Buffalo - The Ravens are not playing good ball. The Bills are a team you feel you could cry for. The damning injuries, the stellar play of the first year stater at QB that all lead to last second losses. The Raven defense is playing to well and with pride. And all the emotional subtext is the only thing that keeps this from being the cruddy game of the week.

Kansas City at Oakland - Will Larry Johnson see the reactivating of Priest Homes as a way to truly kick start his season? Its an interesting drama. Will Priest Holmes be able to still play like he did after sitting out for 2 years? The Raiders will be there too but there's not much interesting there.
Somepainnogain
Click images for desktop size: "Some Pain, No Gain" by NFL Films

New York Jets at Cincinnati - How did these two teams end up having only 1 win each? Last year it looked like this would be their year and now . . . Carson Palmer and Chad Johnson are just too much fun to pick against.

Chicago at Philadelphia - This is a nutso pick - The Bears. But the eagles have looked dreadful when I've seen them, so have the Bears. Common sense says that the Eagles should skate away with this one but somehow I think that the inept way they've won and lost so far this season will culminate in them making a stand in this one.

St Louis at Seattle - This is a real snorer. The biggest drama is whether the Rams will be able to lose them all! The SeaHawks look talented but dreadful. Their QB, Hasslebeck looks indecisive and worried! But .500 will probably win them the division, they'll play harder than the Rams who just want the season to end.
Godzilla X02 (Half-Sheet)(1956)
Minnesota at Dallas - After getting drubbed the Cowboys have a lot to prove. Adrian Peterson looked unworldly against the Bears last week but its hard to see him having that kind of success in back to back weeks against a team that will be primed to stop him. The Vikings don't have enough weapons to back Peterson up.

Indianapolis ay Jacksonville - Well, if you thought the Bears pick was nutso . . . I know the Colts are undefeated, I know they're defense is looking unworldly, and I know Peyton Manning has had a week to rest, but Marvin Harrison is probably out for this one and the Jags always play these guys very tough. It just feels like this could be a defining game for them. In fact I'm sure that's how they see it because that's the way they see it every year. My back up game of the week.

Pittsburgh at Denver - A nice game for a Monday night. I don't have ESPN so I might not get to see it. The Steelers Defense is looking very good, the Broncos' D is not. Not much choice there.

S4W-Nfl-Bestshots-044-Thefaceofvictory
Click images for desktop size: "The Face Of Victory" by NFL Films

Watching Mark Sanchez play today got me thinking about Todd Marinovich. He was another USC QB. He got pressed into service when the Starter Pat went down in pre-season. He was unbelievable. He was 18. He led the Trojans to a huge rose Bowl win over Michigan and a number 4 ranking. He made all the front pages and magazine covers as the "Robo QB". All over USC campus were the pins and T-Shirts - "In Todd We Trust". He truly seemed like a miracle.
His father, Craig Marinovich married an Olympic Swimmer, basically to breed a quarterback. Todd's entire life was planned out. His diet was planned. He never had a hamburger or a piece of birthday cake in his entire life.
He could throw the ball 70 yards on a rope. It took at least two men to bring him down.
As a sophomore he began dating an art student. She opened up his eyes to the fact that there was a life outside the football field. A life Todd didn't know existed.
He was like an alien in his home town. He was a kid in need.
Girl With An Itch (1957) He started to argue with the HC, Larry Smith. I was one of those who pushed for Smith's ouster. He didn't know how to respond to a kid in trouble. Smith was a good guy, so were his entire family but he didn't see the Todd was more than just a QB.
Todd started to get into silly Leon Spinks kind of trouble. You know, busted for .05 grams of marijuana stuff. Smith benched him and refused to talk to him.
Todd left school and got drafted by the Raiders in the first round. In his rookie season his first time stepping onto the field for the Raiders was in a playoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs. this was when the Chiefs had the most fearsome defense in the league. They were killers. Todd wasn't yet 20 years old. He threw for over 320 yards in that game but only 1 touchdown and 3 picks.
The next year he quit football. He played guitar in a punk band for a while and then he was forgotten.
Now he has a serious drug problem. He's going to go to jail. He's got dozens of arrests for drugs. The last one had him running from the cops and hiding in a parking lot. He had heroin and cocaine in his guitar case.
Its a sad enough story to not need any metaphors or similes to tell it.
I love this game but often I hate the people in charge of it.

My puppy is doing fine.

So am I.

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October 18, 2007

What's all this then?

Myfreedombeginsherebycelsojuni
Click images for desktop size: "My Freedom Begins Here" by Bycel Sojuni
In a week or so this site will have hit 1,000,000 visitors.
I hope most of them came for the pretty pictures or as a way stop to find my puppies site.
For some reason I get a kick out of that.
Maybe its because I never sold a million records or books or anything. As I recall the best selling record was like 50,000, the most popular magazine had a subscription of 200,000 so a million of anything is just semi-cool.
Beat Girl X02 And, please, no telling me I should put ads up or anything. The puppies site is for kids and needs to be a place for her to sound off and laugh with no other worries. This site is for me and friends and who wants to make money off of friends.

I've also noticed that the new WordPress blog has done some coding changes that have screwed up the links page!
I haven't deleted anyone and am working hard to get it fixed.
This could finally prompt me to hurry up with my two year old project to migrate to Movable Type!

As for me, my puppy still worries me. She's happier now but still not adapting as well as I would like.
She tries but her first two years with me have left her rigid. She wants to play her games and can't quite figure out how to play the other dogs. She wants her place next to me but is lost when she has to push her way through to it.
Worrisome but not life threatening.

My eyes are bothering me. My pain is coming in waves and then nothing . . . it takes a while after it abates to not gird myself for the next wave, I mean, to realize its done for now.
I get homesick and feel some tiny drops of melancholy but I know that's mainly because I'm not good at feeling content. I don't know how to be happy anymore. I don't know how to stop worrying. I don't know what its like to not have it be just me and my puppy.
All things that will sort out with ease.

I ordered my drugs from an internet druggest. Saves about 50% Of course now I'm paranoid about them being delivered. That's comforting, having something real to be paranoid about.
Omarmingg 1400
Click images for desktop size: "G" by Omar Ming
Ordering them got my debit card suspended . . . Had to jump though hoops and try and remember all those damn security questions while dealing with the bank. they don't like me moving around so much! Even that got sorted finally.
Then set fire to my Ramen lunch today! Terrible mess. Not used to the different stove is all. Tried to turn it into something bigger in my head but there wasn't anything there to manufacture. Just a mess to clean up. Just got off the phone with the Hospital here. Not for me, really but for my puppy. She'll feel better if she can go back to her doctoring rounds, I'm sure.
We' may have to re-certify her or something but that will give her something pleasant to do.
I guess everything is just all right. (Except for USC falling to 12th in the polls! But even that isn't to very terrible.)

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October 14, 2007

Arizona 13 USC 20

Ken Kelly1-1
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Ken Kelly

Finally getting to see USC play this year was an odd mixture of emotions.
They won in a fitful way. What I saw was a team pulling itself together. A team down to its third string O-Linemen anchored by a Center (Sobey) playing with 16 stitches in his hiking hand. A defense full of pride and deeply riddled with injury.
For the second and third quarter the team was a disgrace. They looked like what they were, 2nd stringers a year away from being great.
Angels Hard As They Come (1971)-1 When the game was on the line Joe McKnight (great nickname - "Oh no it's JOE!") and Mark Sanchez gave glimpses of what the future will hold. But they also showed why they're not starters now.
The emotion those kids displayed in the 4th quarter was touching, it made me glad they were playing a mediocre team so that driving emotion wasn't in vain.
What I also saw was that we were too highly ranked. Even healthy we don't have the wide receivers to make us an elite team. We miss Steven Smith and its very clear that Dwayne Jarrett made a mistake in leaving early for the NFL. He could have led this team and placed himself better for his NFL draft pick; clearly Dwayne could have the experience to his advantage on the field.
Fred Davis is a monster player but even a great tight end cannot be your primary receiver.
Still they're my alma mater and I am proud of them.
Playing this game is not as easy as the people in the stand think.

Last week I was 11-3 with my NFL picks. This was good enough for the top 95% and to raise me to the top 60%. Not good enough for a prize. And the prize this week was a WiFi enabled watch that gives updates of all the scores! Or a thousand bucks.
I've had a thousand bucks before (though it seems like ancient history) but I've never had a watch that gave you all the scores AND TOLD YOU THE TIME!
Of my picks the only loss that disappointed me was Green Bay's. I saw a coach who doesn't know how to win. McCarthy started out with a good strategy but then crippled his gunslinger legend (Favre) and "played it safe" which is a sure way to lose always.
This week my picks are in BOLD.

Cincinnati at Kansas City - Can The Bengals keep recovering from horrific starts? Beats me. The Chiefs are growing and improving. The Bengals are without their best running threat. But Carson Palmer and Chad Johnson are just too much fun and play with too much love for me to pick against them. This will be a statement game from them.
Loveofhearts
Click images for desktop size: "Love Of Hearts" by Anonymous

Houston at Jacksonville - These are two teams I haven't seen anything of, and they've both gone through some pretty drastic changes since last season. I'm taking the Jaguars because of Jack Del Rio and that I don't think that the Texans have quite learned how to win yet. Landry makes me nervous as a coach. Quarterback's don't make the transition to great head coaches. Their position on the field has a certain tunnel vision, a set of instincts and mind set that doesn't translate well to seeing the entire game.

Miami at Cleveland - The cruddy game of the week. Picking the Browns as they seem a touch less cruddy, I mean they somehow won two games and did hammer the Bengals.

Minnesota at Chicago - I don't think the Bears are back but I do think that the Vikings are facing a disastrous year. their O-Line is in disarray and when that happens a new offense looks even worse. The big interest will be OU's Adrian Peterson matching up with Brian Urlacher. It will be a pleasant contest of physical and mental skills. The Bears are a mess but have far more talent.
Astro Zombies Philadelphia at New York Jets - A cruddy game of the week contender. The Jets are in a loser's mindset. They're even going the New York route of ripping their teammates! Disconcerting when they're ripping the guys who are playing the hardest, if not the best. The Eagles aren't much better but are still capable of showing flashes of excellence, like from memories, like a great song where you sort of remember the melody but can't quite recall the chorus.

St Louis at Baltimore - Yet another cruddy game of the week contender. I've loved Steve McNair all the way back from his days as Air McNair at Alcorn State. I have to face the facts that he's gotten old and beaten up. Toughness is a great thing but often the body just quits. Like running 100 yard dashes until you vomit, then keep running them until you pass out. The defense is playing well enough to hammer a Ram's team that is totally lost and confused.

Tennessee at Tampa Bay - This should be a good one. Gruden is not my favorite coach but he is fully capable of stopping the run and maybe even handling most of Vince Young's heroics. The same can be said of the Titans D facing a more lackluster Buc's O. Sometimes I like 13-7 games when its a chess match. this one should be. Picking the Titans because they've had a bit more experience believing in themselves.

Washington at Green Bay - I'm picking the Packers. This is an important game for both teams. Its a defining game. A chance for either of them to show that they've stepped up and are ready to contend. When that happens you have to go with Favre although Gibbs is a far better coach than McCarthy, he still hasn't shown a true appreciation of the modern game. The Packers should shut down the air attack and the Redskins running game is pretty banged up. Another highly enjoyable game and would have been my game of the week except that the game of the year is happening.

New England at Dallas - This is the game of the year! (At least until New England and the Colts meet up . . . possibly). If you follow the sport you should be inundated with enough hype. Brady, the tough lovable vet - Romo, the heir apparent coming off his worst week in the NFL. Randy Moss vs Terrell Owens. Oh yeah. Solid defenses at least one football genius on the sidelines. Got to take the Pats until they show some vulnerability.
Melody-11
Click images for desktop size: "Melody 2" by Reed Crandall

Carolina at Arizona - It feels like feast or famine this week. Another cruddy game. For the Panthers David Carr keeps proving he's been over rated - he can't even get the ball into the hands of Steve Smith! Arizona is less of a mess but its worrisome to see Matt Linhart out of the line up, for personal reasons. The Cardinals are steadying while the Panthers keep tumbling. Watch Carr have a breakout game to make me look foolish!

New York Giants at Atlanta - The Falcons won one for pride. The Giants won one for pride. Now if either one of them could play some good entertaining football. picking the Giants only because the Falcons might take years to recover form the Vick debacle.

New Orleans at Seattle - Okay, I'm picking with my heart. The Saints can't be this bad, really they can't. Seattle is looking like a mess that might stumble into the play offs. Normally I'd take them in a game like this, but Drew Brees and Reggie Bush, I mean, come one!

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October 12, 2007

Its living on it and dying on it, that's whats what makes it ours
John Steinbeck

Kandinsky Contrasting-Sounds
Click images for desktop size: "Contrasting Sounds - Detail" by Kandinsky
I watched the new "3:10 To Yuma".
I like westerns. I like that the future is nothing but possible.
The best thing about it was how easily it forced me to recall the original Delmar Daves, Glenn Ford, Van Heflin western.
This one held my interest the most when it did direct quotes from the original. In the end the new version merely pointed out the weaknesses of the new director, James Mangold. It became a trite entertainment instead of the assertion of humanity that the minor original contained and exploited.
1966 - The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly Russell Crowe's portrayal of Ben Wade was too much of a sociopath to ever feel comfortable with. glenn Ford's Ben Wade was an outlaw, an intelligent killer but not a bad man. His actions were always true to himself. Ford's Wade was a western sensualist and the movie's ending seemed wish fulfillment and natural, a satisfying conclusion to a play where he cast himself as the hero.
Christian Bale's Dan was weak and deceptive. Heflin's Dan was weak but infinitely true to himself and his self image. Most irritating in this new version was the use of the son. It was manipulative to cast the kid into the company of danger merely because Mangold had no faith in the intelligence of his audience and mainly because Mangold has no faith in people. He used the kid as a club. A man would not follow through on an impossible task for his own self esteem , his own pride and his own vision of the world, a man would only be brave to perpetuate a deception and to promote a lie.
In terms of ability to tell a story, Mangold clearly had no faith in his own abilities. He erased all the tension. Tension is tough to convey to an audience. It takes skill. Mangold turned away from the tension and turned it into a "road movie". Road movies require the least skill. Every film student has at one time or another made a road movie. They're easy. All you have to do is keep moving, keep your characters extreme and unnatural.
The movie made me sad. American films have stopped believing in people as heroes.
We are heroes.

Tomorrow I'm excited. I'll get to see USC play Arizona on TV. I'll get to see Sanchez make his first start and hope to see something magical that might save the Trojan's season.
It will make up for the incidental stress of this week. Nothing really, just fighting with the same stuff we all fight with. Getting the cable to look right, getting the internet to work right and dealing with the out-sourced customer support.
I've been feeling sicker and more in pain this week, but I've been happy so it doesn't seem so bad. I keep waiting for something shattering to happen and hoping it won't.
I'm taking my bike in for repair. It didn't do well in the moving van. I miss my E-Bike. I have to do laundry tomorrow.
Tough life, huh?
The only real worry is my puppies paw. Its healing fine but I want it well. She's so happy but still worried about me. She's worried too much and still struggling to fit in to this new world. She loves me and tries her hardest.
Kernhal Runhome 1440X900
Click images for desktop size: "Run Home" by Kernhal
And here it is coming up on week six in the NFl and none of my kids have been cut from their teams. I don't see them getting playing time yet but they're still out there having a chance at a dream.
So my life is something that can only be described as good. Too fast and too . . . too . . .
I don't know, it just is and there's everything right about that.

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October 6, 2007

Stanford 24 USC 23

Frank Frazetta  Thuvia - Maid Of Mars
Click images for desktop size: "Thuvia - Maid Of Mars" by Frank Frazetta

Even though I Have TV now and should be watching LSU - Florida I still found my self sitting at the computer watching a "Gamecast" of USC bumbling away the chance to regain the number 1 spot in the polls. Now it looks like they should fall out of the top ten.
Its just a game. Life is still good.
My puppy might disagree. She got a bath today!

Last week my NFL picks were dreadful. I've fallen to 5,38st for the season! So with no more info than what I read in the papers here are my fearless picks for this week. I really have to believe that if I get to see some games I should start to do better.
Honest!
1958 - Young And Wild My picks are in Bold.

Arizona at St Louis - Arizona is not a good team and the talent that St Louis looked to have had is pretty banged up. This seems like a safe pick and is the cruddy game of the week.

Atlanta at Tennessee - Atlanta won last week. I really have no idea how. The Titans are pushing for a playoff berth and respectability. This should be an easy win.

Carolina at New Orleans - I think Jake Delhomme being out is worse than the Saints loosing Deuce McAllister. David Carr was dreadful last week for the Panthers. He shouldn't be that bad against a poor New Orleans secondary but not good enough to win. The excitement will be in seeing if Reggie Bush can use the by week to become an every down back.

Cleveland at New England - I don't think I can pick against the Patriots this year.

Detroit at Washington - I want to pick the Lions and Jake Kitna. I really do, but common sense says the Lions are a woeful road team and that the Redskins are playing better ball. My common sense picks are usually wrong.

Jacksonville at Kansas City - This is a game where you really need to have seen the teams play. I'm picking because of Coach Del Rio (former Trojan) and not much more reason that that. Both teams are unknown to me.

Miami at Houston - My logic here is simply that you can't pick an 0-4 team, especially on the road. Also the Dolphins have lost Zack Thomas which means the Texans should be able to heal up their offense.

New York Jets at New York Giants - When both teams play at the same stadium Home Field advantage really amounts to getting to pick the color jersey you'll wear. Jets don't seem to have shown much and Coughlin is desperate to hold on to his job. SO for those lofty reason I'm taking the Giants.
Robotic Moose Inthedeep 1440X900
Click images for desktop size: "In The Deep" by Robotic Moose
Seattle at Pittsburgh - I really can't justify this pick other than intuition. The Seahawks have a lot to prove this year. The Steelers lost their first game and while you can't say they were exposed they are pretty badly banged up on Defense. I don't like Rohtlesberger in a shoot out.

Tampa Bay at Indianapolis - On paper the Buc;s defense has a good shot at stopping the Colts, but I haven't seen the wherefores of that conclusions so I'm picking the undefeated team.

Baltimore at San Francisco - The 49er's are the worst NFL team I've ever seen and now they've lost their starting QB. The Ravens need a break to get things re-meshed. Who better than the woeful 49er's.

San Diego at Denver - Both teams are desperate for a win. I don't think the Bronco's D can stop Ladainian Tomlinson, who should be in playing shape now (exhibition games do serve some purpose). The Denver offense isn't consistent enough behind Cutler, so the Chargers D may use this game to reassert itself.
1957 - The Violators
Dallas at Buffalo - I was gladly stunned that the Bills won last week. The Cowboys are too good right now and Buffalo weather isn't bad enough to slow them down.

Chicago at Green Bay - I don't get ESPN so I won't get to see this. I would love to. Brett Favre on Monday Night Football proving the old man still has some magic. Brian Urlacher is still a great player but he is only magical when he has a Tank Johnson or a huge quick tackle to keep the Guards off of him.
It would be cool if Favre lead them to a blow out win, especially since the Packers still don't seem to have a running game.

Remember these picks are just my meditating aloud. If you are insane enough to use them as a guide in your bets you might be insane enough to just put the money in an envelope and leave it in a locker at the bus station in Fargo ND. I'll pick it up later.

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October 5, 2007

I like you because you give me outright prolonged laughter
Herb Gardner

The-Operation J3Concepts
Click images for desktop size: "The Operation" by J3 Concepts
I started today thinking about John Garfield.
I'm not sure why.
It was beastly hot here and I had to hang around and wait for the cable internet guy. Everything is installed and tomorrow I'll get to See Florida-LSU and even some NFL games on Sunday.
The internet is better. Much better.
But still I kept thinking about John Garfield.
On Wednesday my friend and I watched "A Thousand Clowns". A great play hammered into a decent movie with incredible acting. Its never been released on DVD. I don't know why.
Yolanda And The Thief Xlg - 1945 The finale of the movie is rough. It presents a moral dilemma about compromise. The lead, Jason Robards, has to decide whether to sacrifice his self esteem and his deep sense of correctness in order to save the people he loves.
The choice he has to make is between heartbreak and a life of humiliation.
Its not made easy and there's no right or wrong.
Its what movies and plays used to be good at.
Maybe that's what tripped me into thinking about John Garfield.
Garfield was an odd icon as an actor. Poems have deservedly been written about him. Some of those poems were pretty good and nearly did justice to the man.
He was unabashedly proud of being Jewish. Not comedically Jewish or caricatured but the real thing that you dealt with everyday. In an era where it was routine for Jews to change their names in order to fit in and survive and coming from a studio era that was controlled by Jews he was unique. Its easy to imagine studio heads worrying about putting one of their own on the screen while secretly rejoicing when he became a huge star in "The Postman Always Rings Twice".
Garfield on screen was a walking moral dilemma. He only wanted what he wanted and would plow through life ignoring his morals and values until he got it until he would finally have to make the final and ultimate choice.
With Abraham Polonsky, one of the Hollywood 10, the writer who lead the lists of blacklisted Hollywood, he created two masterpieces of cinema that played to his strengths.
"Force Of Evil" was a tour de force. A slum kid put through law school by his bookie brother and his own hard work he starts his career by helping the "mob" run the numbers racket in New York. Along the way the mob crushes his brother.
The money is so good that Garfield lets it shut off his vision, his morals and his scruples, justifying everything as the money pours in.
Dyingdolphin-15
Click images for desktop size: Dying Dolphin" by Jim Headly
Until his brother stands up to the mob and is killed, not easily and not just to shut him up but also to serve as a lesson to Garfield, to keep him in line.
It ends excitingly and unpredictably.
What's most interesting is that the entire film was composed in blank verse.
I can't find any other film in history that can make that claim, certainly no other film in Hollywood. It makes the standard pot boiler lyrical and moving, a song of decadence and descent.
And the film was a monster hit. Its message of rightness and the duty of men to each other so entrenched and moving and resolute that its easy to see how it influenced the way Americans and humanity would view themselves.
The film did so well that Garfield didn't resign his studio contract. On his own he set up his own production company. He wanted to do the life story of Bernie Rosen, A Jew who held 3 weight class boxing titles before he died in 1938, a heroin addict.
The mind boggles at the way this story could have played out. Unfortunately with the Hays code and the impending McCarthy era there were no theaters that would be willing to screen a movie about drug addicts. Garfield wasn't a fool and turned to Polonsky to help him make his boxing film.
Red Planet Mars X01 (Half-Sheet)(1952) And Polonsky came out with "Body And Soul".
The story of a Jewish kid from the slums who grew into a champion boxer, who screwed up his life, abandoned his friends, family and the people he loved in his desire to be rich, to be the champ. And after he accomplished his goal he had to live with what he had created. He responds by becoming a dissipated drunk. He hates his life but he accepts it was the price he had to pay to gain his dreams.
(Interestingly it was okay to be a drunk but not a drug addict.)
Finally he so burned out that his managers (the mob) figure its time to get out. They figure to put their new boy in as champ. Garfield is promised a world of money to take a dive. They don't really think he has a chance but its insurance for them and the payoff to Garfield is a mobsters way of paying him off for the money he made for them.
The final fight scene is one of the most stunning ever filmed. It remained so until Rocky stole some of its tricks and "Raging Bull" extended, but could not improve, the poetry of it.
Exopolis
Click images for desktop size: "Exopolis" by Anonymous
James Wong Howe, a young Chinese American cinematographer created his own steady cam. He braced himself and put on roller skates so he could glide around the boxers toting the 35 pound camera.
In the silvery monochrome Howe was helpful in creating the vision, the fire, the genius of Polonsky and Garfield.
One of the things was that Polonsky wrote the script with the understanding that no one but him would alter a line or a scene.
Robert Rossen was hired to direct. A week into production Garfield saw Rossen writing new lines for a scene and handing them out to the cast, He fired him on the spot. A few days later Rossen apologized and agreed to abide to the terms.
Rossen still fought for a different ending. They even filmed it. But when they screened the two he agreed that Garfield's and Polonsky's vision was the accurate one.
Psycho X01 See Garfield somehow pulls himself off the canvas and wins the fight. Its brutal and ugly and he does it, foolishly, because one of the old neighborhood girls is in the crowd. He leaves the ring fully aware that he's most likely soon going to die.
Rossen's version called for a fade and then the next morning we'd find Garfield dead and stuffed into a garbage can.
Polonsky's version made screen history. Garfield sees the girl and walks and stumbles supported by her to his dressing room.
He's confronted there by the mobster who starts to let Garfield know what his future will be.
Garfield cuts him off repeating a line he'd earlier said in jest but now Garfield gives it an ominous power, the power of a man: "What are you going to do? Kill me? Everybody dies."

Things are settling in. My puppy is protecting me. I don't know why. She's happy and adjusting well.
Tomorrow she is scheduled for a bath.
She'll still love me after just the same.

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