It snowed all day yesterday. Nearly four inches of soft powder.
Not soft enough. It covered up the slabs of ice very nicely so that when crazy dogs tried to get me to play with them they succeeded in knocking me down. I wasn’t hurt bad but I’d figure 4 inches of snow should be softer than that.
USC won another Pac 10 Championship. Somehow it feels hollow. One bad quarter and USC is out of the National Title game. I can stand that except I can’t quite cope with the over hyped Big 12 and SEC getting the shot over more deserving teams.
Penn State will be a good game and a worthy opponent. I saw Joe Paterno at his first visit to the Coliseum. I sat behind his bench. It was great. I got to see USC win against a legend and I got to see and hear the legend. Very classy guy he was too. The mental image is of him wearing his Penn State blue tie, a gray business suit and clunky white sneakers, standing next to a giant O-Line man who missed a block. Paterno explained to him with grave patience the right way to try and handle Tim Ryan on obvious passing downs. It was memorable and educational.
Still, I wish Oregon State had won out and that USC was playing Texas . . .
The USC season seems to be embodied in Mark Sanchez. I adore the kid and think he’s a stellar QB. But no one gives him any respect and there are a lot of calls to bench him. The kid threw 30 TD passes. Only Matt Leinhart and Carson Palmer have ever thrown for more. The odd thing is that Mark throws some beautiful balls and then manages to throw some of the dumbest passes imaginable, like there another QB inside him that doesn’t want to be great.
He’ll be back next year. I think he’ll become a killer. I hope so. His support for and in the Hispanic community is endearing. His support of a kid who died of cancer was heartening. He comes across like a young man you would like to have a a son. Someone to be proud of.
Years ago we were sitting in a Thai restaurant we frequented. We were seated next to a table with two guys and a girl. I recognized one of the guys as Andy Robinson. Robinson gave one of the greatest performances in movie history when he got to play Scorpio, the evil villain in Don Seigal’s “Ditty Harry”. Robinson was so effective in the role that he found it close to impossible to get work. Casting agents and producers assumed that that type of deep malicious madness couldn’t be acted. It had to be real.
Robinson’s classic performance was too good, especially in a debut role. Seigal tried to help him out by giving him a different sort of part in the excellent “Charlie Varrick” but Robinson was too subdued to make any real impact. I’d guess he was afraid to unleash the monster within ever again.
During a lull in the conversation at our table I suddenly heard Robinson say, “I’m an actor. I did one of those Clint Eastwood movies. You probably never saw it. It was . . . well, just a movie.”
Before I knew what I’d done I heard myself saying something like, “You don’t need to apologize. That’s a classic movie and you were fantastic in it. You were inspirational. If they don’t know who you are they don’t deserve to be sitting with you.”
I got a look from him that I’m sure is the same kind of look that scared the bejeebers out of casting agents. But he said, “Thank you. Its easy to forget that people watch those things. Thanks.”
We ended up talking and he gave us tickets to a show he was doing at the Amudsen Theater. I don’t like theater but I liked him. I liked how Robinson looked bone chilling and deranged even when he was just talking trash.
That came to mind last night when I watched the semi-remarkable “JVCD”. My friend didn’t want to watch it because its a Jean Claude Van Damme flic.
I like Van Damme movies. He tries. He insists on directors and brings in talent like John Woo and Ringo Lamm to work with. He tries to be more than just a stony hero.
In “JCVD” Van Damme plays himself. The movie is almost painfully autobiographical. Van Damme produced the movie.
The movie opens with a single take six minute action sequence. Pretty tour de force stuff as Van Damme goes through about 60 guys, fighting and shooting through a clearly stage bound war set. Its impressive stuff and frightening to think of the logistics to get all those stunts in one continuous fluid take with only one camera. Lots of fights, bullet hits and explosions. Very cool.
When the take ends Van Damme talks to the director, a Chinese kid who is throwing darts at a photo of the Hollywood sign and not watching the take. Van Damme claims he is too old to keep doing these long single takes. The Chinese director thinks Van Damme is a worthless hunk of meat.
JCVD is also involved in a bitter divorce and a custody battle for his daughter. He is forced to sit in a classroom and hear his daughter say she doesn’t want to live with him because every time her father is on TV the other kids all make fun of her.
Van Damme wants to make decent movies but his image and his agent won’t let him. HE decided to return home to Belgium to try and escape from his pain from the divorce and from losing his child. While there he goes to bank to get some cash. The bank is being robbed and the cops decide that its Van Damme doing the robbery!
There’s so many great and telling bits here about celebrity and illusion, myth and reality. But what holds the core is the remarkable self deprecating performance by Van Damme.
Cagily, we keep waiting for Van Damme to explode and take out the robbers and exonerate himself. What actually happens is that JCVD gives a monologue. If it were anyone else but Van Damme it would be considered an Oscar clincher.
Its one of those speeches you hear from a stranger in trouble. Van Damme explains his entire life in one long static take. The revelations are so jumbled and personal you know you’re eavesdropping on someone’s thoughts. When its a stranger you can occasionally look away. And what moves you the most is that the stranger has trusted you enough to share with you the fact that he’s another human being.
Charlize Therzon got an Oscar for “monster” a horribly hackneyed film and an atrocious performance that impressed people because Therzon didn’t wear make up and had her hair done badly. People love beautiful women making themselves look ugly. I’m not sure why.
Van Damme doesn’t use any device that cheap. He strips away the celebrity and exposes his humanity and the hopes and dreams and thrills of being human. Its a magnificent moment.
This is a film to see. Its entertaining and after “The Man Who Was Superman” the best film I’ve seen in 2008. Oh, its in French mostly which surprised me.
Week fourteen of the NFL. The week where the rookies hit a wall. The space like the 13th round in the old World Championship boxing matches. Its a place they’ve never been before and its impossible to know how they’ll react.
Last week I was a dismal 7-9 . . . it shows the predicament of trying to gauge injuries and the traumas of the long season. My friend was 7-9 as well because she clearly does not understand the sport!
My picks are in bold.
Oakland at San Diego – It was nice of the NFL to keep the cruddy game of the week on the NFL Network, thus sparing most of us. I watched about 5 minutes before I became bored.
Minnesota at Detroit – Another cruddy game. The only interest is in seeing if Adrien Petersen can break 300 yards. If he doesn’t it will be an off game for him. Can anyone believe that the Vikings are going to win the division? Its easier to figure the Lions will go 0-16.
Houston at Green Bay – The cruddiness continues. The Texans are proving to merely stink and not be the total disaster that I imagined. The Packers are a train wreck with hopes. There are some decent games this week.
Jacksonville at Chicago – And this isn’t one of them. The Jaguars are just bad this year. The Bears are my pick for most inconsistent team of the year. I can’t think of any reason to care about any of the above games. I hope they’re not on TV here.
Philadelphia at New York Giants – This is a little better, but not much. McNabb kept the Eagles from embarrassing themselves last week. It doesn’t figure he’ll do the same this week, even with a healthy Brian Westbrook. The Giants have already survived the Plaxico Buress debacle and should proceed to win a a nice hum drum fashion.
Atlanta at New Orleans – The Falcons are hot. They look real and they look very good. The Saints are the beneficiaries of justice and get back 3 valuable players that the NFL tried to unfairly ban. Reggie Bush should be in for some play and Dru Brees is still looking like the QB of the year, even more so than Kurt Warner. I’m going with my hearts for the Saints to over step themselves at home.
Miami at Buffalo – The Bills have battled their way back to .500 but they haven’t beaten anyone who mattered to do so. The Dolphins are not over achieving and struggled pathetically last week. In the bad weather I think Pennington will look good but the defense will have some issues. Marshawn Lynch is the heart of the Bills team and he should carry them past the superior Dolphins. I changed this pick at the last minute. I didn’t realize that this game was to be played at a neutral field in Canada, more to the point that it would be an indoor game! The Bills have given up a win for a few bucks.
Kansas City at Denver – This is my insane pick of the week. But it makes sense to me. Larry Johnson is back in shape. He should slash the Bronco’s D for about 150 yards. Thigpen is looking better. The Broncos have Jay Cutler who is looking awfully impressive. This should be a cruddy game that gets pretty competitive in a crazy shootout way.
New York Jets at San Francisco – And you thought picking the Chiefs was crazy . . . The Jets have looked good and then they’ve looked execrable. Singletary has got far less talent on the 49er’s, but they keep improving each week. They are playing like a team while the Jets are playing like talented units who sometimes play together but often don’t. The Jets should win this one but Singletary’s under talented bunch keep coming together. This could be the upset of the week.
New England at Seattle – The Seahawks still look dreadful to me, even at home and even with Hassleback returned and in shape. The Patriots are pulling together but a 39 year old our for a year Junior Seau makes them pretty vulnerable to the run and the short passing game. I’d still don’t see the Seahawks being able to win.
St Louis at Arizona – The only thing to see here is whether Kurt Warner can get close to 500 yards against the bumbling Rams.
Dallas at Pittsburgh – Game of the week. I’ve gone back and forth on this one. Its fun to think about. The Steelers have that D. The Cowboys D is pretty good too. Both teams need the win to stay in the play off chase, the Cowboys need it more. Troy Polamonu should light up Terrell Owens. The final comes down to the Steelers have no Running game at all. Willie Parker is running scared and without abandon. The Cowboys running games is hampered but in better shape. This is going to be good.
Cleveland at Tennessee – Back to the crud. 11-1 Titans against the Browns 3rd string QB. This will be ugly.
Tampa Bay at Carolina – I don’t believe in the Panthers even at home. The Buccaneers are playing for it all and look better poised to do it. Jeff Garcia loves Monday night games.
Washington at Baltimore – Runner up game of the week and its the Sunday night game so I’ll for sure get to see this one. The Ravens are believing in themselves while the Redskins confidence is cracking. Every match up favors the Ravens.
So 4 decent games out of 16 . . . Doesn’t speak well for the NFL. A judge has stopped them from unfairly suspending 5 players. The NFL’s repsonse is ugly. They are falling back on an interpretation of the collective bargaining agreement and claiming that thier anti-trust exemption places them above the law.
Much the ame way my picks place me outside the realm of football knowledge . . .