Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The #1 Reason Why Winter Blows and Other Holiday Observations


What do you hate most about winter? For me, this is an easy one.

It's 7 in the morning. The sun may or may not be rising; there's too much cloud cover to tell. You forgot to start the car in advance because you're a big, fat Reed and so you head from your warm, comfortable home to your icicle of a ride.

The blast of cold is like a punch to the stomach. It hits you immediately. You groan like the pathetic little girl that you are, curse your life, and for whatever reason you continue to march toward your car. You unlock the door, open it, and lower yourself into the front seat.

And that, right there, is the #1 reason winter blows.

You might think entering the car brings some relief. Wrong. The interior of the car is just as cold as it is outside. You can see your breath while you're inside. Even after starting the car, it'll take around 5 minutes for it to start cranking out the heat. This is the worst 5 minutes of the entire day.

And I forgot to mention that the physical act of lowering yourself into the car is a total shitshow. Somehow, during the 30 seconds it took you to walk to your vehicle, your pants have frozen solid. It doesn't matter if you're wearing denim or khaki. And so, as you bend your legs to get into your car, your frozen pants greet your helpless legs in new and horrifying ways. It's a feeling too uncomfortable to accurately describe. It's gotten to the point where I'll hesitate to lower myself into the car. I'd rather be exposed outside in the sub-zero temperatures than bend my legs and get myself into the car.

Let this be a warning to those of you lucky enough to have mild, or perhaps even warm, winters. Do not come up here. For any reason. Oh, you have family in Wisconsin? That's wonderful. Visit them on the 4th. What's that? Grandma is sick up in the Dakotas? Send her an effing eCard. Do not come up here in winter. Ever.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Michael Bay is a Genius



For Yahoo!'s Top Ten Domestic Grossing Films of 2009, do the clickity click.

Michael Bay is a big, fat idiot. Luckily for him, so is the general moviegoing public. Let's take a look at the films he's directed in his career and how much they've pulled in worldwide.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

What to get her this Christmas

To the fellas out there: How awful is Christmas shopping? Can I get a harrumph? What's her pants size again? Did I give her jewelry last year? Does she really need a waterproof disposable camera? If you spend too much, you weren't thoughtful enough. If you were too thoughtful, you didn't spend nearly enough. If only there were some miracle gift that perfectly symbolized precisely how much you love your lady while also running you somewhere between $40 and $200, the perfect holiday amount. Well, get ready for a Christmas miracle, because the perfect gift is here!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Thanks, PokerStars!

I've been playing some solid poker lately, and I've been feeling that I'm on the verge of something big. I entered PokerStars' $10 tournament that guaranteed $20K in the prize pool, meaning the winner would likely get somewhere in the neighborhood of $4,000. While that's not my biggest single-day cash (I'm kind of awesome), it's still a great amount of money, especially considering it costs just 10 bucks to enter.


Spirits were high. I was ready to dominate every European idiot I came across, a tall order indeed. Before I could even scope out the other dead men at my table, I was dealt JJ on the 2nd hand. 


I absolutely HATE pocket jacks. They're exceptionally difficult to play. They look beautiful, but in reality there are 3 overcards out there that can easily trump them. The blinds were at 10/20 and I was in early position. Wanting to be careful, I opened with a bet of 64 chips and got 3 callers.


With 3 callers, I was pretty much ready to toss the hand away. It was really early on in the tournament and I didn't want to get into a macho shoving match with someone else at the table and OH HI THERE FULL HOUSE!


The flop came 4 - 4 - J. A monster hand. HUGE. One of the 3 callers threw out a small bet of 60 and scared the other two off. I called. Turn was irrelevant. He bet 60 again. I raised to around 400. He called immediately. River was irrelevant. I bet around 700, and he raised all-in. What an idiot! Thanks for the early boost, amigo! I called immediately. And saw this.






And that, my friends, is a classic PokerStars ass slamming.

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This Is My Life



This is a typical morning at work.


This is a typical afternoon at work.


And It's All Because of This Video



I must have missed something, because most people are convinced this is hilarious. To the creator of this video: thank you for unleashing this slice of madness on my comfy little life. I can only hope justice and irony collaborate in the near future to drive you to insanity and eventually suicide because of the phrase "Hey Apple!"

I'm not being entirely serious, though. I don't wish death upon you; that's downright cruel. However, someone repeatedly kicking you in the balls and rendering you impotent while maniacally screaming HEY APPLE! is something I can definitely get on board with. For the love of humanity, do not reproduce.

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Pandora: Totally Realer Than the Moon


It's official: you need to see Avatar. In 3D and possibly on IMAX. But at the very least, scope Pandora out in 3D. Just how great does this film look? For an explanation, first allow me this tangent.

What is it with the moon? Seems fake, right? It just floats up there beyond our atmosphere, where no life exists. It's totally a prop. I mean, how many people can actually testify to walking on its surface, grabbing some killer Moon rocks, playing golf in zero gravity? 10? 20?

And the Moon isn't a special case. Every orb moving through outer space seems absolutely fake. Here's the hierarchy of how real these giant balls of stuff seem from my perspective.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Two Movies Out This Weekend Not Named Avatar

We all know James Cameron, his large ego and his even larger mean streak (proof) are going to dominate the box office this weekend with Avatar. Much has been written about whether the film will change filmmaking forever or if it will be the first Waterworld of the 21st century. Personally, I'm stoked to meet the Na'vi and am hoping the film succeeds. But that's all I'll write about it here.

Amid the hullaballoo (spell check didn't give that word a red underline, so apparently I spelled it correctly), a couple new films are getting lost. For one, that seems to be a downright shame. For the other, it's probably a good thing. Let's check them out.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Collection of Nicknames I've Held (With Analysis!)


Don't worry, this picture is relevant. Let's get right to it.

The Nickname: Puke

The Cause: My name is Luke, which rhymes with puke. Kids are clever!

The Effect: This lasted for roughly a three year stretch between 3rd and 5th grade, so I honestly don't remember how I took this one. Considering I wore sweatpants every single day in elementary school (I'm not joking) and I also cried on a daily basis (again, not joking), I'll theorize that I didn't exactly cherish being called Puke.

Today, a few people still call me Puke every once in while, most of them being my older cousins. I can dig this. As I've matured, I've come to realize that I'm a badass and the people who call me Puke do it as a way to bond. At least, this is what I tell myself as I sob into my pillow before I go to sleep.

Monday, December 14, 2009

How to Make Your League's Fantasy Football Playoffs


For those of you wondering where to direct the fan mail (stop flooding my inbox, people! I'm only one man!), I do a majority of the writing here on Common Vents. Downtown Dan chimes in whenever an African-American musician dies or he has some social media pet peeves to get off his chest.

Here's something else you don't know about the wonderful friendship Dan and I share: I hate him. He really is a deplorable human being, someone who needs to be put in his place at every possible opportunity. Thankfully, Dan loves to completely blow in one particular area of his life: fantasy sports.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Jason Whitlock + Tiger Woods = Twu Wuv


Jason Whitlock is a capable sports journalist. By that I mean he's capable of making his readers feel awkward about racial issues. He's capable of taking a journalistic stance that opposes the general public, a majority of the media and common sense in general in order to get web traffic. He's capable of downing 2 triples with bacon and cheese from Wendy's in under 5 minutes. He recently wrote yet another article about the whole Tiger Woods thing, and there are so many points of his with which I take issue that I figured I'd just do it here. I'm breaking this thing down FJM-style. Let's get right to it.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

5 Randomly Assorted Killer Song Intros

A great song intro gets into your head and doesn't get out. They can come from any source, some expected and some completely surprising. Here are 5 killer and completely unrelated intros.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Why I Won't See The Blind Side

This past weekend at the box office was a putrid suckfest only @ArmondWhite could love. The Blind Side led the way with $20M, and the next 9 movies all received the coveted "rotten" rating on RT. Are any of these movies worth seeing? Well, apparently The Blind Side is. Right?

Wrong. Let's break it down.

The Plot (does not contain spoilers):  The true story of Michael Oher, a gargantuan inner city kid with no education to speak of who's taken in by an influential white family. Big Mike excels at left tackle for his high school football team and earns a scholarship to an SEC school.

Okay, you got me. That contained spoilers. Sorry I'm a badass.

Why I won't see it: I read the book, and it was awesome. 98% of the time the book is better than the movie. Plus, books don't have Sandra Bullock. This is generally a good thing.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Douche: It's Not Funny Anymore

Remember 2006? I sure do. It wasn't too long ago. Who could forget when Russia cut natural gas to Ukraine over a price dispute to start the year? I know I can't! Good times.

I remember playing Halo 2 and poker with friends, missing Dave Chappelle and realizing the comedic potential of the word douche. Since then, things have gone through subtle changes. I still play first person shooters and poker, but now it's all online as I no longer have friends. I now miss Dave Chappelle's stand up more than his sketch comedy show. The one thing that's totally different is the word 'douche.' It's no longer funny.

Monday, November 30, 2009

New Moon, Modern Warfare 2, Other Stuff You Hate



I've heard from people who have actually seen The Twilight Saga: New Moon that this video is incredibly accurate. Bella's heavy breathing and lip-biting are spot on, as is Edward's general creepiness and Jacob's shirtlessness.

And to those of you devoted to Twilight, I have a question. If Bella and Edward have a transcendent love that will last for all time, then why does she suck face with Jacob the first chance she gets? The only thing that's transcendent is Bella's sluttiness.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Stop it with the Facebook as a diary crap

by "Downtown" Dan Bardin

I go to Facebook for a number of reasons, but usually because I'm just bored. Lately I've noticed there has been an uptick in the wayyyy too much information zone.

I understand people posting that their day sucks, or it won't end, or TGIF, blah, blah, blah. It's a way to vent from the cubicle you spend more time in than your own home.

I don't want to go to Facebook to hear about how your boyfriend shot your uncle in order to get custody rights. Okay? For example:

I think its "pathetic" for ppl 2 put there nose in other peoples business.....bc obvi they hv nada else 2 do...I actually feel flattered that Im talked amongst other ppl thou...so live ur own life, and let me live mine, bc u obvi have things twisted my dear...

Besides making little grammatical sense, I don't even know what 3/4 of it says and still it pisses me off. This is what I see in my mind when I read posts like this:

I get you are having a bad day, and that's fine. Just don't tell me too much.

You can tell me your "besties" are on their way to the city and you are totally going to dance it up. Or that you made awesome salsa. Great. Perfect. Just stop it with the diary entries you post on Facebook as a desperate attempt at attention-seeking.

And, yes, this post is completely aimed towards girls.

Boom goes the dynamite. See you in another three months, Readers.

6 Year Old Thinks He's Playing Madden, Unleashes Hit Stick

I became aware of this video thanks to Deadspin. Click for their full article.

Deadspin, while excellent at providing us with awesome sports content that we wouldn't know about otherwise, doesn't always do the best job of providing analysis or opinion on what we're seeing. Knowing that, I decided to put the video up here and break it down further.



This is what happens when you throw a bunch of 6 year olds together (who are, let's face it, mostly huge idiots) and put a physically advanced kid with an actual knowledge of the game of football in the mix. Most 6 year olds in football pads are focused primarily on running in circles or just standing there. This kid is different. He's not only strong and fast, but he understands the fundamentals of defense:

1. Find person with football
2. Destroy

There are a lot of bodies standing around in the first clip, so it's a little difficult to see what's going on at first. That's why I'm here. Here's what you should look for in the 7 to 15 second mark of the video.
  •   Find the kid with the football. He's in the middle in the white jersey. He is presumably the quarterback, waiting patiently to hand the ball off to absolutely no one. The offensive linemen have either fallen down or are hitting each other. Basically, they're emulating the Chicago Bears.
  • The QB is staring off into space and, I guarantee you, thinking about absolutely nothing. He is completely comatose, yet (and here's his big mistake) still holding onto the football.
  • In comes the juggernaut. The hit causes the coach in the foreground to cringe with his hands on his head while the kid in the red hoodie jumps around like the Ravens D after Ray Lewis snapped Mendenhall's collar bone.
  • The QB may or may not have gone from "just standing there" to "on the ground and crying" in less than a second. He is kicking his legs furiously in an effort to comprehend this unfathomable turn of events.
The second clip does not need analysis. The juggernaut saw the person with the football and hulked out.

Basically, if your kid is 6 years old and you put him in football pads, you're an idiot, a horrible parent and you should perform a self-vasectomy immediately. Kids should not play football until high school. This concludes Luke and the View from his High Horse. Happy Turkey Day, you obese Americans. Let's drown our problems in gravy.

Friday, November 20, 2009

5 Classic Movies in Reverse (Inspired by HIGHDEAS)

Today, Deadspin introduced me to a site called HIGHDEAS, in which stoners submit their awesome, mind-blowing revelations while in an altered state. A lot of the submissions are typical eyeroll-inducing stoner babble, such as potheads expressing a severe desire to move to Amersterdam, open a coffee shop and just LIVE, man!

Sadly, those idiots will never put down the bong long enough to get off the couch, let alone buy a plane ticket with money that could be spent on drugs. However, there are some genuinely awesome observations hiding amid the stereotypes. Such as:











But the obvious winner and the inspiration for this post is:

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Not Another Facebook Ad: Finally! Women Can Stop Shaving Their Faces!


Alert reader @kmlemmon sent this ad to me. If you encounter similarly awful Facebook ads in your sidebar, please notify me. Together, we can end the absurdity.

I've been putting some thought into a Top 10 Twilight Quotes (With Analysis!) post in light of the theatrical release of New Moon. That thought was put on the back burner when I saw this ad.

I mean, come on.

Raise your hand if you've seen a woman lather up with shaving cream and take care of her facial hair. Anyone?

The ad makes much more sense if the "No More Shaving" headline is replaced with the simple question: "Are You Greek?" Suddenly the ad becomes MUCH more relevant. Greek women are vivacious, ready to party and they love to eat. All great qualities. They're also really, really hairy. They might up that ad's click percentage if the headline were changed.

And don't get me started on the woman in this picture. She looks like she's thoroughly enjoying this particular shaving experience. I'm not an ad guy, but if your headline says "No More Shaving," wouldn't you want a picture of a woman sobbing with countless razor cuts all over her face?

Also, where is this woman shaving? Underneath Dan Bardin's back fat? Why is there no light, yet she's perfectly illuminated? They couldn't give us a mirror? Anything from a bathroom?

Finally, and this is the most important point: WOMEN DON'T SHAVE THEIR FACES! Consider the following facts:

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Modern Warfare 2 Tactical Nuke


Dude earns nuke in MW2, hangs out for a while before unleashing it


Modern Warfare 2 just shattered top sales marks across the entire entertainment industry, netting $550 million in its first 5 days, trumping the numbers of Grand Theft Auto IV (the previous video game record holder) and Whatever Harry Potter Movie Made the Most and The Dark Knight (the previous global/domestic box office record holders).

Modern Warfare 2 is now the most successful entertainment release of all time. Doing the math ($550 million divided by 60 bucks), over 9 million copies of the game have already been sold. That's a lot of gamers who will subsequently be making a lot of YouTube vids.

Below is one posted of a guy getting 25 kills without dying, thus earning himself a tactical nuke that ends the game and gives his team the victory immediately. It. Is. Incredible. If you have a better video, post the link in the comments section and I'll throw it up post-haste. Enjoy, nerds!

A Review of The House of Yes, the weirdest movie ever


Background info:

The Jess had to watch this film for a class, so we Netflixed it a few days ago. I asked her what House of Yes was about and she responded "incest."

Oh, awesome!

Brief plot summary (contains spoilers, F you):

Parker Posey plays a character named Jackie-O, a mentally unstable east coast aristocrat with serious daddy issues. Dad left the family early (or perhaps he was murdered, who really knows) so she looked to her twin brother, Marty (played by Josh Hamilton before he turned to drugs and steroids), to fill the holes. So to speak.

The two started messing around as teenagers and when it ended, it put Jackie-O into a mental institution of some kind. I think. I'm not really sure, I was eating dinner at this point.

Fast forward to Thanksgiving, and Marty brings his fiance, Lesly (played by Tori Spelling), to meet the family.

Then Jackie-O has sex with Marty again. Lesly retaliates by getting with Freddie Prinze, Jr. Then Jackie-O shoots Marty in the face to keep him from leaving with Lesly. Movie over.

Okay, so I skipped some details. Sue me.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Analysis of the Worst Facebook Ad Ever (Warning: Contains Perplexing Nudity)


So I was about to write another chapter in the Luke's Legendary Facebook Statuses tome when I took a look at the ads in the sidebar, as I usually do. I always notice them but never click on them, making me a pain in the ass of every web marketer out there. It wasn't long before I took a second glance at the Mobsters 2 ad. And no, it's not because there was a scantily clad digitally-rendered female holding a gun.

Something just didn't look right. Call it intuition if you want. Maybe it was the lighting. Maybe it was the odd look of the gun she was holding. Or maybe it was THE EXTRA PAIR OF SWEATER MELONS WHERE HER HIPS SHOULD BE.

Seriously, WTF Facebook? If this is the next step in evolution, count me the eff out. What in the world was going on during the development meetings for Mobsters 2 advertising?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Netflix vs. Luke: Is Breaking Bad actually a comedy?



Apparently I screwed this up, but thankfully Netflix is around to correct me on my hilariously off-base read of AMC's critically-acclaimed show, Breaking Bad.

To the left is a recommendation the online film rental service gave to me because of my love for both 30 Rock and Arrested Development, two of my favorite shows of all time. I hadn't previously thought of Breaking Bad as a comedy, but after looking a bit further I can't believe I missed the signs.

The cover art is hilarious enough, so right there it's obvious just how wrong I was about the tone of the show. It's comedy that's so good, so confident, that it doesn't need to install things like a laugh track, sunny soundtrack or David Schwimmer to get its point across. Here are some more ways in which Breaking Bad sets the bar for subtle and transcendent comedy:

  • Chemistry (the scientific kind, not the term used for relationships and/or sports)
  • The dad from Malcolm in the Middle, in the desert, in his underwear, holding a gun
  • Crystal meth addiction
  • Cooking and selling crystal meth
  • The challenges of raising a disabled child
  • Drug-related kidnapping and homicide
  • Lung cancer
  • Marital problems that stem from a sexless relationship (due to the aforementioned lung cancer)
Hilarious! Thanks, Netflix!

Friday, October 30, 2009

One of These Things Is Not Like the Others

It was a low-key Friday afternoon on Facebook, the calm before Halloween's storm. An abundance of rain cast depressing shades of gray over the Midwestern landscape. Nonetheless, spirits were high. Jokes and playful banter were in abundance on the Wall of Fred. But then...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

World Series bumps Glee, causes Twitter asplosion


The first and last people to the left are currently aware that Glee, the wildly popular TV show on Fox (about a glee club, cover songs of horribly overrated hits and unwanted pregnancies) is being bumped until the 2nd week of November because of "stupid baseball." The 2nd and 3rd Twitter profiles are blissfully unaware their precious show has been shoved to make room for The Captain and his pinstriped cohorts. Right about now they've undoubtedly received an "omg grl glee isnt on 2nite :(" tweet from their bestest, and they're now joining other emos across the nation in mourning.





These poor, misguided souls. They have yet to discover the joy of watching a November baseball game in sub-zero weather in which the remaining two teams battle for 5 hours and combine for 3 total runs. They haven't experienced the joy of seeing A-Rod's crotch bulge (which may or may not be his cup), the complete inanity of Tim McCarver and the moral superiority of Joe Buck.

It's obvious these juveniles have never picked up a ball outside of mandatory gym class, which they were forced to do by manlier-than-your-WWII-veteran-grandfather P.E. teacher, who, despite all evidence to the contrary, constantly claimed to have been born a woman.

Go get some sun, you vampires! New Moon is going to blow just as much as Twilight did! No one denies this! Can you even come up with...

I mean, can you even explain to me the intricacies of a dropped 3rd strike and the effect it may have on...

I can't do this.

Why, Fox? Why? WHY WOULD YOU BUMP GLEE FOR THAT HERPES-INFESTED SHORTSTOP, DEREK JETER? HE IS NOT EVEN HALF THE MAN MR. SCHUE IS!

/sobs uncontrollably

JETER TOTALLY HAS HERPES, SHITHEADS! HE GAVE IT TO JESSICA ALBA! GOOGLE IT!

/does weird convulsive breathing thing that happens when you're breathing in while recovering from a sobbing fit. don't act like you don't know what i'm talking about.

LIKING GLEE DOESN'T MAKE ME GAY, OKAY DAD? THERE'S THAT ONE GUY IN IT WHO IS TOTALLY ABLE TO JUGGLE BEING QUARTERBACK OF THE FOOTBALL TEAM WHILE STILL MAINTAINING HIS DEDICATION TO GLEE!!1


/farts, smells it


AND OMG YOU GUYS, MR. SCHUE'S WIFE IS SUCH A BITCH! SHE DOESN'T DESERVE HIM AT ALL, HE'S SUCH A GOOD DANCER AND SINGER AND I CAN TELL HE TOTALLY HAS AMAZING ABS.


Okay, I think I've calmed down. But for realz, why are we being subjected to a baseball game in 30 degree weather? Is this how the game is meant to be played, let alone the most important series of the entire season? No. No it is not. 


JOURNEY BREAK!





Overrated? Don't Stop Believin' is overrated? You, sir, are overrated and I will gladly poop in your Chipotle burrito and call the concoction a pinto/black beans hybrid. And you will eat it, just like you'll eat the shit show that will be taking place at Yankee Stadium and Citizens Bank Park over the next two weeks. Because you don't know when you're being fed a giant poop burrito if you're actually excited for men swinging lumber over hot guys singing and dancing all over the place.


Oh well. It's not a total loss. I hear Tim McCarver sings.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

This Week in Unintended Irony: Swine Flu Vaccination Lines


This photo was taken over the weekend at a nearby high school. Every person in line is waiting for an H1N1 vaccination. No, not really. This is actually a line for a Slayer concert. But anyway, onto the point of this post: I work with a couple people (they're married) who endured a 3 hour wait to get a  swine flu vaccination. The line extended 7 blocks. They waited in the rain. Oh, and the woman is 9 months pregnant and will be induced into labor tomorrow.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Paranormal Activity: Yeah, this looks fun



Paranormal Activity cost $15,000 to make and collected $20 million last weekend alone. If it grosses $60 million (which it will) it becomes the most profitable movie (percentage-wise) in history, passing up The Blair Witch Project. Fascinating stuff. Am I seeing it? Let's see:

Remember What Lies Beneath? It rocked me to my core after I saw it. Harrison Ford, a villain? No way. No way. NOOOOOOOO!!! NO, HARRISON!!!! FIRST CALISTA FLOCKHART, NOW THIS?

I had nightmares about Malificent, the villain in Sleeping Beauty, until I was 23.

When asked if I'd like to see a horror movie these days, I find the nearest floor or ground surface (there's usually one pretty close), lay down, assume the fetal position and rock bank and forth/hum loudly until the question is either retracted or the person leaves the room.

So no, I will not be viewing Paranormal Activity. Let me know how it goes for you.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I Know Who Soaked the Kids!!!!111

I have an application for Firefox called Googlepedia, which takes your Google search term and puts up the most relevant Wikipedia article on the right side, eliminating the need to visit Wiki's page. It's a huge time saver and an awesome application. I recommend you try it out.

Anyway, I typed "driver soaks kids prosecution" into Google, and the most relevant Wikipedia article popped up next to my results. His fake accent fooled us all!


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Best Video of Kids Getting Drenched That Will Ever Be Made

As I stated earlier, I try to stay away from constantly posting videos on here (I'm obviously doing a wonderful job) because it's an easy way to bypass the creative process and blah blah blah blah. Watch this incredible video.



Obvious highlights:
  • At one point the guy gets so excited that he loses his accent.
  • That horribly evil laugh.
  • Innocent kids getting soaked is near the top of my list of Top 5 Things I Didn't Know Were Hilarious. I don't know the other 4 yet.
  • The moral crusaders commenting on this video who are demanding imprisonment or death for this guy. 
If you have a better video than this, by all means send it my way. Drop me a line at ltrayser@gmail.com

Update: Remix!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Nostalgic Sigh: IGN's Top 10 Halo Kills of the Week


I have a PS3 and am loving it, as it actually turns on properly and doesn't give me three red lights as a greeting. But sometimes, when it's late at night and I'm alone with my thoughts...I miss Halo. I'm man enough to admit it. Although if I ever ran into any of these psychos I'd probably chuck my controller through the TV. I mean look at #1. How is that even possible? [IGN]

Friday, October 9, 2009

Why Shutter Island Will Kick All Kinds of Ass



Well, I just finished reading Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane (published in 2003, look how ahead of the curve I am!), and after reading it, I'm certain of one thing: It's going to blow your mind. I'm gonna go ahead and guarantee it. The film was originally slated to be released this month, but Paramount recently decided to push it to February 2010. That's fine. Seems like a Valentine's Day movie instead of a Halloween one.

I can't say enough about the book. Knowing it's in Scorsese's and Leo's capable hands makes me 100% certain that Shutter Island is going to be an unforgettable moviegoing experience. Leo plays Teddy Daniels, a US Marshal in the 1950s who's sent to investigate Shutter Island, a last-resort, eerie psychiatric ward where things aren't as they seem. He's joined by castmembers by Mark "13 Going on 30 Is Kind of My Best Film" Ruffalo and Ben "I'm Not Actually a Chess Instructor, Stop Asking Me" Kingsley.

I won't give any spoilers away, which is going to be brutal on me. I started reading the book under the impression the movie would be released in October, heard the news that it was pushed back to February, and couldn't stop reading because it was just too good. Now I have to keep the story's secrets bottled up for four months.

You need to read the book so we can talk about it. Do it and then we'll talk in the comment section, ruining it for the other 2 people who read this blog. Do it. Do it for Leo. It's what he'd want. Whisper it like Dr. Evil. Leo!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Cole Hamels' Wife Is a Selfish Distraction

Oh sure, Heidi Hamels. Go ahead and go into labor just as your husband and his teammates embark on their arduous quest to repeat as World Series champions. By all means! In fact, why don't you take a load off! Would you like some ice cream? Perhaps some peanut butter and Oreos? I hear you're a fan.

/Watches 5 minutes of Survivor, vomits.

Your husband Colbert (lmao) tried to give his team a 2-0 lead heading west into Colorado, but because of you, he only pitched 5 innings and gave up 4 earned runs (a 7.20 ERA for you math whizzes) and is now in line for the loss. He was thinking about his wife and his first child and how his life will never be the same. You did this to him. You destroyed Philadelphia sports.

Breaking News As I'm Writing This Post: Cole Hamels has left the ballpark to be with his wife, who is currently stripping for peanut butter and Oreos on a stale CBS reality show in labor.

You selfish hussy! How dare you destroy Philadelphia's chance at two straight titles! Their fans are saints! They deserve only the best!

Don't give me that look, jungle woman! I'm onto you. I know your game. You snagged a ballplayer and entered baby-needing freakout mode once you turned 30. You women. You're all the same. You latch onto 25-year-old, left handed, World Series MVP-winning pitchers like it's going out of style. Don't act like you don't!

I know how this went down, Heidi. It's an all too familiar story.

(January 2009)

Heidi Hamels: Colbert? I'm 30. Mama needs a bun in the oven.

Cole Hamels: ...boobies?

HH: (rolling eyes) Yes, Colbert. Boobies. Very good. Now get over here. Let's get to babymaking. Try for triplets! OMG COLBERT TRY FOR TRIPLETS! (jumps up and down, holds up three fingers)

CH: ...changeup?

HH: Colbert! Pay attention to me! I am your wife and I am super cereal! In this house, three fingers means "triplets" and not "changeup!" Now give me the ol' 4-seamer!

And so, 9 months later, you went into labor, Heidi. On the very day your husband was due to put a stranglehold on the Colorado Rockies, no less. But now the Rockies will take Mr. Momentum and ride him all the way into the World Series against the Yankees, where they will stage a dramatic upset in one of the greatest rebound stories in sports history.

Basically, Heidi, your selfish baby-needing will bring heartbreak and anguish to millions of Phillies and Yankees fans.

Philadelphians and New Yorkers, the greatest, most tolerable and least annoying, most friendly, most knowledgeable, most deserving and saintly fans on earth, will be wallowing in their own tears and fecal matter.

Thank you, Heidi. Thank you.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

WTF? Why Does Google Have a Barcode?











The #14 topic at Google Trends right now is "why does google have a barcode." Coincidentally, the #16 topic is currently "am i a mouth-breathing ape."

Tip for all of you computer users: If you hover your mouse over Google's customized logo, you'll see a message giving you the reason for the change. Here's an explanation.

What "hover your mouse" means:
  • Keep the mouse completely still for a second or two. Do not move it.

What "hover your mouse" doesn't mean:
  • Shove the mouse in every direction like an air hockey mallet. Screech like a howler monkey.
  • Lift your mouse several inches into the air and leave it hanging there. Make UFO noises.

If you hover over Google's logo today, you'll see the message "Invention of the Bar Code," eliminating the need to search for a reason for the confusing logo change. Try it out for yourself!

And technically, if you slide your mouse over the Google logo and then try the "lift the mouse, make UFO noises" technique, that would actually work. Just don't let anyone see you do it.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Jared Allen Spills His Redneck Mullet All Over My Dreams






















We're back with yet another installment of the insanely unpopular series "Luke Talks About His Fantasy Teams!" This should be a good one, buckle up. Click the image to enlarge it.

Above is the summary of my Week 4 in fantasy football, which is downright hilarious. I was up against a team who's absolutely loaded and somehow contained Brady, Wayne and Purple Jesus. Things were looking good. And then Jared Allen decided to collect 4.5 sacks (a Monday Night Football record) and a safety, which I'm pretty sure I could have done too if I were up against Green Bay's dynamite left tackle, Simple Jack.


And yes, our league has 3 individual defensive players, something I defy any other league in the entire United States to match. As you can see, Allen collected 29 points, more than Peterson and Wayne had in Week 4 combined. I lost by 0.6 points because of this man.

"I've never had a day like that," sang Allen in a ridiculous hillbilly twang. Then he collected his massive paycheck (a little more than $750,000 per game) and bought another house, while I watched an episode of House on DVR.  We're practically twins!

I realized something last night. Sometimes life is great, and sometimes Jared Allen does 4.5 calf-roping celebrations in one game and takes a shit on your face.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Why My Friends Hate Me: Fantasy Football 2009 Edition



My fantasy football team is horrendous. They played out of their minds to get a rare win in Week 3, and they're now 1-2 on the year. Downtown Dan Bardin is sitting pretty, alone in 1st place, a feat he marked by changing his team name to "MerilHodge'sTieKnot."

Instead of letting the guy have his moment, I decided to change my own team name from Air(Holes) McNair to what you see in the #8 spot. (click pic to enlarge) For those of you claiming I'm a jerkoff because 1) It's too soon to make a McNair joke and 2) I should let Dan Bardin enjoy his moment in the sun, 1) Whatever. McNair cheated on his wife and wrecked his family because he got with an unstable 20 year old and 2) You may have a point.

This concludes another episode of Why My Friends Hate Me. I'll wrap this up with a classic Seinfeld moment. Y'all come back reeeeeal

/door slam

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Hey Asshat: I Don't Want to Play Mafia Wars.

No. I do not have 5 minutes.

Just as the invites to play Mafia Wars from my hundreds upon hundreds of friends on Facebook start to die down, I'm greeted with this ad.

Follow this advice, people: If something is being given to you for free, it's probably going to suck. If we're talking video game simulations, then this is true 100% of the time.

If you're saying I shouldn't knock it until I try it, I'll ask you what you think about suicide, you'll express your hatred of it, I'll ask if you've ever tried it, you'll say no, I'll call you a hypocrite, the end.

You know what I'm gonna do instead of Mafia Wars? I don't know either. I might watch Curb or Arrested Development on DVD. Maybe I'll play NHL 10 or MLB 09 The Show. Or Tiger Woods 10, Mario Galaxy or the new Metroid Prime collection. I might read Brothers, the awesome bio on John and Robert Kennedy. What do these awesome options have in common? They all cost money.

19 million people per month play Mafia Wars. Therefore, I am smarter than at least 19 million people, for I have figured out that paying for your entertainment is the best way to be entertained.

Figure it out, reeds.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Top 10 Fastballs in Baseball

As of today, the best fastball in 2009 belongs to Randy effing Wolf. I know, I thought the same thing. But according to the glorious stat nerds over at FanGraphs, the Wolfman has the most effective heater in all of Major League Baseball. Wolf has been on fire since the All-Star Break. I don't have time to check my notes, but I'm pretty sure he's gone 34-0 in that time. Not bad.

As they say in baseball all the time(I think), location is far more important than velocity. This would certainly make sense since Wolf's average fastball blazes by at an even 89 MPH, which coincidentally is what my 4-seamer was clocked at in 2nd grade. But enough about me, let's get to the lists. Here are the 10 best and worst fastballs (and we're talking effectiveness, not velocity) in MLB. The numbers in parentheses signify Runs Above Average, which basically evaluates a certain player compared to league averages and assigns that player either a positive or negative number in a certain category.

10 Best Fastballs in MLB

10. J.A. Happ (18.0)
9. Josh Johnson (18.4)
8. Scott Baker (19.5)
7. Chris Carpenter (20.3)
5. Matt Cain (24.1)
5. Zack Greinke (24.1)
4. Justin Verlander (24.5)
3. Joel Pineiro (24.6)
2. Clayton Kershaw (26.4)
1. Randy Wolf (28.9)

Notes:
  • Every guy on this list is a starting pitcher. Seattle closer David Aardsma just missed the cut with the 11th best heater.
  • Wolf and Kershaw are both Dodgers, Carpenter and Pineiro (WTF?) both Cardinals. Sounds like Rick Honeycutt and Dave Duncan are dynamite pitching coaches.
  • Carpenter has three pitches that are at least 10 runs above average(fastball, slider, curve). Pretty sure he's the only one. If that's wrong, let me know.
  • Ted Lilly has the best fastball on the Cubs (+15.7, 13th in MLB)
  • Matt Thornton has the White Sox's best fastball (+6.9, 65th in MLB)
  • When I wrote this post on the best and worst fastball hitters, Jarrod Washburn had the league's best fastball. Since joining Detroit he has taken a nose dive to 16th in the league.
  • Verlander(95.5 MPH), Johnson(95.1 MPH) and Kershaw(93.9 MPH) have the 3 fastest average heaters on this list. Happ(89.7), Pineiro(89.0 MPH) and Wolf(89.0 MPH) have the 3 slowest.

10 Worst Fastballs in MLB

10. Joe Blanton (-13.6)
9. A.J. Burnett (-14.3)
7. Bronson Arroyo (-14.8)
7. Zach Duke (-14.8)
6. Chris Volstad (-15.8)
5. Ricky Nolasco (-16.3)
4. Livan Hernandez (-16.5)
3. Trevor Cahill (-16.8)
2. Kenshin Kawakami (-19.1)
1. Carl Pavano (-20.6)

Notes:
  • The picture is of Carl Pavano telling us which pitch he prefers to throw. Other than that, I have no notes. These guys blow.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

WTF?

Facebook Ad References Obama, Makes Me Angry


It's too early in the morning for this. I guess it's what I deserve for thinking something interesting might hit my profile at 9 am.

Every morning I check Facebook before my email. That way I'm surprised at any overnight activity on my Wall. While my page loads I close my eyes, cross my fingers and whisper "please please please" over and over. It's a surprisingly effective method. You gotta want it.

An overwhelming sense of despair hits me when my Wall looks the same as it did the day before. The only thing that keeps me from breaking down completely are the Facebook Ads in the sidebar. At least you know me, Facebook Ads. You're always there.

Or so I thought. Here's what greeted me this morning.

First, I have a degree. Yeah, it's an English degree, but I'm pretty sure that still counts. Second, who is this reed in the ad? It looks like he showed up for an esurance commercial audition stoned out of his mind. He only shows up for these auditions so his dad will keep paying his rent and he can keep "searching for the perfect wave, brah." Whatever that means.

Side note: The term "reed" is courtesy of Nick Hall at Yummy Bro, a pretty solid blog. Check him out. Click here for the explanation.

Obama says get a vasectomy! Obama says read this socialism pamphlet! Obama says the Craftsman DYS 4500 is the best riding mower on the market! Does anyone actually click these things? If you do, you're a big fat idiot.

Please write on my Wall.

Monday, September 14, 2009

2009 US Open: Crazy Federer Video

Men's Final Underway; Federer Dominating


Roger Federer has already taken the first set and it looks like he'll be taking the 2nd shortly. Here's a video to shock and amaze you. My thanks to avid reader BC for the alerting me. And by "avid reader BC" I of course mean "a guy who's aware that this blog exists."

This Week in Unintended Irony: ESPN & Brian Urlacher

Urlacher wrist injury yields pessimism, yearning for hockey season


This is a screenshot taken from espn.com at around noon today and the Nike advertisement that ran underneath the Monday links. I expected that by clicking my mouse and unleashing Urlacher, I'd be a witness to his lightning-quick texting skills, which he used to alert the Chicago Tribune of his injury status. He was apparently able to fight through the wrist pain that comes with sending a text. What a warrior.

Instead the Nike ad showed Urlacher glaring like Michael Vick just Facebooked his dog. He then hulked out on some dude and then glared at me one more time before leaving, presumably to "get his text on."

In case you're having trouble seeing the irony (either because the font is too small or you're an idiot), this Nike ad that showed Urlacher the Undertaker wreaking havoc ran directly underneath a headline saying the Bears' linebacker was out for the season with a wrist boo-boo.

Ok, fine, I've never had a dislocated wrist. It's probably unthinkable amounts of pain that would make me pass out if I had to tolerate it. And to his credit, #54 hurt his wrist fairly early on and played the rest of the 1st half despite the injury. Kind of manly. I'm just venting here.

I mean, It's been a brutal year for Chicago baseball. Chicagoans (both North and South siders) checked out a while ago, looking forward to football season. There was hope for this Bears team. They signed a quarterback. A real one! Yeah, he's kind of a stuck up asshat, and yeah, his decision making and leadership skills are questionable at best, but he can fire a ball 70 yards and thread it anywhere he wants with incredible precision!

Four interceptions later, it's clear Cutler has a vast amount of skill and not a lot of brainpower. It seems that he has so much faith in his cannon arm that he believes he can execute difficult throws in any position. This is why he was so comfortable throwing the ball off his back foot, rolling right or fading away while rolling right.

No, his receivers and his line didn't do him any favors. But transcendent quarterbacks elevate their receivers and fire the ball away quick enough to keep holes in the offensive line patched. Cutler is probably the most physically gifted quarterback in the NFL right now, but he's not transcendent. That says something about how dysfunctional his non-physical skills are.

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh is coming to town to drop the Bears to 0-2, and they're missing their defensive anchor for the entire season.

See you in 2010. Let's go Hawks!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Why District 9 Will Kick All Kinds of Ass



District 9 has a simple premise: Aliens are living as refugees in South Africa. Produced by Peter Jackson, it looks completely and utterly badass. This notion has been reinforced by film critics, who have praised the film at a 96% clip on RT thus far. Of the 26 reviews currently archived, 25 are positive.

Guess who's submitted the lone negative review thus far.



Poor, misguided Armond White. So predictable. Once again, RTers were commenting that District 9's 100% wouldn't last because White hadn't submitted his review yet. But lo and behold, his review is in, which you can read here. (Finish whatever food you may be eating first; his arguments are a choking hazard)

Rotten Tomatoes Consensus: Technically brilliant and socially poignant, District 9 has action, imagination, and all the elements of a thoroughly entertaining science-fiction classic.

Armond White: District 9 represents the sloppiest and dopiest pop cinema -- the kind that comes from a second-rate film culture.

The guy who loves Michael Bay is calling District 9 pop cinema. The amount of hypocrisy here is downright laughable.

I've never been a paid film critic, but I'm fairly certain it's an important part of the job to go into each movie with an open mind, regardless of what may have been heard about it or how a critic might personally feel about the subject matter.

This is what pisses people off (myself included) about White the most. Before he sees a film, he knows what kind of review he's going to give it. First off, District 9 is produced by "intellectually juvenile New Zealander" Peter Jackson. Strike 1.

"This cheap, darkhumored pass at empathy disgraces any greater cinematic potential." Strike 2.

"District 9 confirms that few media makers know how to perceive history, race and class relations." Strike 3!

White isn't a dummy, as I've stated earlier. He definitely knew Jackson produced District 9, and I'd wager he knew the film's basic premise as well. He knew before the film even started that he was going to trash it, and he was licking his chops.

Oh, I'm sorry Armond! I wasn't aware District 9 was a movie fit for a Social Studies class! I was under the impression it was a work of fiction. And no, the film's producer is not black, so his "pass at empathy" sure is pathetic, huh? My favorite part is when you flat-out called Peter Jackson a racist, suggesting his effort "suggests some lingering Afrikaans’ fear or, possibly, how Jackson really thinks about the Maori and Aborigines. "

What the shit are you talking about, Armond?

You see, people-I've discovered something about Armond White. He's a bigoted, stubborn racist. For the first clue, just check out his positive and negative reviews.

But the major clue to White's racist tendencies comes in the ease with which he cries "RACISM!" when it's not even present at all. Much like the cheating husband who is jealous and accusatory toward his wife or the moron who laughs the loudest because he doesn't get the joke, White plays the race card in an effort to subdue his own prejudices. It's not working, Armond. You're a flat-out racist.

Most moviegoers are idiots. They want to see shit blow up before being taught a lesson every single time. What Jackson and other astute filmmakers have figured out is that you can draw parallels to actual events (while blowing shit up) that pretty much everyone can absorb.

All Jackson and Neill Blomkamp (District 9's director) tried to do is to show us that intolerance doesn't pay. And you threw it back in their faces, Armond. Well done.

When my wife is in labor, I'll shout encouragement to get her through it. Do I understand her pain? Absolutely not. And as I encourage her, will she interrupt me, call me a sexist prick, and make me leave the room? Only if she's a stubborn, bigoted and close-minded nutjob.

Evaluate your life, Armond. Nobody likes a racist.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

You're Going To See This Movie Because You're An Idiot



Note: I went to a double feature over the weekend (and only paid for 1 ticket, I'm so badass). I saw The Hurt Locker and 500 Days of Summer. Two very different movies, and two of the best that I've seen in a while. But while I was there I saw a preview for The Time Traveler's Wife before each film. Coincidentally, I vomited twice. In my haste to clean myself up, I ran into the women's bathroom and overheard this conversation.

"OMFG Brooke, did you see that preview for The Time Traveler's Wife?"

"I totally did, Michelle! It's gonna be like, the best movie ever!"

"I know! It's like The Notebook but with time travel lol!"

"It totally is! U R so right! It even has that same girl from The Notebook! I forget her name. Rachel McSomething lol!"

"Yeah that's her. I wish my face could be as pretty as hers."

"What? Are you cereal? Your face is TOTALLY pretty! It's WAY prettier than mine."

"OMG shut up! You are so much prettier than me!"

"No, you're prettier!"

"You are!"

"..."

"..."

"What were we talking about again?"

"The Time Traveler's Noteb...I mean the Time Travler's Wife!"

"OMG were you gonna say The Time Traveler's Notebook? lolz!"

"I totally was! lol I'm so dumb. Good thing I've got these boobs!"

"lolz lolz!"

"OMG Brooke. OMG. Did you see how hot the guy is in Time Traveler's Wife?"

"OMG Michelle I did. He is so hot. I mean, like, he's not as hot as Ryan Gosling but OMG yeah he's so hot. What's his name again?"

"I dunno, I just know he was The Hulk lol!"

"lol ur so funny!"

"OMG if she like, dies at the end I am totally gonna cry."

"OMG totally! Bring the kleenex lol! It's gonna be a moist one!"

"OMG Brooke ewwwwww!!! Did you just say moist! Ewwwwww!!!!!"

"OMG OMG I totally did! lol ewwwwwww!!!"

Seriously, what is going on in this train wreck of a movie? Eric Bana visits Rachel McAdams as a little girl? Is this guy a pedophile or what? When he disappears, what's that red thing he's wearing? A towel? WTF? No wonder McAdams can't let go of him, he voilated her when she was little.

If you see this movie, you endorse pedophilia.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Top (And Bottom) 10 Fastball Hitters in MLB

I've neglected my sportswriting recently in favor of film critics, organic food and fake Gene Hackman interviews. I apologize from the bottom of my heart for this mistake. To make amends, it's time to break out my inner nerd and discuss a topic that's been near and dear to my heart since my days of wearing sweatpants on a daily basis: baseball statistics.

It's gotten to the point where batting average, home runs and RBIs don't get the job done anymore. I need new ways to absorb what I see on TV. Give me OPS, VORP, win probabilities, fielding range and pitch values.

Enter FanGraphs, my new favorite site. They track pretty much every stat that's been conjured up. How in depth are they? They can tell you what hitters and pitchers are most/least effective when hitting or throwing a certain pitch. I'm positively giddy. This new information is awesome beyond words.

You'll learn things about your favorite players that you never would have known before. For example, the only pitch that Albert Pujols hits below average is a split-fingered fastball. You'd think every NL Central pitching coach would lead a split-finger course to try to gain any kind of advantage over King Albert.

You're either going to find this information extremely fascinating or more boring than Pretty In Pink (I kid, RIP John Hughes. And Molly Ringwald's career). My guess is that there's a good chance you'll find this material captivating if you have a Y chromosome. If you're a double X, you could be out of luck. But whatever. Like I said, I'm unleashing my inner nerd here. So here are the major leaguers who currently are best and worst at hitting the ol' #1. The average is 0. Above average hitters score above zero, below average hitters score below zero. Easy enough.

10 Best Fastball Hitters of 2009 (Runs above average)

1. Albert Pujols (31.1)
2. Kevin Youkilis (29.0)
3. Michael Young (27.6)
4. Mark Teixeira (25.3)
5. Justin Upton (24.8)
6. Prince Fielder (24.1)
7. Shane Victorino (23.7)
8. Chase Utley (23.1)
9. Adam Dunn (22.2)
T-10. Victor Martinez (21.9)
T-10. Mark Reynolds (21.9)

Notes:
  • Only one guy in all of baseball is worse at hitting sliders than Justin Upton (-12.1), and that's Kevin Kouzmanoff of the Padres(-12.4). Why Upton still sees fastballs is beyond me.
  • 4 of these 11 guys are on my fantasy team (Albert, Young, Prince, Victorino). My pitching is blowing it for me, but that offense is still stacked.
  • Only 2 of these 11 boppers (Prince and Dunn) are above average at hitting a split-finger fastball.
  • Albert, Prince and Utley also tattoo sliders. (5.1, 4.1, 5.2)
  • 2 BoSox, 2 Phillies and (shockingly) 2 D-Backs on this list.
  • No Cubs on the list. The first one doesn't have to wait too long, though. The most effective fastball-hitting North Sider is Derrek Lee (14th in MLB at 20.1)
  • First White Sox man doesn't appear until Paul Konerko shows up in 54th place at 9.8
  • I hate Teixeira. Just seems like a big, muscled, sexy douche. Wait, what?

10 Worst Fastball Hitters of 2009

10. Magglio Ordonez (-6.3)
9. Jose Lopez (-6.4)
8. Orlando Cabrera (-6.6)
7. Jeff Francoeur (-6.7)
6. Emilio Bonifacio (-7.6)
5. Randy Winn (-7.8)
4. Edgar Renteria (-8.8)
T-2. Bengie Molina (-10.5)
T-2. Jason Kendall (-10.5)
1. Willy Taveras (-11.5)

Notes:
  • Taveras' only above average score is 0.5 on split-fingers. He's below average on fastballs, sliders, curves, changeups, cutters, and knucklers. Professional hitter.
  • 3 straight Giants are near the top of the list (Winn, Renteria, Molina).
  • Francoeur has the lowest score of any player on this list for any secondary pitch (-6.5 on sliders).
  • Magglio had a +26.9 on fastballs in 2007, good for 22nd in the majors. He was +3.3 in 2008 and now he's 10th-worst in 2009 at -6.3. Either he's aging rapidly or he kicked the performance enhancers.
  • No Cubs in this list, either. Worst fastball hitter on the team is Ryan Theriot, who is at 50th-worst in the league (but still above average) at +2.2.
  • The worst fastball hitting player on the White Sox is Alexei Ramirez, 28th-worst in the bigs at -2.2.
  • 7 of the 10 worst fastball hitting players hail from Spanish-speaking countries. Latinos can't hit the fastball unless aided by performance enhancers? Let the stereotyping begin!
Even if this post bored you completely, I had too much fun with it. I really did. Expect more baseball stats that don't really matter in the future. I'm out like Maggs on 93 mph gas.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Meet Rotten Tomatoes' Most Hated Film Critic


Note from Luke: This post is long. Really long.

Photo by Nigel Parry


Say hello to Armond White, a man deemed the worst film critic on Rotten Tomatoes because of his tendency to discard widely respected films and embrace ones that get trashed. This post is being written because Armond's reviews are in some cases so confounding that I've taken it upon myself to decide whether he's going against the grain in order to increase his traffic and further his career (a method that's definitely working) or if he really, truly feels this way about the films he watches. I'm going to look at 3 movies he loved and 4 that he hated to find the answer. Let's start it up.

The Dark Knight

Critic Consensus: "Dark, complex and unforgettable, The Dark Knight succeeds not just as an entertaining comic book film, but as a richly thrilling crime saga."

Armond White: "Ledger reduces The Joker to one-note ham-acting and trite symbolism. If you fell for the evil-versus-evil antagonism of There Will Be Blood, then The Dark Knight should be the movie of your wretched dreams. The Dark Knight is the sentinel of our cultural abyss."

Ok, to Armond and anyone else who feels this way: the movie is called The Dark Knight. There's a possibility that the film could be a little dark. Its tagline is "Welcome to a World Without Rules." Absolutely brilliant deduction that the film lacks morality. What could White have possibly been expecting? Song and dance numbers? A CGI Judy Garland cameo? Chris Columbus as guest director?

I remember not being able to take my eyes off the screen when Ledger's Joker was involved. He reinvented a tired, worn-out character and won a posthumous Oscar for it. Sounds like ham-acting to me.

Get used to these three traits from White: 1. He has a stubborn way of praising people and film studios he loves and bashing ones he can't stand, regardless of the films he's reviewing. 2. He comes off as an egotistical blowhard, partly because 3. He views himself as a moral compass on par with God, Gandhi, and Magnum P.I.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen


Critic Consensus:
"Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is a noisy, underplotted, and overlong special effects extravaganza that lacks a human touch."

Armond White: "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is more proof [Bay] has a great eye for scale and a gift for visceral amazement."

I don't think anyone can argue that Michael Bay knows how to blow shit up. It's the little things Bay struggles with (character development, plot, reality). Bay found out long ago that if he blows things up, uses lots of slo-mo shots and finds a hot babe and makes her bend over in jean shorts, his films will reach the $100M plateau within weeks.

If you read Armond's full review of Transformers (click here for it), his points kind of make sense. He acknowledges Bay neglects plot for spectacle. He acknowledges slo-mo Megan Fox shots with a fighter jet flying overhead. White knows how to write, and he knows how to argue. This is what makes his reviews so infuriating. Such an articulate guy should be able to recognize a fantastic film with ease. But he doesn't. Want another example?

The Hangover

Critic Consensus: "With a clever script and hilarious interplay among the cast, The Hangover nails just the right tone of raunchy humor, and the non-stop laughs overshadow any flaw."

Armond White: "Rising-star Bradley Cooper and gang represent the dirtbag element that has become acceptable in contemporary comedy."

Remember what I said about Armond White, Moral Compass and his tendency to be stubborn? Both traits are in play here. He notoriously trashes the raunchier, better written R-rated comedies in favor of lighter, easier to write and produce efforts (see the next film).

Here's the full review. He grouped it together with The Proposal, which makes sense because the two movies are pretty much identical. And for those of you waiting for an "Armand White is ratard" joke, sorry, it's not gonna happen. Except it kind of just did. Moving on.

Dance Flick

Critic Consensus: "Dance Flick scores a few laughs thanks to the Wayans brothers' exuberance, but it’s ultimately a scattershot collection of gags without much direction."

Armond White: "It isn’t highbrow -- or encumbered by scruples -- but the Wayanses retain their vulgar, adolescent derision of sex, class and race. In this bow down to Hollywood millennium, their irreverence is almost subversive."

The Wayans' irreverence isn't subversive, it's lazy. Jokes about race, gender and class are incredibly easy to make. Similar to Michael Bay, they've found a money-printing film making method that requires little to no creativity. Find a popular genre, spoof it for 90 minutes with "White girls can't dance, LOLZ!" jokes, collect check, laugh all the way to the bank. And we keep falling for it. Apparently Armond does too.

White calls Dance Flick "more invigorating than Chicago, Dreamgirls or Hairspray." That's not my area of expertise, so I'll let the ladies and Dan Bardin handle that one.

Star Trek

Critic Consensus: "Star Trek reignites a classic franchise with action, humor, a strong story, and brilliant visuals, and will please traditional Trekkies and new fans alike."

Armond White: "This Star Trek sells cuteness, sentimentality and explosive F/X as if Starship Troopers, Minority Report, Mission to Mars or even Blade Runner or The Matrix (all visionary standard-setters) never happened."

I had a blast watching Star Trek, just like 95% of the critics on Rotten Tomatoes. If that gives me the emotional capabilities of an early teenager, Armond, so be it. You're above us all. And yeah, I agree, Star Trek is exactly like Blade Runner and Mission to Mars. Have any of you actually watched Blade Runner? I had to for a film class. The Harrison Ford voiceover was cheesier than the deuces Kraft's CEO drops. And Mission to Mars? Um...what? You mean this Mission to Mars?

White didn't feel that Star Trek deserved its own review; he grouped it with X-Men: Wolverine. Good call. Those films were equally enjoyable.

Transporter 3

Critic Consensus: "This middling installment in the Transporter franchise is a few steps down from its predecessors, featuring generic stunts and a lack of energy."

Armond White: "Forget the Oscar bait, Transporter 3 is the only movie you need to see this season."

I haven't seen this one. I'm sure I'd enjoy it, but definitely not as much as Armond did. You really have to read the review to fully comprehend it. He says Buster Keaton is nodding appreciatively (wherever he is) and Spielberg should take notes. And let me tell you something, Armond White LOVES Steven Spielberg. Loves him. Transporter 3 is the most glowing review I've seen Armond write.

I'm starting to figure something out about White's taste in films. He values visuals over dialogue every single time. This is why he loves Michael Bay, the Transporter series, and dismisses The Dark Knight and well-written comedies. He wants to be told a story visually, which is fine, but it doesn't explain his hatred for Pixar.

Up

Critic Consensus: "Another masterful work of art from Pixar, Up is an exciting, hilarious, and heartfelt adventure impeccably crafted and told with wit and depth."

Armond White: "All this deflated cinema and Pixarism mischaracterizes what good animation can be (as in Coraline, Monster House, Chicken Little, Teacher’s Pet, The Iron Giant). Up’s aesthetic failure stems from its emotional letdown."

This review is so far out there that I have to quote a little bit more of it: "Today, nobody dares mock Pixar. This absurdity clarifies contemporary news media’s unprincipled collusion with Hollywood capitalism."

Why didn't I realize it before? The Disney/Pixar tandem has effectively brainwashed us all into believing they make great films and are worth spending money on! White not only slapped Hollywood in the face, but also threw his fellow critics under the bus who dared to enjoy Up (and 97% of them did).

White revealed just what a badass he is with 4 simple words: NOBODY DARES MOCK PIXAR. His hatred of the studio is so predictable that, when Up had a 100% going for a while, someone actually wrote "Enjoy this while it lasts, Armond White hasn't turned in his review yet."

It's in this case that I think White is going against the grain simply to get attention. There are so many contradictions in his review that there's no other explanation.

"Emotional letdown?" Did he get there 20 minutes late? Oh wait, he didn't. He said the first 20 minutes were over-sentimentalized. Makes sense. On the contrary, as I've already written about, those first 20 minutes were incredible. The entire theater was silent, absorbing the story.

Yes, Up was manipulating our emotions. That's what great movies do. They take us places and make us feel things that wouldn't have been possible if we weren't there. White still hasn't figured that out.

Read that sentence again: contemporary news media's unprincipled collusion with Hollywood. What proof does this guy have of collusion? What kind of a conspiracy theory is this? Does Pixar really make horrendous films? Have we all been brainwashed?

No, we haven't. My conclusion is that Armond White is an articulate, intelligent, ego-driven and stubborn film critic who values visuals over dialogue, shuns raunchy comedies, and has an irrational hatred of Pixar and an irrational love of Jason Statham. In most cases he actually feels the way he says he does about films he watches, and in Pixar's case it seems he puts on a show in order to generate attention and traffic.

His career is generally respected amongst his peers, so it looks like he'll continue to have a job reviewing movies. There are users on Rotten Tomatoes that have urged him to kill himself or contract cancer, and some have threatened to kill him themselves. It's not quite that serious. Let's just enjoy his reviews and accept them as transcendent comedy. Thanks for all the laughs, Armond. Keep up the hilarious work.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

David Ortiz, Manny On Steroids in 2003

Ken Griffey, Jr.'s and Frank Thomas' careers are looking more and more impressive as these reports keep coming out. And if Andre Dawson doesn't get into the Hall now, then Cooperstown is a giant sham.

Here's the article from ESPN on Big Papi and Manny. Looks like steroids were what was needed to end the Curse of the Bambino. The Red Sox's two recent titles now have some pretty legitimate asterisks alongside them, which is fine by me. Boston has recently become one of the most hateable sports cities in the country over the last few years. This should shut them up for a bit.

Organic Food: Evil Marketing Ploy? Most Definitely.

As the hippies say, "The corporations are trying to bring us down. I've got some literature you need to read." Ever since I read the first two chapters of Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food, (that's as far as I've gotten) I've become slightly more knowledgeable about what I should be putting into my body, which is why I have Taco Bell 2 to 3 times per week.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Brett Favre Ruins Legacy (Again)

Note from the Luke: this post was written one year ago, but it's somehow even more accurate now. I can't believe we're really being taken down this road again by an indecisive, selfish asshat.



Look at him. Different number, comically large face, and he has no idea what he will one day become.

I'd like to start by saying that I called this from the beginning. When Brett Favre first retired, I had a discussion with one of my die-hard Packer fan friends, who we'll call Even Berard for anonymity's sake. I said that Favre would be back, the Packers wouldn't want him, and he would eventually be traded to Minnesota. That's right, I predicted this from the get-go. I'm a badass.

Well, Even Berard nearly passed out when he heard me say this. A long-winded, albeit eloquent, tirade soon followed. "Brett Favre is the best quarterback of all-time! How can you possibly say the Packers won't want him back? He would be welcomed with open arms! I ask you, Luke, who will be the Packers quarterback if Favre isn't there? Aaron Rodgers? (Here Even laughs condescendingly, which makes me want to punch him squarely in the face) If the Packers turn away Brett Favre, I will no longer follow the team."

This conversation occurred a week or two after Favre's retirement press conference, which can now officially go down as one of the biggest wastes of time in the past few years. More on that later. But first, back to Even. I can't blame him for being so loyal to his boyhood hero. Nostalgia is a powerful thing, folks. It's the reason we pine for the days of the NES, we remember our first girlfriends fondly even though they were likely two-bit hoochies, and little things that are meaningless to everyone else have profound truth to us (for example, the smell of Watermelon Bubblicious instantly transports me back to sunny summer days in Little League).

Sadly, if you're an NFL General Manager, nostalgia cannot enter the picture, ever ever EVER. Ted Thompson knows this, and it seems he's wanted Favre out ever since #4 started toying with the franchise every offseason like an over-excited cat owner. "Am I coming back? Am I retiring? Play with this string while I decide!" The Packers are ready to move on. How ready are they? They plan on starting Aaron Rodgers over him. Yikes. And oh yeah, there's also this: They just offered Brett Favre 20 million dollars to stay retired.

That astounding figure isn't too shocking when you consider that Favre will make $12M simply by putting on a uniform this year, with possible salaries of $13M and $14M in 2009 and 2010. He wants to play, folks. You could see it during his fake retirement press conference that came with readymade fake tears. In that two hour debacle, I got one worthwhile piece of information from Favre when he said "I know I can still play." Right there, I knew he'd be back.

By the way, Brett: you're kind of a moron. Of course you're going to want to retire immediately after a long season! You just froze your ass off in a losing effort in a home playoff game! You're too old for this, right? Yeah! But then...weeks and months go by. Your aging body slowly recovers. You stop thinking about the weather in your last game and start going over and over that last pass you made in your head. Shit. You've made a huge mistake. It's okay, they'll take you back. They always do.

But they won't take you back this time. They're finally moving on. So now what? Well, after whispers of New York and Tampa Bay, it appears that you have 3 current options. Take your 20 million and stay retired, play for the Vikings, or play for the Bears. Just as I predicted. Many people thought the Packers would never trade you to a rival. Turns out those are the only places you'll go. Why? Obviously, you could stick it to Green Bay twice a year.

A lot of people might say that John Elway handled retirement right, and Brett Favre handled it wrong. But this is comparing apples to oranges, success to failure. Elway went out a repeat Super Bowl champion. There's not much more you can do at that point. Favre went out by throwing one of the worst passes of his career. I think he wants to prove that he's still got something in the tank. And Chicago's a good place to prove it! Come on over, Brett! We're happy to have you! And when you do, I'll drive up to Wisconsin and walk around in my new Favre jersey, give Packer fans the gun show, and wave a sign that reads "ENJOY THE AARON RODGERS ERA!"

In your face, Even Berard. You can hop on board as well. It seems that you're looking for a new team to root for, anyway.