Monday, February 22, 2010

The Coolest Pucking Blog Post Ever *UPDATE*

Someone needs to run out to CVS and get me some ice, because I've got the hockey fever. Last weekend, a bunch of Crystal Lake peeps drove out to the Des Moines area to visit Daniel, Son of Bardin. There were many highlights in the all-too-short weekend, and one of them was when four of us played NHL 10 online against pretenders.

As if that dynamite video game weren't enough, last night Team USA gave the heavily favored Canadians a 5-3 glass bottom boat ride. Given the recent run of great hockey, both real and digital, it's safe to say that I'm currently loving hockey more than any other sport.

So to mark the occasion, here are a few videos that make you wish you knew how to fire a slapshot or check someone into the boards. Or at the very least, how to ice skate without wiping out.

These are all incredible plays, but I think my favorite might be #4. In his three seasons with the New York Rangers, Marek Malik scored 6 goals. Total. Yet he pulled out that unreal move for a shootout goal and even made the water bottle atop the net dance a little jig. Where in the world did that come from?

Scott Stevens is on here a number of times. You just did not put your head down when he was on the ice. I remember watching his hit on Paul Kariya (the #2 hit in the video) live with my brother. There's a part that this video doesn't show that I've always remembered.

Kariya was knocked unconscious for a few seconds. After the hit and before the trainers got to him, the camera zoomed in on his face. Eyes closed, body not moving. Kariya looked like he was dead. Suddenly, his eyes shot open and he gasped so hard that it fogged up his visor. Then he got up, brushed himself off and kept playing. Hockey players are badasses.

And to cap off the best pucking blog post of all time, here's the great Randy Moller, play-by-play guy for the Florida Panthers. Get ready for the best goal calls you'll ever hear.

*UPDATE* Here's the extended video of that Stevens hit on Kariya. You can see him wake from unconsciousness, come back from the locker room and light the lamp with a screaming slapper later in the game. Paul Kariya is a man. Thanks to Bighead for finding the video.

Friday, February 19, 2010

My Favorite Live Music Video Ever

Because NBC is a bunch of jags with its SNL content, hurry up and watch this video before it gets taken down. Rolling Stone editor David Fricke admitted he screwed up when he excluded Pearl Jam guitarists Mike McCready and Stone Gossard from the magazine's Top 100 Guitarists of All Time list. This video shows you why.

Pearl Jam - Alive @ SNL
Uploaded by Olpio. - Watch more music videos, in HD!

Ho-lee Shnikes. I've seen this video close to a hundred times and I still can't get enough. This is Pearl Jam in the early 90s, rocking harder than any other performer that I've seen on SNL. Thoughts:
  • The SNL crowd is beyond stoked to hear these guys. The host (is that Sharon Stone?) can barely introduce the band with all the screaming.
  • Eddie Vedder's voice is lights out. It sounds just like it does on Ten, the album Alive is on. Almost 20 years later, playing 3 hour show after 3 hour show, Vedder is still singing. Unreal. My voice would be destroyed at that point.
  • Stone Gossard's guitar intro to Alive is legendary. Nuff said.
  • Jeff Ament and the drummer (I think it's Dave Abbruzzese but I'm not sure) have a solid rapport going throughout the performance. The bass player and the drummer hold the rhythm and you can tell they were on the same page.
  • Up until the 3:30 mark, the guitarist on the left, Mike McCready, just kind of hangs out, making you wonder if his axe is even plugged in or if he's there just for show. Then his solo starts. And holy shit, ladies. This is how you play rock guitar. Some guys can fly along the fret board, others can really make their guitar sing with a beautiful solo that still fits the foundation of the song, but not very many can do both. Mike McCready can do both. Whenever I watch this video, I have to rewind to the start of the solo at least once. It's perfect.

Are there any bands out there that have emerged in the last 5 years that can rock like this? If so, please post their name in the comments section. I'd love to hear them. I missed out on the grunge era as it was happening and I've been trying to make up for that fact for a while now. You see, Pearl Jam exploded at roughly the same time the Bulls' dynasty did, but I was 8 years old and sweatpants-clad, oblivious to the history being made around me. CRIMINY!!

Best Actress: 2010 Oscar Preview

Note from Luke: This post was written by Bighead, resident film guru at Common Vents. Check out his other Oscar preview posts using the links below.

[Top 10 Snubs]
[Supporting Actress]
[Supporting Actor]

5. Gabourey Sidibe - Precious

As I've mentioned before, everybody is loving Precious except for me so this nomination was pretty much guaranteed for Gabourey Sidibe. (SPOILER ALERT) She plays the overweight, illiterate teen who is pregnant with her father's second child and the punchline of the movie is that she has AIDS. I don't know what a good performance is in that type of plot line.

Did I feel bad for her? Yes. Was it difficult to watch? Yes. Did I like it when people such as her teacher were actually nice to her? Of course. But I'm pretty sure I would have felt the same way if a broom played the part. I'm not saying that because Sidibe is a horrible actress. She's not. But the content just made her performance seem secondary.

Personally, I wouldn't have given her the nod for Best Actress, but her road to the Oscars has been a nice story and I hope she has a blast on the red carpet. But that's likely the most she's going to get.

4. Helen Mirren - The Last Station

The Last Station was the movie I knew the least about going into the Oscar buzz, but I really enjoyed the film. One of the main reasons was Helen Mirren.

She plays Sofya Tolstoy, the wife of War and Peace author Leo Tolstoy (Christopher Plummer, nominated for Best Supporting Actor) and complements his mundane approach to perfection. Somehow she was able hate him more than anything in her life while still being completely in love with him.

This is Mirren's fourth nomination (she won the Best Actress Oscar three years ago for The Queen), so obviously, she can act. But Best Actress is probably the most competitive acting category this year so she's won't be a two-time winner in 2010. She was great in The Last Station, but this year there's a better British performance and also a better veteran actress performance, so Helen is out.

Side note: She's really hot for 64.

3. Carey Mulligan - An Education

The next three names on my list have been swapped back and forth so many times that I've lost count. I had Carey Mulligan bringing home Oscar the entire week before I wrote this, and I'm glad she's getting all of the recognition, but I'm sad to say I copped out by playing the "she'll get her chance later in life" card. I'm mad at myself. But if I had to pick one person that I would most enjoy seeing Oscar with when the night is over, it'd be her.

Shia LaBeouf is a lucky man. I'm pretty sure if any British woman showed any interest in me whatsoever, I'd marry her on the spot. I just get mesmerized for some reason. I may need professional help to stop this feeling. I'll run down the list of British women who could have complete control over me if they wanted:
  1. Carey Mulligan
  2. Rachel Weisz
  3. Kristin Scott Thomas
  4. Kate Beckinsale
  5. Emily Blunt
  6. Kate Winslet
  7. Helena Bonham Carter
The list is way, way longer but we need to move on.

Mulligan is one of the hot new things in Hollywood and her performance in An Education has been getting very worthy hype since it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah last year. And although she was indeed amazing in it, any awards she is given should have an "Assisted by Peter Sarsgaard" sign on it. To see why, keep your eyes peeled for my Best Picture preview.

2. Meryl Streep - Julie & Julia

Julie & Julia was boring, predictable and altogether stupid...and then Meryl Streep came on screen. She's the best.

The memories I have of Julia Child are watching her on TV and barely moving while I stayed home sick from elementary school. She would kind of just stand there and make comments while some more mobile cook actually did the work. However, that was her in the later part of her life so let's just say I was pleasantly surprised at Streep's energy and charisma while she cooked, ate, and talked... and talked...and talked. When she and Stanley Tucci were on screen I had a smile on my face that wouldn't go away. Even though she may very well walk away with her third Oscar, I copped out again by playing the "she's had her statue. give it to somebody else" card. I'm mad at myself again.

FUN FACT ALERT: This is Meryl Streep's 16th Oscar nomination. Let me put this accomplishment in perspective for you. Including their nominations for this year, the nine other women nominated for Oscars in 2010 (Best Supporting Actress, Best Actress) have 14 combined career nominations, which happens to be TWO LESS THAN MERYL STREEP. Between nine people. Three of the best male actors of all time, Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington and Robert DeNiro, have 16 combined nominations, tying Meryl. Oh, and this is her third nomination in the last four years, so she's not really showing signs of slowing down. She's pretty good at what she does. And because she's really down to earth and totally badass, she'd be the first to say that she also has the most losses in history.

Watch Streep in Doubt (in which she got a nomination for last year) and then watch her in Julie & Julia and see the very noticeable range she has.

1. Sandra Bullock - The Blind Side

I really want the Oscar and Razzie for Best/Worst Actress to go to the same person this year. Sandra is nominated for each.

The Blind Side by Michael Lewis was a book that had Michael Oher as its protagonist. I don't know if the movie script was originally written as it turned out on screen, but the film did not center on Michael Oher. It was about Leigh Anne Tuohy saving Michael Oher, and Sandra Bullock owned the screen the whole time. Something that I initially figured would be, at best, a nice, feel-good summer movie now has its lead actress as the front-runner for this year's Oscars.

Bullock and Streep have swapped every award this year (they even tied at the Critics' Choice Awards with a very memorable lip lock to seal the deal) and this one is still up in the air. I'm just picturing most Academy members who are on the fence saying "Meryl Streep has two Oscars. She gets nominated every year so we'll probably give her another chance next year anyway. She doesn't need it. Sandra Bullock may never be nominated again." So my guess is that we'll hear: "And the Oscar goes too...Sandra Bullock!"

She is known for making C-minus romantic comedies, so to see her take control and capture a real life character so well was a breath of fresh air, and she deserves the Oscar for her surprising, uplifting performance.

The Oscars are March 7th, but until then, watch for more of my previews. Peace.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

3 Things To Get You Through Hump Day

I got just five hours of sleep last night thanks to an super-intense Modern Warfare 2 sesh with Chrome-Dog. He actually came over to the apartment to play. How did The Jess react, you ask? Well, she made barbeque chicken wings and sweet potato fries and only made fun of us once the entire night, when we were having an active debate regarding whether to equip our ACR with FMJ or a grenade launcher. And trust me, things were WAY nerdier than that at times. Excellent restraint by The Jess.

On top of that, she knew I didn't get much sleep last night, so waiting for me when I got to work was an email from her with an array of content like lolcats, a picture of a monkey dressed as a cowboy while riding a dog, and an assortment of Arrested Development and 30 Rock quotes. A lot of people know me pretty well, but no one knows me like my Jess.

So to pay it forward, here are some things to help get you through your hump day.

1. Know Your Meme

First, thanks to @acegrl for introducing me to KYM.

This is my new favorite site, and it's absolutely insane how much fun you can have on here. Before I go into it any further, here's a lesson: the word 'meme' rhymes with 'cream.' Do not pronounce it 'may-may' or 'me-me,' or else you'll sound like a big, fat reed. I may or may not have thought it was pronounced may-may before I googled it. Don't make the same mistake.

KYM says its goal is "Documenting Internet phenomena: viral videos, image macros, catchphrases, web celebs and more." It tracks the origin and eventual explosion of these Internet phenomena, and also provides examples, typically submitted by readers. Some of my favorite memes:
  • Nic Cage as Everyone: Takes the actor's face and throws it on pictures, like the one above. That Nic Cage photo also fits the "Argument is Invalid" meme.
  • Ramirez! Do Everything! My personal favorite meme so far thanks to my MW2 addiction. During the game's Campaign mode, Sergeant Foley routinely yells at Ramirez to perform various tasks to complete missions. Foley never calls out anyone but Ramirez. Thus, 'Ramirez! Do Everything!' was born. My personal favorite variations include 'Ramirez! Throw Your Knife at the AC130!' 'Ramirez! Divide By Zero!' and 'Ramirez! Help Me Beat New Super Mario Bros Wii! It's Too Hard!'
  • Crasher Squirrel: A fuzzy little guy who can't help being a dick by ruining photos.
  • Sewer Horse: He's always watching.
  • Grammar Nazi: Here's the one that fits me the best. Whenever someone has a typo in their text, I feel compelled to point it out. Ironically, the people correcting idiots and their horrendous grammar are usually the ones who are ostracized by the rest of the group. But as the chart below shows, the Internet community generally likes bringing up Nazis to try to put an end to a lengthy online discussion, be they Grammar, White Supremacist, or Soup.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Brahs of the Month: STD and T-Star

In the inaugural edition of Brah of the Month, we're starting off with a double dip. I went to high school with T-Star and STD. I graduated a year before them and we were relatively tight at Crystal Lake South, home of the Gators, but until last week I hadn't seen either of them in years. And last week they completely bailed me out, as you'll soon read. Before we bring back Preston and Shane to emcee, let's get some background info on the nicknames of my February 5th heroes.

This one is straightforward. Her first name starts with a T and she always wanted to be a star. Done and done.

This is slightly more complicated. In 8th grade, little STD was playing a board game with her 8th grade friends. She and another girl had S.D. as their initials, so to differentiate between the two, the first girl was referred to as Sa.D. (the a being the 2nd letter of her first name) and St.D. for her. The girls burst out laughing, and a nickname that lasted longer than a presidential term was born.

I can relate to this. When I was in 7th grade, one William Grant Benson lay the first ever nose joke upon me. The other people in the room exploded in laughter, and at that point it was all over. It's a strange feeling to know that an event just occurred that changed everything, and you were powerless to stop it.

It's so heartbreaking, especially considering the amount of work put in throughout middle school to avoid embarrassment. More effort is put forth on this front than on actually doing schoolwork. Pants are belted extra tightly. The latest clothing brands are purchased and worn every day. Erections are concealed with tactical strategies the United States' military would be proud of.

But that's not enough. Even after doing all that work, Fate rushes in with a flying kick to the balls (or a flying punch to the boob). When a new nickname is bestowed upon you without your consent, there's nothing you can do. You can't get pissed. You can't laugh it off. You can't ignore it. All you can do is recognize these turning-point events in life and think to yourself, "Well, I'm boned."

Eventually, you can laugh at these nicknames and even embrace them, as STD and Nosehead have by now. But that doesn't change the fact that middle school is a big, fat shit pile.

Preston and Shane: Howzit, brah?

Luke: Oh, hey guys. I didn't even get to introduce you.

: Well, we thought we'd jump in without your permission. I mean, you were being such a candy-ass BITCH. Am I right?

Shane: Oh, TOTALLY, brah! "Boo hoo, middle school was so hard! I was so awkward and I couldn't control my boners!" Let me tell you something, brah: I OWNED middle school. I rocked pre-algebra, ran track and played basketball, I had a natural 6-pack and I must have been pretty good at baseball too because I totally rounded 3rd base with Kelly Piatkowski. UP TOP!

Preston and Shane high five. Luke watches them, and he must admit, their form is commendable.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Best Supporting Actor: 2010 Oscar Preview

Note from Luke: This post was written by Bighead, resident film guru at Common Vents. Check out his other Oscar preview posts using the links below.

[Top 10 Snubs]
[Supporting Actress]

And here we go. From worst-to-first, here are the nominees for Best Supporting Actor. It should be noted that this order doesn't necessarily reflect who I think will win. It reflects who I think most deserves the Oscar.

5. Matt Damon - Invictus

I may have mentioned this already, but it's worth repeating: Invictus was not good. Unfortunately for Matt Damon, that makes me dislike his performance more than I normally would. So I've gone over it many times trying to find the positives that I didn't notice the first time through. I guess I found a few...

Damon plays South African rugby player Francois Pienaar, so that meant he had to a.) get his body jacked up and b.) rock the very noticeable South African accent, and he did both perfectly adequately. And playing opposite Morgan Freeman's portrayal of Nelson Mandela gave him some good exchanges. But the movie was unnecessarily boring so I didn't care much.

You can blame Clint Eastwood's questionable direction for your spot on my list, Matt.

4. Stanley Tucci - The Lovely Bones

I'm really glad I saw Stanley Tucci in Julie & Julia right after I saw him in The Lovely Bones. If I hadn't I'm pretty sure I'd hate him for the rest of my life.

Certain characters in cinematic lore are so offputting and creepy that you can actually hate that actor forever because of his performance (i.e. Joaquin Phoenix in Gladiator). Usually it's something you're unaware of, but a when a talented actor meets an extremely evil character, the repercussions can be catastrophic.

Tucci was no different. He makes your skin crawl at the sight of him. His hair. His voice. His mustache. It all comes together into the psychotic character that is George Harvey. This unsettling feeling that you get with these characters usually means the actor did a good job, and Tucci was no different. He completely killed it (no pun intended).

3. Woody Harrelson - The Messenger

The Messenger centers around two soldiers who are stationed in the United States. Their sole job is to inform Next of Kin (NOK) that a family member has died in the war in Iraq. I give credit to Alessandro Camon and and Oren Moverman (the film's screenwriters) for showing something that I previously viewed as a tragic, but simple, process and breaking it down for my ignorant mind. The men who must break the worst news imaginable to complete strangers have a job as horrifying as any other soldier in the military. There are rules you follow. There are procedures that you cannot break. You have to hope for the worst reactions, and pray for the best (if there really is a "good" reaction).

Harrelson then brings the character together showing discipline, care and sympathy. He walks a fine line as well, for too much of any one of those elements could make the already terrible situation worse. I can't imagine doing this job for the military, but it looked and sounded like Harrelson had been doing it for years.

Side note: he's near the top of my list for Actor of 2009. He had two great roles last year, both in The Messenger and in Zombieland, which he owned.

2. Christopher Plummer - The Last Station

There's a certain swagger that some grizzled actors get when they're in their later years. And by "later years" I don't mean over 50 years old. I'm talking about the veterans that were around in the silent film era. I don't know if Plummer is senile and he actually believes he IS the characters he plays, but Captain Von Trapp can do no wrong at this point in his acting career. Everything he does seems to be as genuine as any documentary.

Plummer plays Leo Tolstoy in the last months of his life, when the decision of whether to give his inheritance to his family or to the Russian public was in question. Seeing him and Hellen Mirren banter back and forth was a pure joy to watch. Which leads me to why I love and hate the politics of the Academy...

If the Academy put Plummer in the running for Best Actor, that means he misses a nomination by a long shot. So I love that he finally got the recognition he deserves. However, saying that he is a supporting character while Hellen Mirren is a lead character is just plain stupid. If you take Plummer out of the equation, the movie suffers as much, if not more, than if you take Mirren out.

Most people don't have Plummer high on their lists, but the 80-year-old deserved to have his name finally in contention, and I'd pick him to win if not for the next guy on this list.

1. Christoph Waltz - Inglourious Basterds

In all of this year's Oscars, you won't find a bigger lock than this.

Right after watching Inglourious Basterds, I found myself thinking "why did I LIKE that Nazi? Is there something wrong with me?" I thought about that for a good twenty minutes, and it turns out that when I went through the movie in my head I remembered that he was a psychotic killer who deserved much more than just a swastika carved into his head. There is no reason on Earth that any normal American should respect or like anything resembling a Nazi, but Christoph Waltz had me going for a second.

He spoke three languages in the film (German, French and English), and he speaks each language so smoothly and confidently that you begin to believe what he's saying. Waltz could have gone into this role as a crazed Nazi soldier who yells, swears, looks dominant and kills anything in sight, but instead he made his character well-mannered and subtle, one who views his job in the Nazi army as just that: a job. Because of that, viewers find themselves strangely accepting of him. Both Quentin Tarantino and Christoph Waltz have been stressing the fact that "good people aren't always good, and evil people aren't always evil" and it showed in the character.

The only beef I have is that with an ensemble cast like Inglourious Basterds, everyone is a supporting actor even though they can all be seen as lead actors. If Waltz is a supporting actor in this movie, then I don't know who you would call the lead. But the ensemble cast is typical of Tarantino, so it's not really much of a gripe.

For the third year in a row, four of the five men nominated for Best Supporting Actor don't need to show up. If you can name the Best Supporting Actors from the past two years without Googling it, well done.

The Oscars are March 7th. Until then, watch for more of my previews. Peace.

One final note: Mom, do not watch Inglorious Basterds. Ever, ever, ever. No.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Why I'm Switching to Old Spice

My cell phone alarm is a total dick. It never says to itself, "Wow, Luke looks really comfortable today. You know what? I'll give him a few extra minutes of sleep. What harm could it do?"

Instead, it sends me brain waves that wake me up 10 minutes before the alarm is set to go off. When that happens, I just lay in bed and hate my life until it goes off. Waking up a few minutes before your alarm is not pleasant.

Obviously, I'm not a morning person. Whenever I wake up for work I have a serious battle with myself for 10 or 15 seconds about whether or not I'm quitting my job so I can get more sleep. And I LOVE my job. I'm just trying to explain what mornings are like for me, so you can appreciate the miracle performed by this commercial.

This ad snapped me out of my zombie-like state and actually made me crack up just 15 minutes after I got out of bed. I laughed harder at this than I did during any Super Bowl ad. I even rewound the DVR and watched it a second time. This is a miraculous feat, and I shall reward Old Spice by switching back to their body wash. As Old Spice itself says on the YouTube video description, "We're not saying this body wash will make your man smell into a romantic millionaire jet fighter pilot, but we are insinuating it. "

Sold. Despite the puzzling use of the word 'into,' a thousand times sold.

Other Items:
Thanks to @wottenhoff for introducing me to a couple great sites yesterday. Just click on the images to transport yourself to the respective web sites. Happy Hump Day.

Monday, February 8, 2010

2010 Oscar Preview: Best Supporting Actress

Note from Luke: This post was written by Bighead, resident film guru at Common Vents. You can read his post on the Top 10 Oscar Snubs here.

Let's get right to it. From worst-to-first, here are the nominees for Best Supporting Actress. It should be noted that this order doesn't necessarily reflect who I think will win. It reflects who I think most deserves the Oscar.

5. Penelope Cruz - Nine

I don't want to put Penelope Cruz's Oscar chances at 0%, but I might as well for two reasons. 1) She won Best Supporting Actress last year, and 2) She starred in one of the biggest cinematic disappointments of the year.

Before I saw Nine, I noticed there were 7 Oscar wins and 19 total nominations amongst the cast. Inexplicably, the best casting choice in Nine is Fergie. That should tell you what a disappointment the film is. Fergie did exactly what I was expecting her to do. She sang, danced and looked hot. Perfect casting! I don't want to hear Daniel Day-Lewis sing. I don't want to hear Dame Judi Dench sing. I don't want to hear Penelope Cruz sing. I want to see them act because, get this: they are all actors.

Saying Penelope Cruz was one of the top five supporting actress performances this year is just dumb. And how Marion Cotillard got snubbed (I saw Nine after I made my "Snubbed" list) I'll never know. Cotillard can act AND sing. She belongs in musicals moreso than Penelope Cruz, and she definitely deserved a supporting actress nod above Cruz.

Side note: I really hope Marion performs "Take It All" come Oscar Night. HOT.

4. Vera Farmiga - Up In the Air

Up In the Air was one of my favorite movies of the year and one of the reasons was the banter between George Clooney and Vera Farmiga. She played the powerful CEO/modern woman to perfection and although I probably should have hated her at the end of the movie...I didn't. Very few people, if any, could have played this role as well as she did.

Unfortunately, she's going to be overlooked by the Academy because of somebody else on this list.

3. Maggie Gyllenhaal - Crazy Heart

I either really love Maggie Gyllenhaal (Donnie Darko, Stranger Than Fiction) or really hate her (Mona Lisa Smile, The Dark Knight) so I was as up in the air as George Clooney when it came to her performance in Crazy Heart. I mean, did you SEE her in The Dark Knight? She was even worse than Bale's Batman voice. Watching the scene between Heath Ledger and Maggie when he crashes the party was like watching Michael Jordan vs. Craig Ehlo. Technically they're doing the same thing, but one's just so much better than the other.

But her performance in Crazy Heart was different, and kind of confusing. I think the easiest thing for me to do is break it down in the movie's chronological order.

  1. Maggie as a reporter: Boring
  2. Bad Blake creeping on Maggie: Awkward
  3. Maggie making out with Bad Blake: Creepy
  4. Maggie with her kid: Realistic
  5. Maggie when her child is missing: Heart-wrenching
  6. Maggie mad at Bad: Amazingly powerful

The more I think about it, the more I loved her in this movie. And although I was questioning it at first, this is an extremely well-deserved nomination...but Oscar's not for her this year.

2. Mo'Nique - Precious (Based on the blah blah blah...)

Let's get this out of the way: Mo'Nique is going to win Best Supporting Actress. I know it. Everybody else knows it. But she shouldn't. Everybody is loving Precious: Based On the Novel Push by Sapphire and the Title keeps on Going For No Reason and It Never Fits on the Marquee but I'm not. I liked the last scene she was in and that was it.

The rest of her performance is just her being a bitch, and I don't consider that to be difficult or extraordinary acting. But Mo'Nique has won every award there is, and she will win the Oscar. Any Academy members who were on the fence were most likely swayed in her direction when she gave her speech at the Golden Globes. It was a pretty f-ing awesome speech.

1. Anna Kendrick - Up in the Air

This is the best supporting performance of the year, male or female. I'm saying that right now. In this role, Kendrick is powerful, yet unsure of herself. Serious, yet funny. Awkward, yet sexy. Unfortunately, there are three things preventing Anna Kendrick from taking home Oscar:

  1. She's splitting votes with Vera Farmiga.
  2. Mo'Nique is very smooth and has the aforementioned momentum.
  3. Anna Kendrick also stars in the Twilight series, lessening her credibility.

Fortunately for Anna, when the Academy chooses to be kooky with their votes, it's usually for supporting categories so I'm still keeping my fingers crossed.

The Oscars are March 7th, but until then, get ready to read more of my previews. Peace.

The Facebook Double Dip

Everything's Coming up Milhouse!

Just days after being contacted by one Baron Boronski (proof), I find this ad in my Facebook sidebar. And this is NOT an ad that changes its text to fit the profile of the person looking at it. If it simply said "Hey! 26-year-old! Want an iPad?" I'd be all "Pfffff. Whatever, Facebook." But they're looking for a 26-year-old who's also male AND happens to live in Illinois. This ad so eerily fits my life that these can't all be mere coincidences.

This is destiny.

I was planning on buying the absurdly overpriced, obese iPod Touch that's coming soon with my own money. I was going to fund the purchase with some chump change from the millions that are likely coming my way thanks to my new partnership with The Baron. But now, thanks to this new iPad testing gig, it appears I can spend my millions elsewhere. Things just keep going my way!

Facebook 101: How To Murder An Otherwise Great Status Update


If this commenter and Buzz Killington somehow conceived, the resulting offspring would be capable of sucking more fun out of the room than anyone who has ever lived. A tip for said commenter: Before you lecture, do some research. Since you have a Facebook profile, I'm assuming you've heard of Google (they're the company that makes commercials which reduce 26-year-old males from Illinois to tears). The status you commented on is a quote, from one "Liz Lemon." Go ahead and Google her. appears as though Liz Lemon is a fictional character in NBC's 30 Rock.

Therefore, it's astronomically likely that the status you're reading is not how this person actually feels, but it's someone else's words that are being rebroadcast in an effort to brighten the gloom of Monday morning. The proper reaction here is to laugh contentedly to oneself and wonder "Oh, Liz Lemon. Will you EVER find a man?" The improper reaction is to whiff like Dave Kingman and commence the lecturing.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

When Baron Boronski's Business Takes Off, I'm In on the Ground Floor, Baby!

The morning tradition around these parts is to wake up, refuse coffee, drive into work on I90 while fighting off sleep with an abundance of Muse and/or Weezy, park the car at the office and sit at my desk to go over any emails I missed. Usually there are a couple pieces of junk in there. Most of them are pretty underwhelming. Until now.

I just got a personal letter from one Baron Boronski (possibly pictured at right), who happens to be letting me in on the ground floor of a very special project. Below is what the Baron sent to me. Prepare to be jealous.

From: Baron Boronkski (
Subject: A proposal which will benefit both of us
Importance level: !!


I am Baron Boronski .I have a legitimate business proposal for
you.Email me at for more details.

My Regards,
Baron Boronski."

Needless to say, I sent the Baron five emails in 20-minute increments to let him know I was interested in his business proposal. For those of you who are worried that 1) His use of punctuation is rather odd, 2) His email address is not an AOL one, but a very spammy looking one, and 3) He doesn't actually say what his business proposal is, well, you simpletons just don't know how these things work.

The guy's name is Baron Boronski, folks. BARON. BORONSKI. Can a name GET any more badass? With a name like that, it doesn't matter what business he's got in mind. The product sells itself! I'm ready to invest in anything, whether it's a shitty frozen pizza company or a puzzlingly obsolete fighter pilot academy whose students are trained to shoot down WWI flying aces and/or sassy beagles.

The baron obviously needs my help, or he wouldn't have flagged the email with a double-exclamation mark importance level. Sometimes those of us with servants' hearts are rewarded. Oftentimes it's intangible rewards, but rarely the reward can come in the form of monetary compensation.

Once I'm independently wealthy I'll reward the rest of you who have servants' hearts by making you my maids and butlers. THANK YOU, BARON BORONSKI!

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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Top 10 Oscar Snubs

Note from Luke: This post was written by Bighead, resident movie guru at Common Vents. Be on the lookout for more of his Oscar previews in the next month.

#10: Capitalism: A Love Story (Best Documentary)

I haven't seen any of the documentaries up for an Oscar this year (and I won't). This means I haven't seen Capitalism: A Love Story, but it's making the list just because a snubbed Michael Moore is the best kind of Michael Moore. I'm really glad I won't have to hear him talk about how much America sucks.

Surprisingly, the most enjoyable project Michael Moore has been involved with was in Team America, a film he did not direct, but merely fake-acted in. Fake Moore played a dangerously obese suicide bomber who detonated in the middle of Team America HQ, triggering (pun!) a series of events that climaxed (remix!) when Spottswoode forced Gary into an act of extreme loyalty.

#9: Invictus/Clint Eastwood (Best Picture/Best Director)

The Academy loves Clint Eastwood and everything that he makes. Add that fact to the decision to expand the Best Picture category to 10 films, and you get an obligatory Best Picture nod for Invictus, right? Well, apparently not.

Before the nominations were announced I put Invictus at the bottom of my Best Picture nominees. Eastwood completely blew it by somehow making this amazing story with two amazing actors amazingly boring. I know Clint doesn't like to do a lot of takes, but it was like he put this high budget movie together in about a week. This snub is completely deserved and I applaud the academy for choosing The Blind Side as its sports movie of the year.

#8: "Stu's Song" The Hangover (Best Original Song)

All of Ed Helms' campaigning wasn't enough to get it into contention. I would've loved to see the orchestra perform it at the classy Academy Awards like 2000's "Blame Canada" for South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut.

I love me some Ed Helms. He was a standout on The Daily Show and he's a standout in The Office and The Hangover. Just look at that picture. Glorious.

#7: Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber (500) Days of Summer (Best Original Screenplay)

Have you seen this movie yet? I haven't talked to one person who didn't enjoy (500) Days. The movie is a flat-out delight, and it's mostly thanks to the superbly crafted love story. It was completely clever and completely original, so much so that the only reason for its snubbing that I can come up with is the brutally hipster parentheses in the title. Yes, (500) Days, we get it. You're an Indie flick. Do you know how hard parentheses are to type? It's completely inefficient, and even worse, the parentheses don't seem to serve a purpose. This is why you were snubbed.

Regardless, this is a fantastic movie. But even if it DID get a nomination, it had no chance against the likes of Tarantino, the Coens and Pixar.

#6: Star Trek (Best Picture)

Ever since The Dark Knight, movie makers are starting to understand what it takes to make a quality superhero/sci-fi movie. Star Trek was no exception. It injected life into a stale franchise and introduced us to the Next Generation (someone stop me!) of movie stars, including one Zoe Saldana, whom we may see later in this list.

Unfortunately, J.J. Abrams had to release Star Trek in 2009, the year of District 9 and, of course, Avatar. All this does is reinforce my theory that adults named J.J. are big, fat idiots. Let's be frank here, people. Star Trek was great, but three sci-fi Best Picture nominations just was not gonna happen. Abrams will have to be content with the mere $385M Star Trek has grossed worldwide.

#5: Emily Blunt The Young Victoria (Best Actress)

She was dynamite in this film, but I'm actually glad that another portrayal of a Queen of England isn't in the mix (they seem to happen every year). Blunt will get her Oscar soon enough. Just wait. She's my "Pick to Click" for the next couple of years.

Some of you may know that Emily Blunt is engaged to John Krasinski of The Office. And while I'm here, let me just say that The Office has BLOWN lately. The big mistake? Putting Jim and Pam together, of course. Where's the drama? There is none, because they're in a happy marriage. BAH, I say! Come on, NBC! Give The Office some life again! Divorce Jim and Pam! Put Jim with the NEW receptionist and create a feud between him and Andy! Are you telling me you wouldn't watch that? EVERYONE WOULD WATCH THAT.

#4: Ben Foster The Messenger (Best Actor)

Jeremy Renner got a nod for his portrayal in The Hurt Locker by playing a bomb squad soldier in the middle of the war in Iraq, and it would've been nice to see Ben Foster get credit for showing what a soldier serving at home has to go through. His performance was better than both Morgan Freeman and Colin Firth, but one "rising star" in the mix is good enough for the Academy.

Which is complete garbage, of course. I don't understand these legacy nominations. Morgan Freeman is a talented actor, yes. But there's one important detail: Invictus was not a good movie. Not in the least. In fact, it was a huge letdown. So why not reward an actor who'd actually appreciate the nomination? Freeman's been through this before. Come on, Academy. Stop rewarding biopic roles and give nominations to people who deserve it.

#3: The Hangover  (Best Picture)

I thought The Hangover's Golden Globe win was going to be enough to put the highest grossing R-rated comedy of all time into contention. It would've been a better "complete" list for the average fan if it took the place of A Serious Man.

It looks as though, even with the expansion to 10 Best Picture nominees, well-made comedies are still going to be overlooked. Making a memorable, quotable and hilarious film is not at all easy, and people who are able to pull it off need to start receiving some recognition come awards time. Maybe when Best Picture expands to 20 nominees they'll finally have justice.

#2: Tobey Maguire Brothers (Best Supporting Actor)

He got nominated for Best Actor at the Golden Globes, but if you put him in the Best Supporting category (where he actually belongs), he's the only man who comes close to taking the Oscar away from Christoph Waltz. Instead, he doesn't even get nominated.

For proof of why this is such a travesty, just watch the last five minutes of Brothers. I was afraid Tobey would jump out of the screen and kill me. In all honesty, I was hoping Natalie Portman would be able to make him happy at the end so I wouldn't have nightmares about him. Never thought Peter Parker, aka Emo Spiderman, could make me feel that way.

#1: Zoe Saldana Avatar (Best Actress)

I keep hearing Zoe doesn't deserve a nomination because Avatar is all special effects. Absolutely incorrect. She had me convinced that she ACTUALLY WAS a member of the Na'vi. And it wasn't the effects, but the raw emotion. If you need proof about Saldana's performance, take a look at Sigourney Weaver. When she was in her Avatar body, fully immersed in the special effects, did you believe she was actually Na'vi? No, you didn't.

Zoe Saldana was essentially wearing super high-tech makeup. More than any other character in Avatar, she convinced me that Pandora was a real place. She needs to be given credit for being the best actor in the highest grossing film of all time.

So that does it. Although these are my "Snubs of the Year" and I've bitched about the Academy from time to time, they really couldn't have gotten it much better. It's a great mix of classic Academy voting and "mainstream" movies that will appeal to all moviegoers.

The Oscars are March 7th, but until then, be on the lookout for more of my previews. Peace.

Monday, February 1, 2010

4 reasons why the Kindle is a better eReader than the iPad

We've all thought it: "Wow, this book sure is wonderful. I only wish I could turn it sideways and read it landscape style!" Thankfully, Apple unveiled the iPad last week. When the #1 reason to buy it is "It's undeniably cool," (proof) it's safe to say the device has issues:

The top-of-the-line model will run you more than $800, not to mention the $130 3G premium fee and the $30/month it will cost you to use the service. On top of that, we have the lack of multitasking, no camera, an intangible keyboard and mystery surrounding what the iPad will do to the already stretched AT&T 3G coverage. Smaller issues basically start and end with the lack of Flash. Big deal for some, not so much for others. But I digress.

What I really want to talk about is the notion that the iPad is a revolutionary eReader that will destroy Amazon's Kindle. As a Kindle owner, I find myself feeling like a parent whose child is being picked on. I need to defend the ones I love.

This is not a new feeling for me. I've long been on the outside, looking in when it comes to Apple products. I own an antiquated iPod (it plays video!) and I use a Mac at work (I hate it. It's slow on its best day and it downright crawls when I have multiple applications running, particularly iWork). That's the extent of my Appledom.

This lack of Apple fandom means some of you have already tuned me out, which is fine. You were going to get the iPad anyway, and nothing I could say will stop you. But for those of you on the fence, intrigued by the iPad's capabilities as an eReader, I have a list for you to take a gander at.

1. Battery Life

Word on the street is the iPad can give you 10 hours of life when fully charged. This sounds impressive until you consider the Kindle runs for two weeks when not connected to its (free) 3G coverage and one week if connected.

iPad: 10 hours max.
Kindle: 336 hours max.