Monthly Archives: July 2009

A Couple of Random Thoughts

This post is nothing special, just a couple of random things I noticed yesterday that I thought I’d write about.

I was covering a youth baseball tournament at the Boys & Girls Club in Machesney Park yesterday. There were four teams, one from Rockford and three from Michigan. The three Michigan teams were from Hutchison, Sterling and Oakland. I’m not sure where those are geographically, but figured I’d throw that in just in case anyone who reads this is familiar with Michigan.

Anyway, it was  a 12-and-under tournament and while I was talking to some of the officials for the tournament, the coach of the Rockford team, an anchor from one of the local TV stations and the coach of the Sterling team, a conversation occurred that sort of struck me.

The anchor asked the Sterling coach where in Michigan Sterling was located, the coach said it was a little north of Detroit and then commented “Right where everyone’s losing their jobs.” The TV anchor (who’s name I’m not omitting, but I honestly just don’t remember, but I will tell you he was from WTVO) then replied “Yeah, that’s the same pretty much everywhere.” The Sterling coach then said the interesting part of the conversation. He smiled and sort of half-chuckled before chiming in with “It’s interesting though. Here you don’t see “For Sale” and “Foreclosure” signs all over the place like you do up there.”

It was just sort of an offhanded comment, he didn’t mean anything by it other than making conversation, but it just sort of made you think. Sure, everyone’s struggling financially nowadays, but you don’t see or hear about it firsthand very often, at least not about the Michigan/Detroit area.

Anyway, I just had sort of found that interesting. On to a lighter note:

Baseball parents are freaking crazy, especially those on the big travel teams like what I was covering Saturday.

All the moms yell. They just yell. Constantly. Even if it’s not a situation where they need to yell, or it doesn’t make any sense, they yell.

“Come on Nick! Be smart Tyler! Stay in there! You can do it! Come on guys! Let’s go B-Dub! Good pitch! Way to go!”

Notice that all of those statements were in one quotation. That’s because they were all said by the same woman and in that order with hardly a breathe between.

Now I understand there’s not really anything wrong with that. It’s great that these kids are getting so much encouragement from there parents, especially at a time when absentee parents are so common. But it was just funny to watch how into these games the parents were.

At one point, a parent’s other kid came up to her during the game. The kid was probably no older than 6 or 8 years old and could’ve cared less about the game. He was running around the complex with other children and he came up to his mom, who was sitting next to another mom, and tapped her on the shoulder. His mom replied:

“Not now, hunny. This is a very important part.”

The other parent then turned to the kid and said:

“Yeah. Now is the time when you can’t bug any parents, OK?”

The kid looked confused and just said “Can I have one dollar?”

The mom, clearly annoyed, gave him the dollar and turned back to the game.

And that’s not even to mention all the dad who couldn’t sit in the stands during the game. They paced back and forth throughout as nervous as can be. And anytime their kid got close enough to the fence that they could talk to him, they would start coaching immediately. Telling the kid things that were so obvious the kid would just nod his head and turn away.

It was utterly ridiculous.

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A Marathon of Epic Proportions

24-hours doesn’t seem like very long unless you think about it. Each day we wake up, do whatever we do for that day, then go to sleep, when we wake up, roughly 24 hours has past.

But when you spend 24 hours doing one thing, 24 hours becomes an eternity. Well that’s what Ben and I are attempting to do: Watching movies for 24 consecutive hours.

 Now before we get started, there are a few things you need to know about us and movies. Watching movies used to be pretty much all Ben and I did. We both started working at a movie theatre at the same time when we were 15-years old and have pretty much been film nuts ever since.

A few summers ago we decided to go through the American Film Institute’s Top 100 American Films of all-time. After crossing out all the ones we had seen already at that point, we went through the list in roughly six months. After that we went through all of the Academy Awards’ Best Picture winners, a list we have still yet to complete because of one or two winners that are nearly impossible to find.

By the time we got through that list, we had already begun embarking on IMDb.com’s Top 250 list, a list that changes frequently because it’s based on user ratings. In all, it’s safe to say we watched more movies over a six month period than most people do in their life.

While we were watching these films, we would often try and stay up as late as we could to get as many as we could in as possible. The best we did was about 7 a.m.

One day we came up with the idea to try and watch films for 24-hours and gave it a shot without any planning ahead of time. We did it, but had to take several breaks because of a different variety of errands we had to run, and finished the day with nowhere near 24 hours of actual film watching.

So this summer, after a few year hiatus of any real, hardcore film watching, we decided to truly embark on a 24-hour movie marathon. We found a 24-hour period where we were both free and would have time after completion for sleep. We got together at Ben’s house (because he has an HDTV and surround sound, I do not), and set our paths toward the goal Monday night with the idea to finish 24-hours after completion.

Because I know you all care so much, I decided to keep a running diary of our marathon.

Monday, July 20

8:25 p.m. – We’re getting set up and have a bunch of Mountain Dew, Laffy Taffy, Cheez-Its, Twizzlers, Sprees, Skittles, and two 5-hour Energy bottles. I feel like I’m 12 again.

8:30 p.m. – The night begins with the Marx Brothers’ “Animal Crackers.” Something upbeat to get us going. 

9:21 p.m. “I woke up one morning and shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, I don’t know.” Probably the most famous Groucho Marx quote. On a side note, I fear one day someone gets the bright idea to re-make a Marx Brothers film with Sacha Baren Cohen in the Groucho role. In fact, forget I said that. Don’t want to give anyone any ideas…

9:35 p.m. – Harpo Marx is nicknamed Harpo because he plays the harp. Why isn’t Chico Marx nicknamed Piano?

10:06 p.m. – “Animal Crackers” has finished and it’s safe to say I laughed harder at it than 90 percent of the comedies that have come out in the past 10 years.

10:10 p.m. – Now starting “Andrei Rublev,” a 3 hour, 25 minute epic by Andrei Tarkovskey made in 1966.

10:34 p.m. – 30 minutes in and we still can’t figure out which character Andrei Rublev is. We have figured out that he’s not the guy who looks like Liam Neeson. He might be the guy who looks like Viggo Mortensen though.

10:43 p.m. – It has been confirmed: Viggo Mortensen is Andrei Rublev. Also confirmed: Living in Russia would blow.

11:12 p.m. – Colleen and Susan arrived so we’re going to pause “Andrei Rublev” because we’re an hour into it and it would be impossible to catch them up. Next up – “The Incredibles,” a movie we have all seen and can enjoy without paying 100 percent attention.

Tuesday, July 21

12:02 a.m. – Brad Bird obviously stole his Edna ‘E’ Mode character from Miss Swan from MadTV.

12:27 a.m. – We came to a consensus that the Incredibles’ daughter is the most worthless superhero ever. First, she couldn’t put a forcefield around the plane to stop the missiles from blowing it up. Then, she just sat there and didn’t help while her mom turned into a boat and her brother paddled them to shore. “They should have aborted her,” Ben said.

12:59 a.m. – OK, so the daughter does save them a couple of times with her forcefield, but all she does is play defense. Still pretty lame compared to all the other Incredibles.

1:08 a.m. – “The Incredibles” is over. Now we’re watching “Sleuth,” a 1972 murder mystery starring Laurence Olivier. Colleen’s gone but Susan is still here. This is the only of the IMDb’s Top 250’s main movies Ben hasn’t seen. I can’t say the same. On a side note, I’ve drank five mountain dews and eaten a ton of Cheez-Its and Twizzlers. I’m full of energy but my stomach feels like poopoo. 

1:22 a.m. – It’s weird to see an old Laurence Olivier. But young Michael Caine is sooo dreamy.

1:40 a.m. – This entire movie has been Olivier and Caine conversing and now they’re prancing around and I’m deathly afraid this is going to turn into some sort of gay romp. I don’t need to watch “Bruno” again.

2:11 a.m. – One hour, 3 minutes into “Sleuth” is the first time lapse in the entire film. Just a lot of incredible dialogue between Olivier and Caine. This film is pretty awesome, and I have no idea how the next hour and 15 minutes are going to end up.

2:49 a.m. – Even with 30 minutes left, “Sleuth” is absolutely the highlight of the night thus far. Check it out it you haven’t seen it yet. It’s unfortunate it was released the same year as “The Godfather,” where Marlon Brando beat out both Caine and Olivier for Best Actor and Francis Ford Coppola beat out Joseph L. Mankiewicz for Best Director. Understandable, but a damn shame.

3:28 a.m. – “Sleuth” is over. Incredible. I haven’t seen last year’s remake starring Jude Law and Caine in Olivier’s role, but I wouldn’t expect it to even touch this. The performances were incredible. Now, time for a mini-break to refuel. We are at exactly 7 hours down, 17 hours to go.

3:35 a.m. – OK, back for more. Susan’s out. She slept through half of “Sleuth” anyway. We’re putting “Andrei Rublev” back in for 2 and a half hours of more Russian excitement! Can you feel the rush?!?!?!

4:43 a.m. – “Andrei Rublev” is confusing. It might just be because I’m tired though. What I can tell you is that I’ve seen numerous horses stabbed, a cow set on fire and a chicken get run over. None of this was fake. If this film were made today, PETA would be all over their asses. Oh, also, I ate a Pop-Tart. First thing of substance I’ve eaten since this has started, if you consider that substance.

6:08 a.m. – “Andrei Rublev” is finally over. It sure was epic, but also long and drawn out and very tiresome. I’m glad we got that one out of the way though. A couple of things to note: The title character was a spitting image of Viggo Mortensen, as stated before. Another one of the prominent characters looked like Liam Neeson, but in the latter stages of the film turned into UFC fighter Keith Jardine. Also, my note about the animal abuse was wrong… sort of. According the the trivia on the film’s IMDb page, the cow that was set on fire was covered in asbestos to protect it from burning, and the horse that fell down the stairs was shot in the head, and was borrowed from a slaughterhouse so they just used it for the film. Does that make it all OK? I’m not so sure. But at least I got an explanation. Time to go drink more Dew and then we’re going to embark on the 4 1/2 hour epic that is Steven Soderbourgh’s “Che.” It’s actually two 2 hour, 15 minute films, but the entire epic was split up into two films, so it’s going to be long nonetheless. We’re closing in on our 10th hour of film-watching.

7:09 a.m. – Just took a 5-hour energy. I’ve never had one before but I’m really struggling through the beginning of “Che.” Nothing against the film, just incredibly tired. I also REALLY want some Taco Bell. Hopefully this energy stuff works.

8 p.m. – Mini tacos in my belly are the first thing of substance I’ve eaten since we started. The 5-hour Energy definitely worked. I’m pretty awake now and we’ve got about one hour left in part one of “Che.” It’s pretty interesting. I’m coming up with less and less interesting things to say as the night, err… morning drags on. Hopefully I’ll come up with more to say later this afternoon.

8:45 a.m. – First part of “Che” is over. It’s safe to say now that the 5-hour energy didn’t last five hours. It worked for a bit… but then I ate some mini tacos and Cheez-Its and I drank some Mountain Dew. Now my chest hurts and this running diary is starting to sound like a “Collin whines about being tired” session. I’m guessing “Hour Energy” wasn’t as marketable of a product, so they decided to put a “5” in front of it. Part two of “Che” is forthcoming, and we’re officially more than halfway home. 

9:02 a.m. – Here’s an exchange between Ben and I that was so funny, it’s a sign we’re getting tired. Ben saw a guy who he thought was Jeffrey Wright. Ben: Jeffrey Wright!. Collin: Not him. Ben: Jeffrey Wrong. Laughter ensues.

10:03 a.m. – Things are starting to get a little shaky. Both of us are in danger of nodding off while watching the second part of “Che.” These next two or three hours are going to be the toughest to stay awake. After that, friends should join us and make it easier to stay awake. Also, I still really want Taco Bell and Matt Damon just made a cameo in this film speaking Spanish. No joke.

11:01 a.m. – OK I definitely dozed off a little bit toward the end of “Che” Part 2. Now we’re sitting here trying to decide what to watch next. We’re officially under 10 hours left and it’s torture. TORTURE!!!

12:01 p.m. – I somehow keep updating this at the beginning of the hour. After “Che,” we ended up decided to lighten things up by re-watching “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.” The best irony of this film is admitted Communist Sterling Hayden playing Jack D. Ripper, the Air Force General who orders the strike on the Soviets.

1:15 p.m. – We may or may not have left the house briefly to get lunch due to a lack of filling food in the house. But I digress. The point is, we’re on the home-stretch. After finishing “Dr. Strangelove,” we’re wrapping things up with both Kill Bill’s (on Blu Ray!) and then “Magnolia,” which is one of my five favorite films of all time. The good news – We’re both wide awake at this point.

1:25 p.m. – SPOILER ALERT: Having both seen “Kill Bill,” the question was brought up during The Bride’s fight with Vivica A. Fox as to whether or not she would have extracted her revenge on all the other members of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad had she known her daughter was alive at the time. The consensus is that she wouldn’t have, but still would have gone after Bill.

1:45 p.m. – O-Ran Ishii just won the award for being the sexiest member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. Yet another sign that I’ve been up for 25 consecutive hours, 17 of which have been spent watching movies.

I think now is as good of time as ever to point out that the night before our 24-hour marathon I was unable to fall asleep until 6 a.m. Woke up at 11 a.m. to finish writing a speech for my summer class. Went and gave the speech, came home and played a softball game (in which I hit a 2B and made two amazing defensive plays in a rare, 5-4 victory), and then came to Ben’s. He, on the other hand, was able to nap before we started, and took a shower during one of our mini-breaks. I did not have that luxury. So I think in the “Who was more impressive in staying up?” contest, I win. Not that this is a contest or anything.

2:11 p.m. – Another question for debate: Are the Crazy 88’s just the name of the gang, or does it insinuate that there are 88 of them? The number is never specified, but most of the audience assumes it means there are 88 of them. These are things you wonder when you see a movie a dozen times.

2:53 p.m. – “Kill Bill: Volume 1” is complete. Number two coming up. “Kill Bill” = Awesome. “Kill Bill” on Blu Ray = Unspeakably Awesome.

3:17 p.m. – My Crazy 88’s question was answered by Bill in Part Two. Apparently I didn’t remember that conversation from seeing these movies previously.

3:37 p.m. – We just looked up the Guinness World Record for consecutive movie watching. It was set during some marathon contest held by Netflix back in 2007 and was set at 123 hours, 10 minutes. Seems nearly impossible. 24 hours is hard enough.

4:19 p.m. – How lame would “Kill Bill” be if Bill’s name were Greg instead? Or perhaps Jake? Anthony?

5:24 p.m. – Finishing up the marathon with “Magnolia,” one of my top five all-time favorites. Sure, it’s another three hours, but it moves like an hour and a half. Haven’t watched it in about a year and am pretty excited to watch it again.

7:15 p.m. – Maybe it’s because I’m tired, maybe it’s because it’s one of my favorite films, but I’m incredible annoyed anytime someone in the room talks while watching “Magnolia.” Susan is back, Andrew is here and Erik is here, but I just want them all to shut up. I love this film. I need sleep.

8:05 p.m. – VICTORY!! OK, so we’re 25 minutes short. Sue us. What are we going to watch for 25 minutes? I’m not going to lie, right around 7 a.m. I didn’t think there was any way we’d make it this far, but we did it. Only 100 more hours to the world record. Hah. Time to go into a coma.

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MMA and UFC Here to Stay, Despite What Old Guys Say

Jake Rossen of Sherdog.com via ESPN.com wrote a column today about mixed martial arts. In it, he wrote that the UFC is not ready for mainstream basically because a bunch of old guys said so.

There are quote in the story from the LA Times’ T.J. Simers and CBS’s Ray Ratto who wrote off the UFC as another professional wrestling that is too full of gore and figures like Brock Lesnar, who mocked fans after his victory at UFC 100 and has been seen as the ultimate villain through all this hoopla.

The idea that all these “old school” journalists (Simers is 58 and Ratto 54) are so quick to denounce the sport as nothing more than another fad comparable to professional wrestling is hilarious. Of course MMA is not their cup of tea. It’s “human cock-fighting” (as John McCain coined it in an infamous debate with Ken Shamrock in 1997) and unlike anything these old fogies could have dreamed of 30 years ago.

But to write it off so quickly as a fad is downright laughable. Ratto wrote that it is a “niche” sport and that UFC 100’s success was a lot like the numbers the WWF’s Wrestlemania’s drew in the mid-1980’s.

But here’s the thing Ratto and Simers are missing the point on. Everything that left professional wrestling out of the eyes of the mainstream media and the minds of the casual sports fan are the reasons why MMA is here to stay.

The biggest gripe pundits had against professional wresting in its prime was how fake it was. Sure, the athleticism was there and guys were getting legitimately hurt at times, but the planned story lines, the “bad guy-good guy” mantras and the downright silliness of what we saw in the ring sometimes made it unwatchable for those who didn’t enjoy the entertainment.

But you don’t get that with MMA.

Many people say Lesnar’s antics after UFC 100 as very much coming from his wrestling background, and that may be true, but that’s not going to keep MMA out of the mainstream media. If anything, it helps.

Turning on the Worldwide Leader on Monday afternoon, I saw UFC talk all across the board. Sportscenter, Around the Horn, Pardon the Interruption and Sportsnation Live all had discussions about UFC 100 within the first 10 minutes of their shows. If the biggest sports conglomerate in the world is talking about you, it’s good news, right? When did pro wrestling ever get more than 30 seconds of discussion on ESPN? Usually only if Dennis Rodman or Mongo McMichael were making an appearance, but never anything more than that.

If MMA wants to borrow from pro wrestling with its gimmicky rivalries. With the trash talking, the build-up and hype of fights, that’s fine. That’s not going to keep it out of the limelight. What would keep it out of the limelight is if it was scripted like pro wrestling is, and it’s not.

MMA is a legitimate sport just like boxing is. Boxing was the most dominant fighting sport for the past century, and that’s because people marveled at the fighting ability of the guys who stepped into the ring. When a personality like Muhammed Ali or Mike Tyson came along, it only boosted its popularity, and when a personality in the MMA like Brock Lesnar comes along, it just does the same.

That’s what these old-school guys don’t understand. The MMA will succeed because of the marvelous athleticism and extreme competition the sport provides. Never mind the insane trash talking and crazy commissioner, the MMA is here to stay, and the old-school guys will learn that soon enough.

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