Friday, January 29, 2016

Top Five Films of the Year: 2009

Eclectic group of films this time.  Let's get right to it....

5. I Love You, Man

Paul Rudd and Jason Segel star in this unrelentingly funny bro-mantic comedy, directed by John Hamburg.  Rudd plays Peter Klaven, a real estate agent who has just gotten engaged and is troubled by his lack of male friends.  He has no qualified best man contenders and at the urging of his fiancee Zoe (Rashida Jones) decides to shop around for a new best friend.  At one of his open houses, he meets Sydney Fife, a free-spirited investor who frequents house showings to pick up divorcees and enjoy the free catering.  Despite being near opposites, Peter and Sydney hit it off almost immediately, and quickly become so close that Peter and Zoe's relationship soon seems at risk.  This is really just a terrific lighthearted comedy, with countless quotable jokes ("Slappa da bass, mon!"), likable characters (Is there a more affable star out there than Paul Rudd?) , and perfect chemistry between the actors.  There isn't a whole lot to dissect or analyze; it's just a wonderfully enjoyable romp that I find myself able to watch just about anytime.  Also on a personal level I Love You, Man is largely responsible for my newfound appreciation for the music of Rush.

4. Up in the Air

Adapted from the 2001 novel of the same name, Wunderkind director Jason Reitman's third film stars George Clooney as Ryan Bingham, a professional downsizer.  Ryan's company gets hired out by other companies going through layoffs, to travel to their site and fire their employees for them.  Ryan prides himself on being a lifelong bachelor with little to no roots anywhere in the country, and also on "making limbo tolerable" for his clients' unfortunate victims.  Two events throw Ryan's simple, easily manageable life into turmoil: he meets and begins to fall for fellow business traveler Alex (Vera Farmiga) who initially seems to be the female version of him; and his firm decides to cut costs by pulling all their agents off the road and moving to a virtual business model, firing people via videoconference.  This revolutionary new strategy is introduced by Natalie (Anna Kendrick), a new hire fresh out of college with designs on reshaping the industry.  During the transition, Natalie is sent on the road with Ryan to get acclimated with the business, and her tendency to question Ryan's life choices forces him reexamine his own mindset.  Clooney is wonderful as always, projecting his usual swagger mixed with a world-weary loneliness that belies his outward demeanor.  Kendrick injects her character with a cocksure energy but reveals great vulnerability as Natalie realizes the severity of what her job entails.  The script manages to pull countless upliftingly comedic moments out of what seems to be a depressing backdrop - the comatose state of The American Dream.  2009 was a year of brutally difficult economic times, and Up in the Air is a perfect reflection of what we as a nation were going through.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

NXT TakeOver: Dallas News

Last night's set of NXT tapings has the internet abuzz with anticipation.  Aside from the Samoa Joe-Sami Zayn 2/3 Falls match, which on paper seems likely to fall high on the list of WWE's best matches of 2016, the pieces have fallen into place for NXT's highly anticipated TakeOver: Dallas special on April 1st (two days before WrestleMania 32).


Joe's win over Sami earned him another shot at Finn Balor's NXT Championship, which will take place at TakeOver.  Their London match last year was an excellent piece of wrestling but still left room for the two to explore additional territory in a rematch.  This bout has the potential to play off of that one and in turn blow it out of the water.

Additionally it was announced that Asuka will finally get a crack at Bayley's Women's Title, a match the NXT faithful have been salivating for.  Asuka is already one of the most exciting talents in all of WWE, filling the very large NXT void left by Sasha Banks last summer.  Bayley has proven herself more than worthy of carrying the Women's division and it's only a matter of time before she joins her fellow Horsewomen on the main roster.  This match could very well steal both the show and the entire 'Mania weekend just like Bayley-Banks did in Brooklyn.

Balor-Joe II will be amazing.

The Tag Team Titles will also be up for grabs as Champions Dash & Dawson (a team reminiscent of the Andersons) face Jason Jordan & Chad Gable, one of the most impressive young teams in years.  This should be full of fantastic technical wrestling harkening back to the heyday of tag teams.  It's been a long time since we've been treated to a WWE tag match like this.

The two opening bouts will pit Apollo Crews against Elias Samson, and accomplished technical master Austin Aries against NXT veteran Baron Corbin.  Both of those should be solid undercard bouts.

But probably the most exciting news to come out of last night's tapings is the announcement that Sami Zayn will be facing none other than Japanese sensation (and currently my favorite active wrestler in the world), Shinsuke Nakamura!  I'm not even sure how they were legally allowed to shoot this segment given Nakamura's New Japan contract doesn't expire until Sunday, but Nak appeared on the Titantron and challenged Zayn to the match (Maybe they're clear since the segment won't air until March).

Top Five Films of the Year: 2008

2008 was rather an uneven year for film.  The good stuff had a lasting impact, but there honestly wasn't a ton of it.  A few films ended up a little disappointing, like The Incredible Hulk (I know I'm in the minority but I greatly prefer Ang Lee's moody, cerebral Hulk of 2003 to the dumbed-down Edward Norton version) and Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (ya know, the Rocky V of the series - the one we'll all pretend never happened).  But 2008 featured a few films that have undoubtedly earned permanent real estate in the pantheon of their respective genres.

5. Milk

Gus Van Sant's biopic about the first openly gay politician to be elected to public office stars Sean Penn in an Oscar-winning performanceas Harvey Milk.  Milk moves from New York to San Francisco and begins campaigning for office as a way to expand gay rights, amid multiple attempts by the religious right to treat homosexuals as a threat to the community.  The film covers the later years of Milk's life as he becomes a fixture in San Francisco's Castro neighborhood, building relationships with disillusioned gay citizens and becoming a beacon of hope for the disenfranchised.  His mission eventually puts him at odds with fellow City Supervisor Dan White (Josh Brolin), an outspoken gay rights opponent.  Van Sant uses quirky, inventive visuals to tell this story often assembling shots in very unexpected ways.  Case in point is a scene early in the film where a young gay man is being assaulted - his glasses are knocked off his face and we see the rest of the incident in a warped closeup through one of the corrective lenses.  This scene could have been a standard one illustrating the contempt these people faced every day on the streets, but Van Sant creates a claustrophobic mood and leaves much of the event to the imagination.  Penn and Brolin are both excellent as the two central characters.  Penn eschews a potentially caricatural performance and gives Milk three dimensions, showing us just how brave and dedicated this public figure was.  Brolin plays White as a spiteful, insecure opportunist who only seems to warm up to Milk's cause when it will benefit him politically.  I went into this film expecting a sort of sterile biographical account, but Van Sant is able to convey the passionate weight of Milk's struggle, allowing us to be emotionally, and visually, engaged.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


by Dan Moore

Sixteen years ago today, Bill Belichick became the 14th head coach of the New England Patriots. When that happened, it completed the most lopsided trade in the NFL’s history.  Sure, maybe back in the 20’s, the storied Wanker County Bootleggers traded a coupla grass grazers with Ma & Pa Kettle for Strong Arm Johnny Beesknees, but in the 30+ years I’ve been watching football, the New York Jets trading Bill Belichick is the most one-sided trade in the game’s history.

You are so me.

The only trades that I can think of that come close to the impact of the Belichick trade are the Dallas Cowboys' trade of Herschel Walker to the Vikings and the Packers' acquisition of Bret Favre from the Falcons. The Walker trade is still the biggest trade in NFL history, as far as how many people were moved. And it obviously started the Cowboys onto a string of Super Bowl wins. When the Falcons traded the ol' gunslinger up north to Green Bay, they had no clue they were giving away one of the best QBs of all time. The onfield impact of both those trades was immediate and both the Cowboys and Packers went on to great success after those swaps.

But nothing beats the Belichick trade. For decades, the Patriots were a laughing stock. They had a 1-15 season, their stadium was a joke and they were destroyed in their only two Super Bowl appearances up to that point. They had some success with Bill Parcells but he walked out the door to go grocery shopping with the New York Jets. When that went sour and the Jets tried to install Belichick as the new head man, he famously resigned as HC of NYJ. He was moving on to New England.

Belichick swooped in, taking the reins full speed ahead, and the Patriots have not looked back since. They have become the most successful franchise in all of sport, and it’s not even close. The last 16 years have had the Patriots win 13 AFC East crowns,  6 AFC Championships, and 4 Super Bowls. In a league that is based entirely on parity, Belichick has taken a blow torch to that parity and burnt it to crisp. He has taken a franchise that was an eyesore and almost moved to St. Louis, and made it the crown jewel of the entire NFL.

I say it's the greatest trade of all time mainly because he has changed not only the Patriots but the entire NFL. Belichick thinks differently than anyone else in the football world. Every innovation he thinks up, the whole league scrambles behind him trying to either copy him or change the rules so his team is no longer allowed to use his new schemes. He zags while everyone is still zigging after his first zag. They can’t catch him, and haven’t been able to for years.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

B-Cuddy's Pats Recap, Looking Ahead to the Offseason

by Brandon Cuddemi

Patriot fans are spoiled. The team has been in contention for 15 years. But all losses hurt, and they hurt more the deeper you go in the playoffs. For instance, when Jacksonville loses, their five fans just call that “Sunday.” Patriots fans go into mourning. That’s just how it works. Here are some of the things that went wrong in the AFC title game…

1. Offensive Line - The most glaring of issues for the Patriots was without doubt the offensive line. Their lousy play cost the Patriots the game maybe above all other factors. The line has been a problem all year. Due to injuries, they’ve had to trot out something like 117 different mash-ups of fat behemoths to protect Brady. I think even Danny and Miggsy suited up a couple games. Never good. There were times on Sunday when Denver only rushed 3 guys, and 2 of them got to Brady. That’s just embarrassing. I don’t care if you’re a pro-bowler or a 4th stringer. At least be a body and get in the way of a guy for a god damn second. Even try holding here and there. I know it’s the old cliché, “There’s holding on every play.” Well not from the Pats O-line. They looked like a bunch of blindfolded amputees out there.

2. Denver Defense - You have to tip your cap to them. Obviously, their front rush was terrific going against the atrocious O-line mentioned above. But their secondary was outstanding as well. I would say on 85-90% of the plays that had Brady peeling himself off the grass, the replay showed that nobody was open. Gronk still had a great game by the end, but he’s a legit freak of nature. Edelman and Amendola on the other hand were mostly contained.

3. Being One-Dimensional - Not having a running game, or even a semblance of one, is a bad thing. The Broncos defense never once respected the Patriots' ability to run the ball. And they didn’t have to. When Steven Jackson was in, I think I even saw a few of them laugh. Brady had the longest rush of the game for the Pats. And he moves like a glacier.

4.  Decision-Making - As always, it’s easy to second-guess a decision once you know the result.  There’s a couple that stand out here. I’d say the decision to not kick the field goal on 4th down with 6 minutes left was a 50/50 call. But the decision I thought was worse was the actual play call on that 4th & 1.  A play action pass only works if the other team thinks you might run it. As mentioned 30 seconds ago (or an hour, if you read like Derek), the Broncos never thought this. Since the entire world knew it would be a pass play, the Pats should have lined up in the shotgun, and given Brady options. Another decision, one of Tom’s, is the interception he threw to Von Miller. He was trying to force it to Gronk. Miller was there the entire time, and Brady needs to throw that elsewhere. It gave Denver the ball in the redzone and basically 7 free points. Not Tom’s best play.

5. Missed Extra-Point - Did it play a part in the loss? Sure. Is it embarrassing to miss a PAT with no wind? Yup. But that’s not the reason they lost. The Patriots had chance after chance to take control of the game. The Pats defense played INCREDIBLE in the 2nd half, holding Denver to 3 points. The offense just never got it going. Like when you’re a dozen drinks in and really tired and….never mind.

Music Review: Megadeth - Dystopia

I was once a HUGE Megadeth fan.  From 1990 till about 1999 they routinely competed with Metallica for the title of Justin's Favorite Band in the World.  Their seminal albums Peace Sells...But Who's Buying?, Countdown to Extinction, and most of all their 1990 masterwork Rust In Peace still hold up as unquestioned classics of the genre.  Dave Mustaine was my idol in high school and college.  Christ, just look at my senior photo:

I peaked early, didn't I?

But since the early 2000s my enthusiasm for this once-great metal outfit has steadily cooled.  Mustaine (and his revolving door of hired musicians) has certainly been prolific, even after what seemed to be a career-ending nerve injury in 2002.  Like clockwork they release a new album every two-and-a-half years or so (about three times as often as the aforementioned Metallica).  Unfortunately most of Megadeth's output this century has been, shall we say, less-than-stellar.  I actually really enjoyed Megadeth's 2004 comeback album The System Has Failed.  Intended as a Mustaine solo album, the songwriting felt fresh and inspired, like he was free from the constraints of writing "Megadeth songs."  The addition of virtuoso drummer Vinnie Colaiuta gave that album some unique flavoring as well.

With Megadeth now back on track (and with a brand-new full-time lineup), 2007's United Abominations and its 2009 follow-up Endgame were met with extremely high praise from metal fans and magazines alike.  But for me something seemed off.  Those two albums sounded like someone else trying to create Megadeth-style songs.  They lacked the personality so prevalent on the band's earlier works.  Additionally Mustaine's vocal range seemed to suddenly half; where he once delivered a signature high-pitched wail, he now seemed content to snarl in his lower register on just about every song.  The result is a vocal style lacking in urgency/intensity, where it feels like he doesn't mean anything he's saying.  This has been a major problem for me on Megadeth's last five albums (though less so on the more simplistic Th1rt3en and Super Collider).

And that brings us to Megadeth's latest release, Dystopia, a collection of rather paranoid tracks angrily lamenting what Mustaine percieves as the downfall of western civilization (Been watching too much Fox News there, Dave?).  While Megadeth's subject matter has always included the paradigm of "raging against the system," in 2016, coming from a 54-year-old millionaire it just feels a little forced.  On top of that, Mustaine's very limited vocal range makes for some pretty distracting melodies and performances, taking away from some otherwise very strong guitar work.

At least Vic is back on the cover.

As with the previous four albums, Dystopia contains more than a few kickass riffs and ideas, some of which actually separate themselves from those found on Abominations through Super Collider.  The addition of new lead guitarist Kiko Loureiro is also a breath of fresh air - his solos fit right in yet sound different than every previous guitarist in the band's history.  Kiko is the strongest lead since the amazing Marty Friedman.  Mustaine's solos however explore the same territory they always have - shredding right-hand work with limited left-hand movement, and repetitive blues scale figures.  Drummer Chris Adler, on loan from Lamb of God, does a fine job behind the kit, though nothing he does sounds much different than his predecessor Shawn Drover, and since 1998 I've missed the quirky jazz influence of Nick Menza.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Royal Rumble 2016: Well That's More Like It

In another case of low expectations paying off, I really enjoyed Royal Rumble 2016.  For the first time in close to a decade WWE presented a Rumble card that had nary a bad match, plus a very fun Rumble match that felt like it shook things up a bit.  While I'm not terribly excited about WrestleMania 32's main event prospects, the undercard finally has some real potential thanks to at least one exciting new face being added to the mix.

The opening match stole the show, as hated rivals Dean Ambrose and Kevin Owens squared off in a Last Man Standing match for the I-C Championship.  It's well-documented that I'm usually not too fond of the LSM stipulation, but these guys a) didn't waste much time on near-falls (or near-counts?) and b) worked in some clever spots (like Owens rolling out of the ring at the last second and landing on his feet to keep the match going).  They got a solid 20 minutes to create a really strong fight and told a great story of two guys who really despised each other.  This probably won't hold up as WWE's Match of the Year, but for now it's their top candidate.  Damn good stuff there.

The Tag Title bout was fine.  I'm sick of seeing these two teams fight each other, so some new blood is desperately needed in this division (no idea who's next for The New Day).  But this match was fine.  Well-worked and energetic, and the right team won.

Friday, January 22, 2016

NFL Pick 'em: AFC/NFC Championships

Here we go with the Final Four of NFL combatants. Three of these teams are all that stand in the way of the Patriots 5th championship. 

And for totally outrageous Super Bowl rings, it's Josten's. Go, Josten's!!

Dan's Picks

Will Cam Newton dab his way into the Super Bowl? Will Carson Palmer show some emotion? Will Miggsy’s breath knock out anyone in a 25-foot radius? (Answers in order, Yes, No, FUCK YES)

Arizona @ Carolina (-3.5) THE PICK: CAROLINA
Carson Palmer seems like a lovely man. Probably has a coupla kids, only beats them when they’re real bad and then most likely asks the Lord’s forgiveness on Sundays. Well, this Sunday, he’s the one that’s gonna be taking a beating (Segue city, population, me. NAILED IT). This Panthers defense has been most impressive. Sure, they took the 2nd half off last week and allowed the Seahawks back in the game. But that one looked closer than it actually was. It was never really in doubt. With CAR defense and offense firing on all cylinders, Cam will dabbing his way to San Francisco, the little fairy.

New England @ Denver  O/U 44.5 THE PICK: UNDER 
The only thing worse than Brandon’s taste in music is the arm "strength" Peyton Manning is currently carting out on the field. Chucking the ball along the sidelines with the tenacity of a right-handed school girl throwing lefty, Pey-Pey has been downright dreadful all year. Of course, you wouldn’t know it, what with the compliments being thrown his way by Jim Nantz & crew. It’s a ballwashing the likes of which haven’t been seen since Miggsy’s "accidental" trip to the South End a few weeks ago.

B-Cuddy's Uninformed Wrestling Predictions: Royal Rumble Edition

by Brandon Cuddemi

Due to popular demand, I’ve been summoned to put forth some thoughts on Sunday’s Royal Rumble. (Just what this site needs, another wrestling blog). Why anyone would concern themselves with this fake clusterfuck while the NFL Conference Championships are going on is beyond me. I guess dorks will be dorks. Anyways, the Rumble is one of WWE main attractions. Or so I’m told. Something between 30 and 400 wrestlers all fight until there’s one left. Apparently this year, the last guy standing will be crowned the champion, whereas most years it just means he gets a future match with....oh who gives a shit?! Let’s get on with this façade about a façade...

Keith Owens vs Dean Ambrose – Intercontinental Championship

These two again? I guess these fellas aren’t friends. Isn’t there anyone else in their division? Does the WWE have divisions? There’s gotta be some kind of class system so I’ll just assume yes. These bums are clearly in the “Dumb-Looking, No Star Potential” division. In fact, they’re so dumb-looking I’m surprised this match isn’t being held in a Manitowoc County junkyard. And just looking at their stupid faces leads me to believe they don’t have the best “mic skills”. I imagine it’s just a serious of grunts and then they club each other over the head. But not really, because they play pretend in this “sport”. Christ al-fucking-mighty how is this shit so popular?

The Pick: Owens gets revenge and the belt back after he tells Ambrose his shoes are untied and hits him with the Short Bus Suplex when he looks down. Don’t be so gullible, McFly.

New Day vs The Usos – Tag Team Championship

Someone please explain to me how this is 3 wrestlers versus 2. Actually don’t, because I don’t care. This is a simple numbers game. I realize they only fight one at a time, but New Day has a deeper bench. That’s an invaluable asset. Just look at the years of success for the San Antonio Spurs or the Patriots. Oh, sorry.  Forgot my audience. Allow me to explain. See, those are teams in REAL sports. (Quick cut to Justin…)

This was before Justin shaved his head

The Pick: New Day. 3 > 2

Thursday, January 21, 2016

WWE Royal Rumble 2016 Predictions

Welcome to another edition of official PPV Predictions!

This month it's WWE's beloved Royal Rumble!  Since January 1988 the Rumble has been the Pro Bowl of wrestling, where most of the roster jumps into the melee and tries to be the last guy standing.  Usually the winner gets a WWE Title shot at WrestleMania, but this year is a little different.  We'll get to that in a bit.

While historically the Rumble has been one of the most enjoyable hours of WWE television all year, the last few editions have left a lot to be desired (That's putting it mildly).  Whether due to a thin roster, creative clusterfucks, backstage politics, what-have-you, there hasn't been a really strong Rumble match since 2010 in my view.  2011's Rumble was needlessly expanded to 40 participants (when there wasn't nearly enough star power to warrant such a change), 2012's Rumble was full of lower-tier wrestlers, plus ALL THREE ringside announcers, 2013's was far too predictable, and in 2014 & 2015 "the wrong guy" won and was summarily booed out of the building.

Sadly, given how nonsensical RAW has been over the past few months, the 2016 edition doesn't bode all that much better, but perhaps we'll be surprised.  At least this year's undercard looks pretty solid despite all the injury-generated roster holes.  All Titles are on the line so at least there's a sense of urgency to the undercard bouts, and on paper they all look good.  So let's get to the predictions.

**Note: Our esteemed (not really) colleague Brandon will be submitting his Uninformed Wrestling Picks a little later on, so keep an eye out for those**

Dan currently leads the predictions, 57/81 to 56/81.

PreShow Qualifier: Dudley Boyz vs. Ascension vs. Mark Henry/Jack Swagger vs. Darren Young/Damien Sandow

This four-way tag was thrown together yesterday as a way to shoehorn two undeserving fellas into the Rumble match.  Not much to root for here, as none of these eight guys have a snowball's chance in hell of winning the WWE Title later on.  Also here's a question: Why the hell is Darren Young teaming with Sandow?  Why aren't the Prime Time Players reunited?

Justin's pick: I guess I'll go with the Dudleyz since they'll at least get a decent pop in the Rumble match and there have been rumors of a Bubba Ray singles run, a la his "Bully Ray" gimmick in TNA.
Dan's pick: None of these guys gets anyone's motor running. And yeah, why the hell aren't the Primetime Players a thing here? This will be a mess that the Dudleys will win.

US Championship: Alberto Del Rio vs. Kalisto

Someone explain what the point was of giving Kalisto the US Title for one day.  I like Kalisto and think he has tremendous potential to follow in Rey Mysterio's shoes as the company's Hispanic ambassador.  So giving him a US Title run seemed like a great idea.  But then he dropped it 24 hours later.  More of that 50/50 booking that does no one any good.  But here's the rubber match.  Should be a solid outing, but it's another case of "Why should I care?"

Justin's pick: If I know how Vince thinks (He usually doesn't), that one day of Championship gold was Kalisto's big singles push.  Del Rio retains and Kalisto waits in limbo until Sin Cara gets back from injury.
Dan's pick: No clue what the one day title reign was all about. Maybe to test the waters for a win on a bigger stage? THE MASKED MAN RIDES AGAIN!!!

Friday, January 15, 2016

NFL Pick 'em: Dvision Playoffs

Well football fans, now that the crap from Wild Card weekend has been dealt with, we're left with the cream of the crop. Except for the cream being no Antonio Brown, an injured and old Peyton Manning, possibly no Big Ben, a shattered core of Patriots...and who cares about the NFC. Here's some uninformed picks.

Dan's Picks

KC @ New England -4.5 THE PICK: NEW ENGLAND
Gotta stick with the Pats here. I don't care about fake weed, I don't care about how injured Gronk may or may not be and I damn sure don't care about the "explosive" offense of the Chiefs. Facts are the Pats rarely ever lose at home in the playoffs. I expect the Pats to destroy the Chiefs tomorrow afternoon and leave them lying in the gutter to die like a bum, like a dog, like a mutt, like an animal!

That's how I look when I think of the Chiefs offense

Pittsburgh @ Denver -7 THE PICK: DENVER
Pittsburgh has decided they want to play this game with about 8 healthy guys. This game should be called off due to lack of competitive balance. Big Ben may not even play, and if that's true, Miggsy's got a better shot of getting a handy after his lady's bridal shower tomorrow than the Steelers have of moving on in the playoffs. Of course, Peyton is starting, so his noodle arm could definitely help the Steelers here. I’m still taking Denver, I think they can outscore Pitt on defense alone.

B-Cuddy's Picks

How ‘bout them Bengals? There hasn’t been a larger collection of idiots all in one area like that since the last Miggsy pool party. Gotta love 'em, though. There are few things more reliable than a Cincy meltdown on Wild Card weekend. Then there was the Minny-Seattle game. Blair Finkle missing that chip shot will haunt Viking fans for eternity.  Even Scotty Pickles and his dead foot might've made that kick. (Never). I’m sure there is more craziness in store for round 2. As a Pats fan, I’m quite nervous. Even against Andy Reid and his mustache. Lot of weird things going on in Foxboro this week. Bill looks like he took a right hook from Tyson. Gronk has multiple limbs on the injury report. Jones is having fake weed trips. Cats & dogs living together! MASS HYSTERIA!!! On to the picks.

Cris Carter, Chandler Jones, and ESPN Hypocrisy

by Dan Moore

In which a few disgusted Pats fan discuss ESPN and their suckage.

DAN: Earlier this week, Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones was subdued at the Foxboro police station for...something. It’s kinda not too clear. It may have been synthetic marijuana, it may not have. The details are sketchy at this point. Jones clearly did something newsworthy and it seems the Foxboro cops tried to cover it up initially. That's completely worthy of coverage. ESPN talking head and notorious drug-taker Cris Carter took it upon himself to decide what drug Jones may have ingested.

Get a load of this. ESPN has no problem telling us Jones was high on illegal drugs. The fact is they're raking him over the coals, insinuating he was using 80s street drugs, but they wouldn't even venture to guess that HGH prescribed illegally to Ashley Manning that was shipped illegally over state lines may have been for an aging QB that was coming back from major neck surgery. They wouldn't connect those dots. At all.

He's crying cuz Jones did all the PCP

BRANDON: Cris Carter is incapable of forming actual sentences. I'll never understand how he makes a living by TALKING. Not that he's splitting the atom, but a guy like Keyshawn Johnson can at least talk cohesively.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Pro Wrestling: A Mark's History, part 26 (The John Cena Era Begins)

2005 was the year WWE finally found their next top guys.  After the abject failure of Randy Orton's babyface push (through no fault of Randy's, he was just booked 100% wrong), the focus shifted to Triple H's other Evolution protege, big Dave Batista.  Dave had been presented as the muscle of the group who didn't say much, but in late 2004 the fans started to prefer him over the weak protagonist Orton, and by early '05 it was very obvious who was winning the Royal Rumble and eventually dethroning Hunter.

At the end of 2004 Triple H lost a Triple Threat World Title match to Chris Benoit and Edge.  Both opponents had him locked in submission holds, and Hunter tapped, meaning he was no longer the Champion.  But since it couldn't be determined which hold he actually submitted to, neither Edge nor Benoit was the clear winner.  What would've made sense here would be a one-off Edge-Benoit match, given that Hunter tapped out.  But instead the Title was held up and would be decided in an Elimination Chamber match at a new PPV (way too many of these around this time) called New Year's Revolution.

The other three participants were Chris Jericho, Randy Orton, and Batista, and the Chamber match was quite a battle.  I'd call this arguably the best Chamber match of the bunch.  Predictably the bout whittled down to current and former Evolution members, and they booked it so Triple H kinda sorta screwed Batista over on his way to regaining the strap, thus planting dissension in the Evolution ranks.

The New WWE Generation.....wait....

Only three weeks later the Rumble took place, with all signs pointing to Batista takin' the whole thing down.  Dave's only real competition that year was WWE's other top new babyface, John Cena.  Cena had spent most of 2004 grappling over the US Title, but was clearly gaining enough traction and popularity to move up the card.  He still wasn't much of an in-ring talent, but the kids took right to him and he moved merch.  So I understood it even if I wasn't a fan.  After a very strong Rumble card where Triple H handily defeated Orton one last time to end Randy's babyface push, the excellent Rumble match boiled down to Batista vs. Cena.  But a miscue led to both guys falling over the ropes at the exact same time (Pretty incredible considering that was accidental).  WWE pulled an ad lib, with referees arguing over the real winner, a la the 1994 Rumble.  Vince angrily stormed to the ring and slid under the ropes, tearing both quads on the apron and hilariously yelling at the referees from a seated position.  Just an amazingly funny visual.  The match was restarted and Batista won.  But it was obvious both these guys would be walking out of WrestleMania 21 with gold.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Dan Remembers David Bowie (1947-2016)

by Dan Moore

David Bowie passed away earlier today at the age of 69 from a battle with cancer. It'd be crazy for me to try to eulogize such a talented man. I'll leave that up to actual writers. Instead I thought I'd share my experiences with discovering Bowie and his music.

I was in high school when I was introduced to Bowie proper. Sure, I knew about him and had heard his most popular tunes on classic rock stations. But I barely knew anything about him or his music. The most experience I had with Bowie was him prancing around in extraordinarily snug pants along with a bunch of talking socks in Labyrinth.

More makeup than a hooker and twice as sexy

I had a friend named Paul Haggerty who was obsessed with two different vocalists that when combined make perfect sense: Jim Morrison and David Bowie. They were both outsiders with their own uniquely amazing way with music and poetry. Paul introduced me first to The Doors and then to Bowie. Paul was a singer and took most of his musical cues from those two artists. It was a many a night we'd get stoned listening to those two sing our worlds away.

Bowie's music stuck with me through those times. I remember buying a bunch of used Bowie CDs and being amazed at his chameleon-like ability to morph into whatever artist he wanted to. It was a far cry from all the similarly dressed grunge artists I had been listening to.  He was never afraid to take chances with his music.  When he delved into industrial music with his release of Earthling I was blown away by how he could just completely change everything about his musical sensibilities, perform in a totally new genre, and make it sound like he had been doing it for decades. He was a truly amazing talent.

A song from his Earthling album was done acoustically years ago on Late Night with Conan O'Brien. It's always stayed with me as a favorite of his. A haunting, beautiful tune that seems appropriate for today. Rest In Peace, Mr. Bowie.

Friday, January 8, 2016

NFL Pick 'em: Wild Card Round

The regular season is over and here’s our winner.

Yes, Brandon has pulled it off, with Miggsy losing on a HILARIOUS last minute field goal gaffe by the Kansas City Chiefs. Too funny. The less said about my picks, the better (though the DC Brawlers pulled it off last week!)

We’re each gonna pick two games per playoff round and insult each other and the teams, as usual.

Dan's Picks

Go ahead, Cincinnati, have some faith in your kittens, who haven’t won a playoff game since Will Smith was still the Fresh Prince and Pee-Wee Herman was wanking his Big Adventure in porno theaters. Listen to me. There’s zero chance that Big Ben goes into Cincy and loses. ZERO. He’s gonna bring his big swinging dick out and the ladies of Ohio will be running for the exits, just like the Bengals.

That’s right, I’m picking two road teams in the playoffs. Why? Because their opposing teams' quarterbacks stink. The only thing more mashed up than Brian Hoyer’s brains is my pud after watching the new Star Wars movie. Both of the road teams in this matchup are playing great ball, and I don’t see how Houston can beat Kansas City (I mean I do; Houston’s D has been great lately and they have DeAndre Hopkins...shit...maybe I should change my answer...)

Thursday, January 7, 2016

The One Thing Wrong With "Ken" Griffey Jr.

by Dan Moore

One of the most dynamic baseball players in the history of the sport, Ken Griffey Jr. was a joy to watch every time he played. "The Kid" was always a good time and his playful spirit was infectious for both other players and us fans that watched him. I’m not the first to say this but he had probably the best, most natural swing baseball has ever seen.


Yesterday, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame. He missed becoming the first unanimous choice for the Hall by three votes. Three measly votes! At first I thought “those three voters should be shot." Look at these stats!

One of the most fun athletes I’ve ever watched. Perhaps the only thing missing from his resume was a World Series victory. But alas, he’s still one of the best I’ve ever seen. I had his storied Upper Deck Rookie card from 1989 (two of them, in fact). I was convinced those were going to be my nest egg. I had grandiose visions of eventually selling them for untold riches and buying myself plenty of scantily clad sluts based solely off of those baseball cards (I eventually sold both about 10 years ago for maybe 25 I bought a 30 pack). Maybe those three voters thought about his injured years in Cincinnati, or they didn’t like his playful demeanor on the field. But then I dug deeper (I went to Wikipedia) and I figured it out. Look at this:

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

NJPW WrestleKingdom 10 Review

Wow.  New Japan Pro Wrestling has done it again.  They were tasked with living up to the transcendent WrestleKingdom 9 and somehow they managed to do just that.  WrestleKingdom 10 has set the bar VERY high for all other wrestling shows in 2016, and I don't think it's any stretch to say the Best PPV of the Year Award has already been decided.  Sadly this amazing show turned out to be a potentially bittersweet moment for New Japan, as reports are coming out about multiple stars giving their notice to the company, presumably to try their hand in WWE.  But we'll get to that.  First, WrestleKingdom....

There was literally not one bad match on this show.  It started off incredibly fun and with almost no wasted time in between matches the pitch never dropped below "neato."

The opener was predictably wild and innovative, as reDRagon, The Young Bucks, Roppongi Vice, and Aerial Dogfight (Matt Sydal & Ricochet) tore it up with crazy tandem moves galore.  After nearly 17 minutes of non-stop offense Matt & Nick Jackson regained the Jr. Heavyweight straps.  Great way to kick things off, as usual.

Next was the NJPW debut of The Briscoes, who teamed with Toru Yano against Bullet Club members Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga & Takahashi.  This was probably the weakest match of the night, but only by default.  For twelve minutes these six put on a helluvan entertaining little show, culminating in Yano and the Brothers winning the brand-new Six-Man Championship.

For the first time ever the Ring of Honor World Title was defended in the Tokyo Dome as Jay Lethal and Michael Elgin delivered a fine undercard match.  While a bit underwhelming for a major title bout, this was still very solid stuff, and as I expected Lethal retained - I imagine ROH would prefer to book a title change on their own turf.

Moving right along, the hits kept racking up with Kenny Omega vs. Kushida in the rubber match for the Jr. Heavyweight Title.  While not as strong as their previous two bouts (understandable given the time constraints), this was still easily a 3.5-star affair and told the story of Kushida defying the odds to regain the Title.  It also served as Omega's swan song in the Jr. division (as we'd see the following night).  Damn good stuff.