Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Czech Mate: The Cutthroat Final

After 9 episodes of grueling challenges, combative gulags, petty fights, secret votes, and overall chaos, MTV's Cutthroat finally reached its last episode. Last week's episode ended with the final Gulag set to begin which would determine who was left to vie for the grand prize of hundreds of thousands of dollars, an outstanding reward for having the sole good fortune of MTV casting at your college.

For the final Gulag, Emily faced Paula and Derrick went against Tyler. After the troops gathered TJ told them they'd be playing a repeat game called “Pole Me Over”.

Tyler, who decided to make a name for himself other than the guy who goes home early, beat Derrick to make it to the finals. Derrick’s loss left the Blue Team with only Jenn and Emily remaining. Will the Blue Team be the Billie Jean King of The Challenge?

In the girl’s final, Paula showed why her best move is to avoid all competitive action by disqualifying herself. You have to give Paula credit - by skating through and avoiding The Gulags, Paula played to her strength, which is knowing her overall weakness. In her closing confession, she said she refuses to rest until she gets a win. I’m looking forward to Paula in the 2035 Challenge against Brad and Tori’s kids.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

It's The Final Countdown: Cutthroat Episode 9

When thinking of some of the best cliffhangers, The Empire Strikes Back immediately comes to mind. Han Solo was shipped off from Cloud City on Boba Fett’s transport to deliver him to Jabba. Last week’s Cutthroat ended with a cliffhanger of its own. Tina talked a big game but Theresa took her down. CT, who like Jabba is a monster difficult to understand, was getting ready to “put Johnny in the dirt”. Fade to black.

This week’s episode, the last before next week’s finale, began with Johnny strapped to CT. Here are some things I’d rather be strapped to than CT: My seat during a Dane Cook performance, the set of Fox & Friends, and the bed post when Dan and Roseanne Connor had sex. TJ gave the guys the go ahead. Going with the Star Wars theme, CT treated Johnny like the Rancor did the Gamorrean Guard.

Tina against Tori was next. This was a match-up between a girl that wanted to quit versus a girl whose bark is much worse than her bite. Surprisingly Tori beat Tina in a faster time than Theresa did, so the quitter-to-be reversed field and won to see another day. Tina’s performance was more disappointing than Bill Buckner’s ground ball ability.

Next it was Tyler’s turn against CT. CT went down on all fours and basically made Tyler do his version of riding the bull. However in this case there wasn’t a crowd of people yelling “Show ‘em!”.  The flailing worked and Tyler lasted longer than Johnny’s pitiful 19 seconds. 19 seconds? Even Andy Stitzer lasted longer than that on his wedding night.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Marriage Therapy: Cutthroat Episode 8

An old saying goes “absence makes the heart grow fonder”. This motto does not apply to everything. For example, I could never see an Ashton Kutcher movie, listen to one more Eagles song, or witness another Red Sox World Series title and be very content. However, all it takes is one week off and two weeks between viewings and my appreciation of MTV’s Cutthroat  only grows stronger.

When we left our heroes two weeks ago Dan and Camilla were sent packing, the Red Team showed as much team unity as the Miami Heat, and Laurel got to keep her “Horrible Person of the Month” parking spot.

This week’s episode started off with Sarah and Laurel sunbathing and discussing the Gray Team’s future. When thinking of the world’s best places to catch some rays, Prague probably comes in right between Oslo and Detroit.

The girls’ point of contention rested on Cara Maria and their belief of Abram keeping her around because he’s sleeping with her. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, a girl that lets you play a little game called Just the Tip or Ouch, Ouch You’re on My Hair is much more fun to have around than someone who could stand in for Cruella Deville and 101 spotted dogs wouldn’t know the difference.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Yippee Ki Yay Music Television: Cutthroat Episode 7

Last week’s Cutthroat saw the elimination of the Red Team’s best player, Brandon. Along with being their best player, he was also the go-to vote when deciding to put someone into The Gulag. With Brandon gone the Red Team will now have to wrestle from within on which guy to throw in to the wolves. They better figure it out soon too because there’s no way they are winning immunity to avoid The Gulag. Very few things in life are guaranteed. Death. Taxes. NBC's Outsourced getting canceled. And the Red Team failing miserably at whatever challenge is put before them.

In other Challenge news, host TJ Lavin was released from the hospital this week, about a month after a horrific biking accident. Reports say that TJ plans on continuing as host of the show. This is great news. Family Feud tried to replace Richard Dawson with a bevy of failures (Ray Combs, Louie Anderson, Al from Home Improvement, J Peterman). MTV would meet the same fate if they tried to substitute someone else to control the melting pot that is fame-whores, douchebags, and wannabe wannabes. It would be like mixing a Republican Congress with a Democratic administration and telling them to work things out for the good of everyone else. 
On to the show...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Go 'Cuff Yourself: Cutthroat Episode Six

Last week’s Cutthroat episode ended with MTV being very cryptic about Chet’s condition. He took a nasty spill in the previous challenge, turned paler than Bib Fortuna, and ended up in the hospital. The show ended with Chet’s heart monitor beeping and an IV drip flowing. We were left wondering if Chet would be ok. Well those of us who saw the cast’s get well message for TJ knows Chet made it out of Prague in one piece, which is more than we can say for its country’s old name. On to Episode Six

Like the rest of us, the Red Team wondered if Chet was going to return. Wouldn’t you know it, here comes Chet. He told some stories about Czech medical care and by his tone I’m guessing he’s not in favor of how the healthcare vote went down a few months ago.

Johnny and Derrick talked about how they’re concerned they’re going to have to go into a Gulag since they are the only two guys remaining.

Brandon said to Luke he’s fairly certain he won’t go into another Gulag. This prediction came from a guy who already went into three of the elimination challenges. That’s like Nancy Pelosi saying the Republicans won’t use her as a political lightning rod in 2012 since they already did that this year. Who says the Democrats didn’t learn anything from last week’s results?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Where Pole Position Isn't a Video Game: Cutthroat Episode Five

After last week’s Cutthroat saw Big Easy and Ayiiia pack their bags and bid adieu to Prague, we were left wondering if the budding romance between Johnny Bananas and Camilla was a deep emotional connection or Johnny using all his inner Buttafuoco to make a girl with few allies on the cast swoon. Will Camilla be the mole Johnny needs? Will the Red Team follow Brad’s lead and get wise to the situation? Do any of the cast members have skills that translate into the American workforce?  Let’s find out if any of these questions were answered in episode five.

The show started off with the cast on what looked like a cruise of some sorts around Prague. Like anything else the group does it turned it into a booze cruise. This clan could turn sleeping into a drinking game.

Dan, a recovering alcoholic, is having a hard time dealing with his issues. His efforts should be applauded but going to one of these challenges in his condition is like Tiger Woods going to the Playboy Mansion to talk to Hef about starting a magazine.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Oh Slap! Cutthroat Episode Four

When we last left our Cutthroat heroes, Big Easy was upsetting Vinny in The Gulag, but still not winning the hearts and minds of his teammates. Shauvon was quitting the show without even trying in The Gulag, something as popular with TJ as I was in high school.

This week’s episode kicked off with Abram and Cara Maria fooling around while he was playing the piano. Talk about tickling the ivories.

Luke said he really needed to see Camilla’s boobs while she was in earshot. I may be out of the dating game for a while, but I’m pretty sure saying I want to see your boobs only works in Cancun, Spearmint Rhino, and lunch with Paris Hilton.

Unfortunately for Luke, it turned out Camilla has a thing for Johnny Bananas. Let this be a lesson to you kids out there. Before you turn 30, the bigger dick you are, the more people you piss off and the more you define the word douchebag, the more girls you will get. Life isn’t always fair that way.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Rolling the Dice: Cutthroat Episode Three

Before we get to this week’s Cutthroat review, it should be noted that host TJ Lavin suffered a horrific injury last week while performing a stunt at the Dew Tour Championships. All indications  are TJ will pull through, but he is in a coma and suffered a shattered wrist. Here’s hoping TJ gets better soon and is hosting the next challenge. As the retirement of Bob Barker is proving, once an iconic host leaves a show the network might as well get ready to find new programming because the replacement is never as good as the original. The same theory applies to The Challenge and TJ Lavin. He is to the MTV show what Gene Rayburn was to Match Game. With less sexual harassment.

This week’s episode of Cutthroat began with the gang sharing space in a hot tub. The show might be in Prague, but the hot tub culture transcends continents. Let’s hope the water is extra hot to kill off whatever may be crawling around in there.

Laurel told Big Easy that he couldn’t get a girl to touch him. She then proceeded to list all of the inadequacies she felt he had and how repulsed he made her, and the entire female species, feel. It takes a lot for me to feel sympathy for the cast members, mostly because I’m jealous I can’t compete for six figures over ta month in a foreign country. However, listening to Eric talk about how hard it is for him to lose weight makes you really feel for the guy. I’m surprised MTV didn’t play Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful” in the background. Sure Eric’s feelings take a hit here, but Laurel is clearly coping for the fact she’s only appealing to men with a totem pole fetish. Laurel’s diatribe makes Leona Helmsley look like Mother Theresa.

The T-Mobile text came telling the group to be ready tomorrow and wear their bathing suits. Let’s get wet.

TJ mets the cast and explained the challenge “Bed Head” to them. The goal of this one was for each team member to jump from one bed to the next. They can’t move on to the next bed until the whole team makes it on the previous one. If someone doesn’t make the jump, they are disqualified. The team that goes the furthest, in the shortest amount of time, and with the most team members left wins. The catch is, the beds are suspended 40 feet above the ground. Where are the Flying Sandos Brothers when you need them?

The Red Team was up first. They were unremarkable in their execution but finished.

The Gray Team was up next. Laurel, even though tall enough to walk from bed to bed, botched the jump and fell off the bed. Karma is a bitch, but not as big of one as Laurel. Shauvon went into a panic attack before her turn because on a past challenge she tried a similar task and ended up popping her implant. She stalled because she was just trying to save her boobies. And you can too by donating for my sister-in-law’s participation in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure here. Shameless plugs are shameless plugs, but at least this one is for a good cause.

Because of Shauvon’s inability to jump, her team got disqualified. This led to Sarah going off on Shauvon about what a waste of space she is. Just because you have tattoos all over your body doesn’t mean you’re a badass Sarah. Hasn’t Good Charlotte taught you anything?

The Blue Team went last. Katie, despite a solid effort, decided to fight water falling 40 feet from the air. After countless similar battles, water is still undefeated. Johnny got disqualified for a boneheaded move. For a guy who acts like he’s the top dog, he sure does get humped by the challenges a lot. 

TJ told everyone the Red Team won. As a result, the Blue and Gray teams were headed to the Gulag and the Reds get to dine like kings. Just like Soviet-era Prague.

Shauvon volunteered to put herself into the Gulag. Seeing how she cost her team the chance to compete that’s the noble thing to do. Vinny got voted in by the team for the guys.

The Blue Team’s deliberations weren’t as civil. Johnny tried to strong-arm the votes how he saw fit. Like sheep, the team listened to him. After the votes, it was determined Eric and Katie were going in.

After the vote, Johnny walked into the kitchen and said he found the “I Hate Johnny Bananas Club”. Really? When’s the next meeting?

Katie is pissed she has to go in the Gulag and took it out on Emily, a fresh face to the challenge. Tyler came to Emily’s rescue saying she’s only a rookie and had no say. I wonder if the Wizards are going to use the same mentality with John Wall this year.

Coach: OK guys, there’s two seconds left, we’re down by one. I want Wall to drive to the hoop and take the shot.
Arenas: But Coach, he’s a rookie. He shouldn’t even be on the floor.
Coach: You know what, you’re right Gil. You take the shot.

The sad thing is this conversation will probably happen.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Lindsay Lohan and Katie might be separated at birth. The Olsen Twins are less alike.

A surprise development as the Gulag got canceled until the next day. Off to the bars!

After a few drinks, Johnny rounded everyone up because he thought it was time to go. Sounds like the move of another insecure douchebag on MTV. What is it with these guys making people leave bars when they say it’s time?

As the cast headed out the door someone crashed down the stairs. In the confessional Brad said he wondered if it was one of their guys. If it had nothing to do with the cast, would you really go home and confess about it? 
Turns out if was Johnny throwing someone down the stairs after claiming he was jumped by a few Czechs. He said he beat up two guys, threw one down the stairs, and then walked out of the bar without incident or law enforcement appearing? There were MTV cameras everywhere, but none of the footage made the cut? The only thing we saw was Johnny’s busted eye. For all we know a drunken Czech fell down the stairs and hit Johnny on his way down. OJ’s alibi had fewer holes.

Next up was the Gulag. The task at hand was getting a giant die to show the same number TJ rolled. They couldn’t have their feet on the ground to achieve this. Big E took it home for the guys. Vinny didn’t take losing too well and told anyone who would listen that he’d kick their ass. And here I thought O'Bannion ended his ways when Mitch Kramer poured paint on him.

Shauvon didn’t even try to compete in the Gulag, so Katie won by default. This angered TJ greatly since he likes quitters as much as politicians like facts.

In the end, the Blues kept two and the Grays lost two.

It was like Gettysburg all over again.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

News and a Review

Up to this point I’ve written on basically anything I can come up with. Mostly television, but a little bit of politics and sports mixed in to spice things up. People aren’t really sure what they are coming to the site for besides attempted dry humor, cynical observations and occasional tangents. Based on feedback for a recent column where I praised MTV’s The Challenge, including a "You Killed It" from the host, I’ve decided to write a weekly recap of the show. Apparently I’m not the only viewer over 30 of the program. Some people speak for those less fortunate than them, others speak for groups that pay them, and some just speak to hear themselves, but today I speak for those in their 30s who watch a program targeting teenagers.

This weekly column will debut today with a recap of episode two. I’ll still write about other shows and topics, but I’m going to try this weekly review and see how it goes. As Al Bundy would say, “Let’s Rock.”

The episode kicks off with Abram saying the house is haunted. He knows this because he said he saw a little girl standing next to him in the shower. I didn’t know R. Kelly morphed himself into a pasty white guy.

There are insecure people and then there’s Laurel. For no reason at all she ripped into Mandi, a cute blonde who is about as confrontational as my dog during a thunderstorm. Maybe the oxygen is worse for those who can see the tops of trees in a rain forest.

Mandi decided to take the hurt from Laurel’s attack and crawl into bed with Chet. To which Chet said something along the lines of “I’m a gentleman…if a girl jumps in my bed, who am I to kick her out?” Rhett Butler wishes he had as much class as Chet.

The team gets notice of the pending challenge the next day by a text on their T-Mobile. T-Mobile has been a sponsor of The Challenge for years. Does anyone still use T-Mobile? There are more rotary phones in circulation than T-Mobile users.

It’s challenge time. This one was called Brain Busters. TJ said it’s not called that because the cast is going to be thinking too much but because they’d be swinging upside down. That’s a relief. There was already one Manhattan Project, no need to embarrass Einstein and Oppenheimer on national TV by having these mental giants re-invent nuclear fusion.

Hanging upside down, the teams had to move beer steins from one end of the area to the other. The team with the best time got exempted from the next Gulag.

The Red Team was up first. Brad said he had a hard time getting the steins to Melinda. He went so far as to say she wasn’t really moving much. No wonder she and Danny are getting divorced. Speaking of which, if those two can’t make it work, what chance do the rest of us have? The Red Team placed one stein out of four in the time allotted, then they all clapped. There’s nothing like being content with mediocrity. It’s like they work for Kruger Industrial Smoothing or voted for governor in Alaska.

The Blue Team was up next and they actually finished the challenge. Nothing of note happened. It was like watching CNN.

The Gray Team finished the day pretty unimpressively. Since they got to go last you’d think they’d be a little more prepared since they saw the previous teams’ efforts and their methods that worked or failed. But then again Look Who’s Talking Too got made so it goes to show watching something suck doesn’t mean you learn your lesson.

After getting back to the house, deliberation for the Gulag began.

Chet voted Mandi in, even though he was a gentleman that kindly placed part of his body in hers not too long before the vote. It looks like he’s more of the untrustworthy Daffy Duck type than the Southern gentleman of Foghorn Leghorn. Either way, he’s loon for voting in Mandi. He’s throwing away an attractive girl who likes him. Given he looks like Anthony Michael Hall from The Breakfast Club and wears glasses that could be mistaken for Dr. Bunsen Honeydew’s, I can’t imagine he’s beating the women away with a stick. Trust me, we can smell our own.

Cara Maria and JD were voted in from the Gray Team. Cara Maria, upon hearing the news, said essentially “I had a bad challenge don’t hold it against me.” She's right. I mean, if the cast has to be judged on their merits, how fair is that? This is like Hoover saying “If you elect FDR because of one bad term, that is bullshit.”

Brandon and Mandi were selected from the Red Team. This is two weeks in a row that Brandon got picked even though he’d done nothing to warrant it other than not being part of the Alpha Betas.

Onto the Gulag. I think TJ should have grown a thick, Stalin-esque moustache for this challenge, just for emphasis. The contestants are strapped to each other and have to get to their side to knock over a barrel. If the challenge was called Chernobyl would those barrels be full of green toxic waste?

The match-up between Brandon and JD was as competitive as the rivalry between a dog and a fire hydrant. Brandon kicked JD’s ass like trying to get a JD kicked mine.

The battle between Mandi and Cara Maria was a little more competitive, but not much. Perhaps like the dog and a stiff breeze - some occasional brush back but the job gets done. Cara Maria, who won, said “this is a physical one-on-one type of Gulag”. Aren’t they all one-on-one? It’s like saying the 76ers-Knicks game is a special kind of basketball game where it’s 5 on 5 and the ball has to go in the hoop. I’m starting to think Cara Maria isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer.

After the Gulag it was time to drink and make bad decisions.

Sarah, seeing Abram and Cara Maria go into the bathroom together, said “when two people go into the bathroom together and shut the door that can only mean one thing.” Blumpkin, right? She had to mean a blumpkin. When Abram came out of the bathroom he had more scratches on him than a record in Pauly D’s arsenal. I hope he got a tetanus shot before going to Europe.

Next week looks like another week of difficult challenges, empty promises and putting off a real job.

Y’all come back now you hear?

UPDATE: Read my week three re-cap here 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

MTV's Cut Throat: Are You Up For The Challenge?

Tonight marks the premier of the 20th season of MTV’s Challenge, a Survivor meets Amazing Race meets Temptation Island reality show pitting former cast members of MTV’s The Real World, Road Rules and some also-rans. Is it a little juvenile that I’m 33 years old and the only other people in my age bracket I know who watch this are my wife, my brother and his wife, Bill Simmons and some guy named Jacoby? Perhaps, but if Edward Stratton III could dress like an engineer and ride a train around his house then I can spend my Wednesday evenings watching a bunch of people afraid to get a desk job compete in challenges that would put me in the hospital in less than three minutes.

Past versions of The Challenge include The Gauntlet, Inferno, Battle of the Sexes and others. Every year the same group of people comes to an exotic part of the world to spend three weeks to a month playing hard during the day and even harder at night. It’s like the Olympics, if only the men and women stayed in the same house and were allowed to collude on who would make it to the gold medal round.

This season the show is titled Cut Throat. Instead of the normal two teams there will be three. Each team will have ten members, five men and five women. There will be daily competitions to determine what team gets a bye, and the remaining two teams will have some members compete in an elimination challenge called The Gulag. The loser of The Gulag goes home and the winner lives to fight another day.

Nothing drives home the importance of stay or go home than comparing an athletic competition to something that makes Russians who can remember the 1930s thru 1950s shit their pants in terror. I thought MTV was a politically correct channel? Then again, if any of The Challenge contestants know what an actual Gulag was I’d be more surprised than John McCain was when his campaign told him who his Vice-Presidential candidate would be.

The Challenge is hosted by TJ Lavin, an X-Games champion BMX biker who takes quitting very seriously. If you want to see someone’s self-worth destroyed on national television watch The Bachelor Pad. But if you want to see someone not give their best effort and be called out for it, watch The Challenge. TJ doesn’t tolerate quitters.

I could only imagine how TJ would have treated Nixon shortly after he resigned.

TJ: “Tricky Dickie, you’re a quitter. You let those spineless Dems and 4th estate chattering class push you around and you quit.”
Nixon: “But I am not a crook!”
TJ: “I’d rather be a crook than a quitter. That’s all for you now. I hope you enjoyed your time in Washington, DC.”

Just as he likes to berate those who quit, TJ also praises a good effort from the cast. If you win an event and TJ tells you “You killed it” you know you kicked some ass. In the best man speech at my brother’s wedding I almost told him, “Great job on picking a mate. You killed it.” But as I said before, only three other people in the room would have got the joke.

The cast for Cut Throat brings back some of the usual crop of people. However, it seems the bar/hosting circuit isn’t paying what it used to and some familiar faces of old are making returns. Since there are 30 cast members, I’ll highlight a guy and girl from each team.

Red Team:
Brad is back after taking a season off to let his eye recover from the trauma it received at the hands of Darrell.  In what was one of the dumber moves I’ve seen Brad do, he got drunk and picked a fight with a boxer. There are some things people should never do. Don’t drive drunk. Don’t believe a girl when she says I never do this type of thing. And don’t get into fights with boxers.

Paula is back yet again for another bite at the apple. Paula is probably the most sympathetic yet dislikable characters on the show, which is tough to pull off. You feel bad for her because she is constantly being used and manipulated by smarter teammates. You hate her because she thinks she deserves to win when she really has the athletic prowess of Steve Martin’s son in Parenthood.

Blue Team:
Johnny Bananas, like Brad, returns after a season away. If someone could be arrested just for being a dick, Johnny would have been locked up years ago. He is about as misogynistic as anyone this side of Ike Turner and yet the girls on the show flock to him. I will never understand women. I hope Johnny is the first one eliminated. It bothers me to no end this prick has made more money from this show in a few moths work than I will in five years. Study hard kids!

Katie reminds me of Lindsay Lohan. She smokes, drinks and swears like a lounge singer. She has no talent other than her abrasiveness. She gets by on name alone. She’s been doing this for years and has got to be on the wrong side of 30, which will come back to bite her. Trust me.

Gray Team:
Abram is back for another go around on The Challenge. In his day there was no one more fearsome than Abram. Then CT emerged as the drunken Masshole everyone who’s ever lived in Boston and gone out in Faneuil Hall or The Alley knows all too well. Abram also used his general bad-assery to pull off a three-some with Veronica and Rachel a few years back. So he has that going for him.

Shauvon re-emerges after two memorable stints on past challenges. In one she was caught having sex on the roof with the aforementioned Masshole, which in a roundabout way led to a fight that might have resulted in a murder charge had CT actually gotten Adam in his grasp. Shauvon’s other claim to fame/infamy is she popped an implant on a challenge. I hope they were insured.

A lot of the cast is made up of Real World veterans from Washington, Cancun, and Brooklyn. I don’t watch The Real World anymore because, well because it’s just not very good anymore. If I want to watch a bunch of people get drunk, fight, hook-up with strangers and each other and try to milk fifteen minutes of fame for all its worth, I’ll watch Jersey Shore.

Some people hope for world peace. Others hope for their team to win the World Series. I hope one day MTV comes to their senses and pits Jersey Shore against some Challenge All-Stars. There is no way The Situation is athletic and JWoww needs a chance to be allowed to show off her aggressiveness. Plus who wouldn’t want to see Snooki and her giant slippers trying to do an obstacle challenge?

I think if TJ heard about that, he’d say “you killed it.”

UPDATE: Read my week two re-cap here 
                 Read my week three re-cap here
                 Read my week four re-cap here
                 Read my week five re-cap here
                 Read my week six re-cap here

Thursday, September 30, 2010

There's Nothing Fake About Real Time with Bill Maher

With the election about a month away it’s time for people to start focusing on the issues and those running to either implement them or obstruct them. Or just pose for pictures in front of the flag and get their mug on TV. Everyone runs for different reasons.

The best way for people to understand their candidates is go see them at rallies and town halls. But since most people have jobs and can’t take the time to meet the candidates, they turn to other mediums to learn about their choices. One of these choices is cable news. However, if you want to learn something good about a Democrat and watch FOX News, you’ll be watching until 2011. Conversely, if you want to see a positive stance on a Republican candidate and watch MSNBC, Reagan will come back from the dead first. The point here is cable news is a waste of time and nothing more than each of the main political parties using a cable channel to tell them they’re pretty.

If you want the chance to see several points of view, in a mature and adult setting, with the occasional curse word thrown in, tune in to Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO.

I don’t agree with Maher on many of his political stances, but I find the show very informative and entertaining. Even though he is basically a liberal, he is at least open to hearing the opposing view without shouting it down. For example, in the height of the Iraq War I remember Maher being willing to give President Bush the benefit of the doubt in bringing democracy to the country even though he disagreed with going to war in the first place. Not many liberals were as open-minded. For example, the former ESPN employee on MSNBC has as many Republicans on his show as I do, and I don’t have a show. Yet.

Real Time starts off with a monologue by Maher. After a few yucks, Bill interviews someone for about ten minutes. These guests range from senators to activists to actors. There’s not much humor in this part of the show, but I don’t think there’s supposed to be.

Then we meet the panel. Usually made up of three guests, Bill’s panelists discuss the issues of the day. Almost without fail there is a very liberal Hollywood personality who doesn’t listen to reason (cough… Janeane Garofalo…cough). There’s also a conservative voice on the show, but often they are of the kind that doesn’t serve the conservative movement well, which in today’s conservative movement is most of them. The third panelist is often an academic or journalist with somewhat mainstream ideals to offer a nice balance between the other extremes. This type of person is also known as an independent voter, or the part of the country that votes the least.

My biggest complaint with the show is with the live audience. It is made up of some of the most partisan liberals you’ll ever come across. There are less liberals at a Code Pink rally. They cheer at every point made by a Democrat and boo/hiss at the conservative point of view. The great Christopher Hitchens said it best regarding the Real Time crowd. Bill Maher is famously not religious and he makes very valid arguments as to why he isn’t. Every time he makes an anti-religion comment the audience claps like they’re at a revival. I would bet dollars to donuts that at least 90% of the crowd who claps for these sentiments celebrates Christmas.

After the panel is through dissecting the issues of the day, Bill closes his show with New Rules, a series of jokes and punchlines that target people and subjects that usually deserve it.

Since New Rules are my favorite part of the show I’m going to give my own version a shot. My apologies in advance to Bill Maher for butchering his gift to cable TV. Without further ado:
New Rule: You can’t constantly harp on mainstream media being liberal when you are the #1 watched network and decidedly not liberal. FOX News constantly blabbers on and on about the mainstream media being a leftist group. Then in the next breath they brag about having all the top shows on cable. If you are watched by the most people, by definition you are mainstream. Harry Potter isn’t an indie film and Bruce Springsteen doesn’t play in dive bars. By this rationale, FOX News is mainstream media. And full of shit too.

New Rule: If you call someone a partisan hack on your TV show, you yourself can’t be a partisan hack. Recently Chris Matthews, the same guy who has an orgasm at the mention of Obama’s name, called Pat Buchanan a partisan for saying he’d prefer 100 Sharon Angles in the Senate instead of 100 Harry Reids. Chris, he’s a Republican and Harry Reid is one of the anti-christs to them. What do you think he’s going to say? “Well Chris Sharon Angle is as bat-shit crazy as you are annoying and I’m going to support Reid?” Get your inflated liberal head out of your ass and go jerk off to the Obama campaign poster over your bed.

New Rule: You can’t be considered presidential material if you refuse to give interviews to anyone who doesn’t pay your salary. Newsflash, being president is a tough job. You can’t just take your ball and go home. Difficult decisions need to be made on a constant basis and if you can’t handle a question from The New York Times how the hell will you be able to deal with the hard choices. You know, like when to cut your Vice President’s mic.

And finally, New Rule:  You can’t say you represent everything the Founding Fathers hoped for in the country when if the Founding Fathers were here today they would laugh their asses off at you while you called them elitist secularists who had the same family values Tiger Woods. There’s a growing anti-intelligence movement in this country, fueled by the Tea Party and others on the Right. This is the same group who constantly talks about how the Founding Fathers did not plan on the country being run the way it currently is. If they’re referring to a black man in charge, then yes they’re right. Well, the Founders might have been ok with Obama controlling 3/5 of the Oval Office.

If Jim DeMint, Christine O’Donnell, Sarah Palin or Glenn Beck actually knew what the Founding Fathers stood for they wouldn’t rally behind them. They’d call them gay for wearing wigs and stockings. The Founders represent everything the Tea Partiers hate. Education? Thomas Jefferson founded a college. And a good one too. Technology? Ben Franklin invented lightning rods, bi-focals, fire companies, and odometers among many more things. Oh, he also founded several newspapers. Something else a lot of today’s “just-like-me” politicians wouldn’t recognize except for when they pass the time playing with Silly Putty. Speaking of Ben Franklin, the guy got more ass than a toilet seat. And not from his wife. Let’s not forget the Founders studied Greek and Roman history as the basis for the new country they formed. But Greece and Rome are in Europe, so who needs to listen to those pussies, am I right?

Buy hey, things could be worse. We could have candidates who distort speeches that seriously compare their opponents to the people we are fighting against overseas to keep our way of life intact.

Oh. My bad. Now if you'll excuse me I'm going to go listen to old tapes of Tim Russert and cry myself to sleep.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Share a Moon Landing With Your Couch and Watch Modern Family

It’s tough to be the best at something. Many try but only a handful succeed. Abraham Lincoln is considered the best president we’ve ever had, although he probably wasn’t trying for that mantle when he was in office as restoring the Union was a little more important. Michael Jordan is the best basketball player to lace them up, but converse to Lincoln, he was actually trying to achieve that title. And of course Daniel-san was the best at karate, but only because Joe Esposito sang a song about it.

I am prone to say a day of the week is the best for TV watching (Thursday). I also like to say what is not the best aspect of TV (Jim Parsons’s Emmy win). Today I’m going to use this space to lay claim to what I believe is the best show on TV, ABC’s Modern Family.

The main reason this show is the best on television is it is as funny as it intends to be. How people watch garbage like The Big Bang Theory and laugh is beyond me. It’s not funny. Nor was According to Jim or Dharma and Greg, but those shows lasted for years while Arrested Development had to beg to stay on air. Where’s the justice? I bet Lincoln wouldn’t have gone for that.

One way you know the show is funny, aside from the dead giveaway of your own laughter, is you laugh without the coercion of a laugh track. Fortunately this technique is going the way of the dinosaur, but some shows that aren’t as secure in their humor still use them. Most of these shows can be found on CBS. For a show like The Big Bang Theory that runs a laugh track on scenes that aren’t funny, the viewers are so confused why they should be laughing that they might miss the one funny line in the show because they’ve disregarded the opinion of the laugh track. A laugh track is nothing more than the networks trying to tell you when to laugh. Well Mr. Network I’ll laugh when I want to laugh. And it won’t be during a scene like this (warranted Emmy my ass).

Not only is Modern Family funny as a whole, but every character is worth their screen time. Even the least appealing characters bring their own value to the scenes they are in. For what it’s worth I think the Dunphy kids are said characters, but they’d be the top attraction on Rules of Engagement, and David Spade might try to date the oldest one.

Phil and Cameron, along with Jack Donaghy and Larry David, are the four funniest characters on comedy shows. Everything Phil and Cameron say is funny. This is a tribute to both the actors for capturing what the writers create and to the writers for creating characters that are so appealing. Manny is close to the Phil-Cam level, but only because he’s a 40 year old man stuck in an adolescent’s body. He’s like an Hispanic Josh Baskins with a hotter mom.

Aside from the humor the show provides, another thing that makes the show great is it is a believable comedy. There is no fat guy with a knock-out wife. There aren’t six twenty-somethings living in a major city with shitty jobs but kick-ass apartments. This is part of what made Seinfeld and Cheers so great. Everyone sits around with their friends talking about nothing. The cast of Modern Family is reflective of the current American society. Jay, Gloria, Manny, The Dunphys, Cameron and Mitchell all represent divorce, remarriage, step-children, adoption, gay couples, stressed out moms, naïve dads, and kids being kids. Show me one family in America that doesn’t have at least some of those qualities in their own life and I’ll show you a liar. Or maybe two.

Finally, and not that I would suggest this, but if you miss a week of Modern Family you don’t mail in the season. Shows like 24, Lost, and others require a weekly commitment. Look, most of us have things to do and times come up where an episode needs to be missed. Miss a week of 24 and you might as well have never turned it on. But if you need a Jack Bauer fix, if you pay him enough, maybe Kiefer Sutherland will come and yell at you for your busy life. Just make sure you have a step-ladder and an ignition interlock system.

“Tell me where you were!”
/shoots you in the calf
“I said tell me where you were!”

“I had to take my kids to their hockey game. Jesus Christ you didn’t have to shoot me you psychopath!”

“I’m sorry. I get carried away. I just hate to see people miss Modern Family.”

See, even Jack Bauer watches it. And so should you.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ambassador Kenny Powers: Season 2 Preview of Eastbound & Down

Sunday is challenging Thursday for the best TV-watching day of the week. Sunday morning you have your choice of political talk shows to watch how representatives from both sides of the aisle talk out of both sides of their mouths. Once they finish, the NFL begins.

If spending 7 hours parked on the couch watching football is wrong, then I don’t want to be right. Finally, if the Sunday night NFL game isn’t for your liking (and really, how can the Jets-Dolphins snoozer be), HBO provides more than ample programming to keep you glued to the television.

A show that is worth dropping the $14/month that HBO costs, premieres its second season this Sunday at 10:30, and runs for 7 weeks on the reg, is Eastbound & Down.

For those not lucky enough to see season one, Eastbound & Down is the story of retired (though not by choice) major league pitcher Kenny Powers. Kenny burst onto the national scene as a hard-throwing, even harder-partying, bigoted, drug using, steroid-abusing, womanizing reliever whose ego grew to the size of Barry Bonds’s head. This attitude was tolerated as long as he was throwing darts, but when his fastball became more of a changeup Kenny ended up out of baseball.

Kenny didn’t have a smart retirement plan for all his millions. Just like part of the title of his autobiography, he was “fucking out” of money. He found himself down on his luck and forced to move in with his brother and his family in Shelby County, North Carolina. Kenny was living with his brother, sister-in-law and their three young children. Is there a better role model for impressionable youth to live with? All kids are eventually pressured to swear, smoke, drink, and fight. Isn’t it better they learn it at home, like Bing Crosby’s kids did?

Kenny’s goal in season one was to make it back to the big leagues. While waiting for his arm to get in line with that dream, Kenny passed the time as a substitute gym teacher at Jefferson Davis Middle School. Isn’t it time for places in the South to stop being named for people who led a rebellion against the country? I’m pretty sure in England there are no George Washington or Alexander Hamilton high schools. Plus they never dressed in drag to avoid capture.

It turned out the object of Kenny’s desire, April, also taught at Jeff Davis. April and Kenny had a history that went back to high school. She’s the one woman who Kenny gets butterflies for. Unfortunately for Kenny, April was engaged to the principal of the school. Fortunately for Kenny, April’s fiancé couldn’t compete with Kenny’s bravado and they shared an intimate encounter at April’s house. More unfortunately for Kenny was when they did get together, he finished before it ever got started, if you catch my drift. This quick start embarrassed Kenny and he let his feeling be known on the subject. To which I quote, “I’m super super sad….I’ve been stripped of all my god given talents…including the talents to be able to have sex with any woman I choose, to throw a fuckin’ ball fast, or to not prematurely cum in my pants. Sometimes I just don’t even know which one hurts the most.”

The man should write for Hallmark.

Just like how Batman had Robin, Martin had Lewis, Thelma had Louise and Sacco had Vanzetti, Kenny has Stevie. Stevie Janowski was a teacher at Jefferson Davis, went to school with Kenny, and idolized him his whole life. Once Kenny returned to Shelby County, Stevie’s life improved greatly. That is if you consider emulating the archetype of an asshole an improvement. In Stevie’s case it probably was. Hanging out with Kenny gave Stevie confidence he never had before. Granted it was confidence to go shirtless at a party and openly display steroids in public, but confidence nonetheless.

Another person who capitalized on Kenny Powers’s return to the Tar Heel state was Ashley Schaeffer, he of Ashley Schaeffer BMW. Ashley Schaeffer is part Nature Boy Ric Flair and part Will Ferrell. Well, he’s mostly Will Ferrell since that’s who plays him. Ashley Schaeffer owns the car dealership that serves as the setting for numerous memorable scenes from season one. What other car dealership can you go to where if you’re a man and hesitant about buying a car, a saleswoman will give you a handjob with her mouth? Or if you’re a woman with the same caution to buy, a salesman will finger you with his penis? And people say the South is conservative.

This season involves Kenny Powers playing baseball in Mexico. He also dumps his 80’s style mullet for a more early ‘00s style cornrows. What could go wrong for a guy with loose morals in a country where college kids go each spring because the U.S. bars aren’t as forgiving on underage drinking and bathroom sex?

On Sunday at 10:30 we’ll all find out. Are you fucking in?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Dancing With a Couple of Stars and Some Throw-ins

Reality television is a very diverse genre. There are shows about housewives, dating, rebuilding homes, trying to be a stand-up comedian, and selling antiques, among many more. For all its differences, there is one common theme among reality shows, in particular successful ones – and that is the show’s producers, networks, and stars try to cram in as many seasons into a year as possible. On Monday night ABC proves this point by premiering its 11th season of Dancing with the Stars.

Dancing with the Stars debuted in America in 2005. It was taken mostly in part from a British show called Strictly Come Dancing. Taking things from the British is becoming a common theme in American television. The Office, Dancing with the Stars, America’s Got Talent, and others are examples of this. Thankfully when The Benny Hill Show was on no one replaced Benny. What other fifty year old man could have pulled off wearing a sailor’s cap while chasing a bevy of girls around his house to the tune of Yakety Sax?

Prior celebrities that have done well on DWTS include athletes, models, singers and the guy who played J. Peterman. This year’s cast is a diverse one. Some have dancing experience, some athletic success, and some are entertainers. The most diverse aspect about the cast is some of them aren’t even stars. Let’s breakdown the cast the best way I know how, with sarcastic comments and very little research. At the end I’ll pick my winner, which should be given the same credence as the guy who approved that Dewey headline in 1948.

Audrina Patridge: Here is the first example of someone who ABC considers a star but is far from it. Her only real talent is moving into the right apartment complex at the right time so she could be spotted by an MTV casting director. However, Audrina brings certain qualities to the show that others do not. My guess is she does pretty well since she’s young, in great shape and dresses in a way that makes Kelly Bundy look like Amish.

Brandy Norwood: Brandy should do well since she is a singer and I assume a decent dancer since artists of her genre (crappy pop music that is usually lip-synched so they can dance) usually are. However, Brandy’s partner should be concerned that she'll have flashbacks to a deadly accident that she was in a few years ago, stop paying attention to her steps, run into other couples and then say the experience changed her life for the better. To which I ask - someone died because she didn’t pay attention to stopped traffic and she’s in a better place because of it? How noble of her. Too bad that better place isn’t prison. I hope she’s the first one eliminated so she can return to her better life.

Bristol Palin: Anyone who decides to have sex with a guy who thinks a normal career path is high school hockey player, Playgirl, then mayor has to have a few judgment issues. I don’t blame Bristol for selling her engagement pictures to tabloids, appearing on TV shows as a voice for abstinence, and dancing with a few minor celebrities. She has a small window to quit whatever job she has to exploit herself and make as much money as possible. It runs in the family.

David Hasselhoff: What can I say about The Hoff that I didn’t say here? After seeing that roast it is very evident The Hoff is well past his prime. I’m pretty sure he was wearing a plastic tuxedo. Take it from someone who only danced when he was drunk, it doesn’t make you better. There’s a better chance The Hoff makes a move on his partner mid-step because in his drunken state he thought she was giving him signs than him making it to the finals.

Florence Henderson: Mrs. Brady is on the cast this season. She was the wet dream for a lot of teenagers in the 1970s-80s. She’s up there in years now but she still looks the best of all the Brady girls. Plus I’m pretty sure she never traded sex for drugs.

Jennifer Grey: Here’s the odds-on favorite to win. Patrick Swayze taught her to dance in the Catskills. I bet the fat guy from Roadhouse can still kick ass like Swayze taught him to. We all know Keanu Reeves learned his football moves in The Replacements from his time with Swayze playing beach football in Point Break. Don’t break the streak Jennifer Grey, don’t break the streak.

Kurt Warner: If Jesus wants Kurt to win, then he’ll win. But I think Jesus knows better than to put all his eggs in the basket of a 39 year old former quarterback who took more hits to his head than Rocky, and Rocky never defended his head in a fight. What would Jesus do? Jesus would bet on someone else to win.

Kyle Massey: Who?

Margaret Cho: Comedians never do well on this show. Jeffrey Ross is known to be one of the worst contestants in the show’s history, which was great because he was able to come back and roast the finalists. I don’t see Margaret Cho changing this trend. Someone who spends her time fighting for as many causes as she does doesn’t have time to work on dance steps. Except for Benjamin Franklin, whose nickname at the Continental Congress was Happy Feet.

Michael Bolton: This guy is going to do well. He was a crooner who wrote songs people probably used as first dances at their wedding. Talk about regrets. Plus Bolton was able to grow not only a mullet, but a curly one with a receding hairline. Yet women still swooned over him. In my single days I tried almost everything under the sun to improve myself with the ladies, but never the balding mullet. Now that I’m married, and have a hairline taking the same path as the French in WWII, I wonder if my wife would find me even more irresistible with “The Bolton”. There’s only one way to find out. Nurse, get my crinkling iron!

Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino: After Brandy Norwood, this is the person I’m hoping gets eliminated the fastest. I’ve written about what a two-faced chump The Situation is here. Since that time I’ve seen The Situation steal another one of Vinny’s girls, basically tattle on Angelina’s antics to the guy she’s seeing and do everything he could to make Pauly D’s night of intimacy with some girl as uncomfortable as possible. How has no one challenged him on these obvious details? It’s like he just won the Delaware Republican nomination for the Senate or something.

Rick Fox: Rick Fox should do well in this contest. He spent years having sex with Vanessa Williams. There are ways to practice your hip movements and there are WAYS TO PRACTICE YOUR HIP MOVEMENTS. Like a dumbass he left Vanessa Williams, so there’s always the possibility he’ll try to switch partners midway through the competition.

The three contestants I think will be there at the end are Jennifer Gray, Rick Fox and Michael Bolton, with Jennifer Gray taking the top prize.

And if she doesn’t, there’s a corner Jerry Orbach’s ghost is going to put her in.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Finally...The League Has Come Back...To Thursdays

Just how last Thursday marked the beginning of the NFL season, this Thursday is the debut of another long-awaited return that focuses on the pigskin. Of course the show I’m referring to is FXs The League.

Football fans waited a grueling 7 months for the NFL to begin, but we’ve been waiting an even longer 9 months for The League to resume. For the most part, Jersey Shore aside, Thursdays at 10:30 have been relegated to channel surfing, hoping to find a decent re-run of Seinfeld, Family Guy or Always Sunny in Philadelphia to hold me over until The Daily Show starts. However, I do all I can to skip over Bravo because watching The Real Housewives of DC , even if only for a minute, is like reading the story of Billy Mumphrey in your neighbor’s apartment that’s filled with toxic gas.

One of the best parts of The League is how it emulates the life of its target audience, that golden demographic of 18-34 year olds. There aren’t many shows that successfully pull this off.

Friends had 6 people living in New York with the combined income of $100,000 (two of whom didn’t have steady jobs at all for a long time and another who occasionally gave someone a massage), yet all had great places to live and never seemed at a loss for money other than one episode where it was an issue. Entourage is a story of 4 friends that remain loyal to each other but one is a movie star – not likely unless you graduated from West Beverly High. How I Met Your Mother shows a married couple not breaking stride with their single friends and keeping the exact same social life after their nuptials. Plus they tolerate Ted. Talk about a stretch.

The League focuses on a group of friends who play in a fantasy football league together. Just like most leagues, some of the guys are married, some are single, some have money, some hate their jobs, and so on. The common denominator is they all love football and talking as much trash to, and about each other, as possible. One of the better parts in The League is one guy gets taken to the wood shed by his wife over his football moves. Going back to How I Met Your Mother, Lilly wishes she was that cool, and probably so does Marshall.

The only real flaw I see in The League compared to my group of friends and our fantasy leagues is the number of people in it, but the show can’t have 10 main characters. They don’t live with Coach Lubbock after all.

While the show focuses on fantasy football, it also focuses on the lives on these guys. If a woman wants to see what living with a guy who plays fantasy football is like, she just needs to watch The League. Then figure out which one she is dating. To make it easier on the female readers out there, here is a little info on each of the main characters.

Kevin (Stephen Rannazzisi) is married, has a kid and is in a way like a younger Phil Dunphy – the husband every guy strives to be. His team is secretly co-managed by his wife Jenny, a woman who takes being cool to a whole other level by looking the other way on some of Kevin’s actions, like watching porn on the treadmill.

Pete (Mark Duplass) is divorced, does pretty well with the ladies and even better in the fantasy league as a multiple time winner. He’s a pretty normal guy. He’s quick with a joke, or to light up your smoke, but it always seems that there’s someplace that he’d rather be (like trying to trade rape his league mates).

Taco (Jon Lajoie) is like Kramer – he comes and goes without any real direction, mooches off his friends, you don’t really know what he does for money and yet he seems to always land on his feet. Or in bed with someone. He’s quite the cad. But when it comes right down to it, he’s a just a regular everyday normal guy.

Andre (Paul Scheer) is a plastic surgeon who moonlights as the doormat for his friends’ jokes. He gets made fun of the most and takes it without any sort of incident, just a lot of whining. Imagine Jon Cryer’s character from Two and Half Men, but funny. Andre got the last laugh when he took home what all the guys wanted, Shiva - the beautiful girl they went to high school with. Oh yeah, he won the league title too.

Ruxin (Nick Kroll) is the alpha male of the group. He hates being married, seems to hate his job which he’ll use to wield influence in any way possible and dishes out the most abusive comments about his friends. He’ll lie to his friends’ face and use questionable tactics to get ahead in the standings, like visiting a nine year old after dark for fantasy advice.

As we all know, playing fantasy football requires no skill, talent or real knowledge of the game. Anyone who recommended playing Jerome Harrison or sitting Hakeem Nicks this past weekend is proof of that. I even wrote about how luck-based fantasy football is here.

However, writing a show about fantasy football, and getting people to actually laugh during it, takes talent, humor and skill. It isn’t lucky at all. The only lucky ones are us, the viewers, that The League is back for another season.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The VMAs are DOA

The Video Music Awards or VMAs, were aired Sunday night on MTV. Everyone knows MTV really doesn’t play videos anymore, but it needs to be said again that them hosting this kind of award show is like the Detroit Lions honoring football excellence, Ashton Kutcher rewarding good movies, or MSNBC awarding objective journalism. It should also be noted that an award show honoring music videos (the original purpose of MTV) is in its own right, pretty narcissistic. It would be like the Kardashians getting together and giving awards to themselves for best Kardashian in a number of different categories. Biggest Mooch off a Kardashian, and the winner is – Brody Jenner…come on up and get your golden sex tape.

The 2010 version was hosted by Chelsea Handler, who I wrote about my admiration of here. Chelsea is one of the better comedians going these days and her late night show is excellent. At first I wasn’t sure why she’d attach her name to something as vapid and useless as the MTV Video Awards. Then I thought about it a bit. Why wouldn’t she do it? I’m sure she got paid to host the event. Money is always nice, regardless of how many movies Michael Moore makes trying to convince us of the opposite. Plus she’s very good at making fun of people; just watch her show for a few minutes. I say that as a compliment and not a detriment. What better opportunity is there to rip on the likes of Lady Gaga and Kanye West than hosting a show they will be at? It’s a blank check on insults. Only the judge presiding over Lindsay Lohan’s criminal issues has a better opportunity to put oblivious celebrities in their place.

Full disclosure should be revealed here. I used to like the VMAs. This was back when videos were shot with nothing more than what seemed like a hand held camcorder. The set looked like a room in someone’s house or rented office space. There weren’t a lot of props and sometimes the video was just a clip from a concert. Hot For The Teacher, Walk This Way, We’re Not Gonna Take It and of course one of the all-time most ridiculous videos, Separate Ways, are just a few examples.

I watched the VMAs to see if my favorite bands would win, but I’d also watch to see some of my favorite comics and entertainers as well. People don’t remember who won Best Video in 1992, but they do remember this. Nor do they recall who won anything in 1989, but this got a comic banned from MTV. In hindsight it’s pretty funny MTV banned Dice for saying a few curse words, but now their shows have more sex on them than Cinemax.

Perhaps it’s part of me getting older and longing for the days of better music and more talent. But back when the VMAs started the show wasn’t an extravagant affair and the musicians who won actually were good at doing something other than lip-synching. I listen to a lot of classic rock on the radio. This is for a few reasons. Obviously one reason is because the music on there is from my younger days and before and I grew up listening to it. However, another reason is because most of the new artists today are terrible. Does anyone really think in 20 years we’ll be listening to The Black Eyed Peas, Katy Perry or Justin Bieber on classic rock stations? I don’t.

Then again, in 20 years I’ll probably be happy just tuning in to the oldies channel.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Situation With The Situation

When I was a kid I watched WWF (now WWE) religiously. My favorite wrestler was, of course, Hulk Hogan (who I roasted here). One of his best friends at the time was Paul Orndorff aka Mr. Wonderful. One of my most distinct memories of wrestling was when Hulk Hogan was getting destroyed by King Kong Bundy and Big John Studd during tag team match. Paul Orndorff jumped in and cleared house, coming to Hulk’s rescue. As Hulk was helped to his feet, Mr. Wonderful raised Hulk’s arm in the air like a ref does the winner of a match. Then, without warning, Mr. Wonderful clotheslined Hulk and proceeded to beat his ass like the SEC does to Ohio State in BCS bowl games.

The point of this story isn’t just a trip down memory lane, but more so an example of how someone the public thinks is one thing, is in actuality the complete opposite. The parallels between Paul Orndorff and Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino are more than just a fake tan and false sense of entitlement.

Just how Paul Orndorff will always be the ultimate wrestling heel to me, The Situation will always be one of the most two-faced reality personalities, which is saying something given the high level of horrible people who have agreed to have their lives recorded for a TV show.

There are three examples that come to mind when describing how much of a paper tiger The Situation really is.

Atlantic City
On a trip to Atlantic City in season one, the cast took in the sites and sounds of the Las Vegas of the East Coast. The guys were at a club when Vinny made the acquaintance of young lady. They exchanged pleasantries and some spit. Then Vinny had to go to the bathroom. In steps everyone’s best friend and all-around good guy, The Situation, to look after the girl. When Vinny got back there’s Sitch doing what he does best, screwing over his purported friend by getting sloppy seconds. What kind of a friend does this? Not to mention it’s kind of disgusting to put your tongue somewhere your buddy just had his. I wonder if Vinny put down a popsicle if The Situation would pick it up and eat it.

The Letter
Season two’s biggest drama centers around a letter written to Sammi about Ronnie and his wandering head at nightclubs – that is it somehow seems to wander in between a nice pair of South Beach’s finest examples of plastic surgery. As viewers we know Snooki and JWoww authored the note (side note – this is probably the only time you’ll see JWoww, Snookie and author in the same sentence). Sammi didn’t know who wrote it and asked The Situation about it. Instead of covering for his friend, like Vinny and Pauly D did, his reaction was basically “yeah that’s true”. When he realized he gave Ronnie up he tried to correct himself by saying something like “if it’s on paper then it’s true”. Well if all it takes is for something to be written to be true then I guess The National Enquirer is on the same level as a New York Times reporter and Mitch Albom. OK, bad examples. His Benedict Arnold act gets worse because a few days (or hours, weeks, months - who knows with MTV’s editing) later The Situation again told Sammi the letter was true and then detailed what kind of girls Ronnie was hitting on. How does Ronnie not want to beat him back to Seaside? If there was one person on that show I would lie to anyone for in order to keep my organs inside my body, it’s Ronnie - the guy loves to punch people in the face (although JWoww is a close 2nd).

Snooki Punch
The third and most egregious example of The Situation being a coward is when Snooki got decked by the archetype of a meathead. If you remember, she was standing at the bar yelling at the guy. The Situation was next to them (as pictured above). The guy connected on Snooki and The Situation essentially did everything other than Chris Tucker’s move in Friday. He was closest to the guy and did nothing. The other roommates chased the puncher out into the street and were ready to beat him like a red-headed stepchild, but not Sitch. Instead of The Situation, he should be called The Bitchuation.

Yet he makes $5,000,000 a year, appears on Dancing with the Stars (looks like “stars” has a looser definition these days than “qualified” does for public office), hosts club events and is “writing” his autobiography. I wish he hired me to help write his autobiography. Here is all you need to know about Mike Sorrentino.

One day I decided to do crunches and lay under a heat lamp. I came up with a nickname for myself after watching Wolf Blitzer - Yo that cat knows the news. MTV wanted some paisans for a reality show. Even though I cook, clean and do laundry, something no old-school Italian men do, they picked me. The End.

The Situation needs to be called out. This baseless infatuation America has with him must end. He's ruining a perfectly good guilty pleasure television program. Friends don’t do what he does to each other. He is all about himself and no one else. Yet Pauly D and Vinny are right there calling him their boy, part of team MVP. I’m waiting for the clothesline Mr. Wonderful gave Hulk Hogan to make a repeat performance on Jersey Shore.

And we all know JWoww is going to be the one to deliver it.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

2nd Verse Same as the First - NFL Preview Part II

To see Part I of my 2010 NFL Preview, click here.

There’s no time for pleasantries, let’s get right to the action.

AFC East
New York Jets (11-5): The Jets are coached by Rex Ryan, who is the embodiment of a football coach. He is larger than life, swears more than Richard Pryor, installs confidence in his team, runs a smash mouth system that runs the ball on offense and beats the shit out of you on defense. He is a wet dream for journalists because he has no filter. His players love him and his opponents hate him. He is a master motivator. If Rex Ryan was in charge of the South, we’d be speaking Foxworthy and disavowing evolution today.

New England Patriots (9-7): Tom Brady’s back and his knee is a year stronger. Blah, blah, blah. Tom Brady hasn’t won anything in six years. Ever since he started dating Gisele he’s become an LA or New York guy. He must hate living in Boston where it is winter from October to May, the closest beach is next to a dog track and one of their nicest museums is where Paul Revere is buried. The constant scrutiny of the Massholes who turn on him as soon as he says hello to Kobe Bryant or wears a Yankees hat must really make him feel loved. Not to mention his receiving corp has about as much diversity as Brookline. The bottom line is they’re old, have no running game and are coached by a guy who makes Ben Stein sound interesting.

Miami Dolphins (8-8): Ronnie Brown will get hurt, Brandon Marshall will wear out his welcome and Ricky Williams will either run for 1200 yards or leave the team to work for Seth and Munchie's Garden Blast. The Dolphins also run the Wildcat offense. Would you believe me if I said the formation is loosely based off of Goldie Hawn’s offensive scheme at Central High School? Here’s hoping Bird Williams makes a cameo in South Beach this year.

Buffalo Bills (2-14): This will be the worst team in the league, which is too bad because it seems every year the team gets closer to moving to Toronto, which isn’t even something liberals threaten to do anymore.

AFC North
Baltimore Ravens (12-4): I am drinking the Kool-Aid on the Ravens this year. Their quarterback is ready to make the jump into a Pro Bowl caliber passer. They have one of the most multi-dimensional running backs in the game. They acquired a tough-as-nails wideout in the offseason. Plus they have the kid from The Blind Side on their offensive line. Not to mention Ray Lewis, T-Suggs, Ed Reed and the fellas are back on defense. Those guys are so nasty Marlo Stanfield wouldn’t cross them with Avon Barksdale’s gat.

Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6): With the suspension of No Means Ben for the first four to six weeks, the Steelers will be hard pressed to continue their usual level of success. Since this team has been to the playoffs with slingers like Tommy Maddox and Kordell Stewart, they should be fine in #7’s absence. Not to mention Troy Polamalu is back and when he isn’t making shampoo commercials can single-handedly change the course of a game from the safety position. Another year of not making the playoffs would make Steeler Nation a bunch of shut-ins. That is until they realized there are a lot of other things to do, mostly because none of them live in Pittsburgh anymore.

Cincinnati Bengals (7-9): Last year’s surprise is this year’s let down. Their quarterback is an injury waiting to happen. Their running back likes to be in mug shots as much as he does the end zone. They have two wide receivers who combined are almost 70 years old. For whatever reason, the Bengals like to give money to players with questionable character. PacMan Jones, Matt Jones, and Tank Johnson are just a few examples. It’s like the city of Cincinnati ran out of half-way houses and the Bengals volunteered their locker room.

Cleveland Browns (6-10): The Browns finished strong last season, winning four in a row to cap off 2009. Normally a franchise would use this as a spring board to the next season. Instead of doing that the Browns signed Jake Delhomme, who has this reaction on every time he throws the ball. Hasn’t Cleveland suffered enough? Apparently not according to the Browns front office.

AFC South
Indianapolis Colts (10-6): I think this will be the year the Peyton train starts to come off the tracks a bit. They’ve won at least 12 games for seven years in a row, which is a testament to their consistency. In that time they’ve won one title and lost another. Peyton Manning is an all-time great, but he is a little too quick to blame others for his own wrongs. For example, the interception he threw in last year’s Super Bowl was blamed on the wide receiver. I guess it is the wide receiver’s fault for throwing it right into Tracy Porter’s hands. At least that’s the excuse the Monday Night Football crew would use as soon as they got Peyton’s Manning out of their mouths.

Houston Texans (9-7): This team can move the ball up and down the field. Unfortunately their defense tends to let the opposing offenses do the same. The playoffs have been a long-time coming for this franchise. If it doesn’t happen this year Gary Kubiak can start looking in the classifieds in 2011. Just like the Congressional Democrats.

Tennessee Titans (8-8): Last season the team started off 0-6 and finished 8-8 after common sense re-appeared to coach Jeff Fisher and he benched a quarterback who was drafted the year I graduated from high school. Chris Johnson ran for 2,000 yards and it could have been more if his first few games weren’t so sluggish. The problem with the Titans is they play ball control offense which lends itself towards close games. There will be a few times when Vince Young needs to win games with his arm. It remains to be seen how successful he can be at that.

Jacksonville Jaguars (4-12): The AFC South is a tough division to play in. Someone needs to be the doormat of the South and since General Sherman torched his way to Savannah, why not take the city closest to it. The Jags are a one-man team in Maurice Jones-Drew. Given some reports out of Jags camp he might be a one-knee man, not the best sign for success. Then again lots of teams have gone on to do many things relying on injured players – like pick first in the draft.

AFC West
San Diego Chargers (11-5): Despite a few big ticket holdouts, the Chargers will benefit from playing in the AFC West, where they should go at worst 5-1. There are numerous examples of players holding out or not wanting to play in San Diego. I’ve lived on the East Coast my whole life and one of the best weeks of my life was when I visited San Diego. Every winter I threaten to move there without a job or any knowledge of the economy there. These players get paid to play a sport AND live in San Diego. That's like discovering plutonium, by accident.

Kansas City Chiefs (8-8): This might be the most preposterous pick of the entire preview. The Chiefs have been horrible for several years now. They have a coach no one seems to like and two coordinators from the early 00's Patriots Dynasty who went on to be atrocious head coaches. However, they got a steal in the draft with Eric Berry to firm up their defensive backfield and Jamaal Charles is primed to break out in a big way on the offensive side of the ball. Plus they get to play the Raiders and Broncos four times, which is like shooting fish in a barrel, if those fish were coached by a third grader and Coach Harris from Revenge of the Nerds.

Oakland Raiders (7-9): The Raiders lost to a lot of teams last season, but they somehow managed to win a few big games over quality opponents. Amazing things happen when JaMarcus Russell is no longer under center. For what seems like almost a decade, the Raiders have made lousy 1st round draft picks year in and year out. JaMarcus Russell, Darrius Heyward-Bey, and Darren McFadden are just a few examples resulting from the ineptitude of their recent draft strategy. Who’s calling the shots for the Raiders, Josh McDaniels?

Denver Broncos (4-12): Speaking of Josh McDaniels, the Broncos got out of the gates on fire last season but limped to the finish line. In a few short years, McDaniels has developed a knack for running high priced players out of Denver in some sort of “You will respect my authority” gesture. To make matters worse, after trading a 100+ catch receiver in Brandon Marshall, McDaniels drafted Tim Tebow in the 1st round, someone almost every talent evaluator in the country says cannot successfully play quarterback in the NFL and pinned as a 3-4th round pick. So what if Tebow was a superstar in college. If I did for a living what I was good at it in college I’d be in Motley Crue.

Playoffs: Baltimore and New York Jets win byes; Pittsburgh over Indianapolis, San Diego over Houston. Baltimore over Pittsburgh, San Diego over New York Jets. Baltimore over San Diego.

Super Bowl XLV: Baltimore over Green Bay

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The 2010 NFL Season: Your Guess is as Good as Mine

In about a week the nation’s eyes will turn to New Orleans. It has been a long, arduous, and grueling seven months since the NFL season ended. The NBA regular season, a neutered Tiger PGA tour, tennis, and the World Cup have all tried to take the place of the country’s #1 sport. They have succeeded as well as Tiger has at golf since he stopped Tiger-ing every cocktail waitress and porn star between Las Vegas and Orlando. Well fear not, because like a newly divorced Tiger, the NFL season is back and coming to millions across the country.

Since the fall television season doesn’t get started for a few more weeks, I’m going to try to get my previewing skills sharp by taking a shot at the NFL. Most of what follows is nothing more than speculation based on cheap observations and very little facts or research.

Today is the NFC’s turn to get prognosticated. Come back Friday for their AFC brethren.

Let the baseless guessing begin…

NFC East
Dallas Cowboys (12-4): This team is stacked. A talented quarterback with some big December wins under his belt, coupled with a fast defense that gets after the ball and quarterback. Plus the Super Bowl is in Dallas this year and Jerry Jones wants to be the first team to host the Super Bowl and play in it. Based on the last twenty years, what JJ wants, JJ gets. Unfortunately WR Roy Williams was one of those things and he drops more passes than Jack Tripper at the Regal Beagle.

Philadelphia Eagles (10-6): The loss of Donovan McNabb will help this team. Still having Andy Reid at coach will offset that benefit. Bank on at least two losses because of Reid’s clock management acumen. He is to the 2:00 drill what Dina Lohan is to parenting.

New York Giants (8-8): Eli Manning will always hold a special place in America’s heart for leading his team over the most hated group of assholes from New England since Gary’s Old Towne Tavern, but Eli just isn’t a very good quarterback. Not to mention the defense is getting older and as long as Brandon Jacobs is the featured back, the punter should be getting a lot of action.

Washington Redskins (6-10): I live in DC. Ever since Mike Shanahan and Donovan McNabb got to town, all people talk about is playoffs and MVPs and a return to glory. This is essentially the same team as last year except a year older and with a worse quarterback. Their offensive line, while marginally improved, is still going to have McNabb on his back more than Pamela Anderson at CrueFest. Not to mention Clinton Portis is pushing 30, which in running back years means he has roughly the same shot at 1,000 yards as Justin Long has at making a good movie.

NFC North
Green Bay Packers (12-4)
As long as their defense gives up less than 30 points a game, the Packers are going to be very difficult to beat. Aaron Rodgers is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, Ryan Grant is a steady running back and Greg Jennings is a top flight wideout. Charles Woodson is the reigning defensive player of the year. Not to mention playing in Green Bay in the winter for opposing teams is as appealing as free tickets to a Glenn Beck speech.

Minnesota Vikings (10-6): Even with the injury to Sidney Rice, Adrian Peterson and their defense will make the Vikes successful. However, this team can’t fail enough for me, and it has everything to do the narcissistic grandfather they have at quarterback. Minnesota used to be a team you could root for. They run the ball, play good defense, have a good group of loyal fans, a prominent history in the league and so on. Well that all changed when they brought in Brett Favre. The guy has gone away and come back more than Jesus Christ. I could watch this all day.

Detroit Lions (5-11): Two years removed from an 0-16 season, this is the year things start to go in a positive direction for the Lions. They have had a successful past couple of drafts. Calvin Johnson is a big play wide receiver and Matthew Stafford can get the ball to him. Jahvid Best is a potential playmaker in the backfield and Suh is a potential beast on the defensive line. But they are still young and prone to making mistakes.

Chicago Bears (4-12): Mike Martz is the Bears new offensive coordinator. People seem to get excited by this. Aside from a short tenure in St. Louis when his scheme was very successful, what has this guy done at stops in Detroit and San Francisco since 2006? In case you’re wondering, he has as many playoff appearances since he left the Rams as I do, and I haven’t coached in years. 33 of them to be exact.

NFC South
New Orleans Saints (11-5): There’s going to be a championship hangover in New Orleans this season. Last year’s run can’t be duplicated. Their defense was very opportunistic and came up with big scores last season. Not to mention last year they played a last place schedule, and this year they’ll have a first place one. Repeating is hard to do, unless you’re Jimmy Two Times or play in New England with state of the art recording equipment.

Carolina Panthers (9-7): Every year they seem to be a popular pick to do well, and every year they come up short. Last year, despite two stud running backs and a tough defense, it was because their quarterback liked to throw to the other team more than his own. This year, who knows what the reason will be. But like most of Adam Sandler’s latest films, the Panthers look good on paper but are destined to disappoint.

Atlanta Falcons (8-8): 2009 was a turn in the wrong direction for one of 2008’s surprise teams. Michael Turner was overworked in ’08 and it showed last year and Matt Ryan experienced the Sophomore Slump popular in pro sports. Seeing how he never won anything in college other than a few secondary bowl games, maybe 2009 wasn’t a slump, but more an indicator of how good he actually is.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12): This is a very young team, and young teams don’t win in the NFL. Its quarterback is in his second year. Their top defensive lineman and wide receiver are rookies. Hell, their coach is barely ten years out of college. One of the few guys on the team with any years under his belt is running back Cadillac Williams, who plays the one position you want youth. Not only is he a veteran but he’s also gone under the knife more often than Heidi Montag. The Bucs will have more bad plays than Leo Bloom.

NFC West
San Francisco 49ers (9-7): This year’s popular pick to make the leap is the 49ers, and since I wasn’t popular in high school, I might as well be with this pick. The 49ers have a no-nonsense coach, a strong defense and a powerful running game. Their biggest problem is their quarterback, who has hands too small to grip the ball, which is kind of like having a teacher afraid to speak in public.

Arizona Cardinals (6-10): As long as Matt Leinart is the quarterback of this team they might as well spot their opponent two scores, because that’s how many points are going to result from his turnovers. Even if Leinart doesn’t play, the Cards other option is Derek Anderson, who in 2009 was benched for Brady Quinn in Cleveland. That’s like losing the Emmy to Jim Parsons.

St. Louis Rams (4-12): This is a bad team, and has been for a while. Given their schedule and the fact they have one of the best running backs in the game, a few wins should come their way. Starting rookie Sam Bradford at quarterback is in essence throwing in the towel before the year begins, but maybe by Week 12 he’ll have learned enough to win a few games. Apparently their new owner isn’t entirely opposed to moving the team back to California, so enjoy the weekly beatings of your Rams while you still can St. Louis.

Seattle Seahawks (2-14): This team has poor wide receivers, not much of a running game, an injury prone quarterback and a bad secondary. Other than that they’re in great shape. Not to mention their coach just high-tailed it out of USC right before the NCAA came crashing in with sanctions. That’s the real stand-up kind of guy I’d want leading my football team. They might as well have hired 1940s France.

Playoffs: Dallas and Green Bay win byes; Philadelphia over San Francisco, New Orleans over Minnesota. Dallas over Philadelphia, Green Bay over New Orleans; Green Bay over Dallas.
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