Monday, June 28, 2010

I Call Offsides On Soccer Offsides

Mexico, I have no pity for you that Argentina scored against you on a goal despite the shooter being offside. When you pull that goal zone trap nonsense, sending a defender up the field despite a striker headed past you toward the goal without the ball in the hopes that the referee will bail you out of your defensive stupidity, you DESERVE TO BE SCORED ON.

Soccer really needs to change its offside rule in order to stop encouraging such weak defensive tactics. From now on, offside should only be called behind midfield. If the ball is around the goal, it should be a free-for-all.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Review: Grown Ups

I missed my high school reunion, but Grown Ups is exactly how I pictured it would have been: You see a bunch of people you used to get along with and admire, but the years have worn away your bonds. You’re left with awkward conversation, forced pity-chuckles at lame ice-breaking jokes and a whole lot of pulling your cell phone out of your pocket to check the time.

Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider, David Spade and Chris Rock have all made brilliant comedies before, but all have lost most of whatever comedic magic they once had. Maybe they said all they had to say. Maybe time, wealth and comfort dulled their edges. Maybe they stayed the same and I grew up.

The latter explanation is doubtful, but maybe.

For whatever the reason, Grown Ups is a painful, unfunny slog that manages to make time stand still as you suffer through a reunion comedy with all the panache of a vacation slide show. The movie fails to vault even the pathetically low bar it hits for itself, relying on poop jokes, groin injuries, farts and one-liners with all the originality and punch of a greeting card to liven things up. They actors seem to be making it up as they go along, which wouldn’t be so bad except for the fact that they’ve got nothing interesting to say or do.

The motif is that the five friends – Kevin James, whom I intentionally left off my list of people who have made funny movies before, is also along for the ride – who reunite 30 years after they won the city basketball championship as kids. They gather for their coach’s funeral in generic “New England” – it’s actually labeled as such onscreen – setting up a pointless running gag in which Sandler wears a rotation of shirts and hats from several colleges in the reason.

All but Spade, who plays an eternally drunken bachelor, bring their wives and kids in tow, muddying up the movie with way too many characters who serve only to sap screentime away from the stars. James, Schneider and, to some extent, Sandler, all play straight while only Spade retains his comic persona, cracking wise in the usual hit-and-miss routine he fell into once he lost comedy team partner Chris Farley.
These guys expect to be funny just by showing up, and only Sandler has that ability, and he chooses to use as little of that as possible in this outing.

It’s a good thing the Sand-man made that remake of The Longest Yard a few years ago, because otherwise Grown Ups would stand out as the comedic mastermind’s worst effort by far.

Starring Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider, Kevin James, David Spade and Chris Rock.
Written by Sandler and Fred Wolf. Directed by Dennis Dugan. Rated PG-13. 102 minutes.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Review: Toy Story 3

This review is posted over at OK Magazine:

To me the most commanding sign of the power of this great and beautiful film is the way it managed to make my 3-year-old son cry. Luke is not a sensitive child. It takes a lot to get to the boy. You usually have to deny him ice cream or clip his fingernails against his will. To get to this child abstractly, using only images and sounds, takes a tremendous amount of emotional heft.

Toy Story 3 accomplished the task with just a line of dialogue and a whimper. I don't want to spoil the scene beyond identifying it as one that involved one of the movie's more distant and funny characters -- a noise-emitting baby doll. And damned if it didn't have me clutching my son and willing my lower lip to stop trembling as well.

This movie is by far the best I've seen this year, and I'd be willing to bet my laptop that it snags one of the best picture Oscar nominations and is a strong contender to take home the best picture prize, no matter what other works of genius come along this year. Toy Story 3 feels like a once-every-five-years confluence of perfection in tone, delivery, timing, humor and drama. The movie dwarfs the two awesome previous films in the series and somehow manages to elevate Pixar's stratospheric reputation even higher.

Like Up, last year's Pixar masterpiece, Toy Story 3 stares the concepts of love, dedication and mortality in their dagger eyes, refusing to blink as it sends you down a difficult and wrenching road, coaxing you along gently with humor and understanding. The toys are no longer a rascally gang of wise-cracking buddies who get into misadventures suitable for a sitcom, but are rusted, worn-down tools passed over by life, staring into the existential void.

Woody runs around like a revival preacher, trying to convince his friends that their owner Andy will still have some sort of use for them at some point down the road. The movie cleverly prods at humanity's need to rationalize death with concepts of an afterlife. Things only get deeper from there. The movie analyzes the march of the time in a way Ozu or Kurosawa do, taking on a feel you'd expect to find in a Miyazaki film in terms of plot development, as the toys wind up in part of a day care center that becomes a prison camp.

As Woody plans the toys' great escape, you wonder along with them to what end their best laid plans will reach. Even if they win, they lose, and will surely end up discarded by the only owner who has ever loved them.

There are bad guys who stand in the heroes' way, but as in a Miyazaki movie, they have their reasons for behaving the way they do, and may or may not be willing to see things the way the heroes do, even when they inevitably wind up in the same mental place.

The movie starts off fantastically, gets better as it rolls along and reaches an apex at the end, with betrayals, tearful partings, terrifying dilemmas and swashbuckling rescues.

It ends predictably, but only because this is a great and unique story with an epic footprint that could only finish one way -- the way you knew it would when you walked into the theater. Don't expect foreknowledge to make it any easier to choke back the tears, no matter your age.

Starring the voices of Tom Hanks and Tim Allen. Written by Michael Arndt, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich. Directed by Unkrich. Rated G. 103 minutes.

Frugal Festival

My book made it in to the goody bags given away at the Frugal Festival. Check out the evidence here and here.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Girl With the Red Balloon

She reviews my book and gives it away here.

Karma Doesn't Exist

Well, maybe it does in some sort of afterlife way, but I don't believe in on-earth karma though -- as in, you do something good and get rewarded and do something bad and get punished.. I think it's hell for both the nice and cruel and everyone scraps for whatever joy they can before the lights go out. If you're rewarded for anything in this world it's for keeping your eyes open.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Top 10 Things That Will Suck About Missing E3

10. Not getting to see and talk to people whose stuff I read every day the one time of the year it's possible to do so.

9. Not getting to walk around pretending to be important, playing any game I choose that won't be out for several months.

8. Not getting to whisper smack talk to whatever strangers are sitting next to me during press conferences about overenthusiastic developers talking about silly, stupid games.

7. Not getting blown away at the same press conferences with stunning, out-of-nowhere announcements.

6. Not getting to pick through the rack of free crazy British game magazines I've never heard of.

5. Not getting to meet my L.A. friends for lunch.

4. Not getting to play my DS when I'm waiting in line for something and have no one else look at me like I'm weird.

3. Not getting to ride shuttles to off-site press conference. The process give you that same feeling of wonder and anticipation as grade-school field trips.

2. Not getting to walk behind G4 stand-up broadcasts in a cheap effort to get my face on TV.

1. Just because.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Ass Backwards

Every day is the same. You wake up, shave, go for a run, eat your Peanut Butter Toast Crunch, take your shower, head into the office, zone out at your computer for the first hour or so. The usual 8:30 a.m. urge to pee lures you into the bathroom, and then you unzip and reach for what needs to be reached for and... nothing!

Whoah. Is this some sort of dream? A life lived in zombified stasis shocked out by the realization that you suddenly have no penis. Perhaps it's emasculation by the subconscious, making some sort of comment on your lack of resolve and self-determination by seizing your virility. All that filters through your mind in a split second of nervous frenzy, and then your index finger brushes against cloth.

This is reality. No dream. Your manhood is still there, not vanished but covered. You just put your boxers on backwards.

What can be done to correct such an error? Nothing immediately, for nature's call must be answered. In an act of contortion worthy of Cirque du Soleil, you yank up the right leg of the shorts, twist to the left and let flow. Only midstream does it occur to you that a simple pull-down would have not only taken less physical exertion, but also decreased the risk of splashage on the side of your pant leg, which teeters all to close to the base of the raging flow, which channels like the output of a firehose, extinguishing an imaginary blaze with fury before gracefully, morosely, sliding down to the base, where its sulphuric pungency is mitigated by the brave pink pisser freshener disk. You wait it out 30 seconds, then 60, and finally the Splash Mountain surge throttles down into a lazy It's a Small Word drift, and intense concentration manages the changing trajectory so it doesn't defile your Levi 501s. The nervous beads of sweat on your forehead facilitate chills of euphoria as the inner water ceases without incident. You are relieved that the catastrophe from Mrs. Carvinger's first grade class was not repeated, and you will not have to go to the office to change into a ratty pair of shorts from the lost and found, and you would not have to grudgingly fold your disgracefully soaked pants into a paper bag, to be left by your desk the rest of your day like a brown-bagged scarlet letter as you learned the finer points of addition and vowels, then shielded the bag from your mother after she picked you up, spotting, as mothers do, what you were trying to hide within the first seconds, and unknowingly rubbing in the pain by asking, "What's in the bag?"

No, you live to pee another way. But still you are confronted with the problem of having your underwear on wrong, causing a Rubik's Cube inside your pants, taunting you with its complex web of impossibility.

Your right brain screams for you to just rotate the boxers around as if they were a sock, but the leg holes prohibit that technique. It occurs to you that there that the only option is to start from square zero. You must hole up in a stall, untie your shoes, take the pants and underwear off, double check you've got it right before you zip up again, then try to resume your day. All the levels of bureaucracy to right your disaster crush your very essence, pinning you into paralysis. For though you'd like to have your underwear on correctly, the steps it will take to get there are all too discouraging.

No, you will not retool, for the same reasons you are not an FBI agent or a lawyer. You have spotted an easier route and taken it, reasoning that the relief it will yield to attain the ideal boxer formation is not worth the effort. You will plug through your day with drawers on backwards, confident that since you survived the first trip to the bathroom without incident, you will surely survive a second. You sit back down at your desk to space out at the computer once again, downstairs senses amped to a higher level. Yes, you can feel it. You can't imagine that everything is all right, not with such unfamiliar constriction upfront and terrifying unshelteredness in the back. That slit in the front of the boxers - it most certainly matters. But your decision is made, and nothing shall be done. Your heart longs for tomorrow, when you'll get to start over and set things right, like the prayers for resurrection in a church, wishing defeated lives out of boredom and poverty into an ethereal promise of rapture. Dreams of tomorrow are only an opiate escape from your current doom, which you have not only originated on accident but chosen. Irrevocably, backwards underwear is your reality, your eternity, your lot. You adjust your pants and start typing away.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Review: The Karate Kid

This is posted at

The fact that this movie exists infuriates me. The fact that it's good
makes my head explode in anger.

The good news about The Karate Kid remake is that it may lead the
young and dumb to the original 1984 film, one of the finest pieces of
cinema ever constructed. Did I stutter? That's right, The Karate Kid
is one of the best movies ever made, and if you don't believe me or
disagree it's because you haven't watched the movie in a quarter
century. I refuse to let you even proceed in reading this review until
you go back and watch it right now. Seriously, don't come back until
you've done so.

OK, now that we're all on the same page, let's all sigh and accept the
fact that it's unreasonable to expect any movie, let alone a remake,
to match the magnificence of Joe Esposito's You're the Best Around and
crane kicks that win the heart of Elisabeth Shue and put that
terrifying bastard Johnny in his place.

You've gotta take this new Karate Kid for what it is - a community
theater repertory version of a Shakespeare classic. It's cute and
harmless and lasts too long but your cousin's friend is in it so you
just sit there, smile and clap.

Jaden Smith, the androgynous 11-year-old offspring of Will Smith and
Xenu, volcano god, plays Dre, whose auto-worker mom gets transferred
from Detroit to China because that happens all the time. Dre is
foolish enough to talk to a girl his own age, and the racist Chinese
kids whose parents are totally gonna invade us in the Red Dawn remake
(as a provision of the Patriot Act all 1980s remakes will retrofit the
Chinese as our one-size-fits-all enemies) give Dre an MMA beat-down.

The bullying continues for scene after scene after scene until it's
like OK we get the point these kids are mean -- someone come and teach
this boy how to pull off comical prop-fu humiliations on these brats
before my bladder explodes. So enter Jackie Chan, who plays apartment
superintendent Mr. Han, who knows good kung fu -- the kind that can
only be learned by doing mundane things such as putting on and taking
off your jacket over and over again -- as opposed to the evil Cobra
Kai bully fu these kids are taught in a fancy dojo.

Han provides big laughs in the movie's funniest, least appropriate
scene, in which he delivers a manual annihilation to the gang of
12-year-olds. Because when you step to Dre, fool, you step to death

Never mind that Dre's mom lets her boy spend an inordinate amount of
time with the creepy guy a couple doors down who could very well be a
child molester for all she knows. Through the ancient training
technique known as the training montage, Han teaches Dre to punch so
hard that "whoosh" sound effects emit from his swings, as well as
execute elaborate scorpion kicks that can only be completed with wires
and CGI, which magically make bullies be nice to you and transform
racist people into colorblind fans. Despite the corniness, it's
joyous, exuberant stuff, and I am ashamed to admit that during the
final tournament I rooted for little Dre with actual, unreasonable
fear that he would lose.

A final word to parents: This is an excellent movie to take your
3-year-old to if you want to have him laying continuous hi-yah
beatdowns to that punk 1-year-old sister of his who totally has it

Starring Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan. Written by Christopher Murphey,
based on a story by Robert Mark Kamen. A remake of a 1984 film.
Directed by Harald Zwart. Rated PG. 135 minutes.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Sports Illustrated

Quoted me in this NFL Network story.

Read The Law, Idiots

Everyone who disagrees with Arizona HB 1070 has not read the law. If you read it you will be included among all smart people who know the law is a golden ray of sunshine that will fix all the state's problems and eliminate all crime instantly. Also, you will know the reason for the Arizona Diamondbacks' recent suckage.

I quote:

The Arizona Diamondbacks shall no longer win nor score runs. Failure to comply will subject the team to lawsuits and be cause for its deportation.

So there you have it. Reading teaches stuff.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

10 Things That Are Worse Than BP's Oil Spill

Sure, the spill is a horrendous, nonstop flood of awful that will not only destroy the Gulf of Mexico, turning it into a new Black Sea, but will surely eventually turn all oceans into something resembling a McDonald's fry vat, but it's not THAT bad. Here are some things that are worse:

1. Watching a San Antonio Spurs game.

2. Finding out your TV broken so it only plays NASCAR.

3. Waking up from a dream that your dead dog is back alive, and still is nice, not a
mean Pet Sematary zombie, then waking up to find out he's still dead.

4. Eating Cheerios. Without milk.

5. Going outside to get the mail wearing only your underwear then realizing you've accidentally locked yourself out.

6. Eating at Wendy's.

7. Forgetting to buy a copy of Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel.

8. BP drilling in the ocean and springing an endless leak of Vanilla Coke. Because seriously, think of all that wasted deliciousness!

9. A massively coordinated attack by the birds of the world.

10. The Golf Channel.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010


When I erupted into a sneezing fit Saturday night I was sure it was allergies. Jessica told me I had a cold, and I thought she was an idiot for suggesting that because the inside of my head was all itchy and I felt fine other than the constant sneezing. To prove to myself how great I felt despite my machine-gun allergy sneezing fit, I stayed up all night playing Tecmo Bowl.

It turned out that I had a cold, of course. I woke up the next morning not sneezing quite as much but feeling awful. I could barely move most of the day and let the TV watch my kids as I laid motionless on the couch and Jessica installed a ceiling fan in Emma's room.

So I was the idiot. But at least I got my Tecmo Bowl in.