Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My 2011 NFL Predictions

Playoff seeding in parentheses.

AFC East
(3)New York 11-5
(6) New England 10-6
Miami 8-8
Buffalo 3-13

AFC North
(1)Baltimore 12-4
(5) Pittsburgh 11-5
Cleveland 5-11
Cincinnati 4-12

AFC South
(2)Houston 11-5
Indianapolis 8-8
Jacksonville 8-8
Tennessee 5-11

AFC West
(4) Kansas City 9-7
San Diego 9-7
Oakland 7-9
Denver 7-9

NFC East
(4) Philadelphia 10-6
New York 8-8
Dallas 6-10
Washington 6-10

NFC North
(2) Detroit 11-5
(6) Green Bay 10-6
Minnesota 6-10
Chicago 5-11

NFC South
(3) Atlanta 10-6
New Orleans 9-7
Tampa Bay 9-7
Carolina 6-10

NFC West
(1) Arizona 11-5
(5) San Francisco 10-6
St. Louis 9-7
Seattle 4-12

Playoffs: First Round

New York over New England, Kansas City over Pittsburgh, Green Bay over Atlanta, Philadelphia over San Francisco

Divisional playoffs:
Houston over Kansas City, Baltimore over New York, Arizona over Green Bay, Detroit over Philadelphia

Championship games:
Houston over Baltimore, Arizona over Detroit

Super Bowl:
Arizona over Houston

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tiny Indiana Jones

If you've been on the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland, have you noticed how small the model of the hero is inside the ride? How am I supposed to take a 2-foot-tall Indy seriously?

I wish they would give him a squeaky voice and have him say "Help! Disney turned me small with an evil potion! Rescue and enlarge me!"

Friday, August 19, 2011

How Webster Ruined My Career In Science

Webster is the reason I am not a famous scientist who has cured cancer or invented death rays. This has to do with the episode in which Webster played with his chemistry set without parental oversight and burned his house to the ground.

My aunt gave me a chemistry set for my seventh birthday, and my parents wouldn't let me use it unless they were there to help me, which they were never willing to do. Whenever I asked, they put it off and diverted me to other pastimes. Perhaps it was too difficult to set up and clean. Maybe they were afraid I'd poison myself with sodium biociroid (a chemical I just made up, because I had to, being that I am a writer and know nothing about chemical names) and it would be their fault because they allowed me to try to make a volcano out of it.

I could have been rebellious and played with the set on my own, but then came that Webster episode, scaring me crooked. I was so fearful that I too would incinerate my home that I let the set sit on a shelf inside my closet.

Years later, maybe when I was 16 or so, the Webster effect had worn off and I thought I would take out that set and finally get to chemistry-ing. By then I was already committed to study non-scientific things, but perhaps some re-ignited interest in the subject at the time could have steered me in the right direction before I hit college.

I opened each container and found nothing but congealed liquids and powders. The chemicals had all wasted away, as had my chances at Nobel Prizes or Death Ray Monthly Man of the Years. The following year I took a chemistry class and dropped it after a couple weeks because I couldn't wrap my malformed, un-scientifically stimulated brain around the concept of what a mole was.

The moral of this story is that every good person who dies of cancer and every bad person who lives to terrorize the earth because I was unable to invent a death ray to stop them has my parents to partially to blame. But mostly Webster.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Review: 30 Minutes or Less

If Jesse Eisenberg and Michael Cera armwrestled, no one would win and daffodils would pop up from the table. This is actually my way of complimenting both actors. They do so well because they are easier to identify with than musclebound, machine gun-toting action stars.

Both actors thrive on their Beiberesque lack of traditional machismo, and the duo are engaged in an ongoing shadow rivalry to see who can be the biggest sap, weenie and pushover. Eisenberg holds serve with 30 Minutes or Less, his latest diary of a wimpy manchild.

Starring as a pizza delivery boy who’s captured by petty criminals, strapped with a vest bomb and forced to rob a bank, Eisenberg is more Jillinger than Dillinger. His character is a pathetic shell of a man who ducks and covers in a shell of extended adolescence as life plays cruel tricks on him. His passiveness and lazy ingenuity supplies the movie with its dainty charm and heart.

Tragically underused Aziz Ansari checks in as Eisenberg’s quote machine sidekick, seeming like a smarmy outcast from a 1990s Kevin Smith movie. Their tumultuous, Superbad-style codependency brims with unresolved angst from their teen years, forged with the undying bond that generates on dormroom-style couches between guys who watch all the Die Hards together.

The plight of Ansari, whom Eisenberg recruits to help him rob the bank, is bookmarked with the exploits of a parallel bromance between bullheaded moron Danny McBride and his submissive worshipper Nick Swardson. Think Stewart from Beavis and Butt-Head.

McBride, displaying the same trailer trash genius he flaunts in the HBO series Eastbound and Down, is bent on knocking off his domineering old man with a professional hitman, whom he plans to pay via the outsourced bank heist.

The plot is unapologetically stupid, and would be too idiotic to believe were it not for a 2003 tragedy which the movie mimics, despite the filmmakers’ likely lawyered-up insistence that it did not inspire their movie.

I’m glad 30 Minutes or Less isn’t based on the true story, because the more implausible the movie gets, the more enjoyable it is. Its laughs are hard and frequent, its action is breezy and energetic, and the casting is utterly perfect.

Your move, Cera.

Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Aziz Ansari, Danny McBride, Nick Swardson, Dilshad Vadsaria, Bianca Kajlich and Michael Peña. Written by Michael Diliberti, based on a story by Matthew Sullivan and Diliberti. Directed by Ruben Fleischer. Rated R. 83 minutes.

My novel, Stormin' Mormon, is available as a Kindle book for $1.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Entering 27th Grade

I am starting 27th grade this year. I'm not quite as afraid of it as I was kindergarten, and am pleased that there will be no homework or finals. And it's OK if I forget my locker combination, because I no longer have a locker, at least when I'm awake.

I must admit that I am a little afraid of my teacher, though. Mr. Life. Everyone says he's a dick.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Review: The Change-Up

I believe it was Socrates who once advised “Never pee into a public fountain while wishing you had the life of a friend who’s peeing next to you, lest you run the risk of a magical statue smirking as it transplants your brains and causes a brief electrical blackout in all surrounding buildings.”

That’s the age-old lesson in The Change-Up, which could also be called Freaky Friday With Porn or Vice Versa With Lots Of Cussing.

Back in my day – the 1980s – movies like this came out at least three times a week. Ungrateful sourpusses were always swapping brains, only to learn that the lives of those they swapped with are even more horrific than their own. We were a simple people, without internets or Lady Gagas, and it didn’t take much to entertain us. The fact that the concept has been unearthed like a zombie corpse is both genius and pathetic. Luckily for paying customers, the movie is funny enough that it most often veers more toward the genius side of the equation.

Among the myriad ways in which the film succeeds:

*It lets Ryan Reynolds be Ryan Reynolds. Too many movies give Reynolds mega power rings from the planet Oa or plague him with Amityville Horrors or, worse, Sandra Bullock. This movie just lets him be the guy he was as one of the guys in the show Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place. Meaning, it lets him be charming, sex-obsessed and do that thing where he whips his head toward the camera while delivering witty lines out of the side of his mouth. If they had an American Idol based on doing that rather than singing, Ryan Reynolds would at the very least make it to the Hollywood round.

*It proves Jason Bateman does not employ a blind monkey dart thrower who chooses romantic comedy scripts. Or, if he does employ such a creature, it occasionally can hit targets other than the dregs of The Switch, The Promotion and The Ex. Bateman plays the buttoned-down family man who swaps brains with the womanizing slacker played by Reynolds.

*It explores the untapped comedic realm of abusing computer-generated babies. Who knew they were good for knife fights, projectile pooping, counter-surfing and crib-braining? Writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, that’s who.

*It manages to frame the female breast as a weapon of torture on several occasions. Just trust me on this one. Or don’t and steer away from some disturbing sights.

As with most comedies, most of the best stuff is near the beginning, and the obligatory story and life lesson elements sap the middle and end of much of its joy. But The Change-Up wins more than it sins, and had me laughing and cringing. The movie may not be quite as good as the 1980s masterpieces it copies, according to my corrupted memories that hold up Joe Montana as a lava-slinging volcano god of fire and Alf to have been a worthwhile show. But hey, the work of the likes of Kirk Cameron and Fred Savage in their primes cannot be truly copied, just imitated and spliced with boob jokes.

Starring Ryan Reynolds, Jason Bateman, Leslie Mann and Olivia Wilde. Written by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore. Directed by David Dobkin. 113 minutes. Rated R.

My novel, Stormin' Mormon, is available as a Kindle book for $1.