Saturday, June 24, 2006


I've never been much of a soccer fan, but since I'm a pretty liberal guy (at least by the classical definition of the word), I figured that I'd catch a little multicultural fever and watch some World Cup action.  It has been a pretty interesting experience.  While it certainly will never replace American Football in my book, I am beginning to appreciate it a little more.

But there is one problem that I do have with the game.  So, please, and I know that at least two of my regular readers are soccer fans, someone defend the sport against this statement.

Stoppage time is the stupidest concept in all sports.

It's dumber than the halo rule in football.  Makes less sense than the infield fly rule in baseball.  Is more ridiculous than the fact that people consider curling a sport.

How can you have a timed game where not only is there no such thing as time management, you don't even really know how much time there is.  At the end of every game, the clock reaches 90 minutes and then keeps counting up until the ref finally blows his whistle, sometimes 3 or 4 minutes later.  No one but the ref really knows how much time is left.

I really think that it would be a major improvement to the game to reduce game-time to 60 minutes and allow the clock to stop on penalties, injuries, and maybe even time-outs.  The game would be about the same length and it would make end-game much easier to manage.

Or maybe I'm just a stupid American who really needs the real football season to start.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Inner Turmoil

A movie came through my Netflix queue last week.  It was called The Truce starring John Turturro as an Italian Jew recently freed from Auschwitz in the last days of WWII and trying to make his way home.  Since I'm more than a year behind in my queue, I often get movies that I don't really remember adding or why I wanted to watch them in the first place.  This is one of them, although I assume that it had something to do with my belief that Turturro is one of the most under-appreciated actors working today.  He has the same ability to completely disappear into a role as Johnny Depp, except without the pretty-boy good looks.

Anyway, I watched the movie, returned it, and gave it a four star rating (out of five).  There is only one problem.  I don't think it was that good.

Turturro was excellent, as always, but the story was kind of meandering and melodramatic.  OK, but not great.  But, it really got me thinking about how hard it it to criticize a movie about the Holocaust.

I mean, of course, on some levels it is a story that can never be told enough.  It is a story that should be told as often and in as many ways as possible, as a societal warning.  But the film fan in me says that just because a subject is important, that doesn't automatically make the movie good.

Anyway, it does seem a little silly having an extended argument with myself over whether to give a movie 3 or 4 stars, but my Netflix ratings are something that I take fairly seriously.  I think that their recommendation algorithms are fantastic, but they're precipitated on accurate ratings by me.  It is extremely rare that I disagree with Netflix by more than a star value about a movie (Although, I must admit I always do take some pleasure when I don't like a movie that Netflix thinks that I should.  It kind of takes the pain away from watching a bad movie.)  There have been many occasions where I thought that a movie looked good, but Netflix said I wouldn't like it, and I watched it anyway, and then feel foolish when, of course, I don't.

So, do I give an accurate rating to a movie based on its quality, or let myself be swayed by the subject?  Or, maybe I should just get a life and stop worrying about trifles like this . . .

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

What have I become?

Two years ago, I was an avowed Apple hater. I mercilessly made fun of everything that they did and anyone who had a Mac.

Then I bought an iPod. "Its just a mp3 player," I said. No big deal. But if you have an iPod, you don't have much choice but to use iTunes. After holding out for a while, playing music in Winamp and only using iTunes for syncing, I finally gave in and let Apple manage my whole music library for me. Eventually, when Mountain Dew started giving away codes for free songs under their bottle caps, I began purchasing music from the iTunes Music Store.

Not long after that, I felt the need to break the chains of wired ethernet. I read about the Apple Airport Express, which would let me stream music wirelessly to my stereo, something I had been missing since I moved my computer and home entertainment center into different rooms. "Cool," I thought.

But that doesn't come anywhere close to where I find myself today. My loyal readers, just look at what I have become:

How pathetic am I? Not only do I find myself with a MacBook, I actually payed a $150 premium to get it painted black. So look at me. Just another Fruit.

So here's the moral. Don't buy an iPod. It really is the path to the dark side. Or at least the matte-black side.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Now That's How It's Done

The MTV Movie Awards is so much better than the Oscars that it's not even funny.

And this is coming from an avowed MTV hater.  I only watch MTV twice a year, once for the movie awards and again for the music awards.  Other than that, well, lets just say that I harbor secret fantasies of finding the Real World house and piping gas in while they're asleep.

But they do know how to throw a party.

Now I'm not saying that their choice of winners is the greatest (Wedding Crashers best picture?  I mean I liked it, but still . . .).  But they do understand how to present everything in such a slick fashion.  I mean, even the banter between award presenters is funny!

I think that the real difference is that the MTV producers realize that movies are first and foremost entertainment.  Hollywood people sometimes get their heads stuck so far up their own asses about their 'art' that they forget that fact.  At the MTV awards everything from the presenters to the clips and montages to the acceptance speeches themselves are so much more irreverent and playing to the crowd.  And that makes it so much more watchable.

And, you know what, I take back what I said about the winners.  At least the best movie that I saw last year, Sin City, was nominated for an MTV award!