Saturday, December 30, 2006

Ruining College Football, One Bowl Game At A Time

The New Year is upon us, which means the college football Bowl Season is well under way. I personally do not follow college football, as my alma mater hasn't had a football team since 1960, but, even if they did, I don't think I would follow it, due to the absolute bullshit postseason system that college football follows.

Unlike every other college sport, post-season college football is not organized by the NCAA. It has been outsourced and privatized, so to speak. And there is no tournament, as in every other sport; the national championship is determined by winning the Tostitos Bowl (not to be confused with the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl), the participants in which are determined by a complex computer formula. (This is at least better than previous years, where it was possible to win the "National Championship Game," and not win the national championship. This system is on the same complexity level as rocket science.) So, basically, if you don't get "picked" to play in the Tostitos Bowl (which will be called the Allstate Bowl next year, by the way), there's no way to win the national championship. No Cinderella stories, no spoilers, no upsets. But, just because you don't get picked for the Tostitos Bowl doesn't mean you won't get some post-season play; quite the contrary, actually.

Remember when there used to be like 10 bowl games? Well, if you do, that means you're getting old, because, now, there's 32. Thirty two bowl games. With 119 teams in Division 1-A football, that means more than half of the teams in Division 1-A are going to a bowl game. More than half. Even before a team plays a fucking game, they have a better than 50% chance of ending their season with a bowl game. The NCAA basketball tournament actually fields more teams (65 v. 64), but there's well over 300 teams vying for those 65 spots, and getting into the tournament actually grants you a shot at the national championship. With college football, if you're not playing in the Tostitos Bowl, you got no chance at the title, but, you will get a shitload of money.

For merely participating in a bowl game, win or lose, each team is given a cash prize, which, if a team is affiliated with a conference, is split up amongst the teams in that conference. (Unaffiliated teams, like Notre Dame and Army, get to keep the entire payout.) The fact that this money goes to the conference means that a team needn't even play in a bowl game to get paid. This is a pretty sweet deal for teams like Mississippi State, who went 3-9 and didn't go a bowl game, but will get a shitload of money for sitting at home, due to the nine other teams in the conference that are going to bowl games. Pretty nice.

As you may have figured out, the whole thing is about money, which is why there'll never be a college football tournament, because, well, that's pretty much playing for the love of the game. All the money for these games comes from corporate sponsorship, who, in turn, are given the naming rights to the bowl game, which serves as nice product placement. (Remember the Citrus Bowl? It's the Capital One Bowl now.) And the willingness to sponsor a bowl game is prolific and almost completely random, which is how we ended up with the Chick-fil-A Bowl and the Bowl, and a dozen other ridiculously-named bowl games. (Not the Papa John's Bowl, but the Bowl. A bowl game sponsored by a website.)

Seeing as they add a new bowl game about once a year, I'm sure we will reach a point when almost every Division 1-A team will get to play in a bowl game. It will be nice to see New Mexico State and Eastern Michigan play in the Ty-D-Bol Bowl in 2010. That will be a good time.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Ren & Stimpy - The Lost Episodes That Should Have Stayed Lost

The '80s were a bad decade for cartoons. They started with cheaply-drawn Hanna-Barbera cartoons, and ended with insanely intricate Japanese-made cartoons that were just as inane as their American brethren. It was enough to put everyone off cartoons forever.

Then came Ren & Stimpy.

This oddball, seminal cartoon singlehandedly changed cartoons. Now, it was alright to be gross. It was alright to be overtly weird. It was alright to be adult. You can still see the influence of Ren & Stimpy in Adult Swim's lineup of cartoons.

The problem with having a show that originally aired on Nickelodeon, very much a network geared toward children, is that you can't necessarily get as outre as you might like. So, nearly 10 years after the show went off the air, John Kricfalusi, the show's creator, decided to make a batch of new episodes for Spike TV, stuff that Nickelodeon wouldn't let him do during the show's original run. And now, having seen these episodes, that were recently released on video, I can honestly say he shouldn't have bothered.

Ren & Stimpy was a weird show. A good show, but probably the goofiest cartoon ever made. These "lost" episodes are even weirder. Everything has been cranked up to 11. What was once pushing the envelope is now cramming that envelope right down your throat. Everything is so over-the-top that it's almost painful to watch. Imagine Al Pacino at his most manic, and you might begin to have an idea of what these cartoons are like. And adding profanity and heaps of cartoon boobies really don't add to the viewing experience; they just make it more mind-hurting. (Yes, I just made that word up.)

I think the thing that hurts these episodes the most is the absence of Billy West, who was the voice of both Ren and Stimpy. If you can impersonate Larry Fine, you can do Stimpy, and the guy who does the voice is capable enough. But Kricfalusi's attempt at Ren's voice just doesn't cut it. This is odd to say, as I'm talking about a cartoon dog, but his Ren just doesn't have the same subtlety as West's. West is the only person I know who would think to combine Peter Lorre and Burl Ives to voice a cartoon dog. And Kricfalusi just don't cut it.

So, if you're a Ren & Stimpy completest, check these out. Even if you hate them, you'll get to see some bouncy cartoon boobies. But I still don't think that's worth a watch.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

It's That Time Of Year Again...

...when Ken Griffey, Jr., gets a season-shortening injury. He usually waits until later in the season to do this, but, this year, he's decided to do it before spring training even starts. Yet another in a long line of Griffey injuries.

Griffey is a player whose potential talent has made him one of those Possibly The Best Player to Ever Play the Game, If Only He Played in Every Game. The thing with Griffey, though, is that, even having missed nearly four seasons worth of games due to injury, he still has had a Hall of Fame career. If he plays for four or five more years, and can remain relatively healthy, his stats will easily merit him a first-ballot Hall election.

It gets scary when you average his stats over those 500+ games he missed. He'd have a stat line pretty close to Hank Aaron's by the time he played 20 years. Yet, like Mark McGwire, who hit 580 homeruns in 500 fewer games than anyone else who's ever hit 500, his injury-riddled stats are still good enough to put him in the Hall. (Although, with McGwire, even if you average his stats out for however many fucking games you want, I still don't think he's good enough to go to the Hall. He hit homeruns. That was it.)

We'll see if Griffey can come back in time to salvage at least half a season. The last time he broke his hand, he missed almost all of the season. He'll still get into the Hall, even if he never plays another game. And that's some quality shit.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Coming Soon To Theatres Waaaaay Sooner Than Expected

So, I'm watching The Good Shepard (which really wasn't that good) the other day, and I saw a trailer for something quite surprising. I mean, I knew this movie was coming out, but I guess I didn't realize that it was finished and only two months away from release.

The movie? Why, it's Hannibal Rising, the movie adaptation of the Thomas Harris novel of the same name. It's not that I'm surprised this book has become a movie, as all Hannibal Lecter properties are always hot, and all of Harris' previous books (a whopping four) have been made into movies. What surprises me is that the movie is coming out in February, and the book came out in December, like three weeks ago. (There's even a promo for the book at the end of the trailer.)

In order for any of this to work, the book has to have been complete for quite some time, as it takes at least six months to make a movie from start to finish. What's even odder is that Harris also wrote the screenplay for the movie, which means he must have written the book and screenplay almost simultaneously. (This is the only logical way for this to work, as any other screenwriter would have had to read the entire book in draft form and then cranked out a screenplay in about five minutes.) By whatever means, I think this is probably the fastest turnaround in history.

What it all comes down to is I've got about a month and a half to read the book before I see the movie. Hopefully, Harris chose to faithfully adapt his own book, and not bitchify it like the screenwriters of Hannibal did to that book. I'm guessing he chose correctly.

Just as a sidenote, I'll also mention I saw a preview for a Mark Walberg movie called Shooter, which appears to be a movie version of the first season of 24. No word on whether or not Marky Mark will have an annoying wife and child to chase around.

The Day Will Come...

While we're on the subject of trailers, I saw a trailer for the remake of The Hitcher the other day. You all know how I feel about remakes...

What's scary about this one is that the original Hitcher came out a mere 20 years ago. With the exception of Red Dragon (the unnecessary remake of Manhunter, which only took 16 years to remake), I can't think of another movie that has hit the remake bin quicker. (I'm not counting American remakes of foreign films, as they get remade as soon as the rights can be secured.)

It doesn't surprise me that this remake Hitcher is the brainchild of Michael Bay, who, when he's not directing his own shitty movies, produces shitty remakes of old horror movies. (Although, if you haven't seen the new trailer for his Transformers movie, prepare to have your head fucking explode.) Because it's not enough to leave something the fuck alone; it has to be given to a new audience years later, to milk as much money as possible from a dead property.

As I said before, what scares me is that The Hitcher came out when I was a teenager, and now I have a remake in my lifetime, which is bad, considering I'm only in my early 30s. We're quickly approaching what I've long predicted as the worst future possible: where all movies are remakes, remakes of remakes even. The Front Page has been remade several times; who's to say that The Amityville Horror doesn't have another remake coming 10 years down the road?

It's a good thing I see as many movies as I do, since I foresee me not watching anything within the next 15 to 20 years. I can't wait.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

New Grindhouse Trailer Online

Check out the new trailer for Tarantino and Rodriguez's Grindhouse. I'm still very much up in the air on this one, but, if the movie's anywhere near as cool as the promotional material (like the faux '70s-era lobby card above) they're releasing, I might not be disappointed.

We'll see.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Poor Man's Versions

In this post, I mentioned the concept of Poor Man's Versions: B-list version of A-list stars. Well, Stuff magazine has latched onto the idea and run with it, with some terribly mixed results.

Some of their comparos are really good, like Skeet Ulrich for Johnny Depp. Others are really terrible, like David Keith for Patrick Swayze. (Considering Swayze's recent output, I think they've got this backwards. But, all things considered, like the caption mentions, I'd take Keith David over both these guys, even if he is the Poor Man's Lawrence Fishburne.) Some are head-scratchingly dated. Lori Singer? Is she still alive? Where's the Meg Foster for Kirstie Alley comparo?

And, with all of these other errors in judgment, they attempt to improve on a classic comparo, by pairing Tom Cruise with Scott Wolf?!? Seriously, if you've ever seen Peter Facinelli, you'd know he is Tom Cruise. Just at a bargain basement price. There is no room to improve on that.

Nice try, Stuff; too witty by half. Maybe you'll do better with your guide to "Those Guys": actors like Colm Feore and Zeljko Ivanek, who are in everything, yet no one knows their names. I sense another Keith David reference coming on...

Sunday, December 17, 2006

"Coming Soon To Home Video..."

Every time I go to Best Buy, I take a look at their massive TV show DVD section, seeing what series have made their way on to video. And I'm always astounded by what I see.

I don't understand why shows like Acapulco H.E.A.T. and Men Behaving Badly, shows that didn't deserve to be watched when they actually aired on TV, get DVD releases, while shows like Birds of Prey and Robbery Homicide Division, shows that probably should be watched and got their plugs pulled too early, are nowhere in sight.

From time to time, the studios surprise us, and release shows like Action! and Freaks and Geeks, much to the joy of their deprived fans. But for every one of those surprises, we get two or three Complete Series of Stacked or Greg the Bunny, which, well, have no fans at all.

And while I'm on the subject, where is the Second Season (or the Pilot Episode, for that matter) DVD release of Twin Peaks? Twenty episodes of the most cult-followed show of the last 20 years are absent, with no release date to speak of. Oh sure, it is possible to find them on video, but that would mean finding the now-extinct Complete Series VHS boxset. And they ain't cheap, depending on where you look.

I'm actually kinda glad that not everything gets released to video. If it did, I wouldn't have anything to bitch about. And that would make my life Hell.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Wii Cleans Up

I read a news story the other day about the November sales figures for the Nintendo Wii and the Sony Playstation 3. November was the first month of sales figures for these two consoles, as they both debuted in November. And the figures are somewhat surprising. The Wii outsold the PS3 by a staggering margin of 476,000 to 196,000. Both consoles blew through their initial shipments, and are, for the most part, currently sold out.

Couple reasons why this might have happened. Sony, being Sony, just might have not made or shipped enough, so there were more Wiis available. Or, it might have something to do with the fact that you can buy two Wiis for the price of one PS3. Or, it might be the fact that the Wii's goofy control scheme and the games suited for them actually appear to be fun to play, whereas the PS3 is just an upgraded version of the PS2, with a handful of shitty games no one wants to play.

There's an ironic twist to this story. The overall console sales leader for November? The XBox 360, which has been out for a year, with 511,000. Say what you will about their flubbed launch last year; look who's laughing now.

Oh well. While you're waiting for your console of choice to become available, go ahead and read The Onion's comparison of the Wii and PS3.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Borat Takes Over

Talladega Nights just came out on video the other day, so they're promoting the shit out of it. If you've seen it, you know that Talladega Nights is the story of Ricky Bobby, who's played by Will Ferrell. But, from watching the commercials, you'd think maybe it was all about Borat (or someone bearing a striking resemblance to him).

In a not-so-clever marketing move, Sony has chosen to ride the wave of Borat's success by airing commercials for Talladega Nights that rely heavily on Sacha Cohen, who also happens to play Borat. This is, by no means, revolutionary, as companies do it all the time: ride their product on the coattails of something else that's getting a lot of buzz.

The funny thing about this is that it's probably a wasted effort. Ya see, I don't think that John Q. Hillbillie realizes that Cohen and Borat are the same person. Oh sure, they know who Borat is; he's hiLARious. And they know there's a gay French guy in Talladega Nights, but they have no clue that's the same guy. Sony's trying to get you interested by saying, "Hey, look: Borat's in this movie," but most folks are replying, "Why do they keep showing that French fag?" Don't believe me? Ask the idiots at your workplace; they gots no idea.

So, once again, Bravo, Sony, for doing something that makes no sense whatsoever.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Jim Carrey's New Career Direction

On HDNet's Nothing But Trailers, I keep seeing the preview for Jim Carrey's new movie, The Number 23. And, from all indications, it appears to be a horror movie. And not a funny one.

This is just an all-around odd career choice. I mean, there's a lot of big-time funny men, like Tom Hanks and Steve Martin, who have transitioned into more serious fare. (Martin may be a bad example, because, if you've seen his recent output, he stopped trying to be taken seriously long, long ago.) But I don't remember any of those guys being in a horror movie.

Not that Carrey couldn't pull it off. If you've seen Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, you know he can play it straight, but a horror movie?

I'll guess we'll have to wait and see.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Dumbest "Very Special Episode" Ever

I don't watch USA Network very often, except for the occasional episode of House or Futurama when the choose to air them, so I don't catch a lot of their regular programming. However, during the aforementioned times when I do happen to pop by the network, I catch some of their ads. And one, in particular, makes me wonder what the fuck USA is doing.

On December 22, USA will air an episode of Monk, which is no big deal, since they do it all the time, but, this night, they'll air two. And not two different ones, but the same one. And not just one and then an encore (like FX does with all of their shows), but one in color, and one in black-and-white.

My only question is this: Why? This has to be the dumbest idea in the history of television programming, bar none.

Oh, and be sure to stop by the official site, and vote for your favorite version, as well as learn about chromophobia, the fear of color. I know I won't.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Paris Is The Sensible One

Last week, if you only use the internet for "work" or "research," or if you live in someplace like Dafur, which doesn't have internet, you probably missed out on the fact that last week was all about Britney Spears' vagina. I couldn't look at a website without seeing it. And, the fact that she kept showing it (at least three times that I saw) made it all the more unavoidable.

But, while most people who covered the story focused on the fact that, well, there's Brit's vagina, I noticed something else; namely, the picture above. It appears as though Paris Hilton may actually be trying to keep Britney from exposing herself yet again. Which is odd, because I'd never figured Paris to be a model of decorum and etiquette. I've seen Paris getting tit fucked, and yet, here she is, keeping her BFF from exposing herself. And isn't that what friends are for?