Friday, January 19, 2007

MOVIE REVIEW: The Illusionist

The Illusionist
Rated: PG- 13
Starring: Edward Norton, Jessica Biel, Paul Giamatti, Rufus Sewell
Directed By: Neil Burger
Run time: 1 hr, 50 min

This movie may have had a relatively small box office haul ($39 million) when it was released last September. It may have been hurt by the fact that there were two period magician pieces released around the same time (Sept/Oct), and Christopher Nolan's The Prestige was, well, the more prestigious of the pair.

I haven't seen Nolan's film yet, which boasts of a bigger cast (Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Scarlett Johannson, Michael Caine) and grander plot (two dueling magicians drive each other to the brink of madness), but this quieter little offering from newbie director Burger was a satisfying and engrossing tale that entertains from start to finish.

Norton (Fight Club, Down in the Valley, and who can forget his debut in Primal Fear?) plays against type as a stoic, mystical man named Eisenheim who lives in 1900 Vienna. He was the son of a cabinetmaker who met a mysterious man on a deserted road when he was roughly 12. The man showed him incredible tricks, making things such as people and trees disappear. Eisenheim was enthralled with the old man's talents and began practicing magic himself. It was around this time that he fell for a beautiful young Duchess named Sophie. Theirs was the proverbial forbidden love between royalty and the peasant. When their aborted attempt to run away together ended with threats made to Eisenheim & his family, he decided to leave Vienna and see what else life had to offer him.

Flash forward 15 years; Eisenheim has traveled to parts of Europe and Asia honing his craft and has come full circle back to Vienna. He is now an illusionist of some renown and fills a playhouse to "3/4 capacity" on a nightly basis. Eisenheim is like an early David Blaine (before he went nuts)or Criss Angel, a man whose tricks appeared to transcend both time and space. His first big illusion is he makes an orange tree grow from an empty bucket while two butterflies deliver an audience member's handkerchief to many oohs & ahhs. One of those who admires his talents is Inspector Uhl (an excellent Giamatti), a good-hearted lawman who nonetheless is rendered a gravy-training lackey of the slimy king-to-be Crown Prince Leopold (Sewell, Dark City) in hopes of making Chief Inspector or higher some day.

As Eiseneim's show gains popularity, he is paid handsomely and also draws the interest of the Crown Prince, who decides to attend the show in person to see what all the fuss is about. When Eisenheim asks for a volunteer from the audience for his illusion of cheating death, Leopold volunteers his beautiful, young bride-to-be. After the woman enters the stage, Eisenheim is shocked and pleased to find that the woman is none other than his early love, Sophie (Biel, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.)
For the trick Sophie dons a red robe and faces a large stand up mirror. As she bows her head towards the frame, a figure with a sword can be seen behind her in the reflection. The figure is also wearing a red robe and comes towards Sophie with sword drawn. The figure slashes the sword seemingly right through Sophie and her reflection falls to the floor as if dead. Eisenheim takes his hand and conjures her spirit to rise up out of the body and disappear into thin air.

The illusion takes the audience's breath away and instantly Eisenheim is transformed from a mere magician to a mystical genius; however, the attention does not sit well with the Crown Prince. After the performance, Leopold invites Eisenheim to put on a show at his castle where the Prince and a handful of smart men will attempt to deconstruct every trick the illusionist performs. In the meantime, Eisenheim meets with Sophie and the two immediately rekindle old flames, though Sophie informs him that she will be marrying Leopold soon and the Prince has ideas of overthrowing his father the King to gain control of the government. Eisenheim immediately plans to take Sophie away from him and begins to devise a plan that will let them live free with no fear of Leopold hunting them down.

At the castle, Eisenheim is badgered by Leopold about how his tricks are done. The first one he performs, illustrating a portrait of the King on a blank canvas with no brushes or hands, is deemed a cheap parlor gag by an irritated Leopold. What comes next infuriates the Prince even more. Eisenheim asks for Leopold's sword and stands it on its tip in the middle of the floor; he then recites the tale of Excalibur and dares someone to pull the sword from its spot. After two volunteers can't budge it, Leopold goes over to it and gingerly attempts to pull it free. After a hesitation, Eisenheim allows Leopold to retrieve his sword and says, "see, only the rightful owner can claim it," but the damage is done. Leopold was humiliated and when Uhl gives him word that Sophie and Eisenheim had secretly met, the Prince gives the order to bring the illusionist down at all costs.

To go into any more detail would reveal a key piece of the story. Since I'm not one to publish "spoilers," I'll just wind it up by saying Eisenheim uses his mastery of the spirit world to become somewhat of a medium for the deceased and drives the Prince to the brink of madness. His otherworldly powers serve as the perfect vessel to pull off his ultimate disappearing act... The last 1/4 of the film is an exhilarating thrill ride filled with incredible tricks, twists, and a terrific ending that leaves you both scratching your head and smiling at the same time.

What makes this film so enjoyable is the lush cinematography, detailed set pieces & costumes and use of lighting, which all work to transport the viewer back to the projected time and place. The acting is also quality all around. Norton turns in one of his best performances since Primal Fear, playing the illusionist as both a complex man who may or may not have powers beyond the realm of this world and as a man driven by the most simple of all desires: love. Oscar- nominee Giamatti gives the film character with his portrayal of the conflicted Inspector. Sewell chews the scenery as a power-hungry madman, and Biel does what she does best: looks pretty and makes it believable that a man would go to great lengths to obtain her love.
All in all this was a very engaging tale, well told, briskly-paced with solid performances, beautiful scenery and an original plot. Throw in a little spiritual magic and a terrific ending and you end up with a memorable film that lingers long after the wisps of the story have faded away.

And that's no illusion.


The Nation mourns the departure of Trot

There's an old children's rhyme I remember my mother using back in the day in Boston whenever she had a baby on her lap and it went like this:

Trot trot to Boston
Trot trot to Lynn
Trot trot to Boston
We all fall -IN!

Upon exclaiming "IN," she would let the bouncing baby fall through her lap while the child screeched in fear/delight.

I'm going to paraphrase that ditty in honor of the departure of one of the Nation's favorite sons, Christopher Trotman Nixon:

Trot trots from Boston
His new trot begins
Trot's off to Cleveland
Our hearts fall in

Yes, the Red Sox Nation has lost one of its most beloved members today as the original "dirt dog" Trot Nixon signed a contract to play for the Cleveland Indians. The deal is for one year and worth $3 million, a significant drop off from the $7.5 mil he made in his last year with the Sox. Nixon played his entire career with Boston since he first came up in 1996. By 1999 he was the starting right fielder who became an instant fan favorite; thanks to his hard-charging style, desire to compete, and willingness to get his uniform dirty.

Trotter turned out to be a solid outfielder, making numerous diving & lunging catches in Fenway's tricky right field corner, and steadily grew into a threat at the plate. He went from modest numbers in his first full season (15 HRs, 52 RBIs, .270 avg.) to a three year stretch, 2001-03 in which he averaged 26 homers, 90 RBIs and a .279 batting average. That production, combined with his infamous pine tar-laden batting helmet and willingness to play through injuries, only further endeared himself to a fan base that tends to deify blue collar-type sports stars (see Bird, Larry.)

He made the transformation from scrappy fan favorite to full-fledged cult hero during the Sox' magical World Series-winning campaign of 2004. After injuries limited him to just 48 games in the regular season, he would go on to have one of the most memorable postseasons in the history of the franchise. He batted .255 in 13 postseason games with 1 home run (off New York's Kevin Brown in Game 3 of the ALCS), 4 doubles and 8 RBIs; he also had a big RBI hit in each of Boston's three series and nearly one in every game he played.

Trot then hit .357 (5-14, 3 doubles, 3 RBIs) in the World Series. His 3-double, 2-RBI performance in Game 4 helped clinch the title and placed Trot in the pantheon of Boston sports idols.

Alas the injuries that showed up in 2004 would signify a downturn in Nixon's health, games played and consequently his production. From 2004-06 he averaged just 95 games played with 9 home runs and 47 RBIs thanks to hamstring, quad, back and biceps problems. Last year he played in only 114 games and managed a mere 8 home runs and 52 RBIs. It doesn't take a GM to figure out that those numbers plus the injuries, hefty salary, and impending free agency probably spelled the end of Trot's playing days at Fenway as a member of the Sox; when Boston agreed to sign right fielder J.D. Drew (a deal that has yet to be officially finalized, BTW) every member of the Nation knew that it did.

Now we will be able to catch one of our favorite sons on the MLB package and the times the Indians play the Sox. I know I will be heading to see the Indians play the Blue Jays or Rays this spring training and will be among the legions of Nation members down here that will be there thanking him for all he did for our beloved Sawx. He was always one of those players willing to talk to the fans and sign autographs, as you can see from this baseball he signed for my son (which of course rests in my Sports Den), as well as give back to the community.

Best of luck Trot. We will miss your tattered, dirt-stained #7 patrolling right field and your duel-flapped, pine tar-smeared helmet digging in from the left side of the plate. Here's hoping you resurrect your career and bring some of your trademark characteristics to a downtrodden franchise.

Why do I get a terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach that he is going to end up being a member of another Boston society--the Red Sox Killers Club?


Thursday, January 18, 2007

Offseason woes plague Mike Vick. Again.

After a couple of days of entertainment news I am ready to dive back into football coverage. That way I don't have to mention that the newest installment of American Karaoke raked in over 38 million viewers the past two nights. Looks like everyone's real sick of that overblown hype machine, huh?

Ironically this story once again crosses from the sports world into the entertainment category.

'Cause when Mike Vick gets busted for doing something stupid, it's always entertaining.

Two years ago April Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick was served with papers accusing him of giving his lover an STD. In that infamous affidavit the woman claimed that Vick would go by the pseudonym "Ron Mexico" whenever he went for his routine "what STD do I have this time?" tests.

Two years later old Ron is up to some new tricks, this time getting busted with what appeared to be a bong disguised as an ordinary bottle of spring water.

According to a Miami police report Mexico was going through the scanning process at Miami International Airport when he was asked to check the water bottle he was carrying. When he appeared reluctant to hand his prized bottle of Dasani over to the screener they immediately confiscated the container. Police found that the center of the bottle contained a hidden compartment that smelled like the maryjane and had a discolored liquidy substance in it- a.k.a. BONGWATER!

This latest faux pas even comes with a twist. Senor Mexico was waiting to board an Air Tran flight to Georgia- an airline for which Vick is a spokesman! Gives a whole new meaning to the "mile high club."

Combine those two incidents with Vick's now infamous one-fingered salute (not the one pictured here) to the home fans at the Georgia Dome following a loss to the Saints in late November and you've got a guy who just signed a $136 million dollar contract 3 years ago and now is more of a distraction/nuisance than the so-called quarterback of the future for the NFL.

This glorified running back is looking less like the future of the NFL or even the future quarterback of the Falcons and more & more like the future of a new Arena Football League franchise to open south of the border in 2008- The Tijuana Waterbongs.

AFC Championship news

It's looking like smashmouth safety Rodney Harrison will not be able to wreak havoc on Peyton Manning & Co. this Sunday. Harrison suffered a knee injury in the season finale against Tennessee and didn't play in either of the two Patriot playoff wins. He has been upgraded to doubtful but is not expected to play.

Harrison's leadership, knowledge of the game and bone-jarring hits will certainly be missed if he is not able to go on Sunday. But something tells me the prospect of lining up against Peyton the Postseason Pick King will enable Rodney the strength to give it a go.

Another note from Patriot practice is there appears to be a flu bug going around that has affected a few players including Game Savin' Troy Brown. Not too worried about that, though. If these guys can survive the Merriroid sack dance & the whining MVP they can survive a little influenza.


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Post-Globes items and other goings on

In the aftermath of the Golden Globes and the NFL Division Playoffs there has been quite a bit of fallout surrounding both, including one story in which the sports & entertainment worlds collide... Tom Terrific making time with DiCan't-win-o's ex?
The rumour mill is working overtime to distinguish if it's true that superhot supermodel Giselle Bundchen is dating our favorite NFL quarterback, Tom Brady.

The former paramour of noted losers Josh Hartnett, surfer Kelly Slater and Leonardo DiCaprio was spotted outside the New England locker room following the Pats victory over the San Diego Crybabies last Sunday. According to a Boston Herald report Bundchen was invited to watch the game from owner Robert Kraft's luxury box and was seen waiting with Tom's right-hand-man after the game.

We all know that Tom and longtime squeeze actress Bridget Moynihan broke things off last October, and Giselle is certainly an upgrade from that average-looking B-list talent, but Tom c'mon, do you really want to be shacking up with a chick who dated "D-list" Hartnett, a surfer dude, and the irritating, ego-tripping star of Titanic? You're Tom Freakin' Brady! If Jeter can pull Jessica Biel he should at least pair up with someone like Jessica Alba or Jennifer Anniston. Or couldn't he find an unknown, untapped supermodel like Leo did with his latest plaything, Bar Raffaeli?

Keep upgrading, Tommy Boy, and one of these times you'll get it right.

...speaking of Jessica Biel, Cameron Diaz is a wacko
If it wasn't obvious before the Globes, when she showed up wearing a horror show of a dress, she made it painfully clear later on in the evening- Cameron is not only driving the crazy train she's trying to run Justin Timberlake's "sexyback" right off the tracks.

First came the report that Crazy Cam, or CC for short, was going out of her way to avoid the former Mousketeer before, during, and after the ceremony, where as a presenter JT did a hilarious send up of petite Prince. But come to find out that attitude was all an act and as soon as CC got a few liters of alcohol in her system her true psychotic side came out.

The New York Post's Page 6 reports that after the Globes CC followed JT to not one but two after parties, and at the second one at the Beverly Hilton hotel she went ballistic after spotting her ex chatting it up with Ms. Hotness herself, Biel. This evidently sent CC over the edge and she then went into a tirade against the two of them, promptly forcing Timberlake to beat a hasty retreat with his mommy according to TMZ.

Between her hideous dress, oil-slick hair, drag queen makeup, incessant booty shaking and now this it is safe to say that CC is probably on the way to the True Hollywood Story part of her career. Hey remember what happened to the last person Timberlake had a long relationship with? She's currently dating wannabe rappers, chain smoking, binge drinking, "falling asleep" at parties and flashing her C-section scar all over L.A.

Keep the dresses long, CC, and lay off the booze.

...speaking of booze, Lindsay Lohan enters rehab
In the least surprising news story since Trump slammed Rosie again Hollywood's favorite mess, errr young starlet has decided that it's finally time to let her liver breathe and checked herself into rehab.

The hard-partying 20-year-old (doesn't it seem like she's about 30?) decided that enough is enough just two weeks after supposedly undergoing an emergency appendectomy; ironically Linds was seen partying hearty the night after she checked into the hospital for the appendectomy.

This comes on the heels of her being reprimanded last summer by studio honcho James Robinson for her erratic, unprofessional behavior while filming "Georgia Rule." Which comes on the heels of her repeatedly hitting every major hotspot in Hollywood, flashing her "firecrotch" all over town and turning from a freckle-faced Disney star to a rail-thin caricature of herself.

Good luck, Linds, and it's nice to see that you will at least be able to put AA on your resume.

...speaking of the Crybabies, Schottenloser to remain as coach
Despite the fact that Marty Schottenheimer now owns the distinction of being the most successful regular season coach to never reach the Super Bowl and the fact that his teams have lost 6 straight postseason games and the fact that he and GM A.J. Smith can't stand each other, the Crybabies decided to play Martyball for one more year.

Schottenheimer agreed to remain with San Diego through the expiration of his current contract at the end of the 2007 season. Nothing is final after that as the sides, in true Ron Burgundy fashion, agreed to disagree about his future with the team beyond next season.

Suffice it to say that if the Crybabies suffer another meltdown like they did against the Pats and then proceed to whine about it like a bunch of little bitches afterwards Marty will not return for another go 'round in '08. But if somehow the underachieving Can't Win the Big Ones get over the hump and finally win a meaningful game then maybe Marty and Co. will continue to make whiny, boring, annoying music together for years to come.


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Golden Globes Wrap up

This being a sports & entertainment blog (it says so right in the subheading) I am obligated to post on last night's 64th annual Golden Globes Awards ceremony, otherwise known as the Baby Oscars.

My wife and I are avid award show watchers and this being the first of the season (last week's sad People's Choice Awards doesn't count) we dug in and prepared for a night of gorgeous gowns, good-looking guys and goofy gaffes.

She loves to watch these glorified dog & pony shows for the dresses, hairstyles, and tuxedoed hot-hot-hotties and I enjoy watching for the plunging neck & backlines, fake applause from dejected losers and the inevitable controversial/awkward moments.

Though last night's edition was perilously lacking in the entertainment factor there were plenty of surprise winners & losers, enough to compile some Top 5 lists in a number of categories.

Hot Hot Hotties, Male (from the wife):
5.) Justin Timberlake
A shaved head and a suit- this guy is so obviously copying my Christmas party look
4.) Ben Affleck
He's come a long way from the T-shirt & Red Sox ball cap look of his Beantown days
3.) (Markie) Mark Wahlberg
He's come a long way from the ripped abs and Calvin Klein underwear look of his Beantown days
2.) Patrick Dempsey
I still remember "Dr. McDreamy" as the goofy-looking star of such pre-pubescent teen schlock as "Loverboy", "Can't Buy Me Love" and as the immortal Woo Woo Kid of "In the Mood."
1.) Brad Pitt
Okay so the guy looks good in a suit but did my wife need to nearly knock me over running into the living room to see him on the Red Carpet?
Special mention: Alec Baldwin, Michael C. "Dexter" Hall, Terrence Howard

Hot Hot Hotties, Female:
5.) Jennifer Hudson/America Ferrera
It's nice to see beautiful & talented actresses who aren't dental-floss thin (pay attention Kate Bosworth, Katie Holmes, et. al.)
4.) Beyonce
She may have made some of the worst dressed lists for her shimmering golden gown, and the wife decried her sprayed-on enhancement but I thought she looked as hot as Suzanne Sommers' Malibu home
3.) Penelope Cruz
Between her & Salma they are giving other Spanish/Mexican actresses an awfully high bar to shoot for
2.) Salma Hayek
The wife thought she looked terrible. Ah, women.
1.) Jessica Biel
As I said last night, she's like the sun- you can't stare at her too long because your eyes will burn she is so hot. Damn her for dating Jeter!
Special mention: Eva Longoria, Emily Blunt, Reese Witherspoon

What Were They Thinking? Female
5.) Sienna Miller
I may not be a fashion expert but this Princess Leia meets the Swiss Miss 'do was simply god-awful.
4.) Vanessa Williams
Holy hideous hairdos Batman!
3.) Patricia Arquette
As one reviewer said "Medium? More like extra large"
2.) Jennifer Love Hewitt
Normally I love this buxom cutie no matter what she wears. Not this time.
1.) Cameron Diaz
"She's bringing ugly back (yeah!), bad dress bad hair, she don't know how to act (yeah!)..."

What Were They Thinking? Male
5.) Charlie Sheen
A lousy haircut, too-big suit and insistence that brother Emilio stand up and be recognized for Bobby; divorce is not "suiting" this party boy well
4.) Will Ferrell
For his sake I hope his 'Jewfro' was for an upcoming film
3.) Michael Bolton
Yes he finally cut the hair, but dude it's an awards show, wear a freaking tie will ya?!
2.) Prince
Looks like a getup for an extra at Disneyland
1.) Jeremy Irons
Did he just come from a movie set where he is playing a drunk swordswallower?

Funniest Moments:
5.) Hudson nearly tripping upon entering the stage to accept her award (there's always one tripper)
4.) Babel director Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu promising Governator Schwarzenneger that he had his "papers" backstage
3.) Hugh Laurie's acceptance speech
2.) Justin Timberlake's Prince imitation
1.) Sasha "Borat" Cohen's hilariously raunchy acceptance speech

Awkward Moments:
5.) Tom Hanks repeatedly saying that Warren Beatty has "balls"
4.) Justin Timberlake waiting for Prince to accept his award, only the diminutive one was stuck in LA traffic
3.) Eye candy/ditzy interviewer Maria Menounos' dissing America Ferrera not once but twice after winning her award
2.) Jeremy Piven's mom/date (?!) talking on the red carpet about him being in her womb
1.) Sasha "Borat" Cohen's hilariously raunchy acceptance speech

Biggest Winners:
5.) Hugh Laurie, Best Actor in a Drama Series
When you beat out Jack Bauer & Dr. McDreamy you've accomplished something
4.) Helen Mirren, Best Actress in a Drama
The queen of English actresses (sorry Dame Dench) all but locked up her Oscar for portraying Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen; she also won for playing Elizabeth I in HBO's Elizabeth I
3.) Alec Baldwin, Best Actor in a Comedy Series
Less than one full season of 30 Rock under his belt and Baldwin proved what SNL devotees already knew: he is a very gifted comedic actor
2.) Marty Scorcese, Best Director, Drama
His Globe may finally lead to his first Oscar win
1.) Dreamgirls
Wins for Best Picture (Comedy or Musical), Best Supporting Actress (Hudson) & Actor (Murphy); lookout, Oscars.

Surprise Winners:
5.) Eddie Murphy, Actor in a Musical or Comedy
From hookers and Spice (Girls) to a major award is nice
4.) Kyra Sedgwick, Best Actress in a Drama Series
Mrs. Kevin Bacon not only looked great but she beat out the likes of Edie Falco, Evangeline Lilly and Ellen Pompeo.
3.) Babel, Best Movie, Drama
This lightly-seen, complex, intertwining thriller beat out rumored Oscar fave The Departed
2.) Ugly Betty, Best Comedy Series
Over The Office, Entourage, Weeds and Desperate Housewives? C'mon, it may be cute and refreshing, but no way is this critic's darling better than those shows, which leads to...
1.) America Ferrera, Best Actress in a Comedy Series
Her shaky, tearful acceptance speech signalled that she was just as shocked as the rest of us

Biggest Snubs:
5.) Lost
The former "must-see" show was really nowhere to be seen on this night, except for Evangeline Lilly's odd dress
4.) Kiefer Sutherland for Best Actor, Drama series
I think Jack Bauer needs to send a team of special operatives to destroy Hugh "House" Laurie
3.) Steve Carell for Best Actor, Comedy Series
I love Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy but Carell is THE funniest man on TV.
2.) Leonardo DiCan't-win-o for Best Actor, Drama
The guy comprised 2/5 of the nominees (for "The Departed" & "Blood Diamond") and still got stoned by Forest Whittaker. I think it's his accents.
1.) The Office for best Comedy
When will everyone realize that this show is the Seinfeld of the new millennium?

By the way, any reason why a number of the male attendees decided to forgo shaving for this event? Is it because it wasn't the Oscars or because the Sonny Crockett 5 o'clock shadow look is back in style? Just curious? Because I counted at least 10 men with stubble or scruffy beards from Dempsey, Hugh Laurie and John Stamos to Will Smith , Josh Holloway and Jake Gyllenhaal. Evidently in 2007 hair on the chinny chin chin is in.

Before I go I must relate one bit of news that may be the best item to come from the Globes, before, during or after. The sight of Diddy being refused entrance to a post-show party while the woman of the night, Helen Mirren, whisked in without a hitch is f-ing priceless. I guess that's why Puff Diddly Daddy throws his own extravagant parties-he can't get into the other ones!


Monday, January 15, 2007

In honor of the Reverend King

I understand that an entire section of the country has been covered in a sheet of ice, sleet & snow which has led to numerous closings, widespread power outages and at least 39 deaths.

All I have to say to that is it was an unbelievably gorgeous 75 degrees & perfect today here in the F-L-A, and if you're tired of that shitty winter weather then do what I did and hightail it South, fools.

Despite the horrendous weather today is still a national holiday, a day to remember the life, words and philosophies of the great Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. On this day celebrating his life I thought I would use part of his most famous & inspirational speech and apply it to the NFL playoffs, because that's all I know how to do.
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow victories. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for a 4th championship left you barraged by the words of persecution and staggered by the accusations of the MVP. You have been the veterans of playoff suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unrewarded suffering is not a good thing at all.

Go back to Seattle, go back to San Diego, go back to Dallas, go back to the slums and ghettos of New Jersey knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed as soon as you field a better team. Do not wallow in the valley of postseason failure despair.

I say to you today, my fellow football fans, that in spite of all the difficulties in coping with the fact that your team lost I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day the Chargers will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self evident: that all tasteless celebrations are created equal."

I have a dream that Sunday on a field in Indianapolis the son of a former Saints great and the son of a bitch who kicked 5 field goals last week for his new team will be able to sit down together at the post game podium and explain their loss.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Louisiana, a devastated state, suffering from the pain of loss and destruction, will be transformed into a place of Super Bowl partying and merriment (wait a minute...)

I have a dream that my child one day will live in a nation where he is not judged by the color of his jersey but by the number of championships his team has won.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day the state of California, whose governor's lips are presently dripping with their inability to speak the English language, will be transformed into a state where players who act like little boys (Shawne Merriman) and players who whine like little girls (LT) will be able to pound fists with players from the Patriots and admit that they had every right to celebrate on the field last week.

I have a dream today.
In all seriousness the real version of this very powerful & moving speech made by Dr. King in 1968 is more amazing when you consider the fact that the message is still relevant to this very day. As racism (Kramer), anti-Semitism (Mel) and senseless violence (Darrent Williams' death) grips our country and comes from all walks of life it is the message that we need to put our prejudices aside and come together as a nation.

After all we already have a war we are fighting overseas; why are we still fighting one at home?

To read the true verses of the "I have a dream" speech click here.


LT, postgame yesterday

It's okay, Lil' L.T., you'll get another shot at the Patriots next year.


Sunday, January 14, 2007

Division Playoffs day 2 Wrap up: Pats, Bears move on

Please tell me why people pick against the Pats in the postseason?

AFC: Patriots 24, Chargers 21

NFC: Bears 27, Seahawks 24

At the end of the Patriots win over AFC-darling San Diego Shawne Merriroid was reduced to a caricature of himself thanks to some Patriot mimicry, Marty Shottenheimer was re-confirmed as a playoff choke artist extraordinaire, and league MVP and notoriously humble L.T. was transformed into a sour-grapes spewing little bitch.

These are the kinds of things that happens to teams when the playoff express known as the New England Patriots rolls through your fine city and reduces your supposed great team to just another mediocre Super Bowl wannabe.

The Artists Formerly Known as a Dynasty played anything but dynastic football on this typically sunny San Diegan afternoon, but when you've been through so many playoff battles like this Brady&Belichick- led team has you're bound to steal some just from experience, heart, and the will-to-win alone.

And make no mistake the Pats did steal this victory from the Chargers. Well, not so much stole it as the Chargers handed it to them.

New England tried to find every way possible to lose this game, but no matter how many ways they nearly blew it, they still found a way to recover, despite the fact that...

...Tom Terrific was anything but early on, going a miserable 4-12 for 38 yards nearing halftime until he capped an 11-play, 72 yard 2:00 drive with a 6-yard touchdown pass to Jabbar Gaffney to cut the Chargers' lead to 14-10; Tommy Boy was 5-7 for 55 yards on that game-saving drive and an un-Brady-like 27-51 for 280 yards with 2 TDs & 3 picks in the game.

...Belichick completely abandoned the running game in the second half despite trailing by only one score as New England only had 21 rushing attempts in the game. Chew on this bit of irony: the Pats were outgained on the ground 148 yards -51 yards and Brady threw the ball 51 times and somehow they still won the game.

...Brady threw 3 interceptions, his most ever in a playoff game and a quarter of the total he had for the entire season. New England had 4 turnovers and gave the Chargers numerous opportunities to take control of this game. They couldn't.

...New England was trounced in the field position department. Six drives started inside their own 20 yard line while the Chargers average starting position was the 37. Plus San Diego had 3 drives begin at midfield or on the Pats' side of the field.

These AFC heavyweights pulled out all the stops on Sunday and unfortunately for San Diego New England has better stops in their arsenal. Poor Marty. The man led the Chargers to a 14-2 record and top seed in the AFC and is still going to be out of a job because he simply cannot win the big one. His record in the postseason is now a laughable 5-13 compared to the Hooded Genius, whose career playoff mark now stands at 13-2.

It wasn't like Marty didn't try everything he could to win this one. He went for it on 4th & 11 from the Pats 30 rather than have Pro Bowl kicker Nate Keading attempt a 49-yard field goal. Of course the play backfired and New England immediately drove to a 50-yard field goal by Stephen no I'm not AV but I'm pretty damn good Gostowski for a 3-0 lead, but hey, Marty was doing something ballsy so give him credit. It was incredibly stupid, but ballsy nonetheless.

New England won the game despite all of these flaws in their game because unlike any other team in the league they can adjust their play calling, game plan, and strategy on the fly. In Brady's own words when the Pats couldn't get anything going against the fired-up Chargers defense the Pats basically threw every type of game plan against the wall to see what would stick.

"I couldn't get into a rhythm," Brady said. "We were trying to throw quick stuff. That wasn't working. We tried to throw screens. That wasn't working. We tried to call runs. That wasn't working. We couldn't find any rhythm as an offense. Every time I would come to the sidelines, I'd say, 'Let's try something else."'

How many teams, or more specifically coaches, would allow that kind of mentality to take over in a playoff game? The answer: not many, because so many coaches are afraid to veer away from their sacred game plans or admit that something they have done for years isn't working. Brady & Belichick have no such fear. They also have no fear of failure, because as you looked at Brady on the sidelines amidst all the offensive sloppiness and confusion and facing a deficit on the road, he looked as calm & cool as a man with a 21-point lead in an early season game.

In other words these Pats do not panic. Ever. That's why they can win a game they appeared destined to lose. So when Brady throws and apparent game-killing interception late in the 4th quarter he knows that Troy Brown will turn into a defensive back and rip the ball from Marlon McRee's hands, giving New England new life and setting up Brady's touchdown to Reche Caldwell; the ensuing 2-point conversion, a carbon copy of Kevin Faulk's 2-pointer in SB XXXIX, tied the game at 21 and swung the momentum over to New England's side.

Once that comeback was complete you just knew the Pats would win the thing, it was just a question of how. That question was answered on the next drive. After forcing san Diego to punt Brady conducted the game-winning drive with poise and determination. His 49-yard bomb to Caldwell stunned the Qualcomm crowd and set up Gostowski's game-winning 31-yard field goal and it was all over but the crying (by Tomlinson.)

Cheer up, LT. You had a great game (123 yards, 2 TDs), an MVP season, and won the love & respect of football fans worldwide.

You can't help it if your guys ran into one of the most dominant, resilient, and resourceful playoff teams of all time.

Maybe next year.

Oh yeah, Bears beat Seattle on a field goal in OT (yawn.)

Let the REAL games begin:

Next Sunday-

Saints @ Bears
Pats @ Regular Season Wonders