Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Enough Paul Walker already!

Running Scared comes out this Friday, making it the 3,526th Paul Walker movie to come out in the last 2 years. And it looks like as much of a turd as the other 3,525. Seriously, how does this no-talent ass-clown keep getting work? I just can't watch his movies. They actually cause me physical pain.

Now a bit of a tangent concerning Paul Walker's last movie, Eight Below, which came out five whole days ago (see the above rant). Hasn't Disney done enough dogsled/arctic/wolf movies? After just a quick look at the last 25 years worth of Disney movies i see Eight Below, Snow Dogs, Iron Will, White Fang, The Journey of Natty Gann, and Never Cry Wolf. That's an average of about one dogsled/arctic/wolf movie every 3.67 years since 1983, and i'm sure i'm missing some. I realize Hollywood hasn't exactly been a beacon of creativity in recent years, but that's ridiculous!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Olympics are all about niche events

With the Winter Olympics in full swing, i can't help but wonder why on earth "events", not sports, like ice dancing are in the Olympics (isn't it just pair figure skating without the tricks?). Or why NBC would broadcast hour after mindless hour of cross-country skiing which is about as riveting as their start-to-finish coverage of the marathon at the Summer Olympics. Then it occurs to me that the Olympics are all about niche sports. With a few exceptions, it's basically a two-week exhibition of bizarre competitions that comes along every four years.

That point was further driven home by the illustrious IOC's decision back on July 8, 2005, to drop baseball and softball from the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Why was this, you ask? Well, while the exact reasons for this aren't clear since the IOC never feels the need to justify their actions and does everything with secret ballots, there are several plausible theories.

Many have accused the IOC of being predominantly European-centric; even anti-America at times. While baseball is still very popular in North America and Asia, it's popularity in Europe is minimal at best.

Another theory is that the field isn't competitive enough. Cuba has won 3 out of 4 baseball gold medals (the U.S. won the other in 2000 over Cuba). The U.S. has won 3 of 3 softball gold medals, outscoring their opponents 51-1 at the 2004 games in Sydney. But anyone who saw 1992's basketball Dream Team dominate compared to 2004's U.S. team limp to a weak bronze medal finish knows that it's only a matter of time before these things balance out. And going back to the previous argument, with basketball's fast growing popularity in Europe, i doubt you'll see it get dropped anytime soon.

And speaking of competitive fields, how many Winter Olympic events fall into the "which Scandanavian country is going to win today" category? Or which Russian skater is going to win?

Another popular target for finger-pointing is Major League Baseball and their constant refusal to allow their meal tickets, er, players to compete. Their ignorant, short-sighted response to the IOC was essentially that baseball doesn't need the Olympics and it won't affect them one bit. Nevermind other sports (like basketball) that have used the games as a platform to increase the popularity of their sports.

And speaking of niche sports, i'm off to watch the US curling team in action. And while both the men's and women's U.S. teams are from my home state of Minnesota, i had no idea how the sport was played until i looked up the rules online (thank you, internet) just a few days ago. And heck, the only reason i started watching in the first place is because i think Cassie and Jamie Johnson are cute. :)

Saturday, February 4, 2006

Keys + trunk = badness

I'm currently 28 years old and by my math i figure i've been driving for about 13 of them (probably more like 14 or 15 if my parents aren't around). And during all of those years, not once did i ever lock myself out of my car. I was always the guy walking by thinking, "poor bastard". Well today, i was that poor bastard.

Not only that, but i must say my timing is impeccable. Could i have chosen a nice, warm July afternoon for my first time? Oh no. I did it on a windy, chilly day when it was, oh, about 18 degrees outside -- and yes, that would be Fahrenheit. To make matters worse, i chose a Home Depot parking lot on the Saturday before the Super Bowl so calling it a tad busy would be a bit of an understatement. And that awesome front row parking spot that i scored when i got there, when i so clearly remember thinking "man, it must be my lucky day!", was now assuring that every customer of the Bloomington Home Depot got themselves a great gawking opportunity; many of them giving me that awkward half-smile half-frown and shaking their heads as if to say, "poor bastard".

But then i thought, "hey that's right, i signed up for AAA a few months ago!". So after waiting for a good 45 minutes or so, my savior arrived in the form of Mike the tow truck guy. Or so i thought. It turns out that BMWs (see my car, right) are exceptionally hard to break into. Normally, this little factoid would give me some quality peace-of-mind. Unfortunately, on this particular day it was preventing Mike from getting in despite using a variety of different methods.

Probably around 15-20 minutes into the ordeal, as i was starting to lose faith in Mike the tow truck guy, i thought that i had a new savior in the form of a guy that i can only describe as a fatter, drunker Santa. Or maybe Kenny Rogers if he were to gain about 150 pounds. I first noticed him a row over in the parking lot just staring in my direction. As i was getting ready to ask him if perhaps he'd care to take a picture so he can laugh at my expense later on too, he walked over and informed us that he runs a towing company down in Miami. Before i know it, he's digging into Mike's vast inventory of tools and attempting a little open car surgery. Unfortunately, drunk Kenny Rogers Santa didn't do much better than Mike the tow truck guy. Argh!

So i was left with the options of letting Mike break a window (which he seemed way too eager to do), wait for hours/days for a locksmith to unlock my trunk, or let Mike tow it 12 miles to my condo at $3/mile. The clear choice seemed to be option #3.

Fortunately, i knew the security guard working the front desk of my building so he did me a solid and let me into my apartment (since those keys were also safe and sound inside my trunk) where i got my extra set of keys.

On the bright side, once i was finally inside my car, i resumed my errands with a trip to Surdyk's (my local liquor emporium) to get some essentials for tomorrow's Super Bowl party and there just happened to be a cute girl handing out free samples of Samuel Adams!

Monday, January 30, 2006

Kessel booed?

This past weekend, the Gopher hockey team swept the former #1 Wisconsin Badgers at Madison. Now, first let me say that I make no attempt to hide the fact that I'm a Gopher fan. But all biases aside, I was amazed by the reaction of the Badgers fans towards Madison-born phenom Phil Kessel.

Every time Kessel touched the puck, Bucky-backers let him hear it with a chorus of boos. Keep in mind, this is an 18-year-old kid who was raised a mere 10 minutes from the University of Wisconsin's Madison campus. I usually hate this kind of fan reaction whether it be Knobluach returning to Minnesota with the Yankees, Bertuzzi and inexplicably bitter Wild fans, the list goes on and on. But what makes this all the more ridiculous is that this is the first year that I can remember where there hasn't been more Minnesotans than Wisconsinites playing for the cardinal and white!

So is it just the sheer caliber of player? True, some have Kessel going as high as the #1 overall pick in this summer's NHL entry draft. But i would counter that Zach Parise was a phenomenal player who was born and raised in Minnesota but went to the University of North Dakota. Yet I can't remember a Gopher home game where Parise was booed.

I guess one possible explanation is simply that Minnesotans are used to producing so much young hockey talent that I would wager that most Division I schools have at least one Minnesotan on their roster. Actually trying to boo every Minnesotan playing for another team would just be impossible. I could sit here for hours thinking of excellent Minnesota players who didn't play for the maroon and gold.

I suppose another reason could be that there are a total of 5 in-state Division I hockey schools so maybe we're just used to competing against fellow Minnesotans.

And on the other hand, Fighting Sioux fans certainly had their opportunity to boo native North Dakotan Gophers like Grant Potulny, Ryan Potulny, and Danny Irmen (and my memory could be a little spotty here) but I don't recall ever hearing it when we played up there. I may have heard a jab here or there when Grant Potulny got the game-winning OT goal in the national championship game in 2002, but that's about it.

The highlight of the weekend came in the third period of the Saturday night finale when Kessel quieted the crowd with a superb wrist-shot goal.

Awfully tacky, Wisconsin fans!