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Your military coup lost out to the guy that did the Thriller video

Your military coup lost out to the guy that did the Thriller video

Something happened in Honduras today. I don’t know what happened, but I know it involves a country with poor people facing some sort of poor country strife, like a typhoon or an evil dictator, and I know I’m supposed to care.

But I’ve been overloaded with too many third-world countries to pretend to care about in the past few months and frankly, I can’t keep up anymore.

This all goes back to the tsunami in Sumatra. Or maybe it was Thailand, or Sri Lanka or the Philippines. I don’t know anymore, that’s how many countries have been fighting for my fake attention since then.

After that, there was the typhoon (or maybe it was a hurricane or a flood, I don’t know, something with water) in a country that might be Myanmar. Is that a country? I remember it sounded sort of like a Milky Way, but more third-world-country-with-strife. Maybe it started with a B? But not Bangladesh. That was something else.

Then we had the whole Gaza thing. I totally understood that one. The Israelis had all the military power and the Gazans sucked at fighting, so I had to fake care about the Gaza Strip for a couple weeks.

And even then, I was able to be totally on my game when the caring-about-Iran thing came around a couple weeks ago. I got it, and totally understood why I had to pretend to care and why I didn’t really care. On one hand, an election was rigged and people had a right to vote. But on the other hand, it’s not like the other guy – the guy who got cheated – was going to make things better.

I mean, it’s still Iran. It’s not as if the other guy – the less crazy Muslim of the two – would be elected and all of a sudden gay marriage would be legal. Now women can’t have any freedom but only four days a week instead of all seven. Don’t know if it was worth backing up traffic on Wilshire all the way back to the Pacific, but whatever, I’ll pretend to care because that’s what you’re supposed to do.

And now there’s something going on in Honduras. Either there was a coup by the military that the people didn’t want. Or some of the people wanted it and there’s going to be a Civil War. Or the soccer team won a game. It might even be El Salvador. There is too much third world country strife for me to pretend to care about right now. It’s overload. I don’t know what color I’m supposed to shade my Twitter photo anymore.

These countries need to get their evil dictators or genocidal military in order and decide who will get my month of attention, ONE AT A TIME. It’s too much and it needs to stop. That’s worth a protest on its own.

Those inches matter. Height, I mean height.

Those inches matter. Height, I mean height.

Incredible game today, U.S. Soccer beat Spain 2-0 in the Confederations Cup semi-final. The play wasn’t as dominating as the final score – unlike other great games like the 2007 Gold Cup final against Mexico and the 2002 World Cup game against Germany – but just as euphoric.

So why do we suddenly show up at beat Spain after getting our asses handed to us by Brazil and Italy? All the columnists are writing about how we played with confidence and aggression to make the difference, but I want to float a theory that we won for two reasons:

We’re taller than Spain and Mexico’s forwards and we can beat any warm-weather team if it’s cold when the game starts.

The height thing makes the most sense. All our players are American, which means that they watch and probably played a lot more basketball than any other country. They’re athletes and probably played many sports when they were growing up, and height is valued in hoops, so they kept getting in more games and getting more fit, while at the same time their soccer skills were excelling.

Look at the heights of Spain’s best midis and forwards. Xavi, David Villa, Mata and Ferndando Torres are 5’7″, 5’9″, 5’7″ and 6’1″. So if a defender plays tight, there’s no way – regardless of how skilled they are – that they can win a header. Gooch is 6’5″, Bocanegra is 6′, DeMerit 6’1″ and Michael Bradley is 6’2″.

The numbers against Mexico – with the exception of Marquez, who is chronically injured – are just as noticeable.

So if the States can get a goal (or two) like they did today and sit back on defense. Yes, they’ll be under threat, and odds-wise, they’ll probably surrender a goal or two, but in terms of serving the ball into the box, those few inches go a long way (and, yes, that’s what she said).

Italy and Brazil are taller teams. I don’t think that this height advantage is given enough credit, but I can’t seem to think of a better explanation for why the U.S. can beat Spain by two and lose by three to both Italy and Brazil.

The other reasoning would be that the U.S. is simply a cold-weather team. Today’s game was barely above freezing when they started play. But even the North parts of Spain – like Bilbao – are still semi-tropical. The U.S. uses their crap-weather locations as distinct home field advantages when they play teams from the Caribbean.

The U.S. often plays World Cup qualifiers in Columbus, Ohio in February against Mexico when there are snow drifts and temperatures well below freezing. So why should it come to that much of a surprise when the game-time temperature in South Africa is under forty degrees and they have a strong game against Mediterranean Spain?

I don’t want to take anything away from the United States’ performance, but it seems as though with every other sport, commentators look for outside advantages that underdogs need to exploit. Do you really think South Africa would be in the semi’s if they didn’t have the homefield advantage? They wouldn’t be in the tournament if they weren’t even hosts. They can barely qualify for the African Cup of Nations, and they’re one of like three teams not torn apart by Civil War in their country.

So if the U.S. is playing in the cold against a team that relies on a lot of 5’7″, 5’8″, 5’9″ players, don’t overlook them

They don't make them like they used to

They don't make them like they used to

There’s a lot of media attention given to the fact that Republicans are down, out of power and looking for a vocal leader. But where’s the press for another once-powerful bloc that’s now waning: evil dictators.

The last few years have been terrible for masterminds hellbent on taking over the world. And I think that it’s all been capped off by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad not being able to get away with rigging an election. This was standard fare in the good ole days, and he can’t even do it without sparking some kind of a protest.

All they’ve got is North Korea. An elderly dictator with a Napoleon complex taking two prisoners and developing a nuclear program off the Korean Peninsula. That’s the best they can do?

I’m not asking them to top their hey-day of the Cold War-era Soviet Union, but can’t you at least look like you’re trying? Bin Laden is stricken to caves and has to release his new albums through small media outlets that make it to Al Jazeera. That’s like if the Rolling Stones had to resort to distributing through an unknown Indie because no one wanted to sign them. It’s sad really.

I’m all for superheroes, good conquering evil, and democracy and the American Way, but what’s it all for if there’s no good supervillains that are willing to test it? The last few James Bond villains have been completely rooted in fiction. OK, that sounds a little weird, because that’s where Bond villains are supposed to be rooted in. But, at least earlier on they had some ties to legitimate bad guys. Now the best they can do is sell secrets or weapons to African dictators or North Koreans. Yeah, it’s evil, but not takeover the world evil.

Evil dictators out to destroy the world are relegated to their pockets of Al Qaida, Kim Jong Ils and Mahmoud Ahmadinejads and it’s pathetic. Just like how Republicans are stuck with Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh and New Gingrich (again). Republicans need a real Bible thumping maniac with the charm of a New Kid on the Block, just as evildoers need their next Magneto. We’re waiting.

More a comedian hates his life, more audience laughs.

More a comedian hates his life, more audience laughs.

Caught the new Woody Allen movie, Whatever Works, yesterday. And Larry David completely saves it, to the point where it’s actually a decent film. And it made me wonder why he has managed to be one of a very small number of the older-60 set who still manages to be funny despite being old.

Why is there constantly a debate or uproar over women being funny (a debate that’s rarely funny), but no one ever complains when you say that old people aren’t funny.

Even people who were really funny just become lame when they hit a certain age. I don’t know if it’s because they can’t modify their style of humor for changing times and evolving comedy, or if they’re ability to be funny simply disappears.

I’m not talking the unintentionally old guy funny, where an old man craps his pants and you laugh. But when was the last time you saw a really fun stand-up comedian who was over the age of eighty? It’s hard to say, because he’s my idol, but the later George Carlin specials had nothing on his stuff from his prime. I’d rather get shot in the head than watch the 2,000 year-old man in the year 2000, and the Smother Brothers still plugging away is borderline sad. Yeah, the older SNL guys are still funny, but studio execs aren’t lining up to produce the new hot Steve Martin Sargent Bilko 2 or a non-indie-laugh-on-the-inside Bill Murray movie.

But how is it then that Larry David has completely defied the rule and is one of the funniest guys out there, to the point where he’s getting funnier?

My thinking is that it’s because he has completely embraced the crotchety, old man, weary-of-minorities thing that we know old people are really like. I know that sounds obvious, but how many old people truly act like old people?

Basically, Larry David is the It’s-funny-because-it’s-true and that’s-what-we’re-all-thinking, but of what people think about senior citizens. Young people aren’t allowed to be nervous around minorities, and if you hate everything then you’re Emo, but old people have free reign. But Larry David is one of the only people who embraces it.

The reason other old people aren’t funny anymore is because they’re trying to become the nice old man. They do jokes about being old, in an old-timey Catskills humor, and it’s nice and well and good. Or they’re forcing the angry old man, ala Don Rickles, and there’s a lot of swearing and yelling and noise.

But that’s not what we want to see. We want to see the old guy that hates young people, minorities, fun, music, animals, happiness, TV, basically everything. Because that’s what we know old people are really like and no one wants to admit it.

Except for Larry David. Hilarious. Go see Whatever Works. Very close to being a bad/mediocre move, but it isn’t.

Paid off? Yes. Steel chair-permitting? No.

Paid off? Yes. Steel chair-permitting? No.

There are a lot of complaints over the quality of officiating in the NBA, but those critics have nothing on the complaints about officials in World Wrestling Entertainment.

Yeah NBA refs miss a call here and there and are susceptible to giving superstars easy fouls, but at least they don’t repeatedly, year after year, make enormous errors due to their own ineptness.

How many tag-team matches can one stand where the ref gets distracted while the good wrestler gets double-teamed by the bad guys when one of them isn’t even supposed to be legally in the ring! It’s absurd.

NBA refs might reward an unjustified three-point play, but I’ve never seen a Knicks game where a ref is distracted and one team is allowed to use steal chairs to bludgeon the other team to a pulp. Pacers games maybe, but rarely at best.

My point is that NBA fans need to look at World Wrestling Entertainment and realize it could be a whole lot worse.

The world championship – the most prestigious plateau and belt that one can earn – has changed hands because a referee was knocked out in the middle of a bout. And despite all the illegal stuff that one of the wrestlers did in that interval, the ref woke up just as he saw the good guy getting pinned. That is ridiculous. You thought soccer’s problem with one official was bad, that’s nothing.

I would gladly take the old refs, missed calls and bribed refs of the NBA any day. At least they’re consistent.

How a movie poster should look

How a movie poster should look

Taking of the Pelham 1 2 3 opens tomorrow and it has the feel of one of those movies that you know is going to suck before you hear anything about it.

It won’t suck just because John Travolta sucks, but because it is impossible to remake a 1970s caper film with 2009 technology and still have it be a good movie. Those old movies relied on characters to use their own intelligence, wits and savvy and get ruined as soon as you introduce technology.

In fact, I think you could argue that technology, computers, cell phone and the Internet have completely destroyed the caper film, and turned all action movies into some form of the spy genre. The original Pelham 1 2 3 was awesome because it was just some dude on the radio to the hijackers. And it was real because that was all you had. Now you’d have to deal with @WalterMatthau twittering for advice after getting a text message from the bad guys while CNN turns it into a month-long drama and no one would care. It’s like how being able to read a map is a useless skill today.

Imagine how bad a French Connection remake would be. The whole chase would be completely nullified by a helicopter tracking the train while Gene Hackman logs onto the GPS to find out where the next stop is, even though everyone is traced on their BlackBerry signals. And the French is an easy fix with Google Babblefish.

Walter Matthau was the kind of awesome old guy who would look at a shiny new gadget and say, “What the hell is this?” and any of his movies would be ruined if those gadgets were involved. The Bad News Bears kids would capture him on their phone cameras and put it on YouTube for Catch a Predator to get a hold of. And the Odd Couple would be a quick CraigsList fix.

Stop remaking awesome 1970s movies. They were awesome because they had to use their own wits and not rely on technology so the remakes don’t hold up.

the finals logoMickey and Minnie Mouse – Front-row court side

Goofy – Preparing to jump on trampoline through ring of fire

Bambi’s Mother – Kitchen

Seven Dwarfs – Stuck behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

The Wizard from Fantasia – Officiating

Scrooge McDuck – Locked out after buying fake tickets from a scalper

The Beast – Making douchy faces behind commentators’ table at halftime

Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers – Riot control

Cinderella – Cleaning toilets

Aladdin – Snuck into ventilation system, watching through grate

Pinocchio – Built into the court

Paddling towards a serious acting role

Paddling towards a serious acting role

I wonder if the pleasure I take in the Land of the Lost bombing last weekend is attributable to taking joy in bad movies going unwatched, or if I really think this will help curb the trend of movies only getting an easy green light if they were a children’s book or TV show many years ago.

Doesn’t there have to be some – even if it’s miniscule – case for better movies making more money than bad movies, regardless of the built-in audience? Would Land of the Lost still have tanked it if were a good movie, for example, or can the failure be entirely chalked up to the fact that it opened against Up and The Hangover and got killed?

I really like to believe that the reason The Hangover did so well was because it’s actually a good movie that got good reviews and carried reliable word of mouth. I’m sure it would have still done well if it was just OK – look at Van Wilder or Road Trip for example. But how much better did it do because it’s good?

I guess the question I’m trying to ask is: Can studios put a monetary value on good reviews? If a film will already do well at the box office, how many more millions of dollars will a good movie get over an average one?

As for taking joy in the taking of movies like Land of the Lost, Speed Racer, and – to a lesser degree – Terminator Salvation and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, it’s nice to see that the studios can’t crap out a movie with their built in audience and expect the same results as when they try.

Yeah there are plenty of examples of terrible franchises, updates and adaptations that still do well (why do you there there have been a dozen American Pie/nippled Batman sequels?), but every time a Land of the Lost bombs, I get a little bit of hope.

Batman speaks on world peace (O.S.)

Batman speaks on world peace (O.S.)

Why is it that whenever the Muslim World gathers for a speech, conference or convention they all manage to fit the exact stereotype depicted in the opening fight sequence of every David Zucker movie?

It’s almost as if they watched the introduction of Frank Drebin in The Naked Gun or An American Carroll right before they decided how they would dress for the day. Then went into their garage and found the weirdest car parts they could locate then decided to use that for head wear.

I’m all for cultural differences and awareness and acceptance, but dressing like you’re about to receive the world address from the 1960s Adam West Batman is not going to help your cause.

I hope that Obama can forge world peace and eliminate nuclear weapons and form bonds between nations with inherent cultural differences. But I don’t think that conducting speeches in front of an audience that looks like Warner Brothers saved money by hiring extras from people waiting for the taxi medallions is the way to go.

We could have pissed off Texas a lot more

We could have pissed off Texas a lot more

First Grand Martial of the Gay Pride Parade

First Taliban

First ten-year-old

First kitten

First High Times Magazine French Edition Editor

First Sanjay Gupta

First aborted fetus.

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June 2009