Three guys talking about comic books, sports, movies, TV shows and the numerous other pastimes that make us Gentlemen of Leisure.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Bitz'N'Pieces

Since Teebore has been...*ahem*...monopolizing ye ole blog, this post is a little late...and consists of just some odds and ends brewing up in me ole noggin'.

Vikings Sunk: Well, it's looking like the inevitable collapse has started. I knew I was doomed when I picked Miami to beat the spread and they failed to do so by one. You see, I was tempted to pick Washington instead. But by not picking Washington I put the double whammy on myself. The Vikings don't win and my decision to not pick Washington haunt me. The Vikes can still make the playoffs if they win next week and Washington loses. Dr. Bitz's prediction? Both Washington AND Vikings lose. Vikings miss out on the playoffs...again.

Silva Lining: Well the Seattle Mariners signed former Twins pitcher Carlos Silva to a 4 year $44 million contract. Apparently, performance and stats are not taken into consideration when Seattle makes contract offers. This also keeps the Seattle Mariners' trend of signing overweight, Hispanic Twins pitching castoffs alive. Dennys Reyes, you're officially on notice!

Santana Sweepstakes: The Twins still have yet to trade the best pitcher in baseball. I have a lot of venom stored up waiting to be spewed once this trade goes down. Let's just say I see a rant in the future regarding the Twins being cheap and me wondering if I should take the Twins seriously since they don't take winning seriously.

Christmas Songs: Well, instead of two front teeth, all I want for Christmas is a Twins contract for Johan Santana. OK, that was a terrible segue and is, in fact, false, but nobody asked you anyway. I'm sure you're all dying to know what my favorite non-traditional Christmas songs are. I made a list and looked like this:

That Wham Song
The Chipmunks Song
That Paul McCartney/Wings song
Happy Xmas by John Lennon
Snoopy's Christmas

Seeing as how a list like that will ensure that I'm never voted president...of anything, I've decided to do just a list of my top 5 Christmas Songs:

The Christmas Song by Bing Crosby
Happy Xmas by John Lennon
Little Drummer Boy
O' Holy Night
Snoopy's Christmas by The Royal Guardsmen

That looks better...but I'm still not getting elected president.
Also, my top (or bottom depending on how you look at it) 5 worst Christmas songs:

That stupid Frank Sinatra/Cyndi Lauper duet of Santa Claus is Comin' to Town
That dumb Hippopotamus Song
That stupid Rod Stewart/Dolly Parton Baby, It's Cold Outside Duet
Two Step Round the Christmas Tree
Christmas Shoes (Naturally)

If you like any of those songs then you need to take a good, long, hard look at yourself in the mirror.

I'm sure there are some songs I'm missing, but I can't think of more right now. But if you want to make the Christmas Shoes song better, just imagine the shoes the kid is buying are some gaudy, bedazzled green elf shoes that only a kid would think were beautiful. Maybe they even have red bulbs that blink on ends of the toes!!!

Happy Holidays: Well, to all 3 people who read this blog, I wish you happiness in whatever you celebrate (if anything) this time of year. I believe the preferred saying is "Happy Holidays." (If you hate baby Jesus.)
Anyway, I hope you all hear plenty of scary ghosts stories, I trust the traffic will remain terrific, and I wish you all a great holiday season.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Teebore's Five Favorite Christmas Movies


Honorable Mention: Die Hard: What? It takes place at Christmas. And it’s Die Hard. ‘Nuff said.









5. Home Alone: Look, I know this film is an unholy abomination. But taking it out of context, forgetting all that came after it, forgetting the career it spawned and all the Culkin BS and all the imitations and parodies and whatnot, I find I really enjoy watching it. It’s like a live action Looney Tunes cartoon. I love John Candy’s little cameo. And its appeal, especially as a Christmas movie, is helped along greatly by a better-than-it-really-deserved score by John Williams.



4. Love Actually: Call me a sissified nancy boy if you will, but I really like this movie. What can I say? Hugh Grant is just so charmingly befuddled. And I’m a sucker for stories where everything is interconnected and this character in this story knows this character in another who is this character’s brother who is best friends with so and so, and they all come together in the end. Tack on a great (if admittedly sappy) message about love’s omnipresence, set it against a Christmas backdrop and I’m sold. Among my favorite storylines are Hugh Grant’s turn as a, well, charmingly befuddled Prime Minister, recently widowed Liam Neeson’s attempts to help his son win the love of his life, and Bill Nighy’s hilarious turn as an aged rocker.

3. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation: I’m not a big fan of most of the Chevy Chase National Lampoon movies. “What? But, but, Wally World…” you’re probably sputtering incredulously, as though at the mere mention of the place, I should burst out laughing. I don’t hate them or anything; they’ve just never done much for me. Blasphemy, I know. So without a doubt, Christmas Vacation is my favorite of the bunch. It’s a classic example of the “I just want to have a loving family Christmas, but can’t because of circumstances out of my control. Also, because my family is crazy” film. It’s been done often but rarely as well as this. While the specific situations and characters may not be exactly the same as our own experiences, the audience certainly relates to their tone and theme (the aunt who wraps up the jello mold and the cat come to mind).

2. Muppet Christmas Carol: Hands down my favorite version of the Dicken’s classic. The inestimable Michael Caine as Scrooge, the Great Gonzo as Charles Dickens, delightful songs, and Muppets galore-what’s not to love?








1. A Christmas Story: Yup, I’m one of those people TBS airs 24 hours of this movie for. I grew up watching this movie with my dad and it remains one of our favorites (for whatever reason, we laugh the hardest at Randy’s (Ralphie’s little brother) glee at unwrapping a toy zeppelin). Jean Shepherd’s story (helped along by his narration) perfectly captures Christmas from a child’s perspective: his old man’s ability to bargain for a Christmas tree, freezing up when face to face with a (to him) grotesque Santa, the unbridled ecstasy and joy when unwrapping that coveted Christmas gift. This movie is as much a Christmas tradition for me as the presents, lights and music.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Teebore's Five Favorite Christmas TV Specials

Honorable Mention: Star Wars Holiday Special: All I’ve seen of this red headed step child of the Star Wars franchise is the animated segment (on a bootleg video) and five minutes worth of excerpts from the live action pieces on YouTube. That was enough to tell me how truly, truly wretched the whole thing must be, and enough to make yearn for George Lucas to get over himself and release this on DVD so we can all bask in its glorious awfulness. A reportedly terrible mash up of Star Wars, Christmas, and 1970s musical and comedy variety shows, this special features such moments as Chewbacca rushing home (with Han in tow) to spend “Life Day” with his family, including his son Lumpy, Art Carney helping his family avoid Imperial entanglements, Bea Arthur as a singing bartender in the Mos Eisley cantina and Princess Leia belting out an off key rendition of a classic Life Day/Christmas song to the tune of the Star Wars theme. Now tell me, what part of that makes you NOT want to see this trainwreck?




5. Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire: The animation is crude but the characters we know and love are all there (in one form or another): mischievous Bart, precocious Lisa, lovable oaf Homer, yellow haired Barney (oh, wait). For years I complained about the lack of new Simpsons Christmas episodes, but now I realize all they really need is this one episode. We’ve got Bart comparing himself to Tiny Tim and Charlie Brown, Homer’s inept Santa training and the cheap gifts he gets the family, including a plastic chew toy for Maggie (“It says it's for dogs, but she can't read”) and a they-lose-but-still-win finale with the adoption of Santa’s Little Helper.


4. How the Grinch Stole Christmas: I debated about this one- I haven’t watched it in several years, after all, so should it really qualify as a favorite? But thinking back, I realized I do have a lot of fond memories of it that the wretched Jim Carrey live action debacle couldn’t taint. Besides, the Grinch is a hell of a character, and this is one of the best tellings of the “Christmas isn’t about stuff” morals.



3. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer: For most people, they love this one for Hermy the Elf. The Island of Misfit toys is a hell of a lot of fun. And Yukon Cornelius is one of the best names ever. But for me, it’s all about the Bumble.


2. Mickey’s Christmas Carol: Casting Scrooge McDuck as, well, Scrooge, this Disney take on Dickens isn’t as funny (or musical) as the feature length Muppet Christmas Carol, but remains a nostalgic favorite from my childhood, with some great atmospheric animation.



1. Charlie Brown Christmas: Basically, I wrote this post just to point out how much I love this show. For me, this presents the best “true meaning of Christmas” message, from Linus’s biblical quotation to the kindred spirit Charlie Brown sees in the woeful Christmas tree he selects. The outstanding music from the Vince Guraldi Trio is easily my favorite Christmas CD of all time. Of all the things I love about the Christmas season, and look forward to, watching this every year is easily near the top of the list.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Teebore's Five Favorite Non-traditional Christmas Songs

5. Christmas Time is Here (Charlie Brown Christmas): This jazzy tune by the Vince Guaraldi Trio, for me, captures an often overlooked bittersweet, wistful feeling associated with the holidays. After all, once you grow up Christmas never seems as magical as it did when you were a kid. Every time I hear this song, I think of that. It sounds depressing, but it’s really not. It just helps remind me of how great Christmas was when I was a kid, and how it’s not quite the same nowadays.

4. Christmas Eve/ Sarajevo (Trans-Siberian Orchestra): I love this song enough to have specifically bought the CD it was on, thinking I was bound to enjoy at least several of the other songs on it. Turns out, not so much. With the exception of this song, everything else on the CD was such crap that I barely remember it, and quickly got rid of the CD itself. This one song, though, man, I love it. It’s the only Christmas song I’ll listen to year round.

3. Swiss Colony Beef Log (Mr. Hankey’s Christmas Classics): Cartman’s love song to the Hillshire Farms-esque Swiss Colony beef log sounds like a power ballad straight out of the eighties and is easily the best song on the enjoyable South Park Christmas album. It’s also hilarious, and approximately sixteen different kinds of awesome.

2. Do They Know It’s Christmas? (Band-Aid): Whereas this song actually is straight out of the 80s. A Who’s Who of 80s pop stars (Sting and the Police, U2 and Bono, Boy George, George Michael, Phil Collins rocking it out on the drums) gathered together to record a song for famine relief in Africa, with lyrics written to point out to 80s yuppies how much better they have it come Christmas than the starving people in Africa, who too busy being hungry (and perhaps, not even Christian, but that’s another song) to realize its Christmas at all. It’s filled with wonderfully melodramatic over-the-top lyrics:

And it's a world of dread and fear
Where the only water flowing is
The bitter sting of tears
And the Christmas bells that are ringing
Are clanging chimes of doom

Any song that has Bono singing the line “well, tonight thank God it's them instead of you”, gets an A in my book.

1. Dominic the Donkey (The Italian Christmas Donkey) (Lou Monte): Yeah, you've probably never heard it. They don't play it on the radio all that much. Go here and check out the awesome. Yeah, that's right, your mind just got blown, didn't it?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Rondell White Gives Steroids A Bad Name

On Thursday, December 13, 2007 George Mitchell released a report of his findings on his two year exhaustive examination of steroids and Human Growth Hormone (HGH) and their involvement in Major League Baseball. Included in the Mitchell Report was 30 to 40 baseball players who, according to testimony and evidence, have used Steroids or HGH during a portion of their baseball career. The most surprising name on this list, by far, is the name of ex-Minnesota Twin outfielder/designated hitter Rondell White.
There are bigger 'stars' on the report, such as Roger Clemens and Miguel Tejada, but Rondell White clearly was the most shocking name. With players like Roger Clemens steroids could explain why they were so dominate. With Rondell White fans and experts alike are confused as to how somebody could play so ineptly and be taking performance enhancing substances. The thought of what Rondell White would be like without steroids is truly mind-boggling.
Kirk J. Radomski, former Met bat boy and well known steroid supplier, notes that Rondell White was the 'black sheep' of his steroid customer base.
"Yeah, I really don't like talking about him [Rondell White]." Radomski admitted. "I mean, I gave the guy steroids thinking it would improve his game and then I saw his 7 home runs and .246 batting average in Minnesota during the 2006 season...let's just say it was bad for business."
Rondell White allegedly began taking steroids in the year 2000. Oddly enough, in that season he saw a decrease in home runs and batting average. Apparently, the steroids he took were no match for his complete sucktitude at the game of baseball. He reached a career low in futility when entering the friendly confines of the Metrodome and playing for the Minnesota Twins in 2006 and 2007. Throughout the two injury riddled seasons White managed a paltry 11 home runs and a putrid .210 batting average.
Victor Conte, founder and owner of the infamous steroid lab BALCO, emphatically states that White's results are NOT typical.
"Listen, I don't know what kind of crap Radomski was distributing but our stuff can make a home run god!" Conte stated referring to frequent Balco customer and record breaking home run slugger Barry Bonds. "Rondell White is giving steroids a bad name. Steroids makes athletes better! We are efforting to get White's name stricken from the Mitchell Report. It's an embarrassment I tell you, an EMBARRASSMENT!"
Ex-Twins General Manager Terry Ryan was the person who signed Rondell White in 2006 and was as confused as anybody.
"Honestly, steroids wasn't even on our radar." Ryan admits. "We just signed him because he was an aging veteran who came at the right price. The Twins motto is, 'If it ain't fiscally responsible, it ain't the Twins.' So a steroid slugger is usually out of our price range." Ryan then looked off into the middle distance and scratched his head. "Steroids...Rondell White...really!?"
Rondell White could not comment on the situation. The vacuum created by his own sucktitude made audible communication impossible. However, ex-teammate Michael Cuddyer could comment and probably said it best.
"Ro-White was taking steroids?" Cuddyer questioned. "Well, I guess you can put chocolate sprinkles on a dog turd but it will still taste like [Expletive Deleted]*."

*Author's Note: I considered using [Expletive Deleted] to replace all occurrences of the words "Rondell White" but that made the article too confusing.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Teebore Recommends

Just wanted to toss up a quick post directing attention to a cool little website a friend pointed out to me: FreeRice.com.

The schtick is that you define words, and for every one you get right, 20 grains of rice are donated to the United Nations World Food Program. It gauges how many words you get right and determines your vocab level, giving you words slightly above that level.

Of course, you can read all about the details on the website but definitely check it out. Improving my vocabulary AND helping a good cause? Sign me up!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Review: No Country for Old Men

Do you ever wonder if you're retarded? No no, this is a serious question. Think about it. What if you've lived your life mildly mentally handicapped and nobody has ever had the heart to tell you. Everybody knows about your handicap so they just try to make you feel good about yourself. You do something that you think is clever and people praise your for it. You think you're one smart cookie but in actuality any person of average intelligence could do what you do twice as well and in half the time. No Country for Old Men made me consider that I may be retarded and not even know it.
After I saw No Country for Old Men I went online and looked at the reviews. They were all glowing, said the movie was wonderful, and declared this movie one of the greatest of all time. Nobody pointed out the glaring flaws that I saw in the film. After reading the 10th review that declared this movie a masterpiece while ignoring its obvious issues I decided that it was time to take a good hard look in the mirror. Perhaps the problem wasn't with the movie at all. Maybe the problem was with me. Perhaps movies having climaxes and conclusions and tying up loose ends is just simply overrated. Maybe movie critics are just plain smarter than I am. If that's true, if I'm just not smart enough to realize that the problems I saw aren't really problems at all, then this review is worthless. I could try to think like all those non-retarded critics and write a review from their perspective but Thomas Nagel has taught me I can never truly know "what it's like to be a bat." So I must review this movie the only way I can, from my own perspective.
No Country for Old Men takes place in the heart of Texas and mainly focuses on a Vietnam veteran named Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin). Llewelyn stumbles upon a pile of money left over at the site of an apparent drug deal gone wrong. Llewelyn takes the money and is soon pursued by many a people who would like the money themselves, most notably the very creepy and very deadly Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem shown right). Other people, like Carson Wells (Woody Harrelson), get in on the action and soon it's an all out free-for-all for the case full of dough. Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) is a no-nonsense-cop-that's-worn-down-by-life that tries to sort out this mess and hopefully save Llewelyn.
Let's face it, this movie is about a case full of money and a lot of people shooting at each other to get it. The scenes (directed by the Coen Brothers) were exquisite and the acting was spot on. This was my type of movie and it had me hook, line, and sinker. I loved it...until the last 15 to 20 minutes.
Unfortunately, since the final 15 to 20 minutes constitutes 'the end of the movie', I'm having a hard time portraying what I disliked about this film without ruining it for you. The best I can say is that near the end the movie branches off quite suddenly to a different direction. The story was building up and moving towards an exciting climax that is never shown. I know some of the reason this happened.
The theme of the movie is incredibly nihilistic and definitely not of the feel-good genre. So a lot of the meandering plot that takes place at the end of the film is to drive home this theme. But I think there are ways to get the theme and point of view of this movie across without screwing the fans over and denying them of any real ending or answers. I believe there's a happy medium to be found and I wish the directors would have strove for it. I'm not saying that every question needs to be answered in a movie nor am I saying a movie should strictly adhere to a formula. Just because a movie is walking down one path doesn't mean it can't throw you a curveball and send you veering down a completely different path. However, with No Country for Old Men, its the numerous questions left unanswered combined with the curveball combined with the lack of climax combined with the seemingly random events and scenes at the end that left me feeling ultimately unfulfilled.
With all that being said, if you read this review and decide to see No Country for Old Men then I would almost guarantee that you'll like this movie more than I did. Like I said before, the writing and acting is superb and now you'll be prepared for the unorthodox ending. So, in a strange way I'm compelled to recommend No Country for Old Men since, with the knowledge that this movie has a less-than-fulfilling conclusion, you'll be much better equipped than I was to enjoy the movie.

Recap:
The Good: Great acting. Great writing. The movie starts off as riveting. It will suck you in. The scenes of Llewlyn on the run from Chigurh are as tense and exciting as any movie I've seen.

The Bad: This movie infuriates me to no end. The movie spends an hour and a half showing me just how incredible a Coen brothers movie can be and then they screw it all up. But enough about the ending. Another thing that bothered me was the constant message of how society is going to Hell. I mean, if you listened to all the old-timers then you'd think hordes of gang-bangers are out raping and pillaging major cities at all hours of the night. Let's all calm down. Things aren't as bad as they seem. I suppose I'm showing my own bias. Just because I don't agree with a message doesn't mean the movie doesn't have the right to say it, but I just felt like I was being beat over the head with that particular message. (In the movie's defense, though, a character does bring up the point that perhaps things aren't that much worse than they were 50 years ago. Perhaps people are just selectively remembering the good parts of that era.) Oh...a lack of nudity doesn't help anything either.

The Disappointing: I'm going to have say I was disappointed in the critics response to this movie. Or, more specifically, the critics not addressing the end of this movie. All they talk about is the great acting, writing, and directing. It's like walking into a house and discussing how nice the kitchen and master bedroom are and ignoring the giant pile of dead hookers in the living room.

*Insert Picture of Giant Pile of Dead Hookers Here*


I know you guys would love to see that picture but, alas, we have standards...yeah right. I did a Google image search for "Giant Pile of Dead Hookers" and the first result to come back was this:



Uhhh...OK...let's move on.

Drink to best accompany this movie:

Three Fingers of Whiskey
Whiskey (Preferably Cheap)
Fill a glass as high as the width of three of your fingers


Yeah, this movie's rough and gritty. So grab a glass, fill it with cheap manly-man whiskey, and slam the sucker. It'll go down smooth but the finish will burn your throat. It's a hell of an aftertaste, but you're tough, you can take it.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Heroes 2x11: Powerless

Things I liked about this episode:

Mohinder going after Sylar the moment he realizes Sylar is powerless. Of course, it’s Mohinder, so he fails completely, but still, it’s the thought that counts.

The look on Sylar’s face when Maya started freaking out about Sylar killing her brother. “Oy, I have to deal with this now.” That’s how the audience has felt too, every time she’s opened her mouth.

Elle’s continuing character growth. She is slowly becoming more than the assassin/weirdly sadistic sexpot she started out as, and I’m enjoying watching her struggle with her desire for her father’s approval while wondering if that’s something she even wants anymore. When Mohinder called her a hero, she had this look that said “huh, I kind of like the sound of that.” Also, I hope she and Bennet will
have more scenes together next season.

Speaking of Bennet, I laughed out loud when he was bouncing the ball off the wall ala Steve McQueen in the Great Escape. Loved it.

Is it wrong of me to say Nikki’s death? I mean, I feel bad for Micah, but her character has never interested me, and often aggravated me. So I won’t miss her. Unless she isn’t really dead (Mrs. Teebore pointed out that with the cutaway shot they did before the explosion, they could come back and say that her power returned in a moment of great need and she escaped out the back before it exploded, or something. Rumor has it that of the two characters who apparently died, one is definitely dead and one is definitely not).

The showdown in Texas. Hiro trying to reason with Peter, planting the seeds of doubt and exhibiting a greater control of his power than we’ve seen (less constipated squinting). Matt stepping in, trying to telepathically force Peter to stop Adam, resulting in something I’d almost call a telepathic battle. Nathan finally bringing GulliPeter to his senses, while Hiro takes care of Adam. Not exactly the slam-bang big-screen style super power throwdown I want to see, but a lot more dynamic and natural than the showdown with Sylar in Kirby Plaza last season.

Hiro’s ‘defeat’ of Adam. A clever way to deal with an immortal and largely invulnerable character without killing him.

Nathan deciding to step forward and reveal the existence of the ‘heroes’-potentially giving him a new purpose by setting him up as a political leader of the heroes while at the same time making amends for his complicity in Linderman’s scheme last year. Of course, just when the dramatic landscape of the show was about to be changed in a new and exciting way, he was shot. Hopefully, Peter will contain his grief long enough to realize that his blood can do the same thing as Adam’s and bring back his brother. And hopefully, the show doesn’t drop the “going public” thread, as I think doing so would lead to some exciting and original things.

Question I want answered in the next volume:

What’s the deal with the Company? So, it was formed by the Elder Heroes, before they split up, right? Ostensibly to track and catalogue the emerging Heroes, which it continued to do even after the Elder Heroes split up? Right? So what are they doing now? What do they really want? What does Ma Petrelli really want? For something that is essentially the overarching Big Bad of this show there are far too many unanswered questions about its purpose and motivations. “Generations” seemed to suggest we’d get more answers but really, we didn’t. So “Villains”, which makes the suggestion even louder, had better provide some.

Where does the Haitian go when he’s not with Bennet? Is the Company aware he was working with Bennet against them? Could the Haitian kill Adam/Peter/Claire by negating their healing abilities, then, you know, killing them? What’s his connection to Ma Petrelli? Why does he seem to have two powers (most people seem to only have one that is sometimes used in different, creative ways). He’s more or less a minor character so the lack of these answers hasn’t taken away from the show, but once you stop and think about it, it’s high time we got some answers about him.

Sylar: what are his powers? What really happened after Kirby Plaza? He “knows how things work.” Great. Whatever. So is he eating brains? Something else? And what happened at the end of the first season? Candice said she wasn’t working for the Company-was she? Mohinder said he was infected with the Company virus, after all. So did they abduct him, infect him, and then he was stolen away by Candice, for some reason? Again, too many mysteries still swirl around the show’s other main villain. Answers were promised in volume two, and they were few and far between. Again, calling volume three “Villains” suggests that Sylar will be front and center, which better mean some answers.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

One Sentence Reviews

Alright, it's back by popular demand! (Or my own laziness.) I'm gonna throw some more One Sentence Reviews at you.


Minnesota Vikings (2007 NFL Sports Team): I'm actually staring to believe in this team which means they're headed for a big time collapse.

Tales of the Abyss (Playstation 2 2006 Video Game): A very solid RPG with an interesting battle system but the game is long as hell and they expect people to play through it twice?


Beowulf (2007 Movie): Some cool action with a giant lull in the middle but, and I may sound like a cranky old man saying this, I can't believe this movie is rated PG-13.


The Departed (2006 Movie): Awesome!



Tin Man (2007 Sci-Fi Channel Mini-Series): The first installment shows that it has some promise but the problem with made for TV Movies/Miniseries (and the Sci-Fi channel especially suffers from this) is that the special effects are lacking to say the least.

The Transformers (2007 Movie): If you can ignore the plot holes this movie can be a lot of fun!


The Transformers (1986 Movie): If you can ignore the plot holes this movie can be a lot of fun!


Enchanted: Mrs. Dr. Bitz says that I shouldn't be too harsh on this movie becuase I should keep in mind that this movie is intended for 10-year-old girls...I weep for 10-year-old girls everywhere.