Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Teen Wolf Still Reigns Supreme

There are some things in this world that just cannot be accomplished. We'll never fully do away with poverty or crime. The Coyote will never catch the Roadrunner, and the Cubs will never win a World Series. I could go on, but you get the idea. Apparently we have realized another truth that should be understood for the rest of time.

No one will ever make a good werewolf movie.

I grew up with Teen Wolf. It's a fun movie, with a principal who pees his pants, a really fat guy who plays basketball, and a girl named Boof. I loved it, but it was never intended to be taken seriously.

Unless I'm missing something, the newly-released Wolfman was supposed to be taken seriously. I have a personal policy that says I won't walk out of a movie, ever...probably because I'm cheap and movies are not. But about 20 minutes into this one, I was questioning my standards.

It was slow and over-dramatic, and those are the nice things I have to say about it. The plot was as flat and predictable as a game between the New York Yankees and the baseball team from Southwestern School for the Blind. I'm still giving compliments, by the way.

If those weren't enough things to make me hate the movie, the faces of the werewolves were the clinchers. It was like they borrowed the masks from Teen Wolf and called it good. They knew they could make anything scary and realistic, but they decided to just keep it simple. Nearly everyone in the theater either laughed or let out an audible groan the first time they saw a werewolf's face.

I remember watching the previews and noticing they never showed the Wolfman's face. Now I realize they didn't show the face because nobody would have gone to see the movie if they had. It would have been just like adding a screen shot that said, "This movie is really, really dumb. Don't go. Seriously, it's not just a waste of money, it's a huge waste of your time. Consider yourself warned".

If they had done that for us, we would have all been able to say something like, "Oh, this looks good, I'm going to have to go see...oh wow, never mind".

I've never trusted movie critics, and that backfired on me this time. But I still have a problem with the critics, who gave The Wolfman a C+. What kind of message does this send to students today? If I could have produced work that was such a miserable failure and still gotten a C+, I could have been a rocket scientist.

Maybe I'm just mad that I wasted my money on this movie. Maybe I'm just picky. But if I had to pick the best werewolf movie based on the two I've seen, I'd say Teen Wolf wins in the same way a snail would win a race against a chair.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I'm a Team Player, but Come On...

I saw highlights tonight from the two-man luge in the Olympics.

Uhhh, seriously?

I think about the evolution of an Olympic event. They're usually a test of some strength or skill or stamina. You already know how I feel about curling, but at least it's an interesting concept. Ice skating is how you race in the winter when you can't run. I get that. Skiing takes talent, strength, balance, nerves of steel. Great event. Even the one-man luge makes some sense. People have probably been sledding for centuries, so you might as well make a race out of it.

But at what point did somebody think about the luge as it was and think it needed to change? Who was the guy who said, "this luge is pretty cool, but it needs something". It's a fair question, but he probably had a buddy who said "I know, I'll lay on top of you!"

Then I bet it got weird.

"Ummm, okay. You mean like face-down?"

"YEAH!!! Er, no...I mean, whatever. Yeah, no, face-up...totally...face-up...facing the same way. Yeah, that's what I meant."

"Hmmm, that seems weird. I guess it would be faster."

"It'd be way faster! And I could help you push off! And I'd get to lay on top of you!"


"Nothing...what? Nothing, I just said it'd be faster."

"Yeah, I guess it would. Alright, sit on my lap. And when I lay down, you lay down."

"I never thought I'd hear you say that. Let's go sledding!"

"It's luge. We're luging. We're lugers."

"Whatever. I'm just so happy!"

And they get the same gold medal as the hockey team too. I need a vacation.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Few, The Proud, The Curling Team

I was brushing my teeth on my way to bed after watching the end of an Olympic hockey game when curling started. I should have turned off the TV as soon as the game was over, but now I'm going to be late for work tomorrow. It's fun to watch for a little while, even though it's a little slow. It's one of those games you'd love to play at a barbecue...if you had a barbecue on a frozen pond.

Curling is amazing, and not because it's fascinating. It's amazing because it's actually in the Olympics. It's the only event in the Olympics that, even though I've never...uh...played it...I feel like I could compete at it by the next Olympics. I'm not saying it's easy (Ian), because I'm sure it's not, but come on.

Allow me to explain. There's a guy on the U.S. Curling team that is built like me. No Olympic athlete should look anything like me. Chubby white guys are good at Jeopardy, and for now, that's not an Olympic event.

How mad would you be if you're a hockey player and you see the curling team? You've trained your whole life, and you're truly one of the world's elite athletes. You play in the NHL, but you get a couple weeks off to represent your country in the Olympics. But Canada and Russia are so loaded, you're not likely to get a medal. Or say you are somebody like Alex Ovechkin from Russia, or Sidney Crosby from Canada and you win Gold. Then you wander into the curling arena and see some fat guy getting a Gold medal for pushing a rock across the ice.

And when you look closer, you notice that Gold medal is the exact same one that Crosby or Ovechkin got. That just doesn't seem right to me.

I mean really, how do you find out you're a great curler? You're probably the best in your Thursday night league. You probably participate in some tournaments on the weekends and get tips from your buddies in chat rooms or on some blog.

On the other hand, how do you find out you're a great hockey player? You've been on skates since before you could suit up with the Termites. You practiced every day since you were four, then came home and hit a golf ball around the house with your stick, and lifted weights, and ate right; and even though thousands of kids all over America or Canada or Russia were doing the same thing, you were always the best on the ice. So when you were 14, you moved away from home to play Midgets, then Juniors, then Major-Juniors, or College Hockey, then the NHL, and at every level, you were the best.

And both of those competitors go to the same Olympics, competing for the same medal. If you're still not convinced, watch Curling and tell yourself these are the best athletes in the world. If you can do that, I'm wrong. Either way, it's always nice to see a regular guy have a chance at being a world-class athlete.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day Matchmaking

Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

I was invited by a friend today to play volleyball with a group of her friends. We had a great time being terrible volleyball players, then went to a restaurant for happy hour. It's probably best if I don't disclose the name of the restaurant.

At this restaurant, there were about 8 of us, including a couple of high school kids who played volleyball with us. One of the kids--we'll call him Zack--started joking around about how he should ask our waitress to be his valentine. Naturally, I thought this was an excellent idea, so I encouraged him. Eventually, he stepped up and made a move...

"Excuse me, Amy? (again, not her real name)"


"I noticed you don't have a ring on, does that mean you're single?"

"Actually, yes, I'm single"

"Well I was wondering if you'd want to be my valentine," he said in a shaky voice.

To my surprise, she responded: "Sure, why not? I don't get off until midnight though, so I guess we won't be able to hang out tonight."

He left her a nice tip from his purchase of a basket of fries, along with a nice note, which included his phone number. I made sure I got that number.

The following is the text message conversation that ensued:

Me (11:02 PM):
Hi Zack, I'm really glad you had the guts to ask me to be your valentine. Text me sometime if you'd like to hang out. -Amy :-)

Zack (11:03 PM):
Alright word

Zack (11:13 PM):
So Amy how old are you?

Me (11:14 PM):
22. I know you're probably younger but that's ok!

Zack (11:15 PM):
Im 17 lol

Me (11:16 PM):
Oh wow! You seemed older. Oh well.

Zack (11:17 PM):
But i still know how to party

Zack (11:18 PM):
Ill be 18 in August

Me (11:19 PM):
I thought so! August will be here before we know it! ;-)

Zack (11:20 PM):
Oh yeah

I plan on running with this for as long as I can. I'm hoping he'll go visit her at work someday. But one thing I can guarantee is that he's looking forward to telling all his friends that a 22-year-old waitress wants to date him. In fact, he's already sent a text to my friend, saying: "Guess who texted me :)"

I'll keep you all posted on the progress of this budding romance. I guess it's all over once he actually calls my number, but we'll see how long we can make it go.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Queen City's Finest

About once a month or so, my job requires me to travel within Montana for a few days. Traveling for work gives a person a great opportunity to experience, among other things, another city's fine dining. This week finds me at Intermountain's home office in Helena.

I had about a half-hour between meetings today, so I asked a couple of people in the office where I could grab a quick lunch. I got two recommendations for Taco Treat, and usually when I get confirmation from a second party, I feel like it's a pretty good option. I may re-think my standards.

Despite what you may think, Montana is not a hotbed for Mexican cuisine. I can think of several restaurants in this state that start with the word "taco": Taco Time, Taco Bell, Taco Maker, Taco John's, Taco Treat, and of course, Taco Mexico. Taco Bell is the best from that list. You'd think I would have learned by now.

The worst part of the whole experience is that I felt compelled to lie when I got back to the office and faced the inquisition from the co-workers who recommended Taco Treat to me. I tried to keep a straight face when I told them I enjoyed my lunch. I'm coming clean, Stephanie and Adam. I was not impressed. I feel like I got Punk'd.

In a brief flash of good judgment, I decided to stop eating before I came down with the first case of swine flu that came from eating dangerous Mexican food. So by dinnertime, I had regained my appetite. Feeling slightly less adventurous, I thought I'd play it safe and head to Applebee's. I haven't eaten at Applebee's in a while, but I was happy to see when I walked in that nothing had changed.

The inside still looks like it was decorated by a crew of dumpster-divers. I was comforted by walls decorated with the same tricycle, waterski, tennis racket, and poster of Marylin Monroe as I'd seen in every Applebee's in my lifetime. And it was nice to see that Applebee's is still hanging on to the birthday song. At least 15 years after every other restaurant jumped off that sinking ship, staff still reluctantly sings the dumbest renditions of the birthday song man has ever known. Obviously there are still restaurant patrons who still think that's clever, so Applebee's is forced to oblige with song.

I don't think I'm sharing anything earth-shattering when I tell you that the food is just not that good. That goes without saying. I think it also goes without saying that I'm ready for this trip to be over so I can eat at home. And maybe my life shouldn't revolve around food...nahhh!

Monday, February 1, 2010

We Don't Need No Stinking Kevin Costner!

Every February, we Montanans start counting down the days and weeks until the weather gets really nice. But this year, even more than I'm looking forward to the green grass and sunshine, I'm looking forward to a movie.

Tonight I saw a trailer for a new Robin Hood movie. When a few of the guys started talking about the movie, I had my doubts. But when they mentioned Robin Hood would be played by Russell Crowe, I became instantly intrigued. Maybe intrigued isn't a good word; I was ecstatic. Two of my top 5 favorite movies (Gladiator, Cinderella Man) are starring Russell Crowe, and I'm thinking he probably hasn't forgotten how to act.

I'm guessing the main reason for my lack of enthusiasm when I first heard about the new Robin Hood film was that the last one (well, besides Men in Tights, which was almost as good as the cartoon for the best Robin Hood depiction yet) starred Kevin Costner. Kevin Costner is a good guy, and has had a handful of good roles in movies. Roles like John Dunbar in Dances with Wolves, Crash Davis in Bull Durham, and Gardner Barnes in Fandango (which happens to be one of the most underrated movies of all time). But really he's screwed up a lot more than he's gotten right.

So as I was watching this trailer, I realized Russell Crowe could work for the rest of his life "fixing" Kevin Costner movies. Granted, Kevin Costner's movies were a good compromise between men and women, because they looked like action or sports movies to appease the men, but they were actually just love stories to keep the ladies satisfied.

But when you put Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott to work together, the outcome is something that gets the testosterone flowing through men's bodies just like Twilight does for estrogen in women. Men watch his movies and start grunting and spitting and cussing and pushing each other around. It's like a hockey fight or a car-chase scene. We were made for this stuff.

So what would it be like if we replaced Costner with Crowe? Imagine a cooler, grittier Waterworld. OK, so that couldn't have been worse if Mr. Bean were the main character...bad example. And how about Tin Cup? OK, strike two, that would have never been made. And I guess we would have never seen movies like Rumor Has It, Message in a Bottle, and The Bodyguard, but most would agree that's a good thing. At the very least, if those movies were never made, I'd be about $50 richer than I am today.

And just imagine how much better Kevin Costner's good movies would have been! The Untouchables, but rougher and tougher? Count me in! And Dances with Wolves would have been called Kills with Wolves: Terror on the Prairies. Or something like that, and I would have it memorized.

Come May 14th we'll all see how good the Robin Hood story could be. We've been tricked for way too many years into thinking that Kevin Costner was anything more than an American Hugh Grant. Robin Hood 2010 will show the world what I'm talking about. And I can't wait.