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My Final Trip to the Derek Jeter Shopping Mall

Last night I went to what I assume will be my final Yankee game of this season (proud to say I have not yet paid for tickets in the new shopping mall known as Yankee Statdium) and witnessed a boring 4-3 loss to the Tampa Rays. On the plus side the weather was nice and it was definitely great to hang out with my extremely busy brother for a night.  Now I must preface the rest of the post that if you love the Yankees and/or Derek Jeter you will dismiss this as more “hating” by me or something close to verbal half-black on half-black crime, but what Yankee Stadium has become, and more specifically the Derek Jeter farewell industry, is disgusting.  I think the Yankees, Jeter and sports memorabilia pimp Brandon Steiner have turned a storied franchise into a shameless cash engine.

Anyone who has been to the new Yankee Stadium has to have noticed the exponential explosion of gift shops and space allocated to gift shops.  After the fifth inning I accompanied my brother to the gift shop for him to look for a trinket for his kids.  I gladly joined him because baseball is extremely boring. What was shocking was that the store was jam packed.  In the middle of a game the store was jam packed like a Black Friday sale was going on. That is when I realized that the new Yankee Stadium feels more like the Mall of America – a bunch of places to spend money, but instead of an amusement park in the center, an overpriced baseball team performs with accomplished mediocrity.  Contrast this with the open and beautiful feel of Citi Field where the game is always visible as you walk around the stadium and feels like the most important thing going on, which is sad since the Mets suck so bad, but at least the stadium’s heart is in the right place.

At the center of the store, and by center I mean 60% of the store were dozens of shirts, hats, trinkets, used condoms and pubic hairs commemmorating Derek Jeter’s final season.  And then in the next store area a few sections over was the Brandon Steiner store with all sorts of manufactured memorabilia commemmorating Jeter’s career.  And all I could think was how shameless and hypocritical this whole charade was.  For a sport that keeps claiming to be based on nostalgia and creating memories and respect for tradition and history it seems that now this stadium only serves to force feed you manufactured memories and memorabilia, which of course negates the organic development of real history and nostalgia.

People will always praise Jeter as one of the guys who plays the game the right way.  However he was either a little jealous of all the fan fare Mariano Rivera got last year, or he saw dollar signs in his eyes like a cartoon villain, so he announced his retirement at the beginning of his final season.  Plus there had to have been a Yankee-Steiner-Jeter agreement to cash in on the tens of millions of additional dollars of merchadise “commemmorating” the occasion.  I always liked the way John Stockton, a first ballot NBA Hall of Famer, retired. He played his final season. Then he talked to his family and team management and announced his retirement.  No whoring. No self-serving farewell tour. No millions of dollars in merchandising.  And of course it is savvy business decision for Jeter (for a man with hundreds of millions of dollars already), but for a guy always hailed as a great ambassador of the game, it comes off as a shameless money grab.

Then there is the aforementioned explosion of intentionally generated memorabilia.  The whole point was that items gained prestige over time from their unforeseen value and/or personal attachment.  Now thanks to our culture and pimps like Brandon Steiner everything can become memorabilia.  Time and experience should determine the value and meaning of game items.  Someone might frame their ticket the last time they saw Mickey Mantle or Ted Williams, but now we have the Stadium and Steiner telling us that the 19 limited edition t-shirts, signed game jerseys that were never worn and 3 hat set with certificate of authenticity (yes this was offered on the big screen last night) are what we really need.  People often said of comedy that you will love it less when it becomes a business to you and that is sort of true to a certain extent.  Well, memorabilia loses most of its cache when you are instructing me what I need to experience sentimental feelings about an experience, instead of letting nostalgia occur naturally.

The there is Jeter the sports business icon.  Like his idol and business partner Michael Jordan, Jeter has always struck me as cold.  Jordan once famously said that “Republicans buy sneakers too” when he declined to endorse a candidate in North Carolina versus the bigoted Senator Jesse Helms.  Jordan operated with two things in mind – winning and Jordan, Inc. But he was so gifted and successful that we all applauded his accomplishments and never expected him to be a decent human being, as long as he was not a criminal.  I feel like the partnership of Jeter as Jordan brand’s #1 athlete endorsement is a perfect fit.  Jeter has never uttered a charismatic word in his life, he is aloof and is not afraid to whore his image of “playing the game the right way guy” into tens of millions of dollars of shameless merchandising.  But he won and that makes everything great, as long as you are not a criminal.  So congrats to the Yankees and Jeter for turning a hallowed space of baseball into a cheap shopping mall.  I just hope when Jeter gives his hook ups memorabilia bags that he doesn’t charge them since they are “Farewell to the Captain” gift bags.  That concludes this week hate session.

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on iTunes and/or STITCHER. New Every Tuesday so subscribe for free!

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Righteous Prick 2014 Heroes Nominees (half way point)

With 2014 halfway over (apparently time flies whether you are having fun or merely trekking the wasteland of comedy drudgery) and a few weeks on the road about to offer me numerous opportunities to share comedy stories I thought today would be a good day to offer some early possibilities for 2014 Righteous Prick Heroes (like CNN Heroes except unlike doing good works of charity or humanitarianism, these people have just entertained me).  So here are your first batch, and it is a diverse batch with two Latinos, two Asians and someone who will give me diabetes:

1) Luis Suarez – the Uruguayan star player who sabotaged his own team’s chances (and his own legacy) at the World Cup by biting another player (his third career biting infraction I believe).  If there is one thing this blogger/podcaster/comedian believes in it is sabotaging one’s own talent through questionable decisions.

2) Mendez – Watching season 2 of Orange is the New Black on Netflix this weekend I was struck by how much more nudity, fingering and all around sexual horse play there was on this season.  It was giving me a True Blood-ish feeling, meaning I enjoyed the first season of True Blood. A lot.  Then I think marketing people got their hand on some stats and realized, hey – our fan base has a lot of women and gays so lets start upping the beefcake factor, the gratuitous sex and the campiness because we really want to solidify our base.  It is like the Tea Party – instead of sticking to your original principles you pander to a loud and critical base, which then makes the political process, or in this analogy, the show, suffer.  Well I was getting that feeling until Mendez showed back up.  The abusive, mustachioed prison guard only appeared in three episodes, but it was the highlight of the show for me and brought me back from the brink. Let’s hope (no spoilers) that he can make it back to play a big role in season three or else I may have to tap out.

3) Masuhiro Tanaka – In this season of Derek Jeter (the icy cool, bland, gives baseball memorabilia to hook ups, has his boys approach women for him at clubs, was obsessed with mariah Carey as a teen which would have made their dating really weird if he was not a famous baseball player Yankee – you know a real hero) I am glad that it is another Yankee that is stealing his spotlight.  Tanaka has been an absolute beast on the mound for the Yankees, even when he loses and I like that he arrived in NY on a 777, the rental of which cost $200,000 with his wife, dog and only a couple of advisers in a gesture whose hubris lands somewhere between the 2010 Miami Heat pep rally and Donald Trump architecture.  I love it.

Derek Who?

4) Godzilla – Giant monster that literally burns bridges and creates hostile division among movie fans.  How could I not have him as a hero nominee?

5) The guy who brought girl scout cookies to crumbs – My favorite cookie is probably the Samoa.  One of the foods most responsible for my weight gain over the last 5 years the Crumbs cupcake.  Well in a move that rivals the pairing up of DeNiro and Pacino in Heat, they are now selling Crumbs Girl Scout cookies.  They come in at a cool 950 calories each, so as expected I only eat two per sitting.

The death of me. Possibly literally.

6) George RR Martin – There were hard feelings after “The Mountain and the Viper” episode of Game of Thrones, as exhibited by this video I made, but after deeper reflection I have to offer the highest level of respect to a man willing to continuously anger and destroy fans on a season-by-season basis.  Not since Drago yelled to the Russian crowd “I DO THIS FOR ME. FOR ME!” has a hero turned on his own fans so harshly.

7) The Guy Who Does The Sound Effects for Tyrant on FX – I do not know if Tyrant is going to be the next great show on television, but it is clear that FX is preparing to challenge AMC for the #2 cable quality spot behind HBO.  They just had Fargo, which for my money was far superior to True Detective and possibly the best show this year, they have The Americans and they are also premiering a 10pm Sunday show in July called The Strain, from Guillermo del Toro, which signals to me that with Mad Men ending soon, The Walking Dead ending soon (I think they said 5 seasons, but maybe they dont want to end that cash cow) and Breaking Bad already done FX is ready to move into the Sunday prime time level.  With all that preamble, the pilot of Tryant was fantastic.  And the singular moment for me was when the lead character slaps the sh*t out of his son.  Whoever did the sound effects for the double slap deserves an Emmy because it sounded like a thunderclap in a storm. Ridiculous? Yes.  Excellent? Double yes.

8 ) The People Who Made Fargo on FX – As I already mentioned – the 10 episodes of this show can only be rivaled (within the qualifying Emmy period) by Season 4 of Game of Thrones.  Better than the final 8 of Breaking Bad. Better than True Detective.

9) Lebron James – Just like he is always a top MVP candidate, he is always a top nominee for an RPH of the year.  By opting out of his contract (and the rest of the Miami Heat following suit) he has opened the door for the Heat to add more firepower in needed areas (like point guard, interior defense and the assassination of Dwyane Wade).  What I hope more than anything, including success in my own career, is that if they sign someone of quality (sorry World Cup has me calling things quality), BESIDES Carmelo Anthony, that they all come out in another pep rally and it simply says “Fu*k Y’all” in big bright letters behind them. They are going to hate anyway – might

10) J-L Cauvin – duh.

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on iTunes and/or STITCHER. New Every Tuesday so subscribe for free!

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Are Black Men The New White Girls?

For every sports fan or fan of athletic black men, for whatever reason, the LeBron James Reality Show is set to end tomorrow night when he announces on ESPN at 9pm where he will play next year.  I’m just surprised he did not select the Bravo Network to make his announcement. 

Thanks to magazines like Maxim, men began slowly creeping into women’s dominion over fashion, grooming and sexual insecurity over a decade ago.  In the interest of full disclosure I occasionally get manicures and do tear up at the movie Dead Poets’ Society, but it is starting to feel like there are no differences between women and men.  I think in work and other areas where equality is needed that is great, but in general society I think it is important to have differences and embrace and enjoy them.  But thanks to LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the impressively annoying Chris Bosh, the differences have been obliterated.  LeBron, Wade and Bosh are supposed to be alpha males and caricatures of male virility as elite professional athletes; so why have they become The Real Housewives of Miami?

First let’s start with Bosh.  Has a man ever sent more mixed messages?  His hair and imposing presence make me think he is hunting Arnold Schwarzenegger in a jungle, but his Tweets make me think he is one Cosmo from tweeting, “Miami is totes fab, having a quick vacay before heading to training camp with the ladies!”  Thank you Twitter for taking the position made famous by Kevin McHale, Karl Malone and Kevin Garnett and turning it into something Joel McHale can discuss on The Soup!  And if you think this is overblown, Bosh does have a documentary crew following him around.  I guess so future generations can actually witness the moment when a guy who looked like Predator became Bethany Frankel (even that I know who Bethany Frankel is is a personal crisis for me).  And all this for a player who has no business being considered a top 3 free agent.

You know what's a good way to celebrate signing with Miami? ORANGE MOCHA FRAPPACHINOS!

Then there is Dwyane Wade, who has the man street cred of having given a woman VD (not his ex-wife), but who also has a documentary crew following him.  Seriously is Oxygen or Bravo going to pick this up?  This has been like a bizarre romance between D-Wade and Bosh.  I can see them doing Real World confessionals with Wade saying, “If Chris wants me he can come to me,” and Bosh tearing up, “I just want him to want me.”  Oh wait, they may have already done that in their respective documentaries.

Then there is LeBron.  The alpha male of alpha males.  He is announcing his decision tomorrow night on ESPN.  I’m pretty sure that gay guy that does the Housewives reunion shows will be hosting it.  Where is Simon Cowell to call this “incredibly self-indulgent?”  Even Alex Rodriguez had a standard press conference when he came to the Yankees (Derek Jeter probably required it) and that guy is a cologne ad and a Men’s Health cover all in one (as in Metrosexual to the point of occasional exploration).  And A-Rod fu*ked Bethany Frankel, he did not become her.  But LeBron (and the media circus which have been willing co-conspirators) have turned this into drama that only reality show dregs can match. 

You can still be on fashion magazines if you stay in Cleveland.

And what reality show would be complete without tears and tomorrow night I expect them to be flowing from LeBron.  He can stay in Cleveland, which is his home, where he is the favorite son or he can go to one of the bigger glamorous cities.  Wait, wasn’t that the “plot” of The Hills?  See, I hate these shows and yet I am so inundated with the crap that I think I know what they are.  But I never expected the NBA to be this.  Now I may have to watch the WNBA for a more masculine version of the NBA, albeit, one with lots of layups.

But LeBron’s other options are New York, Chicago and Miami, all great cities.  If he goes to Miami I hear that Natasha Bedingfield has been commissioned to write a theme song. 

So, like I hear LeBron may go to Miami... what's like up with that? Maybe he should like go to New York because it's like really like cool there. Like Cleveland is so like, I don't know... (nervous laughter, vapid smile)

I hope he stays in Cleveland because I don’t think those other cities deserve him or will genuinely appreciate him the way that Cleveland will.  But this process has already done it’s damage.  Not just because it has turned NBA stars into trite starlets, but because it has forced me to further respect a player I do not particularly like: Kobe Bryant.  Hey, at least he’s still a man.  And if LeBron leaves Cleveland to form the Spice Girls in Miami I will do something I have never done – I’ll be rooting for Kobe in the Finals.

Yes, Kobe is still more of a man even in this pose.
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Big Ben, Michael Wilbon & Why I Have To…

It is has been an up and down month in sports for me.  First there was my NCAA bracket and having to root for Duke.  Well, Duke made the Finals and all I need was for them to lose for me to win $1400 and 1st place in my pool or, if they won, they could still help me by scoring a lot of points which would have earned me over $100 and 3rd place in my pool.  Instead Duke, in classic Another-Reason-For-Me-To-Hate-Duke-Basketball form managed to win AND score just enough points to win a WNBA playoff game, causing me to lose the 3rd place tiebreaker and walk away with no money and the pain of a Duke Championship.

Baseball season has also started, with my usual apathy for Goldman Sachs, a/k/a The Wall Street Bombers, a/k/a The New York Yankees.  I’m sure by August I will care again, but right now I just get annoyed at all the people waxing nostalgic about the opening of baseball season like it’s still a team of neighborhood boys made good. 

Then the Utah Jazz caused me great joy and frustration.  My favorite team since the age of 7 provided me with the greatest live sporting event I’ve ever attended with a thrilling 140-139 OT victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.  Kevin Durant of the Thunder had 45 points, but the Jazz won with  just over one second left.  Then, in classic fashion, the Jazz proceeded to lose their season finale (thanks in part to the sensitive, free agent contract-conscious, former Duke Blue Devil Carlos Boozer’s abdominal strain – never trust a Duke Blue Devil) going from a cozy 3 seed at home against the maligned Trailblazers and a second round match-up with the paper tigers known as the Dallas Mavericks, to a 5 seed on the road with match-ups against their two toughest opponents (if they win in the 1st round) Denver Nuggets and then the Los Angeles Lakers).  The Lakers’ Lamar Odom might as well call the Jazz Khloe he fu-ks them so shamelessly.

But all these highs and lows have taken a backseat to the biggest story affecting a team that I am a fan of – The Pittsburgh Steelers.  Their star quarterback, two-time Super Bowl champion Ben Roethlisberger, and soon-to-be-played-by Peter Stormare in a Lifetime movie has turned out to be at best, a man with a rich frat boy’s sense of entitlement or at worse, a serial rapist.  It of course brings to mind Kobe Bryant, who I think was the last comparable athlete, to be charged with a sex cime of this magnitude.

At best - a rich frat boy sense of entitlement. At worst - a rapist. Either way - not a fan.

Now the Kobe Bryant case seemed to go much farther through the legal system than the Roethlisberger case has.  The rumors around the Kobe case were that he attempted to and may have successfully forced a back door slam dunk on the woman in Denver.  Now I have only met one woman who reacted with good humor (disturbing on many levels when pondered) at unexpected anal penetration, but this is not the time to re-hash my routine, so even considering that the woman went to Kobe’s room of her own free will, her back door is her back door and no is still supposed to mean no.

But Ben Roethlisberger does not even have that benefit (which of course raises the possibility that this is an incident representative of that time honored tradition in America which is the only crime worse than raping a white woman is being black and raping a white woman – not looking to address that here).  He seems to have, in the very least, acted aggressively and inappropriately towards this young woman and with the assistance of security guards.  I am not as troubled by the allegation that his security guards prevented her friends from getting to the alleged victim, because let’s face it – rock stars and athletes have had sex in all sorts of places and she could have been consenting to sex in a VIP lounge with a famous athlete.  Of course, she could have also been raped, which would make the bodyguards unknowing (or knowing) accomplices.

If this were a one time incident, the benefit of the doubt would be with Roethlisberger, but he has been accused of sexual assaults before.  Normally I don’t condone prostitution, but in Ben’s case it is better than the alternative.  Roethlisberger, in the very least, is placing himself in unsavory and compromising positions and deserves to be suspended by the league.  The Steelers have already said they will be suspending him because the organization, maybe worth a billion, still operates with a family business mentality and that is commendable.  It is even more troubling when you consider some of the “offended” fan base of the Steelers (after all, at Heinz Field last year was where I heard Joshua Cribbs of the Cleveland Brown get called a “Nigger” by a white Steeler fan and no one seemed to bat an eye). (Click below link for that Heinz Field tale)

https://jlcauvin.com/?p=1212

So if that fan base is troubled, you know Big Ben is in big trouble.

But as I was saying before, Roethlisberger has a few options to sex crimes – he could have girlfriends in every city, so that he has variety, but with women he can trust a little better than strangers at a bar.  He could hire prostitutes.  Let’s face facts – these high end services cater to men like him and convicted of using a prostitute is a preferred alternative to even the social stigma of being acquitted of serial rape.  Or he could have a meeting with Derek Jeter and forge a discreet vaginal domination mentorship where he learns how to have successful sexual relations without crimes by him or extortion by her being committed.

But with these options available to a man of Roethlisberger’s stature, as well as previous incidents that should have been warnings, one must wonder, perhaps this is what Roethlisberger wants.  Rape after all is a crime of power, not sex.  So if Ben, given his competitive success, is into power and domination, then sexual gratification would not satisfy this lust.  Michael Jordan exhibited his OCD level competitiveness through excessive gambling, Tiger Woods through excessive relations with menstruating waitresses and perhaps Ben really is a man whose drive for success has a criminal and vile manifestation away from the playing field.  I am not a psychologist, but it makes sense to me. 

I think the Steelers’ reaction has been appropriate, especially if they decide to trade Big Ben.  Even if Roethlisberger is innocent of all charges, he is obviously conducting himself in an embarrassing fashion and that alone gives the Steelers and the NFL a right to punish him to protect their corporate image.  But rape is in my opinion the worst crime there is, but perhaps that is why condemnation is coming more cautiously.  I am still surprised that allegations (and subsequent criminal conviction) of abuse of dogs by Michael Vick seemed to generate more outrage than Ben Roethlisberger’s alleged sexual assaults on women. 

And on a side note, as a fan of Pardon The Interruption on ESPN, I have also found Michael Wilbon’s defense of Ben Roethlisberger reprehensible.  I am a big fan of PTI and a big fan of Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser.  But it seems Wilbon, unlike the curmudgeon Kornheiser, has spent too much time cultivating a hybrid existence of serious journalist and Ahmad Rashad-buddy relationships with superstar athletes that he now sees fit to defend, or at least omit criticism, of athletes he favors.  Tiger Woods is a glaring example.  Gilbert Arenas was another to a much lesser extent, but Wilbon’s Roethlisberger commentary has been awful.  He said flat out that he does not think Roethlisberger should be suspended.   He is clearly a Big Ben fan and that is fine, but the lack of a criminal conviction cannot be the only acceptable standard for allowing a player to continue business as usual.  And Wilbon scoffing at Roethlisberger’s loss of a beef jerky endorsement at the end of a show this week was equally insensitive.

Michael Wilbon's commentary has been a huge disappointment during the Roethlisberger coverage.

All in all, it seems like it will be impossible for me to don a Roethlisberger jersey again.  To be fair I do have a Karl Malone jersey and he has not always been a model citizen, but he is a far cry from serial rapist (not to mention my inspiration for pursuing basketball).  And even if Ben is innocent of all criminal liability I’d still rather be associated with a black, redneck power forward than a jerk with a rich frat boy sense of entitlement.

I think I've retired this jersey. And not in a good way.
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LeBron James Must Stay In Cleveland

I went to see LeBron James in person on Tuesday night at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.  It was awesome.  As I have joked with crowds all week, “I want to see him in Cleveland before he follows me back to NY.”  In all honesty I hope LeBron does not go to New York or any other city.  He belongs in Cleveland and as much as any athlete can, he belongs to Cleveland.

The Christ-like worship of LeBron is a bit much in Cleveland, but only a bit.

The people in this city may have already crossed into disturbing hero worship, bordering on something out of the film The Man Who Would Be King (look it up), but it is clear that the Cleveland Cavalier fans have a unique and special relationship with LeBron James that has all but been lost in sports.  Derek Jeter has it with NY, but if he had merely performed well, without winning a title he would not have it.  LA Fans love Kobe, but more because of their star worship.  But LeBron is from Ohio. He has yet to win anything, but the Cleveland area loves him as if he is family.  They get angry when you suggest he may leave for NY because they don’t believe he will do that.  If he were never to win in Cleveland they’d be disappointed for him. If he were to never win a title in New York, the fans would feel bad for themselves.

Speaking of New York, LeBron should not go to NY because NY doesn’t deserve him.  Patrick Ewing was the last hoops superstar in NY (and he does not compare with LeBron’s star power), but many Knick fans (especially the corporate douchebags that flood the Garden during times of success as if they were having an auction of 20-something blond Midwestern transplants) consider Ewing a failure, a choke artist and do not recall the fact that he gave everything he had for 15 years to try and get a title to NY (literally millions of gallons of sweat) .  Utah does not treat Malone and Stockton as failures, but many Knick fans still consider Ewing a failure first, a great Knick second. 

In fact the Knicks this year have played above expectation (thanks in part to the exceptional play of David Lee – a rare white American star in the NBA – but who the Knicks have continued to portray as a scrappy hustler, in line with typical white stereotypes), but many Knick fans are waiting for next year to show their support when they get star power (seriously NY is starting to feel more like the stereotype that LA has owned for so long – the sporting event is not as important to people as the event surrounding the sport).  That is what the Yankees organization banked on when they started selling $2500 dollar tickets to Yankee Games: that New York, a city renowned for its grit and character was actually just becoming another Los Angeles (it is – if I see one more salad place open up with a one word name – “chop’t,” “toss’d,” “crisp” I am going to go postal.  These places may very well be in other cities, but they are starting to feel uncomfortably appropriate in NYC).  Well, thanks to the economy it turns out NY was not quite ready for $2500 tickets, but $1250 tickets were not so bad.  And the addition of LeBron will just further push out many Knick fans who can probably barely afford pre-LeBron ticket prices.

However, Cleveland is the real reason for LeBron to stay.  He is to Cleveland what General Motors is to Detroit.  If he starts to pack up I feel like it will devastate the city.  The pre-game theatrics at the Cavs game included incredible movies and pyrotechnics for God’s sake!  I have been to 6 NBA arenas (not yet to Mecca in Salt Lake City) and these were by far the best I have ever seen (though the Bulls’ intros in the 90s are untouchable, as far as I am concerned, for theatrical originality, culminating with the 6’6″ guard from Nooooorth Caaarolinaaa…” 

There have also been rumors that Nike, in light of Tiger Woods’ sexscapades, was encouraging LeBron to go to New York so that they could have Kobe and LeBron on the coasts and build up that campaign further to stem some of the losses that Tiger may/will incur.  It is bad enough that politicians are all owned by corporations, but now athletes are being dictated to by them as well?  I would love to have LeBron tell the owner of the Knicks and any other big market team a la Michael Corleone in Godfather Part II: “We are all part of the same hypocrisy Mr. Dolan, but don’t think that that extends to my family.”

Because Cleveland is like LeBron’s family.  In fact, Cleveland is like LeBron’s wife and children that have stood by him as he built his reputation and skills and career.  They have done everything to make him happy.  If he goes to New York it will be like he is leaving his family for the hottest of the many of the gold digging tramps that roam the clubs and high society functions of New York.  Although Bill Simmons, ESPN’s “The Sports Guy” likes to call Baron Davis Teen Wolf, for this discussion I would like to call LeBron Teen Wolf.  And he has a choice – he can date Boof, the cute, loyal and real person and be a success in life and as a person, or he can go for Pamela Wells, the blond who has emerged only after the onset of Teen Wolf’s new found success.  NYC has enough guys that would go for Pamela Wells – LeBron should do the right thing for everyone and stay with Boof.  But if he leaves, it falls on his doorstep and he will have killed one of the last real fairy tales in sports.

LeBron in NYC. The lesson from Teen Wolf - stay with Boof, stay in Cleveland.
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Some Thoughts & Questions on Derek Jeter’s Wedding

Since I have nothing substantive or critical to say today (to quote Curly from City Slickers, “Day ain’t over yet.”) I began the day ruminating on the announced nuptials of Derek Jeter and Minka Kelly (formerly of Friday Night Lights, now will be know as “wife of Derek Jeter”).

He just won the world series - what could possibly make him look so serious- oh, sorry Minka, didn't see you there.
He just won the world series - what could possibly make him look so serious- oh, sorry Minka, didn't see you there.

First question, is A Rod going to be invited?  And will he attempt to either interrupt the vows, the first dance or give an unrequested toast?  Or will A Rod, a la the 1985 HBO daytime classic Just One Of The Guys, reveal before the wedding that he is a woman and is in love with Jeter, prompting Jeter to cry out,”Where the hell do you come off having tits?”

A sad end to A Rod and Jeter's relationship
A sad end to A Rod and Jeter's relationship

Second, is Tim Riggins going to show up to the wedding drunk?

Third, along the Friday Night Lights theme again, are the going t have W. G. Snuffy Walden do  the music for the wedding?  He has penned the scores to Friday Night Lights and the West Wing and he has a funny name so I thought it would be cool.

Fourth, I assume Jeter has undergone significant STD testing.  If only for the bacteria carried by Rachel Uchitel.  Don’t want to write out Lyla Garrrity because she has gonnorhea (write her out because she is annoying, but not because of sexually transmitted diseases).

Fifth will they finally stop showing Jeter’s parents on television during games like he is some bright eyed 19 year old new to the city and start showing the roster of all the metaphorical soil he has tilled since coming to NYC?

"There are Jeter's parents - what a nice couple... Now which Hooters girl did their son donkey punch last night?"
"There are Jeter's parents - what a nice couple... Now which Hooters girl did their son donkey punch last night?"

Sixth, does this also mean that Jeter can no longer be our society’s new standard for moral leadership since he banged hundreds of women while not being married (seriously this is the bar we’ve been left with)?  Now that he is married I assume the Tiger watch will be on and the TMZ mentality of our culture will be waiting to see him slip up.  Which will once again leave Obama as my girlfriend’s only reassurance that half black dudes can be trusted in relationships.

Seventh, does Joe Torre sit with the Steinbrenners at the wedding?  Awkward.

Eighth – title for Minka Kelly’s memoir -“Right Place, Right Time: How To Marry A Millionaire Athlete  When You Look Pretty And His Dick Is Tired Of Fu-king Everyone.”  The foreword could be written by Khloe Kardashian’s ass.

Good luck Derek and Minka, in all seriousness I am pretty confident you will make it.*

 

*Make it = 5 years of marriage.

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The Top Ten Movies of 2009 (and the decade)

I thought this year was a really good year for movies, despite the garbage that was listed on this site yesterday.  Before getting to the top 10 movies of 2009 (and the decade) here are some special (mostly positive) awards for movies in 2009.

SPECIAL AWARDS

Most Surprisingly Good Movies (in no particular order)

1) This Is it– Thoroughly enjoyed the concert (rehearsal) documentary about Michael Jackson.  Great music and a worthy tribute to the fallen icon and aficionado of play dates with tweens.

2) Taken– The Liam Neeson film is a perfect example of how a movie that has no ambition, only one star and a simple plot can still deliver if it just tries to do the simple things well.  And the scene where he shoots his friend’s wife to show that he means business was one of the best this year.

3) Crank 2– Either the most ingenious quasi-spoof of action movies ever or just a ridiculously entertaining goof.  Either way I had no idea that I would enjoy this movie as much as I did.  It now validates Jason Statham’s work visa to me, though his films have only grossed slightly more than my YouTube videos.

4) Drag Me To Hell – This Movie almost made the top 10.  Funny, creepy, gross, and all on purpose.  A good, but not great movie.  However, there were very few movies I enjoyed more than this one.

Take My Wife, please.
Take My Wife, please.

The Any Given Sunday Award For Most Disappointing Movie Based On Awesome Trailer

Watchmen.  Blue genitals and a waste of time is all I remember from this movie.  The trailer, however, was perfection.

The Two Towers Award For Great Trailer That Delivered Great Movie

Nothing.  But The Men Who Stare At Goats was my favorite trailer of the year and the movie was solid, but still did not meet expectations. 

2009 Honorable Mention (A/K/A The Unpaid Guestspot of Movie Awards)

Avatar, The Hurt Locker, Two Lovers, Food Inc., State of Play

2009 Top Ten Movies

10) (tie) Sugar, The Messenger

Sugar is the story of a Dominican immigrant seeking to become a baseball star.  Came out early this year to rave reviews, but has long been forgotten.  Anyone who is a baseball fan or interested in the immigrant experience should see this.  Or just hang out by Yankee Stadium.

The Messenger is the best war movie this year.  It is about two soldiers who report to next of kin of the loss of loved ones.  The things people do for work in this economy.  Really strong and simple movie.

9)Capitalism: A Love Story. 

This movie is a reminder that America used to be a place where a middle class person could thrive (middle class meaning one blue collar job with could salary and benefits, not $5 million dollars or less like John McCain seemed to think).  Now thanks to a selfish, never too rich mindset the wealth is more concentrated at the top than ever before.  Sadly for working Americans and Michael Moore, America is one big casino and the house always wins.

Michael Moore was right America - these guys are stealing your pensions, your country and your daughters - actually if you live In NYC you know that the daughters are mostly willing participants in the, "profiting off the misery of most Americans is such a turn on" industry, like less forthright versions of Ashley Dupre
Michael Moore was right America - these guys are stealing your pensions, your country and your daughters - actually if you live In NYC you know that the daughters are mostly willing participants in the, "profiting off the misery of most Americans is such a turn on" industry, like less forthright versions of Ashley Dupre

8) 500 Days of Summer

The fact that Music and Lyrics was my favorite romantic comedy before this movie came out (yes I have seen Love Actually, but have not seen When Harry Met Sally yet – gasp!) may diminish my credibility in this genre,  but I am probably not the only person telling you how great this movie is.  Funny, heartfelt and thoroughly enjoyable.  And the lesson of the film couldn’t be more optimistic: if you find yourself in a relationship with a cu-t, don’t worry because eventually you may go out with Derek Jeter’s girlfriend.

7) Bruno

The selection most likely to anger people.  First, yes I thought it was funnier than Borat.  Second, the best opening of any film since The Dark Knight.  As the techno music began blaring and the words “black guys” and “taint” flashed on screen I could not stop laughing.  For many the film was too crude.  Other complaints I heard was that Borat had a point in showing some ignorance in funny ways, whereas this just went for cheap laughs.  Probably true.  Perhaps it was easier to embrace a character who was exposing racism and sexism and, most flagrantly, anti-Semitism in Borat and feel good about laughing than in Bruno, where you are just laughing at the absurdity of a gay character’s libido on steroids.  My advice to the self-righteous – take the champagne bottle out of your ass and watch Bruno pour some champagne out of his boyfriend’s.

"Throw your shoulders back, this is a fashion show, not a slave auction!"
"Throw your shoulders back, this is a fashion show, not a slave auction!"

6) Precious Based On The Novel Push By Sapphire

Fat, pregnant by her father (again – fool me once shame on him, fool you twice… shame on him again in this rare exception to that saying), illiterate and Mariah Carey as your social worker.  And I thought being a comedian was tough.  This movie is a powerhouse and Mo’nique’s performance is one of my three favorite this year (Christopher Waltz in Inglorious Basterds and Paul Rudd in I Love You Man being the other two).  And I would like this movie to win Best Adapted Screenplay so that Sapphire, who probably negotiated the self-indulgent title has to hear the dumbest phrase ever uttered at an awards show: The winner is Precious Based on The Novel Push By Sapphire Based On The Novel Push By Sapphire.

You look like my career.
You look like my career.

5) Up

The opening to this movie may be the most touching sequence in movies this year.  It is just another great movie from Pixar.  Normally stories of old men hanging out with young fat kids is awkward (think Herbert the Pervert and Chris Griffin from Family Guy as one such pairing), but this movie is nothing of the sort.  Plus it has a talking golden retriever, which will always get support from me.

This is not the plot of Up, but I bet even Pixar could make it work.  MMMMMMMMMM
This is not the plot of Up, but I bet even Pixar could make it work. MMMMMMMMMM

4) Inglorious Basterds

Christopher Waltz was amazing, but surprising to me was how good Brad Pitt was.  A funny, intense, enjoyable movie about Nazis and the Jews that hunted them.  It was also a welcome relief from the usual parade of mediocre, maudlin films about the Holocaust that are raised to critical praise because of the subject matter.  After Schindler’s List I think Hollywood could have just waited for this one .  After all slavery has had what, Roots and Amistad?  I think 6 Holocaust movies come out last year alone.  But I digress.  Basterds is awesome (and my favorite Tarantino film – that is what I think, but I am also writing it because I want to anger those who worship at the altar of Pulp Fiction).

3) Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs

Even more than Bruno, this choice is likely to bring on some WTFs.  I did not even want to see this movie, but then reviews kept talking about how much fun it was.  The biggest shock of the year for me was this movie.  It was hysterical from start to finish.  It was like the humor of Family Guy, but not as crude or easy.  I flirted with putting this #1, but the last two choices, upon reflection, were the two best movies of the year.

2) Up In The Air

 I am tired of the “this is the movie that defines our times” type quotes, but besides that this is a great movie.  George Clooney’s best (unlike his win for Syriana, no complaints if he gets Best Actor) and a movie that is so good that I cannot exactly explain why it is so good.  Perhaps it is because it is a movie that defines our times… oops.

1) District 9

The most original movie I have seen in a long time.  The biggest crime of the Oscars could be if Avatar gets a best picture nomination and this does not (if they only feel like honoring once sci-fi-ish film).  Since it is #1 I don’t think it needs any explaining, other than the fact that it comes out on DVD today so you should rent it if you have not seen it.

After thinking again about the 4,558 movies I saw this year, District 9 is #1.
After thinking again about the 4,558 movies I saw this year, District 9 is #1.

TOP TEN MOVIES OF THE DECADE

10) School Of Rock – Along with The Wrestler, no movie has matched an actor better this decade than Jack Black and SOR.

9) The Departed – I hate the Boston accent, but that was the only thing I hated about this movie.

8) Eastern Promises– Russian mob in London and the best fight scene in any movie ever.  Sorry Bourne Ultimatum.  You were second.

7) Million Dollar Baby – The only movie that made me cry this decade (joining E.T., Glory and Dead Poets’ Society on the career list).  Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman and Hilary Swank all at their best.

6) Traffic – A decade later the violence in Mexico is worse and the liberal pot smokers who abhor the violence of war or the treatment of chickens that are not free-range, but still help fund the cartels that propagate massive bloodshed in and around the border.  This movie would go under the category of wake up calls unheeded.  Great movie.

5) Finding Nemo– My favorite movie from the most consistently great movie studio.

4) 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days – I am not a big foreign film guy, but this was so intense and so good I regretted not speaking (Romanian if my recollection is correct) the language because even checking the subtitles was too much attention away from the acting.

3) The Dark Knight – I have never seen a movie in the theaters more than this one.  And it’s not even close.  Die Hard, The Matrix and The Dark Knight are the three films that changed and elevated action movies higher than any others in the last 20 years.  To me, it was even more impressive to take action, the way Christopher Nolan and Heath Ledger did, and turn it into art.

2) The Lord Of The Rings – Because of The Godfather III’s mediocrity this is the greatest trilogy of all time.  Shut up Star Wars people. (and if I had to pick just one – The Two Towers).

1) United 93 – I have only seen two perfect movies in my lifetime.  One was Amadeus, my favorite movie of all time.  The other was United 93.  I am not saying it is my favorite movie of all time; it would be hard to make that claim about a film focused on 9/11.  But the realism, the intensity, the respectful rendering of an incredibly sensitive subject and the overall product was second to none this decade for me.  In a sad way I guess it is fitting that the decade’s defining event yielded the decade’s best movie. Besides, a movie about our collective self-indulgence and self absorption called Twitter v. 3.05 would not be nearly as riveting.