Friday, July 25, 2008


The Brett Favre plot thickens. I found out today that he's going to show up to training camp in hopes of pushing Aaron Rodgers out. What a complete dick. Again...just go the fuck away Brett Favre. Dear god.

I saw the Dark Knight yesterday, and I gotta admit, the hype is well warranted. The film is fucking amazing. It's dark, action packed, smart, with just the right seasoning of funny. Yes, Heath Ledger is perfect, and it's a bummer what happened to him. I was seriously blown away by how great the movie was. I'm a batman fan to begin with, and even I think that each nuance of the movie was beautifully executed. Well done.

On that note, the Dark Knight left a lasting effect on me today as I sat in my office, and I began to ponder great action movies that simply have all the elements that make them re-watchable over and over; action movies that are pure entertainment and just a fucking good time to experience. Here's my little list.

The Die Hard Trilogy

Pretty obvious I know, but you have got to respect this quirky, shoot-em-up-and-explode-em trilogy. Disclaimer: I'm not including the fourth installment of Die Hard because although I thought it was well done and entertaining, it doesn't maintain the same sense of nostalgic qualities the original, authentic Die Hard Trilogy does. Therefore, no discussion of it will be made.

What makes this entire trilogy amazing is simple - the Gruber brothers. Not many people talk about Die Hard 2, and even though I feel like it is a massively underrated film, it strayed from the formula of the Grubers (similar to how Indiana Jones strayed from the Nazis in the Temple of Doom, but we'll get to that later). Plus, it's slightly political and complex, dealing with the forceful release of a highly controversial political prisoner by a gaggle of turncoats. This is just too much. The audience of an action movie doesn't want to have to think too much. That's why the geniuses behind Die Hard with a Vengeance made it simple. A man wants to kill John McClain and in the process makes him solve a bunch of riddles and puzzles. Brilliant. I love riddles. But Gruber's vendetta against our heroic protagonist makes the films. McClain is a vagabond who just happens to be a cop. He's the "every-man" the public loves, and he's a fucking funny, smart-ass who kills bad guys. Sounds simple, but damn that shit works. Plus, in Die Hard with a Vengeance, the brilliant minds of Hollywood decide to pair him up with Samuel L. Jackson. Perfect move.

Die Hard with a Vengeance formula: Renegade cop + Street wise black man + Hazardous but entertaining riddles and puzzles + A bunch of bad foreigners (I mean, who likes foreigners anyway right?) + Big explosions and gunfire = Picture perfect action film.

The Indiana Jones Trilogy

Again, I'm not going to mention the most recent installment. Mainly because it wasn't that great. Aliens at the end? Really? And also because Harrison Ford just could not maintain the same spry attitude that epitomizes Indiana Jones. Different movie all together. Not that impressed.

As was said before, Indiana Jones also fell out of the "what works every time formula" when it made Temple of Doom. I've had this conversation many a time with my friends, but Temple of Doom is too campy; it's too cheese-ball. And it gets away from what will always work in any movie - fucking Nazis. Indiana Jones has all ready got tons of shit going for it because it deals with archeology. I love archeology because it's about cryptic, mysterious shit that we can only imagine ever seeing. However, Indiana Jones is always out finding it. Again, I'm going to focus on the highlight of the three films, which is Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Like Die Hard with a Vengeance, the makers of the films figured, "Hey we got it right the first time, we can experiment a little with the second film," only to get a firm slap on the wrist when they stray a little too far. Formula works with action films. That's why there's a formula. Gruber's = Die Hard and Nazis = Indiana Jones.

Also, in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Sean Connery is thrown into the cauldron as the dense, yet intelligent father to Indiana. Similar to Samuel L. Jackson, the addition is perfect and adds just the right amount of spice to the film. Plus, they're searching for the Holy Grail. You can't get much more archaeological than that. Did, I mention the Nazis are after it too? Beautiful.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade formula: Dashing, attractive professor by day and charming yet daring archaeologist by night + veteran Scottish actor with a beard + search for the Holy Grail (I mean come on, it's the Holy Grail) + Retro setting (for nostalgic factor) + fucking Nazis = Picture perfect action film.

Okay, okay, I kind of went off on several tangents with those trilogies because number one, they're trilogies and number two, they're six of my favorite action movies of all time. i do think it's fantastic that the third installment in each series is my favorite. Everyone wants to laud the original, but that's just because they feel like they have to. It's like giving every movie from the 1930's four stars or saying that the 72' Dolphins team is the best team of all-time. Trust me, have them play the 2007 Dolphins (uhhh...1-15) and they'd get fucking smoked. People feel like they have to say the 72' team is the best because they went undefeated. Whatever, they played like 4 teams with winning records. Whoa, whoa, whoa...sorry, the sports sidebars just sneak up on me.

Anyway, the formula was tweaked and perfected with each installment, thus resulting in two amazing action films: Die Hard with a Vengeance and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Here are some other amazing action films and the reasons why. Disclaimer #2: I'm going to try and stay away from sports movies at all costs. They belong in their own category. Okay then...I'm gonna try to sum the rest of these up in two sentences or less.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day

The special effects still hold up and Arnold is in his motherfucking prime. Plus, you can't beat those creepy sound effects maintained throughout the movie


Keanu Reeves' crowning moment. Three-quarters of the film takes place on a goddamn raging bus. Pieces of highway are missing, Sandra Bullock actually kind of looks okay, and Dennis Hopper is a creepy bastard. Plus, it's the first rated-R movie I ever saw in the theaters.


Sylvester Stallone vs. John Lithgow

First Blood

Just Sylvester Stallone. The film really has no plot, and that makes it all the better. Oh, and there's a big ass fucking knife.


I realize I'm really just promoting Sly and Arnold films here but is that such a bad thing? The Predator's a frightening beast, and the geniuses of Hollywood figured out a perfect formula: Don't Let Arnold talk, and cover him in mud.

Any Steven Seagal Movie

It's simple. Seagal has one signature move. He grabs a body part and forces it the way the joint doesn't want to go, thus popping a bone out into open air. I could watch this over and over again, and thankfully there are many Seagal gems that allow me to do so.

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

These movies finally made me into a verifiable dork (I had been avoiding Star Wars mania for years). Epic, and I mean epic, action scenes, Liv Tyler looking amazing, and talking trees. Done and done.


I know Mel Gibson is a jackass, but this movie spurned a series of forgettable "epics." William Wallace has his limbs ripped from his body and his innards strewn about at the end...absolutely vicious. When he yells "Freedom!" I wanted to lose it. There's no shame in that right? This movie made me want to buy a sword and take more pride in my Scottish roots.

The Dark Knight

Go see it.

Okay, there's definitely more, but I'm done for now.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

dear brett favre,

you suck. for real. i didn't believe you when you said you were retiring, and it looks like i can heap another load of "i told you so's" onto my all ready expansive ego. why do you keep doing this to everyone? we all know why you came back last year. you just wanted the records because you're selfish. then, when your team showed some amazing progress, you thought to yourself, "maybe i can beat this dead horse a little while longer." you hold your team hostage year after year because you think you have some sort of righteous entitlement to do so. well, i guess you did win that one super 12 years ago. good job chief. we're very proud.

and as the football season slowly approaches you've once again gotten "the itch" to play again. shocking. i didn't see this coming at all four months ago when you mentioned that if aaron rodgers got hurt you'd be tempted to return. and let's talk a second about aaron rodgers. what are you doing to this poor man? he had to sit behind you for four years and hear about how great and spectacular you are, all the while secretly knowing that you're really not that great (that's right, i can read minds), and now he finally gets his chance only to have it spit right back in his face. the funny thing is, i think aaron rodgers will be a good quarterback in this league. really, i do. but how can he get comfortable when he constantly has the old chucker lurking in the shadows year after year after year.

also brett, why are you so upset that the packers are being kind of cold to you? you fucking retired! right? am i dense or did i not witness you weeping at a press conference as you stated that it just wasn't possible to go through another season. you couldn't mentally do it. should the packers have sat around twiddling their thumbs wishing and praying that you just might return. i think the organization is sick of your shit, and i don't understand how any rational, level-headed human being can blame them. they were optimistically moving on with a quarterback they had confidence in and you snuck back in. it's ridiculous. you are so quick whine to espn, and unfortunately it's a slow time in the sports world so they are willing to listen and blow the story way out of proportion. make it stop. please make it stop.

will someone make brett favre go away? i'd be ever so grateful.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

your community market.

i was in cincinnati this past weekend for the 4th of july and my mom's birthday. i got to eat and drink for free, play cornhole, toss a baseball around, hang out with the posse, and watch $2,000 worth of fireworks be shot off in a backyard. all in all, it was a damn fine weekend.

one of my favorite parts, however, was the five minutes i spent in the riddle road market. if you know me well, you know all about the strong affinity i hold for the hole in the wall market on the corner of riddle and marshall. for a couple of years, i lived in a house across the street from there and frequented it daily. regrettably, i moved away in 2006 only to move back to riddle in 2007, partially just to be close to the market again. i fucking love that place. there are various reasons.

i'm a neighborhood kind of person. i love where i live in chicago because it has a neighborhood feel that areas like wicker park or wrigleyville lack in my opinion. it has a small, unimpressive, yet beautifully charming farmer's market on sundays. people smile and say hello to complete strangers in passing. the neighborhood's striving to open up a food co-op that i recently became a member of. bricks were thrown through windows when a starbucks began construction to open up a store last fall. see what i mean? neighborhood and banning together.

the market is the central nervous system of the riddle neighborhood. i walk in there and they know my name. they seem to know everyone's name. they know what i'm getting to drink and what kind of cigarettes i'm buying. this is a reassuring and comforting feeling. a gatorade costs a dollar. i don't want change and the market doesn't give it to me. they host a block party and cook out hot dogs on random occasions. they sell single cigarettes. the owner john comes to parties on the street at like 3 in the morning with alcohol, and if we run out we go get more at like 5 in the morning for free because guess what? he's got the keys. this has happened on several separate occasions. at the beginning of each quarter of school john purchases a wall of nati light that enshrouds the windows of the market and you get to slowly watch it get chipped away at by the uc frat dudes. the market was robbed three times in the span of three months and john got shot in the leg because he basically refused to give the criminals shit. when it snows outside, he snowblows the sidewalks up and down the street, not just in front of the market.

my ex-roommates and i are also slightly suspicious that john is the leader of a drug ring and the market's the hub of operations. pretty sure drugs are dealt out of there. that's as neighborhood as it gets.

given, i latch on to places and romanticize them to everyone. i know i do that. whatever. however, any place that will still cook me a pizza on a pita even though they stopped making them like two years ago is typically gonna be a fucking solid and reliable establishment.

this post is really going nowhere and i didn't really intend for it to. it's an ode. i miss cincinnati for reasons like this. places like the market make me smile. i used to go out of my way to drive there during the few rare occasions of my life when i didn't live on riddle.

and every time i visit, i still make it a point to stop by.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

cynicism explored.

now, don't get me wrong ESPN, i still love you. we wake up together in the morning and go to bed together at night. you provide me with endless podcast entertainment throughout the day. i watch and read you like it's my job and even dabble a little in your fantasy leagues. when no one else wants to give me sports, you never hesitate. you complete me.

that being said, i cringe every year around this time because the channel/website/magazine i so admiringly adore churns out some of the most exploitative bullshit ever. if you are even somewhat in tune with ESPN programming then you're probably familiar with the "My Wish" segment of the show. In this ten minutes of torture, ESPN spews forth the most trite, watered down, and inexplicably unwatchable puff pieces i've ever seen. and to top it all off, they have chris connelly narrate. dear lord.

i'm sure you're probably thinking right now, "come on kevin, why do you have to be so cynical? sure it's a puff piece, but they're touching stories and athletes are involving themselves in order to make these kids feel better." this is true. but to what end does ESPN involve itself? the athlete thing is neither here nor there. he (i'm forgoing the he or she for the sake of brevity) shows up for about a half an hour, talks to the kid who idolizes him, signs some shit, and takes off. occasionally he'll play a game with the kid. and you know what? that's great because the kid seems happy that he just got to meet his hero, and he's fucking stoked. i'm all for that. good times. thumbs up.

it's how espn approaches it though. i'm sorry, but the transition just can't be there. you can't go from meticulously evaluating and covering brute, violent sport to a puff piece. the network airs a vicious fight between the rays and the red sox and subsequently discusses the necessity of throwing a 90 mph fastball at a batter in order to protect your team. i mean the announcers were literally pinpointing the part of the body you should sling the ball towards. have you ever been hit with a baseball? it fucking hurts...bad. and they were discussing why a pitcher needs to intentionally do this at times. and within 20 seconds of finishing that analysis,the channel transitions to a story about a kid with terminal cancer who finally got to meet alex rodriguez, his idol. the whole thing screams of desperation on ESPN's part, and it sucks. i mean, puff pieces are puff pieces. there's no escaping them, and 90% of the time they're bullshit, but i just feel like ESPN is exploiting the hell out of unfortunate kids for the sake of appealing to more of a mass audience that really isn't watching anyway. people who watch ESPN watch it for the sports. that's it. stop bullshitting around and stick to what you know.

oh, and did i mention chris connelly narrates? ugh.

please don't take this fired up rant as any kind of knock on anyone performing charitable acts for disadvantaged kids. if you are taking it that way...then you're dumb.