Tuesday, January 31, 2012
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This week, Rich and Colin discuss Super Bowl XLVI, the Oscar nominations, give their opinions on the SOTU address and Rich yells about why he dislikes Ron Paul. All-in-all, it's another classic. Enjoy and thanks for everyone's continued support.
0:57 - Intro
1:35 - The New York Football Giants and SuperBowl XLVI
4:27 - Oscar Nominations
8:10 - Help Us!!!
15:57 - SOTU
40:20 - Ron Paul
48:29 - Closing
Monday, January 30, 2012
Friday, January 27, 2012
Some have called it crass, some have called it boorish, some have called it America's 5th major sport, but what is undeniable is that in the many incarnations of the original Real World/Road Rules challenge we have been introduced and re-introduced to some of the most memorable characters to ever grace MTV audiences.
What makes the challenge the most indispensible MTV produced show of all time? A simple formula of familiarity, competition, desperation and alcohol buoyed by a mesmerizing series of rules both written and unwritten has taken the once modest Real World-spinoff into a powerhouse franchise which far surpasses the intrigue of its original source. The debut season, airing in 1999, was a simple battle of cast members from MTV's biggest hit at the time, the Real World (in its 10th season), against its little brother, the far less beloved, RV-centric Road Rules. The competition featured a Roller Derby and several challenges involving bungee cords.
While not much has changed with respect to the basic components of the show, the death of Road Rules in 2002 forced MTV pioneers Bunim and Murray to get creative. And now in 2012 we have Battles of the Exes, which is in no way related to Battle of the Sexes (2003), Battle of the Seasons (2002), or The Island (late 2008), but may be more similar to past efforts such as The Gauntlet (2004), The Gauntlet II (2006) and The Gauntlet III (early 2008). Yes these are variations on many of the same themes (The Duel!, The Duel 2!), but there have been occasional flashes of creative genius (Fresh Meat and Fresh Meat II). This season finds our beloved crack creative staff up to their best tricks - they have decided to pair players into teams of two, the catch being that each team of partners will have a romantic history on a Real World, Road Rules or previous Challenge season which turned sour. Annnnnnd scene.
So after this week's premiere episode, we are left with many more questions than answers. I will ask several of them below in anticipation of the debut of my 2012 Battle of the Exes Power Rankings to appear each Thursday in this very blogumn. Do I recognize these questions are rhetorical? Yes. Yes I do. But that doesn't prevent me from begging for comments. (Please comment. I'm lonely and sad. Oh, you will??? Thanks, Mom.)
1) Who was MTV's dream ex couple to get on the show? Mutliple good choices for Wes, including former fiancee Johanna from Real World Austin, but producers struck out with his Fresh Meat pseudo hook up Mandy. But they still got Wes, which I'm sure is good enough for them. My guess is everyone's favorite MTV love story Danny and Melinda. You remember them - the Boston tough guy who got his entire face caved in and the blonde Oregonian hippie who married shortly after their season. Yea, they're divorced. I'd love to see this relationship play out all over again after a long nite boozing with the roomies or a long day summer saulting over a fiery pit.
*editor's note: MTV's "The Challenge" airs Wednesday Nights at 10pm et.
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
what a great day! this morning i woke up and the first thing i read were the 2012 oscar nominations. then tonite i'll go to bed listening to a bunch of political "pundits" dissect the state of the union address. but before colin and i engage in our own political punditry on tomorrow night's podcast, let me give my initial reaction to the oscar nominations.
between 5 and 10 movies can be nominated for best picture... and in a very weak year in film, 9 movies were given the honor of a nomination. the early front runner is easily 'the artist' which took home the honor at the golden globes (for musical/comedy). the big surprise was 'extremely loud & incredibly close' which is getting very mixed (at best) reviews. i've only seen 3 of the films thus far (will be seeing the artist this weekend and war horse next week) and 'tree of life' is by far the best film of the trio though it's far more beloved by critics than by the masses. 'hugo' is certainly a favorite of film geeks (as is the artist) while 'moneyball' (based on one of my favorite books of all time) is one of the most overrated movies of the year (could have been great if steven soderbergh didn't leave the project). also, 'drive' should have been nominated. predicted winner: the artist
my favorite surprise of the nominations was gary oldman being nominated for best actor in a leading role for 'tinker tailor soldier spy'. he's probably my favorite actor of all time and this is his first nomination ever. predicted winner: george clooney
rooney mara for best actress in a leading role? really? people realize that the original swedish film was much better than the david fincher version right? she was fine i guess, but not deserving of this nomination. predicted winner: michelle williams
the best actor in a supporting role was probably the most interesting category. albert brooks for 'drive' did not garner a nomination even though he's been winning award after award over the last several weeks. i actually don't think he was that great though i recognize that people love actors who play roles out of character (see denzel washington in training day). jonah hill, however, got his much anticipated nomination as peter brand (aka paul depodesta of the new york mets) in 'moneyball'. alas, like the movie itself, i have no idea why he was nominated. nick nolte also got a nomination for his work in 'warrior' which i just saw recently and loved. he was really good in that film, which will appear on my revised top ten of 2011 list right before the oscars are televised on february 26th. predicted winner: christopher plummer
finally, the strongest category this year is in directing. i'm surprised that steven spielberg has not gotten the love for 'war horse' that i would normally expect. moreover, his other film, 'the adventures of tin tin' did not get nominated for best animated feature film. i'm not a big fan of his so it doesn't bother me - more just surprised is all. anyway, this year features 4 very strong candidates in woody allen ('midnight in paris'), martin scorsese ('hugo'), alexander payne ('the descendants') and terrence malick ('tree of life') with michael hazanavicius ('the artist') rounding out the five. it's a shame that nicolas winding refn was not nominated for 'drive'. i can understand why it's not nominated for best picture but he did a wonderful job choreographing that film. my personal choice for this category is terrence malick, who is considered something of a recluse. he was also nominated in this category in 1998 for his film, 'the thin red line'. i'd love to see him accept this award because he's notorious for not granting interviews or discussing his films. it's not surprising, however, because i imagine, just like his films, no one would understand what he was talking about. this is probably my upset pick of the year... i just have a feeling that the artist will take home best picture while malick will take home best director as sort of a consolation prize. predicted winner: terrence malick
if you want to see a complete list of nominations, go here. otherwise, i will write a more detailed oscar preview as it gets close to february 26th and also a revised top ten movies of 2011 list. in addition, i plan on writing a career retrospective of gary oldman which i am very much looking forward to.
Monday, January 23, 2012
i know the season isn't over for the 2011 new york giants. after sunday's overtime victory over the san francisco forty-niners, the new york giants will be heading to their fifth superbowl (they've won 3 of their 4 superbowl appearances). in less than two weeks days, the new york giants will go against the new england patriots in a rematch of the 2008 (2007 season) superbowl, in which they defeated a then 18-0 patriots team in arguably the greatest superbowl in nfl history.
as great as that season and superbowl game was, this 2011 giants season has arguably been more rewarding for me as a fan. let's take a quick look back to see why...
out of 20 "expert" predictions (from espn and sports illustrated) before the start of the season, exactly 1 picked the giants to even make the playoffs - his name is pat yasinskas and he predicted the giants would be the 6th seed in the nfc. the giants were clearly considered the third best team in the nfc east behind the philadelphia eagles and the dallas cowboys. who could really blame them? the eagles, coming off a lucrative offseason, and the cowboys had all the big name stars.
the giants, on the other hand, lost their starting tight end, defensive tackle and, at worst, their second best wide receiver, steve smith, who two years ago had 107 catches for over 1200 receiving yards. on top of that, their first round pick, cornerback prince amukamara and star defensive end, osi umenyiora, started the season injured.
and to top it all off, eli manning, all of a sudden, became the subject of sports talk shows across the nation when he said he should be considered in the same elite company as tom brady. say what? is this the same guy who threw 25 interceptions last year and has turned the ball over at an incredibly high rate throughout his career? his comments left most sports fans, and even giants fans, speechless - eli has mostly been considered a very good, but not great quarterback. but eli never waivered from his claim and then the 2011 season happened.
new york giants top four receivers:
1) victor cruz: 82 catches, 1536 yds, 9 tds (0 catches, 0 yds, 0 tds in 2010. went undrafted in 2010).
2) hakeem nicks: 76 catches, 1192 yds, 7 tds (79/1052/11 in 2010).
3) mario manningham: 39 catches, 523 yds, 4 tds (60/944/9 in 2010).
4) jake ballard: 38 catches, 604 yds, 4 tds (0/0/0 in 2010. went undrafted in 2010).
in 2011, eli manning turned two players that no other team deemed worthy to draft in 2010 and who had never caught an nfl pass before into very good, and in cruz' case, incredible, players. all while nicks and manningham battled injuries for much of the year. in his 8th nfl season, eli threw for his 3rd highest completion percentage (61%), most yards (4933), most yards per attempt (8.4), 2nd most touchdowns (29), 3rd fewest interceptions (16, not counting his rookie year), fewest sacks, and 2nd highest qb rating of his career. his 4933 passing yards is the 6th most ALL-TIME in nfl history. it's 233 more yards than peyton, perhaps the best quarterback of all-time, has ever thrown for.
as a giants fan, 2011 has been rewarding for many reasons: kenny phillips is finally healthy and playing, jason pierre-paul has turned into a dominant force, victor cruz is a legitimate highlight machine. but above all else, it's been eli's performance that has been the most rewarding aspect of this season. an easy target for most because of his boyish appearance and slow new orleans drawl, eli manning has silenced all his critics this year and in less than two weeks he will be going after his 2nd superbowl victory against tom brady, the man in whose elite company he may finally be able to share.
Friday, January 20, 2012
If that didn't get you excited (and for Pete's sake, I really hope that did NOT get you excited), this week Rich, Colin and special guest, Bobby, talk Vegas baby, Vegas and the glory (or not) that is Tim Tebow. At some point, Colin makes a futile attempt at discussing some governor who pardoned a bunch of murderers, but Rich and Bobby thwart his lame attempts and get this podcast back on track.
In case you were wondering, Rich and Colin did not take last week off, but had some technical difficulties. So, to make up for it, Rich flew almost half way across the world (the world is still just the United States last time I checked) from New York to Florida (or New York Sr.) so that there would be no excuses this week.... and boy are his arms tired!
0:32 - Intro
4:20 - Vegas baby, Vegas!
29:05 - Haley Barbour
32:16 - More Vegas
38:08 - More Barbour
40:40 - Teach Me How to Tebow... teach me, teach me how to tebow.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
recently i went to go see the show "fuerza bruta" and had a great time. after the show i tried to make sense of what i had just witnessed for the past hour.
usually when i write my reviews, i take a peek at some other reviews just to see another point of view that might help me strengthen my arguments or perhaps even change my opinion. in this case, i found one review that essentially summed up everything that i thought about this show. so instead of writing a review that would be not have been as good, i've decided to link to the new york times review from 2007.
though i really do agree with almost everything in that review, i didn't have as much of an aversion to the lack of depth or substance within the show. there is certainly nothing wrong with some good old fashioned visceral fun; not everything needs to be intellectualized.
if anyone was wondering, the picture above is of the techno-dance party that occurs immediately after the conclusion of the show as water drops from above. its both ridiculous and sort of fun. at times like these, i usually stand by my motto in life - why not?
Friday, January 6, 2012
But this week's 'cast is pretty serious. We are excited to welcome Elliot Ackerman, the COO of Americans Elect.
Who is Elliot Ackerman? He's a summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa grad of our alma mater, Tufts University. Not impressed? Once he got his Master's Degree from Tufts' Fletcher School of International Relations, he joined the Marine Corps and went on to become a war hero in both Iraq and Afghanistan, earning a Silver Star, Purple Heart and Bronze Star for Valor.
Since he gets bored easily, once he retired from military service he decided to radically overhaul the way the President of the United States gets elected. Hence Americans Elect, an alternative online nominating organization. Go check it out and sign up.
This week, in Episode 8, we devote the 1st half of the show to speaking with Elliot about Americans Elect as well as his thoughts on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and our troop withdrawal from the former. Then in the 2nd half, Rich and Colin sound way less intelligent by comparison.
0:00 - Intro
1:38 - About Elliot Ackerman
3:11 - Americans Elect
28:18 - U.S. Withdrawal from Iraq
45:59 - Republican Primary Season
1:12:07 - Closing
Thursday, January 5, 2012
don't worry - this is not gonna turn into my version of "julie & julia".
figuring i needed to stay ahead of my new year's resolutions, i took a big step towards accomplishing resolutions #7 and #8 last nite. i've posted a link below to the recipe i followed and the photo (to the left) is of my results.
**i made some changes to the recipe due to personal tastes and available ingredients. a) i used straight chicken breast; b) i used rum instead of brandy/cognac; c) i used long grain wild brown rice; d) and i had some help so can't take all the credit!**
the recipe is taken from the february 2009 issue of fine cooking and was originally posted by keith law on his blog, meadow party.
1 whole bone-in, skin-on chicken breast, split into two halves*
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (navel or Valencia)
3 Tbsp salt
1 cup water
1 medium shallot, minced (about 1/4 cup total)
3 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp brandy or cognac
1 (more) cup orange juice
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 orange, peeled and sliced into segments
*Yes, your butcher can split this for you, but if you own a chef’s knife, just flip the whole breast over and do it yourself to save a few dimes.
1. Combine 1 cup orange juice, 1 cup water, and salt, stirring until dissolved. (You can also heat 1/2 cup of water, dissolve the salt in it, then cool it down with ice to end up with a cup of water.) Place the chicken breasts in the brine for one to two hours.
2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove the chicken breasts from the brine and pat dry. Season with salt and black pepper. In an oven-safe skillet or saute pan, heat about 1 Tbsp olive oil until hot but not smoking, and sear the chicken, skin side down, until well browned, 4-5 minutes. Flip and sear on the second side until lightly browned, 2-3 minutes. Place entire skillet in the oven and roast until 160 degrees in the center, 15-20 minutes.
3. Remove the skillet from the oven and place on a stove burner. Take the chicken out of the pan and place on a plate, under tented foil, to rest. Drain all fat from the pan and add 2 Tbsp butter and the shallot to the pan. Cook over medium heat, scraping the bottom of the pan (I use a wooden spatula) to remove all browned bits.
4. When the shallots have softened, turn off the heat and add the brandy. Return to medium heat and cook until most of the brandy has disappeared from the pan. Add 1 cup orange juice and cook over medium-high at a brisk simmer until thickened and reduced by half, then add the chicken broth and cook until thickened again.
5. Turn off the heat and add the parsley, 1 Tbsp butter, and orange segments, swirling to mount the butter in the sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve sauce over sliced chicken.
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
even more so than my top ten tv shows of 2011 list, i feel very much incapable of coming up with a confident (inclusive) top ten movies of 2011 list. the reason being that i watch most of the critically acclaimed films between now and the oscars (february 26, 2012). therefore, i have not seen many of the films that appear on other top ten lists, such as 'the artist', 'the descendants', 'tinker tailer soldier spy', 'shame', etc.
i am confident that the top few movies on this list will appear on my revised list in february and the rest shall serve as a list of my honorable mentions. so here goes....
10. x-men: first class
great performances by james mcavoy and man-of-the-hour michael fassbender (shame, a dangerous method, both in 2011) and solid direction by matthew vaughn (kiss-ass).
9. super 8
jj abrams may have ripped off some classic films by producer, steven spielberg, but so what? no movie this year gave me the sense of excitement and adventure like i used to feel as a kid as much as super 8.
8. rise of the planet of the apes
james franco got top billing, but andy serkis (lord of the rings) was the real star as ceasar, the ape that would go on to enslave humanity (this should not be considered a spoiler; if so, you need to brush up on your american pop culture).
see my previous review of the film here. martin scorsese makes the movie he was born to make.
5. 13 assassins
though listed as a 2010 film, it wasn't released in the u.s. until 2011 so it qualifies. you can read my review here.
the film is driven by one of the best performances of the year by yoon jeong-hee, a famous korean actress, retired and living in paris since the mid-90s, until her comeback with this film. a reserved performance of a woman trying to view the world through a different lense as she struggles with alzheimer's and the discovery of a horrific crime committed by her grandson.
there are few film-makers that demand the level of respect that steven soderbergh does through his films. capable of making studio money-makers (ocean series), critically acclaimed films (traffic) and indie artsy projects (the girlfriend experience), soderbergh doesn't always satisfy everyone's expectations but you can't say he isn't willing to take risks. contagion succeeded in captivating me and scaring the shit out of me even if the narrative wasn't totally satisfying.
nicolas winding refn says he likes making visually stimulating movies. well, if that was his goal, i'd like to tell him....SUCCESS! ryan gosling (crazy, stupid, love; the ides of march) and albert brooks put on great performances... gosling as the essential strong and silent hero typically found in many westerns and brooks as the gangster villain. the camerawork was superb and the soundtrack really captured the spirit of the film. our collective vision of los angeles as a place of dreams served as a great backdrop for the film.
1. tree of life
terrence malick has directed only 5 films since 'badlands' in 1973. i've seen 4 of them and they've all been gorgeous examples of personal filmmaking though none have been as personal as tree of life. a semi-autobiographical film about a family growing up in texas in the 1950s set against the backdrop of the origins of the universe and life in general, i'm pretty sure i've never seen a film this ambitious. malick does a good job avoiding being pretentious with this film through his subtle and genuine appreciation of his subject matter. a cynical person will find many ways to mock this film, but if you recall, i've made a new year's resolution to be less cynical. in a very weak year in film, this is perhaps the only film on this list i will remember 20 years from now.
Tuesday, January 3, 2012
pitchfork rated it their #1 song of 2011.
stereogum users rated it the #1 song of 2011.
pop matters rated it the #1 song of 2011.
paste magazine rated it the #2 song of 2011.
spin rated it their #12 song of 2011.
rolling stone loses all respect for not even ranking it in their top 50 songs of 2011. how will that publication survive without the respect of no hyperbole allowed? the answer is, they won't - so may as well stop reading them now - gotta stick with a winner...
...and the winner for HOTTEST TRACK OF 2011 is:
the victoria secret song aka m83's "midnight city"
everything would have been better in 2011 if it used this song (though it couldn't save hbo's recently cancelled "how to make it in america").
in fact, when nicolas winding refn and cliff martinez were unable to procure the use of this song in their film "drive" they just decided to rip it off again and again and again in the soundtrack/score.
runner-up: jay-z and kanye west - "niggas in paris"
best album of 2011 (this is a huge cop-out because it's not even that great of an album, but they are still the best band in the world):
tv on the radio - nine types of light
Monday, January 2, 2012
in his well-known book on the psychology of marketing, "influence: the psychology of persuasian", robert cialdini, talks about how if people commit, orally or in writing, to an idea or goal, they are more likely to honor that commitment because of establishing that idea or goal as being congruent with their self image.
with that in mind, i am committing, in writing, to my goal of achieving my very humble new year's resolutions. they are as follows:
1. read more, specifially:
a. finish "a feast for crows", book 4 in george r.r. martin's series, "a song of ice and fire"
b. finally finish reading "underworld" by don delillo. i got about half-way through a few years ago but plan on starting anew. the book was rated by the new york times as a runner-up for best work of american fiction in the last 25 years (in 2006) and is a seminal work in the field of postmodern fiction
c. read cormac mccarthy's "blood meridian"
2. work towards getting a legal article published (i want to be clear that the goal is not to be published, but to work towards getting published. as i said, these are humble goals).
3. be less arrogant and condescending... unless nbc cancels "community" at which point the level of arrogance and condescension will become unbearable. don't test me nbc!!
4. not get completely incensed when my mom repeatedly asks me seemingly simple/basic questions about using the computer, surfing the internet and checking her email. i promise to take a deep breathe and stay calm.
5. keep podcasting with colin.
6. become more politically active.
7. learn to cook.
9. finish rehabbing my hip.
10. be less cynical and have a great 2012.
to everyone out there, have a happy and healthy new year! good luck with all your resolutions...