Monthly Archives: February 2013
LOS ANGELES — I am fortunate to live at the epicenter of film, and for the second consecutive year, will be attending the Academy Awards Red Carpet gala. I added the “gala” part because last year, as I witnessed first hand, it’s really something spectacular. Watching at home on E! all those years with my mom as Ryan Seacrest did his thing, you could never really get a feel of how extravagant being on the Red Carpet really is. I capitalize it because of all the events worldwide, this is the one. This is the Super Bowl of cinema. And I’ll be there. With Rob Gronkowski.
That’s right. Hollywood is about to get Gronk’d.
Scratch that. I wrote the above paragraph a couple days ago. That’s when we had Rob Gronkowski as a correspondent for The Eisen Podcast. Now we don’t. Seems like he had “other” “plans” come up which resulted in him canceling all appearances in the immediate future. Including the Oscars Red Carpet. Oh well. His loss.
Sometimes, though, Hail Mary’s are caught and ours came in the form of Ed Reed, the future Ravens Hall of Famer and Super Bowl champion. He’ll be joining me Sunday in front of the Dolby Theater for what should be an epic afternoon hobnobbing with the biggest names in Hollywood. Last year, we had Hines Ward, the Steelers great. This year, a Raven.
As always, I try and see all the big movies up for the major awards and end up with around a 50% success rate. That was also the case this time around. (Note to self: get on a screeners list next year.) So here’s my expert opinion on who’ll be Sunday’s big winners.
Best Picture: “Argo” — Thought this was extremely well done from top to bottom, and even though I knew the end result, I were still on the edge of my seat the entire time. Just gripping cinema. It’s a damn shame Ben Affleck got snubbed in directing.
Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis — Honestly, the only performance in this film that I saw was Bradley Cooper’s, and while it would be great to see him win, DDL is the best actor alive right now. He could play in the Dumb and Dumber sequel and make it an Oscar-winning performance.
Best Actress: Jessica Chastain — My favorite part of “Zero Dark Thirty” is when they’ve found the compound and everyone in the CIA is the boardroom and Gandolfini walks in and asks who’s the girl sitting in the back, and Chastain sits up and says, “I’m the motherfuc*er who found this place.” I may have did a little fist pump in the theater at that point. She was spectacular.
Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz — I would watch any movie where this guy plays a snarky, semi-bourgeois, wise ass with a bone to pick who then leaves a slew of bodies in his wake. Yeah, sign me up for more of that and less of that Elephants movie BS he did.
Best Supporting Actress: Sally Field — While Anne Hathaway has won every award show in this category this year, I’m refusing to give her any recognition here. Why? Well think about it like this: Field played Mary Todd Lincoln!! Her husband, oh you know, Abraham Lincoln, freed the slaves and then got shot watching a play. As if she wasn’t suffering enough watching the damn play, her husband gets iced by some nutjob! Throw the woman a bone.
Best Director: Ben Affleck — What? Ben Affleck isn’t nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director of the movie that’s going to win Best Picture? Whaddya mean? That can’t be right. Go back and check again. He’s really not? Are people aware of this? Oh, they are? Screw it. He still did the best job.
Best Original Screenplay: Mark Boal — I’m gonna go out on a limb and say “Zero Dark Thirty” gets it here, the reason being, at least for me, is that “Django Unchained” was far too long and went in a few different directions, which I know is what Quentin Tarantino does, but still. That movie should’ve ended a few times before it did. And ZDT had that “Argo” feel to it where you knew how it was going to end and it was still tense and thrilling and awesome. Oh, and Boal already has a statue at this house for “Hurt Locker,” which means he knows how to write modern war flicks.
Best Adapted Screenplay: David O. Russell — Loved “Silver Linings Playbook” from beginning to end. If it wasn’t for “Argo” it’d be the best film of the year. It pulled on your heart strings, made you laugh, make you wanna give your parents a big hug and take up balllroom dancing all at the same time.
Best Animated Film: Wreck-It Ralph — Admittedly, I didn’t see any of the films nominated here but I remember really wanting to see this and hearing it was awesome. Plus, it’s about video games. And once upon a time, I liked them.
Best Foreign Language Film: Amour — Reason leads me to believe if a film is good enough to be nominated for Best Picture, which is everything, then it’s probably going to win its sub-category. Right?
Best Cinematography: Skyfall — This iwas a pretty badass movie and the cinematography had a lot to do with it.
Best Editing: William Goldenberg — So this is a pick based on math, since Goldenberg is nominated twice for “Argo” and “Zero Dark Thirty.” I mean, 40% chance, that’s pretty freakin’ good.
Best Production Design: Les Miserables — This is one of those categories that always seems to go to a film based in the 19th century, since those are the hardest to replicate. “Project X” ain’t getting nominated for this, that’s for sure.
Best Costume Design: Anna Karenina — Is it possible for no one to win this category? So we have two films about Snow White, two more where everything is dank and ashy and literally miserable and the last where people play dress up. Guess I’m going with that one.
Best Makeup: The Hobbit — Do you know how hard it is to make regular people look like midgets? Do you?!
Best Original Score: John Williams — This guy seems to win everything … (checking his IMDB) … yup, he’s won 5 Oscars. Again, math wins here.
Best Original Song: Walter Murphy/Seth MacFarlane — Keep in mind, past winners in this category include Eminem and the Three-Six Mafia, so why can’t the freakin’ host of the show win for a song he wrote for an talking, crude, sex and drug-crazed teddy bear? By the way, a song from “Les Miserables” is nominated; isn’t this a remake of a film AND a play? How can you have something original in there?!
Best Sound Mixing: Skyfall — This was my favorite film on the list of nominees. That’s all the reasoning I need.
Best Sound Editing: Zero Dark Thirty — Now here’s what I want to know, how does a film get nominated for Sound Editing but not Sound Mixing? Either way, in 2010, Kathryn Bigelow’s film “Hurt Locker” took both these categories and you’d have to go back to 2009 when the same film didn’t sweep.
Best Visual Effects: Life of Pi– My roommate works in visual effects on some pretty big films, so I figured I’d just ask him and he said, “I haven’t seen ‘Life of Pi’ but it’s getting a lot of buzz to win… the other real contender is ‘The Avengers’.” Works for me.
Best Documentary Feature: Searching for Sugar Man — This film makes life worth living. Check it out if you haven’t.
Best Documentary Short: Open Heart — I once went to Jane Seymour’s house and in the gift bag was one of her open heart collection tie pins.
Best Animated Short Film: Paperman — Dude just wanted to meet a girl.
Best Live Action Short Film: Curfew — Because who doesn’t enjoy their afternoons ruined by children?
You know it’s funny what a young man recollects? ‘Cause I don’t remember bein’ born. I don’t recall what I got for my first Christmas and I don’t know when I went on my first outdoor picnic. But I do remember the first time I heard the sweetest voice in the wide world.
– Forrest Gump
LOS ANGELES — I don’t remember the first time I ever saw Michael Jordan play basketball. I suspect it was sometime during the 1987-’88 season. I was living in Virginia at the time in Coast Guard housing, a development with other military families, and have a vague recollection telling one of the other kids – we were both in the elementary-school range – that Jordan was the greatest ever. That he never missed a shot. I may have been imitating his jumper on a mini hoop when I said this, tongue out. As luck would have it, I was onto something with my 7-year old assessment of Jordan. He was otherwordly that year, averaging 35.0 points per game to lead the league. He also was tops in the NBA in minutes played, field goals made and attempted, free throws made and steals, and shot 53.5% from the floor. He won the first of his five MVPs that season but the Bulls lost in the Eastern Conference semifinals in 5 games to the Pistons.
Since then, he was always my favorite player. It helped that, because our cable TV provider carried WGN, I was able to see nearly all of his games and listen to Johnny “Red” Kerr’s blatant homerism. Call me a front-runner, I don’t care. I was 10-years old, no one knows what that even means at that age, plus I don’t think I was alone in my open-faced loving of No. 23. I had every poster, basketball card and wanted every shoe. I recorded games religiously, imitated him on the playground (tried to at least) and wore black socks and baggy shorts.
Calling Michael Jordan an “icon” doesn’t really do the word justice. Sure, we all wanted to Be Like Mike, but there was so much that encompassed that. To write about just one Jordan trait didn’t seem right and how could I possibly pick from the lot? Jordan has given me some of my greatest sports memories, decorated my walls to no end and been the name brand on my feet for countless miles traveled. As he turned 50-years old over NBA All-Star Weekend it only seemed fitting to think back on his life to this point, how impacted mine and reflect on some of my favorite moments.
– I never saw Michael Jordan play in person. It’s probably my biggest regret as a sports fan along with having never been to Old Yankee Stadium. I never went to the Old Boston Garden or saw Joe Montana play in person either, but I wasn’t of true sports intellectual conscious during their respective heydays. But I didn’t need to see him play in person to appreciate his grace and power, domination and competitive drive, and the impact he had on his teammates with a single death stare. Basketball fans of this generation think Kobe invented that move, but he just copied all of Jordan’s. Only he doesn’t do them as great. I’ve seen hundreds of games on TV but seeing him in person just once would’ve been enough. Thankfully, I’ve been able to see some of the current greats but I’ll always regret never seeing 23.
– My birthday is the 23rd and for this reason I always felt a kinship to MJ, and whenever I’m playing roulette I always load up the chips on 23 Red.
– When my family lived in Alaska, my friend Jared Burdette-Gross had a pair of Jordan 5s, the ones with the purple trim, and he let me wear them once and it was the greatest thing my feet had ever had covering them. I knew I had to have some someday. So I saved. And saved. And finally bought some 10s at the Ocean City, Md. mall. It was summer and we were visiting my grandparents at their condo and I saw them. It was love at first sight. That was my first pair. I’ve bought 4 others. Hope to buy at least lots more some day.
– For the “Shrug Game” against the Blazers in Game 1 of the 1992 Finals, I had a Little League game. We lived in Alaska at the time and I played for Coastal Tire. I was 11 and either pitched or played shortstop that day, but I never got to see it live because of the game. But my dad had to work and then came later and told me all about it. It was amazing. I must’ve watched SportsCenter a half dozen times that night and morning. Dan and Keith killed it, I’m sure. Always get goosebumps seeing that clip and it conjures up that memory.
– When Jordan retired for the first time we had just moved to Maine and were living in a cottage-style hotel in Scarborough while we waited for our house to be ready to move in to. It was freezing cold in that place. And then Jordan retired. Held the press conference. Sold the story of when he has nothing left to prove in the game basketball, it’s time to move on. I was crushed. I still have the USA Today from Oct. 6, 1993; it was a thing I did as a kid, collect newspapers and clippings from big stories. I don’t know why, but I always had to have them. And they’re all in a tupperware at my mom’s house. I once made a Rickey Henderson posterboard after he broke the stolen base record. That was fun.
– Of all my Jordan posters, and there have been many – Jordan with all his rings, one with him, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman, the ’88 dunk contest slam from the free-throw line – my favorite has to be “Wings.” I used to have it hanging above my bed at my mom’s house. It was like sports jesus blessing me before I went to sleep each night. I bought it for around $12, which was twice as much as posters went for in those days, and while I thought it was steep (it’s doubtful I had a “job” at the time) clearly it was worth it. Do kids even have posters on their walls these days? The poster rack was always the first place I went to at Wal-Mart and when a Prints Plus opened up in the Maine Mall, I’d spend an hour in there browsing the racks.
– On March 19, 1995 Jordan made his comeback to the Bulls official with his fax that simply stated: “I’m back.” He took to the court against the Pacers and I couldn’t have been more excited. Not only do I have the game on VHS tape somewhere, but I even kept stats and have that sheet somewhere as well. What can I say, I was an enormous nerd back in the day.
– I learned to really play basketball on the playground of my elementary school in Ketchikan, Alaska; Valley Park Elementary. A group of us, when not playing football or kickball or some other form of ball sport, would play hoops. The nets were chain link and it was a struggle to get shots off on the full-size rims, but I always remembered these games because our friend had a Michael Jordan red and black ball that we used. I loved that ball and desperately wanted one of my own. Never found it, though.
– I was a sports card collector. And that’s putting it lightly. From the ages of 8 til about 14 I was into it as much as you could be and accumulated a vast collection. Every Saturday as a kid I would make my way to the grocery story or Wal-Mart or even the card shop on the main drag when we lived in Ketchikan and scope out new releases and decide what packs to spend my money on. I’d trade with friends and even had a subscription to a couple price guides to check the value of my investments. Of course, the bottom fell out of the sports card market some time ago but I’ve still held onto everything. They’re all neatly tucked away at my mom’s house in Maine, and among them are 50+ Jordan cards from as far back as, I think, 1988. I even have a few of his Upper Deck baseball cards when he played for Birmingham. I remember exactly where I was when I opened the pack to find those, now that I think about it. Right next to the light by Sam’s Club on the Holmes Rd. in Scarborough, Maine. Yes, ladies, I am available.
I could go on and on with insignificant, yet specific memories I have of Jordan, like where I was for his Game 6 winner against Utah in the 1998 Finals (my upstairs living room jumping up and down like a mad man) or his infamous Hall of Fame Speech in 2009 (watching streaming online in our tiny ass apartment in West Hollywood), but simply put, I’m a fan and always will be. In opinion he’s the best basketball player who ever lived and the game’s ultimate competitor. No one wanted it more and no one pushed his teammates to levels not even they thought they were capable of. Jordan trusted them and they trusted him and his teams won because of it. It’s not something you see often in today’s sports landscape.
I’ve never met Michael Jordan him and not sure I want to. Often when you meet your hero you leave disappointed. I’ve read everything there is to read about the man and so far, that’s been good enough for me. Maybe someday our paths will cross and you can bet I’ll remember it.
LOS ANGELES — The final “You’re The Man” rankings of the 2012 National Football League season comes off one of the best Super Bowls of the last few years. The Ravens and 49ers displayed what we love about the big game; the story lines were thick, there were lots of big and memorable plays, there was a freakin’ blackout, a comeback and a goal line stand to decide the Vince Lombardi Trophy’s owner. In the end, the Ravens proved once again you don’t have to dominate the regular season to be crowned champs in the end; you just have to get hot at the right time. And have a quarterback who thinks he’s elite, God and some steroids on your side (allegedly).
As we head into nearly 7 months without real football games being played – though only 10 days until the Combine and 73 until the Draft – let’s take a look at some question marks teams have heading into the offseason, and stay tuned for hopefully other articles about the NFL and who knows what else (probably the Red Sox, Celtics, movies, life in LA and whatever else I can throw together) here at the site. As always, thanks for stopping by. I really appreciate it.
32.) Jacksonville Jaguars — To pay MJD or not to pay MJD, that is the question. And will they bring in Tim Tebow? Seems like the answer right now to both is “no.”
31.) Kansas City Chiefs — Being a Chiefs fan must be rough these days. How do you think they’re doing talking themselves into Andy Reid right now? At least he trimmed his mustache.
30.) Oakland Raiders — Will they go all-win with Terrell Pryor or bring back Carson Palmer for another go around at nearly 5x as much money?
29.) Philadelphia Eagles — Is Chip Kelly going to stick with Michael Vick to run his hurry-up, college-style offense? Or will he trade up and draft Geno Smith?
28.) Arizona Cardinals — Who’s going to play quarterback? That’s the only discussion Bruce Arians should be having with anyone.
27.) New York Jets — Mark Sanchez started tweeting again, actually he was on a retweeting positive comments binge; just reminding himself people still like him. Will they bring in any offensive weapons for him this offseason, because if they don’t, he might get irrevocably broken next season. (But I tell ya what, JaMarcus Russell rumors don’t appear out of thin air.)
26.) Cleveland Browns — Another team with a new coach. How long will Brandon Weeden be calling the offensive shots? He and Trent Richardson need help.
25.) Tennessee Titans — Is it time for the Titans to cut ties with Chris Johnson?
24.) Detroit Lions — Will this once playoff team find discipline in the offseason? Losing a few knuckleheads is a good start.
23.) Buffalo Bills— CJ Spiller is an emerging NFL star but for the Bills to compete in the AFC East they need to be able to stop the Patriots and the emerging Dolphins.
22.) San Diego Chargers — Now that a new head coach and GM have been hired, will the Chargers make The Leap? Not if they can’t beat the Broncos, which they won’t do with zero running game and a shaky secondary.
21.) St. Louis Rams — The Rams need to make a splash, and they need to reap the rewards of that blockbuster trade with Washington last year. They need a big, household name. Clearly, they can play; undefeated against the NFC champs.
20.) Miami Dolphins — It appears Reggie Bush won’t be back, but the biggest question remains who is going to catch the ball from Ryan Tannehill, since it appears he’ll be a halfway decent NFL quarterback.
19.) New Orleans Saints — Now that Sean Payton is back for the entire offseason, the offense should be back to form, but the Saints need all kinds of defensive help. Will they get it?
18.) Dallas Cowboys — Somehow Jason Garrett still has a job, but others do not. Recently, some questioned if the Cowboys are still Americas team based on their decade-plus of mediocrity. How will this offseason go in restoring that once-great moniker?
17.) Carolina Panthers — Face it, Steve Smith might not like Cam Newton but it’s not Cam’s fault Smith is old and can’t play anymore. The Panthers need a young, big-play receiver or 2013 is going to be a 2012 repeat, which means Ron Rivera will be out of work.
16.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers — The Bucs gave away their best defensive back and then missed the playoffs. I’d say they’d want to get better at stopping people, what with them being in arguably the most talented QB division in football.
15.) Pittsburgh Steelers — Injuries derailed the Steelers this season but finding a running game and some youth on defense are paramount for the black and gold.
14.) New York Giants — It appears the Giants want to be cheaper and younger across the board, let’s see how long that lasts this offseason. Can you buy discounted consistency, too?
13.) Chicago Bears — The defense isn’t getting any younger, it’ll be curious to see how they go about replacing Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs and the rest.
12.) Minnesota Vikings — Is Christian Ponder the answer at QB? I’m still not sure. But someone has to be able to catch the ball other than Kyle Rudolph. You gotta give defenses another look besides Adrian Peterson running the ball 30 times a game. Not that you can stop him, but still.
11.) Cincinnati Bengals — Think the Bengals want to go back and change their game plan against the Texans in the Divisional Round to include getting the ball to AJ Green? I’d say so. Still, they need to get better on defense. Especially with the supernova Ravens now kinds of the NFL and AFC North.
10.) Washington Redskins — Clearly, the most important thing facing the Redskins this offseason is the healthy of My Good Friend Robert. All other questions will be deferred until RG runs in a zig-zag line without teetering over like a drunken sorority girl.
9.) Indianapolis Colts — The Colts need some big-time playmakers on defense, because I’m guessing Andrew Luck doesn’t want to come from behind and pull a win out of his ass in 2013 as often as he did this season.
8.) Houston Texans — Matt Schaub finally won a playoff game but having some secondary help might have got him a second.
7.) Green Bay Packers — The Packers were badly exposed by the 49ers in the Divisional Round, which means getting younger and faster on defense should be at the top of Ted Thompson’s offseason priority list.
6.) Denver Broncos — I completely whiffed on the Peyton Manning thing, but the more I think about it, I get the feeling Peyton’s gonna pull a Vikings-era Brett Favre. Remember how great Favre was in 2009? Then remember how terrible he was in 2010? Feel me?
5.) Seattle Seahawks — Top-to-bottom, the Seahawks might be the most complete team in the NFL. Russell Wilson proved he can be a big-time quarterback and their defense is as stingy as summer horse flies. Can’t hurt bolstering the offensive/defensive lines.
4.) New England Patriots — For the second year in a row Tom Brady was outplayed by Joe Flacco in the AFC Championship game. The Patriots made strange clock management blunders to end the first half and again Wes Welker had a key drop in a situation that could’ve helped put the game out of reach. Is this the end of their decade-long reign or can they fill in the missing pieces – big play receiver, shut down corner, rush edge – to stay at the top?
3.) Atlanta Falcons — The Falcons were 5 yards away from reaching the Super Bowl but their issue isn’t on offense. In the second half against San Francisco they gave up 14 unanswered and couldn’t stop Colin Kaepernick if they were the ones controlling his joystick. How will Atlanta improve on defense this offseason? Being so close to the big game you’d expect them to make a move.
2.) San Francisco 49ers — This is a team than can win the Super Bowl as it is: top-flight defense, an explosive offense and a fiery head coach. While Jim Harbaugh was out-coached Super Sunday by his brother, what the 49ers were missing against Baltimore was a deep threat. It’s clear they missed Mario Manningham, as Randy Moss didn’t give them that stretch of the defense they were expecting. Colin Kaepernick also show signs of what he could be become with a full season under his belt, but why not let him run it down by the goal line? Regardless, he vowed to start preparing for next season immediately, so it appears as if he’s on a mission. San Fran is the class of the NFC, along with Seattle and Atlanta.
1.) Baltimore Ravens — Finally, we’ve found out who’s The Man of this 2012 NFL season. It look 22 weeks but the Ravens emerged from beneath the rubble. Heading into this offseason their biggest question marks are on the defensive side of the ball. Clearly, Baltimore’s offense behind Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, Torrey Smith, Anquan Boldin, Dennis Pitta and company are an absolute force. But defensively, it will be a different-looking Ravens squad in 2013 with the retirement of Ray Lewis (perhaps you’ve heard) and the likelihood of Ed Reed playing elsewhere, not to mention Terrell Suggs is older and banged up. We’ll see if they make moves to sure up that side of the ball in the coming months and in the Draft.