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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Quote of the Day

"She's really old. I think of her as an old friend. I mean an old friend. But listen, she's got moves you wouldn't believe. She’s totally flexible in the hip area. Her arms are stiff, but the hips? Totally flexible."

-William Shatner on Betty White

Movie of the Day-You Again

Great casts don’t always make for great movies, so I went in to You Again with an open mind.  The cast of this film is great and the trailers made it looked like a cute film, but I tried not to get my hopes up.  I luckily was pleasantly surprised.  I probably won’t end up buying the film, but definitely don’t feel like I wasted my time or money.

The plot of the film is pretty simple.  Marnie, played by the fabulous Kristen Bell of Veronica Mars, is bullied in high school by a beautiful Joanna, played by Odette Yusman.  Marnie vows to make something of herself after high school, grows out of her geekiness, and becomes a VP of  PR firm.  Marnie goes back home for her older brother’s wedding and finds her brother is marrying her high school bully Joanna.   Marnie sets out on a mission to show Joanna’s true colors before it is too late.  The cast is rounded out with some great supporting players including Jamie Lee Curtis, Sigourney Weaver, Victor Garber, and Betty White.

The film had some really hilarious moments, but not enough.  With all of these great comedic actors, I didn’t feel like I laughed as much as I should of.  The film also had some really dark moments.  The bullying moments of the film at times were almost too intense.  I found myself getting down during a movie that was supposed to be fun and lighthearted.  With that being said, the positives did out weight the negatives, making this film worth a view!

Man v. Food in Ames, IA!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The 2010 Packers According to The Mike - Week Three

Nothing like a little Monday Night Football to get your blood boiling!  Actually, I'm kinda against Monday Night should not have to go back to work, come home, and then have football taunt them before it goes away for a few days.  Alas, I cannot refuse my Packers, so let's get at it!

Pre-Game Notes:
The Game: At Chicago Bears.  The oldest rivalry in football is a little fresher these days, as both teams enter week three with matching 2-0 records.  First place in the NFC North - and the title of last undefeated team in the NFC - is on the line.  The Bears much hyped offense, led by last year's goat Jay Cutler, is complementing their usually stingy defense (which hasn't been that stingy the last few years, either).  Pardon me for not entirely buying the Bears, but they're definitely improved.

Things That Excite Me: While the day of the game is a slight annoyance, it's always exciting to be playing in prime-time.  The Packers offense has been explosive, and I know they want to make some big plays under the lights.  That said, the Packers' run game - which has been maligned the last two weeks - has had a lot of success against the Bears the last few years.  If they're going to win, it'll be because they make big plays in the run game.

Things That Worry Me: The Bears are playing over their heads, and loving it.  The Packers haven't put together a full game yet, and some of the stars can get a little overconfident at times.  I mentioned last week that they tend to overlook games at times, and I still worry this could be that type of game.  Against a good team, that's a problem.

Also, the Packers' offensive line still needs to come together, and All-Pro DE Julius Peppers could eat either 34-year old Chad Clifton or Rookie Bryan Bulaga alive.

The Game:
First Quarter:  The Bears got the ball to start the game, and put together a decent opening drive.  The Packees broke down on a couple third downs - tight end Greg Olson beat linebacker Brandon Chillar on a short route once and Charles Woodson got called for pass interference against Devin Hester.  Woodson made up for his mistake with a good third down blitz the next time out, and the Bears' Robbie Gould missed a 49 yard field goal - barely - on the next play.

The Packers passing game picked up right where it left off last week, with solid completions to Greg Jennings, Jermichael Finley, and James Jones on the first drive, taking them into the Bears' red zone.  Aside from a nice stop on a run play by mega-millionaire Peppers, the Bears defense didn't put up much of a fight before the Pack took a time out on first and goal, and came back on-field with a quick TD pass over the middle to Jennings to take a 7-0 lead.

Mental errors cost the Packers on the ensuing kick-off, as linebacker Desmond Bishop - a summer-time warrior who's yet to make an impact in season - was offside on the kickoff.  The Bears second return - assisted by some poor tackling by the Packers - gave the Bears great field position at their 43 yard line.  Another penalty gave the Bears a first down two-plays later - a facemask by Clay Matthews on Cutler - and the Bears were right back in Packer territory.  Thankfully, 2009 Cutler reared his head, overthrowing a long pass into the arms of reserve safety Derrick Martin; an interception that gave the Packers the ball back and killed the Bears' second drive.

The Packers couldn't capitalize on the turnover - though James Jones made a valiant effort on a third down WR screen - and punted to the Bears as the quarter neared its close.  Cutler fired again on the Bears' first play, hitting Hester for a first down as the quarter ended. (7-0, Packers lead.)

Second Quarter: The Packer defense continued to bend, but not break, early in the second.  Cutler beat the whole defense scrambling for a first down on another third down lapse, but Cullen Jenkins ended the Bears' next set of downs with a big third down sack.  The offense took the ball back and controlled it for a large portion of the quarter, but another penalty - this time a holding on guard Daryn Colledge - in the redzone stalled the drive.  Rodgers forced a couple of passes on the following plays, and the Packers were forced to settle for a Mason Crosby field goal to take a 10-0 lead.

The Packer defense held again, giving the ball back to the offense.  Rodgers and company would be stalled again, and punter Tim Masthay made the biggest mistake of the first half on fourth down.  Masthay's line drive punt gave Bears return specialist Devin Hester plenty of time to gain speed, and the return set up the Bears with great field position for their two minute offense.  Receiver Johnny Knox beat the Packers for a good gain to get the Bears in the red zone, and Cutler's third down pass to Olson - who beat Chillar for the second time on third down for the Bears' first touchdown, cutting the lead to 10-7 with 31 seconds left in the half.  Jordy Nelson put together a great return to give the offense a chance as the half ended, but Rodgers' hail mary pass as time expired was intercepted by Lance Briggs to send the game to halftime. (10-7, Packers lead.)

Third Quarter: The Packer offense took over to start the second half, and looked sharp on a nearly nine minute drive.  But, another miscue in the red zone - this time a holding penalty on Josh Sitton, pushed the team back.  Rodges connected with Finley on a third down touchdown plays later, only to have that play also negated by a holding call against veteran right tackle Mark Tauscher.  The Packers were forced to settle for a field goal attempt from 37 yards out, but Peppers blew up the Packers line, coming through Sitton and Bulaga to block the Crosby kick.  The Bears took over and quickly made a move downfield.  The Packers defense seemed out of sync on this drive, which saw the Bears get to the one yard line where receiver Earl Bennett was ruled down - correctly - on a third and goal pass from Cutler.  The Bears refused to kick, going for the touchdown on fourth and goal.  Cutler threw a quick out to backup tight end Desmond Clark, and the wobbly pass bounced off Clark's hands incomplete.  The Packers escaped unscathed, and the offense took over on the one yard-line.

After consecutive false starts by Tauscher - which didn't cost the Packers any yards, but were annoying - Rodgers completed a quick pass to Finley to get out of the Bears endzone.  Another inexcusable penalty followed, as the team was called for Delay of Game - meaning they didn't get the play off in the required amount of time - on third and one, creating a third and six play as the fourth quarter started. (10-7, Packers lead.)

Fourth Quarter: On third and six from the Bears' 4, Rodgers missed an open Donald Driver behind the Bears' defense, and the Packers were forced to punt.  Masthay - trying to compensate for his first half mistake - boomed a huge 57 yard punt.  The problem is, he out kicked his coverage - and Hester had an open lane to run the kick back for a Bears touchdown.  After the extra point, the Bears took their first lead at 14-10.

The Packers offense came back on the field with determination, using a series of short passes to get downfield quickly.  The most impressive play of the drive occurred when running back John Kuhn followed a sea of blockers on a pitch play that took the Packers into first and goal territory, carrying defenders for a 18 yard gain.  The Packers were held to another third down after rookie tight end Andrew Quarless (playing because Finley had left due to an injury - he would return later) just missed Rodgers' second down pass.  Rodgers, whose ankle had been turned on an illegal hit earlier in the drive, came out on third down and couldn't find any of his receivers on the play.  Thankfully, he still had a little bit of mobility, and beat the Bears to the pylon for a rushing touchdown; giving the Packers a 17-14 lead.

On the Bears' offense's next play, Cutler was hit and lobbed a ball over the middle that was intercepted by linebacker Nick Barnett.  However, the hit on Cutler - by undrafted rookie Frank Zombo - was deemed roughing the passer because helmet-to-helmet contact occurred.  The penalty - a fifteen yarder and an automatic first down - is correct within the NFL's rules, but only goes to show how the NFL rule makers have designed the game to protect the passing game.  More on that later.

After another personal foul - this time on Nick Collins, who threw a Bear to the ground after the play was over, the Bears were in field goal range.  The Packer defense held again, but Gould's kick tied the game at 17 with just under four minutes to play.

The Packers started their final drive with a couple of good plays, but Rodgers threw a first down pass away and was called for intentional grounding while avoiding a sack.  This set up a 2nd and 20 play which would be the Packers' undoing.  Receiver James Jones, fighting to gain extra yards after a short catch, fumbled the football, which rolled right next to the sideline before Bear corner Tim Jennings dove on it.  Mike McCarthy foolishly used a challenge to see if Jennings had stepped out of bounds recovering the ball, but it was clear that the play was correct as called.  This cost the Packers a time out which they could have used later.

The Bears looked ugly again as their offense came back on the field, and a holding call gave them their own second and 20.  But a Cutler pass down the seam to Olson beat Chillar a third time (and Chillar even was flagged for interference as the pass was completed), and gave the Bears a first down in deep field goal range.  The Bears weren't going to settle in there, and Cutler took another shot downfield. 

This play, above any other in recent memory, had me ready to attack the television.  Rookie safety Morgan Burnett was covering Bennett deep, and got inside position, looked back, and turned around playing the ball.  Bennett initiated contact with Burnett - who was simply standing in one spot, not attacking the receiver - and couldn't get past him as Collins swooped underneath to intercept Cutler's pass inside the 10 yard line.  But, the referee stepped in - and penalized Burnett for pass interference. 

At this point it was incredibly clear that the Packers didn't deserve to win the game, but this play could have changed the tide.  However, this completely terrible call, gave the Bears first and goal with under two minutes to play.  McCarthy stubbornly refused to let the Bears score - wasting his remaining time outs and all but four seconds of game time in the process - and the Bears kicked a go ahead field goal to take the lead.  After a series of laterals failed on the ensuing kickoff, the game was final.  The Packers had succeeded in beating themselves. (20-17, Bears win.)

Looking Back:
The Good:
  • The Packers' pass rush did a great job of pressuring Cutler, who literally gave the ball to the Packers four times.  Unfortunately, one potential interception was dropped, and two were negated by penalties that prove the NFL has little interest in allowing defensive players to make plays.
  • Aaron Rodgers was gutsy and efficient.
  • Zombo - aside from the roughing penalty that I've already addressed - was an adequate fill-in for the injured Brad Jones.
The Bad:
  • Where do I even begin?  Oh yeah, PENALTIES.  18 penalties against the Packers were enforced, which is a franchise record.  That means that, in 91 years, the Packers have NEVER played a less disciplined football game.
  • The offense continued to shoot themselves in the foot.  Three holding penalties in the red zone, Jones' fumble (at least his third costly fumble against the Bears in his 4 year career), and no running game whatsoever.  Yet, the Packers were not stopped by the Bears once in this game - each possession was ended by their own mistakes.
  • The punting game was a major liability, obviously.  14 of the Bears' 20 points occurred due to it.
  • Charles Woodson - Where are you?  No turnovers forced through three games for the reigning Defensive Player of the Year.
  • As I mentioned, Aaron Rodgers played flawless football.  I do wish he was allowed to take a couple more shots down field, but he made the most out of what was given to him.  His TD run was an amazing play.
  • Scott Wells was the only Packer offensive lineman to NOT be penalized.  That's good enough for me.
  • And, lastly, I have to give credit to Morgan Burnett - because I honestly believe that there's not a planet in the galaxy on which what he did on that crucial play should have been called pass interference.  The referees took a game saving play away from him and Nick Collins.
Final Observations: 
Sometimes, you just don't deserve to win a football game.  The Packers seemed to dominate most aspects of the game, but they weren't smart enough to do things right and didn't want to win as badly as the Bears did.  Considering the expectations for the team this year, this is an absolutely heartbreaking development.  On the other hand, it's plenty early in the season - and there's a lot of time for them to correct their mistakes.  Whether McCarthy can get them to fix these errors - and he hasn't shown the ability to over the past five seasons - will determine whether or not the 2010 Packers are an actual Super Bowl contender.  They sure as hell didn't look like one tonight.

Next Week: The Packers head back home to face 0-3 Detroit.  While the Lions have looked improved this year, injuries have set them back again.  Hopefully the Packers can refocus during this short week, and put together a better effort for that game.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Kenny Powers is Back! Can't Wait!

Movie of the Day-Letters to Juliet

I LOVE chick flicks and this film is the ultimate chick flick!  I saw it in theaters and rushed to rent it  as it came out on DVD last week.  It was cute, sappy, and predictable.  All of this equaling to the perfect chick flick.  It made me laugh, made me have a few tears of joy, and tugged at the strings on my heart.  It also was visually stunning, being mostly filmed in Italy, and had a talented cast.  The cast included Amanda Seyfried, Gael Garcia Bernal, Franco Nero, and legendary actress Vanessa Redgrave.

The story starts with Sophie (Seyfried) and her fiancé Victor (Bernal) jetting off to the land of Romeo and Juliet, Verona , Italy, for a pre-wedding  trip.   Victor spends most of the trip traveling throughout Italy sampling foods and wines for a new restaurant he is about to open in New York, leaving Sophie alone.  Sophie, an aspiring journalist, decides to sit out by Juliet’s balcony and watch women in love leave letters for Juliet.  At the end of the day a lady comes, collects the letters, and takes them away in a basket.    Sophie follows the lady and meets a group of women called the Secretaries of Juliet.  The five women respond to every letter left for Juliet.  The next day Sophie helps the women out and finds a 50 year old letter stuck in the wall under Juliet’s balcony.  It is the letter from a 15 year old Claire asking for advice regarding a guy her parents’ did not approve of.

Sophie responds to Claire’s letter and so the story begins.  A few days later Claire arrives with her grandson, Charlie, played by the charming Christopher Egan.  Claire decides after 50 years she wants to search for her great love Roberto Bartelini, played by her real life husband Franco Nero.  Sophie decides to go on the journey with Claire and Charlie through Italy looking for her Roberto.  In the journey along the way, the originally cold Charlie starts to warm and his and Sophie’s relationship ends up blossoming.  Eventually they come across the correct Roberto, to find out he had lost his spouse like Claire had and they reconnect.  After the reconnection, it is time for Sophie to leave.

Sophie and Victor head back to New York, where Sophie finally gets an article published, a story of her adventures with Claire, and Victor opens his restaurant.  Claire comes to realize Victor and her were not meant to be and that Charlie is her destiny.  Sophie heads to Italy for the wedding for Claire and Roberto, sees Charlie, and you can figure out the rest from there.

This is one of the few movies that I will actually purchase on DVD.  It is a true feel-good movie and a chick-flick for all generations.  With the love story between Sophie and Charlie and the love story between Claire and Roberto, it is one of the few chick flicks that can be appealing to younger and older generations.  So here is to destiny, and to finding your Romeo (or Juliet)!

Things Rick Astley Will Never Do

Monday, September 20, 2010

Katy Perry and Elmo

Movie Review - The Town

What is it about crime that makes it the ultimate cinematic drug?  Is taking money without doing much work the American dream?  Do we feel better about our violence if there's profit from it?  Or, do we just want to prove that chicks dig "bad boys"?  Whatever the reason, there's no denying the fact that most of Hollywood's crime thrillers will do their best to hammer home one fact - that the people who commit these acts have no escape; that these acts are an addiction that has taken hold of them.  These criminals aren't necessarily bad people, they are hopelessly trapped in the path their actions have set for them.

If you talk to anyone who studies the concept of addiction, they'll tell you something that also rings true of most alpha criminals in these films.  No matter what your addiction is, the high that comes from it will decrease over time.  This can be a steady process or a complete drop, but at some point your brain will build up a resistance to that which once was a thrill.  The positive effects will wear off, and you'll be left to choose whether you're still in or if you're going to try to get out.  Attempting the latter may leave you chasing that "last job", and trying to break free of the cycle you've walked into.

The Town, directed and co-written by star Ben Affleck, follows a thief who is at that point.  We open as he and his crew - including a token driver, a token electric man, and his violent-yet-loyal boyhood friend played by Jeremy Renner - make their move on a Boston bank.  It's quickly evident that there's a disconnect between the lead male characters, because one is loud and brutal while the other is polite and tender - particularly toward the female bank manager played by the lovely Rebecca Hall.  Before we even see their faces, we can tell that these two characters are on opposite sides of their addiction.  One man is enjoying the rush, one just wants to get it over with and walk away.

So, when Affleck's Doug (affectionately known as Dougie to most) takes an interest in Hall's Claire, it becomes difficult for the viewer to be sure of their feelings about him.  We know that he does bad things, but he seems to be more in touch with his human side than the characters around him.  His motives for meeting the girl are not pure, but he is not out for blood.  Despite his tender side, Doug struggles to stay clean.  When Claire tells him that some guys in the projects are giving her trouble, he immediately goes to Renner's Jim and tells him "they're going to hurt some people".  It's entirely possible that he needs Jim to take care of this because he no longer has the heart to do it, but he is still at fault.  He knows what Jim is capable of when he walks through his door, and he makes the choice to follow in Jim's ways.  In his mind, there is no other way to deal with the situation.

If I were naming the four most important characters in the film, the fourth - with apologies to Jon Hamm's entertaining FBI agent - is The Town itself.  Doug and Jim's home is Charlestown, an allegedly notorious side of Boston, which is shown to be a one way town in which the only way to survive is submitting to the crime addiction.  A "Florist" played by Pete Postlethwaite is the Kingpin of this connected empire, which goes all the way down to Jim's sister (played by a whored-up Blake Lively) who runs Oxycontin on the streets.  She's also been Doug's girl since their childhood, extending the myth that he can not escape from this written path in life.  The Town is painted as a trap, and all of the people around Doug do their best to remind him that he has no right to life in the outside world.  This again parallels the drug culture, where any addict who feels trapped will tell you that others will always see them as a user, no matter what they say or do.

None of this is new territory for the crime genre, but The Town at least stays fresh in its execution.  The chase scenes and shootouts are technically sound - though the final heist does seem a little spastic - and the characters are fleshed out well.  The film balances its action and drama well, and the pacing seems right on.  The cast all do fine in their roles, and Affleck - despite his sullied reputation - is a very capable lead.  Renner is the highlight of the cast, stealing scenes in a role that seems distant from his star-making role in last year's The Hurt Locker.

The Town succeeds in most regards, even if it doesn't answer our questions about cinema's crime addiction.  Affleck hasn't matched his directorial debut (the thought-provoking Gone Baby Gone), but he's made a film that's both an effective drama and am exciting thriller, cementing himself as a director on the rise that audiences should be aware of.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The 2010 Packers According To The Mike - Week Two

We're back for round two with the 2010 Packers, and it was a rough week for the team.  Starting running back Ryan Grant, who has been a workhorse over the past two-and-a-half years, is done for the season due to the ankle injury that he incurred last week.  Luckily, the opponent for the home opener hasn't made the playoffs in a decade plus.  Let's get at it!

Pre-Game Notes:
The Game: Vs. Buffalo Bills.  The Bills have fallen on hard times since their reign over the AFC in the mid 1990s, and new coach Chan Gailey brings them to Lambeau with an 0-1 record.  Quarterback Trent Edwards is getting his last chance to lead the team, and the team hopes rookie running back CJ Spiller can carry the offense.

Things That Excite Me: Well, it's the home opener, so it's hard not to be excited.  I've been to Lambeau 15 times in the last 17 years. and the chance to witness the gameday environment in Green Bay is always a pleasure.

Things That Worry Me: Recent Packers teams have often overlooked some games that seem like easy wins on the schedule.  Most recently, they went to Tampa Bay last year and dropped the game to an 0-7 team.  Everyone knows that the Bills are rebuilding, but the Packers still have to show up and play the game.

The Game:
First Quarter: The Packers took the ball to start the game, and the opening drive quickly became three points on a Mason Crosby field goal.  And the defense picked up right where it left off last week, with linebacker Clay Matthews ending the Bills' first possession with his 4th sack of the young year.  Also notable on the first Bills drive was the fact that Packer linebacker AJ Hawk made the opening tackle on Bills running back Marshawn Lynch.  Both players are former first round picks that started the season off wrong (Hawk didn't play a down last week due to gameplanning issues, Lynch has been trailing Spiller and Fred Jackson on the Bills' depth chart), and have been the subject of trade rumors this year.  (Both players would get a lot of action in this game.)

A big play from Aaron Rodgers to boisterous-and-talented tight end Jermichael Finley would set the Packers up inside the 10 yard line on the next series, but the offense stalled and Crosby was needed to hit another field goal.  The Bills followed suit with another three-and-out, and the next Packers drive would not be stopped.  Rodgers and Finley connected for 32 yards on a third down, keeping alive a drive that ended with a one-yard touchdown by Grant's replacement, Brandon Jackson.  Jackson got to take the first Lambeau Leap of the season, and the Packers ended the first up by a couple of scores. (13-0, Packers lead.)

Second Quarter: The Packers seemed to stall entirely in the second quarter, on both sides of the ball.  The Bills ran the ball well on their first drive of the quarter, and a pass interference penalty on Packers corner Charles Woodson extended their drive.  Fred Jackson got in for the Bills' first score less than five minutes into the quarter, cutting the Packers' lead to six.

Neither offense did much the rest of the quarter, with the Packers stalling on both of their possessions.  The defense stayed strong, and rookie Sam Shields made a nice open field play to stop the Bills' last drive of the half on a third down pass over the middle.  Packers coach Mike McCarthy oddly chose not to stop the clock and utilize his two-minute offense with time running down, and the Packers went to the half with a meager lead. (13-7, Packers lead.)

Third Quarter: The defense continued to carry the team in the early third quarter.  Linebacker Brandon Chillar - who's the guy that has taken AJ Hawk's playing time - pulled in his first career interception on a tipped third down pass, and the Packers responded on offense.  Greg Jennings made a great third down grab to keep the drive going (last week he had to leap and make a one handed grab to extend a TD drive, this time he slid to catch a ball thrown behind him), and Rodgers connected (on another third down) with the Packers' all-time leading receiver - and my personal favorite Packer - Donald Driver for a TD.

Clay Matthews pulled in his fifth sack in 7 quarters on the next Bills three-and-out, and the offense took back over.  Rodgers and company put together another fine drive (Finley pulled in his third 20+ yard reception of the game), and scored on a quarterback keeper from nine yards out to stretch the lead .  (27-7, Packers lead.)

Fourth Quarter:  It didn't take much of the fourth quarter to confirm that this was mop-up time.  Rookie safety Morgan Burnett, who has done a fine job of not getting burnt through two games, took a short pass away from Bills receiver Roscoe Parrish for his first career INT, and a drive of just over two-and-a-half minutes ended with Rodgers hitting James Jones for a 30 yard touch down.  From there on, it was just about going through the motions to end the game.  In the process, Matthews took the time to pull in his third sack of the game, putting him at six on the young season.  The Bills got some yardage on the final possession, but the Pack held on a fourth down and put the game in the books. (34-7, Packers win.)

Looking Back:
The Good: 
  • The defense swarmed the Bills for most of the game, and really made up for their second quarter lapses in the third.  Matthews looks like a superstar, and the suspect pass defense has held up fine - though this wasn't much of a challenge in that department.
  • The passing game looked explosive.  Finley was a mismatch for the Bills, and the top four receivers each made an impact.
  • Crosby hit on his field goals again, and Jordy Nelson looked good on kick returns again.
The Bad:
  • The second quarter was completely wasted.  The team looked uninspired at times early, and lacked punch on offense and defense.  I worry that this team, still relatively young, will let the high expectations for the season go to their heads at times, and this quarter seemed to show that.
  • Veteran left tackle Chad Clifton was pulled from the game in the second quarter by McCarthy, and replaced by rookie first-round pick Bryan Bulaga.  Clifton has had a long injury history, and it's sad to say that time may be catching up with the 34 year-old tackle.
  • Tramon Williams didn't do much in the punt return game, and I'm absolutely terrified that he's going to get hurt twisting around on these plays.  Williams is starting at cornerback - the Packers' thinnest position - in place of injured veteran Al Harris and the Packers can not afford to lose him.
  • I know Grant's only been gone one week, and the running game wasn't needed here.  But the offensive line has to be more consistent in making the ground game work if Brandon Jackson, John Kuhn, and Dmitri Nance are going to be their primary ball carriers.
  • Clay Matthews, of course, needs to be mentioned for the second straight week.  He looks as dominant as any pass rusher in the league through two games.
  • Jermichael Finley talks a big game, and today he backed it up.  He only caught four passes from Rodgers, but totaled 103 yards.  He showed that he can be a nightmare for defenses.
  • Bryan Bulaga, the rookie from Iowa (*tear*  Go Cyclones!), looked very good in relief of Clifton.  If he has to start going forward, he looks ready.
  • Morgan Burnett's play to get his INT was a heads-up and hard-nosed one.  Hoping to see more of this for years to come.
Final Observations:
This is the kind of game you expect to win, and it's good to see the Packers get it done.  It might not have been a perfect game, but the team showed off plenty of the reasons why they're one of the favorites to compete in the playoffs at season's end.  With no major injuries occurring, there's not much more the team can ask for here.

Next Week: The Packers get their only Monday Night appearance of the year, on the road at the rival Chicago Bears.  The Bears are a surprising 2-0 and tied with the Packers atop the NFC North.  It's early in the season, but every divisional game is a must win in this league.  Should be a fun one.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

In movie news.....Boy Scouts vs Zombies!!!

It is being reported that Andy Fickman, director of the upcoming You Again, is attached to a movie were boy scouts take on zombies.  This could potentially be amazing.  Thoughts?!?!?

Quote of the Day

I'm not a big filmophile. I don't watch movies a lot for a hobby. I spend all my time watching sporting events. Because, opposed to movies, you can never tell how they're going to end.
Michael Douglas

Dream Come True-Gilmore Girls Movie!

The word is getting around of a possible Gilmore Girls movies!  Being one of my favorite shows, if not my favorite show of all time, this would be a dream come true.  I was heart-broken when the show ended after seven fabulous seasons and would love to see the show hit the big screen.  The characters of Gilmore Girls were some of the quarkiest and most fun to watch.  There were many times I found myself wanting to live in Stars Hollow and befriend all of them.  In addition to great characters, the dialogue was some of the best to be found in tv.  With scripts twice as long as other hour long shows,  the banter and speed of delivery of lines was amazing and so unique.  As long as they could produce a script that would produce the same Gilmore Girls charm as the tv show, it would be a sure hit.

Here is what Lauren Graham, aka Lorelai Gilmore, had to say:

"It might [happen]. What's funny to me is that in all these years, no-one ever talked about [a film] except the fans. But now people… who could actually make it happen are talking about it. I think it could be good, but I wonder if we've waited too long. I don't want to be walking around the town square with a cane. It's hard to say because the show was never very plot driven. That is what might be uncovered in a two-hour movie."

 Here is to keeping fingers-crossed and hoping this happens!!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Cyclone Football 2010

Yesterday I tuned in to watch my beloved Cyclone Football Team take on one of, if not our biggest, rivals in football, the Iowa Hawkeyes.  My hatred of the Hawkeyes runs deep.  I will tune in to an Iowa Hawkeye game and root for the other team.  I constantly talk smack to Hawk fans at work and I can literally feel a pit in my stomach when I think of the Hawks.

Being the optimistic person I am,  I went in to yesterdays game with high hopes.  My prediction:  21-17 Cyclones.  I could not have been more off.  With a senior quarterback that has progressively become worse from his freshman year, there was not a prayer for the Cyclones.  It appeared that not a single Cyclone player decided to show up to Kinnick that day, with proof being the final score of 35-7.  The only seven the Cyclones scored were in the 4th quarter against what was most likely Iowa's 4th string players.

After the game, I sulked for a few hours and decided I needed to pick myself up.  This is only our coach's second season.  I have to give him time to build.  I also had to think of the happy times of the past: aka the victory over Nebraska last year at Lincoln on my wedding day.  It made me smile and gave me hope for the Cyclones' football future.  In closing, the Hawks still suck!

Check out the video below of the Cyclones post victory at Lincoln last year.  It will make your day brighter!

The 2010 Packers According To The Mike - Week One

If you don't know already, you should know that The Mike loves the Green Bay Packers more than almost anything.  It's the Lombardi Code - God, Family (and Friends, of course), Green Bay Packers.  So, since he has this blog where he can post whatever he wants, I figured this'd be a good place to follow the 2010 Packers, for better or worse.

Since this is Week One, here's a little background.  The Packers are as hyped this year as they've been since the Super Bowl years of the mid '90s.  They've only been to one playoff game under new QB Aaron Rodgers - losing that game last January - but their young offensive weapons have a lot of people drinking their Kool-Aid.

Now, here's what's up in Week One:

Pre-Game Notes:
The Game: at Philadelphia Eagles.  Also a Wild-Card team last year, also lost in the first round of the playoffs.  Traded long time QB Donovan McNabb in the offseason, putting young QB Kevin Kolb in a situation that's similar to where the Packers and Rodgers were two years ago. 

Things That Excite Me: Tight End Jermichael Finley has been promising a break out year, and looked great in the preseason.  However, I'm most interested to see the Pack's offensive line, which seems to be as stable as it's been since Coach Mike McCarthy came on board 5 years ago.

Things That Worry Me: The Packers defensive backfield - which gave up 51 points last time they played - is short two probable starters with veteran CB Al Harris and S Atari Bigby out for the first six weeks with injuries.  Undrafted CB Sam Shields will be the third CB, and the Eagles boast a deep set of receiving threats. 

Also, the much beloved offense might face some first game jitters, and the Pack haven't won in Philadelphia since 1962.

The Game:
First Quarter: Both teams started slowly, with the Eagles scoring the first points on a FG late in the quarter.  Rodgers' first INT of the season, a bad pass over the middle toward Finley set up the FG drive.  Both teams definitely looked out of sync on offense - those jitters I was worried about - but the Packers seemed to pick up the pace late in the quarter and were driving as it ended. (3-0, Eagles lead.)

Second Quarter: The Pack start the second quarter with their second consecutive sack given up, which kills the drive - but Mason Crosby hits a FG to tie the game at 3.  Sloppy play continues, with injuries too, until a good drive gives the Pack their first TD of the season as Rodgers hits Donald Driver (one of my favorite Packers EVER!) on a third down.  The Pack get the ball back on a quick punt after that TD, and Crosby hits another FG - a franchise record setting 56 yarder - to extend the lead. (13-3, Packers lead.)

Third Quarter: Kolb, who was shaken up on a great play (from a football standpoint, not saying it's good that he was injured) by Clay Matthews late in the 2nd, is out for the day with a concussion.  So is Eagles MLB Stewart Bradley, who the TV heads claim is their defensive leader.  This means the infamous Michael Vick is in at QB for the Eagles, and he looks pretty good.  The Eagles' first drive ended when All-Pro CB Charles Woodson forced a fumble that the Pack recovered.  The Packers offense went straight down field, and scored after a couple of strong runs by FB John Kuhn, giving the Pack a 20-3 lead.

Vick led a good drive for the Eagles, and LeSean McCoy scored to make it 20-10.  The Packers responded, as Jordy Nelson returned the kickoff 51 yards and Rodgers and Jennings hooked up for a 32 yard TD (against former ISU Cyclone Ellis Hobbs, no less).  This leads to the third quarter ending with the Packers leading (27-10, Packers lead.)

Fourth Quarter: It's not over yet, folks.  A third down stop is negated by a defensive holding penalty, and the Eagles make their way downfield.  After a good defensive play in the redzone by Nick Barnett (Eagles fans, hostile as ever, were calling for interference) and a sack by undrafted rookie Frank Zombo, Vick hit on his first TD pass of the day, to tighten the score to 27-17.  Another good return by Nelson led to another Rodgers INT on a horrible pass over the middle.  The Packers defense seems to be wearing down - they've been on the field a lot lately.  However, the defense held up in the red zone this time, and the Eagles were held to a field goal.  With 5:43 left to play, it's 27-20 Packers.

Then, things get really tense.  The Packers offense sputters again, and the Eagles use all their timeouts to get the ball back.  They continue to drive on the Pack, but a sack by linebacker Matthews gives them a long third down.  Vick completes over the middle, but they're a yard short of the first down with 2:00 to play.

On fourth and one, Vick runs out of the shotgun.  Matthews leads the charge up the middle...and makes the play.  Turnover on downs, the Packers get the ball, Victory formation.  Final score: 27-20, Packers win!

Let's take a look back at the game:

The Good:
  • The secondary looked really good against Kolb, but started to wear out versus Vick.  The Eagles' top receiver, DeSean Jackson, was a non-factor.  Shields and rookie safety Morgan Burnett didn't make the big mistakes that I was afraid of.
  • Wide Receiver Greg Jennings had a big game, with his third quarter TD and a spectacular one-handed catch that extended the first TD drive as highlights.  Finley and Driver seemed neutralized at times, but Jennings made the plays that needed to be made.
  • Jordy Nelson was fantastic returning kicks.  This was a major concern coming into the game, but he had three excellent returns and looked comfortable there.
The Bad:
  • The running game needs to improve, fast.  Starting RB Ryan Grant left with an ankle injury in the second, which could be a huge blow to the offense if he has to miss time.  The run game wasn't great when he was in - though he had a few excellent runs - and was even worse without him.  
  • The defense wore down late, and any time Jarrett Bush is on the field I worry.
  • Injuries to DE Cullen Jenkins and Justin Harrell also are concerning.  The Packers are not deep on the D-line, and - though Jenkins returned and played well - injuries up front could kill the run defense.  Former first round pick Harrell is running out of chances to prove he can stay healthy.
  • Wasn't the offensive line supposed to be stable?  Rodgers got hit way too often.
Game Balls:
  • Clay Matthews has to be the MVP of this game, with several big plays, at least 4 of which killed Eagles drives - including the final stop on 4th and 1.  After missing large portions of camp, having Matthews playing like this is exciting to see.
  • Undrafted rookie Frank Zombo gets a mention because a) his name is freaking Zombo, and b) he had a sack in his first game.
  • Mason Crosby making both of his kicks is huge.  He's been erratic through his first years in the league, but these were two tough kicks and they give me faith that the worst of his career is behind him. (Note from The Mike: Fans, remember to ALWAYS compliment the kicker!  They're moody fellows, and you really need them happy.)
Final Thoughts:
I'm both pleased and disappointed with today's result.  But, a win is a win - and in a tough place like Philly, I'll take it.  If this is one of the offense's worst games of the year - they didn't look too good outside of the three TD drives - they should put up big numbers this year.  Hopefully they can work out the kinks in the running game, and Rodgers won't play that badly often.

Next Week: Packers vs. Buffalo at Lambeau Field in the home opener.  Here's to many GO PACK GO chants and a lot of Todd Rundgren!

(Because they play "Bang on the Drum All Day" whenever the Packers score a TD, not because he plays for them, of course.)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Things That Bring The Happy, Vol. 2 - Dennis Hopper Selling Football and Nike

As you may have noticed, it is indeed football season again in America!  (And, to the rest of the world: It's time to admit defeat and call your boring sport Soccer!)  Football has been in my blood for my entire life, growing up with a football coach for a father, and there are few things I wouldn't trade for another Green Bay Packers Super Bowl win.

There are also few things that entertained me as much as Nike's NFL commercials of 1994 did when I was a teen.  In these ads, legendary actor Dennis Hopper plays Stanley, an obsessed football fan in a referee's uniform who seeks out some of the stars of the era.  Lets take a look at what happened next.

First, and most famous, is the ad where Stanley enters the Buffalo Bills' locker room to get a whiff of Hall of Fame defensive end Bruce Smith's shoe.  Smith was one of the best linemen to play the game, retiring as the NFL's all-time sack leader (though he had to play more years than Reggie White to break the record).

Next up is Stanley's thoughts on Detroit Lions running back Barry Sanders, who he calls "a cannonball loose in a pinball machine".

In this ad, Stanley uses ESP to contact the Dallas Cowboys' QB/WR duo of Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin, who won three Super Bowl titles in 4 years during the early '90s.

Stanley gets in the Christmas spirit in this next ad, discussing Deion Sanders.  Deion was playing for the San Francisco 49ers in '94, and ended up winning his first Super Bowl ring in January of '95.

This next one brings a tear to The Mike's eye, as it features Packers receiver Sterling Sharpe.  Sharpe was easily my favorite player between '92 and '94, which would be his last season in the NFL due to a spinal injury.  Despite the injury, Sharpe led the NFL with 18 TD receptions that year, the second best total for a receiver in NFL history at the time.  Meanwhile, the commercial made the phrase 'Choo choo, baby.  Choo choo!" part of my vocabulary.

The surprise of the '94 season was the San Diego Chargers, led by linebacker Junior Seau.  In this ad, Seau makes an impression on Stanley.

When the playoffs came around, Stanley got a little more excited.  Here, he reminds us that marbles, not football, is a game.

Last, but most certainly not least, is Stanley's 90 second Super Bowl spot.  This is, without a doubt, my favorite video on YouTube.

(Note from The Mike: There's one more ad that I can remember but can't find, in which Stanley praises Steelers linebacker Hardy Nickerson using a tape recorder.)

Now that we've got some Hopper in our lives, let's get to the football!

Morning Music - Tonight, Tonight

It's morning somewhere, but it is Tonight here.
Artist: The Smashing Pumpkins
Album: Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

In Comic Book News..............Betty White!!!

Female Force: Betty White to be released in November.  Love it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

In Twilight news.....

Rumor has it that Summit Entertainment is looking at the possibility of making The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner in to a feature film.  It would be released after Breaking Dawn.  Here is what is being said about the project:

"It goes without saying Summit want to continue this franchise… Tanner is the one they're looking at post-Breaking Dawn… It's too early to talk casting, and everything we're hearing is just speculation or off a wish list, but I don't believe they plan on using the original actress, Jodelle Ferland, for the spin-off film. It's all about numbers and names — you guys know that."

I was surprisingly pleased with Bree Tanner and would like to see it made in to a movie.  Thoughts?!?

Trip Review-Disney World

During the last week in August, my husband, brother, and I ventured down to Orlando Florida for a week of fun.  Our week of fun included Universal Studios (Harry Potter Park… inner geek totally came out!), a day trip to Cocoa Beach, a fan boat ride in the Everglades to see some ‘gators, and of course Disney World.  If you have never ventured to Disney World, it is a must!  We stayed at Disney’s Pop Century Resort for our week long stay.  We had the convenience of Disney picking us up from the airport and transportation to all of the Disney Parks.  We went on so many fantastic rides, it would be hard to pick just one as my favorite, so I decided to pick 10!!! If you are thinking of going to Disney in the near future, here are some musts! 
10.  The Great Movie Ride (Hollywood Studios)  This 22 minute ride takes you smack dab in the middle of some of the greatest movies of all time.  From Casablanca to The Wizard of Oz to Alien, you feel you are right in the middle of the movies.  It is a must for movie lovers!   Being  an air-conditioned ride, it is also a great retreat from the hot and humid Florida Weather!
9. Soarin (Epcot) Strap in to your seat and get ready for an adventure!  This ride flies you over the great state of California.  With the wind blowing in your hair, and the smells of salt water and pine trees blasted at your face, you really do feel like you are hang-gliding over Cali!
8. DINOSAUR (Animal Kingdom) Hop in to a CTX Time Rover and race back in time to capture a dinosaur.  Beware of the hungry Carnotaurus!  This bumpy fast ride is slightly scary and definitely not for youngsters.
7.  Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (Magic Kingdom): Hop in to a train and ride through the Old West town of Tumbleweed.  This fast and fun and fun ride is great for those that love the speed of coasters but not necessarily the height and drops of a traditional coaster.
6.  Splash Mountain (Magic Kingdom):  The “Godfather” of log rides, this almost 5 minute long ride is what many amusement parks model their log rides after.  Your log takes you leisurely past scenes from Disney’s 1946 film Song of the South and then plunges 52 ½ feet at the end!  You are sure to get wet from this drop!
5.  Space Mountain (Magic Kingdom): An oldie but goody-jump in to a mini “spaceship” and blast in to space.  This fast, jolting, roller coaster through the dark, is worth the wait if the lines are long!
4.  Test Track (Epcot):  Hop in to a “GM car” and go through all the  obstacles/stages of testing a new car.  At the end of the ride, the car goes over 60 mph on the test track.  If you are in need of speed, this is the ride being the fastest ride at all of the Disney Parks.
3. Rock N Roller Coaster (Hollywood Studios):  This coaster takes you from 0 to 60 mph in a matter of seconds!  It is a coaster that is completely indoors that goes upside down and all over while the music of Aerosmith blares in your ear.  A total heart pounding good time!
2.  Tower of Terror (Hollywood Studios):  This 13 story ride takes in you the elevator of a haunted hotel.  It takes you up, lets you view one of the floors of the hotel, and then drops and rises you at an extreme speed in the elevator shaft.  Not for the faint of heart!
1.  Expedition Everest (Animal Kingdom):  This thrilling roller coaster, takes you up and through Mt. Everest, in attempts to get away from the Yeti on the mountain.  If you love coasters, especially ones that go backwards, this is a must.
These are only 10 of the fantastic rides at the Disney Parks.  There are so many rides worth checking out, I could go on and on.  If you are not one to ride rides, then the shows are just as great.  There is truly something for everyone at Disney World!!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Quote of the Day

''I will no longer be carrying around photo ID. Know why? People should know who I am.''

-Sue Sylvester of Glee (played by Jane Lynch)

Teenage Dream

Check out this lil guy from Chicago singing to Katy Perry's Teenage Dream. He is really feeling the lyrics!!

Favre-The Indecision

Friday, September 3, 2010

Quote of the Day

There are many dying children out there whose last wish is to meet me.

 -David Hasselhoff

Movie of the Day-The Last Song

Spoiler Alert:  Do not read if you intend on watching the film.  I also want to note that I have not read the book, so I do not have any opinions on how the movie stacks up to the book.

First off, I am not a Miley Cyrus fan.  I wanted to make this very clear as I write this review.  I am, however, someone that doesn’t mind a Nicholas Sparks film every now and then.  I am also a huge fan of Greg Kinear.  With that being said, I rented The Last Song, hoping for something decent at best.  I ended up disappointed and wanting my time back.
The Last Song is the story of rebellious Ronnie Miller (Miley Cyrus) and her younger brother Jonah Miller (Bobby Coleman) going to live with their father Steve Miller (Greg Kinear) for the summer in his beach house on the coast of Georgia.  Jonah finds himself connecting with his father through a stained glass project for a church, while Ronnie slowly ends up connecting with her father through their love of music.  Along the way romance blossoms between Ronnie and the sensitive/rich local hunk Will Blakelee (Liam Hemsworth-was Miley’s real-life beau up until this past week).    I found much of the movie focusing on the relationship between Ronnie and Will (was it necessary to be kissing in every scene?), when I felt the story was meant to and should have focused more on the relationship between Ronnie and her father.  It was not until the last part of the film, when we find out Steve is dying of cancer, does the film shift its focus to the relationship between Ronnie and her father.
With Kinear nailing his role as always, Bobby Coleman was spot-on playing the role of the sweet younger brother, and Liam Hemsworth surprisingly showing some promise as an actor, this film failed.  And I blame the majority of this on Cyrus.  This film again confirmed acting may not be her thing.  I felt no connection to her character and very little emotion from her, considering the emotion filled summer her character went through.  The times that she did try to do emotion, it felt forced.  With some changes to the script and different actress to play Ronnie, The Last Song could have had potential. 
On a side note: Miley also sounded like a man who has been smoking for 60 some odd years.