At long last, the first puck finally dropped yesterday, on the 2013 NHL season. My Penguins were back in action against the Flyers on national television, and acquitted themselves nicely with a win over the scum from Philadelphia. (The Flyers are my hockey equivalent of the nefarious Ratbirds.)
It was also a chance for me to break the seal on my new Crosby jersey.
So far, the mojo is holding. I’ll check it again this afternoon, when the Pens play the Rangers in New York. Then when they play their first home game on Wednesday, I’ll break out my new black Brooks Orpik jersey. (Eat your heart out, Cassandre.)
Unfortunately, I’m going to have to do some maneuvering because tonight’s Pens game starts at 7:00, which is opposite the Patriots/Ratbirds AFC Championship game at 6:30. While I can DVR the Pens while I watch football, this means I will have to stay off Twitter if I want to watch the Pens game, untainted by foreknowledge.
The Inverse Sophie’s Choice
I really don’t even know why I’m putting myself through watching the Ratbird game. The Ratties and Patties are my 2 least favorite teams. I curse the Ratbirds for making me have to root for Tom Brady and Coach Unibomber. I really have no choice because I dread the thought of 2 more weeks of Ray Lewis and Ratbird Super Bowl hype. And heaven forbid they actually win it all. I might have to rethink my support for an assault rifle ban.
In the NFC, I have another hard choice; especially since the Niners/Falcons game comes on first. See, if the Patriots win, I’d root for the Falcons, because they’re the only team remaining with whom I don’t have a grudge. If the Ratbirds win, I’d root for the Niners, because I think they have the best shot at beating them. Unfortunately, there’s a double-downside to that… A Niners win would give them six Super Bowl titles and tie them with the Steelers. Also, it would validate that smug frat boy Jim Harbaugh, and by association, his Ratbird coaching brother John.
But I won’t be able to factor that into my rooting, because the NFC game comes on first. I suppose I’ll just have to aim high and root for Atlanta. I had the same situation last year, having to pin my hopes on the Giants, and yet they pulled through. Maybe the Falcons will do the same this year.
Last night, I watched “The Expendables 2.” The first “Expendables” was basically an excuse to get a bunch of aging action stars together for a big smash-bang affair and remember how good everyone used to be in these things. The big hype was that Sylvester Stallone would be joined by Arnold Schwartzenegger and Bruce Willis (aka, his Planet Hollywood partners). Of course they were in the movie for about 90 seconds each.
Now, I knew what I was getting into with this movie. I knew it was going to be far-fetched and ridiculously plotted, and I was certainly right. It was also kinda fun. I mean, you had to realize going in that the violence would be completely over-the-top, so much so that it was more “Tom and Jerry” cartoon than action flick. Every time a bad guy got shot, (and there were literally hundreds), it looked like he got hit with a water balloon filled with Karo Syrup. There was enough blood spatter to fill an entire season of “Dexter.”
Someone must have showed Stallone some YouTube videos of Afghanistan sniper hits, so the cloud of blood-mist and heads disappearing has kind of become his trademark.
My favorite bit was definitely something one might see on the old Tom and Jerry cartoons. Jet Li fought off 8 gun and knife-wielding bad guys with nothing but a couple of cast iron frying pans. It was literally like, “Bong… flip… bong… twist, kick… bong… duck… bong…” He was like a cross between Jackie Chan and Emeril Legasse.
I also liked the recurring references to past movies. For example, there was a scene with both Arnold and Bruce, (they had slightly more screen time this go-round, up to maybe 3 minutes each.) They were both pinned down in a shootout…
Arnold: I need ammo. I’ll be back.
Bruce: You’ve been back enough. I’ll be back. [leaves]
They also defrosted Chuck Norris for this installment, whose job, apparently, was to show up for no particular reason and get everyone out of a jam. In the movie, they never really explained who he was, nor how he knew the guys were in trouble, nor how he even knew where in the world they were. But all of a sudden, there he was, shooting the bad guys and looking like someone colored his beard in with shoe polish.
They dropped a “Lone Wolf” reference with Chuck, alluding to his movie “Lone Wolf McQuade,” but I feel they really missed a bet. They totally should have worked in some of the legendary Chuck Norris jokes.
It would have been so easy too! I came up with several the second I heard he was in the movie.
1) They walk in on a card game. One player lays down his cards, saying, “Straight flush. Whatcha got?” Chuck lays down a 2, a 7, a king, a green Uno card and a yellow Community Chest card and says, “I win.” Guy starts to protest, but Chuck just stares at him and takes the pot.
2) They walk in on Chuck doing pushups. Guy says, “Pushups are worthless, you need to pump iron.” Chuck says, “I’m not pushing me up, I’m pushing the earth down.”
3) There were lots of planes and helicopters in the movie. Chuck could have shot one down using his finger and shouting “BANG.” OK, maybe they pull back to show that someone else shot it down, but the gag would have worked.
4) Guys are coordinating an attack. Guy says, “Chuck, how come you’re not wearing a watch? Chuck says, “Because I decide what time it is.”
4) I could go on indefinitely. Luckily, the movie did not.
The Earl of Baltimore
Former Orioles manager Earl Weaver died Friday night. The news was huge here in Baltimore. Weaver managed the Orioles from 1968 to 1982, and again in 1985-86, and only finished lower than 2nd place twice. That’s an astonishing record of consistency.
As a fairly recent Baltimore dweller, I never had an attachment to Weaver. To me, he was just the guy whose team lost the World Series to my Pirates in ’71 and ’79. But I always knew that he was a real rascal. He was one of those old-time managers that knew baseball inside out and knew every trick in the book.
He was definitely a product of his era, the likes of which you rarely see today, aside from Ozzie Guillen. He grew tomatoes in a remote corner of Memorial Stadium. He drank and smoked and challenged his players directly. If they didn’t do things “his way” (aka, The Oriole Way) he’d find someone else that would.
Back when I used to work at the home office of my record retailing company, my boss acquired a mysterious cassette tape. One day, he gathered all the guys together in his office and told us he had something we needed to hear. It was a tape of various baseball managers speaking with the media, in the most profane and hilarious terms. I figured it was a reel of raw outtake material, from an era when sports reporters only reported what was actually news, as opposed to anything juicy that might embarrass the team or players.
Anyway, this tape, (which I dubbed off a copy for myself) contained rants by Tommy Lasorda, Billy Martin, Sparky Anderson and (Cubs manager) Lee Elia. Lasorda’s stuff, in particular, was just priceless. There was one bit where he was asked if he had his pitcher throw at batter Kurt Bevaqua. Lasorda denied it, and said something like, “And if I ever DID tell my guy to throw at someone, it wouldn’t be a guy like Bevaqua! A guy who couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a fuckin’ boat…”
Anyway, there was also a segment with Earl Weaver, in what seemed to be a profane outtake from his pre-game “Coach’s Corner” radio show, where he answers questions from the fans. By the end of it, you can hear Earl cracking his own self up. As a treat for you, I dug it up on YouTube. But be warned, there is some four-alarm language going on here.
Rest in peace, Earl, you were one of a kind. And somewhere, every dead umpire is going, “Aww, shit. Look who’s coming…” And now, “Coach’s Corner.”