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Spies…Spies..Everywhere There’s Spies…Chewing Up The Scenery…Blowing Your Mind…. August 8, 2007

Posted by doctorolove in Movies, Pop Culture Rants.
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With The Bourne Ultimatum raking in more cash than Warren Buffett has in the cushions of his couch (the previous metaphor stolen from the Dennis Miller Book of Metaphors…available wherever paperbacks are sold), its safe to say that spy movies are a bonafide action genre. Heck, they may even be one of the best and biggest. They’re here to stay people! So for those of you hoping that romantic comedies set in Middle America or movies starring CGI dogs and cats would win out, you’re SOL.

Spy movies are akin to stealing your friend’s marijuana plants: Hollywood makes money on them because everybody’s too scared and would get in too much trouble if they told the real story. Thusly, every spy movie could be the biggest bunch of fabrication since the Warren Commission Family Picnic (Thanks Dennis, yet again!) and nobody will know. Think the CIA, FBI, NSA and a whole bunch of other acronyms are going to step forward and admit how things are done. Hell to the no. So each film can claim to be accurate and load us up with car chases and gadgetry and strange Cold War scenarios and not a single person can ever call “Shenanigans.” Except for that guy over there…Oh wait, where are those men in suits taking him?

Yet with all these spy films coming 2 fast and 2 furious (Not a spy movie, by the way, I checked) you must ask yourself one question. Which spy defines me?  Which secret agent should I choose to follow intently?  There are several camps on this one. Let us, in attempt to appease all argument, first remove the Daniel Craig James Bond from future debate. Not saying I didn’t enjoy his first foray into the land of 007, but there are too many critics who feel the film was merely siphoning off the ideas the Bourne series had re-established as the new “IT” spy genre. (Some say siphoning: others say blatantly copying.) Plus it’s one chance. Make two good ones and we’ll talk. You can also shake off every single spy that popped up during that dark phase from 1985-1993 where Hollywood tried to re-invent the spy genre with a whole bunch of  “mistaken identity spy comedies.” Richard Grieco, Anthony Edwards, Jackie Chan, Val Kilmer. Not that you guys were doing much anyway, but you can all sit. (Okay, maybe you were, Val….your two minute cameo in Déjà vu…moving stuff…now, here…have another donut.)

Which means you are left with three major types of movie spies: the gritty realistic Jason Bourne type, the kitschy Cold War espionage of the James Bond type, and the uber-kitschy spoofy Austin Powers/ Flint winking at the camera so much I’m sure you have Tourettes goofball spy.

Any spy film from here on out will adhere to these three examples or Venn diagram somewhere in between. These are the examples, people. So, if you’re a Scientologist who is smiting me because I didn’t mention Ethan Hunt, I’m sorry. He’s like a good Chinese dinner: little from Column A, little from Column B. But he is not a Column unto himself. And besides would L. Ron want that anyway? Shame on all of you. Smiting me like that. And to think I actually paid to see Battlefield Earth (Receipt available upon request)

So which spy should you follow? Let’s look at each.

The Gritty Realistic Spy:  He’s either deep undercover or blending into society much like Henry Hill did when he took off the velour track suit. He’s not a blow up the whole building guy. His gadgets and methods are straight out of that annoying video game level you can’t beat (You know the one with all the stealthing…And yes stealthing is a word.) And his exploits are usually shot with the same gritty realism and gritty camera angles just in case you didn’t get that whole gritty realism thing. This guy blows your mind. Not because he escapes eight car pileups and citywide manhunts. And not because he can garrote you with a shoelace and duct tape all MacGyver style. It’s because he is SO real. This crazy behind the scenes stuff could really be happening.  He’s using real names and focusing on real problems (usually oil pipelines in the Middle East, scary biotoxins) and not some nameless faceless supervillain who lives in a cave. He’s the spy you root for because you want him on that wall. You need him on that wall. And you secretly hope there isn’t a wall, but you know better. No sex for me, please…I’m making the world safer. Or worse, depending.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Democrats, people with irrational fear of the Patriot Act, those with stock in Dramamine

The Kitschy Cold War guy: Yeah, this is what spying is all about. Still saving the world but doing it Hefner style. With a woman on one arm and a drink in the other. His entrances and exits are louder than a Metallica show at the Virginia College for the Deaf. He couldn’t save himself from a situation unless he had his gadgets. And oh what great ones they are. Invisible missile laden cars. Dual laser beamed watches. Exploding pens.  And everybody always gets it in the end. There’s no grey area. It’s Good vs. Evil. The Russians or the Eastern Europeans or the Colombian drug dealers. All of them must be stopped. And they will be stopped before they can unleash their havoc on the world. Because only he can do it. He’s like the Class Clown: a smartass remark everybody he does, well, anything that could call for a smart ass remark, from kicking ass to flirting to hanging out poolside in places he first made cool. Monte Carlo, the Caribbean, Antarctica (though maybe not poolside there) None of this could possibly happen. Nameless, faceless masterminds don’t exist. (Real life masterminds are way too media savvy to live in a hollowed out volcano.)  And again, do we know it isn’t like this? That in itself makes us feel safe, hoping it is

RECOMMENDED FOR: Republicans, the Tuxedos Renters Guild of America,  13 year old boys (because the sex is implied, never shown and once you past 13, you need a little more than innuendo)

The Spoofy Spy: Take every cliché you’ve ever seen and beat it into the ground. The only genre of spy films you know could never happen, because can somebody that ignorant really be on a major payroll somewhere (Wait…I’ll strike that from the record)  The jokes are like the plot outline: It’s Good vs. Evil.  Some work, some don’t. The gadgets are often ludicrous, but plausible. It’s like watching an old friend come for dinner: bask in the stories of yesteryear and laugh about when they went wrong. But you get sick of them quick and hopefully, they’re gone before desert

RECOMMENDED FOR: The young, the elderly, the three people who have never quoted Austin Powers ever.

Make your choice wisely, my budding Spy movie aficionados. It is a big choice and one that can determine your future movie-watching career. The debate will forever wage on and someday a spy type will emerge victorious. Let’s just hope it’s not Owen Wilson

(This post will self-destruct in five seconds.)

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WuTang: (Unfortunately) Now and Forever July 17, 2007

Posted by doctorolove in Music, Pop Culture Rants.
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Now I know me some Wu Tang Clan. They were first introduced to me in the summer of ’92 when hip-hop was still, quite possibly, a character in a Beatrix Potter novel as far as I was concerned. I didn’t understand hip-hop. I thought Young MC was as dark and evil as things could get (I mean, to a thirteen year old, discussion of butts and busting moves was as gangsta as my pubescent mind needed.) I didn’t understand NWA. Maybe it was my naiveté or just the fact that I didn’t live in Compton. I didn’t get metaphors about hot steel and pigs and clocking hos (all of which still to this day make me wonder how doe one actual clock their ho? And what is time good for?) But I got the Wu Tang clan.

Sure they also spoke of hos and pigs and smoking this thing they called blunts, but they also made reference to the Hall of Justice and superheroes. I knew of them. Heck, I spent a whole summer trying to build a submersible underwater megafortress of my own out of a ripped Slip and Slide and a Kiddie Pool that smelled like a mixture of mold, rapidly congealing waterproof Coppertone and my grandma’s shag rug. And while half the things I couldn’t understand (Thank you, vocal cords ravaged by unfiltered blunts…seriously guys, if you don’t want the reunion album to be called “Live From The Iron Lung…with RZA on Voice Box” it is called a filter…Look into it), I identified with Superheroes. And Kinko’s. And the 7-11. They were using metaphors a young obsessed white-bred suburbanite like me could understand. And for that, I became a member of the Shaolin Nation.

And it is because of my in-depth Wu knowledge that what I heard from a moving car today has got me all riled up. Now I have heard some amazing things from cars that feel the need to validate the thousands of dollars spent on their bells and whistles. I’ve heard songs that should never be played at ear busting volumes ever, unless you are trying to drive a Panamanian drug lord from their home (Mandy by Barry Manilow is no more poignant at 200 decibels that it is at 4). I’ve heard a La Cucaracha horn that sounded as if it were warbled by a dying seal. And I’ve heard the children cry (Though I was nice enough to let them know I tried at the next stoplight.) The car was whipping by at a pretty nice clip and I heard it for what was a brief second, but I know what I heard was…

“Cash rules everything around me…got to get the money…dollar, dollar bill, y’all…”

Now to many, that may just sound like Raymond Babbitt mumbling at the blackjack table or that rambling homeless guy who shuffles past your job while wearing a pair of Skidz Pants. But I knew it as this: the seminal lyric from Wu Tang’s hit “C.R.E.A.M” I’d know it anywhere. I’d know it’s capitalistic, playful undertone wrapped in a glaze of double entendre anywhere.

And I also know it wasn’t sung by any member of the Clan. Not GZA. Not Ghostface. Not Raekwon. Not even the dulcet set-on-fire-then-put-out with sand-paper tones of ODB and Method Man. This was somebody singing a COVER VERSION of a Wu-Tang song and what’s more, somebody was playing it loudly, all while zipping down the streets.

Which brings me to one cardinal rule that for the sake of good taste everywhere, we all must adhere to this day forth: NO COVER VERSIONS, NO REMAKES, NO REIMAGININGS OR REINTERPATATION OR RE-ANYTHING OF RAP/HIP-HOP SONGS!

Why? I mean, they do it all the time, you say? I mean, don’t you own everything the Neptunes re-did for every popular artist ever? Yes, but you see those are remixes. A remix is taking a track and adding your own personal spin on it. Or it means hiring some rapper to write lyrics on the back of his hand while limoing over to the recording studio and dropping them in the middle of the song with no cohesiveness what-so-ever. Or it means taking the lyrics and mashing them up with something that seems clever. But the song remains. The lyrics, the basic cadence, the messages..all still there. A remix is pushing it the same way you tested the boundaries of a childhood ultimatum by walking across the kitchen floor on your knees…Ma, you said “Don’t Step Foot in the Kitchen….”But it’s still the same song. Not a remake. A remake is when a person or persons take the entire song and re-do it their own way. Lyrics, background, even the message.

Yet they do it with movies and those turn out fine, right? Some do, yes. Or rather they work in theory. Updating The Manchurian Candidate in our own paranoid present existence was a great idea in hindsight. Casting Dean Stockwell as a shadowy villain was not (what no other Sci-fi TV second bananas were available? You’re telling me Twiki wasn’t available? That “Biddi-Biddi-Biddi” sound was menacing.) And retelling classic ideas with a modern spin is intriguing: Just avoid Bernie Mac (Ocean’s 12), Bernie Mac (Guess who’s Coming to Dinner) and Bernie Mac (Charlie’s Angels).  Remaking or reimaging a film can work because of concepts. It’s like how we are all amazed when somebody sets Shakespeare in modern times. Ideas resonate. And Leo and Claire looked good in Hawaiian shirts and strange sexy corset things

Oh, then Mr. Sarcastic, rap songs don’t resonate then, huh? Incorrect. Most classic and meaningful songs do resonate, because their themes and messages are universal. You can still drive down a street in the South Bronx and almost feel “The Message” coming out of your subconscious. And while it may be great to see a bunch of elderly rappers, dressed in purple track suits that make them look like Batman villains, paired with the hippest, pulled from the Billboard list new guard on a VH1 honors show, but that is a homage. It is not a remake.  What I heard was a remake and those are not allowed.

Why? Because a hip-hop song is kind of like what needs to happen at that precise moment to be truly great. (And who wants to remake a BAD song? Unless you really feel the nuances of MC Hammer weren’t truly touched upon). You need the backing track, the words to have meaning or significance and all the while you have a producer over the scenes like an urban Gepetto. And when you switch any of these things, the song ceases to hold its integrity and its specialty. It’s like a great speech: you need the poignancy, the words themselves and most of all, the speaker. You don’t see people re-enacting great speeches unless it’s for a bad community theatre production of Lincoln! The Musical or during a casting call for voice over work on the History Channel. And a good rap song works like that. Ingredients are precise and perfect and to re-make them gets just some bad cake.
So remake the movies, the pop songs, and remix the rap songs until you’re blue in your D&G sunglassed face, but don’t remake em. Because you lose everything they stand for. If you do, you’re left with a song that doesn’t sound good coming from a car as it speeds by on a New York street. Something no amount of ride pimpin could save.

And I Will Lead You…Not Just Because I Am Spartacus, But Because You Suck June 2, 2007

Posted by doctorolove in Movies, Music, Pop Culture Rants, Sports, TV.
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Just in case you were sleeping or you don’t own the magical cable compass that enables you to find the NBA games playing on your satellite provider (All of which were last seen somewhere between the local cable Access show and the network devoted strictly to macramé), the young phenom LeBron James did something this week that defies description. And no, it’s not hawking soda or shoes wearing a fake beard that looks like it was stolen straight from the 5th grade production of Oklahoma at Jackson Elementary school.

LeBron James SINGLEHANDEDLY won a game. And while I don’t mean it was like Space Jam where Michael Jordan scored every point while Looney Tunes characters did Looney tunes things or that Bugs Bunny cartoon where he beats the Gashouse Gorillas (Fact: That cartoon marked the first appearance of the over used “Ball player screaming I Got It over and over than being hit and ending up dead beneath a tombstone reading “He Got It” which itself was based on an unfortunate 1920’s ballplayer that was later documented in “The Short Life of BatShit Blind Magee: The Musical.) LeBron had other players on the court with him. He was playing a team in Detroit that has been for years trying to bring the snuggly, feel-good reputation of the 1994 Knicks (Make a basket…get a knee to the groin…everyone wins.) But his surrounding players all looked like Mike Myers during the Katrina benefit when Kanye went on about George Bush and his, um, predilection towards a certain race. They couldn’t hit the side of a barn if you lathered the barn in aluminum siding and made the ball look like the Epcot ball and coated it with magnets. The team would put up a nail biter against the Midvale School for the blind or the Special Olympics team from Russia (Though they are in wheelchairs, those Russian kids do have mad ups though).

And none of this is exaggeration. The rest of the Cleveland Cavaliers are that bad. And LeBron’s feat was that amazing. He scored 29 of his team’s last thirty points. For you math nerds, that means he scored 97% of his team’s last 30 points (Don’t be too impressed…I stayed awake in 6th grade algebra just because I had a crush on Meghan Delaney who sat across from me…She had pink braces, carried a My Pet Monster pencil case and consistently smelled like Debbie Gibson’s Electric Youth, the “it” fragrance of mid 80’s middle schoolers.) He was making shots that you’ve only seen Jordan and Bird make in McDonald’s commercial. He put his team on his back, carried them, stopped for a drink, realized they still needed to be carried, grumbled a bit and put them right back on his shoulders.  Just when you thought Detroit would wise up and triple team and force one of the other guys on the court to make a shot, he still sliced through them, often dunking and making a victory face that looked like a combination of an orgasm look and that Aw Shucks look extremely talented people make when they’re trying to be humble.

Surely, though, this has had happened before in team sports. A great player can put his team on his back and will them to victory. Michael Jordan did it so often; it was more news when he had an average night. Joe Namath willed the Jets to a Super Bowl victory despite wearing fur underwear and a leisure suit under his uniform. And Reggie Jackson’s Afro hit two home runs in a World Series game (His Fu Manchu moustache went 2 for 4 with a double and an Intentional walk, though. Always never did live up to its’ facial hair potential.) Sports are the rare case when superhuman ability of one can trump average abilities of several others. Like when Superman went against the entire canon of Kryptonian villains. He won, despite almost being permanently distracted by their amazingly snug leather jumpers borrowed from the set of Xanadu.

But that gets me thinking. There is no possible way this can happen in any other aspect of pop culture. Sports are by definition a black and white entity. You win or you lose. And while some may say pop culture has no competitive nature, tell that to the guy who doesn’t sell well on billboard while a glorified Now That’s What I Call A Mix Tape with his big single on it outsells him by a million albums. So here are the Spartacuses. The quick examples of how one person surrounded by enough talent to fill the cup the doctors makes you pee in during a physical, LeBronned themselves to success.

MUSIC – The Jackson Five

This one is easy. Back when he was still a kid and possessed over 80% of his own physical features, Michael Jackson carried his brothers like Chewy carried the dismantled C-3PO. Think about it. You had cute little powerhouse Michael. Tito. Jermaine. Um, Andrew. Action Jackson? Get the point.

Michael did all the work. His brothers simply looked like they were trying real hard to dance the way chorus members do when Barbra Streisand was in a musical. Pull Focus and somebody will have your nuts on a platter. Can you, quickly, name one song they let anybody else sing lead vocals on? I mean, even when the Beatles let Ringo sing, they made the song so out there, you couldn’t help but laugh at him and shrug the same way you do when you child breaks into the peanut butter and smears it all over your vintage Cheryl Tiegs poster. And they had every major Motown hit for something like ten years. They called it the Jackson Five. Though really the talent level, maybe, was more like the Jackson 2.18 (Rumor has it Tito cooked a mean frittata)

(Special shout out to the early nineties band Bonham. The band was named after the DRUMMER, which is ort of like naming your NASCAR team after the guy who changes the tire. Sure, he’s important and keeps things going, but besides ex-drum majors, who’s there to see the drummer?)

TV – Bosom Buddies

An entry into the realm of 80’s sitcoms when all you needed was a premise so outrageous, it could buy you at least ten episodes. It had everything working against it. Men in drag (There is the long standing corollary that only British men and obscenely tall black men are funny in drag. Short, squat, white American men are creepy.) Donna Dixon (who if not married to the Jabba the Hut that is Dan Aykroyd would be nothing more than the punchline to one of the greatest jokes ever on the Simpsons). And a Billy Joel theme song. Not even sung by Billy Joel.

Yet it’s one joke premise was kept on for almost three seasons. And why? Tom Hanks. The man had talent and even made the writing (a step above Chimps on Typewriters and the most recent Spiderman script) sound witty. He played off Peter Scolari (Who?) and traded barbs with Wendy Jo Sperber (a talent so great they didn’t even bring her back for the second Back to the Future). That’s like succeeding in the 100-meter dash while wearing clown shoes and leg weights. Tom Hanks willed a premise so thin and writing so bad. I think the show even got an Emmy nomination (though that may not be a big deal…think the words Emmy nominee Jm J. Bullock…nuff said there)

MOVIES – The first Pirates of the Caribbean

It was a movie based on a RIDE. Not a book, not a cartoon, not even a comic strip. It was based on a theme park ride. You know, the thing you wait in sweltering heat for 90 minutes for, it lasts for 2 minutes and you walk out going, “Really? That was it.” It was directed by the guy who did The Mexican.  (You screwed up a movie with Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt and Tony Soprano? Seriously, I could direct that using a marionette version of myself that speaks in Farsi and still have a decent film) And the bad guys were skeletons borrowed from a Harryhausen film. Surely, this can’t make any money, let alone garner any viewers. But enter Johnny Depp.

He swaggered. He swished. He made us all gape that he was acting his ass off and in a Disney film no less. People lined up to see him dash across the scene and deliver one-liners. And while the other young leads have gone on to promising careers, back then they were simply “the kid from Lord of the Rings who played the elf” and “Say, you’re sure that’s not Natalie Portman?” Johnny Depp carried that movie so far, they gave him two sequels. They banked millions into him and by the end of the third he was phoning it in. Surely, that makes him the ultimate Spartacus.

So I congratulate LeBron. He has announced his arrival on the scene and I applaud him for it. But don’t rest on your laurels just yet. Because everybody else is resting on theirs and they ain’t got no stinking laurels. Being the loadbearer can be a bitch. Pretty sure Tom Hanks says that to Peter Scolari every day while Peter washes his car and grooms his cat.

Like this show? Then Spin It, Yeah! (Sorry Pixies, That One Was Too Easy!) May 11, 2007

Posted by doctorolove in Pop Culture Rants, TV.
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The spin-off. It’s the child born of gluttony. We gobble a show so much that its’ creators say, “Hey, they love our recipe…let’s see what happens when we put pork in it…” but the pork is usually Tim Daly or John Laroquette. There have, like with any pop culture phenomenon, been hits and misses with the spin-off. For every Jeffersons that moves on up, there’s a Fanellis that sinks faster than the fad of wearing your sunglasses at night. SO they can, so they can keep putting them out, however. Why? Because we are a gluttonous culture. We want more of the things that make us feel good. Heck, companies even use our gluttonous nature as ad slogans. You think “Betcha Can’t Eat Just One?” would fly in any other country but our own? Heck, in other countries, Lays’ slogan is “Betcha can eat one..if you can afford it after making shoes all day for 12 cents an hour which coincidentally is the price of one, so, um, here’s your chip…Yay, Lays.”

Now the spin-off has its’ different genres. There’s the ‘easy’ one where you take a character that America just can’t enough of and give him his or her own stage to shine. Maybe it’s the ensemble character who didn’t quite make the transition to movie stardom (Cough, Ed, Lost in Space, cough.)but America still wants to know, Hey, How’s he doin? It could even be the second banana who lit up every scene they were in and took Emmy’s home by the Hummer load. Now however, the spotlights on them and the second banana for them is even wackier than they were (and usually played by Andy Dick.)

There’s the ‘bit of a stretch’ spin-off. Let’s say you have a great idea for a show but think that on its own, it may not survive. It may get lost among all the other television ideas that resemble almost completely. How do you get it noticed without a meager budget, lesbian love scene or loathing by the spiritual leader/moral politician of recent note? You take an episode of a well-established show and introduce the characters on a very special episode. Maybe the popular sitcom family winds up in a backwoods town and we meet the loving, cantankerous family who runs the local garage. Maybe the two young professionals meet a man in a bar who lives with his psychiatrist mother, war veteran grandfather and a cute, pituitary gland inhibited black child. Not only do you hit the ground running, there’s always the chance of that sweeps week crossover guest star appearance. (This genre is called, in certain circles, the Ridgely/Oates spin-off, though only by bitter Britpop fans and men with cheesy porn moustaches)

The rarest type of spin-off is the ‘Survivor Spin-off’ It’s not about being voted off the island; its’ about those unlucky enough to get off. When a sitcom’s major star decides that the 28-inch box can no longer contain them, they leave. They leave writers with families, actors with drug habits and a key grip that just dreams of someday being a dancer, but his student loans are coming in and this is the ONLY JOB HE CAN GET, MOM! (Sorry, vicariously wrote that for a friend.) So what do you do? You package the show, shake it like a bunch of Yahtzee dice and toss whatever you have left and hope you don’t get garbage. You usually do though. Major bankable stars are like the free space.always there to save you if your concepts try too hard to be five sixes.

The question is this however. What makes some spin-offs into monster hits and others whimper out like a cuckolded husband? Why is Maude everywhere and Joey currently detailing cars at the Pic and Pay on Crenshaw? (Well to Maude’s defense, she was calculating, innovating, exasperating, whole lot of other gerunds…right on Maude!) How can Frasier go on for eight years winning Emmy’s simply by showing up to the ceremony? Is it the writing? Is it the characters? Maybe spin-offs need cute Jack Russell terriers? I don’t have the answers to that. If I did, my mantle would be filled with Emmys and not Precious Moments figurines arranged in suggestive positions. I do however now how to create a bomb. And Grey’s Anatomy recently ran the playbook step by step.

They tried to take one of their main characters and have her drive to another location, meet a whole new bunch of people and deal with their problems as well as her own. And it starred Tim Daly, Taye Diggs and Amy Brenneman, which is like getting every television actor who had one hit show amongst fifty thousand failures and put them all together. It was sort of like Live Aid without a neat little feel good tinge when you’re done watching it. It was as if they tried to cover all the spin-off success bases (The easy spin-off taking a liked character, making a bit of a stretch by having her sudden best friend that we’ve never heard of , and a reverse survivor.) And what’s worse they premiered right in the middle of a pulse pounding story line people actually cared about. What did America think? Probably, Wait, these are not my friends. I don’t care about their problems. Show me the Sex and The City meets ER philandering I love so well. Give me my doctors that all have McMonikers. And please, send Taye Diggs back to Broadway. They can light your candle.

The show will probably make loads of money and give Tim Daly one more chance to be as big as his sister (Fame wise, I mean…unless he eats a house and a small goat, he’ll never catch up). But it will not succeed. Simplicity wins the spin-off race, I believe. But as we continue on, we are all gluttons. We want more, bigger, better. More washed up stars, more plotlines, more tertiary characters. And though it pains me to say it, more Andy. Because as much as we stuff ourselves, when it comes down to it, we all still just love some Dick.

Like My Grandpa Used to Say…I Feel A Draft in Here! April 27, 2007

Posted by doctorolove in Pop Culture Rants, Sports.
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I love metaphors. They’re my crutch, my go-to. When I’m in need of a pithy point or skewed view of our pop culture universe, I embrace them like the last girl at the bar after they’ve given last call (Wow…you see that..using a metaphor to describe my love of metaphors..We’re through the looking glass people…)

On Saturday and Sunday, the 32 teams that comprise the NFL will have their version of a debutante ball, only the women in frilly dresses that look like inverted tulips are replaced with tall, often shapeless large men in designer suits of all colors of the rainbow. It is every teams chance to wipe away the mistakes of last season and give a young lump of clay to chance to mold himself into a future black of iron that they will describe in slow motion with the big booming voice of the NFL Films guy. You can patch up the holes that riddle your team like a 1920’s Mob car post gangland battle with human Bondo. And men will watch it like a real, live event, knowing that even though there will be no score, some man with fabulously coiffed hair will give you grades (which matter about as much as the questions on Press Your Luck.)

Now, many people have used metaphors, AKA my one true love, to discuss the draft. They’ve even used the draft itself to act as a metaphor for other things in life (Mike Golic and his Dandy Doodles spring to mind). Yet I find the draft too big for metaphor. The NBA Draft is two rounds long, meaning you get two choices, maybe three if you can bribe the Grizzlies to trading with you (They’re like the Life Cereal’s Mikey of the NBA…try it..they’ll like it.) Two choices make it all the more important. Even the best marksmen in the world can’t hit the mark perfect with only two shots. But if you give them 12 shots (the number of NFL draft rounds) even they can hit a target. No, the NFL draft is a metaphor amongst itself. One big, lumbering bowl of metaphor. Every pick, every angle, every time they utter the words, “The next team is on the clock.” They even use metaphor to describe each pick. Think about the term “on the clock.” You think ticking time bomb. You think sweaty, overweight movie second banana wondering which wire to cut. And each pick is a wire…you take the flashy wide receiver…blue wire…BOOM, your team implodes like an abandoned warehouse full of cocaine. You take the mammoth defensive end with the soft spoken family and the dad who is a preacher…red wire…wipe the sweat off and bask in the accolades.

Now being that the Draft is one big metaphor, each pick is like a tiny little metaphor amongst  itself. If the whole draft is a big Whitman’s Sampler of Metaphorical goodness, each pick is the chocolate collection. The first pick is the mountaintop. You’re the emperor, with everything in front of you. But do you act benign and choose wisely. Or do you make a mistake and wind up like a French King, head on the chopping block wishing you didn’t suggest the cake. The second pick is the porter at Studio 54. Sure, you may not be the sexy shirtless bartender or the decadently coiffed member of the disco set. Heck, you’re not even the well-endowed coat check girl. You’re second-class, but the perks are yours. You get to rifle through the couches of everything left behind. Sure, you may find a used prophylactic or prick yourself with a needle but there are far more vials of drugs and left over coke ridden wadded up hundreds for you to scrounge up.

The metaphors roll blindly on. The third pick is the socks at Christmas. They’re not flashy and the gifts you really wanted have gone to the other kids. But socks can be amazing. Ask the grunts of Vietnam. Ask the Eskimos in the dead of Alaskan winter. Heck, ask Jim Henson. Pick four…the kid in high school that everybody likes but no one finds attractive. Pick four is who he’s taking to prom. Sure, the hot girls are all going with their quarterback boyfriends and even that somewhat attractive goth girl is going with the soccer jock (It may or may not be because of a wager…still checking on that…). But you can still get somebody to go with you. There’s still plenty of fish in the sea. But who do you take? Do you take the girl who will give you a sure “good after party” or do you take that girl you’ve been secretly composing songs about on the guitar you found in the “cool uncles” basement? Choices..choices. Pick five…well that’s the four cards to a flush. You can bet and scare everyone off or you can bet big and scare everybody. But you might get called…who knows?

Which now brings us to pick six. Pick six is scientifically proven to have no metaphor whatsoever. It is because of this that the team sitting at pick number six is in the luckiest spot in the draft. They probably don’t have that glaring of a list of needs. Picking at six meant your team went, what, 6-10. Two of those tough losses with the mysterious fumble or “jobbing you hard” holding calls go your way and you may be in the playoffs. And the major picks are all gone. You can actually survey the landscape. Plus the odds are that somebody has already reached for somebody who just didn’t deserve to be that high. You can go many ways and the kicker is, you don’t have to pay that all that much. Sure, it’s the NFL and the salary will probably be able to buy most of the town of Green Bay, but in relation to the 70 jillion the high picks are getting.  It’s a win-win. And there’s no metaphor. Though you’re still on the clock. And that bad boy is ticking.

So watch this weekend. Sure, it’s the male version of the Oscars (ooooh, what is Brady Quinn wearing?….I love Calvin Johnson in that suit…) but if anything it provides hope. Just know this…no matter how many names you see this weekend and how many metaphors fall like rain, half the picks will disappear. Half will be arrested. And half of those will wind up starring in a movie with Tia Carrere. So, nothings a sure thing. Except metaphor.

Well, death and taxes too, but that’s what English cases call an idiom. And idioms work better in the MLS draft. They don’t deserve metaphor yet.