Thursday, April 29, 2010

Cavs vs. Celtics, The McBone Preview

The Chicago Bulls proved me wrong by winning a game in the opening playoff series and by playing tougher than I thought they were. They were intense; they made the Cavs sweat a little, but let's face it: they are two or three players shy of being a contender, and for now, this promising team is history.

On to the evil arch nemeses, the Boston Celtics.  The only thing sweeter than exorcising some of the Jordan ghosts would be to eliminate this vile crew of miscreants in rapid fashion.  The Celtics made quick work of the Miami Heat, mainly because the Heat are way worse than I thought.  Oh, and a note for the best player you think LeBron on that team would have gone out in a five-game whimper?  No.

It's hard to imagine a less likable bunch than these Celtics.  Led by the trash talking, floor slapping, elbow swinging, jersey grabbing Kevin Garnett, the Celts are a veritable potpourri of antagonizing personalities.


PG: Mo Williams vs. Rajon Rondo - Rondo is quick, fiery, a good rebounder and a good distributor.  Making matters worse, he seems to play better as the stakes get higher.  As for Mo, aside from his game 5 disappearance against the Bulls, he had a really good first round.  Not that he could stop Derrick Rose's dribble penetration (as if anyone can), but Mo did what we hoped he would do, which is exactly what he didn't do last year in the playoffs: score and facilitate.  Rondo isn't half the shooter that Rose is.  What I want is for Mo to make Rondo take jumpers.  If these PGs are trading jump shots, it's advantage Mo.  Overall though, because defense is so important in the playoffs, I'd have to lean...Advantage: Rondo

SG: Anthony Parker vs. Ray Allen - Ray Allen went off in the first round to the tune of 52% shooting.  That's inexcusable, and it absolutely cannot happen in round two.  To prevent it, Tony Parker has to be in Allen's face at all times.  He can't afford to cheat off like he did against Kirk Hinrich.  Allen still has a lightning quick release, so the Cavs' have to close out on him like they mean it.  If he is feeling pressure, Allen will shoot 33% like he did against the Cavs two years ago.  If he duplicates that performance, the Celtics are toast.  I don't expect much offense from AP.  If he can make a few corner threes, count him as a positive.  If Allen starts heating up, Delonte West and/or Jamario Moon will be asked to put an end to it.  Advantage: Allen

SF: LeBron James vs. Paul Pierce - Merely the third most infuriating player on his team, Pierce made me a believer two years ago, when he carried the Celtics to a second round victory over the Cavs.  I'm not saying Pierce has lost anything since then; it's just that LeBron has gotten so much better.  This time around, Pierce gets eviscerated.  Oh he will score his 20+ points, and of course have a patented "career ending injury" or two.  LeBron must make him work for his numbers.

Expect the Celtics unite as a team in taking shots at LeBron's aching elbow.  Advantage: LeBron

PF: Antawn Jamison vs. Kevin Garnett - Here is one pairing that really intrigues me.  Two years ago, Garnett has the advantage, but KG has aged a LOT since his title run.  Jamison is the same age, but at this point is way quicker.  Garnett will pull every dirty trick he knows, but I don't think he can handle this matchup.  He can't let Jamison shoot, and he doesn't have the speed to stop Antawn's dribble penetration. Garnett played decent against the Bobcats, so maybe I'm wrong about how much gas is left.  I don't think so, though. The Cavs need to exploit this pairing.  Advantage: Jamison

C: Shaquille O'Neal vs. Kendrick Perkins - Shaq was finally rounding into game shape in game 5.  He's going to have a knock 'em down battle with Perkins, one of the few players with size, if not the skill, to at least body Shaq up.  The fouls will be flying.  Shaq needs to keep Perkins off the boards.  Advantage: Shaq

Bench: Anderson Varejao, Delonte West, Jamario Moon, Zydrunas Ilgauskas vs. Rasheed Wallace, Tony Allen, Glen Davis, Michael Finley - This isn't close.  Rasheed is playing like the bloated, lazy slob that he is.  He brings his 4 and 2 from round one and will have to bang with Anderson Varejao.  Yikes!  Tony Allen is a decent guard off the bench.  Delonte West should roast him alive.  Same goes for Finley, a once-excellent wing who left his explosiveness somewhere back in 2002.  Jamario Moon is playing the best ball of his life, which is why Boobie Gibson remains firmly planted on the bench.  Glen Davis is a large body who will try to hurt someone.  He'll make some annoyingly big plays somewhere along the line and get all pumped up about it.  The Celts need him to spell Garnett's gimpy knees, but ultimately he's not very good, nor is the Boston bench collectively.  The Celtic starters log big, big minutes for a reason.  Advantage: Cavs

Coach: Mike Brown vs. Doc Rivers: A few years ago, I thought people were too hard on Rivers, who was trying to coach hopelessly bad teams.  He proved his worth by coaching an excellent team to a title.  Mike Brown once coached a mediocre team to the finals.  He seems to have trouble motivating his team at times, but I think that will cease to be an issue now that the inferior opponents are gone and the Cavs have a shot to avenge that 2007 loss.  Slowly, Brown's offense is catching up with his defense.  If both are clicking, the Cavs win.  Advantage: Brown

Prediction: Cavs 4-1.  This will be an intense series with several close games.  The Celtics have one decided advantage in that they are willing to get way nastier than the Cavs.  That's why I'd like to see big Z, one of the few Cavs with an occasional chip on his shoulder, get some run.  I wouldn't be at all surprised if this were a six game series, but ultimately, the Celtics are too old, too slow and too tainted by Rasheed to survive.

Most Hated Celtics

5. Davis - Way to yank on Shaq's thumb after you injured it.

4. Rondo - Like a mosquito in the bedroom at 3 AM.

3. Pierce - Will have to be carted off on a stretcher at one point, only to return 3 minutes later.

2. Wallace - Even as a nonentity, he is loathesome.

1. Garnett - Simply the dirtiest player on the dirtiest team in the league.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

agnès films; My Wife's Quest to Conquer the Universe Continues

Agnès Varda is a French filmmaker who has directed almost 50 films.  Heard of her?  Neither had I, and that's exactly the point of the recently launched agnès films, the latest web endeavor of my wife, who, aside from being in the middle of earning a PhD, filming her second documentary and keeping busy in the editorial offices of McBone, is making a lot of headway in her quest to conquer the universe.  She also eats healthy and does yoga every day.  

Created in conjunction with her partner, Caitlan, whose recipe for oven bacon has been a personal source of inspiration, agnès films is part of a master plan.  Did you know that less than ten percent of mainstream film directors are female?  It's true!  And I'll bet you weren't aware that women account for only two percent of cinematographers for large budget films.  Outraged by this overwhelming gender disparity, Alex has set out to level the playing field.  Not merely a tribute to one of the great and enduring (and largely unknown) cinematic figures of the last 50 years, agnès films is a place where female filmmakers can find a community of support.  Need technical advice for your latest short film project?  agnès films is here for you.  Having trouble writing that grant?  agnès films can help.  Looking to find a great woman-made documentary?  Look no further than agnès films.

Seriously though, agnès films isn't just about women in the movies.  It has been firmly established by right minded people that inequality based on gender, race, creed, religion and sexual orientation sucks, yet recent developments around the country remind us that we still have a ways to go.  Later this year I will be attempting to impregnate my wife for the first time. We hope that our children grow up in a world where their genders have no bearing on their opportunities.  Alex and Cait welcome all of you, male, female and transgender alike to visit and join agnès films.  If you happen to be a filmmaker, you'll find an ever growing wealth of practical information.  If not, agnès films is a great community for anyone with a dual interest in film and equality. 



12 GAMES TO GO.  One series in the books.

Thank you Cleveland for dismantling Chicago and sending them packing like they did to us so many times in the 90's. 

Sat on the floor again, unbelievable, and god damn do I love the playoffs!


Monday, April 26, 2010


13 TO GO.

I wasn't sure where to sit when I went to the game on Saturday, so I just decided to pick a random place.  See if you can find me.

Also...Is this a good view of the game?


I actually want to give a shout out to Chicago as well.  I haven't been there in about four years but now clearly remember why I loved it so much last time.  I spend a lot of time talking about Cleveland.  Yes, I'm biased, but Cleveland is awesome.  That being said I like to give credit where credit is due.  Chicago is an unbelievable city.  It is crazy expensive but the food is great, the city is clean and the usage of the lakefront is phenomenal.  We only got flicked off one time for wearing Cavs gear, so that was actually pretty impressive.  Chicago is definitely the second best city in the midwest.  Maybe my second favorite city period.  It's almost unfortunate that the Bulls are done so there won't be any trip for Game 6.  Almost.  But not really.


McBone Mini-Reviews; the McBone Week in Movies

More Than a Game - McBone loves basketball, and as Akronites, we naturally follow the exploits of fellow Akron native LeBron James with particular interest.  That said, the excellent documentary, More Than a Game, is not about LeBron James.  Nor is it about basketball.  MTaG guides us through the public school careers of 5 friends, one of whom happens to be the greatest basketball player on the planet.

From their beginning as a small time traveling team to their blossoming into a national powerhouse at St Vincent St Mary High School, we learn about what happens when people are loyal to each other.  Trust, commitment, friendship and a wise mentor--that's what guides these young men, who grew up underprivileged and poor, as they seek the coveted high school national championship.  The journey to the end is an arduous one, and they are often dogged by their own human failings, which the filmmakers skillfully capture.  Are you puking yet?  I know I paint a saccharine picture, but I promise you won't puke when you watch this.  Official McBone Rating: 4.0 McBones

Kick-Ass - A seventeen year-old with a hero complex dons a costume, christens himself Kick-Ass, fights crime and more or less gets his ass handed to him.  Along the way he meets a father-daughter team of real superheroes who actually do kick ass.  Together, they take on New York crime boss, his gang of thugs and his wimpy son, who is played by McLovin.

How can a movie that is so very wrong feel so right?  I'm sure that 10 years from now we'll look back and remark how tame it is, but for now Kick-Ass straddles the line of what's acceptable for a child actor and what is not. I won't go so far as to call it controversial, but I admit to being taken aback just a little to hear an 11-year-old girl say the word c--t.

Anyway, what Kick-Ass does is take a big bowl, stirs in lot of Spider-man, some Batman, a heavy dose of Tarantino, some first-person gaming action and bakes it up in a big, demented souffle of awesome.  The special ingredient is Hit-Girl, the pre-teen in question as played with cussing, killing, bloodthirsty glee by Chloe Grace Moretz.  Moretz doens't just steal the show; she single handedly makes the movie relevant.  Bonus feature: Nic Cage, so prone to sucking, doesn't suck as Hit-Girl's dad. Refreshing!  4.0 McBones


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Hi Michael English!

The purpose of this post is simply to accomplish nothing more and nothing less than saying 'hi' to Michael English.  Michael, if you're out there anywhere in the McBoniverse, please receive this salutation as a simple and heartfelt gesture of goodwill.  I believe I speak for all of the McBoners when I say: Hi, Michael English.  Hi, hello and hope you're well.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Hey, 20-Year-Old Dudes, Would You Please Quit Rear-Ending Me? Thanks!

Hey, 20-year-old dudes from the greater Lafayette, Indiana area, would you please quit rear ending me when I'm stopped at a traffic light?  That would be super!

Not that my rear bumper wasn't already all jacked up.  Alex's little collision with our cement-anchored mailbox already took care of that a few months back.  Honestly, I really don't care about the bumper; it's just that getting rear-ended sucks, and tonight was the second time in two months that a 20-year-old Lafayette kid slammed into the McBonemobile.  She can't take much more of this, dudes, and you know what?  Neither can I.  See, I have this thing about getting killed in a traffic accident...I don't want to be.  Nor do I have any desire to be crippled, maimed or mutilated because of your apparent inability to apply the brakes at the appropriate time.  Tip: if you see a car waiting at a red light in front of you, it makes sense to stop before a collision happens, not because a collision happens.  That's just good driving etiquette, and you'll live longer too.  Don't try to give me any crap about not having seen me, either.  I know for a fact that the McBonemobile's cloaking device was switched off.

Listen, I know that text you were reading when you rear-ended me was really important.  Probably someone was letting you know that your father's quadruple bypass went well and that he's expected to pull through.  Or maybe you were in the middle of breaking up with your girlfriend/boyfriend.  I don't know and frankly that's none of my business.  All I know is that it would be appreciated by your fellow drivers and my aching neck if all you Lafayette driving dudes could maybe pull over the next time you have to use your portable device in the car.

just sayin...




Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Monday, April 19, 2010

Constant Disappointment to Myself

Wanna be:


Wanna be:


Wanna Be:


Wanna be:


 Wanna be:


Wanna be:




15 TO GO.....



McBone Mini-Reviews; the McBone Week in Movies

How to Train Your Dragon - When you live in West Lafayette, IN, you don't get real excited about what comes to the multiplex each week.  You know you'll get a steady diet of Owen Wilson dog movies and anything Nicholas Sparks that comes around the bend.  Curiosly, Brendan Fraser, who is to me what Julianne Moore is to others, continues to show up every couple of months.  One merciful refuge?  Animation.  Coraline, Up, and The Fantastic Mr. Fox were some of the better movies of last year.  This year, How to Train Your Dragon is an early favorite.

The story is fairly standard.  Wimpy kid overcomes his own haplessness to do great things.  We've seen this before, but an old story done right can be told and retold a thousand times.  In this case we have young Hiccup the Viking, who is excluded from dragon slaying activities by the dragon slaying community at large.  Hiccup, undaunted, sets out to prove them wrong.  Along the way, he befriends the enemy, and discovers that once you make an effort to actually understand your rival, finding peaceful solutions is much more palatable than killing.  Naturally, there is also a woman at stake, which is ok, because women are awesome.

I don't have much else to say other than the animation is great, the characters are endearing, and you will be pining for a dragon of your own by the time the movie is done.  Also, when a two-hour movie feels like five minutes have gone by, you know you have a winner.  See this.

Official McBone Rating: 4.5 McBones

Made in L.A. - Having a documentary filmmaker for a wife affords me ample opportunity to watch films I would never otherwise see.  Made in L.A., directed by Almudena Carracedo, chronicles a small, courageous group of L.A. garment factory workers and their battle to earn fair pay (they make about 3 dollars an hour) and work humane hours (they endure 12 hour shifts, and are forced to take work home with them).  Their opponent?  Forever 21, the retail clothing chain that sells the garments in question.

Now, this situation presents many problems (and here is where I get political once again, McBoners).  Obviously I'm on the side of the workers, who are, at least in this film, female and Latina, but really I don't care if they are female, male, transgender, Latina, black, white, American, Mexican or Martian.  If you work in this country, you need to get paid at least minimum wage.  Period.  If you can't pay it, you need to stop employing people. Forever 21 pleads ignorance, saying it's not the company's problem, but their contractors'.  I say, Forever 21 is made up of a pack of liars.  So do the women, whose lawsuit has them in limbo for 3 years.  Throughout, Carracedo gives a balanced perspective; we see the women at their strongest and when their resolve falters.  A lesser filmmaker would have let bias get in the way of revealing the human side of these women, who just want to work, not picket.

I can't delve into the mind of a president of a company with this kind of business model, which seems to be: sell affordable, fashionable clothing and pay rock bottom wages.  I certainly understand the lure of making large profits, and of wealth, but I always wonder how an executive can fall asleep at night knowing that his or her satin sheets came at the sacrifice of someone else's ability to feed their family.

The easy thing is to wish for the women to win their lawsuit, but then in the back of our minds we all know what happens when American corporations are forced to make concessions to their drones.  Yep, they move to places where they can pay less than three dollars an hour.

I don't know the answer to this problem, and the film doesn't presume to either.  What I do know is that it is possible to run a business the right way.  It has to be.  Otherwise, capitalism is a farce.  The filmmakers gave Forever 21 the chance to tell their side of the story.  They declined, and they come out that much worse for it.  Credit Carracedo for not only exposing illegal labor practices that continue in this country, but for covering all her bases in doing so.  4.5 McBones


Friday, April 16, 2010

Because I Can

This picture, taken by some genius of the lens, combines three of life's great pleasures: pie, coffee and singer-songwriter Chan Marshall, who appears poised to devour the whole pie herself.

Individually, these elements more than hold their own.  Combine them and you have an exponential increase in awesome.


Cavaliers vs. Bulls, the McBone Preview

With the Cavs having locked up the best record in the NBA about an eon ago, and having subjected fans to an interminable 4-game losing streak to close out the regular season, it's time to start playing the games that count, please.

I was preparing for the Cavs to meet the Raptors in round one, but a season-ending injury to Chris Bosh and a late surge by the Bulls have brought us to this point.  So be it.  The Cavs, after almost two decades, get a chance to exact some measure of revenge against the Bulls for all the pain and suffering the Jordan Era inflicted on the Cleveland faithful.  My how times have changed.

Lets jump to matchups!

PG: Mo Williams vs. Derrick Rose - Rose basically willed the Bulls into the playoffs with his 28-7-4 in the final five games, impressive considering his team was dead in the water about three weeks ago.  He is a hell of a player, though not quite an elite player...yet.  His shooting is suspect, but he's become an adept scorer who can blow past rival guards and either score in the paint or find the open man.  His counterpart, Mo Williams has not been the consistent scorer he was last season, but he is still a deadly jumpshooter who needs just an eyelash of space to get his shot off.  What he's done much better this year is run the offense.  When Mo is penetrating and setting his teammates up, the Cavs score, and in a variety of ways.  Here's hoping he's shed the jitters that plagued him all last postseason, and that he gets to the line, where he doesn't miss, with some regularity.  Advantage: Rose

SG: Anthony Parker vs. Kirk Hinrich - I've always liked Hinrich, but he's not a trustworthy player.  He'll always play hard, and he'll give you some nice shooting games, but he's also liable to toss in a 2-8 stinker.  Even so, he plays gritty if not great defense and adds another reliable ballhandler to spell Rose.  The Cavs counter with Anthony Parker, who comes as advertised: long defender who plays smart help defense.  He's a good shooter off screens and spotting up and he can handle the ball when needed.  Downsides are that he tends to camp out on the sidelines a bit too much and he doesn't finish real well or go real hard at the hoop.  Advantage: Hinrich

SF: LeBron James vs. Luol Deng - Deng is a nice player, a decent scorer who can put up big numbers when he's on.  His rebounding is above average.  Has been a fixture on many mediocre Bulls teams that have gone nowhere.  In facing LeBron James, all he is being asked to do is contain the best player in the universe.  That's not happening, not now, not ever.  The Bulls can't guard him and can't afford to double him.  Advantage: LBJ!

PF: Antawn Jamison vs. Taj Gibson - Another huge mismatch in the Cavs favor.  Rookie Gibson, competant in the frontcourt, now enters his first playoff series with the uneviable task of guarding Antawn Jamison.  Jamison has blended seamlessly into the Cavs' offense to the tune of 16 and 8.  He remains as impossible to guard as ever with his arsenal of drives, flips, floaters, half hooks and jumpers.  He's also a terrific rebounder in traffic and has been an absolute bitch to handle in the postseason (as the Cavs well know).  Gibson simply does not have the skill set or experience.  Advantage: Jamison

C: Shaquille O'Neal vs. Joaquim Noah - Yikes!  Noah is a hell of a power forward.  At center he gives up 100 pounds to Shaq.  Expect the Bulls to use a lot of fouls when dealing with O'Neal, and expect them to try to get him into early foul trouble.  Noah is way quicker, of course, and he's blossomed into a really nice starter.  He's all hustle and emotion, but it won't help him.  The Bulls have to double on Shaq, who will have a small army of shooters waiting for him to kick out.  Diesel is not in game shape after missing 6 weeks, but he has shed 20 pound, according to all who have seen him.  Expect a bloodbath.  Advantage: Shaq

Bench: Anderson Varejao, J.J. Hickson, Zydrunas Ilguaskas, Delonte West, Jamario Moon, Leon Powe, Jawad Williams, Daniel Gibson vs. Brad Miller, Jannero Pargo, Hakim Warrick, Ronald Murray, James Johnson - Another nightmare for the Bulls.  My greatest hope is that Brad Miller does not cripple a Cavalier at some point in the series.  He will certainly use all 6 of his fouls in dealing with the Cavs' size.  Jannero Pargo is a disappointment after some good moments as Chris Paul's backup in New Orleans.  Warrick is an undersized and substandard big man, and Ronald Murray is as likely to shoot the Bulls out of a game as he is to provide some much needed bench scoring.  The Bulls backup squad is possibly the weakest this side of Boston.  The Cavs' bench, by contrast, features many players who can be and have been starters in their careers.  Varejao remains, in my opinion, our second best player.  He plays the best defense on the team known for defense and rarely shoots unless taking a high percentage shot.  Hickson has matured enough and brings so much energy that Mike Brown will be forced to play him.  Big Z has regained much of his touch after a monthlong layoff and West is probably the best guard on the team in terms of all around play.  Moon, Powe, Williams and Gibson will only see spot action, but can help in situations.  Advantage: Cavs, Cavs, Cavs

Coach: Mike Brown vs. Vinnie Del Negro - I give Vinnie credit: he got a fairly ragtag bunch into the show.  He's got to really pull something out of his hat to make this a competitive series, though. Mike Brown, who has double the talent to work with, has become a fine, fine coach on both sides of the ball.  Advantage: Brown

Prediction: Cavs win 4-0.  I will be shocked if the Bulls steal a game.  Forget the 2-2 regular season mark.  Take LeBron out of the equation and the Cavs still win this series 4-2.  The Bulls simply do not have enough scoring beat the Cavs' suffocating defense, enough size to deal with a wealth of Cavalier bigs, nor do they have a defense that can stop one of the most proficient offensive teams in the league.  Some say the Cavs will be rusty with all the rest and the time that Shaq has missed.  Whatever.  Cavs sweep.

Around the League

Milwaukee vs. Atlanta: Hawks win 4-1.  A tossup with Bogut playing.  Alas.

Miami vs. Boston: Celtics win 4-3.  Wade is by far the best player on the floor.  The Celtics may well lose this series, but probably won't.

Charlotte vs. Orlando: Magic win 4-2.  Expect some very physical games, though, and watch Vince get exposed.  Again.

Utah vs. Denver: Nuggets win 4-3???  I have no idea what happens in this series.

OKC vs. LA: Lakers win 4-0.  Welcome to the NBA, Durant.

SA vs. Dallas: Spurs win 4-3.  Could go either way, but Ginobili puts the Spurs on top.

Portland vs. Phoenix: Suns win 4-0.  With Roy out, the Blazers are done.


Monday, April 12, 2010

The Art of the Vine

As you may remember, I planted a Concord grapevine last August.  Notice the difference between then...

...and now, after overwintering and extensive pruning:

Leaves!  Maybe it doesn't look so hot by comparison, but after I whittled the poor sucker down to almost nothing, it's budding like crazy.  Not only does this specimen of Vitis labrusca represent the first thing I've ever planted that didn't immediately turn black and die, it actually appears to be--dare I say it?--thriving.  My once depleted confidence as a gardener is renewed, and this vigorous and healthy growth gives me a newfound faith that I can have similar success raising a child.

The goal is to have grapes before we move out of West Lafayette, or roughly three years from now.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

McBone Mini-Reviews; the McBone Week in Movies

This week I revisited a couple of films via Netflix Streaming, which is officially more addictive than cocaine, heroin and pornography combined.

Mulholland Drive - I first watched David Lynch's 'mystery-thriller' in the theater when I was living in New York.  When you live in New York, you go to David Lynch movies.  When you live in West Lafayette Indiana, you get Paul Blart.  Well, I admit Mr. Lynch left me scratching my head that day.  He set up a mystery and left me hanging in a worldful of weird.  In the middle was a gratuitous lesbian scene which stuck to the annoying movie habit of portraying lesbian sex as a male fantasy of kissing and breast fondling.  Maybe us straight dudes like to imagine that's what it's all about, but I'm pretty sure it ain't.

Ostensibly, Mulholland Drive treats of an aspiring young actress, Betty (Naomi Watts), helping a mysterious amnesiac, 'Rita' (Laura Elena Harring) find her true identity.  In Rita's possession is a blue key.  What does it open?  That's what we're waiting to find out.  In the meantime, a young director's film is commandeered by mafia types who demand he cast the actress of their choice in his new film.  What does this apparently tangential storyline have to do with anything?  I'm not sure.

Anyway, the sex scene is still pretty annoying, but I've come to terms with it; I've come to terms with everything that bothered me before. After all, Lynch is simultaneously mocking and paying homage to an institution, Hollywood, that is both sinister (watch the menacing midnight Cowboy give instructions to the director), addicted to cliche (sex scene) and full of wonder (in a nod to the art of acting, see an auditioning Betty morph from a naive wannabe to a piping hot seductress).  As for the story, I say: what story?  I can't be frustrated by Lynch not wrapping it all up in nice little package, because, well, that's the point, isn't it?  Once a blue box is found that matches the key, the whole narrative is thrown, Pandora like, into chaos.

The delight of Mulholland Drive is watching scenes that have only an oblique relationship to each other.  Nearly every character has a double role, from our heroines to the director to the scariest pair of geriatrics you'll ever encounter.  We want it all to fit, and it drives us crazy when it doesn't.  I give Lynch a lot of credit for upending things.  Official McBone Rating: 4.5 McBones

The Sixth Sense - I have a guilty confession.  I like M. Night Shyamalan movies.  Except for that pretty goddam awful The Happening, and Lady in the Water, which I didn't see, I've at least enjoyed most of his works.  I do believe that by insisting on a twist ending in every single film he has painted himself in a corner and created a sort diminishing returns situation for himself, but, in a world of endless remakes and sequels and prequels, I have real respect for a guy who writes and directs his own material.

Now, talk about diametric opposites.  As much as Mulholland Drive refuses to play by the rules, the Sixth Sense comes together all nice and tidy for us in the end.  That's not a criticism, just a note on style.

So we've all seen this one, right?  We all know what it's about.  A disturbed kid sees dead people.  Bruce Willis, child psychologist, wants to help him, but how?  How does he succeed where he failed in similar cases in the past?  Well, Bruce, how do you ever solve any problem in any movie where a kid plays a huge role?  Duh!  You believe the kid!  That's a pretty strict rule of film.  Movie kids are way, way wiser than movie adults, who have roughly 2 hours to figure that out.

Anyhow, the movie is well made.  There are holes, but they've already been exposed ad nauseum, and I don't think they take away from the film in the least.  What I want to talk about is how goddam good Toni Collette is in her role as the kid's mom.  She's not just good; she basically up and steals the whole thing.  Bruce Willis, playing the shrink in question, is who he is; he gets the job done.  His wife, Olivia Williams, is stuck wrestling with an American accent.  Usually kid actors are insufferable, but Haley Joel Osment does competent work.  Then there's Toni Collette.  Forget for a second the ghosts and the riddles. If anyone has ever played a single mom better than she does here, I haven't seen it.  Now, let me tell you what: nothing is worse than when a script calls for an actor to talk in their sleep.  It's unfailingly awful and should be banned forever as a narrative device.  Toni Collette is asked to do so, and somehow manages to not embarrass herself.  In her best scene, a scene that sets her up to either fail crashingly or excel, she gets to break down crying when she learns that her son has been talking to her dead grandmother.  She nails it.  Perfecto!  4.0 McBones


Friday, April 9, 2010

The Biggest Loser

Health and wellness is an extremely important part of my life.  Eating the right foods and exercising have such an enormous impact on quality of life, not only for you, but for so many other people around you.

Unfortunately in our country we are faced with one of the highest obesity rates in the entire world.  Our culture, eating habits, life styles and personal choices have put so many people in our country at risk.  Health care has been affected because of the growing number of health issues due to obesity, more specifically diabetes, especially in young adults.  It has to be changed.  It has to be changed now.

I don't like TV Shows.  Reality TV, especially, is the absolute worst.  That being said, I must say that because of Ms. Lauren Fairchild's addiction to a countless number of sitcoms and reality shows, I started watching the Biggest Loser.  Now I'm fully aware at the end of the day it is still reality TV, still people trying to make money at the expense of others, and there are definitely some things that bother me.  But I think the producers of this show have their hearts in the right place, for the most part.  They are helping people lose weight and change the decisions they make.  As dramatic as it sounds, they are probably saving the lives of many people that come on that show or participated from home.  Some of them who were inevitable going to eat themselves to death.

So the real reason for this post is a person that I met two years ago.  Tammy Kaylor. She is actually a customer of mine, she has season tickets with the Lake Erie Monsters, but now most certainly a friend.  So I'll just lay it out.  She is 500 lbs.  She can't fit into any of the seats that we have at Quicken Loans Arena.  She has to sit on our handicap platforms.  Yes, that is the least of her worries considering all of the health issues that she is experiencing.  Regardless, it is what got me involved in this.  Over the last few months I've been talking with Tammy about the changes she wanted to make and all of the reasons she was going to begin trying to get healthy.  We discuss how much she loves our teams but is not able to sit in the seats she really wants to sit in.  She drives in over an hour to be here but is forced to sit on our handicap folding chairs.  We briefly mentioned the Biggest Loser, but I offered her my own challenge.  I told her I would buy her an extra season ticket if she was to hit her goal weight by the beginning of our next season, (her other goal was to be able to fit into any seat in our arena). Then we discussed that she should really try out for the Biggest Loser show. There was no reason she shouldn't.  She was the perfect candidate.  I know others in her life were encouraging her as well.

So she did, and now she is actually down a pretty far path in the selection process.  She has created a video that will play a role in the selection process.  Part of it was actually shot at the arena and I make a short cameo.  I am extremely excited about this for Tammy.  She has an enormous heart, loves her sports teams and always has a smile on her face.  Tammy is an absolute fanatic for the Cavaliers and the Monsters.  So please take a minute to watch her video and then give it a "thumbs up" rating.  Every hit helps.

Tammy needs this more than any person that I know.  She is a very gifted person and a phenomenal human being, unfortunately with extremely severe health and weight issues.  She needs to get healthy.  I think this show is the perfect place to change her life.

Please pass along to anyone you think would appreciate this.



Welcome to Falling Rock National Park, Book Four!

Gentle McBoners,

Today is a good day.  Why?  Because today I'm writing to tell you about the release of See America First, the fourth collection of my buddy Josh's comic--the official comic strip of McBone--Welcome to Falling Rock National Park.

Many of you are already familiar with the veritable (desert) garden of delights that is WtFRNP.  For avid readers, Falling Rock is your first destination every morning, an oasis of hilarity before the unbearable, soul-destroying reality of the workday sets in.  Others prefer to wind down the day with a Beefeater martini and a few panels of Falling Rock--a wonderfully potent combo that will make you forget your cubicle, the boss, the fax machine and the fact that the same, suffocating cloak of darkness will fall again tomorrow.  And next week.  And for the rest of your life.

Other lucky bastards have yet to experience the adventures of a giant, happy-go-lucky lizard, an owl with delusions of world domination, a chain-smoking, retired school teacher javelina and a languid yet ferocious mountain lion with artistic sensibilities. 

Sound good?  It is!  Sound too good to be true?  It's not!  And now is the perfect time for you to become (re)acquainted with the park, either by reading the strip every single day, or by purchasing your very own copy of Book 4!  The best thing about the second option is that Book 4 is printed with soy based ink and on recycled chipboard.  That's right, Falling Rock is completely guilt free!  Buy a copy. Hell, buy 10.  Supplies are limited, so act fast.  Trust me, McBoners.  Would I lead you astray?

By the way, Josh is also a writer of the highest order, and you can follow the peregrinations of his mind in blog form right here!


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Poet/Recluse M. Patrick Foliglio Celebrates the Birth of his 30th Child

Today the Poet/Recluse M. Patrick Foliglio and wife Heather celebrate the birth of their 30th child, a whopping 9 pound, 2 ounce, bouncing baby boy Jackson Thomas.  Though his genetic makeup will reveal itself by degrees as the years pass, it is immediately apparent that yet another Foliglio child has escaped the ever-looming 'ass-ugly gene' they feared would be passed down by the paternal grandfather.

Official Baby Stats (McBone Certified):

Weight: 9'2"
Length: 20" 

A veritable breeding factory, the family has been likened by some to aquatic snails for their seeming ability to procreate exponentially, and at will.  Young (Captain?) Jack joins brothers Matthew, Cameron and a host of siblings whose names he will spend the rest of his life trying to remember.

A hearty McBonulations to the entire Foliglio family.  To commemorate this joyous occasion, we here present a poem, one of the lesser and more baffling masterpieces from Foliglios' immortal text, The Diz-aster Book of Poems:

Lightin up the night

Lightin up the night
with a night liht now
your night can be Lighten
up by a night Light
Light up the night
with a night Light.


Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Sunday: Ham, Potatoes and Big, Horny Birds

As an atheist, I have little practical use for Easter.  Same goes for my Buddhist wife.  For us, Easter is just an excuse to bake a big-ass ham and some scalloped potatoes.  That was the plan.  I had selected a nice bottle of Cabernet* to open, but, aside from the menu du jour, it was a standard Sunday at McBone Outpost #1211.

Part of the Sunday routine is taking a walk in the woods after breakfast.  The weather was perfect today--75 degrees and sunny.  I grabbed the binoculars and we were out the door.  With luck, the birding would be good.

It wasn't.  Until the last leg of our 45 minute ramble, we hadn't spotted jack shit.  We had almost reached the street when, suddenly, a blood curdling squawk snapped our heads to a tall tree.  A tangle of gray and brown feathers, beaks and razor sharp talons had me reaching for the binoculars.  Perched high, two birds screwed as if their lives depended on it.  The squawk, it turns out, was in fact a primal cry of supreme pleasure.  Coitus had been achieved.  The birds separated and at last I was able to identify them.  Merlins.  Awesome.

For those of you unacquanted with the bird, a merlin is a small falcon.  While I would not say it's uncommon to see one, seeing two in one tree is fairly unusual.  I'm no expert, but I have to think that this kind bawdy display is a rare treat indeed.  Already the single coolest birdwatching experience of my life, it turns out things were just getting started.

With bodily fluids satisfactorily exchanged, Mr. and Mrs. Merlin retreated to their own branches.  The male, stoic and gray, looked out upon the wooded expanse.  The female proceeded to groom herself.  At least I thought she was grooming herself.  A closer inspection revealed a furry mass in the clutches of her left foot.  With ravenous hunger she tore the flesh from the carcass of a small rodent.  Apparently, all that avian amor works up a mighty hunger; she did not seem one bit inclined to share.  All told, it was the greatest display of carnality I've ever had the pleasure of witnessing.

An Easter miracle?  I prefer to think of it as nature at its best.


*The 2005 Franciscan is killer!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The McBone Week In Movies

This is my first attempt at what I hope will be a weekly feature.  We'll see how it goes.

Kind Hearts and Coronets - Possibly the wittiest screenplay ever written, and in my opinion the greatest of the Ealing Studios comedies.  The protagonist, Louis D'Ascoyne Mancini, played with exquisite snobbery by Dennis Price, resolves to murder the eight members of his family who stand between himself and a dukedom.  Hilarity ensues.  Watch with morbid fascination as he systematically targets eight incarnations of Alec Guinness, who single handedly portrays the D'Ascoyne family. Also noteworthy is Price's love interest, played by the irresistable Joan Greenwood, whose seductive voice can turn the word "no" into an eight syllable melody.  Official McBone Rating: 5.0 McBones

Clash of the Titans (2010) - One of my favorite childhood films was the 1980 version of Clash, so naturally, I was anticipating (and cringing at) this remake.  No, it does not measure up.  Luckily, it is just awesome enough that I was not disappointed.  After all, how can you mess up a battle with giant scorpions?  Sam Worthington as Perseus plays a sort of standard-issue hero.  Where the movie comes into its own is in his relationship with his lifelong guide and burgeoning romantic interest, Io (which also happens to be one of the coolest moons in our galaxy).  Io is played with radiant grace by Gemma Arterson, who is seriously, but seriously beautiful.  Also excellent is Pete Posthelwaite as Perseus' father.  As for The Gods!, it's Liam Neeson and Ralph Feinnes as Zeus and Hades, respectively.  Watch with joy as they ham it up, much like Laurence Olivier and Maggie Smith did 30 years ago.  Complaints?  It needs more of the gods and goddesses, which was a strength of the original.  3.0 McBones (No, I am not ashamed of this rating).  Do not see this movie in fake 3D!

Brokeback Mountain.  I love this movie.  Always have, and because gay marriage is a core issue for McBone, BBM really hits home.  I wish there were more movies about people whose stories don't get told because they are marginalized for one reason or another.  Gay men are marginalized for a lot of stupid reasons, and that's what this movie is about: two men in love who are forced to construct fake lives for themselves because society is too blockheaded to accept them.

It was denounced by assholes as homosexual propaganda, but such outcry does make me wonder: would this film lose its resonance if not for the current of homophobia running through our society?  The answer is a thumping NO.  Ang Lee is a great filmmaker, and he made a great movie out of Annie Proulx's great short story (find it! read it!).  If ever I've seen a legitimate love story, this is it.  The acting is uniformly solid, with Heath Ledger securing a place in history for his work as Ennis del Mar.  Highly underrated is Michelle Williams, who is mesmerizing as his discarded wife, Alma.  Sadly, BBM loses half a point for having the absolute worst glued-on sideburns I've ever seen in a movie.  Seriously, watching those sideburns try to stay attached is distracting when the rest of the film that strives with such success to be authentic: 4.5 McBones


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Obama Lurks in Shadows

Today Alex was on a panel at school discussing various issues, the topic of which have little bearing on this post.

What's important is that at one point Alex noticed that a few kids in the back row of the auditorium were distracted.  When discussing the panel afterwards, an instructor (an African American woman), explained that these students were like this for every panel session, and that last week, determined to know the source of their distraction, she discovered they had a laptop, which they quickly attempted to conceal.  When she pressed them about what they were looking at, they confessed: it was an online gun retailer.  They wanted to buy guns, it seems, because they needed to protect themselves.  From what? the instructor asked.  From Obama, they answered.

Smart move, because after a grueling day in the Oval Office, there's nothing Obama enjoys more than creeping into dormitories to feast on slumbering undergrads.  With a belly distended with pulpy, masticated college republicans, the president gallops back to Washington and purges his load into a trough (and stirs in two cups of frozen corn) so that his wife, spawn, and the Obama puppy may sup one and all upon the bilious stew.

And don't look now, but He of the Cloven Hoof is also comin' at you with: 

-Health care reform.  Because Obama wants you healthy when he eats you.

-Tax credits for working-class Americans.  More money means more food on the table.  Obama likes his victims nice and plump.

-Expanded stem cell research.  Curing disease?  Nah.  For Obama there's nothing like a piping hot cup of stem cells after dinner.

-A sticky socialist discharge.

Sadly, guns are forbidden on school property.  So sleep with one eye open, college dudes.  If you catch a whiff of Obama's fetid breath, kiss your life (and your freedom!) goodbye.