Thursday, February 26, 2009

Stopping Greenpeace Cold: A Success Story

Denver's 16th Street Mall: Where we set our scene.

The weather has been gorgeous here in Denver over the past days with temperatures pushing into the 70's. This has been good news in almost every way except one. I work downtown, and when the weather gets nice, a scourge of canvassers hit the Sixteenth Street Mall seeking suckers who they can talk to in order to solicit funds for their various causes.

If you are unfamiliar with what a canvasser is, it is basically a socially conscious hippie with a clipboard. They have been given the job of trying to talk to anyone with a pulse who walks in or near their general vicinity to discuss the evils of the world and more specifically how your personal check can cure said evils. The only canvasser who I want to talk to is the canvasser whose cause it is to rid the world of canvassers, as they are the scourge of the earth.

One of the most annoying traits of the canvasser is their pervasive perkiness. If these people were thrown into solitary confinement for three weeks they would say they were happy they could finally get some time alone. These people face more rejection than an ice cube salesman in the Arctic Circle, and yet remain annoyingly upbeat. I'm not generally annoyed by perky people, but these people use their perkiness as a sales tool...bouncing and hopping and smiling in a vain attempt to get your attention so that they can pitch you on the sorry state of the world and how your monthly check can make it all better.

There are all manner of causes that the canvasser champions, but the most annoying version is also the most pervasive: The Greenpeace canvasser. Over the past year that I have worked downtown, I have learned how to generally ignore these people. When I first started working down there, I would respond to their favorite question, "Do you have a minute for the environment?" with a polite, "Not right now." However, as the months have gone by, I have found myself completely ignoring them. I keep hoping that they get the point that I am not interested in donating to Greenpeace by picking up on my none too subtle body language which includes items such as listening to my headphones, walking right on past them as if they are not there, and avoiding making eye contact at all costs. Even with these rather obvious non-verbal cues, they just can't take a hint.
One of their favorite moves to get my attention is to wave their hand in my line of sight that is intentionally not directed at them and then wave their hand closer to their face until I am looking them in the eyes at which point they have baited me into at least telling them no rather than just pretending they don't exist. This move might not work if I was not for some inconcievable reason drawn uncontrollably to a waving hand like a puppy to a shiny object. Somehow Greenpeace is instictively aware that I am unable to ignore their waving hands, and they have a need for me to tell them, "I'm not interested." These people are seriously addicted to rejection.
Last week, I finally came up with the perfect defense against this silliness. In fact, it was so good that I was actually looking forward to the next time I saw one of their obnoxious blue Greenpeace shirts just so I could break out my new weapon. Naturally, as soon as I am looking forward to my next interaction with a Greenpeace canvasser, they are nowhere to be found. You see, the weather was bad. These people never are around when the weather is chilly. They love rejection, but apparently they hate temperatures in the thirties. They want to save the world, but only if they don't have to wear a jacket to do it. I find it deliciously ironic that global warming may actually help them have more days to canvas.

Well, yesterday to my delight, the weather was beautiful, and just like ants to a picnic, the goofy blue shirts were crawling all over the mall. I knew my time had come, and I was ready. I walked past the ESPN Zone and the two canvassers standing in front of it. I was ready to break out my secret weapon, and almost giddy with anticipation. Much to my chagrin, the first time I walked past, they were chatting with each other and didn't even give me a second glance. Ordinarily, I would have taken this as a fortuitous break, and walked quickly past, but yesterday I slowly moped along. I may have even been moseying. Despite my slowed pace, I didn't even get a nibble, so I walked across the street to my favorite hot dog stand. (An amazing superhero of a street vendor called Biker Jim who sells without a doubt the world most delicious hot dog.)

After a quick lunch of Jalapeno Elk Sausage, I made my way back across the street even intentionally crossing to the other side of the street so that I would be on the same side as my Greenpeace friends. I had my headphones on, but my demeanor was much more friendly and approachable because for the first time ever, I actually wanted to engage them. A young idealist woman in her early twenties, she approached me and did the wavy hand thing. I wasn't looking at her, because I wanted to play moderately hard to get in order to avoid completely giving away that for the first time ever I was armed for this battle.

"Hi, how are you?" she said in a way that was so pleasant I almost felt bad about how well this converation was going to go for me.

"I'm good, Thanks." I replied and then before she even had a chance to begin her spiel followed that up with, "You're a conservationist, right?"

She looked at me slightly confused as if she didn't quite understand what I meant, which to be fair, she wouldn't understand for a few more seconds. She did answer me with a hopeful almost excited, "Why yes, I am!"

This was going perfectly, and she was set up for the kill.

"That's perfect, because right now, you can save your breath."

As her jaw dropped and she tried to stammer some type of response, I walked away with a spring in my step and a smile on my face.

If you see someone wearing this iconic blue shirt, either avoid eye contact, or feel free to use my method. I won't even charge you a royalty fee for it's use.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Perspective: Is the dog going up or down the stairs?

I think I've decided that what I am going to start asking God for when I pray is for perspective. I think that perspective is a highly undervalued commodity. Usually it's because by the time you get it you are usually past the point where it would have come in handy. My thought is that if I pray for perspective in all things, perhaps God will grant it to me before it's too late for it to be useful.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Monster Jam: My Brush with the Trailer Park All-Stars

I was kidnapped two Saturday nights ago. It actually wasn’t really that dramatic, but I was definitely taken to a place that I would never have knowingly agreed to go. Flash back a few weeks ago, my friend Doug and I were at a lacrosse game and somehow the subject drifted to Monster Trucks. I went on for ten minutes about how ridiculous I find the entire notion of Monster Truck Rallies. Words such as mindless, stupid, and lowest common denominator were bandied about liberally. In no uncertain terms did I leave my opinion unclear on my general feelings of superiority over Monster Truck devotees. I was quite thorough, some might even say ruthless, in my dismissal of the whole genre of entertainment.

Apparently my friend Doug took this as a personal challenge. He admitted that he has a fondness for this silly form of amusement, and decided that my life would be incomplete without the obligatory Monster Truck experience. Earlier in the week while watching a Nuggets game, I noticed a television commercial for Monster Jam and gave it little thought other than to be amused by the fact that they advertise that “KIDS SEATS ARE STILL JUST 5 BUCKS!” (What they don’t tell you is that once you get your kid there for just five bucks they will shamelessly promote all of their Monster Jam merchandise and create a guilt trip type situation where if you don’t give in to your pleading children and buy your kid at least $50 bucks of product that you will be made to feel like a failure as a parent.) I noticed the commercial and filed that away somewhere in the back of my mind, but didn’t really give it a second though due to the fact that there are insufficient forces in the universe that would compel me to purchase tickets to Monster Jam.

This brings us to Saturday night at about ten minutes until six, my wife works on Saturdays until six o’clock at night, and then she has a twenty minute drive to our house after she completes her shift. Yet, at 5:50 PM someone was walking into my house, and I was pretty sure it wasn’t her. I wasn’t expecting guests, so my first thought is panic that some weirdo is breaking into my place to make off with my meager possessions. I wasn’t too keen on this situation, so I rushed to the kitchen to see what was going on. Turns out I knew the weirdo who was walking into my house, it was my friend Doug with his wife Katy. Doug looked at me and said, “Get your shoes on, we’re going out.” I was confused, as I wasn’t planning on going out, but I was also relieved to find I knew the intruder.

“Does my wife know about this?” I had to ask, because usually if I was planning to hang out with my friend on a Saturday night, some planning had to be involved as I was taking care of my two young kids who were both napping at the time. He assured me that my wife was on board and that Katy was going to watch our kids until Jen got home, at which time the women and children were going to eat dinner together. That sounded fine to me, and having a boys night out sounded quite good to me, but then I started to get suspicious.

“Where are we going?”

“I can’t tell you.”

I have to say that was a little weird to me as I couldn’t figure out why our destination would be a secret, but I was excited. Although as my wife can attest, I am not a big fan of surprises, I was intrigued at this mystery. We walked out to his van and I got in. My first guess was that perhaps we were going to Comedy Works, but it didn’t make sense that he would keep such information a secret. Then I began to think critically, “What would Doug want to take me to that he wouldn’t want me to know about beforehand?” It was at this very moment that I remembered the Monster Jam commercial from the Nuggets game. Less than two minutes away from leaving my house and I had figured it out.

“We’re going to the Monster Trucks, aren’t we.” I asked him in a half amused, half incredulous tone.

At this point he audibly giggled at my misfortune, “Yup!”

I had to admit, he got me. I could whine about it or just go with the flow and have fun. I decided that the later approach would make for a better evening, so I laughed along and decided that I would attempt to enjoy the evening on an ironic level. After a quick dinner at Quiznos, we were on our way to the Pepsi Center for an evening of Monster Truck madness.

As we arrived at the Pepsi Center, my hopes for the evening rose, as I saw the clientele who were making their way to the arena. I started to figure that I could enjoy this night just by people watching. There were people there wearing mullet wigs to be funny, but there were others with authentic mullets who didn't find the hairstyle nearly as amusing as I did. There was camouflage and Bass Pro Shop gear everywhere, bright orange hunting vests were worn proudly over ripped Camel cigarette T-Shirts. I quickly surmised that much more entertainment value could be obtained by watching the crowd than by watching the show. We met up with Doug’s brother Josh and his friend at the doors, and as we entered the arena a few minutes before the show, Doug handed me some earplugs which made me a little nervous that conversation would be impossible due to the raucous nature of the program.

We made our way to our seats as Josh’s friend regaled us with stories of the awesomeness of Grave Digger. (One of the more popular Monster Trucks) Obviously, I was a skeptic amongst three believers. I didn’t yet believe in the power of Monster Jam, but I was willing to give it a chance, even though my initial thought was, “This is retarded.” Thankfully, the earplugs turned out to be unnecessary, as it wasn’t nearly as loud as I feared. It was loud and obnoxious, but not intolerable. I think Doug is overly cautious due to the fact that he has had a long history of ear problems and has had over a hundred thousand dollars worth of ear surgery (mostly paid by insurance, thankfully) in his history. This makes his aversion to loud noises understandable, but since I do not share the same issues, it didn’t seem to be a problem to me.

I would like to say that I found the action to be fascinating, and that I was won over to Monster Trucks. I would like to say that, but I would be lying. I had exceptionally low expectations going in, and the show didn’t even match those expectations. The Monster Trucks were mildly amusing, but the buildup to them doing anything was excruciatingly painful. Basically it seems as if they managed to pack six minutes of entertainment into about a two hour show. I did enjoy watching the trucks flying through the air, but mostly the show was a guy talking on a microphone promoting various flags, blankets and toys and talking about the majesty of Monster Jam. The whole show consisted of the big trucks doing a “Wheelie contest” then guys racing on ATV’s with a World Wrestling Federation type story twist (Involving the good team "Colorado" vs. the evil team "Utah"), then the Monster Trucks “racing” over a distance that couldn’t have been much more than forty-two feet, then more ATV racing, then life sized transformers “battling.”(The transformers took about five minutes to transform which took away some of the intrigue)
Okay, I have to make a few comments on the transformers. First off, they were extremely lame. Perhaps in 1986 this would be intriguing stuff, but after seeing the Transformer movie, I am thinking that taking five minutes to transform from a funky looking car into a fire breathing dragon doesn’t really captivate. Maybe if I were eight it would transfix me, so I’ll reserve judgment, but it didn’t do much for me. I definitely have to take umbrage with the “battle.” It consisted of the good robot and the bad robot (who both had the exact same robotic sounding voice, by the way) talking to each other about how they will destroy each other, followed by goofy explosions which were set off to mimic laser fire, and the battle ended with the good robot “shooting” the bad robot and a chuck of the bad robot falling to the ground. Then they both transformed back into cars and drove off.

The final event of the night was the “Freestyle Competition” which basically consisted of the trucks driving around and jumping over ramps for a minute each. There were six trucks, and they all had there different personalities. There was Grave Digger, of course. Then there also was Blue Thunder which was basically a Ford commercial on wheels. There was El Toro Loco, which was basically a red truck with horns, there was Backwards Bob which was a truck that had been put together backwords so when it drove it looked like it was going in reverse, There was Monster Mutt a truck which had big dog ears and a dog tongue, and then there was my favorite, Donkey Kong which was designed to look like the Nintendo video game character. They all took their turns in the Freestyle competition, with Grave Digger going last and appearing like the whole show was fixed for Grave Digger to win as it was the most popular truck and it’s jumps were the highest, except that after the first twenty seconds or so, Grave Digger broke an Axel and couldn’t go anymore, so El Toro Loco won by default, and on that low note the whole show ended.

It was moderately entertaining, but I certainly never would have paid the 19 dollar ticket fee, and will probably never go again. But Hey, I can now say I have attended a Monster Truck show, so I guess that’s one less thing for me to have to do in my life to feel complete. On a related note, Doug and his brother bought tickets for the National Finals Monster Jam show in Vegas, so apparently it was more engrossing for some than others!

My "favorite" Monster Truck: Donkey Kong

In this photo, I am experiencing symptoms associated with Stockholm Syndrome, as I am beginning to identify with my captor.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Blog Chain Mail. Once again my Blog gets interactive as I like the reader interaction.

Once again, I have received one of those chain mail email things asking questions about me. So once again, I have decided to post my answers on the blog, and make it interactive. If you feel so led, and I'd love it if you would, please copy and paste this into the comments and provide me with your answers, or email them to me. These are fun, and I like getting them. If you don't feel like participating, that's fine, please just rest your head on your desk quietly until the rest of the class is finished with their assignment.

1. Do you like blue cheese? I not only don't like it, I find it difficult to believe anyone could.
2. Have you ever smoked cigarettes? I like my lungs pink, so no.
3. Do you own a gun? No, I'd probably pull a Plaxico and accidentally shoot myself.
4. What flavor of Kool Aid was your favorite? Blue.
5. Do you get nervous before doctor appointments? Not too often, but I could see how someone could.
6. What do you think of hot dogs? They are probably gross, but I still like them.
7. Favorite Christmas movie? A Christmas Story, naturally. It did make number 49 of all time on my list.
8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? Diet Dr. Pepper, yum.
9. Can you do push ups? I probably could, but I lack the necessary motivation.
10. What's your favorite piece of jewelry? My wedding ring is my only piece of jewelry, so I guess through process of elimination...
11. Your favorite hobby? Surfing the internets.
12. Do you have A.D.D.? I'm not entirely sure. I may or may not, BUT HEY LOOK AT THAT BIRD OVER THERE!!!
13. What's one trait you hate about yourself? I lack self control to stop eating things that are bad for me. (See question 6.)
14. Middle name? William
15. Name 3 thoughts at this exact moment? 1.) I think band-aids are racist. 2.) I wish I were wearing slippers because my feet are cold. 3.) Even though I don't watch a ton of hockey anymore, I still dislike the Red Wings.
16. Current hate right now? The pain that I have in my right nostril for the past few weeks due to a patch of dry skin inside of it.
17. Favorite place to be? At a sporting event.
18. How did you bring in the New Year? I am officially old, I went to bed at about 10:30, and woke up the next morning to say, "Hey, it's 2009."
19. Where would you like to go? Paris, or maybe Cincinnati. Whatever.
20. Name three people who will complete this? My Aunt Gail and my Mom, maybe my friend Katrina because she's cool like that.
21. Do you own slippers? Weird, I didn't know this question was coming. (See question 15 part 2)
22. What shirt are you wearing? a Broncos shirt, huge shock, I'm sure.
23. Do you like sleeping on satin? I'm a heterosexual American male, so I'm going to go with no on that one.
24. Can you whistle? Yes, but not professionally.
25. Would you be a pirate? Yar, matey.
26. What songs do you sing in the shower? Staying Alive by the Bee Gees.
27. Favorite girl's name? Ellie
28. Favorite boy's name? Luke (Okay, those are cop out answers since I named my kids those names, but I wouldn't have used them if I didn't like them, right?)
29. What's in your pocket right now? Nothing but a cell phone and a dream.
30. Last thing that made you laugh? The pathetic disaster of a mess that resulted in my attempting to make the kids Mac and Cheese this afternoon. I told my wife that it resembled Macaroni, Cheese, and butter soup. I am not so incompetent that I cannot ordinarily make Mac and Cheese, but there were extenuating circumstances that resulted in the disaster that was today's effort.
31. Best bed sheets as a child? I had some cool light green sheets I liked, but I always wanted to have NFL sheets.
32. Worst injury you've ever had? I fell off a mountain bike going down a mountain because I thought I was cool and could go as fast as my brother, right up until the point that I didn't know how to avoid the giant rock that I hit and flew over. Ouch.
33. Do you love where you live? I do really like where I live, plus I hate moving, so sure. I love it!
34. How many TVs do you have in your house? Three, I think. There may be a few others in storage somewhere, but three that are hooked up. None in our bedroom though, because I don't need to watch TV where I sleep.
35. Who is your loudest friend? Probably Doug Newton or his wife Katy. I usually like loud people, so that's a compliment.
36. How many dogs do you have? 2 (many)
37. Does someone have a crush on you? Undoubtedly, but it's not like I can blame anyone.
38. What is your favorite book? Gotta go with the Bible on this one. I like lots of books, but that has to be my fave.
39. What is your favorite candy? Reese's Peanut Butter cups. Peanut butter and chocolate were born for each other.
40. Favorite Sports Team? This will shock no one, but it's the Denver Broncos.
41. What song do you want played at your funeral? "Oops, I did it again" by Britney Spears. Okay, maybe not. I don't really know, I just hope the food is good.

Why I am convinced that Band-Aids are racist.

People are saying that because we have now elected a black man as president that our nation has finally turned a corner. I agree that is a positive step in the right direction, but I feel like our nation will finally have turned a corner when a white man can wear a brown band-aid.

Let me explain. I feel that Band-Aids may be the most racist product on the face of the earth right now. Not the Snoopy/Dora the Explorer/Neon Green type of band-aids mind you, but rather the straight up generic ones.

I hadn't really thought about this before, but how jacked up is it that "normal" band-aids are pretty much all Caucasian? As a white guy, this makes sense to me because when I wear it, it approximates my skin color, so that's cool. I guess the band-aid manufacturers are trying to make it blend in with my skin so that it is less noticeable. That works for me, but what about people of other races? Why should my band-aid blend in on me when it is going to clash with people with different shades of skin? Why are white people given this advantage?

I'm starting to get angry about this. I think we need multi-cultural band aids. Maybe they exist, and if they do, then never mind. However, this seems like one of those little things that needs to be adjusted for equality.

I want to be very plain about this too, often times I write tongue in cheek, or to try to elicit some humor by being ridiculous, but with this post I am dead serious. Band-Aids are not a big issue, but it seems to me that if I were a minority it would be something that would seriously torque me off. And since I believe in justice and equality, it is beginning to tick me off now. Having multi-colored band-aids would probably be a bit ridiculous too, but perhaps we should do away with the "flesh" colored ones that are only the flesh color to one race of people.

This may not be the right answer, but it at least strikes me as more
fair than the current band-aid situation.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Craig's Top 50 Movies: Episode 5 - #10 through #1

Here it is, the conclusion to the exciting series of my favorite movies. I'm sure you have all been waiting with baited breath for the final results. So without further ado, the top ten.

10. Pan's Labyrinth - This movie is in Spanish with English Subtitles. It is horribly violent and sort of sad, and yet it makes my top ten because it is just so beautiful. The first time I watched this movie I was in awe, so much so that I had to start it up again and watch it one more time immediately. There is bravery, fantasy, World War II, evil Spanish warlords to hate, a girl with a pure heart and one heck of an imagination, an ending that is confusing enough that you aren't sure if it's true or not, but you desperately want it to be. This thing is good.

9. Gladiator - This one won best picture, and with good reason. It is splendidly acted, wonderfully written, the music is amazing, the story is captivating, you root on the good guy like crazy and despise the bad guy. Plus it's all about Roman gladiators, which is always a cool thing to base a story around. Basically, you can't go wrong with this movie. Russell Crowe will never top this one.

8. Star Wars (The original trilogy) - What can I say about Star Wars that hasn't already been written by thousands of over the top Star Wars fans? Is it a great movie? Yes and no. It's basically a spaghetti western set in space and made in the 1970's. However, the imagination that went into this thing changed movies forever. It has a cadre of devotees that will dress up in costumes and go to conventions about this movie. I am not one of those people, but I do appreciate the brilliance of this trilogy. Yes, technically it is three movies, but my blog my rules, all three share spot number eight. Oh, and Episodes I, II, and III never happened. I refuse to accept that they exist, as IF they did exist, I'm sure they would be terrible and diminish the legacy of the the eighth greatest movie of all time. So we are going to have to agree to just not accept their existence; Great, I'm glad that we have collectively wished them out of existence, I'm happy we could make that happen. Good work, everyone.

7. The Big Lebowski - Although it's subject matter is a little bit cliche and overdone, Never has a movie about Nihilists, Bowling, Cowboys, Ferrets, and stolen rugs ever come together in such a fantastic way. This is definitely a cult movie, and chances are excellent that if you haven't seen it already, you will not like it. I will concede that it has too much swearing and can be a bit brutal on the uninitiated. However, you might have seen this, and if you have seen it and are a member of said cult, you get it. Walter Sobchak is one of the greatest characters in movie history. "Mark that an 8 and you're entering a world of pain." is just too good!

6. Moulin Rouge - This is a controversial choice at number six, as I have heard from many people who have tried to watch this movie that they can't even get through the first half of the movie without shutting it off. I belong to the other side of the aisle when it comes to this flick. I love it. Yes, it's a bit corny and over the top, but it's supposed to be. There are about eighty six things going on every thirteen seconds in the first part of this movie, and it might wear you out, but I encourage you to stick it out because it's got a really cool love story and really fun music, and pretty decent acting. This one got nominated for Best Picture in 2002, and I liked it much more that the winner. (A Beautiful Mind) I've watched Moulin Rouge a bunch of times, and I have yet to get sick of it, so it has earned it's post at #6. While I can respectfully understand the opposition, I must disagree with it as I think this movie is just grand.

5. Shawshank Redemption - This is one of the best movies ever made. It is epic and beautiful. It tells the story of the power of hope in a dark place, and the friendship between Red and Andy in this movie is one of the best in movie history. Although this isn't my number one movie, it is very close and it is probably overall the best movie made in the past twenty years. If you haven't seen it before then you must RUN (don't walk) to the video store or to your Netflix queue (or just turn on TNT as it seems they show this movie three times a week) and remedy this immediately. Just a fantastic movie. The fact that Forrest Gump won Best Picture over this movie in 1994 is simply criminal and in my opinion is the biggest mistake in Oscar History.

4. Big Fish - We are getting into the territory of movies that I can barely think rationally about because I like them so much. This movie tells the story of a misunderstood father who lived his life telling stories, and how his son doesn't really learn to appreciate his father and his stories until right before he dies when he finally gets it. This movie makes me cry, but in a good way. It's not the high calibre movie of a Shawshank or a Gladiator, but for very personal reasons it is easily one of my favorite of all time. It is simply awesome to me.

3. Almost Famous - This movie's cool quotient is off the charts. Kate Hudson has never been better (or even half as good) before or since. Cameron Crowe wrote and directed this flick, and you can tell that it was his baby because of how high the quality of the movie is. It's the story of a kid who is much to young to start writing for Rolling Stone magazine, but does it anyway. He follows a rising rock band as they are beginning to make it big time, but also as they are starting to fall apart as a result of making it big time, and also tells the story of a groupie. It is such a good and enjoyable film that it really needs to be seen by more people. Although it was critically acclaimed it didn't do all that well at the box office, but it has begun to enjoy a second life as more people have begun to see it and understand how good it is.

2. Fight Club - This movie is just mind blowing. It makes you examine what you think is important, and although I don't agree with the world view of the film, it does give you pause. The ending is spectacular, and crazy, and WOW! I don't want to ruin this movie for anyone who has yet to see it, but I do think you should probably check it out if you haven't already. It's just AWESOME!

1. Field of Dreams - How is this for irony? I think Kevin Costner is one of the worst and most overrated actors of our generation and yet he made my favorite movie of all time. I'm a sports fan, and this movie probably touches me more because of that fact, but I don't think you have to love or even like baseball to really dig this flick. This movie always gets me emotional at the end because of the scene when Kevin Costner's character finally gets to play catch with his dad. The magic of this movie is that none of the magic in it is explained or even makes sense, but the spirit of the film catches you up with it and you believe the unbelievable for no other reason than you really want to. It's humorous and touching as well as immensely enjoyable. It isn't the best movie ever made, and I acknowledge that, but it sure is my favorite of all time.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Craig's Top 50 Movies: Episode 4 - #20 through #11

20. Kill Bill - "Wakie Wakie, Eggs and Bacie!" Okay, so really this is two movies, but that's only because it would be way too long if it were just one movie. Some detractors to this movie may say it is way too violent and over the top, what those detractors fail to note is that it is AWESOME! Granted, I'm not showing it to the kids, but it is quite the amazing roller-coaster ride of a movie. Not for the squeamish or for those with an aversion to over the top violence, but it did make my top 20.

19. Pushing Tin - This is one of the coolest movies ever. It is basically is a contest between John Cusack's character and Billy Bob Thorntons' character to see who can be cooler. The winner? You, the movie watcher. It's hilarious and I haven't even mentioned Angelina Jolie yet. Good times.

18. The Usual Suspects - This movie blew me away the first time I saw it. It's very confusing at first, but the ending is one of the best in movie history. Plus, it launched the legendary bad guy Keyzer Soze, so on the strength of it's ending and Soze, it makes the top 20.

17. Being John Malkovich - Yes, this movie is weird. The premise has more creativity than most any other movie I've ever seen, plus it has John Cusack as a down on his luck puppeteer, so that's interesting. It's hard to really sum up this movie, as it is just so out there, but here is my best try. John Malkovich is actually a being who has been created in an effort to help an alien live forever. If you haven't seen this, I assure you that it is actually quite good, despite that being the actual premise.

16. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - Jim Carey can actually act. When he puts his mind to it, he can create fascinating characters like this guy who needs his memories purged of his ex-girlfriend who has broken his heart. This movie is also tremendously interesting, and brings up all sorts of questions about destiny, love, science, and what color hair looks best on Kate Winslet. In another weird twist, it is the second movie in a row on my countdown which was written by Charlie Kaufman. If you know anything about his screenwriting, To have a weird twist involving Charlie Kaufman is ironically appropriate.

15. Bandits - Bruce Willis and Billy Bob Thornton star as two bank robbers in one of the greatest buddy pictures of all time. Throw in Cate Blanchette as a lonely housewife with nothing to lose, and you have a fantastic setup. I have to say, when I worked as a manager of a bank, the concept of "The Sleepover Bandits" terrified me, though.

14. Fletch - "May I borrow your towel? My car just hit a water buffalo." Of all the movie characters I have ever seen, Irwin P. Fletcher was the one I most wanted to be like when I was a kid. This guy was hilarious and told jokes as if he wasn't telling jokes, which made them even funnier. Even better in my opinion than the Vacation movies, Fletch to me is Chevy Chase's high water mark, and the fact that he has fallen so far since the 80's from where he was as Fletch really makes me sad. This movie has so many fantastic one-liners that if I EVER stumble upon it as I am flicking channels, rest assured, I am watching it to it's conclusions. After all, "It's all ball bearings these days."

13. Memento - Brilliant movie that couldn't be told in a linear fashion, so it wasn't. Just fantastic filmwriting, and wonderfully executed.

12. Tombstone - Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday redefines cool. This movie is just so tough it makes you feel tough watching it. It's remarkably rewatchable and just plain good.

11. Sideways - Paul Giamatti is a really good actor which is why he is able to get parts in movies even though he looks like Paul Giamatti. This movie was nominated for best picture, and deservedly so. Even though it really doesn't tell an epic story, it tells it's story in an epic, emotional way. Plus there is a scene with a naked man running that is so hilariously fantastic that I had to include this movie, Sideways BARELY missed the top 10. Perhaps the reason it fell short is because I like Merlot.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Craig's Top 50 Movies: Episode 3 - #30 through #21

30. Rounders - I don't even play poker and I still love this movie. Matt Damon couldn't be any cooler than he is in this movie. This movie is all about responsibility, friendship, and taking chances as well as finding out who you really are and who you really want to be. Oh, and poker.

29. Se7en - This movie is gritty and disturbing, but it's also somewhat poetic. The ending is both amazing and grotesque. If that Brad Pitt guy plays his cards right, he might have a future with this acting business.

28. Monty Python and the Holy Grail - This is probably the movie I have seen more than any other movie ever. It is more of a cultural phenomenon among nerds than it is a movie, but it will always have a special place in my heart for being the most quotable movie of all time. Quoting this movie is probably funnier than watching it, but it's pretty darn good.

27. Man on the Moon - Jim Carey is amazing in this biographical movie about the life of Andy Kaufman. It's a very interesting movie about a very odd and interesting man. Worth watching just to see Carey's performance, even if the rest of it wasn't good (which it is).

26. Love Actually - One of those movies that has a ton of stories happening all at once, but it's done well, and it's quite charming. I have two favorite story lines in this one. First, the writer who falls in love with a woman who doesn't speak English and then he learns Portuguese just to woo her. Second, the guy who is in love with a woman who is getting married to his best friend, and he realizes that it can never be, and he's okay with it. Yes, this is a chick flick, but there is nothing wrong with a chick flick as long as it's done well and is entertaining. This one fits that bill, and it makes the top 50.

25. Little Miss Sunshine - What a sweet little movie this is. It has awesome characters pulled together by a road trip in a Volkswagen bus. This movie is hilarious and poignant at the same time. It's cliche to say, but, "You'll laugh, you'll cry, it moved me!" This movie is worth seeing just to see the little girl's performance at the beauty pageant.

24. Raising Arizona - The Coen Brothers are silly, but in a brilliant hilarious way. This is one of my favorites of theirs, starring Nick Cage and Holly Hunter as some desparate people with some warped sensibilities.

23. Twelve Monkeys - Brad Pitt and Bruce Willis in a movie that involves time travel, horrible viruses, and the end of the world. Brad Pitt plays a completely crazy person in this movie, and is mesmorizing in it. This movie is wild and interesting. Worth watching more than once.

22. O Brother Where Art Thou? - Another Coen Brothers flick, another offbeat comedy, another brilliant movie. Loosely based on Homer's Odyssey, this movie is an absolute showcase for George Clooney and it's just plain fun to watch.

21. No Country for Old Men - I swear I didn't mean to bunch together Coen Brothers movies like this, it just ended up that way. This movie proves that they can do more than oddball comedies. This is a very tightly shot drama which won the Oscar for Best Picture in 2007. It's based off of a book by Cormac McCarthy, and it doesn't follow the path you think it will. This movie had me thinking and pondering it for days after I saw it. I highly recommend it.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Top Ten Super Bowls in my Lifetime. (A biased list)

Another Super Bowl is in the books, and congratulations to the Pittsburgh Steelers who won the title in a surprisingly good game. Every time we have a Super Bowl that is a competitive game, the question starts getting asked...Was this the best Super Bowl ever?

While this one was good, the correct answer is: No, this was not the best. Here's my top ten list of Super Bowls that I can remember watching. (Super Bowl 18 is the first one I remember watching...Raiders demolishing the Redskins back when I was just a lad of seven years.)

1. XXXII - Broncos 31 - Packers 24 - Naturally, I am biased towards this one because it was a great game and my team won it to finally get a championship and get Elway off the schneid.

2. XXXIV - Rams 23 - Titans 16 - I still say this may have been the best ever, as the Rams were one yard away but Dyson got tackled just before scoring the game tying TD. This was a magnificent game.

3. XXXVI - Patriots 20 - Rams 17 - Tom Brady gets the Pats into position to win at the end. People forget it now since New England has become a juggernaut, but the Pats were ENORMOUS underdogs in this one.

4. XLII - Giants 17 - Patriots 14 - The helmet catch, keeping that odius Patriots team from the first ever 19-0, the excitement of the final score. This one was truly epic.

5. XLIII - Steelers 27 - Cardinals 23 - Still too fresh in my mind to give it the proper perspective, but seeing Big Ben have the stones to get the Steelers the game winning touchdown in the final minute after the Cards had stormed back, plus the fact that it had the biggest momentum swing in Super Bowl history right before the half, this was definitely a great one.

6. XXIII 49ers 20 - Bengals 16 - One of Joe Montana's finest hours, plus his greatest quote ever..."Hey, isn't that John Candy?"

7. XXV - Giants 20 - Bills 19 - Will always be remembered for Norwood's "Wide Right", but it was a pretty fantastic game. Flawed only in that it is remembered for a great failure rather than a great triumph.

8. XXXVIII - Patriots 32 - Panthers 29 - Cemented Adam Vinatieri's legacy, pretty good game in it's own right with a flurry of points at the end.

9. XXX - Cowboys 27 - Steelers 17 - Very exciting to ALMOST see the egomaniac Cowboys go down to a gritty Pittsburgh team that outplayed them at nearly every turn.

10. XXXVII - Buccaneers 48 - Raiders 21 - Okay, so this wasn't a good game. But as an avid Raider hater who was convinced that Oakland was going to win...this was about as good as it could get. It also helps that this loss through them into a tailspin that continues to this very day.