They tell me summer's over, and I don't like it one bit.
I was having a great season, arguably my favorite summer since the last time my family rented our usual bungalow at Kellerman's, that sexy greaser taught me how to dance the Pachanga and that dastardly old couple stole everyone's wallets.
From Memorial Day to Labor Day, this summer left an indelible crater in my brain where clear thought used to reside. So in lieu of any semblance of coherency, I present you with these 1,000 words, in six parts, born from my thoughts over the weekend:
--By now you've all heard about the tragic demise of the Crocodile Hunter, who may now be known in death as the Stingray Hunted. I always thought Steve Irwin would die from massive head trauma after he slipped coming out of the shower because there was no bathmat on the floor, or from an overwhelming loss of blood following a sad shoelace/escalator incident.
But, no, he passed as you'd plainly expect: a stingray wound to the chest. I'm not sure you can feel complete sadness at the loss of a man with a Bronson-esque death wish, but this guy had balls the size of Shelden Williams' head, and I respect that. May he meet up with the great gator in the sky, and may he wrestle it for sport.
--A rainy Labor Day weekend begets movies...and I managed to take in both Factotum and Half Nelson amongst the precipitation.
Factotum was a bit boring, moving slower than Jewish bowels during Passover. But Kevin Dillon's older brother Matt delivers a remarkable performance, and Marisa Tomei takes some time out from her time-consuming search for short, stocky, quirky bald men to pull off the comeback role of the year. The movie, however, begs the question: Do you really know anything about Charles Bukowski, or do you just know his name, say "Of course, he's a Giant" and hope nobody ever questions your literary scholarship?
As for Half Nelson, I think everyone should make it their beeswax to see it at some point. It's filled with tour de force acting, raw emotion and veiled subtleties (on that last point, it refuses to hit its audience over the head with obvious points like most "smart" movies tend to do these days). Ryan Gosling brings an unbelievable believability to his drug-addicted, inner-city schoolteacher character striving to be good in spite of the demons that make him a sinner. This marked the first time I've ever seen Gosling act, and I must say, if this level of performance and handsomeness is indicative of his entire portfolio, count me in. Also, crack looks pretty good.
--I watched Sideways for the first time as well this weekend. Good God, man, this is the movie everyone's been calling the best flick of the last few years? I mean, okay, it's good...but I can't help but cite this as the latest evidence of Above Average Fish in a Mediocre Pond Syndrome. Sideways is a whole lot like the 2006 New York Mets: Everything else around it is just so crappy and laughable that when something decent comes along, seats on the bandwagon fill up really fast. PigVomit is stellar, and the Asian chick from Arliss is fun, but let's slow down a bit on the accolades. So here's my unofficial review: "Sideways: Better than Schlock."
--Speaking of the 2006 Mets and AAAA baseball...Don't look now, but the Florida Marlins are only two games back of the San Diego Padres for the National League Wild Card. This the same Marlins organization that may actually fire its manager come November. This is the same Marlins team that started the season with a $14.998 million payroll (and that includes swimming). And that's not a typo, the Marlins are spending about a third less on all 25 guys than the Yanks pay for the left side of their infield alone.
Seventeen of the 25 Marlins on the opening day roster make the league minimum of $327,000. They started 21 rookies before the September 1st call-ups, and three of them are prominent members of the starting rotation. Yet despite falling 20 games under .500 on May 21, they're now a game over and poised to make a serious run at the playoffs. In fact, they're the first team since the Louisville Colonels in 1899 to fall that far below .500 and climb back to even...1899!
Just remember how astonishing this story is the next time you're watching the nonstop yapfest of Terrell Owens, the latest on Barbaro, another Chasing Aaron update, Lou Holtz's unintelligible ramblings, and anything else ESPN deems important.
--Yesterday marked the 13th anniversary of Jim Abbott's no-hitter against the Cleveland Indians at Yankee Stadium. Interestingly, I was at the Big House in Michigan for the first time watching Abbott's alma mater beat up Washington State when they announced the feat from the former Wolverine. Think about it for a second: A guy with one hand no-hit a Major League Baseball team (and not one of those 2006 NL teams, a real baseball team). That's just beyond comprehension. Simply unreal. You know what else? The high fives afterwards were hilariously awkward. Seriously, check the tape.
--Lastly, there were no Premiership matches this weekend, as the Euro 2008 Qualifiers took centre stage (Eng. sp?) on the continent. New English boss Steve McClaren guided the Brits to an easy 5-0 victory against Andorra at Old Trafford on Saturday, showcasing a squad that may have won the World Cup if the country's former manager weren't such a fucking obtuse lickbag (apparently Sven-Goran Eriksson was the only person who thought he could win with a front line consisting of a seven-foot, 115-pound halogen lamp beanpole, two guys that could barely walk and a teenager with no experience that someone could go to jail for fucking).
And while Liverpool had the weekend off, I still got to see highlights of my boy Stevie Gerrard ripping shit up against the incompetent and dirty Andorrans. Not only did the English vice captain put home a great strike to put the team up 2-0, but he absolutely deked the nuts off a silly Andorran and left him in the dust to set up Defoe's first goal of the match. Check out the full report here: You gotta see some of these highlights; it's a fun-to-watch clinic. We know the name, son!
Slack Link of the Day: Maybe I'm wrong, but this clip goes right into the Instant Classic file. Fat kid + roller coaster = awesomeness.
Slack Video of the Day: I'm not done with youse and Steven Gerrard just yet. I may have posted this once before, but it never hurts to watch the captain's Top Ten Goals video too many times. That montage includes his incredible goal against Middlesborough, but it does not include his incredible and incredibly meaningful goal against West Ham in the 90th minute of the FA Cup Final (play that clip with sound, loud). Take a bow, son!
Slack Song of the Day: I'm in the mood for Big Red's Big Horn Band, and I'm in the mood for covers...so here's Signed Sealed & Delivered, Will It Go Round In Circles, It Makes No Difference, and Ooh Child.