Both figuratively and literally. It makes living hard, causes confusion, and too often results in pain.
There’s been a lot of darkness lately.
On Friday an 18-year-old entered the New River Valley Mall in Christiansburg with a shotgun and wounded two girls before being subdued.
On Monday two bombs went off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing at least three people and injury no less than 140.
Both events occurred just days prior to the sixth anniversary of one of the darkest days many of us can remember, the April 16th shootings at Virginia Tech.
But I got to thinking, as much as it sucks, it’s also pretty weak when it comes to putting up a fight and the smallest shimmer of light can begin its downfall.
Don’t believe it? Think about that person who attempts to send a few text messages during a movie. (Obviously, you and I would never commit such a crime.) As soon as that cellphone lights up, the solitude of the theater is completely broken, your interest in the hobbit is gone, and only question on your mind is “who exactly does this dude think he is?”
It was the same way in our bedrooms as kids. Don’t lie, everybody had a night light and hopefully yours was a cooler one than mine, which I believe doubled as a window candle at Christmas. That tiny little light had the ability to make the darkness, along with the irrational fears of sub-bed creatures, vanish.
You see darkness has the same odds against even the smallest sliver of light as I have of stopping LeBron James driving down the lane. No sir, not get posterized, I’m taking off.
So maybe it’s the little things in life that you and I can do, which can begin the transition from even the darkest of times. I’ll admit, I’m not always good at taking advantage of this. I’m often guilty of not providing that simply smile or helping hand to a stranger. But perhaps if I keep in mind every little bit of light kills a large amount of darkness, I’ll light it up more often.
Of course it’s not just about us, let’s be honest, sometimes we’re so far removed from a situation we can’t really do much shining on it. In that case, I think we’re also responsible for helping place the lights of others in places where they can shine the brightest.
Monday we began to see many moments of light as first responders rushed back into the smoke to attend to those hurt and then later as reports of folks opening up their homes to displaced runners began to surface. Normally an air mattress isn’t worthy of praise, but last night it might as well have been a flood light.
Likewise, following Friday’s horrific events at the mall in Christiansburg, reports popped up that it was off-duty mall security guard, Jim Gorman, who paused his anniversary celebration with his wife to apprehend the shooter and prevent any further tragedies. Another flood light at the very least.
Today I spent the morning talking with people on the campus of Virginia Tech who were mourning the lost lives of the 32 victims of the April 16 shootings. You know the message each one said they wanted to share with the people of Boston? Don’t lose faith, there is still good in the world.
These are the things I believe we have to focus on during the darkest of times. I think we have to blow them out, celebrate them, even if that seems hard at the time.
Jesus probably said it best — well OK, of course Jesus said it best, he’s Jesus — when he said people don’t put lamps under bowls, they put them on lamp stands so they will light up the house.
So yeah, darkness sucks, but as long as we chose to do a little shining ourselves and help share the light others produce, it will eventually run.
Has there ever been a better high school basketball movie than “Teen Wolf?”
Yes. It’s called “Hoosiers.”
While it might not be the most classic of sports flicks, “Teen Wolf” is still a blast to watch. Admit it, when you catch it on while flipping channels, you can’t not stop. It’s impossible.
It also has a lot of basketball in it, in fact it’s far more a basketball movie than a monster movie. So let’s breakdown the action.
Just to set the scene, a little background.
Scott Howard, i.e. “the Wolf,” is the starting point guard for the Beacontown Beavers who, according to Scott’s dad Harold, haven’t won a game in three seasons. Apparently werewolves don’t really become werewolves until their senior year of high school, which I always thought was kind of nice. I mean can you image the legal issues that would surround dealing with a child werewolf? So Scott’s monster gene kicks it and for whatever reason results in him developing a Magic Johnson-esque game and leading the team to multiple victories.
So let’s get started.
Game 1. Beavers vs. Dragons.
The movie opens with Scott at the foul line during the third quarter, the team already down 49-11.
It’s important to note that every single person in this movie sweats like they’re coming off a three week bender. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that not a single player looks close to high-school age. Actually the only “teen” in the whole movie that looks age appropriate is Lewis (Matt Adler) who was roughly 18 when they filmed. Michael J. Fox around 23, Chubby 27, and the bad dude Mick somewhere near 28.
And he takes the shot.
A true jumping foul shot like you haven’t seen since you watched a 10-year-old girls game. Seriously if I’m ever a basketball coach, the first ten minutes of tryouts will be dedicated to foul shots. Anyone jumps, there’s the door.
Of course he bricks it.
And proceeds to get run over by the Dragons’ “Lemonade.” No call. Ref’s letting them play.
Lemonade dishes to Mick, who finishes with a two-handed dunk.
Coach Bobby Finstock’s seen enough. By the way, check out the student manager. I swear that’s Jesse Eisenberg.
Coach does give Scott some helpful advice during the time out. If a guy is nicknamed after a beverage, don’t get in his way. Lemonade, O.J., Brewski. Leave them be.
Enter Stiles, who throughout the movie displays an array of amazing tees.
It’s interesting who shows up to this first game. Stiles, Lewis, and Boof are all there to support Scott, while Pamela Wells is there for Mick. The question really is who is the girl in the Piggly Wiggly outfit there for? And what about that cafeteria lady sitting below her? Did she just get off? Go home lady, you’re job’s tough enough.
First game of the year, third quarter, and Finstock tries to forfeit it. The other coach isn’t having it, mentioning that they have league records at stake. Pamela looks beat out of her mind.
Boof always was hotter than Pamela. I can’t stress that enough.
Also, who are these two sunglasses chicks? Who are they friends with? Why are they there? Can they talk? They seriously have no lines through the entire movie. I have an endless curiosity about where their careers er career, because I assume they only took roles as a pair, went from here.
How bad must those two players on the bench be? I mean Chubby is on the court and you’re riding the pine. I’d take that as a sign to join the chess club or something.
Props to the mascot for showing up. Pretty pricey looking suit for such a bad team. Maybe they’re real good at football.
I also kind of digged that coach blamed the team sucking on their sneakers. Also dig that he calls shoes “sneakers.” I’m going to bring that back.
Getting the ball to Chubby in the high post is the team’s bread-and-butter play throughout the movie. Guessing Chubby locked up the four spot on the team because the coach was following the age-old little league rule of sticking the fat kid in the post. Somewhere around high school that usually evolves into “let the fat kid camp at the 3-point line.” Guess not so much in Beacontown.
Following a turnover by Chubby, Scott picks off a pass in what looks like the most painful fashion imaginable, and get’s tied up with Mick. Again, a clear jump ball, however, the refs are still letting them play.
Scott growls, gets the steal, and proceeds to take the final shot of the game, which he bricks.
Final stats of the game: Scott Howard, 0-1 FG, 0-1 FT, 1 steal.
Beavers lose, 71-12. So they scored a point in the final quarter, good for them.
So more props to Boof for waiting for Scott after the game. That’s cool of her.
Apparently Beacontown plays basketball games at about 2 p.m. because it looks to be no later than 4 p.m. as Boof walks Scott to work.
Also, regardless of how bad their team is, they must have one heck of an athletic director because they only play games at home.
Now a lot happens between the first and second basketball games, well except Scott turning into a hairy freak. Here are a couple highlights.
High school play director guy is a creepster.
Another great Stiles shirt.
Red eyes are the key to being able to buy beer as a teen.
As much as I would argue this is a basketball movie, it’s also a car surfing movie.
By the way, Beacontown loves itself some Jack In The Box. They pass at least two on the way to the party.
There has never been, nor will there ever be, a better party MC/game master than Stiles.
By the way, whose house is this packed with high school kids and 10 kegs of beer on a school night? Gosh the ’80s were awesome.
By far my favorite Stiles shirt.
Harold’s got skillz too. Yes, that Z is intentional.
OK, game 2: Beavers vs. Cadets.
The game begins (notice Scott already lathered up) and he gets tripped, which apparently is a shooting foul by these new refs who want to call everything.
He clanks the first. Coach Finstock is eating boiled eggs on the bench. Weird choice.
He makes the second, however, giving Beacontown its first lead in who knows how long.
Obviously this calls for a celebration. A very awkward celebration. Come on Lewis, ain’t nobody going to want to chill with you if you keep doing that number. Not even the sunglasses twins. OK, that’s not true. They have no friends.
Dig the score table guy’s sweatshirt.
Scott knocks the ball loose, there’s a scuffle, and…
The wolf shows up.
It kind of makes you wonder if the guys in that pile noticed the transition, doesn’t it? Like did they feel the hair grow? That’s just gross.
A dribbling clinic ensues.
Is he going to do the spider? Come on dude, do the spider. Well, crap. No Spider.
He does, however, go showtime on everyone, which apparently makes him less scary.
Here’s the lesson kids. If you turn into a monster, be a monster with a quality skill set for entertaining and everyone will love you. This also worked for Dennis Rodman.
From here a basketball montage is made of the remainder of the game, Teen Wolf being the one-man show.
He even channels a little inner Bob Cousy.
Facebook guy digs it.
This would make it 77-30ish. I think it’s safe to say Teen Wolf score no fewer than 73 of those points.
The Beavers go on to win the game, though it’s never clear by how much.
Teen Wolf’s stat line: 16 points, six dunks, one assist, one steal, one rebound, two blocks.
The Beacon apparently covered the game, maybe that’s what the sunglasses twins do?
Neat that Teen Wolf already has a portrait photo.
As I grew up, this is what I thought high school was really like. Needless to say I was very disappointed.
Once he became the Teen Wolf, Scott also found his letter jacket, and wore it every, single, day.
He also started rocking Adidas shell-toes, which are cool no matter the era.
And then there was hallway break dancing. This is what’s wrong with school today, not enough hallway break dancing going on. I blame cellphones. Everyone’s too busy texting to get nasty like this between classes. Sad.
Game 3: Beavers vs. Easton.
Back on the court, fans have no packed the stands. Perhaps they are no longer playing games at 2 p.m.? I don’t know.
I do know that the new mascot looks like it was put together in a home ec class. Seriously, that thing’s gross.
Easton is the first game that Teen Wolf can actually prepare for as the Wolf, hence the Bill Walton-esque headband.
Stat line: Four points, one steal. But we didn’t see much of the action.
Kids love Teen Wolf, fact. But seriously, where are these kids’ parents? I mean, you don’t know. He could eat one or something. Come on parents, pick up a Grimm book.
Game 4: Beacontown vs. Madison.
And Wolf cheer.
Seriously, Brad. You thought you were going to bring the ball up when you got Teen Wolf around? I feel like Kobe Bryant is on the verge of this every time Steve Blake gets the ball.
Stat line: Two points, one steal, from Brad.
In case you were wondering, being a werewolf also makes you a stellar bowler. Five strikes in a row and I’m pretty sure this is a 300 if Mick doesn’t show up and ruin it by ticking off Teen Wolf and forcing him to go all Bobby Knight on the alley.
Game 5: Beacontown vs. Freman.
This is a completely fictitious scene. Not because Chubby is eating on the court, but because he’s eating an apple that isn’t covered in caramel. Awful use of artistic freedom.
Not a whole lot more to show from this one, the photo pretty much sums up the game.
Stat line: Scott Howard, two points.
As much as Brad hates Scott for eating up the attention, dude has his own baseball photo taped inside his locker. Seriously, man. You’re supposed to give that to your grandma for Christmas.
“Never get less than 12 hours of sleep. Never play cards with a guy who has the same first name as a city. Never go near a lady who’s got a tattoo of a dagger on her thigh. You stick with that and everything else is cream cheese.”
Solid life advice right there.
Told you, it’s a car surfing movie. Now featuring the “Wolfmobile.” Seriously, what high school kids has the means to do that? Stiles is the man.
And then there was the big school dance. I think one of the bylaws of making a high school movie is that there must be a school dance scene. It’s hard to figure exactly what dance this is. Being that it’s basketball season you’d think the Valentine’s Ball would be likely, but I’d imagine the would have worked that into the storyline somehow. Then again, it looks like August in every outdoor scene so who even knows when basketball season is in Beacontown.
Which means you have to break out the hair dryer, obviously.
So excited to dance it hurts or guy who ate tacos for the pre-dance meal. You choose.
Classic Stiles. Very surprised, and disappointed, he’s not on the mic at all during this shindig.
The wolf dance is always a classic. Try it next time you’re out at the club. It’ll kill.
And this is why 28-year-olds aren’t supposed to be at high school dances. Tell me Mick didn’t sneak a little fairy dust in and I’ll swear you’re a liar.
By the way, Chubby only wears sunglasses at night. Fact.
Of course Mick punching Scott leads to Teen Wolf ripping Mick’s shirt off and Boof checking out Mick’s abs. He does a lot of core work for a 28-year-old.
And the dance is officially ruined. All that hair drying wasted.
OK, enough of the side action. Time for the championship game, which is a re-match against Mick’s Dragons. Seriously, Dragons is an under used mascot. Every sports league in the country should replace its worst mascot with Dragons. Goodbye Texans, Wizards, and Royals.
Prior to the game Scott admits to Boof and Stiles he’s struggling with the whole Teen Wolf thing. It’s pretty obvious he has realized as much as people love the Wolf, they are still lukewarm on Scott Howard and thus the movie teeters on the verge of becoming a PSA about loving who you are.
Regional Championship: Beacontown vs. Dragons
Scott doesn’t show up for the first part of the championship — my best guess is he’s back in the bathroom with that hair dryer — and the Beavers quickly fall behind. The Dragons are on pace to score 1oo, by the way.
Marketing genius any way you look at it.
To add insult to injury, Mick drops Brad with a hockey check, which causes this reaction from Facebook guy.
Also, is that a young Ryen Russillo in a jean vest?
As they are tending to Brad on the bench, Scott, who apparently dressed at home and walked through his neighborhood in his jersey, shows up.
Is there not a backdoor to this gym? The only way in was the front door under the basket?
The crowd is dead silent as Finstock heads over to ask “Where’s the wolf?”
Is this a timeout? How are the refs allowing this stoppage?
No wolf, coach. Not now, not ever….que the “The more you know” music, please.
And Lewis is making his move with the sunglasses twins while the guy below them came to the game begs me ask which he paid more for, his suit or his toupee.
As proof that Scott did actually walk there look, he’s already sweaty.
In this brief moment Scott delivers about three lines of the least motivating pep talk ever. Basically, we can win. That is all.
Now we’re well into the game, but Scott’s presence has apparently created the need for a mid-first quarter tip-off. Basically, the refs are just acknowledging no one gives a crap about this game aside from a monster playing in it.
And we’re back to Chubby in the high post, only this time Mick tells him to “shoot it, fat boy!”
He does and it’s money. Ah, we’ve evolved to the fat kid camping at the 3-point line stage of basketball. Finally.
Chubby get’s a rebound and suddenly the Beavers have a transition game.
There’s a lot of back-and-forth action through the game montage that I think has the “Double Dragon” theme song playing in the background.
There’s also a celebration after literally ever Beacontown bucket. I mean, who’s got time to get back on defense? This is the title game.
Scott uses a massive pick by Chubby to score an easy bucket. In Mick’s defense, Chubby was moving.
Transition game and now a pick and roll. Who are these guys who suddenly understand fundamental basketball?
Apparently number 45 has a Tim Duncan-like post game, which no one ever realized for some reason until the final game.
By the way, Beaver mascot is back. No wolf. Not now, not ever.
Focused ball-to-hand dribbling. Classic Scott Howard.
I see you White Duncan. I see you.
Scott gets a steal, Mick throws a close line.
I must break you. I think Mick might be a Russian.
And he was apparently in the act of shooting because he gets to the line.
Such form. Such grace. Again, classic Scott Howard.
Even the Dragons are stunned when Scott does his best Jason Williams impression. Long live White Chocolate.
Around the back for the assist…almost. 33 bricks it and then pads his own stats with a board.
Is that Deon Sanders out there? Oh wait, it’s just Scott Howard and his amazing radar for picking off passes. First clue: lack of d0-rag.
The sweet baby-hook from Chubby. It’s like Sir Charles incarnate.
Another hard foul from the Russian. I think Mick played for Detroit the year after this.
Speaking of physical play, Chubby’s getting legit with these picks.
White Duncan gets the offensive rebound and put back on one end and then this block on the other. Dude is doing work and yet we never even get to hear his name. It’s a crying shame.
Scott feeds 23, which leads to a celebratory cradling.
Screw the wolf, I want a “White Duncan” t-shirt. He’s got to be on the verge of a triple-double.
Alright, comeback in the works and it all comes down to this final possession.
Obviously Scott Howard time.
The ball goes to Chubby in the high post, the hand-off to Scott who is crushed by Mick on his way to the bucket as time expires.
Nice foul management by Mick, he used all five just as the clock winded down. Though if the game goes to OT the storyline goes to crap.
Again, I must break you.
So down 1, with two shots and what’s this? Mick is for whatever reason allowed to stand under the hoop during the foul shots? Come on, ref! I get that’s he’s a scary covert Russian and this is the 80s, but this is just going too far.
The first bucket’s money.
It all comes down to this, so the ref takes no chances on passing the ball to Scott. Hand delivery is necessary for something this serious.
Meanwhile Scott is wondering how hard he’s going to hit the floor when Mick rushes him if he makes it.
I am so sweaty. Why am I this sweaty? Do I need some of that clinical-strength deodorant?
Sorry, that’s just what would be running through my head at this moment.
And it’s up! Great vantage point for Mick.
It bounces around and falls. Que the magical music!
Mother Russia is going to be so pissed.
Yes! Being yourself, kids! Be yourself!
Final score: Beacontown 52, Dragons 51.
Scott Howard’s stat line: 10 points, 5 assists, 2 steals. Solid game.
And the celebration begins. Honestly though, who the heck was able to pick up Chubby like that? Movie magic I suppose.
One last time. Boof > Pamela. Fact.
No one is happier than this cat. Tears I tell you. Tears.
Scott blows off Pamela. Pamela blows off Mick. And Chubby just spies a dropped Twinkie.
Again. Be yourself, kids and everything will fall in place.
Scott finally doing things that make sense. I’ll forever be curious how this relationship turned out what they hit college. Too bad they didn’t make “Teen Wolf, The College Years.” Don’t lie, you’d watch it.
And then Harold finally gets in on the celebratory cradling action. If there’s one thing Scott loves it’s to be picked up and swung around like a young child. Creepy? Yeah, a little. But again, things were different in the ’80s.
There you have it. Maybe it’s not the best basketball movie ever, but it’s definitely one of the most fun to watch and it’s got a great message: You’re creepiness is only as acceptable as your game is good. Words Dennis Rodman lives by.
If you were born somewhere between 1980 and 1988, we likely had a similar Michael Jordan experience.
We caught Jordan at perfect time. We got to see the rise up to greatness, the stepping away to play baseball and make a flick with Bugs Bunny, and the return to glory.
We not only watched MJ, we lived MJ in almost every aspect of our lives, from his sporting t-shirts and kicks to chugging his favorite flavor of Gatorade (Citrus Cooler) despite Lemon-Lime being a superior flavor. Heck, we even convinced ourselves Wheaties were more than just disgusting bran flakes.
While prior generations had their iconic figures — Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, The Beatles — we had His Airness.
As evidence of how wide spread his influence was, my first conscience memory of the best basketball player in history wasn’t even of him on the court. It was him delivering what had to be the most shaken and explosive six-pack of Coke ever to some random kids in one of the coolest tree houses ever.
For whatever reason this stuck with me and also led to a few years of me believing the key to jumping was to do that stair climbing action with my legs. Come on, tell me you didn’t try it at least once.
On the court Jordan also left an impression, one of the first being the classic hand-switching layup against the Lakers in the 1991 NBA Finals. I remember that photo running on the front page of The Roanoke Times Sports section the next day. Pretty sure after that all of our parents became very concerned we would all end up biting our tongues off trying to imitate Mike during random activities. Seriously, I was hanging my tongue out while bowling at one point. So unnecessary.
Jordan winning his first title sealed the deal; the goods we had been sold were in fact legit. And once the first title was locked up, it almost felt the same way it did after beating Super Mario Bros. for the first time. The right combination had been found in that tricky final castle, so from then on it was save the Princess or bust.
After that first title, Jordan expanded his empire into our Saturday mornings when he, Bo Jackson, and Wayne Gretzky made of the trio known as the “Pro Stars.” I think they fought crime or bad nutrition, or something. It doesn’t really matter because all we cared about is that they were famous athletes and that they had sick gadgets like Gretzky’s flame powered roller blades. They also apparently lived in lockers. Weird.
Following the ’91 title, I was glued to my TV as the Bulls faced the Trail Blazers in the following summer’s finals. (Always loved that the NBA Finals were in the summer. I think the ability for kids to stay up and watch the most important games of the season greatly enhanced the game’s popularity.) Portland took it to six games, but it honestly never felt that close. Jordan had that effect on this Chicago team. He made guys like Bill Cartwright and John Paxson seem unstoppable.
Later that summer Jordan joined forces with the greatest group of players ever established, the USA’s 1992 men’s Olympic basketball team. I’m not going to lie, it was super weird watching Jordan not wearing number 23 for a while. Of course that would get even weirder later in his career. Much like Jordan himself, the Dream Team was about so much more than basketball. It was about posters, coloring books, and t-shirts. Heck, we all knew they were going to win the basketball games, but the new swag we could find was what was really exciting.
By this point there wasn’t a soul in my tiny elementary school in southwest Virginia that didn’t know Jordan or about “Jordans,” which for most of us might as well have been the Holy Grail of shoes. I’m not sure I even saw a pair in person until I was at least 12. The world was so much larger prior to Internet purchasing. Jordan had officially taken his place on the Mount Rushmore of the early ’90s along side Zach Morris, Bill Clinton, and Bart Simpson. Guys, girls, sports and non-sports fans alike, they all knew him and embraced him. Even if you said you hated MJ, you secretly loved him. I’m convinced of this.
The 1993 Finals was one of the most entertaining ever. While there was no bigger basketball icon than MJ, there was no bigger basketball personality than the Suns’ Charles Barkley. Not only was Phoenix a darn good team that year — Kevin Johnson, Dan Majerle, Tom Chambers — but the Jordan-Barkley storylines were fabulous to follow, especially the golf outings. Other than game 4, each game was won by the visiting team, with Paxson nailing a 3 to steal game six and give the Bulls their third title. Again, MJ was on top of the world.
Then that world came crashing down.
I remember that July morning when I first heard James Jordan Sr. had been murdered. I rank it up there with the day Dale Earnhardt died as far as bizarre feelings are concerned. It’s not like I knew the elder Jordan, but seeing someone like MJ, who I thought was so invincible, have something so awful happen to him was extremely sobering even for an 11-year-old. Perhaps it was the first time I realized life was all cartoons and pizza parties.
Then came the Jordan baseball era. You know the story. He ditched basketball and announced he was taking up baseball. Tell me you didn’t think he was going to be an instant All-Star and I’ll call you a liar. Truth be told though, my lasting impression of his baseball career is that he was super skinny and wore his pants as high as my grandad. It wasn’t that he awful, well OK, he was kind of awful.
When Jordan left basketball, plenty of “fans” my age left as well. It was one of those awakening moments in life, the realization that fellow middle schoolers had been rocking the guy’s jersey without having ever really watched him play. These were the same kids who claimed to have loved the Beastie Boys, but never caught it when you played the intro to “Girls” on the xylophone in Music class. Posers.
Meanwhile in the league, that Jordan size void was clearly felt. Scottie Pippen couldn’t carry the Bulls and though Reebok tried their best to pitch Shaquille O’Neal as the league’s new shoe wearing star, Orlando Shaq was still a few years from greatness. Of course the latter did produce the Shaq Insta Pumps. Funny, shoes that required you to carry an inhaler around with them never really caught on.
The absence of MJ allowed the Rockets to scoop up two titles, but try making conversation about that at the school lunch table. Far too few kids had respect for Hakeem Olajuwon’s hook.
And then came the day everyone wanted a number 45 jersey. In March of 1995 the king decided to return to his kingdom, this time donning the number 45 jersey, his brother Larry’s high school number. It produced a lot of photos that still look strange today.
Though Jordan was back in ’95 he really didn’t return until ’96 and once he did, the bandwagon got full quick. Yep, those kids all came running back, screaming “I love this game” and rocking “Space Jam” tees. Even Bugs Bunny had bought in this time around, though I still think Taz was more of a Barkley guy.
MJ seemed different to me this time around. I found myself on the verge of hating him to be honest. Maybe it was those bangwagoneers all lathered up in Jordan cologne, kind of like when you learn the class dork has claimed the same favorite movie as you. It makes you sick.
Yeah, it could have been that, but it also could have been the way Jordan carried himself. It came across almost bully-like to me. What previously looked like confidence, suddenly looked like cockiness and I wasn’t digging it.
The dude went for three more titles during this time with a slightly altered cast of teammates. It was kind of like the Vacation movies in that way. Same main guys, he and Scottie, but the kids were different. By the way, why were Rusty and Audrey always flip flopping with who was the oldest? Weird.
Of course it didn’t help that one of the new kids was Dennis Rodman. Combine that with the new black jersey and Jordan and company had turned into villains to me, villains who prevented Shawn Kemp, John Stockton, and Karl Malone from getting rings.
This also didn’t help. Yeah, it was a push off.
Funny thing though, as hard as I tried, I never could find another superstar to hitch my wagon to. Penny Hardaway flamed out too quick, Larry Johnson dissolved post-Charlotte, and Kemp, well he got all cracked out of his mind and fat. Nope, it wasn’t going to happen, there would be no comparable iconic figure for me.
Remember how I said earlier I believed even folks who claimed they hated Jordan secretly loved him? That was me during those final three titles. I think I really wanted to hate him, but honestly couldn’t make myself because I was so flippin amazed by him. Moments like the flu game, which to this day is still my first thought whenever I’m the least little bit sick and have something to do, just wouldn’t allow for me to not admire the guy. The only thing I hated more than Jordan in his second term was the fact that I couldn’t get enough of him.
Jordan retiring after getting ring number six seemed like the perfect storybook ending. Riding off into the sunset, puffing a cigar, and sporting some golf cleats. But, it turns out he thought he had one more mini run in him and we now have photos of MJ in a Wizards uniform. That entire cameo appearance in Washington reminds me of a dad playing hoops with his 14-year-old in the driveway. The kid is just getting to the age where he is good enough to beat him, but the 20 pounds overweight dad can still dish out just enough hip checks to steal a few games. In hindsight it was kind of sad.
It’s been almost 10 years since Jordan took to the court, however, there is still no one bigger in the game or really the world. Think about all the ways he’s molded our culture.
He’s given us names for many of our kids, boys and girls. He’s given us the story we tell each kid who gets cut from his or her high school ball team. He’s given us shoes that don’t even have to be called shoes, just “Jordans.” He’s even given us guys a savvy alternative to male pattern baldness.
Looking back as he turns 50 today, I can’t think of anyone, athlete or not, who has effected the world I live in more than Michael Jordan.
For football fans Super Bowl Sunday is one of the most important days of the year and no aspect of that day carries more weight than the chosen venue in which the game is viewed. Whether it’s your neighbor’s house party or your favorite local sports bar, finding that perfect location and perfect crowd can make or break the big day.
Now I could go on for hours with the dos and don’ts on this topic. For example, I strongly advise against church youth group viewing parties because of the likelihood “I’m too smart for football” guy will show up and spend the evening preaching his “how barbaric the sport is” sermon. You know that guy, he could make a water park suck.
Instead of scribbling out that list I’ve decided to take this into the TV realm. Over the years there have been a ton of staple venues in some of the best shows TV has offered. If you had the ability to watch the Super Bowl in any one of your choosing, which would it be? It’s a tough question. I mean, it’s like picking between first or second lunch on Thanksgiving. How does one even go about this decision?
Well here’s your answer. The Back Porch’s grading of TV show venues for the Super Bowl.
Now before I get into the grades, let’s go over the basics. Each bar/restaurant will be given a grade 1 to 5 on the following topics:
location — Can I walk there? Perhaps more importantly, can I walk home? Also, will I be freezing in doing so.
service — No matter how great it is, when I want my cheese fries before they lose their meltyness.
the regulars – Who is the classic crowd? Will they be fun to watch the game with?
chance encounters with chicks — Let’s be honest, this is always a factor.
celebrity pop-in odds — Every good show has a few over the years, but who has the best.
It’s pretty simply after that. The numbers will be tallied and an answer will be given.
** A couple other notes. For this we’re just going to assume each location has the same giant HD TV, along with the same happy hour food/drink specials. It only seems fair.
Cheers’ Cheers (Yeah, that looks weird typed out.)
The Dukes of Hazzard’s The Boar’s Nest
Saved by the Bell’s The Max
Friends’ Central Perk
The Simpsons’ Moe’s Tavern
** Of course plenty of venues were left out, perhaps most notably It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s Paddy’s Pub. I blame that on my low tolerance for people with no pitch control of their voices and post-Twins Danny DeVito. The combination of the two is just too much for me to stomach.
So on with the grades….
Location: 4. It’s downtown and looks like I could easily walk or take a cab there, as well as back home later that night. The only reason I can’t give it a 5 is Boston is freezing at least two months out of the year and those unavoidable steps are bound to freeze and reek havoc on patrons dedicated to regular hours of consumption.
Service: 5. Not only are their multiple characters who can serve you, everyone was always moving around in that place like something was on fire. I dig that as a patron, though it does bring back slight flashbacks of my Cracker Barrel days. Yuck.
The Regulars: 3.5. Norm, Cliff, and Carla would be a blast to watch the game with, but Frasier, Lilith, and either Diane or Rebbecca would likely be buzz kills. Woody would most likely just be confused by the use of the coin flip and Sam would likely be preoccupied with hitting on whatever females were around. Of course that could be enough entertainment to save the night if the game turns to a snoozefest.
Chance Encounters with Chicks: 1.5. I never exactly saw Cheers as a place you could randomly bump into a lady. It seemed far more like a bring you own and hope to still have her when you leave venue.
Celebrity Pop-In: 4. Pretty solid list of celebs came through Cheers. Kevin McHale, Wade Boggs, Johnny Carson, Arsenio Hall. Any of those folks show and you’ve got a sweet story to tell.
Intangibles: Cheers gets a 2 points bonus for the simple possibility the night could end with seeing the singing of it’s theme song. That would be awesome any way you look at it.
Final grade: 17
The Boar’s Nest
Full disclosure: I likely have forgotten more about the Dukes that you have ever known. Not sure if I’m proud or ashamed of this fact.
Location: 1. I have no idea where the heck this place is. It always appeared to just be in some random field in Hazzard, probably due to some local blue laws that were never fully explained. Either way, you’re taking a car there, which could actually be pretty awesome in Hazzard County, but could also very easily end with you in, or under, the jail.
Service: 2: I don’t know that anyone ever worked there other than Daisy Duke. That should very easily merit a 1, but I mean come on, it’s Daisy Duke.
The Regulars: 5. Tell me you wouldn’t enjoy watching the Super Bowl along side Roscoe P. Coletrane and Uncle Jesse. Also, you know good and well Boss Hogg would be there laying down ridiculous prop bets.
Chance encounters with chicks: 3. Despite being in the middle of nowhere, there always seemed to be some random ladies at The Boar’s Nest. Granted, you have to compete with Bo and Luke for their attention.
Celebrity Pop-In: 3.5. The Dukes of Hazzard was one of the rare shows with a built in system for bringing in celebrities — The Hazzard County Speed Trap. Granted if you don’t dig The Oak Ridge Boys or Waylon Jennings, you might not fully appreciate it. But hey, that’s a you problem.
Intangibles: This place gets a plus 3 for its potential for a sweet bar fight to break out, however loses 1 point because of those random bowls of popcorn that are always around. Those are just gross. So plus 2.
Location: 3.5. While I’m not sure exactly where this place was, it always seemed everyone could walk there. Plus it’s California so no probably being outside in February.
Service: 2.5. I had to go middle of the road here because it’s a 50/50 shot you’ll either get Max the magician, which would be awesome, or you could get that creepster Jeff. Seriously, dude was like 25 and trying to hook up with Kelly. Why did no one ever question that?
The Regulars: 2. Much like Boss Hogg, Zach has prop bet guy written all over him. Slater could be decent to watch a game with, but other than that I’m lukewarm on this crowd. Any chance Jessie’s little brother Eric shows up? Nah, probably not.
Chance Encounters with Chicks: 3. They’ll be there, but you’ll have to check their IDs so I don’t put you into the creepster category with Jeff.
Celebrity Pop-In: 1. Casey Kasem, perhaps a young Eric Dane or Denise Richards, but other than that I’m not sure there will be much action. Plus Jim Harbaugh will be busy, so there’s very little chance of him making a second appearance.
Intangibles: The Max always seemed to have a variety of video games that very few people played. I’m guessing there’s a “Cruisin’ USA” stuck in there somewhere and that will earn you a point.
Location: 4. Seems like you could walk there, no steps, but New York is crowed and cold in the winter.
Service. 2. Rachel always seemed to do a decent job there and it seemed like they had a few other folks who kept the mugs filled. Let’s be honest though, the service bar is set pretty low a coffee shop. So long as it’s not a 45-year-old hipster, I’m generally happy.
The Regulars: 2. So this mark is slightly skewed by the idea of watching a football game with Jennifer Aniston or pre-Cougartown Courteney Cox. Joey and Chandler probably wouldn’t be bad to hang with either, so long as Matthew Perry doesn’t try to break into that awful sports radio character from “Go On.” I do have a feeling, however, that I would want to punch Ross at some point during the game for comparing Ray Lewis to a T-Rex. Though I kind of get it.
Chance Encounters with Chicks: 3. It seems like the odds of this would be in your favor, however, the person you run into will very likely be someone you’ve formerly dated. That will either go really good or horribly bad, always.
Celebrity Pop-In: 5. Lots of folks drifted in and our of Friends over the years. Bruce Willis, Elle Macpherson, Brad Pitt just to name a few. But there was perhaps no more impressive guest than Jean-Claude Van Damme. I mean, how awesome would it be to tell your friends you spent the Super Bowl with the victor of “Bloodsport?”
Intangibles: It gets a point simply because the furniture always looked so dang comfortable.
Location: 4. Located in downtown Springfield makes for an easy walk and since I have no idea what state Springfield is in, I can’t say it would be freezing.
Service: 3. True, Moe Szylak is a one man show, but have you ever seen anyone with an empty glass in there? Plus, the dude had the work ethic to turn that place into a speakeasy fronting as a pet store at one point and that’s no small feat.
The Regulars: 3. While I believe Homer could be a blast to hang out with, I’m not so sure about Lenny or Carl. There is also a good chance Barney would end up passed out on you. There is, however, an equally good chance Duff Man would show up. So it balances out.
Chance Encounters with Chicks: 0. Let’s be honest, no lady is walking in that place.
Celebrity Pop-In: 5. What celebration hasn’t been on The Simpsons at some point? Even George Bush made a cameo when he moved in next door. I’m guessing if you got to spend the Super Bowl there, there’s a real solid chance Alex Rodriguez shows up and turns down shots of Jager because he prefers his deer blood via spray.
Inflatables: Though it’s highly unlikely Moe’s offers any type of digestible food, it seems to be located within walking distant of both Krusty Burger and the Kwik-E-Mart. Is it possible the Ribwich could make a surprise come back for the big game? The chance alone is worth at least 2 points.
So it’s looks as if we have a three-way tie between Cheers, Central Perk, and Moe’s Tavern. OK. Let’s just whittle them down with some common sense.
I know I said we would ignore hour happy specials, this is overtime. Central Perk doesn’t sell beer, so they’re out.
Should we knock Moe’s out simply because I expect the bathroom there to be a disgusting one-seater? I mean if Barney passes out in there, we’re all running for the bushes. Yeah, sorry Moe, you’re out.
So Cheers it is! Gosh I can’t wait to hear Norm’s take on deer antler spray.
February 3rd’s Harbowl was locked in stone last weekend and just in case you are already sick of the “brothers don’t shake hands, brothers hug” storyline, here are a handful of others I find interesting.
1. Alex Smith’s Miss Bliss-ness
In the pre Bayside High School days Zach Morris and company attended John F. Kennedy Junior High in Indianapolis. Apparently the move to high school not only included traveling across the country to Palisades, California, but also leaving Bliss, the focus of the original show, on the sitcom bench. Despite putting up a decent record, the head guys just had a feeling she was too smart for the rest of Bayside’s teaching staff. I mean seriously, can you see Bliss and Mr. Tuttle hanging out in the teacher’s lounge sharing some microwavable pasta? Not a chance. The Bayside crew went on to achieve legendary TV world status, while Bliss went on to…well okay, I have no idea what the lady went on to do.
Similarly 49ers quarterback Alex Smith was the focal point of the offense until he got banged up against the Rams and opened the door for head coach Jim Harbaugh to slide Colin Kaepernick into the starting spot. Apparently Harbaugh just saw the writing on the wall, or perhaps in the essay inked on Kaepernick’s arm, because the second-year QB has been the starter ever since.
I’ll be curious to see how Smith reacts now that the team is on the grandest of stages. Sure, there are those who will say he should feel like he is very much a part of the team’s success because he was the guy who got them started off this year. To those people I say, bull! If halfway through the journey to the new world Christopher Columbus had been over taken by Jimmy from the crow’s nest, people would be complaining about Jimmy from the crow’s nest day each October and would have long forgotten Chris. Same goes with Alex.
I’m guessing the first two quarters won’t yield much of a reaction, but about halfway through the third, if the 49ers are doing well, I bet he’s breaking out the golf clap. If they’re doing poorly I’d put money on golf clap, plus patting teammates on the back while secretly letting fireworks off inside his head. I’d kind of dig having an Alex Smith cam for this game. But then again I’d also love to watch some Bayside High episodes with Bliss on the audio commentary.
Of course the big difference between Bliss and Smith is that Smith is still hanging around in case of an emergency. And I do mean an emergency. Barring that, there’s no chance Jim Harbaugh puts Kaepernick on the sideline to wear that awful flatbill.
2. Flacco verse the world
No matter what Joe Flacco does he always seems like that kid who is forced to spar with the girl in karate class. He wins and everyone is all, “yeah, but..” He loses and of course he’s taunted. The Super Bowl will likely be no different. Despite having 8 TDs and no INTs in the playoffs, it feels like Joe’s going to have to produce a close to elite game in order to finally achieve “Better than Tony Romo” status. Anything less and he’ll likely find himself waking up on Trent Dilfer Island.
3. Randy Moss is in this Super Bowl
Whaaaaat?!?! You say? Yeah I keep forgetting he’s still around too. I guess that’s what only hauling in three TDs all season will get you. Still though it’s odd that a guy who starred in one of my all-time favorite Nike commercials can go so unnoticed.
Perhaps Randy’s just one bomb away from rekindling old fake-a-mooning Randy. I hope so.
4. Will Frank Gore dress himself appropriately?
In case you missed it, Wednesday it was reported that Gore was fined $10,500 for wearing his socks too low during the NFC Championship. I mean, we all have that pair or two of socks where the elastic has just given up on life, but you don’t wear those on game day, Frank. Those are downgraded to lawn mowing status. Put your Sunday socks on, man.
I get that this is a little thing, but it’s the kind of thing you often look back on in hindsight and wonder if you shouldn’t have seen it as a precursor to a larger problem. If you can’t follow the little rules, how can you follow the big ones?
5. The Church of Ray Lewis
I will likely put together an entire post breaking down Ray Lewis’ theological ramblings, but for now I’ll stick to this thought: The Church of Ray is a flipping crazy place. Seriously, I dig the guy, but each time he talks, he goes more and more big tent revival on us. At this point, if he does win the Super Bowl he’ll be breaking out snakes and daring them to bite him, which is cool, if you’re into that sort of thing I guess.
Of course if he loses I expect an equally dramatic breakdown. Either way he’s going to give a performance Jimmy Lee would be proud of. Demons out!
I’m not going to lie and say his churchiness isn’t entertaining, it is. But it’s also offensive to many fellow believers to think that God has spent the last two years manipulating pieces in the NFL like it’s Risk just so this guy can have a storybook ending and retirement party. There’s a big difference between giving God the glory and claiming his predestination.
Coming soon: What TV hang out would be the best place to watch the Super Bowl?
On Sept. 5 I put together 12 predictions for the 2012 NFL season. Just more than four months later, the SuperBaugh is set — yup, already sick of that pun — with the Niners and Ravens slated to meet on Super Bowl Sunday, which I still stay should be Super Bowl Saturday. Seriously, how much more awesome could your party be without the threat of a Monday morning workplace headache looming?
OK, enough of my complaining. It’s time to take a look back see how clear or fuzzy my crystal ball was.
1. The Peyton Manning sequel will be far more “The Godfather II,” than “The Lost World: Jurassic Park.” A quality sequel isn’t easy to pull off, you’ve almost always got to introduce a new and more intriguing character. For Peyton, that’s Denver’s defense, which carried the team to its 8-8 record last season. Of course another good sign for a sequel is when the lead actor freely chooses to commit to the project. (Bill Murray’s hesitation with Ghostbusters II should have been a sign) Peyton landed in Denver on purpose. That’s a big deal.
Update: I must say I started off pretty solid. Manning put up MVP numbers (4,659 passing yards and 37 TDs) as he led Denver to an AFC-best 13-3 record.
2. Mike Vick will miss at least four games and by season’s end Nick Foles will have become this year’s Matt Flynn. I kind of hate to say it, but as long as Vick throws himself around like one of those old WWF wrestling buddies, he’s never going to last 16 games.
Update: Going to say I went 50/50 on this one. Vick ended up only playing in 10 games and Foles definitely was handed the reigns, but Foles actually got to play far too much to become this season’s Flynn. Plus, it’s hard to imagine Chip Kelly has much faith in Nick running an Oregon-esque system.
3. The Chiefs are going to be better than a lot of people think. Two years ago Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis would have been a dream fantasy league backfield. If they both stay healthy, even a lukewarm Matt Cassel won’t be able to negate their success.
Update: 2-14? Hmm. I was drunk when I wrote this? Yeah, that’s really the best excuse I can come up with for thinking the Chiefs were going to be decent.
4. The Saints will be worse than a lot of people think. I’m a firm believer that no one comes out of an awful car wreck completely unscathed, much less a train wreck like the one they just went through. It will take its toll. Plus, based on his flurry of NyQuil commercials, Drew Brees is forever sick these days.
Update: I looked far more sober on this prediction. New Orleans finished at 7-9 and, even after wins, really never did feel like they were gaining any traction. I also think Brees still has the sniffles.
5. Tim Tebow will without a doubt replace Mark Sanchez and likely do so early in the season. Listen when Emily Valentine showed up at West Beverly you knew something big was going down. You don’t introduce such a dynamic character without involving him or her in some pretty big plot points. Rex Ryan knows this. He knows you don’t bring Tebow to New York to play a supporting role, you bring him there to add a new plot twist. Now it’s just all a matter of perfectly timing the break up with Sanchez. I’m hoping they somehow work a deal with the Raiders and complete the holy trinity of underachieving former USC quarterbacks along side Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart.
Update: I’m still not exactly sure what happened here. It almost feels like Rex Ryan benched Tebow just to prove that he could. I mean the dude only threw eight passes all season for a team that only won six games. Perhaps I put too much emphasize on Rex’s love for a good drama or perhaps I just didn’t realize how far he would go to justify that exotic Sanchez tainted tat he got. Either way, I was wrong.
6. Terrell Owens will reach a new low when Tyler Perry makes a public request that the jobless receiver quit calling and asking for cameos. The TMZ quote of the night from T.O.? “Oh come on, man. I’ve got my own fat old lady suit!” Granted by the time you read this, this very well may have already happened.
Update: I’m still not 100% sure this hasn’t happened.
7. The Giants’ David Wilson will be that guy you ended up with in the tenth round of your fantasy league and who by week six you’re claiming you drafted on purpose, knowing he was going to have a break out season.
Update: Week 6 might have been a stretch, but by season’s end Wilson was owned in 69% of Yahoo! Fantasy Leagues.
8. Jerry Jones will deny forcing Dez Bryant to wear a tracking device, claiming instead that Dez is simply trying to start a new fade — ankle beepers. Unfortunately for Jerry, Dez’s lack of knowledge when it comes to using a pay phone will cause this plan to fail. Seriously, who born after 1986 even knows what a pay phone is?
Update: No idea if Jerry went all out like this or not, but someone seems to have reeled in Dez who finished with 12TDs and 1,382 yards to lead the Cowboy’s receiving core.
9. “I have naturally high testosterone” will replace “I had no idea what was in that cream” as the clutch excuse when players are busted for PEDs. This of course will be edging closer and closer to the ultimate excuse of, “I’m actually a werewolf.” That’s the one I’m waiting for, along with the use of “Teen Wolf” as supporting evidence.
Update: I honestly didn’t hear any excuse from any busted NFL players at all this season. Granted, I might have just missed it. I still think the werewolf defense has potential. In fact, I’m a little disappointed Lance Armstrong didn’t come out with it when he was with Oprah. Something to the tune of, “Oprah, you know how in Twilight the vampires can run all crazy fast and climb trees and stuff? Yeah, I’m one of them.” I mean it’s not like we’re buying anything that dude says anyway at this point. He might as well be entertaining.
10. The NFC North will be the most entertaining division to watch, however it will be Green Bay and Detroit, not Chicago, fighting it out for the top spot. The reasoning for this is simply, Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, and Matt Forte have hit their ceilings, while Brian Urlacher is on the way down. Meanwhile guys like Calvin Johnson, Ndamukong Suh, and yes, even Matthew Stafford, despite his truffle shuffle-esque frame, have room to grow.
Update: 4-12? Hmm. I was really drunk? Would you buy that? Detroit was awful, but I was right about it not being Chicago fighting for the top against Green Bay. I, and the rest of the non-Vikings fan world, just had no clue Minnesota was going to not suck like that.
11. The Texans will win the AFC South, but not as much as a result of their own ability as a result of that division being awful. It’s kind of like lowering the basketball goal in your drive way so you can dunk. You look awesome throwing down on the nine footer, but once you get in a legit gym, your game is all off and no amount of arm bands can keep you from bricking lay ups. The goal is low in the AFC South and Houston will get used to it and then lose in the first round of the playoffs.
Update: I guess the spirit of this prediction was correct. Houston did win the division and then turn out to be luke warm at best in the playoffs. I was wrong though about the entire AFC South sucking, as the Colts (11-5) turned out to be surprisingly good. Of course also surprising is how a team from Indianapolis could be in the AFC “South.”
12. Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco will finally take that step up in the quarterback hierarchy, passing Tony Romo, Philip Rivers, and Ben Roethlisberger and his cookie crumb filled beard. For the past couple years they both seem to have been stuck as those “yeah, but,” guys. Every time they did something good, their critics had a reason or thought to knock them back down. Well not after this season. Not after these two guide their teams to the Super Bowl, which the Ravens will win 24-14. I will call it the “Bird Bowl,” and I will be made fun of for that.
Update: Bird Bowl it shall not be, however, 1 out of 2 isn’t too shabby. I do think Ryan and Flacco stepped up their games to a new level this year. Ryan turned out a Pro Bowl season, while Flacco didn’t, but is headed to the Super Bowl, which I imagine he will take.
I have a confession to make. Throughout my life, I have frequently found myself very bored in church. It’s not on purpose, it just happens.
To combat this, and salvage a little bit of whatever lesson is being taught, I’ve often cast different characters or actors in whatever Bible story is being told.
For example, my Zacchaeus is always played by Danny DeVito.
In a similar fashion, I decided to cast the classic church Christmas play using only characters from the 1980s. So you won’t find Arnold Schwarzenegger in here, but you might find Julius Benedict. Get it? Good.
Zechariah — We know two things about this guy. He was old and he had no confidence in his ability to reproduce. I think “Three’s Company’s” Mr. Furley will do well here, though he’ll likely want to rock one of those sweet leisure suits instead of the classic church play bath robe.
Elizabeth — Just like her hubby, all we really know about this lady is that she was old, so it seems an obvious choice to plug a Golden Girl in here. Now when you say Golden Girl, most folks jump right to Betty White, but if you watched even a single episode you know it was Sophia, not Rose, bringing home the laughs. So, Sophia it is.
Mary — This is by far the toughest role to cast. You need that solid combination of innocence and toughness, which hard to find in any decade, let alone the ’80s. I could go with Princess Leia, but aside from that one awkward bikini scene, Carrie Fisher kind of creeps me out and let’s be honest, Mary needs to be a looker.
So Demi Moore’s Cassandra from “One Crazy Summer?” Perhaps, but she’s almost a little too artsy for the part. I dig her, but not sure Joseph and baby J would.
No, I’m going to go with “Cocktails’” Jordan Mooney played by Elisabeth Shue. Jordan seemed sweet, but was hardcore enough to walk away from Flanagan when he wouldn’t clean up his crap. Plus, I dig girls named Jordan. For a boy the name is a little played out, I mean there’s a lot of pressure on a boy named Jordan thanks to his Airness. For girls though, it works well.
Joseph — Who else could play Joseph except for the world’s last true family man, Clark W. Griswold. Let’s face it, what we know about Joseph is that he was very loyal and all about taking his pregnant wife on a journey to his hometown for the census. Tell me Clark wouldn’t be all about that census trip. Plus, later on we find out that Joseph, and Mary, left Jesus at the temple. Turn the Family Truckster around, Clark. We gotta go get Jesus.
Gabriel — Alf. Okay, shut up. You have no idea what a real angel looks like and I really want to give this guy a speaking part.
Innkeeper — Though this character is never mentioned in the Bible, you always see it cast as some old guy. I prefer to think it was a young, up and coming capitalist running the local inn, so enter Alex P. Keaton. Can’t you just see Alex getting giddy after booking all his rooms and then completely leaving a struggling young couple out in the cold? Sure you can. Plus, Alex kind of hates Christmas as noted in 1983′s “A Keaton Christmas Carol.”
Innkeeper’s wife — I’m going to throw Boof from “Teen Wolf” in here. Granted it’s a mixing of characters, but she just looks right beside Michael J. Fox. By the way, is it just me or was Boof always hotter than Pamela? Seriously, let Pamela hang all over that sketchy 28-year-old high schooler. I’ll take Boof all day.
** Note to self: Spend some time in 2013 breaking down every basketball scene from “Teen Wolf.”
Angel visiting the shepherds — James Dalton from Road House only makes sense here. Look, shepherds spend their days fighting off wolves and other varmints, yet they were scared when this angel showed up. Dalton could swing that. Plus, once they realized he wasn’t going to kick their tales, they’d surely follow him anywhere.
Other angel — I’m not sure why, but you always see that one angel, just hanging out on top of the barn for some reason. I’m going to give that role to Daryl Hannah’s Madison from “Splash.” Why? Because I just gave the ladies Swayze.
Heavenly host — We need something that really pops here, that will really get the folks into the show. Who could do that better than Run-D.M.C.? Obviously “Christmas in Hollis” will be going down.
Shepherds — I’m going to cast two groups of shepherds here. The first, the group of seasoned vets — the cast of “Cheers.” Norm, Cliff, Woody, Sam, Carla. Heck, I’ll even throw in Diane and Rebecca. Pretty sure I would dig sitting around watching sheep with this group. By the way, I’m leaving Frazier out if possible. He always felt forced to me.
The second group will be a younger group. Kind of the learning the ropes groups. For them I’m going with the entire skateboarding gang from the final scene of “Gleaming the Cube,” led by none other than Tony Hawk in that Pizza Hut truck. Christan Slater may or may not be there, depends which Fox show he’s running into the ground when we do the show.
Herod — He’s the villain of the play, but something about him has always made me think he was kind of goofy. This prevents me from going all out Darth Vader here, so instead I’ll go Darth Helmet. Enter Rick Moranis in his best performance in which he does not get locked outside of his own apartment.
*Side note: Thunderdome Tina Turner will be Rick’s understudy.
Kings — Obviously we need three of the ’80s wisest men. So here goes..
Mr. Miyagi gets the role as wise man no. 1, not because he imparted so much wisdom to Daniel, but because he tricked that kid into doing a summer’s worth of home repairs. Flippin brilliant.
Egon Spengler gets the second nod simply because he’s a genius and can probably use the Ecto meter to help lead the way. Plus, he can tell us about the Twinkie.
And the third spot goes to…Terrence Mann from “Field of Dreams.” Tell James Earl Jones just doesn’t reek of wisdom in that movie. By the way, I’ve always been curious about the racial make up of that corn field. Is it segregated? Is there a separate field for former Negro League players? They left so much unanswered.
Narrator — Is there a more iconic ’80s voice than that of K.I.T.T.? I think not. Car and all will be just to the left of the stage.
And last, but definitely not least. The birthday boy.
Jesus — He will be played by…Teddy Ruxpin. Why? Because Cabbage dolls are creepy and I think there’s a really good chance baby Jesus was born fully capable of reading you a book.
It was from a friend who pointed to Friday’s tragedy in Connecticut as a prime example of why he doesn’t believe in God. The skinny is that the dude just couldn’t believe a God would allow such an awful thing to happen to innocent children, therefore he must not exist.
Something about that burned me. At first I thought it was just the knee jerk fandom-esque reaction. Kind of like when someone says your favorite NBA team sucks and you instantly want to punch them in the face before even considering that your favorite team is the Raptors and he might have a solid point.
After a while I realized though, I wasn’t burned because I disagreed with him, I was burned because I kind of saw where he was coming from. I mean, where was God? Where was the divine intervention that could have saved 20 schoolchildren from being shot? What else on the agenda that was so freaking important that 10 minutes couldn’t be spent shutting that crap down?
See, told you. It burned me. And this is coming from a guy who chose CHOSE to attend a college where “Caddyshack” was banned based on his belief in a loving and all-powerful God. I could hardly blame my atheist friend for having similar thoughts.
So I had to at least try to figure it out, I had to ask the age-old “Why do bad things happen to good people” question. Now I’m not saying that I did figure it out, but I start down a line of thinking that started to make sense to me. Granted, it raised a lot of “what ifs,” but hey, it’s a start.
So what if God’s not as much of a hands-on participate in today’s world as he has been in the past?
Sure it’s pleasant to think life is a train ride along God’s predetermined tracks. That is until those tracks lead to a derailment. Then suddenly the guy who laid the tracks looks more like a evil villain, than a loving God.
For the record, I don’t think God works for Norfolk-Southern, nor do I think he is activity guiding the majority of our actions. Instead I think God has been forced to sit back at a distance ever since Eden fell. Prior to humans’ sin, God could walk with humans, as he did in the garden. Once we got dirty, however, he has to take a step back.
Why? I’m not sure. Maybe we’re so tainted in our current state we would explode “Raiders of The Lost Ark” style if in his presence. I mean, all Moses saw was God’s back and afterwards his face was so lit up, all the Israelites started freaking out and he had to start wearing a ski mask. And that’s Moses we’re talking about. The guy with the 10 commandments, not a guy like me.
So if God isn’t down here moving pieces around like it’s “Risk”, what exactly is he doing?
Perhaps he’s being a father and perhaps that’s why God is referred to so often in a father-like sense.
Think about it. A good dad gives guidance, imparts wisdom, and attempts train his children to make the right decisions in life. He then give his children the free will to do as they best see fit. Sometime it takes, sometimes it doesn’t, but that’s up to the kid to decide what he or she is or isn’t going to do. This is why all of us at one time or another have hurt someone. It’s the downside of free will, the opportunity to really screw stuff up.
Of course this puts a heck of a lot more responsibility on you and me. Now it’s up to us to decide not to run that red light or tell the cashier he dropped us a Jackson when he really only owed us a Lincoln. We’ve got to own that.
It’s also up to us to be proactive when it comes to doing good, especially if we are Christians because we carry the Holy Spirit around where ever we roll.
If you look throughout the Bible, very seldom will you find God reaching down from heaven with a giant hand to stop things. Most often you see him using people. Sure, he sent a flood, but he used Noah to provide folks with a boat. Yeah, he sent plagues to Egypt, but he sent Moses and Aaron with a warning before hand.
God gets even more hands off in the New Testament after Jesus dies and rises, likely because the Spirit was now present in Christians. The Apostles went to work, did miracles, spread the Gospel and set up systems for taking care of those who couldn’t take care of themselves.
And then of course once the perfect came, i.e. the Bible, proficiency, tongues, and special knowledge ended as God seemingly took another step back. It’s almost as if as time goes on, God gives us more and more free will and greater and greater responsibility.
So what then?
Even after a lot of thinking, I still don’t really have an answer as to why God lets bad things happen, but it just seems too easy to simply look at the tragic events of Friday and conclude that there is either no God or, at the very least, one that doesn’t care about us. That’s just too surface level. It’s too much passing of the buck.
Blaming God like that often just seems like a way of us passing our the responsibilities we have to ourselves and to each other. Yeah, our world’s a jacked up place and there are all kinds of nutballs out there who for whatever reason seem hell-bent making things worse. But the question we have to ask ourselves is: What am I doing to make it better?
God never promised us life was going to be easy. He’s never attempted to put us all in secure bubbles and force us to play Trivial Pursuit with George, while waiting for Jerry. We’ve never been his hampsters like that.
Instead, he’s put us out here, given us guidance and given us the free will to decide how to use that guidance. We can either make things better or we can really screw the pooch. Either way, that’s on us and God will always be good, no matter how bad we suck.
One of the more disappointing times I’ve had at a movie theater was watching “The Perfect Storm.” I spent two hours getting to know George Clooney and John C. Reilly’s characters and then in the last five minutes of the flick, a wave comes and the boat’s gone. For whatever reason I had no knowledge of the true story the film was based on, so I kind of expected at least Marky Mark to survive. It was deflating.
Last night’s SEC title game left me walking away with a similar deflated feeling. For over two hours I watched one of the best games I’ve seen all year, just to have it end with Georgia burning the final 15 seconds before the Bulldog’s Chris Conley caught a tipped pass five years out of the endzone. Bummer.
Of course I can’t say the Bulldogs actually deserved anything other than the 32-28 loss to the Tide. You can’t get run all over like that — 350 yards, 3 TDs and 6.9 ypc for Alabama — and expect to win. It seriously felt like the Tide were on the Bulldog’s 10-yard line heading towards the endzone every time I looked up.
For their efforts Alabama takes their first SEC title since 2009, though they have raised a national title trophy in the mean time, and scheduled a date with Notre Dame in the BCS title game in January.
So about that title game..
It seems that when Alabama wants to run the ball, that big o-line pins their ears back and they roll downhill. So the question now is can they do that against a Notre Dame team which has held opponents to 93.3 rushing yards per contest?
Of course the Irish like to grind it out as well and Bama’s no slouch when it comes to stuffing the run either, holding their opponents to 79.8 yards per game.
But, wait. Neither of these is the real question about the BCS title game.
The real question is who do you hate less, Notre Dame or Nick Saban?
That may sound a little harsh at first, but honestly there may not be two more hated figures in college football. It’s like when your mom tells you have to eat at least one green thing. You are now forced to decide which of these two you can best stomach for the next year should they raise the trophy. It’s a tough one, but you’ve got a month to hammer it out in your mind.
Going through the motions…
The Big Ten and ACC held conference championship games yesterday, but I’m not really sure why. Neither title game featured the best teams the conference had to offer. I get that they had to play them, but they seemed far less like championship games and far more like the end of a yard sale where rather than pack all your crap back up you decide to truck it to Goodwill.
Wisconsin was only the third best team in the Leaders division, but got in the title game thanks to Ohio State and Penn State’s teams paying the price for the crimes of others. The Badgers will now represent the B1G in the Rose Bowl after they drubbed Nebraska, 70-31. Guess that tells you all you need to know about the quality of that Legends division.
Like Wisconsin, Georgia Tech was the third best team in the ACC’s Coastal division, but because North Carolina is on lockdown and Miami sent itself to its room, the Yellow Jackets made their way to Charlotte to face Florida State. The Seminoles held on to win the game, 21-15, which makes you wonder why on Earth Jimbo Fisher ever thought this group was worthy of a national title shot. Let’s face it, the ACC is a JV football conference.
The Noles will now very likely get to square off with another JV conference member, and soon to be ACC neighbor, Louisville in the Orange Bowl.
Of the projected bowl games outside of the BCS title game, I’m most looking forward to an Oregon-Kansas State match up in the Fiesta Bowl. Both teams should be bent at themselves for slacking off just enough to let Alabama slide past them, so I’d think they will come out guns blazing.
Also, there’s a Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl this year. Was that around last year? Man, I bet the bowl swag for that event is outstanding. Probably includes some of those sweet wet naps too. That’s pretty much the only place on Earth a grown man can use a wet nap and feel okay about it.