Death, Divorce, & Illegitimate Children: HIMYM & The Evolution of Series Finales

tv1I’ve spent some time here at The Manofesto trashing the state of television in 21st century America, but I also feel as if I have given a fair amount of credit to what I consider to be great shows of both the past and the present. It’s just that there seems to be a lot less quality in the present, even though quantity is by far more voluminous than when I was growing up. Plus there are other things to do now, like spend time on The Internet and work for a living. Oh to be a child again. At any rate, one of the few fictional shows that I have enjoyed in the past decade was CBS’s Monday night juggernaut How I Met Your Mother, which recently aired its series finale after a 9 year run.

 

Series finales have always held a special place in my heart. I’m the sentimental type that hates saying goodbye, dislikes change, & embraces nostalgia with gusto. The television landscape has always been an unforgiving one, with shows coming & going faster than cars at a fast food drive thru. But that is why I learned to appreciate well written high caliber shows that stuck around for awhile. Due to my disability I didn’t get to do a lot of the things other kids did, so though I didn’t realize it at the time my childhood was a bit more isolated and solitary. Television was a good friend to that lonesome kid in the wheelchair sitting at home while others my age were out riding bikes & playing sandlot baseball, and to the teenager whose contemporaries were sneaking out to drink, smoke, & chase girls. So when a show I loved was ending and the finale came on it was a “moment” for me.

 

MASH_GoodbyeEven though I didn’t really care for M*A*S*H as a child I still remember the buzz around its finale in Cosby-show-finale_l1983…still one of the most watched television shows in history. The scene where Hawkeye Pierce is flying away in a helicopter while BJ Honeycutt spells out the word “goodbye” with rocks is iconic. I get a bit misty thinking about Joanie & Chachi getting married (and Mr. C’s toast) in the last episode of Happy Days in 1984. Probably the best finale of all time is the 1990 swan song for Newhart, which found Bob waking up in his old digs from the original 1970’s Bob Newhart Show beside former TV wife Suzanne Pleshette and realizing that all that Vermont country inn business with Larry, Darryl, & Darryl was just a dream. The 1993 finale of Cheers is probably more memorable for the cast’s live drunken appearance on The Tonight Show afterward. Nighttime soap Dallas ended its 13 year run in 1991 with a classic cliffhanger, this time leaving us wondering if JR Ewing shot himself. CBS cancelled soap opera Guiding Light in 2009 after a 70+ year run that preceded television, and even though the show had run out of gas years earlier the last episode was sweet & tasteful. newhart17aSo too was the end of 80’s powerhouse sitcom The Cosby Show in 1992, which ended with Cliff & Claire Huxtable literally dancing off the stage. The 1998 finale for Seinfeld was somewhat unsatisfactory, but in hindsight seems appropriate for the characters. Two of my all-time favorite finales are the final 6ftvoyage of Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1994 and the “death” of HBO’s Six Feet Under in 2005, both of which had their profound thought-provoking moments. One would be hard pressed to find a couple of hours of better television. And then there was the pleasant & tidy 1994 Friends finale, which basically saw each of the 6 main characters find a happy ending. Unrealistic?? Probably. But it left us with a smile on our face even though a show we loved was departing.

 

himymI use Friends as a segue on purpose. I’ve always thought that How I Met Your Mother shared a certain kinship with Friends. Both had a group of young adults hanging out together in New York. Friends had Monica’s loft, HIMYM had Lily & Marshall’s apartment. Friends had Central Perk, HIMYM had McClaren’s. Friends had Ross & Rachel, HIMYM had Barney & Robin…or so we thought. HIMYM never had the pop culture cache of Friends, and its cast never became quite the cultural phenomenon. However, HIMYM did things that Friends never even dreamed of. The non-linear storytelling, awash in flashbacks & flash forwards, with a framing device of a dad telling his children how he’d met their mother many years before, all pointing toward a specific end that the writers crafted before the pilot was even broadcast was daring, unique, and well done. That is until the finale.

 

It is at this point that I will be discussing specifics about the HIMYM finale, so if for some reason you DVRed it and haven’t had a chance to watch yet you may want to leave and come back later.

 

I’ve spent some time on Twitter and elsewhere online gauging reaction to the HIMYM finale, and the reaction seems to be about 60% negative. I guess that means that it wasn’t completely horrible. But it could have been so much better.

 

For starters, how dare the writers wait until the last season to introduce us to the mother and then so flippantly kill her off in the blink of an eye. Death in a sitcom is always tricky and should be used sparingly. HIMYM itself killed off Marshall’s father in season 6, but at that point it was a creative spark that spawned important growth in a main himym2character. Some might argue that The Mother (her name is Tracy McConnell) wasn’t a main character but I’d disagree. We spent nearly a decade waiting for her only to find out she died?? Unacceptable. Part of the problem also is that the casting of Cristin Milioti as Tracy was so perfect that the audience fell in love with her instantly just like Ted Mosby. She was the perfect gal for Ted to find his happily-ever-after with…and then all the sudden she’s dead.

 

Secondly, HIMYM spent the entire final season showing us the 48 hours leading up to Barney & Robin’s wedding. Heck, they spent the last 2 or 3 years of the series building up the Barney-Robin romance (sort of a rough & tumble knockoff of Ross & Rachel). And then in the finale we see one fight three years into the marriage and POOF…they’re divorced. It was…just like the death of the mother…treated all too dismissively.

 

himym3After the divorce it took Barney about 2 seconds to revert back to his smarmy womanizing ways, culminating with a “perfect month” in which he slept with 31 women. Classy. But then he finds out that “Number 31” is pregnant. Even in the hospital waiting room while the baby momma is giving birth Barney is hoping & praying that the child isn’t his. Even classier. All that gross insensitivity however supposedly goes away the moment Barney holds his newborn daughter. Neil Patrick Harris is a great actor, and that was a good scene, but for me it was too little too late. Seeing Barney’s character development in the past few years just tossed aside in the blink of an eye was disheartening.

 

I knew the moment that Tracy died that Ted was going to end up with Robin, and as mad as I was about The Mother’s death I still might have got on board with that if they would have gotten there in a different way. But to find out that the point of the whole framing device wasn’t a father telling his kids how he met their mother but rather a widower asking his kids if they’d be cool with him reuniting with his old girlfriend…well…it was a real kick in the nads. Total bait & switch. Unforgiveable.

 

Look, I kind of understand what the writers were going for. People get divorced. Parents die. Friends drift apart. And himym4life moves forward. I get it. It’s not that I am completely against poignant moments or deep ponderations on life within the framework of a TV show. HIMYM had its share of such moments over the course of 9 years. I enjoy good writing that dives below the typical superficiality we see on most fictional shows. But the series finale is not the time for such seismic shifts in the landscape. A finale’s storyline shouldn’t be heartbreaking. Fans are sad enough that the show itself is leaving the air. We want…expect…to see happy endings for the characters. Some may argue that Marshall, Lily, Ted, Barney, & Robin got their happy endings. Maybe so. But they got them in such twisted & shambolic ways. Yes…life is messy. Real life. We watch television to escape reality…not to see it mirrored.

 

The HIMYM ending that the writers pre-conceived from the very beginning might have worked if they’d just done it slightly differently. If Barney & Robin would have wed by the end of season 8 (instead of spending the entire last season on the wedding weekend) and all the events we barely saw in the finale…Barney & Robin’s divorce, Ted & Tracy’s relationship, Barney’s new fatherhood, the gradual demise of “the gang”, Tracy’s sickness & death, Ted’s mourning & eventual need to move on, Ted & Robin reuniting…would have played out over two dozen episodes instead of a single hour then maybe…maybe…it would have made more sense. As written & produced though it left me and over half of the audience with a bitter taste in our mouths.

 

himym5The creators of How I Met Your Mother have come up with a “spinoff” of sorts, called How I Met Your Dad. Just a few days ago I was all geared up for another fun ride. Not now. After the sucker punch perpetrated by these charlatans I will not waste my time with their “sequel”. Fool me once, yada yada yada. I have been lamenting the death of television for many years, but just when I think that maybe there is hope for this great medium and give my time, attention, & affection to what I feel is an above average show something like the HIMYM finale happens. It seems as though the powers-that-be had a trick up their sleeves that we didn’t see coming. It turns out that the fans lost our own slap bet, and the final smack in the face is going to leave a mark for awhile.

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Why I’m Not Going to See the Movie Noah

After lamenting recently that nearly a quarter of the way into 2014 I had yet to go to the theater and check out any new movies (because in my Noahopinion there hadn’t been any films worth the effort) I finally ventured out to the local cineplex a few days ago. Not only that, but I did a little research on what the rest of the year has to offer and came up with…to my surprise…about two dozen flicks that I hope to check out if circumstances allow such frivolity. However, one movie that I will not be spending my hard earned money on is the alleged “Biblical epic” Noah.

 

sproutsAdmittedly I am a hypocrite. Why?? Well, I have routinely criticized people who say they “hate” guys like Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity without ever having listened to them. Remember when you were a kid and you’d turn your nose up at veggies or some other kind of food and your mother would say “How do you know you don’t like it unless you try it?”?? I usually embrace that philosophy and am a bit hesitant to criticize a movie I haven’t seen. Then again, there is usually an exception to most rules and in this case Noah is it.

 

This film first came to my attention atleast a year…maybe two…ago, and my first thought was “Cool. I’ll check that out when it hits theaters”. From what I read it was clear that this wasn’t going to be the type of small independent art film that usually defines and…to a degree…hampers psmany “Christian” movies. This was going to be a big budget blockbuster complete with well-known stars and expensive special effects. Now I’m not usually a fan of computer generated effects, but in some cases they can be cool. James Cameron’s Titanic was largely a love story, but the last part of the movie…the sinking…was really well done and amazing to see on the big screen. The only 5 minutes of 2006’s Poseidon (a remake of 1972’s much superior The Poseidon Adventure) poseidonworth watching is when the rogue wave capsizes the ship. To my pretty boy disliking chagrin one of my favorite films of the past 15 years is 2000’s The Perfect Storm starring George Clooney as a doomed Gloucesterman whose ship is lost in a hurricane. The story is superb, and the effects add to the experience. So in my mind taking one of the best known stories of The Bible and giving it the big budget treatment (“The Flood will be really awesome” I thought) seemed like a great idea. But then details started to emerge out of the production.

 

The director, Darren Aronofsky, is an atheist.

 

Aronofsky admitted that Noah is ““the least biblical Bible film ever made”, as if that is something of which to be proud.

 

The word “God” is never used in the film…not once.

 

Aronofsky called Noah “the world’s first environmentalist”.

 

Noah becomes a deranged lunatic who wants to kill his entire family.

 

All the sudden I started to get a bad vibe about this whole deal. And that was before the movie even hit the theaters. Now Noah has beenthinking released to the masses and my concerns have been validated. And yes…I feel comfortable saying that without having seen the film. One can ignore the comments of 2 or 3 reviewers, but it’s hard to look past what literally dozens of people are saying about this film.

 

computer-searchNot surprisingly Noah is getting rave reviews from leftist media types. It has a 76% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with words like transcendent, daring, visionary, groundbreaking, gripping, thought-provoking, unconventional, & masterful being bandied about. However, if one digs a bit deeper (which isn’t that difficult in The Information Age) a much different view emerges. I value the opinion of folks who love God and atleast seem to make an effort to live their lives as Christ-like as possible much more than the angry, cynical, Jesus bashers who seem to delight in antagonizing Christians.

 

To be fair, this is a free country and we all have a right to worship or not worship whomever or whatever we choose. aflagSo if Mr. Aronofsky, whose 2008 movie The Wrestler I rather enjoyed, wants to be an atheist that’s cool. Go for it. But honestly…would you let a vegetarian grill your steak?? Would you let an illiterate person write your term paper?? Would you let a European immigrant who just came to America a week ago and doesn’t know a word of English teach a high school English class?? Would you let a 12 year old drive you to work?? That’s not to say that Aronofsky is a poor filmmaker or that only Christians should be allowed to make Christian films (again…that free country thing), but my Dad told me years ago that if you want a good steak you should probably go to a steakhouse and if you want Italian food you might want to try an Italian restaurant. Writers are told to “write what you know”, so it makes logical sense to me that an atheist making a movie about The Bible seems a bit anomalous.

 

bibleOne refrain that I have seen numerous times the past several days is “it’s just a movie!!”. Okay…that’s true. I’m fine with creative license. I know that two people named Jack Dawson & Rose DeWitt Bukater didn’t actually meet on the aforementioned Titanic and fall in love with the sweet dulcet tones of Celine Dion playing in the background. Two of my favorite movies, Forrest Gump and Field of Dreams, are different from the books on which they are based. Even past Biblical epics like The Ten Commandments, The Passion of the Christ, & Ben-Hur have taken a few liberties. But I do expect historical drama to fairly represent…well…history. And when it comes to the Word of God my standards are even higher. One can craft a great story (with CGI and everything!!) and not veer way off course from what actually happened (or for the more skeptical among you what was actually written).

 

Okay…so what actually happens in The Bible concerning Noah?? Another defense I’ve read about this movie is that the Genesis story about arkNoah & The Great Flood is relatively short so the powers-that-be necessarily “had to fill in the gaps”. Alright…I can buy that. However, the fact that this movie is 139 minutes long (that’s 2 hours & 19 minutes for those that don’t like math) is very telling since the average running time for a Hollywood film is right around two hours. What that says to me is that the makers of Noah didn’t struggle to fill in the gaps…it says to me that they had an agenda.

 

Whatever that agenda is…environmentalism…veganism…animal rights…the one thing that is clear is that telling a faithful story that is true to God’s Word is not even close to being part of the equation. That may be fine for a lot of folks…including Christians. It may even be desirable to many. But I just can’t do it. I have had to learn to overlook many things in the name of entertainment. There are so many movie & TV stars whose political beliefs I know are opposite to Man with pen and questionnaire. 3dmy own. Numerous athletes are of the anti-intellectual Neanderthal-thug variety that I know I could never have an intelligent conversation with. Entertainers of all kinds have very publically fallen off many a pedestal after having their personal problems, relationship issues, criminal activities, drug & alcohol battles, & general ignorance exposed. But I had to decide long ago to pick & choose whose foolishness I was willing to overlook as long as they still create a quality product that I enjoy. In the case of Noah and Darren Aronofsky they fail on all accounts because the filmmaker seems to have purposely made a film that reflects his own warped viewpoint and appears to be consciously hostile to a rather large chunk of what could have been a massive audience.

 

I am sure Noah will make a boatload of cash (pun intended). The drive-by lapdog media already loves it. Undoubtedly there will be many lukewarm “Christians” who’ll love it because of the incredible CGI and resemblance to other visually stunning & auditorily obnoxious BeanManIdeaLightblockbusters like Gladiator, Transformers, and every comic book/superhero based film of the past two decades. Well-known Christian “leaders” have already come out in support of the film if only because it is an opportunity to “begin a dialogue” and persuade people to study The Bible. But my money will not be among the hundreds of millions going into the pockets of Darren Aronofsky and whomever else stands to earn a check from Noah. I am not easily offended, and I wouldn’t even use that word in this situation. I just happen to have the privilege of living at a time in the universe’s existence where there is an abundance of data readily available that allows me to make a relatively educated choice. You may choose differently and that’s fine. Freedom is a wonderful thing.

I’m Gonna Win A Billion Dollars!!

Well okay…maybe not. But I am atleast glad I finally found some way to insert my NCAA March Madness brackets into an entry here at The Manofesto.It’s not exactly perfect, but it’ll do.

bballmadness3

As you can see, my Final Four consists of Florida, Virginia, Duke, & Oklahoma St., with the Gators eventually upending the Cowboys for the national championship. This looks like one of the more wide open & competitive tournaments in recent years, and alot of talking heads seem to be predicting a plethora of upsets. Some are even saying that none of the #1 seeds might make it to The Final Four. I don’t buy that. More often than not chalk ultimately rules the day. Oh sure there will be a few upsets. That’s what keeps things interesting. But I don’t think it’s wise to get crazy…even when the “experts” keep talking about parity and teams being “mis-seeded”. That committee is made up of folks who know what they’re doing. They certainly know more than most of us.

I don’t consider a 9 over and 8 or even a 10 over a 7 to be all that big of an upset, so in this year’s first round (yes I still call it the first round no matter how much they try to shove their fuzzy math down our throats), I am forecasting eight real upsets, with nearly half of them occurring in the South region. To be honest that is probably too many, but I suppose we’ll see.

Beyond the first round there are just a few teams I really like as “Cinderellas”…Tulsa, Oklahoma St., Oregon, & Nebraska. I have the Cowboys ending up in the title game and going down to Florida.

I think alot of folks are expecting early exits from traditional powers like Duke, Kansas, North Carolina, Syracuse, & Arizona, but I have all of them getting by their first round opponents and all but Arizona getting to atleast the Sweet 16. The most overrated teams in the tournament for me are Ohio St. & UCLA, both of whom I have being defeated in the first round.

So there you have it. The next couple of weekends should be alot of fun. I encourage y’all to enjoy The Madness. Fill out brackets. Enter office pools. Compete with friends. But don’t expect to walk away with Warren Buffet’s billion dollars…that prize shall be mine. But if you’re really really nice maybe…just maybe…I’ll share.

The Manofesto Presents: Literary Madness

Citizens of The Manoverse know my fondness for lists. I’ve written about my 100 Favorite Movies, 50 Favorite TV Shows, & Top 25 Christmas Carols…among other things. I have pondered the idea of doing something with books but could never really find the right way to go about it. And then a couple of months ago I had a revelation…one that I have been incubating until the perfect time. That time is now.

 

books-award-winners-300x205Today was a big day for college basketball fans, as the 68 team field for the NCAA Tournament…aka March Madness…was announced. I am not above borrowing a good idea or piggybacking off the publicity of other things, so it is with great pleasure and giddy anticipation that I announce Literary Madness.

 

I have pored over various lists and essays about the greatest novels of all time. Some of them I have read, several I have not read but Books-Quotes-47would like to, and there are quite a few that just don’t seem all that appealing to me. I must be true to myself, so in order to get to our field of 64 what I have done is choose 55 rock solid picks that are a good mix of what most agree are “classics” along with some of my own favorites. What about the other 9 spots?? Well, the basketball tournament has “play-in” games, so Literary Madness will have “read-ins” pitting multiple books by a particular author or in a certain genre against one another to decide the remaining entrants.

 

jk-rowling-quotesOnce we reach 64 each book will compete in one of four divisions: Narnia, Potter, Shakespeare, & Grisham. These divisions were given those names for a reason. CS Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia and JK Rowling’s epic Harry Potter books are not part of the competition itself. Why?? Well, because they are series that are comprised of multiple volumes, and I did not think it was fair to choose any single book out of a series nor does it seem right to enter them as an entire compilation…so they are out and must settle for this secondary honor. None of William Shakespeare’s works are part of the competition either since they are plays & poetry and not novels. I have always felt that Shakespeare was something that is best experienced as a live production (even if it is on video…if that makes any sense) the way The Bard’s works were meant to be enjoyed. And even though I have delighted in numerous John Grisham books over the past couple of decades I hardly think his stuff has the gravitas or longevity to go up against some of the world’s best loved literature so he too must settle for having a division named in his honor.

 

You may be wondering how the books will be seeded within each division. I debated that with myself and went back & forth with a few b1options. Since this whole thing is based on my own bias & preferences I decided that atleast the head-to-head matchups should be random. So I literally put each of the 55 entrants in a hat (well okay…it was actually an empty pot from my kitchen) and drew them out. I pondered taking pictures as proof of the integrity of the process, but I decided that’d be kind of lame so you’ll just have to trust me. If at this point you are thinking that I lead a sad little life and have far too much free time I would just say that you might be onto something. I will say that there are some awesome first round matchups that I will have a lot of difficulty deciding. In due time I shall reveal each bracket. Be patient.

 

b2Now anyone who has spent any significant time in The Manoverse knows that this is a long term project. If you think it’ll be finished in a few weeks like the basketball tournament then I’ve got some beachfront property in Ukraine that you’ll just adore. My goal is to complete this tournament before I die. That is as much pressure as I am willing to take on. I don’t think any of these books are in danger of suddenly becoming not good anymore, so if this project takes a few years it’s no big deal. It’ll give me plenty of material for The Manofesto and maybe keep my focus off subject matter that is frustrating, depressing, and otherwise worldly (in the negative sense of the word). That has always been the charm of books for me anyway…the ability to travel thru time and escape into The Land of Make Believe when the real world just gets to be a bit too much, which of course is nearly every day for those who work for a living or even just leave the house occasionally and are forced to deal with humanity.

 

I hope you go on this journey with me and leave plenty of feedback. Ideally I would like to put a poll up for each matchup and let Theb3 Manoverse have a hand in deciding the winners, but for that to work as well as I’d prefer we’re going to have to grow significantly. Maybe triple in size. We’ll see how it goes. It will likely take me a year or more to get thru all the “read-ins” so there is some time for proper ponderation. I will be posting the first “read-in” fairly soon (spoiler alert: it involves everyone’s favorite consulting detective) so stay tuned, God bless, and enjoy!!

Superfluous 7 – Favorite Pies (Happy Pi Day!!)

piToday is March 14…aka 3/14. Geeks, nerds, dorks, neo maxi zoom dweebies, & other assorted inhabitants of The Island of Misfit Toys happily embrace it as National Pi Day in honor of the mathematical definition of the ratio of the circumference of a circle to the diameter, which is approximately equal to 3.14 (and then a bunch of numbers afterward that don’t really matter). Let me assure you that I don’t really understand what I just wrote. Math was never my thing. I’m more of a right-brain kind of guy. However, National Pi Day seems like the perfect opportunity to talk about pi…uhhh…I mean pie. Because in The Manoverse dessert is a much more beloved topic than mathematics.

A physician would likely tell me that I’d be better off writing about (and eating) fruits & veggies rather than sweets, which have always been my kryptonite. My weight loss efforts are rarely torpedoed by chips or other assorted salty snacks. I have proven myself capable of giving up pop (or soda for those of you outside of Appalachia, Dixie, & The Bible Belt). Even fast food is more of a lazy convenience than a true addiction. However, put any kind of cookie, cake, ice cream novelty, pudding, or candy in my general vicinity and I crumble like a Kennedy at an open bar. So in honor of 3/14, aka National Pi Day, your humble Potentate of Profundity ravenously presents…..

 

 

from the home office somewhere off the coast of Nigeria in the Gulf of Guinea…..

 

 

My Superfluous 7 Favorite Pies:

 

 

 

7          Key Lime

I have never been to Florida, but someday when I do finally make it there I hope to pass thru Key West and eat some genuine key lime pie. Until then 754 AI suppose I will just have to settle for what passes as key lime pie elsewhere. I am told that true key limes are more tart & fragrant than what most of us find on the shelves at the local supermarket. At any rate, I am a huge fan of cheesecake but decided not to include it here because it is neither pie nor cake…it is its own special thing. However, key lime pie uses a very similar custard base and is just plain yummy. I could do without the usual meringue topping, but that’s a small nit to pick. Oddly enough I do not like lemon meringue pie (though my father loves it).

 

 

6          Blackberry

What is the difference between pie & cobbler?? What about bettys, crisps, & grunts?? Heck, I don’t know…and I don’t really care!! If anyone feels blackberrydifferently and is offended by me including blackberry cobbler here then I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree. There is an annual Blackberry Festival just down the road from here that is always one of the highlights of summer, and the blackberry cobbler there…topped with your choice of vanilla or blackberry ice cream…is sinfully awesome.

 

 

5          Pumpkin

What would Thanksgiving be without pumpkin pie?? It’s as essential to the tradition as turkey, stuffing, & the Macy’s Parade. The pies one purchases pumpkin-piein stores or at restaurants are decent and what probably 90% of America consumes, but if you have someone in your family that bakes the pie themselves…even if they are using canned pumpkin (they probably are)…then that is a special treat indeed. Personally I like to slather my slice with a heaping spoonful (or two) of whipped cream, but if you don’t have any of that on hand it’s all good…the pie will be just dandy on its own merits.

 

 

4          Pecan

Is it pe-khan pie (beloved by Trekkies everywhere), or is it pee-can pie?? Who knows?? This is the only pie on the list that I have actually dared to pecanmake, and it was darn tasty if I do say so myself!! The secret to pecan pie is the gooey “sauce” made with brown sugar, corn syrup (or molasses), eggs, butter, & vanilla. Otherwise you’d just have nuts in a crust, which sounds kind of prosaic. It’s a wee bit on the sweet side, but well worth the sugar stupor. I prefer to eat my pecan pie warm with a tall, ice cold glass of milk.

 

 

3          Apple

This is America, right?? There is no way that I could leave apple pie off the list. I am not sure how it became a symbol of patriotism and liberty, but apple-piethat is exactly what it has become. I prefer my apple pie warm and a-la-mode, which is a fancy French way of saying “with a big ol’ scoop (or two) of vanilla ice cream on top”. I am not particular about a decorative lattice top, and it really seems like a lot of work for something a person is just going to devour anyway. Actually I am just fine with a crumb topping. One has to be careful with the cinnamon & nutmeg, flavors that should be present but not overwhelming. My grandmother used to occasionally make something called an applesauce pie, which is exactly what it sounds like. I wasn’t a big fan. I need some texture and crunch.

 

 

2          Peanut Butter

Out of all of these pies it seems like peanut butter pie is the hardest to find. It is rarely on any restaurant dessert menu. It doesn’t seem to be easily peanut-butter-pieavailable in any grocery store. No one ever brings one to the family reunion or covered dish at church. But when it is available I do not hesitate to jump all over the opportunity. Maybe the scarcity is what makes peanut butter pie so good?? Interesting query to ponder, eh??

 

 

1          Chocolate

My grandmother…the same one that used to make the dubious applesauce pie…used to come to our house every Thanksgiving with my single chocolate-cream-pie-lfavorite food item of the day in tow…a homemade chocolate cream pie. She made her own crust too, which elevated the whole experience off the chain (I think that’s what the kids say nowadays). I have had many chocolate pies since, but nothing will ever compare to that. There are two key elements of a great chocolate pie. First of all the chocolate filling has to be right. I’ve had chocolate pies that were too chocolaty. If the color of the filling is too dark…almost black…then the flavor balance will be off. Oh…I’ll still eat it…but I won’t enjoy it quite as much. And there must be whipped cream on top. This is going to sound trivial, but unlike pumpkin pie, onto which a spoonful of whipped topping is added to an individual slice of pie after it has been cut, whipped topping should be considered as an ingredient of the chocolate pie and spread on top of the entire thing before it is ever presented for public consumption. And then if you really want to take things to the next level add some chocolate shavings on top of the whipped cream. That, ladies & gentlemen, is Heaven on a plate.

Points of Ponderation…..Episode 1.14

A semi-regular attempt to address some of life’s minutiae that might otherwise be overlooked…..

 

 

 

 

Wow…has it really been 8+ months since the last episode of PoP?? I guess it has!! As citizens of The Manoverse may have guessed your humbleponder Potentate of Profundity has hit another of my infamous valleys. This is the first thing I’ve published here since my NFL mock draft nearly a month ago. There are a few things in the hopper, but none are quite done simmering yet. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

Time_changeIs anyone else struggling with the recent time change?? I have felt like a zombie since Sunday. I want to nod off all day & evening, then toss & turn all night, and I’ve had a difficult time getting up & moving all week. I’ve made it to work on time…but just barely. I am usually 15-20 minutes early. I was becoming a bit concerned about my health until hearing comments from others and talking to some co-workers who assured me that they felt the same and that it was the time change. As much as I like having it be daylight until 7pm I think maybe we should consider ending this clock hopping madness that messes up our Circadian rhythm twice a year.

 

 

 

Speaking of biology…..

I may have mentioned this in passing on a previous occasion, but I am a sincere believer in the concept of a male “cycle”. There is a 2 or 3 day period angerabout every 6 weeks (it feels like it occurs less often than monthly) during which saying that I am “out of sorts” would be a significant understatement. Sometimes I cross over into murderous rage territory. No…I have never actually killed anyone or even come close to harming them physically. I am far too delicate for prison. But if people could read my mind trust me…they’d run in the other direction. There doesn’t seem to be any reason for this mixture of melancholy, weariness, frustration, & wrath, but it is quite real and bothersome. I have promised myself I was going to track the idea a bit closer and see if I could figure out any kind of pattern, but to be honest I have not followed thru. I do recognize the situation better now as it is happening and make an effort to isolate myself until it goes away. After a few days I wake up feeling blessed, encouraged, hopeful, & optimistic, and that is when I know the cycle is over…until the next time. Anyone with thoughts on the subject or who may have solid information about what I am just guessing to be a tangible reality is encouraged to comment. Reassure me that I am not crazy.

 

 

 

It is mid-March and I have yet to have graced a movie theater with my presence in 2014. Admittedly part of the reason is the brutal winter we’ve had here in Appalachia. When the temperature is in single digits and there is a bunch of icy white stuff on the ground this guy doesn’t go anywhere I don’t absolutely have to go. But there have also been a scarcity of films that I have any interest in seeing. There have been action flicks like Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, 300: Rise of an Empire, & the RoboCop remake that do clapperboardnot frost my cupcake at all. I have never seen any of the Tom Clancy/Jack Ryan films, and I didn’t watch the first 300. I don’t know what it’s about and I don’t care. I almost went to see Ride Along, but during the aforementioned murderous rages one of the first people I’d enjoy harming if I was that type of person would be alleged comedian Kevin Hart, whose 15 minutes of fame I sincerely hope ends very very soon. I pondered going to see the Liam Neeson action flick Non-Stop (because the promos really do sell the heck out of that thing), but then I saw spoilers about the terrorists being ex-military 9/11 family members and I decided that Hollywood didn’t need my money to spew forth their anti-American pro-Muslim agenda. I wanted to go see Son of God, but read some things about it being Hollywood Jesus instead of Real Jesus, that there are a plethora of Biblical inaccuracies, and that Satan was cut completely out of the film after politically correct Thought Police complained that he looked too much like President Obama. A few church friends have seen the movie and said it was good, but I still think I’ll skip it. It is likely that I will check out the new Muppets flick coming out in a couple of weeks, but there is nothing I’m really stoked about seeing until the Kevin Costner football movie Draft Day hits theaters next month.

 

 

 

I never thought I’d say this, but…..

Maybe NBC should have just left things alone. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I haven’t enjoyed Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show nearly as much as I liked his Late Night. I find myself flipping over to Jimmy Kimmel more than I ever have. Fallon deserves credit fThe Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon - Season 1or not completely overhauling his act just because he moved to an earlier time slot. That’s what killed Conan O’Brien. JayLeno__130320220248__130809211218However, there’s just something missing with Fallon. I realized during his first week at 11:30pm that folks my Dad’s age were likely changing the channel because he just doesn’t play to an older audience. Now I realize that’s what brought about this change in the first place. The suits couldn’t possibly care less about my father’s demographic. They want the 18-35 crowd, and Fallon is apparently delivering that in spades. But I find myself thinking that maybe everyone would have been just as happy if Jay Leno would have been allowed to hang on for another decade and step down gracefully like Johnny Carson did (although there are those that believe he was pushed out just like Leno and chuckle about the karma). Leno was still pleasant & amusing, which is what the host of The Tonight Show should be.  I suppose I am at that point in life where seth-meyers-late-night-nbccomfortable & cozy mean more to me than edgy & daring. Maybe that’s what I always preferred. At any rate what’s done is done, and so I will move forward kimmel-0105being sporadically amused by a mix of Fallon, Kimmel, & Seth Myers, who isn’t great in the 12:30am Late Night spot but he’s not awful either. I wouldn’t be surprised if Leno popped back up somewhere in a year or so, and if that happens I’ll check it out. What about Bitter Letterman and goofball Craig Ferguson you ask?? Ehhh…I’ll pass…unless I’m really bored.

My First Ever NFL Mock Draft (2014)

I have pondered the idea of doing a mock NFL draft for a few years now, but there have been some things stopping me. I am by no means an “expert” who pores over tape or scouting reports like a Mel Kiper Jr. or Mike Mayock. I’m not an “insider” with a plethora of contacts within the NFL like Chris Mortensen or John Clayton. I’m just a normal, average, run-of-the-mill fan who just happens to have an nfloutlet thru which I can pontificate about things that interest me. I don’t know who half of these players even are…I have gathered a lot of information from various sources and just have to trust their assessment. I do watch a lot of college football, but I learned long ago that there isn’t always as much crossover as one would assume there’d be between talented collegiate players and good pro prospects. There are always college football stars that are deemed to be too small, too slow, or unathletic enough for the NFL. Conversely, there are a lot of guys who make an impact in the NFL that few fans ever heard about in college. There are a numerous mock drafts available, so why add to the pile??

 

Despite these reservations I finally decided to forge ahead. The first thing I elected to do was make this a 3 round mock draft. Any yahoo can do a one round draft…I want a challenge!! The second thing I knew I wanted to do was throw in some trades. As my fantasy football pals know I love wheelin’ & dealin’. Sadly there isn’t enough of that that actually happens in the real draft. I do know football-introducing-the-science_1that they have a conversion chart that tells the suits what equals out to a fair exchange, but since I don’t have access to that and only have three rounds to work with I just do the best I can. If you see “via X Team” it indicates that is a real pre-existing trade. When you see “trade w/X Team” that means it is a trade that I am creating for this draft. It must be noted that we are almost three months away from the actual draft and a lot of things will occur in that time, especially when free agency begins next month. There will probably be a lot of opinions changed…one way or another…about certain prospects during the NFL Combine later this month. Some well-known names will become salary cap casualties. I may do a revised mock draft a week or two before the real thing, but I’m not making any promises. In the meantime, for those of you nerdy enough to enjoy this stuff as much as I do please peruse my selections and don’t hesitate to leave feedback.

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Round 1

1              Cleveland Browns (trade w/Houston Texans)Cleveland_Browns_Helmet

            QB Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M)                            

The Browns move up to get the quarterback that they covet. The move makes sense.

2              Houston Texans (via Washington Redskins & trade w/St. Louis Rams)houston-texans-mobile-wallpaper

            QB Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville)

In this scenario the Texans move down and then move back up, securing not only an extra pick but the player they really wanted all along anyway.

3              Atlanta Falcons (trade w/Jacksonville Jaguars)falcons

            DE Jadeveon Clowney (South Carolina)

The Jags move down knowing they can get who they want a few picks later plus add another draft choice. The Falcons leapfrog a couple of other teams to make sure they get Clowney. It’s a win-win for both teams.

4              St. Louis Rams (trade w/Houston Texans)St_Louis_Rams

            WR Sammy Watkins (Clemson)

The Rams are tempted to take an offensive lineman, but this draft is deep at that position and there’s really no one that is transcendent at the top. However, Watkins does stand far & above any other receiver.

5              Minnesota Vikings (trade w/Oakland Raiders)vikingshelmet1

            QB Blake Bortles (Central Florida)

The Vikings are desperate for a quarterback. The Raiders figure they can find one in the second round plus add a couple of picks. Only time will tell who was smarter.

6              Jacksonville Jaguars (trade w/Atlanta Falcons)Jacksonville_Jaguars

            DE Kony Ealy (Missouri)

‘Tis a tough position for the Jags. They miss out on both Clowney and Bortles. There is a huge temptation to reach for a quarterback, but that’s not the smart move. A good pass rusher is always a decent fallback option.

7              Tampa Bay BuccaneersTampa_Bay_Buccaneers_Helmet

            OT Greg Robinson (Auburn)

The Bucs won’t walk…they’ll run to the podium to make this choice.

8              Oakland Raiders (trade w/Minnesota Vikings)raiders

            OT Jake Matthews (Texas A&M)

Yes the Raiders need a quarterback. But there’s no one in this spot that’d be a good value. Matthews being available at #8 would be a shocker and few teams will ever pass up a cornerstone left tackle.

9              Buffalo BillsBuffalo_Bills_Helmet

            LB Khalil Mack (Buffalo)

If Mack, who played collegiately for the Buffalo Bulls, was hoping to escape the frigid northeast for a warmer climate he’ll be disappointed…but he’ll be rich.

10           Detroit LionsDetroit_Lions_Helmet

           CB Darqueze Dennard (Michigan St.)

The Lions defensive backfield was atrocious last season, and the Seattle Seahawks have proven how important a great secondary can be.

11           Tennessee TitansTennessee_Titans_Helmet

         S Calvin Pryor (Louisville)

The Titans are very very tempted to snag a quarterback, but maybe the Jake Locker era isn’t over just yet. Instead they address another need area by upgrading their secondary.

12           New York GiantsGiants Logo

           LB Anthony Barr (UCLA)

Some early mock drafts had Barr as a Top 5 pick. The G-Men would be ecstatic to find such value at this spot.

13           St. Louis RamsSt_Louis_Rams

        OT Cyrus Kouandjio (Alabama)

With their first pick the Rams added a top flight receiver. With their second 1st round choice they add some protection for quarterback Sam Bradford. Not a bad day’s work.

14           Chicago Bearschicago-bears-logo13

          S Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix (Alabama)

Ridiculous name aside, this is a pick that addresses an area of need for the Bears without reaching for an offensive lineman that wouldn’t be as good of a value here.

15           Pittsburgh Steelersdiamond-steelers

            CB Justin Gilbert (Oklahoma St.)

The Steelers’ secondary hasn’t been all that great for a few years in my opinion, and they’re getting old. This pick addresses a huge problem and injects some much needed youth into the defense.

16           Baltimore Ravens Baltimore_Ravens2

           WR Mike Evans (Texas A&M)

What was the difference between the Super Bowl Champion Ravens of 2012 and the non-playoff Ravens of 2013?? Some say one key change was the loss of receiver Anquan Boldin who was traded to the 49ers. Evans would solve the problem.

17           Dallas Cowboysdallas-cowboys-logo2

           DE Dee Ford (Auburn)

As much flack as quarterback Tony Romo and head coach Jason Garrett receive the fact is that the biggest reason the Cowboys continue to be a disappointment (besides their meddling owner Jerry Jones) is their porous defense. Ideally they’d trade out of this spot as the value at the secondary positions is later in this round or in the 2nd & 3rd rounds, but they have trouble finding a taker and therefore reach just a little for the best defensive end available.

18           New York JetsJets-Pin-Pro

           WR Kelvin Benjamin (Florida St.)

The Jets need offensive playmakers…plain & simple. Geno Smith can be an effective NFL quarterback, but he needs better options than what he had in 2013.

19           Miami Dolphins                Miami_Dolphins_Helmet

         OT Taylor Lewan (Michigan)

The Dolphins really need a workhorse running back, but since they seem to be devalued these days I doubt if they’d choose one with a mid-first round pick. Instead they solidify their offensive line with someone who hopefully won’t find themselves in the midst of an idiotic bullying scandal.

20           Arizona Cardinalsnflarizonacardinals

          OT Zack Martin (Notre Dame)

I think the Cards can squeeze another year or two out of Carson Palmer, so there’s no need to reach for a quarterback just yet.

21           Green Bay PackersGreen_Bay_Packers_Helmet

         TE Eric Ebron (North Carolina)

The Packers were a playoff team and I think they’ll be even better in 2014, so they don’t have any major needs. They could use an upgrade at cornerback but anyone taken here would be a reach, so instead they replace tight end Jermichael Finlay. Finlay’s 2013 season ended at the halfway point with an injury that required spinal fusion surgery. He’s only 26 years old, but he’s also a free agent so the prudent thing to do…especially since quarterback Aaron Rodgers has a plethora of weapons at his disposal anyway…is find a healthier & less expensive alternative.

22           Philadelphia Eagleseagles

           LB CJ Moseley (Alabama)

Head coach Chip Kelly is an offensive guru, but if he really wants to take his team to the top he needs to pay attention to the defense. Moseley is a well-rounded player with tremendous leadership skills.

23           Kansas City Chiefskc-chiefs-logo

         LB Ryan Shazier (Ohio St.)

The Chiefs were the NFL’s most improved team in 2013, but something was lacking. After starting the season 9-0 they finished 2-5 and lost a close one to the Indianapolis Colts in the playoffs. The popular sentiment is that they’d like to add a big time receiver for quarterback Alex Smith to target, but I think that the Seattle Seahawks provided the blueprint for defeating the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl…defense, defense, & more defense.

24           Cincinnati BengalsCincinnati_Bengals_Helmet

         CB Jason Verrett (TCU)

The Bengals are a solid playoff team so they can afford to reach just a little to solidify their secondary.

25           San Diego ChargersSan_Diego_Chargers_Helmet3

         G David Yankey (Stanford)

The Chargers flew under the radar in 2013 and right into the playoffs. Time may be running out for quarterback Philip Rivers to fulfill the potential so many thought he had when drafted a decade ago. The best way to maximize his abilities is to keep him upright and give him time to find a receiver downfield.

26           Houston Texans (via Indianapolis Colts & trade w/Cleveland Browns)houston-texans-mobile-wallpaper

           OT Morgan Moses (Virginia)

The Texans get this pick for moving down in the first round and allowing the Browns to draft Johnny Football. Of course they then moved back up and got their quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater. So now what?? Well, when you’ve got a big time signal caller the first thing you want to do is protect him.

27           New Orleans Saints10_new_orleans_saints

       OT Antonio Richardson (Tennessee)

The pickins’ are getting slim at the tackle position, but the Saints can afford to roll the dice in an effort to protect Drew Brees.

28           Carolina Pantherscarolina_panthers_logo-14336

         WR Marqise Lee (USC)

I believe that the Panthers are one of the favorites to get to the Super Bowl next season. They’ll have to get past the Seattle Seahawks at some point to get there, and a top flight receiver would help a lot. Steve Smith is 34 years old.

29           New England PatriotsNew_England_Patriots_Helmet

          TE Jace Amaro (Texas Tech)

The Patriots will be heartbroken to see all of the top receivers…Watkins, Evans, Benjamin, & Lee…off the board. But we know they have several options in the playbook for a solid tight end that can catch the ball.

30           San Francisco 49ersSan-Francisco-49ers

         DT Aaron Donald (Pitt)

Most folks seem convinced that ‘Frisco will be right back in the hunt for the Lombardi Trophy in 2014. I’m not so sure. This is a team that is getting older at some key spots and they need to address the issue before it becomes a problem. Receiver Anquan Boldin is 33 years old, but I think that position can be dealt with later. For now the prudent idea might be to take the best defensive player on the board.

31           Denver Broncosbroncos-4759

         CB Marcus Roberson (Florida)

The Broncos looked old & slow in the Super Bowl. It was kind of sad. They need to get younger & faster really quickly if they want a chance to get Peyton Manning another ring.

32           Seattle Seahawks            seattle-seahawks1

         WR Odell Beckham Jr. (LSU)

What can you possibly get the team that seemingly has everything?? Well, I’m going to say another weapon for quarterback Russell Wilson.

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Round 2

 

33           St. Louis Rams (trade w/Houston Texans)

         G Xavier Su’a-Filo (UCLA)

The Rams get this pick after trading down with the Texans earlier. This is the third pick for them and they’ve already added a legit #1 receiver and a solid offensive tackle. Depth on the offensive line is always great to have though.

34           Washington Redskins

          DT Timmy Jernigan (Florida St.)

The Redskins didn’t have a first round pick due to the trade that snagged them quarterback RGIII a couple of years ago. They still end up getting first round talent though, and improve their defense in the process.

35           Cleveland Browns

          RB Ka’Deem Carey (Arizona)

Either Trent Richardson wasn’t the answer at running back or the Browns gave up on him too quickly. Either way they need a replacement, because if they go into 2014 with 32 year old Willis McGahee & Fozzy Whittaker as  their starters they are screwed.

36           Oakland Raiders

         QB Derek Carr (Fresno St.)

Patience pays off for Oakland. Truthfully Carr shouldn’t drop this far, but there is some trepidation since he is the younger brother of former #1 overall pick David Carr, who was a huge bust coming out of Fresno St. in 2002. Fair?? Probably not, but the comparisons are inevitable.

37           Jacksonville Jaguars (trade w/Atlanta Falcons)

           G Cyril Richardson (Baylor)

At this point one has to feel some semblance of sympathy for the Jags. They traded down in the first round but it seemed like they could snag Carr early in the second. Oops. Fortunately there are a few more decent quarterback prospects available…but not here. Instead they add depth to the offensive line.

38           Tampa Bay Buccaneers

           LB Vic Beasley (Clemson)

The Bucs addressed offensive line issues in the first round. This time they reach just a bit for a pass rusher.

39           Jacksonville Jaguars

           DT Louis Nix III (Notre Dame)

The Jags are up again?? They go defense again and get great value with a huge defensive tackle.

40           Minnesota Vikings

           WR Allen Robinson (Penn St.)

Minnesota got their quarterback in the first round, so now it is time to get him some weapons. Adrian Peterson can’t do it all.

41           Buffalo Bills

          TE Austin Jenkins (Washington)

Any quarterback…especially a young guy like EJ Manuel…benefits from a solid tight end that can catch the ball. Adding Jenkins with the already decent Scott Chandler could give the Bills a unique tandem that’d be the envy of the league.

42           Tennessee Titans

          WR Jordan Matthews (Vanderbilt)

Matthews provides an upgrade over aging Nate Washington and oft injured troublemaker Kenny Britt, who some team will likely overpay in free agency.

43           New York Giants

          S Terrence Brooks (Florida St.)

The Giants continue to upgrade their defense by adding some speed to the secondary. Brooks could play cornerback in a pinch as well, and that kind of flexibility is a good thing in the NFL.

44           St. Louis Rams

          DT RaShede Hageman (Minnesota)

The Rams have their fourth pick of the draft and add some depth on defense this time.

45           Detroit Lions

          CB Bradley Roby (Ohio St.)

Did I mention that Detroit’s secondary was really bad last year?? Taking two corners with their first two picks might seem a bit out-of-the-box, but if it works then why not??

46           Pittsburgh Steelers

           G Gabe Jackson (Mississippi St.)

My Steelers addressed the secondary with their first pick, so now it is time to begin rebuilding the offensive line. The top echelon of tackles were all taken in the first round, but I like the idea of pairing Jackson with David DeCastro on the interior of the line with center Maurkice Pouncey in the middle.

47           Baltimore Ravens

          OT Jack Mewhort (Ohio St.)

The Ravens got the big wide receiver they needed in the first round, and now they will look to solidify the offensive line. They are likely to lose atleast one significant lineman in free agency, so a replacement is necessary.

48           Dallas Cowboys

          S Ed Reynolds (Stanford)

Dallas must redo their secondary. It’s just that simple.

49           New York Jets

          RB Tre Mason (Auburn)

Neither Bilal Powell nor Chris Ivory are feature back material. The powers-that-be in The Big Apple have a few good choices here, but I’m guessing they’ll fall in love with Mason’s speed & versatility.

50           Miami Dolphins

         RB Carlos Hyde (Ohio St.)

The Dolphins get their workhorse back. Adios Lamar Miller & Daniel Thomas!!

51           Chicago Bears

          S Deone Bucannon (Washington St.)

The Seattle Seahawks showed us the blueprint for success…a big, physical secondary. The Bears have been paying attention.

52           Arizona Cardinals

           LB Kyle Van Noy (BYU)

The defensive braintrust in Arizona loves linebackers who can get after the quarterback. With John Abraham turning 35 it is time to turn the page.

53           Green Bay Packers

           CB Lamarcus Joyner (Florida St.)

After finding a replacement for Jermichael Finlay in the first round the Packers will look to add secondary depth here.

54           Philadelphia Eagles

            CB Kyle Fuller (Virginia Tech)

The Eagles continue to fortify the defense by adding a piece to the secondary.

55           Cincinnati Bengals

           S Jimmie Ward (Northern Illinois)

Cincy adds more depth to the secondary. That’s where the value is in this draft.

56           San Francisco 49ers (via Kansas City Chiefs)

          WR Davante Adams (Fresno St.)

This pick belongs to the 49ers due to the trade that sent QB Alex Smith from ‘Frisco to KC last year. Adams can learn for a year under Anquan Boldin before taking his job.

57           San Diego Chargers

           LB Jeremiah Attaochu (Georgia Tech)

San Diego’s defense is young but that doesn’t mean the pass rush can’t be improved.

58           New Orleans Saints

          LB Trevor Reilly (Utah)

At this point the linebacker group starts to look a bit thin, so the Saints grab one while they can.

59           Indianapolis Colts

           OT Joel Bitonio (Nevada)

The Colts didn’t have a first round choice due to trading it to Cleveland for RB Trent Richardson. If that trade stands any chance of working out in the long run Indianapolis has to spend this pick on an offensive line upgrade.

60           Carolina Panthers

           DT Stephon Tuitt (Notre Dame)

The Panthers add depth on the defensive line.

61           San Francisco 49ers

           DT Trent Murphy (Stanford)

The 49ers have already addressed their defensive line and picked up some depth at receiver. They are in a unique position to take the best player available, which just so happens to add more depth on the defensive line as well.

62           New England Patriots

          DE Scott Crichton (Oregon St.)

The Pats add youth & athleticism to the defensive line.

63           Denver Broncos

          G Dakota Dozier (Furman)

Denver added a much needed younger piece to the defensive backfield in the first round…now they address the offense. Peyton Manning was never that fleet of foot, but at his advanced age protection becomes even more of a priority. Offensive line depth is crucial to another Super Bowl run. Dozier can play both guard & tackle, which makes him a versatile and valuable asset.

64           Seattle Seahawks

           DE Jackson Jeffcoat (Texas)

Do the Seahawks really need an upgrade on defense?? No, not really. But Jeffcoat is the best player available and Chris Clemons is 32 years old.

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Round 3

65           Houston Texans

            CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste (Nebraska)

The Texans give some attention to the defense by adding some size to the secondary.

66           Washington Redskins

           LB Christian Jones (Florida St.)

Brian Orakpo is a free agent and the ageless London Fletcher finally retiring…I think. Linebacker is a significant need.

67           Oakland Raiders

           WR Brandin Cooks (Oregon St.)

The diminutive Cooks might not be the #1 wideout the Raiders really covet, but he could be a tremendous slot receiver in the vein of a Wes Welker. That can be a valuable asset in today’s NFL.

68           Atlanta Falcons

          RB Charles Sims (West Virginia)

Steven Jackson will turn 31 this summer. His days as a #1 back are over. The Falcons must move forward.

69           Tampa Bay Buccaneers

          TE Troy Niklas (Notre Dame)

Mel Kiper & Adam Shefter will probably use the word “upside” a hundred times when talking about Niklas. He only started one year at Notre Dame, but at 6ft.7 270lbs. the former linebacker has size & athleticism and could find himself starting fairly early in his career.

70           Jacksonville Jaguars

           QB AJ McCarron (Alabama)

Don’t be surprised if the Jags also try to trade for a young veteran signal caller like Kirk Cousins or Ryan Mallet or sign a stop gap like Michael Vick, Josh Freeman, or Matt Cassel.

71           Cleveland Browns

          G Brandon Thomas (Clemson)

After taking care of major issues at QB & RB the Browns now move to solidify an offensive line that is already decent but could be better.

72           Oakland Raiders (trade w/Minnesota Vikings)

          S Dion Bailey (USC)

The Raiders have this pick after moving down in the first round, a trade which allowed the Vikings to snag quarterback Blake Bortles. Oakland has to get younger in their secondary. Former Heisman winner Charles Woodson is 37 years old.

73           Buffalo Bills

           OT Ju’Wuan James (Tennessee)

A team can never have enough offensive line depth.

74           New York Giants

         RB Bishop Sankey (Washington)

Is it too soon to give up on 2012 first round pick David Wilson?? Probably. But he just underwent surgery for spinal stenosis so his future is cloudy at best.

75           St. Louis Rams

          S Ty Zimmerman (Kansas St.)

The Rams have had a great draft thus far, adding a big time receiver and significant help on both lines. Now they add some depth to the secondary.

76           Detroit Lions

           C Travis Swanson (Arkansas)

Detroit just re-signed center Dominic Raiola for another year, but he is 35 years old and it’s time to look toward the future. Raiola can mentor Swanson for one season before passing the torch.

77           San Francisco 49ers (via Tennessee Titans)

           CB Loucheiz Purifoy (Florida)

The 49ers are likely to suffer some losses in the secondary via free agency, so they take the opportunity to replenish.

78           Baltimore Ravens

          C Marcus Martin (USC)

The Ravens offensive line was an issue last season. Upgrades are needed because when a team has a good running back like Ray Rice it is crucial to be able to take advantage of his talent by opening up holes for him to run thru.

79           Dallas Cowboys

          CB Terrance Mitchell (Oregon)

The Cowboys continue to look for answers to solve their defensive backfield issues.

80           New York Jets

          LB Shayne Skov (Stanford)

Starting linebacker Calvin Pace is 33 years old. The Jets need to find some youth at the position.

81           Miami Dolphins

         WR Paul Richardson (Colorado)

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill needs more weapons. Mike Wallace & Brian Hartline ain’t gonna cut it.

82           Chicago Bears

          DT Will Sutton (Arizona St.)

The Bears add some much needed depth on the defensive line.

83           Cleveland Browns (via Pittsburgh Steelers)

           CB Keith McGill (Utah)

Cleveland takes the opportunity to upgrade the corner opposite All-Pro Joe Haden.

84           Arizona Cardinals

          QB Jimmy Garoppolo (Eastern Illinois)

The young signal caller from Eastern Illinois (alma mater of fellow quarterback Tony Romo) was impressive in a couple of post-season all-star games. This is a good situation for him as he can sit for a year or two and learn the ropes from Carson Palmer.

85           Green Bay Packers

          NT DaQuan Jones (Penn St.)

Free agent BJ Raji is likely headed out of Green Bay, so they need a replacement.

86           Philadelphia Eagles

           RB De’Anthony Thomas (Oregon)

Thomas is an interesting prospect. He’s not an every down running back and he’s not quite a wide receiver. He’s a situational player with blazing speed. Eagles’ coach Chip Kelly coached Thomas at Oregon and has to be salivating at the thought of being able to utilize his unique skillset in the NFL. If anyone should know how to best use Thomas it’s Coach Kelly.

87           Kansas City Chiefs

          WR Donte Moncrief (Mississippi)

Kansas City grabs an underrated prospect who can be a nice complement to Dwayne Bowe.

88           Cincinnati Bengals

         LB Telvin Smith (Florida St.)

James Harrison is 35 years old. He won’t last forever.

89           San Diego Chargers

          DT Dominique Easley (Florida)

Easley is coming off an ACL injury (his 2nd since 2010) and probably should have stayed for his senior year at Florida. The Chargers are very young along the defensive line and can afford to be patient.

90           Indianapolis Colts

           G Anthony Steen (Alabama)

The Colts continue to upgrade their offensive line. Quarterback Andrew Luck must be protected and a running game has to be established.

91           New Orleans Saints

           CB Jaylen Watkins (Florida)

N’awlins adds some depth to the secondary.

92           Carolina Panthers

         G Brandon Linder (Miami, FL)

This is probably a bit of a reach, but Carolina can afford to be a bit cheeky. Protecting Cam Newton is essential so it’s worth a gamble.

93           New England Patriots

           DE Will Clarke (West Virginia)

Clarke is another guy who really helped himself in post-season all-star games. This isn’t necessarily an area of need for New England, but Belichick will figure out how to fit Clarke into the rotation.

94           San Francisco 49ers

      C Weston Richburg (Colorado St.)

Starting center Jonathan Goodwin is 35 years old. Time to get some new blood to go with the rest of the young & talented offensive line.

95           Denver Broncos

          QB Zach Mettenberger (LSU)

I don’t think that Brock Osweiler or Zac Dysert are worthy candidates to eventually replace Peyton Manning. As much as the Broncos want to get Manning that second ring the fact is that the powers-that-be have to have one eye on the future and Mettenberger, who is currently recovering from a torn ACL, can “redshirt” for a year before possibly being in a position to gently push Manning into retirement.

96           Oakland Raiders (trade w/Minnesota Vikings via Seattle Seahawks)

           S Ahmad Dixon (Baylor)

Minnesota had this pick due to the trade that sent Percy Harvin to Seattle in 2013. They then gave it to the Raiders in order to jump up in the first round. The Raiders have added a QB, slot receiver, & cornerstone tackle already. They also added some young, fresh legs to the secondary and do so again here.

A Renovated Mount Rushmore

My boys Mike & Mike were recently debating who would theoretically be on the “Mount Rushmore of Basketball”. The discussion stemmed from a rather arrogant assertion by superstar LeBron James that if such a monument existed he would indeed deserve a spot. I had to get ready and go to work so I missed the latter portion of the show, but Greeny & Golic were in the process of taking the discussion in a bunch of directions like “Who would be on the Mount Rushmore of…baseball (pitchers, hitters), football (quarterbacks, running backs), hockey players, etc. This is not necessarily a thinknew topic of conversation. As a matter of fact, it is a reliable old chestnut that ESPN trots out occasionally when sports news is slow, which is of course the case right now since we’re kind of in that blah period that always follows the end of the football season. It’s a fun & harmless little argument to have since A) none of these “Mount Rushmores” actually exist and B) there are things that do exist called Halls of Fame where everyone deserving (and even some who don’t really deserve it) eventually get their just reward.

 

However, there is one Mount Rushmore that does exist.

 

I saw a really interesting documentary on The History Channel several years ago about Mount Rushmore. For those who may be unfamiliar, the mountain was already named Mount Rushmore long before anyone carved any heads on it. It was named after a New York lawyer who liked to hunt in the Black Hills of South Dakota. A few decades later a local historian got the idea to have U.S. Presidents carved into the mountains to promote tourism (because it’s always about the money). Danish sculptor Gutzon Borglum was awarded the job in 1925, and from 1927-41 over 400 men worked at Rushmorecompleting the task. Borglum chose George Washington to represent the birth of the United States, Thomas Jefferson to represent its growth, Abraham Lincoln to represent its preservation, & Theodore Roosevelt to represent its development. We must remember that when the project was conceived there were only 30 U.S. Presidents to choose from and I think most would agree that Borglum did a nice job of selecting his subjects. Originally he also wanted to carve representations of The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, & the Louisiana Purchase, but unfortunately the money ran out (which also explains why the sculptures are just heads…they were intended to be full upper bodies).

 

So the discussion on Mike & Mike got me to pondering…who should be on the Mount Rushmore…of Presidents?? It’s been almost a century since the original monument was conceived and sculpted. A lot of history has been made since then, and we’ve had much more time to reflect on the history that occurred previously. In addition, technology is far more advanced, so instead of hundreds of men risking their lives and taking over a decade to complete the job I figure that we could whittle out a nice expansion in a few months.

 

Of course the questions are “who??” and “how many??” If it were me I’d go with seven. Many people think of it as a questionlucky number, and in The Bible seven is a number signifying completion. Plus I am a minimalist and there’s no use getting too garish with the idea. That means we have three spots to fill and 39 candidates. However, I really don’t think it’s even that complicated. Out of those 39 men I am assuming only 10 at most would get any votes at all in a poll of the masses. But that still leaves 10 guys battling for three spots. Who should be the three to join Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson, & Teddy Roosevelt??

 

jfkLet’s give one spot right off the bat to John F. Kennedy. Regardless of what one might think of his…private life…the fact is that Kennedy continues to be one of our most beloved Presidents a half century after his death. Martyrs tend to get that kind of love, and let’s face it…that is exactly how the public perceives JFK…as a martyr. His whole presidency has been romanticized. How would he have been thought of if he’d completed his second term and lived a long life?? Obviously no one can accurately answer that question, so we are left with what we are left with, which is essentially the first “rock star” President who was cut down in his prime by an assassin’s bullet and the media frenzy created by such a tragedy, which was a completely new shared experience for the masses. The Kennedy Presidency and The Kennedy Assassination are watershed moments in American history. Sounds like Mount Rushmore material to me.

 

That was easy. But now things get tricky and one’s opinion will almost certainly depend on worldview & political philosophy. I am going to try to avoid those pitfalls, which means I may surprise some folks with my selections.

 

I’d give the second spot to Franklin Delano Roosevelt. I have my issues with FDR’s New Deal, which laid the fdrgroundwork for the out-of-control entitlement mentality that is eating away at our nation like Rosie O’Donnell at a Vegas buffet, but the fact is that he is our longest serving President and led the country…one way or another…thru The Great Depression and World War II. The enormity of his Presidency…good & bad…and the pivotal era during which he served cement FDR’s spot on the revised Mount Rushmore.

 

ObamaSmokingOkay…so who gets the final spot?? Obama?? Many would champion that idea simply because he is our first reaganblack President, and even those that fervently disagree with his policies would likely concede the historical & cultural significance of that fact. However, not only is it too soon to debate the relative merits of the Obama Presidency, but I simply cannot…will not…award a spot on such a noteworthy shrine to a person based solely on a biological trait instead of tangible accomplishments. Reagan?? Many of my conservative friends would undoubtedly support the notion, and I understand why, but again I feel like it is too soon, and in comparison to Abraham Lincoln or even JFK I am not so sure admiration of Ronald Reagan is nearly as bipartisan. Clinton?? Please. What are we going to do…depict his head with sunglasses on while blowing a sax to commemorate his appearance on Arsenio?? Grant?? Undoubtedly a better General than President. Truman?? Eisenhower?? Solid choices. Did some great things. But were also flawed in ways nixonbill-clinton-loves-saxtoo substantial to allow them to make the cut here, although some really smart Presidential historian might be able to convince me otherwise. Nixon?? Well…I think Nixon gets a bad rap sometimes and was a lot better President than many would give him credit for, but the only U.S. President to resign from office just cannot be given a spot on Mount Rushmore.

 

My final spot…the 7th President to grace Mount Rushmore…would be John Adams. I’ve read a lot about Adams, and I feel like sometimes he gets overlooked when talking about America’s Founding Fathers. Adams was a lawyer, writer, devout Christian, statesman, philosopher, & historian. It should also be noted that, unlike Washington, Jefferson, or Benjamin Franklin, Adams never owned slaves. Though Jefferson receives credit for writing The Declaration of Independence the truth is that John Adams played a significant role in creating it. As the nation’s first Vice President he cast more tiebreaking votes than any other VP. Adams was the quintessential “man behind the man”. I am not sure if johnadamseither George Washington or Thomas Jefferson would have achieved as much if not for the support or…oftentimes in the case of Jefferson…the challenge of Adams. As a matter of fact, it seems to me that he may have been more comfortable being that person behind the scenes rather than the guy in the spotlight. Brilliant people are frequently like that. Biographer David McCullough opines that the reason Adams didn’t receive a second term as President was that “he was unlikable, short, ugly, and bald”. Sadly too many people are still that shallow. I think when folks are asked about our greatest Presidents many of us are shortsighted and think only of the people who held the office in our lifetime or maybe those who we know about thru old news footage, but we should never forget that America had a long and fascinating history of about 150 years before television was invented.

 

Agree?? Disagree?? Who would you add to Mount Rushmore?? Should additions even be seriously considered?? I welcome the thoughts & opinions of The Manoverse.

Farewell Football…For Now

It is my opinion that the Tuesday after The Super Bowl is one of the saddest, loneliest, emptiest days of the year. After nearly 6 months of following our favorite sport The Fat Lady has sung her song and it is time to move on to other things for a while. Monday was spent analyzing & dissecting The Super Bowl, but what now?? The Daytona 500 won’t roll around for few weeks.bye College basketball is a month away from being really interesting. No one cares about the NBA until the playoffs begin. Pitchers & catchers report in a few days but the season itself won’t start for a couple of months. I don’t have a long term answer for how to fill the void, but atleast for today we can take a look back at how well…or badly…your humble Potentate of Profundity did with all of my pigskin insight this past season. As usual it wasn’t pretty, but I still think I’m smarter…and more entertaining…than ¾ of the talking heads in Bristol, CT. Anyway…let’s tie up those loose ends and bid the gridiron a fond adieu (atleast until the NFL Draft).

 

kickoff_footballFor anyone wondering how Zach & I ended up doing in our Pigskin Picks of Profundity this past season…..

Zach went 41-49, which is a 46% winning percentage.  Not bad for a rookie. It’s better than the 39% that I had last season. Yours truly finished 2013 with a 45-46 record…a 49% winning percentage. A clear improvement on my part. More importantly I really enjoyed doing the picks each week and would like to thank my nephew for joining in on the fun. I hope it is a tradition that we will continue for many years.

 

My college bowl picks were atrocious, while Zach actually did quite well. He went NCAA_football19-16…a very respectable 54%. I’d be surprised if any of the yahoos on ESPN were as accurate. Conversely I went 9-26, which is only 26%. I knew bowl games were hard to predict, but holy cow I think a blind monkey could have done better.

 

16 out of the 25 teams in my NCAA Pre-season Top 25 actually finished in the Top 25. Five of those finished within two spots of where I had them picked. Oregon’s two losses relatively late in the season ruined their chances at a Top 5 finish, while Alabama getting throttled in the Sugar Bowl cost them a likely spot among the top 3 or 4 teams. I am not a guy who follows recruiting and knows all about the 4 Star prospects who’ll be impact freshmen, so I didn’t know about QB Jameis Winston and therefore had no idea that Florida State had national title potential. I knew that Louisville was a risky pick at #6 and 25that they’d probably have to go undefeated to end the season that high. Unfortunately they lost late to Central Florida and plummeted out of the Top 10. Missouri?? UCF?? Baylor?? Didn’t see any of their success coming. Ditto…in a huge way…for the Auburn Tigers, who parlayed two miracle finishes into a National Championship Game appearance and a #2 finish. Kudos. The Texas Longhorns really disappointed me and head coach Mack Brown paid for it with his job. Brady Hoke will get another year at Michigan, but one more 7-6 season might mean the unemployment line for him as well. The Ohio St. Buckeyes were big fish in a mediocre pond and had their otherwise successful season torpedoed by ending with two losses.

 

I predicted 8 out of the 12 NFL playoff teams successfully…5 out of 6 in the AFC, 3 out of nfl-football6 in the NFC. I had the Denver Broncos beating the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl. The 49ers didn’t make it, while the Broncos were pummeled by the Seattle Seahawks.

 

Speaking of the Seahawks…..

seattle-seahawks1One of their starting cornerbacks…the (by now) well-known Richard Sherman is 6ft.3. The other cornerback…Byron Maxwell…is 6ft.1. Strong safety Kam Chancellor  is 6ft.3. They are now Super Bowl Champions. The top 5 wide receivers in the NFL are (arguably) Calvin Johnson (6ft.5), Larry Fitzgerald (6ft.3), Dez Bryant (6ft.2), Brandon Marshall (6ft.4), & A.J. Green (6ft.4). So when the NFL draft rolls around and the talking heads start pimping cornerbacks that are 5ft. 8/5ft.9 fans need to collectively tell them to just shut up. If I were an NFL general manager I wouldn’t waste one second even evaluating a defensive back under 6 feet. It’s a new league. This ain’t your granddaddy’s NFL.

 

Huge kudos to the New York Jets. I predicted that they’d go 2-14, but instead they went Jets-Pin-Pro8-8 and were in the hunt for a playoff spot until the very end of the season. Ownership made the right call by giving head coach Rex Ryan a three year extension (after I predicted he might be fired by mid-season). More NFL teams (especially the idiotic Cleveland Browns) need to understand that consistency is a key to success and not be so quick to make changes just for the sake of change.

 

kc-chiefs-logoI predicted that the Kansas City Chiefs would be one of the most improved teams in the NFL. I was right but they far exceeded even my expectations, going 11-5 (I predicted 9-7). Can they continue that level of success in 2014?? Possibly.

 

My really really really early thoughts on Super Bowl contenders for next season:   lombardi           Seattle Seahawks (duh), Carolina Panthers (they are building a good team around QB Cam Newton), Indianapolis Colts (Andrew Luck will have them in the hunt for many years), Green Bay Packers (they’ll be back), & New England Patriots (Brady & Belichick aren’t finished just yet)

 

marsReaction to the Bruno Mars halftime show at the Super Bowl seems predictably mixed…women loved it, guys didn’t hate it but thought the Red Hot Chili Peppers were the best part. I believe that the NFL has purposely been trying to appeal more to women the past few years so none of this is surprising. Since the game was in Jersey the two obvious choices would have been Springsteen or Bon Jovi, but The Boss already did the halftime show about 6 years ago and someone mentioned to me that Jon Bon Jovi is negotiating to buy a stake in the Buffalo Bills so it would have been a conflict of interest. That’s too bad.

 

I’d be surprised if Peyton Manning actually retired, but this season felt like his last best Sad-Peyton-300x168chance to get another ring. He looked old, slow, & completely outmatched in the Super Bowl and has been duly noted by many folks the last couple of years he doesn’t seem to have much zip in his passes anymore. Next season the Bengals, Chiefs, & Colts could all be even better, the Patriots will still be around, and teams like the Steelers, Ravens, and Texans could rebound. Denver might have a tough time even making it to the playoffs.

 

One of the biggest winners after the Super Bowl?? QB Johnny Manziel. Russell Wilson is johnny-football-t15ft.11 & 210 lbs. In his second year he is a champion and probably should have won the game MVP award. The biggest knock on Johnny Football has been his size, but at 6ft.1 & 210lbs. (if we take all the listed measurements for both players at face value) he is about the same size as Wilson and just as mobile. Now I grant you that the biggest reason Wilson now has a ring is because of the stout defense of his team, but the point is that if Manziel could land on a really good team with a plethora of defensive talent he could have just as good of a shot at success as Wilson. Unfortunately for Johnny the Cleveland Browns…his likely landing spot…are not a good team.

 

One last note about the Seattle Seahawks…..

LYNCHI don’t want to be unnecessarily cruel, but what is the deal with RB Marshawn Lynch?? Is he just an antisocial jackass or does he have legitimate social anxiety??

 

I have no issue with the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2014…offensive tackle Walter pro-football-hallJones, defensive end Michael Strahan, linebacker Derrick Brooks, punter Ray Guy, wide receiver Andre Reed, cornerback Aeneas Williams, & defensive end Claude Humphrey. I am especially glad for Reed and Guy, both of whom have waited far too long for the honor. I was kind of disappointed that Williams got elected over former Steelers running back Jerome Bettis, but I am confident that The Bus will receive the call in the next few years.

The 2013 Sammy Awards – Part III

After a bit of a delay it is time to wrap up the show with a flourish. If SammyAwardeagleyou have not yet enjoyed Part 1 and Part 2 of the 2013 Sammy Awards please take time to do so and then come back for the big finish. We’ll be happy to wait while you catch up.

 

 

 

matthew-broderickOur next presenters are thrilled to reunite more than 25 years steinafter they made one of the bestalanruck comedy films of the 20th century. Fromjennifer_grey_1MQvf the 1986 classic Ferris Bueller’s Day Off please welcome Matthew Broderick, Ben Stein, Alan Ruck, & Jennifer Grey.

And the nominees are:

 

 

Favorite Movie

Oz the Great & Powerful

Would someone dare risk remaking 1939’s Wizard of Oz?? Well…no…not yet (unless you count The Wiz, a 1978 blaxpoitation redux starring Michael Jackson & Diana Ross). But they did make a prequel. You see, L. Frank Baum actually wrote over a dozen books about the Land of Oz between 1900 & 1920, so there is a wealth of material for anyone enterprising enough to craft a decent film. Does this one qualify as decent?? Yes, I think it does even though it isn’t based on any of Baum’s books. The story shows how shyster Oscar Diggs…the future Wizard…ends up in Oz and introduces us to younger versions of Glinda the Good Witch and the dastardly Wicked Witch of the West…familiar characters to fans of the classic film. The casting is a bit questionable (I would have preferred Johnny Depp over James Franco as Oscar), but the transformation of kindhearted Theodora into the Wicked Witch is well done and worth the price of admission.

 

Last Vegas

Much like The Big Wedding this film unites four Academy Award winning heavy hitters: Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, Robert DeNiro (again), & Kevin Kline. Unlike The Big Wedding this film did not make me want to hurl sharp objects at the screen. In a nutshell four old pals (emphasis on old) reunite in Vegas for one of the group’s bachelor party, like a crossbreeding of Cocoon & The Hangover. Is it a great movie?? No. I could have done without a couple of the subplots and would have preferred to see A LOT more of Las Vegas. In my opinion if you are going to have one of the most fascinating cities in the world as a backdrop then why not make copious use of it?? Having said that though, this is a pleasant story with actors talented enough to lend gravitas to even the thinnest material. I can envision an entire franchise with this concept, at one point or another starring a virtual who’s who of old geezers: Nicholson, Eastwood, Redford, Shatner, Pacino, Caine, Gere, Cosby, Hoffman, Caan, Connery, Beatty, Harrison Ford, Hackman, Duval, James Earl Jones.

 

The Internship

Back in 2005 Owen Wilson & Vince Vaughn co-starred in the memorably hilarious Wedding Crashers, so the idea of them teaming up again seemed like a good idea. And while The Internship doesn’t quite measure up to the duo’s previous effort it is a perfectly acceptable comedy. Vaughn & Wilson have mellowed a bit and share the stage with a group of young unknowns, so I can understand why some may be disappointed by the outcome, but I also think comparing this film to Wedding Crashers is somewhat unfair. This is a pleasant enough way to spend a couple of hours and I have no complaints. Watch out for newcomer Tiya Sircar. She lights up the screen and has the potential to become a big star.

 

42

I came along a few decades after Jackie Robinson changed organized sports forever by becoming the first black player in Major League Baseball, but I am enough of a student of the game and appreciate its rich history & tradition tremendously so I am fully aware of his cultural impact. This movie tells the story and gives us a glimpse of some of the behind-the scenes hardships that Robinson endured. The only big name in the film is Harrison Ford who does a solid job portraying Brooklyn Dodgers GM Branch Rickey. Otherwise the cast are all unknowns, which I think works well for this particular movie. It’s an above average film even if it is somewhat forgettable.

 

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

One would assume that the combined comedic talents of Steve Carell and Jim Carrey would be excellent ingredients for a funny movie, but this tale of an aging Las Vegas act in the vein of Siegfried & Roy trying to compete against a fresher magician in the mold of Criss Angel is just kind of…okay. There is solid support from the likes of Alan Arkin, Steve Buscemi, Olivia Wilde, & the late James Gandolfini (his final role…I think). A little bit of Carrey goes a long way, so I think these kinds of smaller “second banana” roles are perfect for him.

 

Free Birds

Animated films have really enjoyed quite the renaissance in the past couple of decades, thanks in large part to Toy Story and other Pixar productions. Free Birds doesn’t measure up to the best of the genre but it is nevertheless an amusing little story about turkeys who travel back in time to stop they & their brethren from becoming the main course for America’s favorite November holiday. Starring the voice talents of Owen Wilson, Amy Poehler, & Woody Harrelson, I don’t think it’ll become a Thanksgiving tradition on par with football, Planes, Trains, & Automobiles, or the Macy’s Parade, but I rather enjoyed it.

 

Grown-Ups 2

It’s the sequel that absolutely no one was clamoring for. Adam Sandler used to make funny movies (Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison, The Waterboy, The Wedding Singer), but he’s been on a bad roll for the past decade or so. In 2010 Sandler teamed up with Chris Rock, David Spade, Kevin James, Salma Hayek, and a few others to make Grown-Ups, about a group of buddies reuniting in their home town to celebrate the life of a former basketball coach. I revisited Grown-Ups on TV a few weeks before the sequel hit theaters and it was slightly more amusing than I remembered so I headed to the local cineplex on the Friday this flick was released. It’s not a bad movie and is spottily entertaining, although I could do without so many jokes about bodily fluids. The film benefits from the unexplained absence of Rob Schneider from the first one, but Rock’s comedic talents are squandered and I’ve never found Spade particularly humorous. The story is unfocused and ultimately pointless, but hey…it’s a freakin’ Adam Sandler movie so no one expects much, especially lately. This one doesn’t measure up to Sandler’s best stuff from the mid to late 90’s, but it’s a definitive upgrade from the crap (Jack & Jill, That’s My Boy) that he’s done in the past few years.

 

The Heat

I have become a bit of a hermit in my older years, so usually when I go to the theater it’s a weekday matinee. I’ve always kind of liked having an entire movie theater almost totally to myself. However, I made a rare appearance during prime time on a weekend to see this flick starring Sandra Bullock & Melissa McCarthy. The place was packed and everyone seemed to really enjoy the film. There was a copious amount of raucous laughter. It’s a typical buddy cop film in the grand tradition of Lethal Weapon, 48 Hours, and Rush Hour and therefore isn’t necessarily distinctive, but there’s a reason why Hollywood keeps going back to this particular well…it works. McCarthy is best utilized as a sidekick who can steal the show, while Bullock is a great “straight man”, so kudos for the perfect casting. The Heat is a bit too violent for my taste and the vulgar language is excessive, but those are the only two nits I can pick. There will almost certainly be a sequel, and when it arrives I’ll be sure to be there with my popcorn & chocolate covered peanuts.

 

The Hangover Part III

I have to give credit to the powers-that-be behind The Hangover. They took a relatively limited concept and somehow managed to squeeze a trilogy out of the idea. I also must say that unlike the somewhat amusing but way too safe Part 2 the filmmakers actually put some effort into this third installment. It’s a decent enough way to spend a couple of hours (actually less…which is part of the problem), but comes nowhere close to matching the original. These characters are…for the most part…ones that we really like, which means that there is already some capital built up with the audience. That capital is heavily drawn upon here and makes the whole deal acceptably entertaining, but the funny parts aren’t funny enough and there’s a little bit too much action/adventure and violence for a comedy. I have no doubt that…despite this entry being trumpeted as the end…we will see a fourth Hangover 5-10 years down the road and when that happens hopefully the combination of lowered expectations and absence making the heart grow fonder will dictate a more comical coda for this unique series.

 

Star Trek: Into Darkness

Some people loved it, some hated it. There are hardcore Trekkies who view this film as a subpar rehash of 1982’s renowned Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan, widely regarded as the best of all the Trek films. There are some who have decided that they hate director JJ Abrams and have zeroed in on his love of something called “lens flare”. Those folks are entitled to their opinion, but I happen to disagree. When Abrams rebooted Trek in 2009 he & the writers utilized an exceptional alternative timeline concept that allows for the idea that everything that happened to the original crew as portrayed by the actors we all knew & loved for decades (Shatner, Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, et al) still actually happened and this is just a different chronology. In my opinion this permits two things. It obviously gives the writers the freedom to create new stories. However, I also believe it allows old stories to be retold in a new way. I see Into Darkness as an homage to Wrath of Khan and enjoyed all the nods to Trek history. The “new” cast of the Enterprise is about as good as a Trekkie could have ever hoped for. I’m not sure if this particular  brand of Trek will end after completion of a trilogy, although my hope is that even with Abrams moving on (he has been tapped to revive the Star Wars franchise) someone else will take up the mantle and we will get to enjoy the adventures of this crew for decades to come.

 

Delivery Man

Vince Vaughn is back, this time in a remake of a 2011 French language film. Vaughn plays the kind of lovable ne’er-do-well that has kind of become his trademark. In this one he is a middle aged slacker named David who lollygags thru his day delivering meat for his family owned butcher shop, owes big money to the kind of guy one doesn’t want to owe money to, and has a cop girlfriend who has just about run out of patience with his antics. In his younger years David made some nice change donating copious amounts of his apparently high quality seed to a sperm bank and now finds out that he has sired over 500 children, a third of whom have now decided to get all litigious in an effort to find out the identity of their “father”. David doesn’t want to reveal himself but instead decides to get to know his “children” clandestinely. Vaughn is apparently into making sentimentally amiable movies now, with little of the edge of his earlier work. That’s cool…I can dig it. Delivery Man wasn’t what I was expecting and certainly isn’t the type of notable film that we’ll all fondly recall a decade from now, but it has a level of charmingly benign appeal that didn’t make me feel like I wasted my time & money.

 

We’re the Millers

The track record of Saturday Night Live alumni in feature films is hit & miss at best. Eddie Murphy, Chevy Chase, Billy Crystal, Will Ferrell, Bill Murray, & Adam Sandler have all done pretty well for themselves. Conversely, Dana Carvey, Chris Kattan, Norm Macdonald, Tim Meadows, Kevin Nealon, & David Spade have all crashed & burned at the box office to a large degree. So, what about Jason Sudeikis?? Well, he’s only been away from the SNL nest for less than a year and has been a feature player in just a few movies so the jury is still out but this one…about a small time pot dealer who pieces together a fake family to assist him in smuggling a big load of weed from Mexico into the USA…is the best of the lot so far. Jennifer Aniston is still as smokin’ now at age 44 as she was two decades ago when Friends first became Must See TV. Ed Helms is dependably amusing as an odd drug lord. Emma Roberts (daughter of Eric, niece of Julia) has grown into a lovely young woman and competent actress. Newcomer Will Poulter is quite funny as the goofball neighbor/fake son. Once again I’m not sure there’s anything all that memorable here, but it’s a pleasant enough diversion that provides a few chuckles.

 

The Great Gatsby

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic 1925 novel has only been adapted into a movie a half dozen times. In comparison Mark Twain’s famous 19th century tale The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has been translated into about two dozen films. There is a reason for the disparity. Fitzgerald’s story of self-indulgence & duplicity is difficult to tell on the big screen. I think that’s because the allure of the book is the author’s well written prose. The characters themselves aren’t all that exceptional, and the plot is really just another love triangle (or two). I have no issue with Leonardo DiCaprio’s portrayal of Gatsby. In fact I can’t offer any ideas as to who could’ve done it better. The rest of the cast is more subpar that I would have preferred, but that isn’t a big deal. The nit I would pick is with the choices of director Baz Luhrmann, best known for the atrocious 1996 adaptation of Romeo & Juliet that featured more gun violence than a military coup, and 2001’s Moulin Rouge which I have never seen. The anachronistic rap music is weird and the CGI mildly disturbing. I would have loved to have seen this script and this cast directed by someone more interested in telling a story than creating a visual spectacle. Still though, overall this is a decent flick and I will probably watch it again at some point down the line.

 

 

And the Sammy goes to…..

 

 

Star Trek: Into Darkness. First let me make a couple of statements. I star-trek-into-darkness-crothink 2013 was a relatively weak year at the box office. There just weren’t any films that blew me away, and several that disappointed me to some degree. Secondly, there are atleast 3 or 4 movies in theaters right now that I wanted to see but just didn’t find the time. I’ll see them all eventually but obviously it’ll be too late for them to qualify for a Sammy Award. As for Into Darkness, I enjoy having Trek back in the cineplex and didn’t mind the homage to Wrath of Khan in the least. JJ Abrams is a capable director who will hopefully do good things for the Star Wars revival. I haven’t seen any indication as to who might helm the next Trek movie but with a terrific cast, a loyal audience, and an entire galaxy of story ideas whomever takes the gig will be in an enviable position.

 

dungyTo present our final award of the night it is a profoundbezos honor for The Manofesto to welcome retired NFL player & coach and current analyst for NBC’s Sunday Night Football Tony Dungy and the founder & CEO of one of the world’s great websites Amazon.com Jeff Bezos. And the nominees are:

 

 

 

Biggest News Story

 

The Sequester

Or as it is official known the budget sequestration of 2013. They were automatic budget cuts of more than $85 billion that went into effect in March (after some wheelin’ & dealin’ got them delayed from January). Economics was never really my thing. The only thing I know is that I’m still paying over $3/gallon for gasoline as compared to about half that before President Obama took office. That is my economic reality.

 

IRS Scandal

The IRS has always been an evil entity within the malevolent force that is the federal government and in 2013 that became crystal clear. It came to light that under the Obama Administration the IRS had been targeting certain groups based on their beliefs. In other words conservative organizations were being harassed by the feds. That Obama…he’s a real class act.

 

Boston Marathon Bombings

On April 15, 2013, just as the 117th Boston marathon was concluding, two bombs later found to have been crafted out of pressure cookers exploded near the finish line. Three people were killed and 264 others were injured…many of them quite seriously. The bombers were two Muslim brothers from the Russian region Chechnya. A massive manhunt throughout Boston eventually concluded with one of the bombers killed by police and the other one in jail. Well…the hospital and then jail. Apparently the two had plans to move on to New York City and bomb Times Square. Thank God that didn’t happen. Yeah…Islam is a peaceful religion. And monkeys are going to fly out of my butt, pay my rent, and solve all the world’s problems.

 

Benghazi

If memory serves me correctly this story was nominated last year as well. However, since the attack on the U.S. embassy in Libya occurred in September 2012 the story naturally carried over into 2013. The leftist drive-by media has continued their unwavering effort to minimize the whole thing, while legitimate pundits and news agencies have continued to ask questions. Congress is supposedly investigating but I have no faith that they’ll get the job done right. The scary thing is that the incompetent twit at the center of the controversy (one of them anyway)…former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton…will likely be a strong presidential contender in 2016.

 

3D Printer Creates An Ear

Last February scientists at Cornell University re-created a human ear using a 3D printer and some living cells. Well…isn’t that creepy.

 

George Zimmerman Trial

Zimmerman is the neighborhood watch volunteer that was arrested after shooting & killing teen Trayvon Martin just outside Orlando, FL in the spring of 2012. Martin’s trial commenced in the early days of last summer and the jury’s decision was announced on July 13, 2013. Zimmerman was found not guilty of both 2nd degree murder and manslaughter, the jury having seemed to have accepted Zimmerman’s claim that he shot the young man in self-defense. The whole case had taken on a racial tone early on and the aftermath of the not guilty verdict was no different. The usual suspects, like ”Reverends” Al Sharpton & Jesse Jackson, tried to fan the flames of ethnic & cultural discord, but I don’t think anyone outside of a handful of vacuous celebrities and of course the hardcore leftist media really bought into that poppycock. Musician Stevie Wonder said that he would never perform in Florida again, but since I don’t live in Florida and Stevie is a 60 year old blind man I’ll give him a pass. My Cherie Amour and Overjoyed are two of my favorite songs. One of the Wayans brothers (there are so many of them) went on a hilariously stupid Twitter rant, but I think he was just bored since the entire Wayans family hasn’t had a job for a decade or more. Ironically it has been Zimmerman himself who has cast the most doubt as to whether the verdict may have been wrong because…well…he just doesn’t seem to be very smart. In the 6 months since the verdict Zimmerman has had several run-ins with law enforcement, mostly due to domestic altercations with his wife and girlfriend. Yes apparently he has both.

 

A New Pope

Last February Pope Benedict XVI announced his retirement after just 8 years, making him the first pope in nearly 600 years to resign. A month later Pope Francis ascended to the throne…or whatever it is that popes do. I’m not Catholic so who the pope is and what he does holds very little interest in The Manoverse. However, having said that, it does seem that…from various things I’ve read and heard…Pope Francis leans a little to the left on some socioeconomic issues. But like I said I really don’t care. Your mileage may vary.

 

Obamacare

Oh where to begin?? The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed into law by President Obama in 2010 and upheld by The Supreme Court in 2012, but it didn’t start being phased into reality until 2013…and it is exactly the disaster that the 49% of us who didn’t vote for President Obama knew it would be. The powers-that-be can’t even design a website that works so people can sign up for Obamacare, so how exactly do they plan to execute the plan itself?? Folks were sold a bill of goods, thinking that government health care was going to be low cost or even free, but the truth is that most people are going to be paying much much more for a lower standard of care. Obamacare is the exact opposite of freedom. It will allow the federal government to, in essence, decide whether you live or die, and the very people who have pushed this fraud on the unsuspecting populace have cleverly made themselves exempt from the rules they expect the rest of us to follow. The optimistic part of me would like to think that Obamacare will eventually be repealed and slip quietly into the annals of history as one of the biggest hoaxes ever perpetrated on American voters, but I have a feeling we have a long hard road ahead of us before that happens.

 

Oklahoma Tornado

On May 20, 2013 Moore, OK…between Norman and Oklahoma City…was struck by an F5 tornado with winds of 210mph. Two dozen people were killed and nearly 400 others injured. The tornado was on the ground for nearly 40 minutes and caused $2 billion in damages.

 

Egyptian Military Coup

There was another coup in the Middle East?? What a shocker. I assume that most Americans (including me) have more detailed knowledge of the NFL playoffs or the latest Sandra Bullock movie that the ongoing strife in the Middle East. Does that make us bad people??

 

Russian Meteor

Imagine it’s a lovely yet frigid February day. You’re driving home from your job at the vodka factory and in your peripheral vision you see something streaking across the sky. Immediately you have flashbacks from every disaster flick you’ve ever seen. Aerosmith’s 1998 smash hit I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing starts ringing in your head as you tearfully put your hand up to the glass and begin to miss your father. You wish that Morgan Freeman really was the president and could soothe your fear by telling you that “Cities fall, but they are rebuilt. Heroes die, but they are remembered. The water receded, so now let us begin.” Then you snap out of your daydream and realize “Holy crap…this is real.” Folks in Chelyabinsk, Russia experienced this reality. Fortunately the meteor was harmless even though 1500 people did receive minor injuries.

 

Government Shutdown

For the first half of October 2013 the federal government was shutdown. I don’t mean to minimize everything that that entails, but let’s be honest. Did most of us even notice?? This kind of thing happens every few years. The President and Congress play a game of chicken, the media acts like the world is ending, and us regular folks get up & go to work and keep doing what we have to do to keep a roof over our head and put food on the table. At zero hour some sort of compromise is reached, both sides claim credit, and we continue to go to work, pay the bills, and bring home the bacon. Rinse & repeat.

 

PRISM & Edward Snowden

20 or 30 years ago this would have been a huge story, but in 21st century New America the masses have become so jaded that virtually nothing is all that surprising anymore. Snowden was a computer geek for the CIA and National Security Agency. Last spring he leaked a plethora of classified documents to news agencies around the world. These documents detailed various mass surveillance projects run by the NSA, including PRISM, a data mining operation that basically means the feds are watching a lot of what you & I are doing online. They could be perusing this awards show right now (c-r-e-e-p-y). Anyway, Snowden fled the country and is currently holed up somewhere in Russia. Much like Paulie in The Godfather, I suspect that we ain’t gonna see him around here no more. Some consider him a traitor, some think he is a patriot. I am undecided on whether Edward Snowden is a hero or a villain, but I know that I am certainly uncomfortable knowing that the modern U.S. government’s idea of freedom seems to differ substantially from what The Founding Fathers had in mind.

 

 

 

And the Sammy goes to…..

 

 

Obamacare, Boston Marathon Bombings, & The Zimmerman Trial.George-Zimmerman Have we ever had a three way tie at The Sammy Awards?? I don’t recall and I’m too lazy to check The Vault. At any rate, I can’t really add anything more than what I’ve already said about these stories. When the history books look at 2013 I believe these are the three topics that will stand out ObamaSmokingas the most significant. Hopefully we will never have to live thru the horror of anything even remotely close to the Boston Marathon Bombings ever again, but that is probably a combination of wishful thinking and naiveté. I think Obamacare will continue to be a bmdominant story in 2014 and I just wish that the truths that so many are learning now would have been exposed on a wider scale before the 2012 election. I have a sneaking suspicion that, despite the gift of freedom that George Zimmerman was given, he will screw it up and ultimately land in jail anyway.

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rip

film critic Roger Ebert…former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher…legendary sports broadcasters Pat Summerall & Ken Venturi…comedian Jonathan Winters…pro wrestling personality William Moody (aka Paul Bearer, aka Percival Pringle III)…authors Vince Flynn, Elmore Leonard, Tom Clancy, & Richard Ben Cramer…famed psychologist Dr. Joyce Brothers…actors Peter O’Toole (Lawrence of Arabia), Lou Myers (A Different World), Conrad Bain (Diff’rent Strokes), James Gandolfini (The Sopranos), Allan Arbus (M*A*S*H), Richard Griffiths (Harry Potter), Milo O’Shea (The Dream Team, Opportunity Knocks), Cory Monteith (Glee), Joe Conley (The Waltons), Paul Walker (The Fast and the Furious), James Avery (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air), Henry Polic II (Webster), & Dennis Farina (Law & Order, Midnight Run, Crime Story)…”journalist” Helen Thomas…LA Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss…former NY City mayor Ed Koch…retired PGA golfer Miller Barber…singers George Jones, Patty Andrews (The Andrews Sisters), Bobby Bland, Mindy McCready, Patti Page, Lou Reed, Richie Havens, Eydie Gormé, Ray Price, & Slim Whitman…former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop…Tennessee Titans owner Bud Adams…legendary British writer & TV host David Frost…former NBC News anchor John Palmer…retired pro football coaches Jack Pardee, Bum Phillips, & Chuck Fairbanks…actresses Jeanne Cooper (The Young & the Restless), Bonnie Franklin (One Day at a Time), Esther Williams (Ziegfeld Follies), Annette Funicello (Mickey Mouse Club), Jean Stapleton (All in the Family), Joan Fontaine (Rebecca, Suspicion), & Marcia Wallace (The Bob Newhart Show)…political activist Nelson Mandela…musicians Ray Manzarek (The Doors), Van Cliburn, & Ed Shaughnessy (The Tonight Show’s NBC Orchestra)…end of the world enthusiast Harold Camping…retired college football coach Don James…director Hal Needham (Smokey & the Bandit, Cannonball Run)…baseball Hall of Famers Stan Musial & Earl Weaver…Christian author Brennan Manning…former NBA scouting guru Marty Blake…music producer Phil Ramone…retired boxers Carl “The Truth” Williams, Tommy Morrison, & Ken Norton Sr.…talk radio pioneer Bob Grant…pro wrestlers Reid Flair (son of “Nature Boy” Ric Flair), Mark Starr, Jackie Fargo, Matt Borne, Cousin Luke, & Hector Garza…U.S. Senator (New Jersey) Frank Lautenberg…rapper Chris Kelly (Kriss Kross)…NFL referee Jerry Seeman…TBN founder Paul Crouch…retired NASCAR driver Dick Trickle…former NFL stars LC Greenwood, Chuck Muncie, Deacon Jones, Dave Jennings, Art Donovan, Thomas Howard, Rev. Ken “The Hutch” Hutcherson, & Jack Butler…Jeanne Phillips (the original Dear Abby)… writer & producer Gary David Goldberg (Family Ties)…NBA Hall of Famer Walt Bellamy…retired astronaut Scott Carpenter…former Speaker of the House Tom Foley…surround sound innovator Ray Dolby