22 November 2008

Quit Following Me Around You Damn Celebrities . . .

Haven't been blogging lately, that'll change, no reason for the non-blogging, and no reason behind blogging again, either, I'm just not reasonable.

Been noticing more celebrities in odd places lately, thought I'd mention it. A few weeks ago, saw Synecdoche, New York, and actually enjoyed it quite a bit, sort of, also kind of thought it was pretentious nonsense, but at least it was well acted pretentious nonsense, even as it was nearly completely directionless. Notably, very strong female roles in that film, and at its core a remarkably engaging performance by Phillip Seymour Hoffman, even if he was playing a version of the same character he nearly always plays. What's that have to do with celebrity sightings? After the film was over, while standing around waiting for my friend, saw a very attractive woman pass by, and dammit if it wasn't Madeleine Stowe. If I were to describe the look on her face as she left the theatre, I think it would be the look one would have while thinking, "Why the hell didn't I get that Catherine Keener role, I'm a lot hotter than she is, and at least as good of an actress, I totally could have pulled that off, why aren't there more roles that meaty out there, refuse to do the Lifetime victim of the week film, and you don't work in this town if you're an actress over 45, oh well, screw this town, I'm headed back to my ranch". It's amazing how much of her inner thought process she was able to convey with just a minor furrow of one of her brows.

Tuesday, while foraging for Kirkland brand yogurt at Costco, I was surprised to see a familiar face. Oddly, this wasn't the first celebrity I've spotted in the parking lot at this Costco, months ago while getting out of my car I saw non other than Bernie Casey, which was cool and all, but that doesn't compare to seeing David St. Hubbins, his own bad self. It's nice to see that even with great success and fame, even the David St. Hubbinses of the world still like to do a little membership bulk shopping.

The most recent brush with celebrity happened tonight while finally getting around to seeing Vicky Christina Barcelona, as far as late period Woody Allen goes, this one wasn't bad, the acting was quite good, and the film is well paced with interesting characters. Saw it in Westwood, it's amazing how uncrowded Westwood is on a Friday night compared to what it used to be like back in the late 70s through to the mid 80s. There are too many better choices for places to hang out and the number of screens in Westwood has dwindled, it's mostly just a place for UCLA students now, and that's not a bad thing, but it's not like it used to be. The celebrity in this case was Fisher Stevens, which as far as random celebrity sightings goes, it's about as random as it gets. Had he not been on four episodes of Lost last season, I probably wouldn't have recognized him as I've only seen three pictures he's been in, and don't remember him from any of the other numerous TV guest spots he's done. I was more interested in who he was with, though. He was with a young woman, not so young as for it to be totally creepy and inappropriate, but young enough for an age difference to be noticeable. I can't help but wonder if this young lady brags to her friend about hanging out with Fisher Stevens, or is this a source of some shame, or is she completely indifferent to his level of fame. He's just famous enough for any of those answers to be right, if he was super famous, than you'd lean towards bragging as the only possibility, if he was at one time only sort of famous, but not in a good way (say a Kato Kaelin type), then it'd just be embarrassment, but sort of, but not kind of famous, but famous enough to be recognized most places is a tricky middle ground. They seemed happy enough in each other's presence, and no visible oddness going on, they just seemed like your regular guy a little too old for a gal who is a little too young couple that you see running around all over Los Angeles.

12 November 2008

Lakers Chat, Part 6-0 Going on 7-0 (The Hornets Are Really Good, and This Is Going to be a Tough Game Edition)

Lakers continue to roll, sort of, they gave up 60 points in the first half against Dallas, and didn't take the lead again until late in the 4th quarter. They prevailed, though, and their biggest test of the early season is tonight.

2nd night of a back to back, in New Orleans, against most people's pick as the 2nd best team in the Western Conference, if they get past this game, then they have a serious shot at least matching the record of 15-0 starting a season.

Trevor Ariza continues to play amazing basketball, there was a sequence in the 4th where he stole the ball, almost got trapped, recovered, and then threw down a monster slam. It was a thing of beauty. The Lakers have two serious contenders for 6th Man of the Year honors in Lamar Odom and Trevor Ariza. Both these guys make big contributions and I doubt there's any other non-starter more talented than either of these players. Right now, their play is matching their talent (except for Trevor's free throw shooting, his percentage from the foul line is barely better than his percentage behind the three point line, that ain't right). If the Lakers bench continues to pour in better than 40 points a contest, all my insane optimism won't be misplaced.

11 November 2008

Lakers Chat Part 5-0 Going on 6-0 (The Mavericks Don't Have a Chance Edition)

Another night, another Lakers probable victory. Everything is sweetness and light in Lakerland at the moment. Dr. Buss was interviewed in yesterday's LAT, and he says some interesting things.

Mainly, he's happy, he'll spend the money it takes to keep this going, he's pleased with the kids working for the Lakers. Jeannie's doing great with the business side (and keeping Phil happy, presumably), and Jim is doing well with the basketball operations.

The next two nights will help either prove the Lakers just to be a good team with a shot at this year's championship, or if they continue on their roll and kill both Dallas and New Orleans, then all my crazy optimism about how they'll complete 2008 without a loss will seem a little less crazy.

10 November 2008

Getting Paid by the Comment (Marc Stein Edition)

I'm guessing that Marc Stein gets a little bonus based on the number of comments generated from his posts.

How else can you explain elevating the Boston Celtics over the Los Angeles Lakers in this week's Power Rankings over at ESPN.com?

Laker fans and Laker haters are fighting it out in the comments, and by the end of the day I predict at least 1000 comments to turn up on this one. It's a good strategy, comments drive traffic, and they drive multiple visits over a day and a week as people make a comment, then obsess over responses to their comments, then respond to the responses to their comments, and so on.

More eyeballs to see their ads, so the big winner is the US Army who sponsor ESPN's NBA Power Rankings, so do your patriotic duty, and comment away.

(for the record, I understand his reasoning, even if I don't agree with it, and I suspect some east coast bias is at work, given that I doubt he's seen how the Lakers have accomplished their whopping 22.4 ppg win margin in their first five games, and he's probably just assuming it was done against weaker competition)

09 November 2008

In ObamaNation . . . (Second in an On Going Series)

All good girls will get the Gooldendoodle of their dreams.

(The Boston Globe has more on this important story)

Lakers Chat, Part 4-0 Going on 5-0 (The Now It Gets Tough Edition)

The LA Lakers have had serious shooting woes, but their insanely active defense has prevented them from being defeated (Kevin Pelton at Basketball Prospectus breaks it down in detail on this post).

When the Lakers play with the line up of Bynum, Odom and Bryant in the front court with Ariza and Farmar in the back court, they have by far the quickest line up in the NBA, but rather than focusing on fastbreak points, this line up focuses on defense. They double the ball handler agressively, usually leaving someone on the weak side open, but so far teams haven't been able to pass out of the double teams fast enough to exploit the opening, instead teams hoist up bad shots or turn the ball over. It's a huge improvement over their defensive performance last year, and their stats in their first four games have been outstanding (average margin of victory so far 20.8 points).

This week is their most difficult weak in the remaining calendar year. If they get past the next four games, then they will have a legitimate shot at finishing 2008 undefeated. Tonight they host Houston, a team that might be able to handle the Laker's quick team, and if the Lakers continue to shoot around 44% from the field, they'll have big trouble beating the Rockets. After that they have back to back road games on Tuesday and Wednesday in Dallas and New Orleans, then they come home on Friday to face Detroit. That's a big change of pace from playing one game in eight days last week (and that one game, hosting the Clippers, who were playing well and challenged the Lakers until 7:58 left in the 4th quarter when the Lakers went on a 22-0 run). The Detroit game is the late ESPN game on Friday night, so don't pretend you have something better to do, and catch this game, you'll see the new look, AI-enhanced Pistons, and you'll get a chance to see for yourself the changes the Lakers have made in their defensive approach in the 2008-9 season compared to last year's team.

07 November 2008

In ObamaNation . . . (First in an On Going Series)

In ObamaNation, Americans will join the rest of the world and love that sport with the round ball and players who constantly fake injuries, and we'll call it "football".

(According to this Daily Mail article, The President-Elect already has a favorite team in the Premiership (though his team is in danger of relegation), and that ghastly picture above was their photoshopped doings, not mine)

05 November 2008

Lakers Chat, Part 3-0 Going For 4-0 (It's Practically a Guaranteed Victory, They're Hosting the Clippers)

You are getting Lakers Chat before each expected victory whether you like it or not. They've got a long way to go before they break Houston's record of 15-0 to start a season, and they have an eternity in NBA terms before they get close to my earlier prediction that they could go undefeated in the remainder of the 2008 calendar year, but with all that said, they look very solid, and capable of beating any team, any night, under any conditions.

Their first two games they were outstanding, combining efficiency on offense with a devastating defense to defeat Portland and the Clippers by a combined 58 points. In some ways their 3rd victory against Denver was more impressive. Nothing was going right offensively, and their defense was poor, but they still were able to shut down Denver in the 4th quarter and they escaped with a 7 point victory in their first real road game. Being able to beat a decent team on the road when you shoot a lousy 37.9% from the field is a strong indicator that this is not only a good team, not only the team that looks like the best team in the league at the moment, but also has the potential to be an historically good team if everything clicks in place.

Putting Odom with the 2nd unit has been a brilliant choice so far, and the real star of the first three games for the Lakers hasn't been Kobe, or Bynum, or Gasol, but instead, it's been Trevor Ariza. His energy and explosiveness on offense coupled with solid defense (which is likely to only get better as the season goes on) has helped Kobe spend more time on the bench, and helped the 2nd unit for the Lakers slaughter each opponents bench. Opposing coaches have a rough decision to make when playing the Lakers, leave in your starters and watch the Lakers 2nd unit run rings around them as they tire, or put in your own 2nd unit, and watch as a far more skilled Lakers bench pick them apart.

The Lakers can beat teams even when they don't play their best, to lose, the Lakers have to underperform, and at the same time their opponent has to put forth their best possible game. I don't expect that to happen against them that often, and there are a bunch of regular season records that this team will challenge as the season drags on (assuming they all stay healthy, they can survive injuries and still be a 60 win team, but to be a 70 or 75 win team, they need to not only be absurdly talented, which they are, but also lucky enough to avoid injuries to key players through all 82 games).

The Clippers have the honor of being the Lakers only opponent this week, odd schedule for the Lakers, and they'll need the rest since their facing some good teams next week.

Well, That's All Finally Over . . .

Looks like the Dow is getting a solid head start on making good on my prediction for 7500 by December 5th.

Woohoo, Obama Bounce!!!


Let's see what happens when he starts making announcements about who will be in his cabinet.