Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Super Duper


After looking at the expanded Against the Spread stats on the New York Post's website and noting that the line has not budged from New England -3, I have no choice but to take the Giants plus 3.

But I will venture out on a slight limb, taking the over (54). And I predict New York wins by a touchdown or better.

If I get the main bet right then my season is a wash at .500. The O/U and Giants picks are extraneous.

Earlier this week...

I admit I was hoping for Baltimore vs. San Francisco. That's because I live in an area evenly split between Giants and Patriots fans, and I am a Jets fan. Therefore, I want the maximum anguish for my friends, and with the NE vs. NY matchup, half of them will be happy Sunday night.

Never mind that. The question is, how do we bet this game?

The line opened at Pats -3 1/2. The assumption is that this will be a field goal game. 27-24, something like that. New England rarely covers as a favorite, let alone blowing anyone out. So New York is the obvious bet at this line.

But the line went down a couple days later, and has stayed put at an even 3 points. So if you think the Giants will win or the Patriots will win by a field goal, you have to bet New York.

If you take the Pats and they win by the FG, it's a push.

If, as I suspect, the line drops to 2 1/2 by kickoff to attract more New England money, then you have to rethink.

Of course, either team's quarterback could get mauled early and make this entire discussion academic.

Still thinking...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Ashes to Ashes, Direct to Disc

Because I am an influential and powerful member of the media, people send me stuff. Usually things I have no use for, like self-published books on poker addiction, or invitations to offbeat political events.

A while back a DVD called "Ashes" came across my desk. The promo material says the release date for the DVD is Feb. 7, so ain't this timely.

Directed by Elias Matar, "Ashes" is the story of the driven Dr. Stanton, who wears his shirt collars too tight and is intensely studying everything at the hospital, occasionally remembering to go home and snuggle with his precocious daughter, his gorgeous wife, and their dopey pot-smoking friends.

But one day this kid gets left at the hospital. They can't figure out what's wrong with him, and while they're mulling it over the kid rears up and takes a big chomp out of the doc's arm.

Unfortunately, I must report that between this scene and the next action there's a whole lot of plot — about an hour's worth — that gets in the way of the story. And all of it's told in POV ShakyCam style.

Nothing says "low-budget" like the hand-held camera. Not necessarily bad, but...

Anyhoo, at long last the infection from the rogue jellyfish — did I forget to mention that? — gets to the doc, who pulls some serious zombie fu on some bangers who saunter by looking for trouble.

Meanwhile the dopey pot-smoking friend's wife goes to Doc Stanton's house, where she gets zombified by the precocious daughter. (Remember "precocious" can also mean "bratty and annoying and undead.")

And the stoner puts on his stingy brim fedora like the middle-aged postmodern butthead he is and drives around, finally finding the doc and shooting him. Twice. But not in the head, as any experienced zombie hunter will tell you is absolutely necessary.

And then the AIDS patient comes out of his room and wraps it all up. Trust me, it's poignant.

Summary: No breasts (automatic one-coil deduction). Pot-smoking male bonding scene, with stingy brim fedora. Slight lesbitation in corresponding female bonding scene. Hand-held camera. Nice "clenched-jaw-I-must-have-human-flesh" scene from the immortal Brian Krause (as Dr. Stanton). Kadeem Hardison as the lab guy. (You remember him from "Home Boyz From Outer Space" and "Yo Motherfucker II." Man, he got fat.) Of the stated running time of 88 minutes, fully 68 are devoted to walking around the hospital, driving somewhere, or working on subplots that never get resolved.

Not horrible, but not great either. A low budget doesn't mean you have to lard the flick up with a lot of pointless yakking. Lose a couple of the other actors and you'd have enough money for a battalion of little jellyfish zombie kids. Seriously.

Two and a half coils, mostly for trying to make an intelligent zombie flick with a budget of $11.67.

No pics to show, because the website won't let me steal them.

Stingy Brims and All

Frank Sinatra does a pretty good job in the title role in the 1968 police procedural "The Detective."

Apparently he was a singer, too.

Sgt. Joe Leland picks up the homicide of a wealthy homosexual man, son of one of New York's movers and shakers.

Suspicion is quickly focused on Felix Tesla, the dead man's gay roommate (played with considerable weirdness by Tony Musante). He confesses, and gets a visit to Old Sparky.

Meanwhile, an inoffensive businessman commits suicide by jumping off the roof of the racetrack. It stays a suicide until an impossibly young Jacqueline Bisset comes into Leland's office and says it was murder.

So Leland digs in and finds out there are a bunch of people who don't want this thing dug into.

Eventually it links back to the earlier case and Leland realizes they fried the wrong guy.

What makes this film different is a frank(er) approach to sexual issues than was common at the time. The seamy side of New York's gay underground, the sexual dysfunction of Leland's wife Karen (Lee Remick) are exposed. It seems dated now, but think 1968 and stingy brim fedoras.

And raincoats. Lots of raincoats in this film. Plus some good buttondown collar rolls from Sinatra.

With Robert Duvall, Ralph Meeker and Jack Klugman.

Worth a look on a rainy afternoon. Three coils.

Once again the Lands End cotton sweater vest saves the day. Adds just enough of a layer to allow me to skip the bulky overcoat.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

NFL 2011 — Almost Super

Monday morning: Ha. Nailed it.

I've been at .500 for the playoffs so that means with three games remaining if I pick everything right I can finish the season at .500 on the nose.

This is what passes for excitement around here in the winter. The sky darkens at about 3:30 p.m., the people snarl at each other in the checkout line, and the only girls I know are either half my age or have more children than teeth.

NY Giants +2.5 at SF. I like the Giants here because a) they are on a roll and b) I think they are marginally better than the Niners, and an excellent definition of "marginally" is two and a half points.

Baltimore plus 7 at New England. Shredding the Denver defense is not the same as playing the Ravens. Sorry, it isn't. Ray Rice out of the backfield is another offensive kettle of fish as well. Joe Flacco is no Brady. He might not even be a Tebow. But he can hand it off. Pats will win this but by their classic field goal.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Layers, Textures, Colors

Haven't done much on clothes in a while.

So what to do when the weather finally flips and our extended autumn ends? Layer up, baby.

And dig out those odd vests. I bought the things one year from Orvis on sale and they've been mostly sitting ever since.

The fat wool tie is from the estate of Hugh MacMillan, a local notable. A friend of mine inherited a storage bin full of them.

No way to look svelte when sporting this many layers. Oh well, who cares.

Details: J. Press sack tweed; white oxford buttondown by Mercer and Sons; lined L.L. Bean chinos; Orvis blue herringbone vest; Johnstons of Elgin scarf; Hanna hat; no-name hankie; BFB (big fat bastards) shoes with a commando sole. Most of this was acquired from thrift shops, eBay, other enthusiasts or on sale.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

NFL 2011 second round

Last week's 2-2 was not helpful. Who knew the Falcons would fold up like that?


It goes against the grain not to pick a home underdog but I think the Saints will cover the 3.5 at SF. Just too much offense.

And in "GQ vs. Jesus," while I respect the resilient Broncos, the fact is just a few weeks ago the Pats put up 41 against them. I don't like the 13.5 spread, because New England has a habit of just squeaking by, but in this case I will concede it.


Baltimore -7.5 vs. Houston: I've thought all season that the Ravens were, pound for pound, the most balanced AFC team. Texans have overachieved to get to this point.

NY Giants + 7.5 at Green Bay: So I like the underdog here — and not the Broncos _ why exactly? Because I think the New York has the ability to do what the Chiefs did to the Packers a few weeks ago and keep this thing closer than this spread.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

NFL 2011 wild card round

A lousy regular season, finishing three games under .500. Let's try to make up the difference in the playoffs.


Bengals +3.5 at Texans. Speaking of lousy, Houston's been pretty dubious lately, and Cincinnati's on a bit of a roll.

Saints -10.5 vs. Lions: No way the young Lions get past Mr. All-Universe Drew Brees at the Superdome.


Falcons +3 at Giants: Yes, New York won the division. Barely. I like Atlanta's chances to blow this open with lots of passing.

Broncos +8.5 vs. Steelers. I think Pittsburgh will win this one, but a home underdog with a history of comebacks is hard to resist. Plus Steelers are banged up.

Shake, Rattle and Zzzz

The Douglas Library in North Canaan, Conn. presents the immortal 2004 Sci-Fi Channel classic "Skeleton Man," featuring That Guy With the Kinda High-Pitched Voice Who Always Plays the Platoon Leader. As part of the four-flick set at $2, the investment in this film is therefore 50 cents.

Which is about 37 cents too much.

Here goes. Scene, Pacific Northwest. Archaeologists are looking at Indian artifacts. Guy dressed up as Guy Fawkes bursts in, kills dorky scientist and chases hottish middle aged science babe down the street to the power substation, where killing her is more fun. Then the killer tries to make a "Hey hey, ho ho, (fill in the blank) has got to go" chant work but "archaeology" just doesn't scan.

Then the mayor of New York sends in the Navy SEALS and they kill Oliver Cromwell. Afterwards everyone eats organic buckwheat pancakes and resists the urge to smoke.

The killer Tweets all through this, and is featured the next evening on MSNBC, where Ed Schultz calls him "an authentic voice for justice and democracy."

Wait, I'm getting things mixed up here. Sorry.

Scene, Pacific Northwest. Archaeologists are looking at Indian artifacts. Guy dressed up in hooded cape and unconvincing skull mask bursts in, kills dorky scientist and chases hottish middle aged science babe down the street to the power substation, where killing her is more fun.

Cut to Army dudes in woods getting chased by Skeleton Man. I can't help but interject that if these guys spent as much time on cardio as they do on their biceps they would be better able to run away from supernatural skeleton men on horseback. Just sayin'.

Later, Army Capt. Doofus and his team search for the missing people. They do this by blundering around in the woods with day packs and a lot of electronic stuff that never works at the best of times and really isn't worth a rip when deployed in an area of Ancient Evil.

The team consists of four men, all meatheads, and four babes who had wardrobe adjust their nylon cargo pants just right before the cameras rolled.

Eventually only Doofus and Lt. Ta-Ta (the blonde with the semi-big nose) are left for the exciting showdown at the chemical factory.

No breasts (automatic one coil deduction). Painful dialogue. Nice butts on the ladies in the team, especially the demolitions expert. Surprisingly little blood for a film littered with corpses. Decapitation. Suggested brain-eating. (No, wait, I'm getting mixed up with Occupy Portland again.)

In a word, it sucks. Avoid.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Best Opera Ever

This is highly symbolic.

A while back I got interested in Japanese gangster films and discovered the work of Seijun Suzuki, who is a flippin' genius of sorts.

"Pistol Opera" is a completely deranged flick — take a pound of Godard, add Fellini to taste, and serve on a bed of Japanese weirdness.

Stray Cat is the No. 3 assassin in the Guild. For some reason she's supposed to take out No. 1, Hundred Eyes.

That's about it for the plot. If it's a story you want, go buy a set of Dickens.

Stray Cat goes about her bidness, which involves masturbation, death in a swimming pool, a little girl with a lantern, sitting on a love seat in a driveway with another equally bizarre lady, dancing around with little guys in diapers, and other important hired killer activities.

Stray Cat, interrupted by the Diaper Guys.

Occasionally an extremely irritating solo trumpet on the soundtrack interrupts the flow of strangeness.

This flick makes no sense, so don't try. Just sit back and let it happen.

Two breasts, briefly. Hot assassin. Oddball with cane. Gunfight in the Bamboo Grotto. Japanese opera. Toy guns. Little dudes in diapers. Gratuitous artsy-fartsiness (see below) that works.

Three and a half coils. (Half off for the trumpet.) Check it out.

Select Something Else

This might be creepy if the flick wasn't so stupid

"Natural Selection" (aka "The Monster Hunter") is an indie attempt at a serious black comedy about serial killers.

David Carradine is Louis Dehoven, a cross between Fox Mulder and the Exorcist, and he has a good time being weird and sticking stakes in corpses.

See, there's a serial killer loose in a small Texas town. He cuts off his victims heads, adds postage, and sticks them in the mailbox. Why? Because, hey, he works for the Postal Service!


The flick is part mockumentary, part warped procedural, and mostly tedious. All the bits have promise, and all of them fail due to the "Saturday Night Live" effect (i.e. not knowing when enough is enough).

It's the latest $1 item from my new source of bad cinema, the Douglas Library in North Canaan, Conn.

No breasts (automatic one coil deduction). A pint of blood, maybe. Scenery chewing. Flagellating. Quick demon scenes. At best, mildly amusing.

One coil.