Monday, October 31, 2011

The Cincinnati Bengals Get Tough

When the Seattle Seahawks scored a TD in the fourth quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals, to make it 17-12 in favor of the Bengals, you might have thought this would be another West Coast defeat. After all, the Bengals haven't won on the left coast since 2003 and have not beaten the Seahawks at their home since 1994. Add to that, Seattle's Qwest Field was ridiculously loud. No wonder there are signs from the fans celebrating the twelfth man.

But when the going gets tough, the Bengals got going. They added a field goal in that fourth quarter. And they made plays. Bengals punt returner Brandon Tate took one to the house to ice the victory. And Bengals safety Reggie Nelson intercepted a pass and returned it for a TD for an exclamation point. Bengals win 34-12.

Total team victory. Bengals QB Andy Dalton was spectacular in the first half. His TD bomb to A.J. Green was a thing of beauty. He was under pressure and saw Green streaking towards the endzone. Green made a nice move on the safety and flew free. Green caught it in the endzone perfectly. Now there were problems in the second half. Dalton threw two picks. One of them could have been prevented if Green had fought for the ball. But hey, Dalton and Green are rookies. Dalton continues to play like he's been in the league for three years. Bengals running back Bernard Scott was good enough. He averaged 3.5 yards for 76 yards. But Seattle was number one against the run.

Special teams were solid. Two great punt returns by the Bengals. Adam Jones 63 yard return set up Dalton's first TD pass. And of course, there was Tate's TD run. Ted, er.. Mike Nugent was money again. His fourth quarter 48 yard field goal let the team breathe.

The defense was solid. They got thrown against by Seattle's Tavaris Jackson. But the defensive line was just great. They were in the quarterback's face all day. And Carlos Dunlap had a big sack when the Bengals were just rushing three guys. That led to Tate's TD return.

I really don't care what the pundits say. They'll say the Bengals beat a bad team. Whatever. Want to know something? This is the NFL. On any given Sunday, anybody can beat anybody. And Seattle is tough at home. With the victory, head coach Marvin Lewis has the most wins in franchise history. He's terrible with the local press, but let's face it, he changed the culture of the franchise. He's had two winning seasons in the eight years he's been here. And he motivates the players and the players love playing for him.

Here are the highlights, Bengals Nation.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Tiger Cubs At Sydney Zoo

The Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia has put on display three Sumatran tiger cubs. According to this Huffington Post article, there may be as few as 400 left in the wild.

Okay, you got me. This is a shameless attempt to drive up traffic on my site by posting cute animals. Make that cute tiger cubs. Anyway, enjoy the video from the AP.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Global Warming Is Real

The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project has just confirmed that global warming is real. So you may say what's the big deal? It was done by a global warming skeptic, Richard Muller and sponsored by conservative billionaires, the Koch brothers. Can we end the debate on global warming or climate change? Conservatives have long doubted the existence of global warming. Much of their hatred was aimed at former Vice President Al Gore who won an Oscar for his documentary on the subject, "An Inconvenient Truth." Oh, he also won a Nobel Peace Prize for his work on warning the public.

So can you conservative Republicans finally agree to save the planet? It doesn't look like it. What can I say when the most "moderate" of the Republican presidential candidates flip flops on whether global warming exists. Why does he do this? Because there's still a bunch of right-wing yahoos who deny global warming exists. He is trying to appeal to the base of the Republican Party. Hardball piece below. And check out Jon Stewart's piece from the Daily Show on climategate and the new scientific results.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Crazy, crazy Herman Cain

Yes, I know that Republican Presidential candidate Herman Cain who is African American, leads in some polls. And I've written that the Republican Party can be racist. But folks, I'll bet you ten quatloos that Cain won't get the nomination.

Anyway, the more we learn about Herman Cain, the more insane he looks. Rachel Maddow did a story on Cain's obsession with the number 45. (Video below.) I'm not kidding. She notes that maybe where he gets his 999 plan from. You know the 4 + 5 = 9. The Daily Beast also did a story on Cain's obsession.

Then there is the crazy Cain ad where his chief of staff Mark Block talks about his support of Cain. Nothing unusual until Block starts smoking on camera. What the ? Holy cow. Thank goodness for Stephen Colbert. He has great fun with it and makes his own Cain ads. Check out this funny video.

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Colbert's funny piece.

The Right Club

Jon Stewart last night on the Daily Show went over the Republican Presidential candidates crazy ideas. And get this Pat Robertson tells them to tone it down. But Jon Stewart points out that Robertson just wants them to keep their insane ideas quiet not reject them. Check it out.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Those Crazy Birthers, Part Seventeen

After refusing to put a stop to the Obama birth certificate issue, Republican Presidential candidate Rick Perry doubled down. He told CNBC, "It's fun to poke at him a little bit and say, how 'bout let's see your grades and your birth certificate." What about jobs, you right-wing yahoo? I've written before this is all about the GOP's need to appeal to far right fringe of the party who now control it, with many being racists. By the way, President Obama at Harvard University was President of the Law Review and graduated magna cum laude. Here's the Huffington Post story on Perry's need to keep the birther issue alive.

At least Jon Stewart of the Daily Show can have some fun with it. Check out his video.

The St. Louis Cardinals Are Little Bitches, Part 11

Wow, the St. Louis Cardinals are in full little bitch mode! To refresh everyone's memory, Cincinnati Reds Brandon Phillips called the Cardinals "Little bitches" in 2010. Last night in game 5 of the World Series against the Texas Rangers, the Cardinals aka Little Bitches went into full whine mode.

First, Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter gets Rangers hot hitting Mike Napoli to fly out to end the sixth inning. Okay, he stops the bleeding after Adrian Beltre tied the game up with a homer. As Carpenter walks off the mound he, cusses, "F_ck you. You piece of sh_t. F_ck you." Here' the Yahoo story. By the way, he's done this before when he yelled at Houston Astros Carlos Lee for flying out.

Then there was the fateful eighth. With the bases loaded and score tied at 2-2, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa wanted to bring out right hander Jason Motte to face Napoli. He couldn't because he wasn't warmed up. La Russa blames a a malfunctioning bullpen telephone for his inability to get Motte warmed up in time. So left hander Marc Rzepczynski was left in there to face Napoli who proceeded to double in the go ahead and winning runs. Game five to the Rangers. Here's the Yahoo story.

If the Rangers win the World Series, expect Part 12 of the St. Louis Cardinals are Little Bitches.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Bill O' Reilly is a Pinhead

Conservative Fox News pundit Bill O' Reilly is a Pinhead. O'Reilly is so arrogant that he thinks sending his book "Pinheads and Patriots" to our troops in Afghanistan would support them. Really? Does he thinks that every American soldier agrees with him? Guess what? A soldier burned them. Thank God for Stephen Colbert who on his show brings some good old fashion sarcastic whoop ass to O'Reilly aka Papa Bear.

By the way I love the caption that Colbert says a soldier wrote about getting the books. "Some jerk sent us two boxes of this awful book instead of anything soldiers at a remote outpost in Afghanistan might need, like say, food or soap." I say to that soldier, thank you for your service to our country. Below is the very funny Colbert piece.

President Obama Ends the Iraq War

President Obama ends the Iraq War by declaring that all troops will be brought home by the end of the year. He made this a campaign promise during the 2008 election. The Iraq War was probably the worst foreign policy mistake in the history of this country. We went in because President George W. Bush preached to us about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. None existed. Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. Iraq did not attack the United States. Hundreds of thousands of lives lost on both sides. Billions of dollars wasted. What a disaster.

Chris Matthews talks about it with two panelists on the October 21, 2011, Hardball. Former congressman Patrick Murphy gets it right. Obama got our greatest enemy, Bin Laden. Helped to eliminate Libyan dictator Qaddafi. And got us out of Iraq. Murphy complains that Republicans give no credit to Obama. Amen. Below is the video.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Air Force removes UFO reporting requirements in 2008 manual

The Huffington Post is reporting that a 2008 U.S. Air Force manual had a section on what to do if a pilot came upon a UFO. When the Huffington Post wanted more information on the manual and that section, the Air Force deleted the relevant portion. That's interesting since the Air Force stopped looking at the skies for UFOs when Project Bluebook ended in 1969. The truth is out there. Here's the story from the Huffington Post. Pictured from is an alleged UFO over Holloman Air Force Base. (1957?)

Another cool Real Steel clip

Hugh Jackman was interviewed by Jon Stewart on the Daily Show on October 5. Before he came out, the Daily Show ran this clip where Jackman's character Charlie must tell Atom, the robot, to go to his shadow boxing mode after he's damaged in the big bout with robot champ Zeus. Watch Atom copy Charlie's movements. It's this copying of a human that gives the film its feeling of empathy.

Stephen Colbert analyzes Herman Cain's border fence 'joke"

Stephen Colbert takes a look at GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain's comments on a border fence. See Cain says the stuff about having an electrified fence was a joke but then he says it's still a viable option. Here's Stephen's take on Herman Cain and his stands on the border fence.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Republicans are tone deaf on regulations

Wow, lately Republicans have been hammering federal regulations on business as the evil which is hurting the economy. Huh? The 2008 economic meltdown was caused by banks investing in risky unregulated derivatives. Anyway, last night Stephen Colbert did a piece on Florida state representative Ritch Workman's plan to get rid of a regulation that prohibits Dwarf Tossing. Yeah, the economy needs to deregulate dwarf tossing. Folks, this is why I'm not a Republican. And check out Senator John McCain's stupid comment where he says regulations have cost billions and billions of jobs. Billions? People, this man could have been President with Sarah Palin one heartbeat away from the presidency. Oy. Anyway, here's Stephen.

Cincinnati Bengals Raid the Raiders

NFL teams are built through the draft. Make no mistake. Unlike baseball, rookie draft picks can have an instant impact. And today, the Cincinnati Bengals are building a bright future. It's being reported By ESPN, that the Bengals have traded disgruntled QB Carson Palmer to the Oakland Raiders for one first round pick in 2012 and a conditional pick that could be a first round pick if the Raiders win a playoff game for 2013. That means the Bengals have two first round draft picks in the upcoming draft in 2012.

Bengals owner Mike Brown vowed he would not trade Carson Palmer. So what could have changed the mind of Pharaoh, er Mike Brown? Two events. Oakland Raiders whose record is 4-2 just had their quarterback, Jason Campbell, go down. The Raiders obviously believe this is the year for them. The Raiders went all in and offered the Bengals a Pharaoh's ransom. The second thing that changed Pharaoh, er, Mike Brown's mind? ANDY DALTON. (Pictured.) Rookie Dalton has shown at the very minimum that he is a competent NFL quarterback. But folks, Andy Dalton will only get better.

But back to the future. Carson Palmer was not going to play for the Bengals again. And Mike Brown, yes the guy I like to make fun of, pulled the trigger on a trade that he couldn't refuse. You build teams through the draft. The Bengals now have two first round draft picks in 2012 and possibly another in 2013. Regardless, the Bengals get a second round pick in 2013 if the conditions don't work. Two high draft picks for Palmer? Wow. With the Bengals young talent, and high picks to help the team, the future looks beautiful. What would Alan Cutler say now. "It's a great day to be a Bengals fan."

Monday, October 17, 2011

Real Steel, Zeus' Entrance Clip

I'll admit I really like the film Real Steel. Cliched. Yes. Contrived. Yes. Real heart. Yes. Anyway, Yahoo put up this clip of the big bout with robot boxing champ Zeus. This is Zeus' entrance. Charlie's reaction is reminiscent of Rocky Balboa's reaction to Apollo Creed's entrance. They were both impressed.

Bengals Make Plays

It's getting harder to write comedy about the Cincinnati Bengals these days. I say that after listening to yesterday's Bengals-Indianapolis Colts game. The Cincinnati Bengals won 27-17 to win three in a row. And according to Lance McAlister, the Bengals snapped a seven game losing streak to the Colts. With the win, the Bengals are 12-3 with the orange jerseys. Orange Power!

It was a team victory. Bengals QB Andy Dalton went 25-32, 264 yards, one TD and no interceptions. His TD pass could only be caught by fellow rookie A.J. Green. He went up for the ball in the endzone and brought it down. Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden called up pass plays when the Colts put eight guys in the box. Hey, that's going to be the pattern for the season. The other teams are going to go all out to stop the Bengals running attack and force rookie Dalton to throw the ball. So far, he's stepped up to the challenge.

The defense could have played the run better but when they needed to stop the Colts, they did. Cornerback Nate Clements had a blocked field goal. Safety Reggie Nelson was all over the place again. He caused two fumbles. DE Michael Johnson had a big sack and recovered a fumble. And what about the fumble recovery by DE Carlos Dunlap? He scooped up the ball and took it to the house. (Pictured.) The last time Dunlap took one back for a touchdown was when he was in high school. YouTube video below.

Bengals get a well deserved rest. It's a bye week coming up. Seattle is up next on the road. And before I forget, great job to the 52,000 fans who went to the game and rooted for the team. I heard you guys through the radio speaker. Here are the highlights.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Reds GM Walt Jocketty Puts Stop to Trade Joey Votto Talk

I've written over the last couple of months on the talk of the Cincinnati Reds on trading first baseman Joey Votto. The guys doing the talking are a bunch of pundits. In Cincinnati, 1530 Homer's Lance McAlister, Cincinnati Enquirer's sports columnist Paul Daugherty, and John Fay have all said the Reds should trade Votto for financial reasons. On the national level, Fox Sports Ken Rosenthal and ESPN's Buster Olney have suggested it also.

I've criticized it as making no sense from a baseball standpoint and the only way a trade like this works if all you care about is maximizing profits. I'll go over this again for you saberheaded pundits who thinks sabermetrics is the word of God. This past season, everyone knows the major problem with the Cincinnati Reds was hitting with runners in scoring position. Now Joey Votto's career batting average with runners in scoring position is a whopping .350. ( Votto also hits for power and average. And let's not forget he was MVP in 2010. Trading Votto only exacerbates the Reds problems with hitting with runners in scoring position. Got to score runs to win, right?

What's driving this "Trade Votto" goofiness?

a. The Reds payroll. The pundits look to the fact that in 2013, Joey Votto will be paid 17 million. Okay, but the Reds signed Votto to this three year contract to keep him in Cincinnati. Votto didn't hold a gun to the head of Reds owner Bob Castellini, so we can safely assume that the Reds can afford him through the 2013 season. Pundits will say that the Reds can't afford one player making that much of the payroll. They say the Reds' payroll is around 80 million. Who says that? We don't' know how much the Reds can afford. It could be 120 million for all we know. Second, if the Reds lose Votto after 2013, so what? Where's the team's short term strategy?

b. National pundits want Votto on a big market team. Yeah, that's cynical. But baseball has now gravitated to big market teams like Los Angeles, New York, Boston and Philadelphia. Votto on the small market Reds does not draw big interest, at least not in TV ratings.

c. Rival GMs creating trouble. If you watched the film, "The Ides of March", the Paul Giamatti character causes his rival campaign to lose its brilliant communications director with an offer to work for him. It didn't matter if the communications director accepted the job or not. The purpose wast to cause trouble and hopefully to get the director fired. Same principle here. Read Buster Olney's story and he cites an anonymous baseball executive saying the Reds can't afford Votto and saying the team will listen to trade offers.

d. Too much Moneyball. I think the local pundits think sabermetrics will save the Reds. Yeah, the "Moneyball" Oakland A's had great teams in the first part of the decade. That was primarily because they had great pitching which they developed. Mark Mulder. Barry Zito. Tim Hudson. Where are the A's now? They have just finished five straight years of non-winning baseball. So do the saberheads have somebody who can replace Votto's numbers especially with runners in scoring position?

Just Win Baby.

With all the young talent, Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto, the pundits should be thinking about a way for the Reds to win in this two year window. I mean did you see the Milwaukee Brewers panic with the likely loss of their first baseman Prince Fielder? No. They realized there was a window, and the Brewers went out and got two excellent starting pitchers in Shaun Marcum and Zack Greinke. And guess what? They're playing in the NLCS. The Reds should do the same. They should look at signing a quality starting pitcher.

Saberheads aka sabermetricians and pundits should just shut up.

Addendum. Wow. Lance McAlister tonight on WLW 700 has just doubled down. He's really pushing the trade Votto now route. He cites the success of the Tampa Bay "Devil" Rays as an example. They lost Carl Crawford to free agency and were able to make the playoffs. HOLD ON THERE SHOTGUN.

The Rays have used the "lose to win" strategy. That's were you don't spend money and lose, so you can build up high draft picks. Eventually, those draft picks work, at least you hope. Let's take a look at the years before the Rays make it to the World Series in 2008. Starting with their inaugural year, their wins are as follows 63, 69, 69, 62, 55, 63, 70, 67, 61, and 66. That's a lot of losing. Sometimes it doesn't work. See the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Reds GM Walt Jocketty finally had enough of the Votto trade talk. He told reporters, “I’m tired of talking about it,” he said. “We’re not shopping him. We’re not entertaining offers. It’s frustrating. He’s one of the best players in the game. Why would we trade him? I wish people would stop writing about it. Everyone is assuming they know our business. They don’t. Then they write this and I have to call Joey and his agent and let them know there is nothing to it. It’s not fair.” John Fay's Reds Blog.

There. Now will you goofy pundits please stop talking about trading Joey Votto?

Real Steel "Two Old Men" movie clip

I wrote that Real Steel has real heart. I pointed out the touching scene where Max takes Atom the robot out for a walk. And even though the robot was merely copying Max's human movements, there was an empathy to the robot. In another emotional scene, Charlie starts to show Atom his boxing movements. It's inspiring. It's like a coach training his boxer to become a champ. It also reminds us of Charlies glorious past. Add to that Danny Elfman's soaring score. Check out the clip.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

NFL Catfight

Okay, get you mind out of the gutter. The title of this post is not about Cincinnati Bengals cheerleaders fighting the cheerleaders of the Jacksonville Jaguars. It's about the Bengals and the Jaguars, the big cats, playing some football.

And if you know Bengals football, you expect a Bengals-Homer Simpson moment. It occurred on the extra point attempt when the Bengals scored their second touchdown in the first half. The point puts the Bengals ahead by one point. Bengals kicker Mike Nugent's kick hits the right upright. Doh! Shades of the 2006 Bengals-Denver Broncos game. And if you don't know about that game, you really don't want to hear about it.

In the third quarter, with the Bengals leading 16-13, the Jaguars QB Blaine Gabbert found a receiver so wide open he was doing his own occupy Wall Street sit down. Doh. Okay, it was a blown coverage. Bengals down 20-16.

But a funny thing happened on the way to another Bengals loss. The team played well enough to win it in the fourth quarter. The defense held. And when the Jaguars kicked a twenty two yard punt from their endzone, the Bengals were in the business. A clutch pass play on fourth and six from Bengals QB Andy Dalton to TE Jermaine Gresham would get the Bengals down to the two yard line. Then offensive coordinator Jay Gruden dialed up a run to the left that no one saw coming. Bengals RB Bernard Scott scored. Bengals ahead, 23-20 late in the game. Then the Jaguars had a Homer Simpson moment. Their center snapped the ball when Gabbert wasn't ready. Doh for the Jaguars. Bengals recover. Game over. Bengals score later on a fumble recovery to pad the score. Bengals win this catfight, 30 -20.

This was a total team victory. The Bengals defense held the Jaguars on two of their red zone penetrations. The defensive line was marvelous. DEs Michael Johnson, Carlos Dunlap, Frostee Rucker, Robert Geathers, DTs Domata Peko, Geno Atkins, Pat Sims and Jonathan Fanene pressured Gabbert all day. TE Jermaine Gresham found ways tot get open for clutch plays. Rooke WR A.J. Green looks like he was the right pick for the Bengals. And rookie QB Andy Dalton (pictured) is playing like a three year veteran. He's accurate, calm and confident.

Bring on the freaking Pittsburgh Steelers. Okay, we play the Indianapolis Colts next. Here are the highlights Bengals Nation.

Addendum to "The Ides of March" Review

A couple of things that I didn't initially put in my review of "The Ides of March." A lot of it was filmed in my hometown of Cincinnati. That makes a whole lot of sense. The movie takes place during an Ohio presidential primary. And George Clooney is from northern Kentucky.

But if you read Cincinnati Enquirer's TV critic John Kiesewetter's review, you will come away with a couple of things. One, he really should stick to TV since he really doesn't describe a whole lot of what makes a film work. Second, he's too much of a homer to experience the movie. He's distracted by the familiar trappings of the town. I mean, I did notice the Cincinnati landmarks. There's Paul Brown Stadium. Quiet in the movie. Quiet during Bengals games. That's the Roebling Bridge. Hey, that's the alley where I buy my marijuana. I keeed. I keeed. But the landmarks did little to take my attention from the human emotions about to overwhelm an idealistic candidate.

Second, Evan Rachel Wood is an excellent actress. See The Wrestler. (2008) She's also beautiful and sexy. She also used to date Marilyn Manson. (Pictured above.) Yeah, I'm talking about the heavy metal rocker who takes his stage name from Marilyn Monroe and mass murderer Charles Manson. According to Wikipedia, Manson allegedly bought a child's skeleton and masks of human skin. I ask this question, "What is her attraction to this guy?" Human scarecrow to frighten children away from the house duing Halloween? Is it free eyeliner? Does she like his color of lipstick?

The Ides of March Review

It's been some time since a dramatic film came out and covered an election from the inside. I'm thinking about Primary Colors, (1998) and The Candidate. (1972) Now actor, director and activist George Clooney has released a political film that he directed called The Ides of March. It's based on a play called Farragut North by Beau Willimon. George Clooney, Grant Heslov and Willimon adapted the play for the film.

The movie takes place during the Ohio Democratic Presidential primary. Pennsylvania governor Mike Morris (George Clooney) is locked in close battle with Senator Ted Pullman for the presidential nomination. After a debate between the two candidates, Pullman's campaign manager Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti) recognizes the brilliance of Morris' communications director Steve Myers. (Ryan Gosling)

Duffy calls Steve to meet at a bar. It's here that Duffy tells Steve that Morris cannot win. Duffy says they have Senator Thompson (Jeffrey Wright) and his delegates in their pocket because they have offered him the position of Secretary of State should they win. Duffy then asks Steve to join the Pullman campaign. Steve turns him down.

Later, recognizing their precarious position, Morris' campaign manager Paul Zara, (Philip Seymour Hoffman) proposes to Morris that they try to woo Thompson and get his delgates. Morris is disgusted with Thompsons' view of the United Nations and refuses to compromise his values. Steve tells Paul about his meeting with Duffy. The information about the meeting shocks Paul and sets events into motion.

If you know anything about politics, you recognize that Clooney rips lines and ideas from real life. When Charlie Rose asks death penalty opponent Morris what he would do if somebody killed his wife, that's a line right from 1988 when Democratic candidate Mike Dukakis got tripped up in a debate. Only this time Clooney's Morris answers the question in a way that shows his human side that would seek revenge and then explaining the need for law. When Morris shows revulsion at the idea of making Thompson, Secretary of State, he comments that Thompson wanted to tear down the top ten floors of the United Nations. That's a line from former U.N. Ambassador John Bolden.

So none of the political action in The Ides of March feels false. Aiding to this effort are the performances. Paul Giamatti is cynical as the campaign manager who will now resort to the dirty tricks that Republicans have been using for years. Evan Rachel Wood is beautiful, and sexy as a politically connected intern. When things go bad for her, she's a study in sadness and loneliness. George Clooney is the idelistic politician who plays his cards to his vest. And Ryan Gosling adds another great performance to his resume. He's confident, desperate and ambitious in one film. It's a great performance.

The Ides of March is about when emotions and ambition trump ideals. It plays like the Godfather of political films. The grade is A.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Real Steel Review

Producer Steven Spielberg must be looking for his inner child. I mean look at the recent projects he's been involved with. Super 8 (2011) Kids making movies. Falling Skies and Terra Nova. Teenagers play big roles. The Transformers films. Movies about the robot toy. Where's the guy that made Schindler's List? (1993) Are adults dead in Hollywood? Or is it about studios always going for a younger demographic. Well, now Spielberg has produced the film Real Steel, a movie based on the short story, "Steel" by Richard Matheson. It's sort of a cross between the toy "Rock 'em Sock 'em" robots and Rocky.

The "Sweet Science" fiction.

Reel Steel takes place in the near future. The sport of boxing no longer uses human combatants. Because of their entertainment value, large robots have taken their place. These boxing robots are driven by human controllers. At the top of the robot boxing world is Zeus owned by Farra Lemkova, played by Olga Fonda, who frankly speaks with a bizarre eastern European accent. At the bottom of the robot boxing world is Charlie Kenton, (Hugh Jackman) a down and out former boxer, who now goes from town to town eking out a living by fighting his robot, Ambush at fairs. After getting his robot destroyed in a match with a robotic bull, Charlie is subpoenaed to a custody hearing for his estranged son, Max. (Dakota Goyo) You see Max's mother has just died and his aunt Debra (Hope Davis) wants custody. Seeing that Debra and her new husband Marvin, (James Rebhorn) are very rich, Charlie proposes to sign over custody. He makes this offer to Marvin for $100, 000.00. Marvin agrees but wants Charlie to babysit Max for four months until he and Debra come back from vacation.

Charlie uses the money to buy Noisy Boy, a legendary boxing robot. The robot is shipped to Charlie's old gym, now being run by his ex-girlfriend, Bailey Tallet. (Evangeline Lilly) Since there is no longer any boxing for humans, she's become a robot mechanic. Max tells Charlie, he's big fan of robotic boxing and forces Charlie to take him to Noisy Boy's first fight.

After Noisy Boy is destroyed during the fight, Charlie and Max scavenge the local scrap yard looking for robot parts to build a new robot. It's there that Max literally falls on Atom, a sparring robot. The bring him back to the gym and discover that he also has a "shadow mode" control which enables the robot to emulate the movements of its human controller. After repairs, Charlie and Max then take the robot out to fight.

A boy and his robot.

Like a bad boxer, screenplay writers John Gatins, Dan Gilroy and Jeremy Leven telegraph every fictional punch. There's cliches. Yeah, there's the old father and son estrangement. How about Bailey's speech about how good a boxer Charlie was and his famous fight. Heard that one before. And get this, it's delivered by Evangeline Lilly who's too beautiful to be believed. A woman that beautiful is now a robot mechanic? I concede she did do a good job but the casting doesn't work that well. Then there's the contrived action. Charlie refuses to help Max get Atom out of the scrapyard. So how does the kid wheel a one ton robot down the road? Then there a silly scene where Charlie refuses to teach Atom his moves. Why? Just to add drama.

Another problem is Shawn Levy's (Night at the Museum) direction. He makes the bad guys literally snarl. Much of the movie feels like a cartoon. And while Danny Elfman's score will often soar, his rock and roll tendencies such as writing melodies that are mere fragments and use of heavy metal music obscures his better work in the movie.

So with these flaws, I was waiting for Reel Steel to have a major malfunction. But a movie can be like a football game. For example, at last week's Cincinnati Bengals-Buffalo Bills game, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton played like feces in the first half. Then in the second half, he played like Joe Montana. Dalton led the Bengals to victory.

Real Steel is the same as that Andy Dalton performance. It overcame a weak start. But where did this happen in the film? I look to the scene where Max takes Atom out for a walk. The robot in shadow mode comes alive as a character. By imitating Max, it shows empathy. That empathy made the robot a friend to a lonely boy. There is now hope. Hope for happiness. Hope and glory. Add to this moment of movie magic, it must be noted that Reel Steel was filmed in depressed Michigan. Maybe this cinematic mash-up is a metaphor for our recession era times.

And all this hope comes to fruition in Atom's first fight. Max bets everything that Atom can withstand one round with hulking robot called Metro. Now you know that Atom can't lose because the movie is over within thirty minutes. Yet, even while knowing the results, I found myself rooting for Atom. A lot of this is the performance of Dakota Goyo. He displays bravado, confidence and optimism as Max. And take nothing away from Hugh Jackman as Charlie, who's likable and whose athletic punches are a thing of grace. I'll admit I was applauding for Atom in each fight.

Real Steel has real heart. You will root for this little robot that could. It's rousing entertainment and heartily recommended. The grade is A.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Top Ten Original Series Star Trek Episodes

Two years ago, I compiled a list of the top ten episodes of Star Trek, The Original Series to celebrate the release of the film Star Trek (2009) to DVD. Well, as time changed so has the URLs of those episodes. Damn you CBS.

You see CBS still allows you to watch the original series on line. But if you go to their website, it's become very difficult to find the full episodes . Update. However, the official Star Trek website will allow you to view episodes for free. I don't know if these shows are the remastered ones, so you eagle eyed Trekkers will have to inform us.

Anyway, I've found as many of the episodes from and their new URLs for you to watch. So below, are the top ten episodes of Star Trek. Each link is to a story about the particular show and another link to the actual show from The list starts from ten to number one. Enjoy.

10. The Enterprise Incident.

9. The Menagerie.

8. Mirror, Mirror.

7. Arena.

6. Balance of Terror.

5. Amok Time.

4. The Doomsday Machine.

3. Journey to Babel.

2. The Trouble with Tribbles.

1. The City on the Edge of Forever.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Stephen Colbert on the Hank Williams-ESPN controversy

Country singer Hank Williams compared President Obama to Hitler and called him the enemy. Very civil Hank. As a result of Williams' comments, ESPN yanked his opening song for Monday Night Football. Here's what Stephen Colbert has to say about it.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Stephen Colbert On Chris Christie 2012

Last night, my man Stephen Colbert, on the Colbert Report gushed over the 2012 Republican Presidential candidates and New Jersey governor Chris Christie. Comparing them to delicious foods and calling Rick Santorum a dipping sauce. Okay, just in case you didn't get that "dipping sauce" joke, Google just the word "Santorum." Or better yet check out Colbert's hilarious piece googling Santorum. Warning, the below piece was run on basic cable but if you don't like um, "salty" jokes don't view Colbert's commentary on Santorum's Google problem. Hey, you get worse on South Park.

Back? Here's Colbert's piece on the GOP candidates and the Santorum joke makes you go "ewww."

GameSpot's 'Rage" Review

Hey Id's new game Rage is out. If you don't know, Id is the developer behind classic first person shooters Doom, Quake and Wolfenstein. Here's GameSpot's review. Warning. The piece contains video game violence.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Republicans would hate Jesus if he were a candidate

Bill Maher on last Friday's Real Time, muses if Republicans would vote for Jesus on his last "New Rule." Check it out. It's a riot. Be advised Bill likes to use salty language.

Moneyball Spoof

Hey what would Moneyball look like if it was made about the New York Yankees? Check out this humorous spoof from Jest.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Myth of Moneyball

If you watched the film, "Moneyball" you would think if you use Bill James statistical theories you can win regardless of money. James' theories are the basis of the alleged Oakland A's success in 2002. James' philosophy is called sabermetrics. And those that follow them call themselves sabermetricians. But is there truth in sabermetrics? If cashed strapped major league teams follow sabermetrics do they get in the playoffs as much as big spending teams or win the World Series as much as big spending teams?

The Church of Bill James 101

Bill James was a guy who developed a different way of evaluating baseball players. "Many of his first baseball writings came while he was doing night shifts as a security guard at the Stokely Van Camp pork and beans cannery." Wikipedia. Here's the basics of sabermetrics. It's basically about getting on base. So if you're a hitter and you get on base a lot, you're a god to sabermetricians.

Let's call sabermetricians "Saberheads."

I'm a Cincinnati Reds fan so I know a little about sabermetricians or saberheads. I call them saberheads because of their religious zeal over Bill James. Saberheads loved former Red Adam Dunn. Why? He got on base. A lot. And sabermetricians will agree with me that Adam Dunn did three things well. He hit homer runs, walked and struck out. Forget the fact that Adam Dunn did not hit for average or hit with runners in scoring position which makes him terrible in the clutch. In fact, his career batting average with runners in scoring position is a horrific .224. Saberheads just loved him for his on base percentage. Adam Dunn might get on base a lot as a Red. So what? You could not depend on him to drive in runs. This type of robotic logic makes Dave Kingman, a Hall of Famer. For those of you who are young, Kingman did one thing well. Forger batting average. He hit home runs. And by the way, in this year of 2011, Dunn's batting average is so bad, I can't believe it. It's an epically terrible .159.

The big problem with saberheads is that they view strikeouts as just another out. Huh? Yeah, if you put the ball in play you might get a double play. But you can't get a hit if you strike out. You can't force an error if you strikeout. You can't drive in a run if you strikeout. They just look at cold statistics in their "religion."

Here's more about why you can't depend on just statistics. When the Reds were looking for bullpen help in 2010, local pundits wanted the Reds to re-sign former Red pitcher David Weathers. He had a very good ERA in 2009 of 3.32. But he also had a poor WHIP in that year of 1.158. So why is it that Weathers' likely last year in baseball was 2009? Because if you used your eyes, you would realize that Weathers' sinker and slider were gone. He got bad to average players out but you couldn't count on him against good players. And frankly, wise baseball GMs saw this. That's why Weathers solid career was finished in 2009.

The Myth of Moneyball

I've looked at how important money is for baseball success in prior story. CNBC has recently done a similar story. Darren Rovell writes in the story that between 2001-2010,

"Of the 78 teams who made the playoffs, 48 of them (61.5 percent) were among the top 10 highest spenders. Eighteen of them (23.1 percent) ranked in 11th to 20th in league payroll. And 12 playoff teams (15.4 percent) came out of the bottom third of payroll.

As for actually winning it all?

Out of the last 10 winners, 60 percent have come from the top third of payroll, while 40 percent came from the middle third. There haven't been any winners from the bottom third over the last decade."

So money is significant if you want win in baseball. And what about the success of the 2002 Oakland A's as depicted in Moneyball? Perhaps the most important facet of the game is pitching. The movie conveniently ignores the three aces that the A's had developed. They were Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito.

Today, the Oakland A's have had five straight seasons of non-winning baseball. They're still under the guidance of sabermetrics GM Billy Beane. They just recently finished at a .500 record. Their last playoff appearance was in 2006. So I question whether sabermetrics really works as well as the saberheads thinks it does.

When it comes to evaluating players, statistics are important. But they're not the only tool to use. You've got to use your eyes also. And as far as Bill James as a god like figure, I'll let Hall of Fame manager Sparky Anderson end this story. According to CBS 60 Minutes, Bill James had commented that Anderson was more lucky than talented. Sparky's response? Sparky called him "a fat little bearded man who knows nothing about nothing."

From Opie to Red Rifle

As I was listening to the Cincinnati Bengals-Buffalo Bills game on radio, it was clear early on that this was going to be another Bengals loss. The offense sucked. There was your classic Bengals Homer Simpson moment in the first half. Bengals receiver Andre Caldwell was on the ground and Bengals QB Andy Dalton hits him. The ball bounces off his body into the hands of a Bills defender. He picks it off and returns it in for a touchdown. DOH! This is Bengals football. Thank God for the Bengals defense who held off the potent Bills offense. Credit for the whole game must be given to them for keeping the Bengals in the game. I salute our defensive ends, Michael Johnson, Robert Geathers and Carlos Dunlap.

Red headed Dalton was so bad in the first half, I was going to give him the nickname, "Opie." You know the Ron Howard red haired character in the "Andy Griffith Show." Then he woke up. The kid went 11-16 for 182 yards, threw a touchdown pass that only a tight end with the talent of Bengals Jermaine Gresham could get. He also took the ball in on a quarterback draw. (Pictured.) The Bengals defense held. And Ted Nugent, er, Mike Nugent kicked the game winning field goal. Bengals win, 23-20. The kid for this week gets his nickname of "Red Rifle" back. Here are the highlights.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Hail Enterprise

I just got done watching Star Trek: Enterprise, seasons three and four on Netflix. I didn't catch these seasons when they aired between 2003-2005. One of the reasons that I missed the last two seasons was that here in Cincinnati, UPN which aired Star Trek: Enterprise on low powered Channel 25. Plus the channel had difficulty being carried on cable. This was probably the reason why this show suffered because availability of UPN was a problem in other places in the nation. And while I can't deny Star Trek franchise fatigue, I believe the availability problems were the biggest reasons why the show got cancelled.

So what about the last two seasons of this show? Season Two ended with the Xindi, a collection of alien races, attacking Earth and killing seven million people. The third season was about the Enterprise entering Xindi space and stopping future Xindi attacks. Now, this was perhaps the first time a season was dedicated to a single story arc. I'm not excited about serial story telling like Lost. The reasons are if you miss an episode, you could get lost and if the arc ends badly, the whole show suffers. See season six of Lost. And the Star Trek franchise is about exploring strange new worlds.

Star Trek also likes to tell stories which are metaphorical that reflects our world. Now remember how screenplay writer Damon Lindelof described what happened to Vulcan in the 2009 movie Star Trek? He called the destruction of Vulcan, a 9/11 moment. But Star Trek: Enterprise beat Lindelof to the punch six years earlier. The whole Xindi story arc was a metaphor for the war on terror. Captain Archer (Scott Bakula) must make morally questionable decisions. And guess what just happened on Friday? The United States killed an American citizen, Anwar Al-Awlaki, who was running Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula with a drone attack. They killed this American citizen without a trial. Tough decision just like the ones Archer had to make.

And in season four, humanity must overcome xenophobia to form an alliance of planets, the United Federation of Planets. It might seem over the top dramatics to show how some humans hated aliens but think about what is happening with the way some Americans treat Muslims after 9/11. See all the angst over the Mosque at Ground Zero controversy. Yet, man will overcome his prejudices and the future looks bright with the formation of the Federation. I just hope that some Americans will embrace the Constitution and put aside their fear and hatred.

Star Trek: Enterprise is one Star Trek series that was underrated. But it was a great show. Kudos must be given to creators and producers Rick Berman and Brannon Braga. Other credit must be given to writers Manny Coto, experienced Star Trek novelists Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens. They've created a bold, exciting and smart Star Trek show.

Christopher Roberts has created a beautiful Star Trek: Enterprise fan video capturing the spirit of the show.