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Epth is a state of mind, not a place. Reading this will give you a virtual drivers license in that state, but you'll still need to be 21 to purchase alcohol. And you can't get any there anyway, so stop asking.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Two! Two! Two Posts in One!

(because blogging as an art form is in its infancy, people aren't really sure what to do with it. This post is an experiment, born of the innovative spirit of both Howard Hughes and Brett Favre. I'll be switching quickly back-and-forth between two different subjects, and I'm sorry if that beats you down. On the plus side, you could be seeing the first post in what could be a blogging revolution.)

Sometimes you just need to do two things at once. Last night, I flipped back and forth between the Packers' exhibition game on ESPN and my DVD of The Aviator, which had been burning a hole in my Netflix queue for a week. I don't know if you know this, but I make a point of seeing all the Oscar-nominated films of the previous year just to confirm that the Oscars are a joke. The Aviator was nominated for Best Picture and Cate Blanchett actually won for her riveting (literally -- see below) portrayal of 30's movie star and 70's old lady, Kate Hepburn. So by contract I had to see it, even if it did star Leonardo DiCraprio.

I never get to watch the Packers, since I live in Dallas. We have our own NFL team here, and I am forced to watch them every week. So when I get the chance to watch the Packers play, even if its only a meaningless preseason game, I take it. I have so many questions about the Packers that I need answered: How will they replace their two guards? Brett Favre is thinner -- is he better? Does Ahman Green still fumble all the time? Can the secondary cover anybody? Will they miss Bubba Franks? Will Javon Walker purposefully drop balls just to make a point about his contract? Do they still do the Lambeau Leap?

This game was going to be the opening paragraph to the long, long answers.

Let's get one thing straight right now: DiCraprio is not a good actor. He's a pretty boy who plays "insane" very well. He's got "insane" down. In that way, he's like a cleaner and less menacing Brad Pitt, who was already pretty clean and cuddly to begin with. In this movie, he's playing an eccentric billionaire from recent history (Hughes died in 1976), and he's good in those scenes that require him to act nuts. The rest of the time, he's missing some qualities that you'd expect a multi-billionaire to have -- for lack of a better word, he's a lightweight in a role that requires a heavyweight. It's not that he's a bad actor, it's just that he's not the right actor. Happens every day in Hollywood, babe. Don't worry, it doesn't hurt the film that much.

Brett Favre -- 9 for 10, with one touchdown that took advantage of the fact that the cornerback wasn't looking. I know we shouldn't read much into the first exhibition game, but Favre looked good. Really good. Maybe not "make up for a terrible defense and the loss of two offensive guards" good, but really good nonetheless. A lot was made out of his statement that he wasn't going to "mentor" the Packers' young QB Aaron Rogers. Now the thing you gotta love about Favre is he's honest. He probably doesn't like all this talk about his replacement, either. Would you be gung-ho about training your replacement, even if you were a legend? I just think he was being too honest, and it made him sound like a tool.

Martin Scorsese probably hasn't made a good film since Casino (I say probably because I never saw Kundun -- but then again neither did anyone else.), and hasn't made a great film since Raging Bull, but he keeps getting nominated for Oscars. He should try an experiment -- take the script from Gigli, change it around just enough to make it unrecognizable but keep its incompetent spirit intact, make a movie out of it, and see if the Academy nominates it for Best Picture. I mean, this Aviator movie isn't bad, but it's got a lot of problems. And not little problems, either. He's got the lightweight in a heavy lead role, a bunch of henchmen and girlfriends who drift in and out of the movie with no seeming rhyme or reason except to put the actor's name in the credits (Ian Holm, Blanchett, Kate Beckinsale, Willem Dafoe, etc.), and there's no real development in any of the characters at all. Wonder why Scorsese hasn't won a Best Picture? He hasn't directed one. Plus, God hates him after Last Temptation of Christ.

There's not much optimism in Packer-land these days, at least among the fans. They hope that new GM Ted Thompson can undo much of the damage that the previous GM (and current Head Coach) did by hiring a madman as a defensive coordinator and drafting a bunch of mushheads. It won't be an easy job, and Packer fans don't know what to expect this year. We want assurances that the team won't ever give up 35 points in a half or lose to the Bears at Lambeau again. Those assurances will take a long time to believe. Last year* did something to the Packer fan, man -- it made them see the good play as the illusion and the losses as the truth, not the other way around. For a long time, fans viewed the Packers as contenders every year. Now, they are a bunch of inept suckas until proven otherwise.

Anyone who's old enough to remember Kathryn Hepburn's shaky-voiced machine-gun style of acting should appreciate what Blanchett does in The Aviator. Now, it's annoying, and it grinds the film to a halt, but she does a winning impression. She won Best Supporting Actress for this, btw. This has to be the first time in history an actress won an Oscar for a role that's totally unnecessary to the plot. Really, did Hepburn have to be in this movie? Hughes' first wife wasn't mentioned -- why did they have concentrate so much on one of his many 30's starlet girlfriends? The movie pretty much stuck with 3 chicks -- Hepburn, some teenage girl named Faith who Hughes hires to hang around with him, and Eva Gardner. It's like they put the names of the women Hughes was attached to into a hat and pulled just three out, because they couldn't fit any more in the movie. I suppose that's an unfair criticism, but Scorsese opens himself up to it by including virutally no romantic development between these girls and Hughes. It's like, one day they're just in his life, with a bunch of emotional attachment to him that we never get to see the reason for. For example, when Faith rams her car out of jealousy into a car holding Hughes and Gardner, I was like, "Is that Faith? But she's like a hired escort! Why does she care so much about this?" The questions of Hughes' romantic life are never answered, and in fact just sidetrack the movie from the main plot, which is his fight with Pan-Am airlines during WW II. Scorsese should have just hired look-alikes for these actresses to just stand in the background and not talk. Especially Hepburn, who talks like a howitzer. Dut-dut-dut-dut-dut-dut! I'm surprised they had any scenery left, after all her chewing.

This movie needed less Hepburn and more Gardner. Whumpsch!

The person every Packer fan wanted to see was Aaron Rogers, the first real Heir Apparent to Favre the Packers have had. With Brett threatening retirement every year and no viable backup in place, they had to get him. The new GM made the right decision, at least in theory. Rogers didn't do anything that screams "He sucks" (like Tim Couch did last year), so I guess the night was a qualified success. He still holds the ball very high, and it still looks weird. This makes us Packer fans nervous.

And I'd like to thank Ahman Green for answering at least one of my above questions by fumbling. Get him off the team, please, I'm begging you. He's a time bomb just waiting to go off at any moment to kill a drive. He's a great runner, but no. No longer. Unfortunately, the Packers disagree with me.

I'm not saying The Aviator is a bad movie at all -- it's an interesting portrayal of an interesting period in a tremendously interesting person's life. The 40's political intrigue story is great, and the movie does a good job setting everything up clearly for the climax, when Hughes returns from a nervous breakdown and butt-kickingly testifies before the US Senate. Also, Scorsese is still a great director, and he portrays the things that make Hughes insane (germs, flash bulbs, people) with style and clarity. This is a good movie, but has the problems I mentioned before plus the problem of its 2:50 length, so it's not a great movie.

Side note: In the film, Hughes is driven insane by his hot mother washing him in the bathtub and making him spell "quarantine." She does this because Houston is a disease-ridden sewer of a town. His insanity consists of: an irrational fear of germs and unwashed surfaces, hatred of bright lights and people, paranoia, deafness, blinking, repeating phrases over and over, and thinking Kate Hepburn is attractive.

So at halftime Terrell Owens and his agent Drew "The Walking Holdout Machine" Rosenhaus are interviewed by the very friendly Chris Berman. They proceed to lay out their crazy case** before the football-watching public: In last year's Super Bowl, Owens signed a waiver that essentially said he was too injured to play but was going to play anyway to help the team, and that if he got more injured, he himself was responsible, and if the Eagles got rid of him, he wouldn't be paid injury insurance. At least that's what Owens was saying. What is boils down to is Owens took a personal financial risk to help the team, and now has a messiah complex. Only this messiah doesn't want to save you from your sins, he just wants more money. The Eagles kicked him out, after he did nothing wrong -- he only told Andy Reid to shut up after Reid told him to shut up. Owens explained that since Reid didn't birth him, he didn't have the right to tell him that. Owens said that he would do his professional duty by practicing with the team, but wouldn't talk to anyone outside of practice because he's "unhappy." Rosenhaus kept asking Chris Berman if it was fair that Owens wouldn't be one of the ten highest-paid receivers in the league, which Berman didn't know how to respond to because it's the type of dishonest question a telemarketer would ask.

I'm not going to comment on Owens anymore because it's not important, but I will say that he knows he's doing something wrong, and is going to great pains to justify it to himself and everybody else. He feels guilty, and is trying with all his might to convince himself that he isn't feeling guilty. You could see it in his eyes. Drew Rosenhaus is helping him do this in order to win more money for his agency, and Terrell would be smart to remember the 8th rule of sports contract negotiations:
Protracted contract negotiations always hurt the team and the player, but always help the player's agent. If your agent ever suggests a holdout to you, fire him immediately.

In conclusion, The Aviator gets 3 out of 5 overpriced popcorns, and one "I can't believe they nominated this over Eternal Sunshine" award.

The Pack is back. They won 10-7. It's exhibition, don't get excited.

*Specifically, the 2nd-5th weeks of the regular season, in which the Packers had 4 of the 8 worst weeks of the Favre era, and had them in succession. They lost to the worst team in football (the hated Bears), then followed that up with a blowout loss to Indianapolis in which they gave up 35 points in the first half, then followed that up with a offensively woeful 14-7 loss to the sucky NY Giants, then got lit up for another 35-point half in a loss to Tennessee. Four horrible, hope-crushing losses, and three of them were in Lambeau. Packer fans haven't viewed the team the same way since.

**Some back story may be in order -- Owens was kicked out of Philadelphia Eagles' training camp after he and Eagles Head Coach Andy Reid got in an argument. Owens has been vocally upset about his contract, and has refused to talk to any of his teammates or coaches until the contract issue gets resolved. What a putz.


  • At 10:33 AM, Blogger Flybeard the Sailor said…

    Brett Favre is thinner because he exercised and stuff. No truly, that's about the gist of what they said during all the packers crap t.v. they show here. I hate the packers.

  • At 10:46 AM, Blogger Flybeard the Sailor said…

    Mike, I actually had to take notes to comment on this post. First of all, I was hoping for some tie-in between the two subjects. However, without that, it seemed like one of those "art for art's sake" kind of things. Plus, you did paragraphs in a row on the fudgepackers at one point.

    Secondly, Brett Favre is a tool, no matter what he says. Thirdly, The Last Temptation of Christ was a great movie that a lot of Christians probably could have gotten a lot out of, at least in understanding other points of view, if they weren't so judgemental without even knowing why. Fourthly, all the Packers fans around here seem pretty optimistic. Though they're probably all in the process of getting drunk and maybe beating their wives. Fifthly, The Bears will always win at Lamblow. Sixthly, The Bears will always win.

    Lastly, I'd like to say that there is intentional, irrational, and misdirected anger in this post. I was kinda just trying to be an ass, while simultaneously meaning every word of it.

  • At 11:10 AM, Blogger Mike Pape said…

    I know, Paul. You must be eagerly awaiting the Aaron Rogers era, because the Brett Favre era went so badly for the Bears. I don't judge you for your misdirected anger.

    I am going to have to go ahead and disagree with you about Last Temptation, though. I think you're right -- a lot of Christians hated it without watching it, which is stupid but understandable. The thing is, I know why I'm being judgemental about it, and it has to do mostly with making a fictional story about a real person that undercuts what that person stood for, and then hiding behind the "it's only a fictional story" defense. It was at the very least irresponsible, and on top of that a horrible movie, flatlander.

    And I'll fix the post with a tie-in right now: Brett Favre is Howard Hughes, only with a tractor instead of a plane and football instead of money.

  • At 11:30 AM, Blogger Flybeard the Sailor said…

    We're going to have to agree to disagree about LToC. The Brett Farve(sic) era went fine for the Bears. We hated the Packers before Brett Favre, we hated the Packers during Brett Favre, and we'll hate the Packers after Brett Favre. Actually, the Packers might be one of the few things for which I have great disdain for.

  • At 3:35 PM, Blogger Dan said…

    Man you really picked the wrong place to live then buddy.

    Mike, I was lucky enough to get to go to the game last night with Luke Acker. It was a lot of (wet) fun.

    We all know what Ahman's problem is, as he does it every year. It's those damn arm guards. He wears them for the first half of the season every year, and for the first half of the season he makes 5 times as many fumbles as the remained of the year. I don't know why he thinks it will be different every year if he tries it again. The only difference I can think of this year is that he started wearing them in the preseason, so maybe it'll only take him until the 4th week to figure it out this year (fingers crossed).

  • At 5:48 PM, Blogger EPH32021 said…

    "For a long time, fans viewed the Packers as contenders every year. Now, they are a bunch of inept suckas until proven otherwise."

    I think that first part is actually why I began to despise the packers while going to college in WI. It was ridiculous! Super-bowl contenders EVERY YEAR?! Please! Glad they've finally gotten some realty checks. I hate the Packers, too. But I'm not overly fond of the bears either--unless, of course they beat the Packers! That's just great if it happens. I was a fan of the team Mike has to watch week after week from the age of four all the way through the mid 90s when said team all got arrested for doin' drugs and women on video tape. Then I was pretty much done with them. Now? I root aganst the Packers.

  • At 10:47 AM, Blogger Mike Pape said…

    Ok, Randall, the Packers haven't had a losing season since 1991, they won a Super Bowl in 1997, and have by far the best overall record in the NFL over the last 15 years. Seriously, look it up. It isn't even close. So they have been contenders all that time, even when you were in college. Kinda like UNC, right? Right?

    And Dan, I just don't trust that Ahman Green, not even at the end of the season when he's figured stuff out. He's a time bomb. And congrats on getting to Lambeau for that game. That's awesome.


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