Sunday, April 27, 2008

Husker Urban Legends: The Speculation Continues...

We started with a few of the more infamous Husker Urban Legends last week, and were reminded of quite a few more we may have missed. Again, you can never really dig up official confirmation on many of these, hence they fall under the Urban Legend category. But damn if they aren't fun for everyone to revisit. A few more to discuss after the jump:

  • "Tommie Frazier openly taunted Warren Sapp on the field during the 1995 Orange Bowl": Everyone assumes that this really happened. In fact, Frazier's quote to Sapp after he returned back into the game in the 3rd quarter has been printed so much it's now listed as one of the all-time great college football quotes. The quote (or a variation thereof) goes something along the lines of this...
    Sapp: "Hey Tommie, where you been?"
    Frazier: "It aint where I've been fat boy, it's where I'm going."

    Neither Frazier nor Sapp has gone on record to admit this exchange really took place, unlike say Joe Montana's "Hey look, it's John Candy" moment in the 2nd 49ers/Bengals Super Bowl. What we do know for sure: For at least one week before the game, Warren Sapp could not stop talking. Tom Osborne named Frazier as his starting quarterback for the 1995 Orange Bowl, despite missing most of the season with blood clots in his right knee, instead of the late Brook Berringer, who led the Huskers to the National Championship game against the Hurricanes with Tommie watching on the sidelines. Along with the announcement, TO did promise that both quarterbacks would play, and it became one of Osborne's greatest coaching decisions of his career. He'd have the more athletically gifted Frazier to start the game, and the more game-sharp (at the time) Berringer to fill in mainly in the 2nd and 3rd quarters, and allow Frazier's quickness to help take over in the 4th quarter, provided the game remained close. We also know Frazier started the game poorly (obviously not sharp after waiting in the wings for so long), making a bad 3rd down decision on his first series and throwing a pick with Sapp in his face on his 2nd series. Also, Husker Defensive End admitted that, regarding Miami in that first half, "You wouldn't have believed all their trash talking." So I'm sure Sapp egged Frazier on when he finally returned to the game. In fact, knowing the mouth on Sapp and how he'd continue to yap during his professional career, he HAD to mouth off to Tommie at that moment. Sapp's brash talk was viewed upon as childish while he was at the U, but he became somewhat of a media darling for his quotes as a pro. For all we know, the exchange very well could have been a lot more intense and R-Rated than the legend has it. No matter what they said to each other, I don't doubt this legend for a second.
  • "Frank Solich found out he was fired as head coach by finding a note Steve Pederson slid under his office door." For as big as a slippery prick Pederson was during his wild tenure as Nebraska Athletic Director, nothing would surprise me. But you have to think, not even Stevie P would do what the character played by Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea did in Back To The Future Part II, and print a note that said, "YOU'RE FIRED!!!" as a way to let Solich know it was time to pack up his shit and get the fuck out. Among what is confirmed: Scott Frost of all people is on record as saying that Pederson would repeatedly have letters slipped under Solich's door; Solich's daughter is also on record as saying Stevie P did the same thing repeatedly. Frankie avoided the media after the firing, but Solich's daughter Cindy Dalton, however was talking, and said Pederson "really hadn't made up his mind until five minutes before Dad walked through the door" and that Solich "couldn't believe that Pederson had the nerve to say that to his face." My theory is that Pederson, not one for face-to-face confrontation, had somebody put one of these notes under Solich's door, asking his soon-to-be-ex football coach to see him. After seeing how Pederson botched the entire firing to the point of having no backup plan in sight for Solich's replacement, other than to find his own guy and put his own stamp on the football program, I wouldn't have been surprised if Pederson had fired Solich via text message if that was in vogue in November, 2003.
  • "Chad May forgot to wear a cup during the first half of a game against Nebraska": I've heard many versions of this story (from former Kansas State and Nebraska players), but they're all different. In fact, some have said it wasn't Chad May guilty of this, it was former K-State QB Matt Miller. And when you look back at the first halves of both the 1994 and 1995 games -- when this legend allegedly took place -- it's could have been either May or Miller. It starts with the 1993 game in Lincoln, when May embarrassed the Blackshirts by throwing for a then conference record 489 yards passing in Nebraska's 45-28 victory. So the 1994 defense was looking for revenge against the cocky May in their battle in Manhattan, Kansas. The Corn was ranked #2, the Wildcats #16, and at the time May was receiving serious Heisman consideration, throwing 188 straight passes without a pick. The game is mostly remembered as "The Matt Turman Game", as the Turman-ator had to fill in for an ailing Brook Berringer. The weather was sloppy, so Turman kept handing the ball to Lawrence Phillips as the Corn played smash-mouth football in beating the Wildcats 17-6. May was sacked 6 times, thrown to the ground a lot more, fumbled twice, and snapped that no-interception streak by throwing a pick to NU's Troy Dumas. In the 1995 game, NU was #2, KU #8, and Nebraska went into halftime leading 35-6. That Husker team is widely considered the greatest college football team of all-time, and Miller was beat around worse than May was the year before. Former Husker Jared Tomich said after the game that Miller, "was taking a long time to get up." K-State had -19 yards rushing, and their quarterbacks were sacked 9 times by the Blackshirts. So two ranked K-State teams, two different quarterbacks, both getting whacked early and often. Which one is (allegedly) guilty of the no-cup crime, May or Miller? The legend has it that word spread through the Husker Defense that (May/Miller) foolishly went sans protection, and the brutal Blackshirts went out of their way to exploit that error in judgement. The smart money is on Chad May, as he was extremely vocal and arrogant going into the 1994 game. He was STILL cocky after getting destroyed by the Corn. "They're beatable," May said after the '94 game. "I don't think they're a great team." The pre-game hype literally angered the Blackshirts, and cup or no cup, May was Public Enemy Number 1. Yes, May was brash enough to try to pull something like this at the time. Either way, playing quarterback for K-State against those defenses wasn't an ideal gig.
  • "Emmitt Smith was thisclose to playing for Nebraska": The biggest "legend" regarding this is that Emmitt visited Nebraska wearing an all-red suit during his recruiting visit. The 1986 Parade Magazine High School Player of the Year, Emmitt was recruited by pretty much everybody, with Auburn, Florida and Nebraska as the front runners. On signing day, Emmitt walked into a crowded gym wearing a red shirt and hat, giving the packed school assembly the impression that he was heading to Nebraska. But then Gator Coach Galen Hall promised Emmitt he would start the first game of the 1987 season, and Smith signed with Florida. After an electrifying collegiate career with Florida, Emmitt left after his Junior year as Hall was forced out for violating NCAA rules. The Gators were placed on probation for the 1990 season, and Emmitt was ready to re-write the NFL record books. Yes, Emmitt did seriously consider coming to Nebraska, and things worked out quite well for him. Smith certainly wasn't going to start over Keith Jones in 1987, and would have likely red-shirted. But from 1988-1991, Emmitt could have been a major star for the Huskers, who didn't have a 1,000 yard rusher in 1990.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Obscure Movie of the Week: The Indian Runner

Trav lets us in on perhaps the first movie filmed in and around Blair -- directed by Sean Penn no less -- right after the jump...

As a Junior in High School it was big, no Huge news that Hollywood and Blair Nebraska Would finally unite. After a huge roll by Sean Penn as a young, cocky, racist cop in Colors he would now take to the directors chair in 1991's The Indian Runner. Filming was being done in the Washington County area on a film Base upon Bruce Springsteins "Highway Patrolman, but ultimatly a gratuitous scan of a rusty, metal train bridge riddled with grafiti was all that was not left on the cutting room floor. This movie had long left my memory untill it was recently brought to my attention that Aragorn was in this movie(Viggo Mortenson). Amazingly, also was Dennis Hopper, Paticia Arquette, Charles Bronson and Benicio Del Torro. It was widely known that Penn did not make the trip to Blair for filming, but maybe, just maybe Viggo had a cup of cofee at Billy Blair's Maple Cafe, and who knows, Maybe Benicio bought envelopes at the Blair Book Store.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Notes From A Spring Practice

"What are we taling about here? We talking about PRAC-tice..." -- Alan Iverson, 2002

Hard to figure out who was more excited about things, the Jayhawk fans for a parade celebrating their miraculous NCAA Basketball Championship, or Husker fan amped up to watch "practice". Some highlights after the jump:

  • The price of a gallon of gas was over 10-cents more in Lincoln than it was in Omaha and other surrounding areas on Saturday. Just sayin'.
  • Downtown Lincoln looked like a regular game day, and for the most part, the crowd was split into two groups:
    1. People looking for a great reason to party up after a long winter and losing out on the fun they were expecting last fall (these folks started filling Downtown drinking establishments just after 9am)
    2. Families who wouldn't otherwise have the chance to go to a regular season game
  • Husker Vision was pretty much the same as it was last fall, with the added footage of Pelini coaching in the 2003 Alamo Bowl, which got the biggest response from the crowd.
  • The radio announcers were making way too big of a deal about the coaches being out on the field during some of the action. But mostly they were looking for anything to talk about. In fact, the network left the football action early to go to the Husker Baseball game. You know, because that was an actual GAME that meant something.
  • Mike Ekeler has already been nicknamed "Captain Red Bull". He'll be a media darling as long as he's with Nebraska.
  • Kevin Cosgrove was liquored up at Harry's Wonder Bar, complaining about getting suckered into betting the "overs" for the Spring Game.
  • Everyone is trying to get a read on what the team's going to be like based on what happened on April 19th, which is just silly. There was a lot of stock into how great Joe Dailey looked in the 2004 Spring Practice.
  • The reality is Saturday was a massive party for the House of Husker, which hadn't had any fun since the beginning of the USC game last September. In fact, many businesses pointed to that game as being the last time anyone could remember a level of excitement around the program. Yes, Saturday was a way to napalm the ups and downs of the past four years. Just use photo shop and crop out everything from the end of Pelini's Alamo Bowl through Billy C's last stand in Boulder.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Husker Urban Legends

We haven't said much about Husker Spring Football Practice this year because everyone has been all over it, and written the same story. We get it. According to all stories, everything is back on track, Pelni and company are fixing the wrongs of the Billy C era, and Saturday's "practice" is now officially sold out (82,000 plus will pack Memorial Stadium, and people are treating the spring "game" like an actual game day). Nobody's really going to know anything until September, but it's safe to say the team will actually put forth something called effort during games. So with nothing to add to what every media outlet has already reported, it's a fun time to revisit Husker Football Urban Legends, because that's just fun for everybody, and it gives Husker fan something to do from May - July. Here are some favorites, and I know we're missing a bunch, but let's start here:

  1. "Irving Fryar was on the take during the 1984 Orange Bowl." This one always seems to get lost because it was perhaps the greatest college football game ever (It's definitely Top 5, this can't be disputed) and it contained the signature moment in college football history (Osborne's decision to go for two points and the win even though a tie game would have assured him his first National Championship). I have always believed that Irving was paid to throw the game. Watch this compilation video of the game, starting at the 4:10 mark. Don Criqui, who was sensational calling the action, makes a point of saying "Fryar, who's been dormant..." after Irving finally came through with a great catch on the final drive. But the key evidence is at the 4:40 mark in the video. 2nd and 8, Turner Gill throws a perfect pass to a wide open Fryar in the end zone. The ball is right there. On the replay, it literally looks like he purposely DROPS the thing. And this was the guy who was an All-American and the #1 overall pick in the 1984 draft. Fryar did have 5 catches for 61 yards in the game, but I cannot get past that drop. It gets lost because later in the drive, on 4th and 8, Turner Gill pulls off that unbelievable option to Jeff Smith for the touchdown, and the failed 2-point conversion defines the entire game. And oh by the way, Heisman Trophy winner Mike Rozier got hurt earlier in the game. So in that respect, it doesn't matter whether or not Irving Fryar was involved in some fix. Or does it? Let's just pretend he really was. Is that a critical reason the game was closer than anyone expected? And would Nebraska have scored some more points if Irving was all dialed in, and maybe not even need a 2-point conversion to win? So many things wash over this story. Dean Steinkuhler's fumble-roosky was in that game. Rozier's injury. Gill's incredible game. Fryar has completely gone to Jesus and part of his speaking appearances include him talking about how much trouble he got in, especially after he was drafted by New England. So it's not out of the realm of possibility that he took money to, uhm, not play up to standards. That drop just stands out, and it stinks to the heavens.
  2. "Eric Crouch quit the team in 1999, only to have Frank Solich drive up to his house in Omaha and promise him the starting quarterback job." Wait a second, Crouch would actually quit something? Since he won the Heisman, how many things has Crouch literally just taken his ball and gone home? Well, a lot. And since leaving Nebraska, Crouch has been branded as a baby. But back to the legend. At the time, the Huskers had Crouch and one Bobby Newcombe in the fold as quarterbacks. Both players were sensational when they ran with the football. In fact, debates went on about who would be a better wingback or return specialist. Newcombe had the QB job during Solich's first year as head coach in 1998, a no brainer of a decision when you consider how well Bobby played as a freshman the year before (granted, not as a quarterback). But he got hurt late in the first game of the year. Enter Crouch, who became highlight material, and Newcombe had surgery following the season. Solich named Newcombe the starting QB right before the 1999 season...and then all of a sudden, announced he would "alternate" the two quarterbacks. It was at this time the rumor started. There is confirmation that yes, Crouch did drive back to Omaha when Solich announced Newcombe was going to be his QB. And yes, Solich really did drive to Omaha "in search of Crouch" to tell him that he would be playing a lot. The rest is history. Crouch really is a big baby. In fact, when Newcombe officially moved to receiver, Eric would deliberately not throw the ball to him. But Eric has a Heisman, despite throwing more interceptions than touchdown the year he won the damn thing.
  3. "Bill Callahan hated Tom Osborne." True. I mean, there is this little video. Oh, and Billy C did call TO a "crusty old fuck". I'm sure the two men text message each other all the time.
  4. "Lawrence Phillips didn't play in the first half of the 1994 Orange Bowl because he told TO to fuck off." Well, we've also heard he told him to "go fuck himself" too. What's confirmed: LP ran 13 times for 64 yards and a touchdown. Twelve of those 13 carries were in the 4th quarter, the other was in the third quarter. However, the Huskers DID have a very good running back named Calvin Jones for that game, but he had 9 carries for only 28 yards (and there is that legendary halftime interview that O.J. Simpson of all people did with Osborne, where TO joking told the Juice that "they sure could have used him in the first half" -- how this clip isn't on youtube is beyond me). The Huskers really did need them some LP in the second half after Jones got hurt. But again -- did crazy LP really go F-Bomb on Osborne before the game? Nobody will go on record with this sort of thing, but off the record, reliable sources SWEAR it happened. Of course, Osborne would later stand up for LP after he threw a woman down a flight of stairs. Those crazy college kids. I guess with LP, anything's possible.
  5. "Bob Devaney would celebrate a home victory by going down to the Sidetrack Tavern and drunkenly sing with the band." Everyone has fun Bob Devaney stories. It's no secret the Bobfather liked to go out and chill with the adult beverages, big deal. Of course, that can't happen in this day and age. An old member of the old "Sidetrack" band confirms that yes indeed, when Devaney was Athletic Director (re: After he was head coach, so this sort of thing was not frowned upon), Devaney would stumble down tot he Sidetrack, disheveled but happy, a couple of ladies under each arm, and belt out a rendition of whatever dirty song they were ready to play. "He was certainly three sheets to the wind," our man says. "He'd stumble up to the stage, we'd worry that he'd embarrass himself and tarnish his legacy. But when he took to the microphone, he nailed every note and flat out owned the audience, every time." This is the sort of thing you have to think Pelini would love to do after winning a National Championship.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Obscure Movie of The Week: The Last Seduction (1994)

No, it's not THAT obscure, but on my Top 5 list of all-time favorite movies, this one has a permanent spot. And before diving into a movie that features one of the most unforgettable performances by a female, there's some necessary background as to how this thing almost became very obscure. The Last Seduction couldn't find a distributor when it made the film festival circuit back in 1994, and instead wound up playing on HBO (late at night no less, and remember, this was when HBO wasn't a big player, this was still five years before The Sopranos or Sex and The City) a few times before unprecedented critical acclaim -- especially for star Linda Fiorentino's marvel of a performance -- gave the movie a small run in theaters. And if you haven't seen it yet, by all means, stop reading and rent the DVD, Netflix it or whatever you need to do, because really you're better off not knowing anything about the film before you see it.

I was one of the few to actually get a chance to see it in a theater (at the Mary Riepma Ross Theatre in Lincoln no less, it wasn't playing anywhere else), and at the time, I couldn't quite figure out who Linda Fiorentino was. She looked familiar enough, but it seemed like she came from out of nowhere. It wasn't until the movie was out on video and DVD and cable again that I realized it: She was the love interest from Vision Quest! She's a long way from Matthew Modine here. Fiorentino plays Bridget Gregory, who we soon learn is wickedly smart to the point that she takes pride in getting the best of all the silly men in her life, starting with her husband Clay (played by Bill Pullman, in one of his better oles). Clay seems to think he can do his best to keep up with Bridget, and even though they're cut from the same cloth, she's always a step ahead. She convinces Clay, who's a doctor, to illegally sell some prescription drugs for a big score. But you don't piss someone like Bridget off, which Clay does by slapping her when she makes fun of him for almost blowing the deal. That's all our girl needs to sneak off with the money and head the sleepy little small town of Beston, NY to hide for a while.

But it's in Beston where we see Bridget start to work out a plan to get away with everything. She's approached at a bar by a local yokel named Mike (Peter Berg), who seems to just be looking for a way out of Hicksville. He hits on Bridget by bragging about being "hung like a horse" only to have Bridget immediately demand to see if he's telling the truth, right at the table. She takes a look and feels the goods for herself, as she's just realized she's found the guy dumb enough to fall for her evil ways:

Mike Swale: I'm trying to figure out whether you're a total fucking bitch or not.
Bridget Gregory: I am a total fucking bitch.

Sure she is, but she's also miles ahead of everyone else. The great thing about the movie and Fiorentino's role in particular is just seeing how easy it is for her to manipulate those around her. Because Bridget Gregory is always out thinking the room, even when she screws up (not badly) by changing her name to Wendy Kroy (a play on New York spelled backwards, even though her husband knows she has a "thing" for manipulation by doing just that sort of thing with words). So Mike knows Bridget only as Wendy, and eventually Clay figures out she's in some small town using Wendy Kroy as her alias. But no worries for our gal, because her master plan is in motion, and she can audible and throw smoke like nobody else when she needs to.

You never feel sorry for Mike (Peter Berg must have grown up in a town that size because he nails the performance of a clueless small town boy who dreams of hitting the big city) due to the fact that he's having this incredible sex with Bridget/Wendy (up against a fence no less, and yes Bridget/Wendy can fake some seriously incredible orgasms), but he really is as dumb as a bag of hammers. And Bridget has him all figured out, knowing exactly how he'll react to anything. In fact, she's downright bored with him. There's a scene where Mike goes back to their bar (alone, because Bridget's in Miami, or so Mike thinks) to have a drink. One of his friends comes up to let him know that his "girlfriend" came on to him the other night and gave him head. So of course Mike goes nuts and hits the guy. But the beauty of that whole scene is that either Bridget convinced the guy to say that to Mike to rile him up...or she really DID give the guy a blow job? I believe the latter because it's right in-line with her character, and in a way it's a backup for somebody like Bridget in case Mike can't follow through on her final detail.

Mike: "What if I want to be more than your designated fuck?"
Bridget/Wendy: "Then I'll find a replacement."

After the fight in the bar, Mike drunkenly calls Bridget's answering machine, pouring his heart out. Unbeknonwnst to him, Bridget is just lying next to the machine, rolling her eyes at everything he says. But again, she knows there's more to come. Since Mike thinks "Wendy" is in Miami, our girl wisely figures his drunk ass will come over to her house to erase the drunken message. Of COURSE she's right, so she plays even more: She doodles some love notes about how "Wendy" is madly in love with Mike, and sets them right next to the answering machine. So when Mike, just like it was scripted in her mind, comes over to erase the message, he immediately sees the love note and takes it with him, giving him peace of mind that he's finally winning her over. But the best part of that scene is that as we see Mike notice the love note, the camera pans down to let us see Bridget hiding underneath the bed. It wasn't enough for Mike to fall for the bait, Bridget had to see it with her own eyes because she gets such a thrill from it. Another nice touch is that Bridget isn't only hiding under the bed to wait for Mike, she's been doing a fucking crossword puzzle waiting for him.
A woman this smart is just bored with life. She was bored with her marriage, and bored to tears in Beston where they never see anyone who isn't white. But she wants that money she's already taken from her husband, and she gets her thrills and has fun by literally fucking with anyone who's in her way, including the hired help Clay brings to Beston to attempt to bust Bridget. After she has Mike all locked in, she realizes there's a breaking point with him that willl permanently lock him in as her little puppet for her wicked games. She knows there's something, but can't get it out of him (really because it's the exact thing nobody would ever admit to ANYONE, let alone someone you think you're in love with). Bridget needs this final piece of information, and she gets it by also making Mike think she went off to Miami to kill a cheating husband and get a cut of the life insurance money from the guy's wife. So when she goes off to figure out Mike's dirty little secret (of course, doing so the only way she can through her web of lies and cons), it's only a matter of time before the small town boy is all signed up.
It's not giving away the ending to say that Bridget's master plan is to convince Mike to kill Clay, who to him is just a lying and conniving husband -- but in his mind, NOT Bridget's husband. The final stroke in Fiorentino's brilliant performance is what she pulls off when Mike "chickens" out in offing Clay. It's Clay who finally convinces Mike he's been had. But even with that little plan not going away, Bridget has a back-up plan, and you realize it's not her thinking on the fly here, it's her Plan B just in case Mike couldn't do the dirty work. Again, it would surprise nobody if this twisted woman actually DID think of it on the spot though. Director John Dahl (who also made another movie that's held up incredibly well, Rounders) is so great with the little things right through the ending. Any other movie, a character like Bridget would have to die, but Dahl lets her get away with everything, only to figure out who to fuck with next. (In fact, there's a movie that calls itself a sequel to this called The Last Seduction II, and it has nothing to do with this movie, even though there's a character called Bridget Gregory and she's a schemer, but she's nowhere near the Bridget in this movie, so avoid the so-called "sequel" at all costs).

The movie is now 14 years old, and even though I own the DVD, whenever it's on one of the upper tier cable channels, I find myself watching the entire thing again. If Fiorentino would have been eligible for an Oscar for this film, she would have ran away with the thing. Instead, the academy literally had NO deserving candidate in the Best Actress category and had to give the thing to Jessica Lange for a bad movie called Blue Sky. So who cares about awards, Fiorentino and this gem of a movie live on. Just the simple fact that an actress can be so convincing in being that deceptive and obviously having that sort of thing in her is frightening enough. I can't believe that even after this movie (again, not obscure) that she didn't skyrocket to stardom. The real shock to me when it comes to Linda Fiorentino is that she hasn't been in ANYTHING since 2002, and according to her, has nothing even in the works. There are rumors that she's difficult to work with, but that's mostly because that fat bastard Kevin Smith said that on his DVD commentary for Dogma. The truth probably lies in her quotes on her imdb page about how she only works when she needs the money. Hell, she's probably got a little bit more of Bridget in her than we'd like to think. Peter Berg is really now a director, doing things like Friday Night Lights. Pullman still works regularly doing mainly vanilla roles, never reaching the swarminess he got to work with in The Last Seduction. But this movie will forever live on because it was Linda Fiorentino's shot at the title, and she's a knockout here, even if she never does another movie. Which looks like a real possibility.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Damn You All To Hell Linkage


Thursday, April 03, 2008

Let Me Just Enjoy This, Even If It All Ends In A Week

MacG had the right mentality regarding Planet Zack. It wasn't just that he was so distraught about Brad and Jennifer splitting the sheets, it was the Brad Pitt movies that he likes so much. So really, who knew which Greinke we'd see on the hill today. We got more of what Brian Bannister gave us yesterday. Planet Zack goes 7 innings and allows 1 run against what experts were calling the best lineup since the 1927 Yankees. The text messages ran the rampant of "It's a marathon, not a sprint" to "It's still to early" to "Lose my number dickweed." No matter, the Royals just swept the Tigers on the road, to start the season. And unlike 2003 when there were a lot of home games and lady luck smiled often on that early Royals start, this team is actually playing well.

And now, we've got the mainstream media starting to pay attention. Well, FOX anyway. It'll take 20 in a row before ESPN even notices this shit. Today's big news is that Zack, who you always have to examine very carefully with his very first start, seems to have finally gotten past Brad and Jennifer. It's beyond early for any sort of crazy predictions regarding a team that has 159 more games to play. But realistically, can't we all set some goals of Greinke and Bannister winning 15 games each, Meche getting 12 W's, and we'll take it from there? Right now, I'll take that.

A lot of people are already a big too excited about Alex Gordon because he's hit 2 homers this early. He also struck out three times yesterday. But he's already batting third in the lineup. Which means he's expected to carry this team already. The boys in blue get three at the Metrodome over the weekend, before opening at home against the Yankees, in the only trip the Bronx Bombers will make to KC. Bannister and Greinke should be ready for games one and two of that series. I'll officially starting fevering in more cowbell after those two games. As long as Pitt doesn't cry while watching "A River Runs Through It."

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Obscure Movie Of The Week: Let's Get Harry (1986)

What if I told you there is a lost little gem from the '80's starring Robert Duvall and Gary Busey, and to amp things up also features a then up-and-coming Mark Harmon (former UCLA starting quarterback) and Glenn Frey (yes, from the Eagles, or as Frey calls them, "Eagles") to tag along because, well, there's lots of cocaine involved and the plot involves heading to Columbia to deal with some drug lords? Oh, and the guy who played Jake Ryan in Sixteen Candles in the film too?'d like to see Biff Tannen from Back to the Future??? We gots him here too! Oh, and one more thing, the director is the guy who did Cool Hand Luke. Is that something you might be interested in?

Oh yeah, and there's a dwarf. And it aint Billy Barty.
It's actually a good time. Mainly because Busey and Frey are really into character (there are some over at IMDB who openly question how Busey missed out on a Supporting Actor Oscar Nomination for his role, which is being, oh just a bit kind, and Frey playing a coke head isn't much of a stretch). Duvall is Duvall, even if he's just handing out stamps to everyone he sees because he's just mailing his role in. And shouldn't we be interested in anything the guy who did Cool Hand Luke? The movie's called Let's Get Harry, and unfortunately it's tagged with the kiss of death in terms of Hollywood lore. It became what is commonly known as "An Alan Smithee Movie." Meaning, the original director, in this case Stuart Rosenberg (who also directed The Pope of Greenwich Village), became so disenchanted with the final version of the film that he demanded his name be removed from any association with it, therefore the film is credited as being "Directed by Alan Smithee." And there is no Alan Smithee. It's just some name they tag the movie with when the real director demands no credit for his or her work. So everyone wanted to sweep this thing quietly under the rug.
Which is odd, when you consider at the time, Duvall was (like he still is) at screen legend status, Harmon was big from St. Elsewhere, Frey had distanced himself from the Eagles by doing stints on Miami Vice, and Sixteen Candles and Back to the Future had just come out. And good old Gary Busey, although not quite yet certifiable crazy, was at least an established star.

So what went wrong? For starters, everyone distanced themselves from the film after Rosenberg washed his hands of it. Frey actually got thrown in jail in Mexico on a day of shooting, and can we really see Jake Ryan and Biff as anything other than those two characters? So the film never found distribution in theaters and since it was 1986, went straight to "television." Never even got a "straight to video" shout-out. Back then it was just something the HBO's or Showtime's could choose to put on at 3 AM.

As with most of our obscure picks, it's not out on DVD (yet there's a very small group demanding this happen and include the director's cut). So it's VHS or nothing for now. But the real legacy of this film is how it was the end for everyone involved with it film-wise, save Duvall. Busey would have fun but small roles in Point Break and The Firm, and then just completely lose his mind (and now he's something of a running joke playing himself on Entourage). Harmon never really got another shot at a decent movie. Cameron Crowe threw old friend Frey a bone by putting him in a rather miscast role as the General Manager of the Arizona Cardinals in Jerry Maguire. Biff was always Biff (probably begging for more Back To The Future movies, and asking if he could be paid in Cash), and Jake was forever going to be Jake. As for Stuart Rosenberg, he'd direct one more film (1991's My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys), and he died just over a year ago. But if you can find this movie on some lower tier digital cable channel some night, dial it in. It's escapist fun if nothing else.

Finally, It Could Be Fun To Follow The Royals

But before we answer to that headline, it should be noted that it's true: EVERY Sports Illustrated issue is now available on-line. This actually turns out to be something a lot more entertaining than I ever thought it could be. You can thumb through any issue you want. Find and read old articles (including the infamous George Plimpton April Fool's Day joke about a pitching phenom named Sidd Finch). I mean, shouldn't Rolling Stone have done this years ago? That picture above, from SI's vault, is one of my cherished childhood memories. Almost midnight, Yankee Stadium, ALCS, and the Royals finally beat the Yankees to go to their first World Series. Dan Quisenberry striking out Willie Randolph, looking. It was the Quiz man's only strikeout in 3 2/3 innings of relief that night.

On to your 2008 Kansas City Royals. Nobody can ever get excited about starting a season 2-0 when a 10-game losing streak can loom anytime. But damn it's nice, gotta feel better than, oh-and-two perhaps. The real reason for excitement this early: Brian Bannister shut down the vaunted Tigers lineup for 7 shutout innings this afternoon. Bannister, it should be noted, had a great rookie year last season, and was one of GM Dayton Moore's master moves, picking the Mets pocket by trading Ambiorix Burgos to get Floyd Bannister's kid in hopes that he might be something of a starting pitcher. He's on his way to being an ace, which means Gil Meche can slide to a 2 or 3 starter, where he really should be anyway.

But why the Royals could be a good time. They finally seem to have some character about them. Crazy Zack Greinke, provided he's finally gotten past the fact that Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston broke up (if you haven't heard Planet Zack, by all means, click on the link, he describes how he literally cried when he learned of the break-up and it seemed to put him in a serious state of long term depression) starts tomorrow afternoon against Detroit. Who knows which Greinke will show up. I'm just glad he seems to finally get to the park on time.

Joey Gathright is getting some face time with David Dejusus' injury, which is just another good reason to bring back the old Gathright over a car video:
We all panicked when Moore threw stupid money at Jose Guillen, who had just been busted for juicing. When Guillen was with Tampa Bay, he famously feuded with then Manager Hal McRae. So Guillen comes to Kansas City...and requests to where McRae's uniform number...and he's WEARING it. Guillen's still looking for his first hit, but that fucker's got a cannon of an arm in right field. The Royals sort of need a moody character who you think could just explode at any given moment. Sort of like McRae with a group of reporters. In other words: The Sweeney Era is officially dead and gone.

And now the Royals in there own way have let us find out what Trev Alberts has been up to lately. I still have no idea what Trev is actually doing for work, but he probably is the last guy who should call out an obscure blog (although damn if he called this one out, we wouldn't be at all pissed, we'd be thrilled). I hate to break it to Trev, but a lot of us have struggled in recent years with whether or not it's OK for our children to grow up Royals fans. I'm going all in with my kids this year, no matter if Zack breaks out the crocodile tears over Brad and Jennifer tomorrow on the mound in Comerica. Yes, it's going to be a bad year for the actual Kaufman Stadium, as it's still going through a remodeling phase that was pushed back because of the bad winter. The Royals Staff has been forced to office in the Plaza instead of the Stadium for the season. But for the better part of over 14 years, the Royals have literally been dead before the first pitch of the season. Finally, there's at least a glimmer of hope. I'm not expecting a playoff push, but I'm expecting to be able to follow the team all season long without embarrassment. And hoping Bannister can shove it to Boston and New York on the road like he did to Detroit.