Wednesday, January 28, 2009

"Pooper" Bowl-5 sports movies more interesting than the Super Bowl

As we all know, sports suck. They're loud, sweaty and involve people who I still harbor resentment towards for being cooler than me in high school.

However, do you know what anti-sucks? Sports movies!!

Whereas actual sports rarely involve touching character arcs, broad lessons about racial diversity and charming/mysteriously talented animals, sports movies have all these things in droves.

With this in mind, here are five movies about sports to watch this weekend. All of them are guaranteed to be better than actual sports.

1. "Air Bud: Golden Receiver"

Obviously, if people were meant to play sports then we'd look half as cute in pads and little leather helmets as does this Golden Retriever. We do not, the Golden Retriever wins.

2. "The Puppy Bowl"

The Puppy Bowl is probably one of my favorite things in the entire freaking world. Since discovering this bizarre annual event some three years ago, I have spent the majority of my mental capabilities trying to find out just what in hell is going on with this thing.

First the basics: The Puppy Bowl is a feature that Animal Planet broadcasts every Super Bowl Sunday wherein a series of puppies are placed in a football-field shaped play pen and allowed to fall all over each other as they please. And that's pretty much it. Oh, and it just keeps going like this for about 12 FREAKING HOURS.

No commercials, no attempts at explaining what in the hell is going on; just puppies, rolling around, for 12 hours straight.

Needless to say, this raises all kind of pressing questions: How does one win a Puppy Bowl? What does a puppy have to do to qualify in the Puppy Bowl? Does the kitten halftime show represent some kind of bizarre inter-species rascism? Is this actually TV programming or just some kind of a conceptual Dadaist mindfuck from the higher-ups at Animal Planet?

Seriously, watch this shit. It is like nothing you have ever seen.

3. "Rudy"

Recommended for fans of plot arcs so broad they can be seen from space. Oh, and fans of Lord of the Rings because there's nothing like seeing Samwise Gamgee do what he does best: mope and become marginally talented at football.

4. "Rollerball"

Another thing that sucks about "real" sports? No one dies (well, most of the time anyway). Not so in 1975's "Rollerball"! In this movie the world's sexiest man play's the world's most dangerous sport in an ultra-corporatist future where all is not as it seems. Also, there are pistols that make trees explode.

5. "Baseketball"

Did you know Ernest Borgnine was in this? Not that I don't love me the perpetual thirteen year-old-ness of Matt and Trey, but Ernest Borgnine? Doing dick jokes with hotdogs? I mean the man has an Academy Award, he's a hallmark or his generation and-oh what's that? Breasts? Wait, what was I saying?

Department of Eagles at the Doug Fir

The Doug Fir was packed last night for the Department of Eagles, Brooklyn's classical and experimentally minded pop group helmed by a few members of Grizzly Bear. The Cave Singers got the night started, Seattle's latest bearded alt-americana group as drenched in reverb. I can't really say I got into them, for beyond the lead singer's vocal affectations,an invisible bass player (do i smell a loop?) and one-trick-pony songwriting style, I can think of at least two other alt-beard-reverb-rock groups from the Puget Sound I'd rather listen to (i.e. Band of Horses, Fleet Foxes).

No matter, the Department of Eagles certainly held it down. Not an offshoot or side project of Grizzly Bear, DoE actually started years earlier, but was sidelined by Grizzly Bear's runaway success. Front man Daniel Rossen has certainly made good use of his time in getting this band back on track, they were as tight and expansive as on their new album, In Ear Park. In other words, despite the lack of one or two other singers (the vocals on the album were padded by the rest of GB, giving it that ethereal, 'this is God's house' sound), all the texture on record was at the show. Rossen opened and closed the show solo, the first song with the banjo, a really wonderfully plucked rendition of In Ear Park.

Phantom Other was the song that really had me blown away, with other founding member Fred Nicholaus playing the samples like it was the last sampler on earth. Not that live shows ought to always sound like their studio recorded counterparts, but I was pretty blown away at them recreating that song almost exactly as it is on the record, and without any lame bass or ambient loops.

The only looping that was done was a Battles style vocal loop from Rossen, which was amazing. On his final solo song, a brand new won, apparently, he made a vocal loop of about 4 layers and played on top of that. Really amazing.

Jeff Guay

John Updike, 1932 - 2009

Acclaimed American writer John Updike, best known for his Rabbit series, died Tuesday morning of lung cancer. The two time Pulitzer Prize winning author was 76 years old. 

"In fiction," Updike writes in a 2005 essay contributed to NPR's This I Believe series, "imaginary people become realer to us than any named celebrity glimpsed in a series of rumored events, whose causes and subtler ramifications must remain in the dark."

To read or hear Updike read the entirety of his essay, go to Testing the Limits of What I Know and Feel at the National Public Radio website.