Friday, January 29, 2010

J: Leno, Wow, Z, and E-T-S! Part II

Following our theme from our last column…

This week I will start with The Jets and congratulate my team’s co-tenants for an excellent season that led them into the AFC Title Game. Having a rookie quarterback gives them hope for future seasons, although just because a team makes it this far doesn’t mean they are an automatic to make it there the next season…. Check out the Giants of 2 seasons ago for a perfect example. Nonetheless, their coach’s wiseguy comments that the Jets will be THE main tenants in the new Meadowlands Stadium is a bit uncalled for… The fact is The Giants were the main tenants at Giants Stadium and were there first while the Jets were playing at the late lamented Shea Stadium. Now that they have a new Stadium it’s a fresh start so both teams might be on equal footing.. unless the new stadium’s corporate sponsor is the Giant Supermarket chain!

J ay Leno

It is interesting how the theme for Wednesday was Jobs and Jobs. In the morning, Steve Jobs announced the non menstrual related innovative I-pad. Im not quite sure what it does that the I phone doesn’t do… except it has a bigger screen and possibly a keyboard? Then in the evening, President Obama delivered his State of the Union and announced new plans to find jobs for non working Americans. It’s a jungle out there for job hunters and the competition is fierce… It seems like only the most competitive job seekers are able to find the jobs that are out there. That is the American way.

Yet there seems to be an exception when it comes to late night TV.

I have the late night Oprah – Jay Leno replay playing in the background and as I listen to it, I realize that Jay is really not the “bad guy” here. And I must say I am definitely NOT a Jay Leno fan and I like Conan a lot more. Leno stabbed Letterman in the back to get The Tonight Show… but I can’t find fault with him in this situation. I think Conan made a mistake leaving NBC because of his contention that “The Tonight Show” shouldn’t be on at midnight. Time slot? Conan is an Ivy League graduate but doesn’t realize how far that franchise already sank after Jonny Carson left.

Let’s say people start staying up till 11:30 on a weeknight when you are approximately 17 years old. People who are in their early 30’s and younger, have virtually no recollection of Johnny Carson… and you would have to be in your mid to late 60s to remember Jack Paar and Steve Allen as Tonight Show Hosts. For all intents and purposes… it may have been called “The Tonight Show”.. but it really was “The Johnny Carson Show” and he hosted it remarkably consistently well for 30 years.

And while Fox is good at ratings for its News Channel and Prime Time Lineup.. historically it has never been able to get ratings with its late night talk shows with Joan Rivers and Chevy Chase. And now that Conan may be trying to start a new late night franchise, will he really do that much better there than if he would have taken his lumps and stayed with NBC??

Granted Leno was a bit of a jerk when he took over The Tonight Show… (and apparently engineered Carson’s somewhat “early” departure). But this time? I really cant blame him. Leno was a team player five years ago when NBC told him he would lose the show in 2009 even though he was winning the timeslot. But NBC didn’t want to lose Conan or pay him an exit fee if he didn’t get the Tonight Show in 2009. Now after pulling the plug on the 10pm show, NBC loses Conan, a lotta money and has a big problem on their hands if Leno can’t take back the ratings.

The bottom line: Nobody will ever replace Johnny Carson… but at least Conan had a better show. Oh well I guess my idea last week of a 2 hour Leno – Conan Tonight Show ain’t gonna fly.

JWow –

I see where the stars of Jersey Shore are holding out for more money to return for a 2nd season. Following up from last week, I don’t think they need all of them… just Snookie, The Situation, and JWow and possibly Paulie and maybe maybe Vinnie. After watching the reunion show last week, you realize that Ronnie has done a tremendous public service to show people the dangerous mood swings that you get from alleged steroid use! He’s nuts.. especially when during the reunion he dumped Sammi because of something silly she said to The Situation 5 months ago on the “hidden video footage”.

In reality, look how much buzz MTV is getting from this show. The seasons over and people still talk about it. Granted, a lot of it is because it is very well edited, the soap opera scenarios are probably staged and the graphics are well done so you never forget all the character’s names. But I don’t remember the last time there was this much hype and ratings for an MTV show.

I think they should show them the money… if they don’t they risk hiring new wackos who will try to emulate and go even further and turn themselves into caricatures of this seasons group. Can you imagine a girl trying to out Snookie Snookie? And try to out talk and out muscle The Situation? Or top Paulie’s contention that the Israeli girl who doesn’t believe in sex before marriage is nuts one week, and somehow nonchalantly ends up in bed with her the following week? MTV needs these people back… but should also add a few new people to mix it up a little bit.. kind of like one of those All Star Survivor seasons!

J ay Z

Drats those Jay Z owned Nets narrowly avoided immortality winning on Wednesday Night to improve to 4-40. If they would have lost they would have been the first team to start 3-41. I was looking at the trends of other teams that came perilously close to the Sixers immortal 1972-73 73 loss season….thanks to the ESPN site I mentioned last week (which actually has a few mistakes on it). The Nets 4-40 record is still not a guarantee that they wont go 4-34 the rest of the way… actually now that they have 4 wins, the next futility record is the amazing 92-93 Mavericks who were 4-57, and the 72-73 Sixers who were 4-58. Can the Nets actually start a new 18 game losing streak to tie that record?? Or will their 5th win come so far down the road that they can beat the futility mark of 5-58 held by 3 teams?

And how bad a hole did the Nets dig with that 3-40 start? The #8 seed for the playoffs are the Bulls who are .500 dropping the Nets 18 1/2 games out of the last spot. IF the Nets were to win 18 in a row and the Bulls continued playing .500, the Nets would still be 10 games out of the last playoff spot with 20 games left to play!

Interesting note about those Sixers… after starting 4-58 they went on to win 5 of 7 to improve to 9-60… and then lost 13 straight to finish 9-73. However, if a 9 win team is able to run off a 5-2 record in a seven game period, you realize how hard it is to consistently lose so often over the course of a long 82 game season.

Trophy Wife isn’t happy with me that I root for the Nets to lose each night. She says its not nice. Good thing she didn’t know me during the 2000 World Series!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

J: Leno, Wow, Z, and E-T-S!

So how about that new background here at NWOW? You did notice, right? We finally changed the background on the site… also known as “the skin” this past New Years Day. I had thought about changing it for New Years 2009, but my attempts to visit a website that had some nifty looking skins a year ago turned disastrous when the site had a spyware virus planted in it.. which I shoulda noticed because I kept getting knocked off while using my usual terrific browser Mozilla Firefox.. Of course, I was a total moron because I went back to that virus filled website…. This time using Internet Explorer which instead of knocking me off like the superior Mozilla, instead instantly paralyzed my system with some horrific spyware and resulted in my hard drive getting wiped clean and I had to start my computer all over again from scratch. All because of a silly G rated “skins” site.. And of course, good lucking watching the computer store owner keep a straight face when you tell him you got the virus from a “skins” site.

This time, I took the easy route and downloaded a background provided by Blogspot/Google!

This year we will also be taking a new tactic with the annual Pumpstradamus predictions. The first two years we did an audio podcast.. the last 2 years we did a video podcast and this year we are doing a good ol’ fashioned Q and A so start posting your questions in the comments section, and we will then pass them along to Pumpstradamus who will then provide his incredible answers. Pumpy will be back in the next couple of weeks to answer all queries!

This week’s column is sponsored by the letter “J”

J ay Leno

I have been waiting to see how this NBC mess worked its way out before commenting on this topic. Over on Facebook, I posted a column by a blogger who questioned the relevancy of appointment television and “the timeslot” in this era of DVRs and watching TV shows on line. Nick Summers borrowed a theme from our most recent movie review with this comment on The Newsweek blog. Sayeth The Summers:

“The new comedy prestige─to be the material that dominates Twitter's trending topics list, to create the clips embedded on a million blogs─has nothing to do with airing on a certain network at a certain time”

First of all, NBC shouldn’t have been so wishy washy a few years back when they told Jay Leno that Conan would take his spot in 2009. But they worried about what would happen if they lost Conan to another network… never realizing that his ratings would be worse than Leno’s and Letterman. But they managed to keep Conan strung along dangling The Tonight Show in front of him… So using their King Solomon wisdom to keep both Leno and Conan, NBC announced there would be a Jay Leno show at 10pm. They thought it would be a cost effective hit.. its relatively low production costs would make it a money maker with lower ratings than a typical hour of network TV. But the local stations forced to carry the show were not exactly thrilled that Jay’s lower 10pm ratings were killing the ratings for the 11pm local news.

Here’s my 2 cents on this fiasco: Even though I agree he is getting screwed, why can’t Conan just swallow his pride and realize that he really is better off staying at NBC? If the Today Show can add 2 hours to itself… including the 10 am hour with Kathy Lee Gifford…why can’t The Tonight Show add an hour too? As crazy as it might sound… Leno would host the 1130 Tonight Show Hour and Conan would host the 1230 Tonight Show hour. And if Leno gets about 10 weeks off each year… on those 10 weeks, The Conan Tonight Show would move up to 11:30 followed by a rerun at 1230…

That would essentially kill The Late Night Show.. but frankly that show really belonged to Letterman and Conan… even though Jimmy Fallon has done a decent job the few times I have seen him.

But don’t you think this idea of The Tonight Show: Hour 2 would cause a lot less aggravation for Conan and his crew whose cross country move seems to be more sympathized than the numerous other shows that move around the world and get cancelled a lot sooner than Conan did.


And speaking of one of the shows that stole Jay Leno’s 10pm audience….

Is it true?? Are we really near the end of the road for the first season of Jersey Shore? If indeed that is the case, last week’s oddly scheduled double header (they couldn’t stretch the show another week, airing two 1 hour episodes on consecutive weeks?) may have answered the question… Who is the smartest person on Jersey Shore?

My answer is JWow’s boyfriend.. I will get to why I think that… but it is not because of his odd choice for female companionship… although that boobie displaying bandanna she wears as a shirt when she goes clubbing is quite the gravity defying piece of wardrobe.

Let us hearken back to Hour 1 of last week’s episode, when the crew took a trip to Atlantic City and as far as I can tell, never showed any of our lovable gang of 7 gambling in a casino. We did see Snookie fill a bubble bath with so many bubbles that she looked like a naked Eskimo drunkenly crawling back into an igloo after a crazy night of Penguin tipping. She also was ambushed when she thought she had the gang behind her when she thought everybody would support her confrontation with Sammi that she was spending too much time with Ronnie… eliticing memories of George being left hung out to dry when he confronted Jerry about his nauseating clingy Shmoopie girlfriend in the legendary Soup Nazi episode!

JWow had a little too much to drink that fateful night… and “The Situation” had a different agenda programmed into his Palm Pilot. While he has been increasingly annoyed with Vinny’s odd courtship of his sister, The Situation decided it was payback time in AC and promptly pulled a self proclaimed robbery and stole away some chickie that Vinny had been making out with, using the swift moves not seen since Jay Leno’s zipping back to 11:30 and bumping Conan.

The Situation was making out with this woman at this AC club, when a very drunk, JWow butts in and demands he take her up to their Jersey Shore comped hotel suite because she was too intoxicated to make it back on her own. The Situation told her to press her own elevator button… because he had other stuff to do… She smacked him somewhat gently in the keppie,… and got promptly tossed out of the club which she was really too nauseous to be at anyway.

She got back to the room and ranted and raved about The Situation… and once he returned to the room later that night… she ran right up to him and viciously punched him hard right in the head! This was when we realized that there is a huge crew of muscley Jerry Springer security guys on the sidelines because they all came running almost literally out of the woodwork to pull the crazed JWow away!

It was during the 2nd episode that JWow came back to Seaside… took out the duck phone.. and called her boyfriend… She was now sober, but hung over and as she told the boyfriend the story of the night before about her nightclub confrontation, nightclub ejection and subsequent violent attack of The Situation, the boyfriend responded with this brilliance…

“Maybe you shouldn’t drink so much?”

Ronnie had the line of the week when he was talking about how he and not The Situation had been able to hook up with Sammi. Sayeth the Ronnie:

“I closed that deal… I already have the title for that closing!”

Amazing how Ronnie can use a mortgage analogy at Jersey Shore. However, if indeed this is the end of the season, I wonder if all 7 will be coming back. Frankly, I’m not 100% sure that every single muscle on Ronnie is a result of bar and dumb bells… and based on Snookis fixation on boys who are juiced… I ponder to ask if indeed Mr. Ronnie has been taking some kind of supplement. If you watch the show closely and the silly little fights he and Sammi have.. you start to realize that even though is Sammi a little hormonal with her moods sometimes.. Ronnie seems to be on some kind of emotional mood swinging roller coaster. He gets into fights on the boardwalk because he is easily instigated and you start to wonder if this show is really exposing the ugly side effects of alleged steroid use.

If they bring the show back next year…and I hear they will… I wouldn’t be too upset if Ronnie and Sammie were left off the roster. You really only need Snookie, The Situation, and his trusty Tonto-esque sidekick Paulie. I guess you can bring back Vinny and JWow, because even though their summer was rather uneventful, their constant bickering with The Situation makes the show that much more entertaining.

J ay Z

He is part owner of the Nets and even the team management now admits that this season is done, and they are playing for “The future” when they will have the 1st pick and a halfway decent free agent or 2 before they move outta Jersey and head to Brooklyn.

I believe that the Nets might be the first team ever to spend every day of the season having the “games back from the 8th playoff spot” always higher than their win total! Right now they have 3 wins and they are approx,.16 games behind The Bulls for the 8th spot. Keep in mind the Nets didn’t win a game till they had already lost 18 so after win #1 they were already approx. 10 games out from the #8 spot… Now that we are at the halfway mark, they are on a pace to finish 32 games out of the 8th playoff spot, which means that if the last playoff team finishes .500 the Nets would be close to breaking the record for the worst team ever. They should be farther behind Chicago, but the Nets actually won their only road game in the Windy City!!

At this point, the only thing worth watching of this comical nightly loser fest is the historical perspective of this team’s horrific performance.. The all time worst team was the 72 sixers that went 9-73. ESPN has a terrific site over at . Check it out… and you can see how incredibly awful these Nets rank with other landmark lousy teams. The only difference is… the fans were buying tickets to see a team that would eventually get better. These Nets are leaving town so NJ fans will never see a good team… and the team has actually fessed up to its ineptitude. I got an email from the Nets marketing dept and they actually promote upcoming opponents and their star players… and the implied easy victory coming up during their visit to play those horrific little Swamp Dragons!

The 3-38 Nets have their next milestone lined up: Both the 97 Nuggets and 93 Mavericks started 3-40 but then went on to win the next game to get to 4-40. However if the Nets can lose their next 2 road games, they would return home to play the Clippers next Wednesday to become the first team in NBA history to have a 3-41 record! By the way those 72 sixers actually were 4-58 so the Nets would have to go 1-20 to match that record! (The 92 Mavs were almost that bad… going 4-57.) By the way Philly then went 5-2 to improve to 9-60 before losing their final 13 games.

J-E-T-S… Jets Jets Jets!

I’m a Giants fan and even though I enjoyed the Vikings-Cowboys game more than the Jets game, I wish them and their fans the best of luck on Sunday as they attempt to upset the Colts and head to the Super Bowl.

Friday, January 01, 2010

“The Prestige”-ious 200th Column – A Movie Club Review!

Hello everybody… Happy New Year and welcome to our 200th column!

We started NWOW back on November 10, 2005 and 11 days later we presented our first movie review… The First of our Star Wars reviews - Phantom Menace as we reviewed all 6 in chronological order. We have done a few other movie anthologies since, and from the feedback I get, the movie columns are quite popular among the NWOW readers.

But Nate has been a very very bad boy and has been neglecting the movie reviews. We are currently in the middle of the Christian Bale movies… our first review since March 6th (American Psycho) and only our second since October 17, 2008! when we reviewed Empire of the Sun.

Interestingly enough, today’s movie The Prestige is one of my favorites. I have owned the DVD since it came out, I have seen it a few times already, but I needed to sit down with pen and paper to jot down my notes about this incredible flick. This week I took my traditional vacation between Christmas and New Years and the other afternoon, after getting delayed en route to a matinee of Up in the Air (which I ended up seeing a day later), I decided to spend the cold winter afternoon on the couch in my snuggie watching “The Prestige”.

Here is the trailer…

The movie is directed by Christopher Nolan who did the incredible “Memento”.. and once again the story does not unfold in chronological order. We see that Bale’s character... Alfred Borden is in prison, and as he faces execution we discover that he has been convicted of killing another man, Robert Angier played by Hugh Jackman. We soon discover that Jackman and Bale are competing magicians in turn of the century England… not the century we started 10 years ago… the one before that.

The two fellas start out as friendly coworkers.. working as magician’s assistants who are “audience volunteers” They classify the magician they work for as rather vanilla, while at the same time watch with googly eyes as a Chinese magician (must not have been that much going on besides magic in those pre vaudeville days)… catches their attention because of an incredible trick he does at his show involving fishies in a fishbowl.

The two men watch the Chinese magician limp out from his theater into a waiting 1900s model car after the show… and even though he can barely walk with help from his assistants they start to wonder if to quote Doug Henning… the difficulty walking in all… “an allusion”… especially when they figure out what appears to be the only way to logically do the trick… walk around bow legged (or bowl-legged) with a fishbowl between your legs. ... But this appears to be doable only if the magician has incredibly strong legs that would enable him to walk while carrying the bowl under heavy leg obstructing clothing. This leads our boys to speculate that the Chinese magician is able bodied but pretends to be handicapped while in public. Wasn’t there a wheelchair bound shoplifter in the news recently who was caught red handed when he stood up and put merchandise in a hidden compartment under his chair?

And there you have one of the keys as both of these young magicians rise to the top – appearing one way “in public” while in reality hiding secrets about themselves to help sell tickets… However magicians deal in allusions, and one of these fellas decision to “keep a secret about himself” just may not have necessarily been inspired by seeing the Chinese magician.

The two become rivals when during their “audience volunteer” stint Bale’s character accidentally ties a knot that Jackman’s wife (a magicians assistant) can’t quite untie. This is especially a big problem when she is tied up and lowered into a big tank of water. When she can’t get out… the on stage trick engineer…(Michael Caine) has to break the glass to rescue her.. but the subsequent events of that day turn a friendship into a rivalry..

Jackman puts on a disguise and decides to check out Bale’s show but ambushes him while he is performing a magic trick that involves catching a bullet. That results in a long rivalry between the two which also is part of Jackman’s sad obsession with topping Bale’s tricks. We see in flashbacks that “in the end” Bale is on trial for killing Jackman… who drowns during a performance… not behind a curtain on stage, but instead beneath the stage where he drops into a water filled tank below through a trick door in the floor while he is tied up! . The movie then uses flashbacks to tell the story of how these two fellas try to one up each other every chance they get…. in an attempt to be The Best Magician.

And to achieve that Best Magician status is to properly achieve “The Prestige”… the punchline to the trick that usually results in huge ego feeding applause. Prestiges tend to involve making things disappear and then bringing “them” back….which sometime involves a beautiful white dove who has a lookalike return as part of the prestige.

Speaking of making things disappear… how do you like the audacity of those Brazilian kidnappers who seem to have notion that should get visitation rights for that poor little Goldman boy they took away from his dad. Now that the kid is home, I hope a grand jury pulls a Roman Polanski and indicts those kidnappers so if they come to NJ to get the kid, they end up getting arrested again!

In “The Prestige” the ultimate show stopping trick is a pre-Star Trek teleporter. This is where a person gets from Point A to Point B in a time frame that defies logic.,, sort of like when your wife tells you to take out the garbage and it ends up outside in less than an hour. Each man has his own unique way of doing this rather incredible trick…. And while Bale figures out how Jackman does it… Jackman develops an incredibly sickening obsession with figuring out every last detail about Bale’s method. That obsession takes him on a boat to Colorado (Don’t forget we are pre Wright Brothers) where he meets a scientist (played in a jaw dropping performance by an unrecognizable David Bowie) who invents a way for Jackman to do the Teleporting trick… which not only defines the movie’s entire plot, but when revealed to the viewer produces a “Whatchu Talking About Willis” moment. The moviemaker might think that revealing “the prestige” moment will generate applause.. but instead the viewer gets the urge to restart the DVD (or hide in the movie theater) so you can watch the movie again to see how the pieces fit into the puzzle.

Bale, Jackman and Caine are excellent in this movie…. as is the actor who plays Bale’s right hand man. Scarlett Johanson plays a magician's assistant/groupie who works for both of them at different times... She also attracts their male libidos and has an affair with both men - sort of like the T Shirt store owner's girlfriend in Thursday Night's episode of Jersey Shore. And as for Bowie – any time an actor plays a role so well that you don’t realize that is him till the very end… you know you are watching an incredible performance! And he is not the only actor accomplishing that feat in this movie….

And if you have never seen the movie and decide to see it – reread the review after you see it… you might find some clues laid right out in front of you… but like the movie.. you don’t quite catch it right away… because the key to an illusion is not really knowing where to look

This movie is just fantastic and this is coming from a person who is not a big fan of these period pieces… On a scale of 1 to 4 bladders meaning how less likely you would be to leave in the middle to go to the bathroom… The Prestige is a 4 bladder movie!!

PUMPSTRADAMUS PICK OF THE WEEK: Pumpy goes for his 4th straight winning year this weekend as he enters the final week with a record of 8-7-1. Since Jackman went to Colorado in “The Prestige”…we go there too this week as the Denver Broncos are 13 point favorites over the Chiefs. Sayeth The Pump: “I just got my year end income statement and I was so upset I took out my kerchief and sobbed!… So in honor of my kerchief… take The Chiefs!”

UNBIASED GIANTS FAN OF THE WEEK: Well we totally foshnizzled last week.. going 0-3 to drop to 22-26… 3-9 in the last 4 wks! The Giant game is irrelevant so this week we will visit the other Meadowlands inhabitants and 2 college games.

Bengals 10 doggies over THE JETS – The Jets will not cover this spread.

Boise St. 7 ½ doggies over TCU in the Fiesta Bowl – Gotta get in the habits of watching Monday Nights on FOX since 24 is just a couple of weeks away,

Alabama 4 over Texas – Can you believe its 20 years since Brent Musberger got canned at CBS??… Bear Bryant will be kvelling from the heavens when all is said and done!