Monday, March 31, 2014

How Frisky Are Noah and the Bulls? (Power Rankings, Week 22)

This week, we saw the Eastern Conference's top two teams in a heavyweight matchup that even featured brawls in the stands. We also watched a few haymakers -- both literal and figurative -- in other possible playoff previews.

In this week's rankings, San Antonio stays in the top spot after yet another week of absolutely abusing its opponents. Meanwhile, despite losing Blake Griffin to back spasms, the Clippers defeated Houston on Saturday night to retain the second position in the rankings. The Rockets held onto the fourth spot, just behind the Thunder.

Below are the complete power rankings, followed by deeper looks at Joakim Noah's Chicago Bulls and Kevin Durant's Oklahoma City Thunder.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

How Should We Feel About the Tanaka SI Cover?

So this came in the mail today:


That's right. Masahiro Tanaka graces the cover of this week's issue of Sports Illustrated.

I've gotta be honest; I'm not sure how I feel about it. On the one hand, CC Sabathia showed up on the cover of the 2009 season preview and the Yanks won Championship No. 27.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

How Recognizable Are These Shots?

In the Mavericks' huge overtime win over the Thunder on Tuesday night (a great omen for Dallas' playoff hopes), Dirk Nowitzki hit several key shots in overtime. My favorite was Dirk's patented one-footed fadeaway with 2:40 left in the extra period. (Skip to the 2:56 mark of this clip.)

The shot got me thinking about the players with the most recognizable shots in the NBA. I was going to say the "most unique"* shots, but my high school English teacher would have a conniption if I did that.

*In short, the phrase "most unique" is improper because unique things are, by definition, one-of-a-kind. Therefore, you can't add a superlative to "unique" because something can't be the most one-of-a-kind. There's only one of that particular kind. (Language police siren blaring.)

Dirk's fadeaway has definitely cracked the pantheon of all-time great shots. And we could easily rattle off others, like Gervin's finger roll and Kareem's sky hook.

But what are the most recognizable shots in the league today? I've taken a stab at breaking that down, position-by-position. When watching video of each of these shots, NBA fans would be able to easily identify the player, even if that player was represented by just a silhouette of himself. (Click on each link to watch video of the shot.)

How Tricky Are West Coast Games?

There are few things more devastating than checking in on your team's schedule for the week and remembering that they're on a West Coast road trip for weeknight games. It means you're facing a hard choice at night between sleep and watching, and for me, sleep normally loses. Then I'm the loser the next day when I can't think straight.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

How Filmgenic Is the Bible?

I saw a preview for the blockbuster film Noah this morning, and I was thinking about how the Bible provides so many great stories that could be turned into films. I think I even made up a word for it: filmgenic.

What other text provides so many filmgenic plotlines? The Bible has sex (e.g., David and Bathsheba), war (David and Goliath), and obviously questions about our greater purpose (David and God). I mean, why don't they just make a movie about King David?

Oh, wait...

Monday, March 24, 2014

How Does the Western Conference Playoff Picture Look? (Power Rankings, Week 21)

We're hitting the post-St. Patrick's Day lull in the NBA, with all but a handful of teams playing out the string in anticipation of either the playoffs or the draft lottery. The league is still providing quite a bit of entertainment, though.

In this week's rankings, the Spurs, Clippers and Thunder clung to the top three positions. Below are the complete power rankings, followed by deeper looks at a pair of teams that are jockeying for a playoff spot in the crowded Western Conference -- the Dallas Mavericks and the Memphis Grizzlies.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

How Unpredictable Is Baseball?

I had jury duty today and the courthouse is right down the block from Yankee Stadium. As I waited for the subway at the end of a rainy Bronx afternoon, I couldn't help getting excited for baseball season. I figured I would write a post about a bunch of games on the Yanks' schedule that I'm already looking forward to. For example, I'm hoping to drag the wife to a mid-week game against the Cubs in April under the guise of "seeing her hometown team" play against my favorite nine.

Here's the thing about baseball, though. We don't know which games will hold particular intrigue. Unlike in the NBA -- whose marquee games are easy to foretell -- baseball is extremely unpredictable. I don't mean unpredictable over the entire season. We can probably anticipate whether most teams will have good, mediocre, or bad records after the 162-game marathon. Sure, there will always be teams that defy expectations, like the 2012 Orioles or the 2013 Indians. But MLB's half-a-year campaign usually forces the cream to rise to the top of the league.

Monday, March 17, 2014

How Should You Fill Out These Brackets?

"Though this be madness, yet there is method in it"


Is there, though?



Picking NCAA tournament winners is harder than finding the Yellow King. Warren Buffet certainly doesn't like your chances. Personally, I like to look at a few numbers before I donate my $5 to whoever picked Louisville because they once visited there. It's surprisingly difficult, though, to find all the stats you want for all the tournament teams in one place.

Until now.

How Formidable Are the Clippers? (Power Rankings, Week 20)

Last week, the Blazers had an airing of grievances, and Blake Griffin showed off his usual feats of strength. Oh, and there was one Festivus miracle!*

*I know, I'm a couple months late with the Festivus references. Sue me.

After I slotted Houston at No. 2 in last week's power rankings, the Rockets dropped three consecutive games and fell to No. 6. San Antonio held onto the top spot for the second straight week, with the streaking Clippers landing in the second position.

Below are the complete power rankings, followed by deeper looks at those red-hot Clippers and the rejuvenated Brooklyn Nets.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

How Did Our Movie Poll Go?

At the end of January, Kavanaugh and I drafted our favorite Golden Globe-nominated movies

Here's how we drafted:
1. Braveheart (FT)
2. The Godfather (BK)
3. The Godfather: Part II (FT)
4. The Hangover (BK)
5. Gladiator (FT)
6. Good Will Hunting (BK)
7. Goodfellas (FT)
8. The Fighter (BK)
9. Mrs. Doubtfire (FT)
10. Gangs of New York (BK)

11. Saving Private Ryan (FT)
12. Almost Famous (BK)
13. There's Something About Mary (FT)
14. Aladdin (BK)
15. The Lion King (FT)
16. Airplane! (BK)
17. Home Alone (FT)
18. Lost in Translation (BK)
19. The Sound of Music (FT)
20. A Few Good Men (BK)

After the draft, I asked our readers to vote for their favorite film out of those 20. Here's how y'all picked 'em:

Saturday, March 15, 2014

How Could I Omit "Michael vs. Toby"?

The other day I wrote a post about the most contentious TV rivalries ever, and the missus was not pleased. "How could you leave out Michael and Toby?" she asked me. In order to avoid ending up divorced like Toby, here's what I would've (and should've) written:

Michael Scott vs. Toby Flenderson (The Office)
This is about as much of a true rivalry as the Harlem Globetrotters-Washington Generals series. Like the Globetrotters, Michael always wins. From mean-spirited divorce jokes to cracks about Toby killing the fun in the office, Michael just constantly abuses the head of human resources.



Thursday, March 13, 2014

How Contentious Are These TV Rivalries?

Nothing drives a great TV show like an old-fashioned rivalry between two important characters. (Well, other than bare breasts on HBO and Showtime.) Let's look at my top 10.

Disclaimer: There seem to be a few good rivalries on this True Detective show some people have been talking about. However, I just started the series, so I'll have to omit it for now.

Top 10 TV Rivalries

10. Eric Cartman vs. Kyle Broflovski (South Park)
This rivalry is basically a smorgasbord of fat jokes and ignorant anti-Semitism. Their banter is hilarious, but it's not for the faint of heart.

9. Jack Bauer vs. Any Terrorist (24)
If you haven't caught up on 24 yet, it might seem like you're running out of time before the new season starts on May 5. However, I bet you could run through all eight seasons in just three weekends. Watching Jack outsmart and out-muscle terrorists is that addictive.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

How Much of a Trendsetter Was George Washington?

I went to the Brooklyn Museum for a teacher workshop today, and we saw a few paintings of George Washington. The first was Gilbert Stuart's huge piece, which we're most familiar with as the model for Washington's face on the dollar bill.

(Photo via brooklynmuseum.org)
Another Washington painting was the one that got me thinking, though. Take a look:

(Photo via brooklynmuseum.org)
What do you notice about it? Sure, G-Dub looks dashing as a young general. And yes, that's Boston in the background after the colonists whooped some Redcoat ass.

But what else stands out?

Monday, March 10, 2014

How Villainous Are These Seinfeld Characters?

In high school, my friends once told me that all I was good for "was a well-timed Seinfeld reference". 9 or so years later and I'm not sure how much has changed, but I suppose there are worse things you could be in life. As a natural spin-off of the Top 10 TV Villains, here's The Top 10 Seinfeld Villains.

Two notable exceptions are The Soup Nazi and Newman. The Soup Nazi made FranT's list and is the unanimous number 1, so if he's the Villain King, consider the following 10 his mercenaries. I have no idea what Fran is up to with Newman, but I agree with him being in somewhat of a different category. He was never anything but Kramer's friend, and he was often in cahoots with Jerry, Elaine, and George, even if it was only ever for personal gain from every party involved.

How Wrong Were We About the Suns? (Power Rankings, Week 19)

Last week, the league's fastest player returned to break ankles, twice. Meanwhile, one of the slowest players in NBA history saw his number retired.

In this week's power rankings, San Antonio rocketed to the top spot after winning six in a row, including a dismantling of Miami on Thursday night. The Heat also dropped close games to Chicago and Houston, who climbed to No. 2 in the rankings. Miami's skid sank the team to No. 5, just ahead of the similarly-struggling Pacers.

Below are the complete power rankings, followed by deeper looks at the underdoggin' Phoenix Suns and the red-hot Toronto Raptors.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

How Villainous Are These TV Characters?

After examining evil child characters, animated villains, and horrible adult characters, it's time for our final edition of the Villain Series.

Today, let's look at the best villains in TV history.

Top 10 TV Villains

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

How Villainous Are These Adult Characters?

After exploring child characters and animated characters last week, today we're on Part 3 of our Villain Series*. Let's discuss the most evil adults in live-action children's movies. This is gonna be a good one.

*Well, do you have a better name for it?

Top 10 Villainous Adults in Kids' Movies

Monday, March 3, 2014

How Puzzling Are the Warriors? (Power Rankings, Week 18)

This week NBA fans witnessed Hurricane Boogie, Derecho Stephenson, and Winter Storm Westbrook.

In this week's power rankings, the Heat and Pacers took the top two spots, and eight Western Conference teams filled out the top 10. Meanwhile, Philly tightened its grip on the No. 1 spot in the Tanking Rankings, as the Sixers ran their losing streak to 14 games.

Below are the complete power rankings, followed by deeper looks at the up-and-down Golden State Warriors and the streaking Washington Wizards.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

How Villainous Are These Animated Characters?

On Monday, I put together a list of my favorite child villains.* Today we'll tackle the best villains in animated films.

*My bad on the omissions of Troy Perkins (The Goonies) and Johnny Lawrence (The Karate Kid). I'll try harder in this post.

Let's go in descending order this time.

Top 10 Animated Villains