Archive for October, 2009

Favorite Underappreciated Fictional Characters – Wiseguy

Welcome to another edition of “Favorite Underappreciated Fictional Characters.” In this series, Gord and I will discuss fictional characters we loved in the 80s and 90s who, for whatever reason, didn’t get the cred they deserved for being awesome. Sometimes they were too obscure for the public eye, sometimes they were simply overshadowed by a fellow character, etc. Here at GordTep.com, we are happy and proud to give them the praise they deserve. This week, we have…

WISEGUY ON THE SIMPSONS

Though he was once referred to as “Raphael,” I don’t buy it. This guy is nameless, and better that way.

You’ve seen him I’m sure, wandering around Springfield, doing odd jobs and dropping sharp sarcasm on anyone he sees. He is, legitimately, one of the most consistantly funny characters that The Simpsons has to offer. It’s a crime he doesn’t get the recognition he deserves, so I’m dedicating this week’s entry to him. Here are, in my estimation, his three greatest hits:

“Hey fatty, I got a movie for ya: A Fridge Too Far!”
“Do us a favor! Invent yourself some underpants!”
(in re: “I’d kill you if I had my gun”) “Yeah, well, ya don’t.”

As for the dozens of other fantastic quotes this guy has dropped in the past, I leave that to you. Please respond to this post with your favorite Wiseguy quote and together we can make this a truly special tribute.

Favorite Underappreciated Fictional Characters – Gene

Welcome to another edition of “Favorite Underappreciated Fictional Characters.” In this series, Gord and I will discuss fictional characters we loved in the 80s and 90s who, for whatever reason, didn’t get the cred they deserved for being awesome. Sometimes they were too obscure for the public eye, sometimes they were simply overshadowed by a fellow character, etc. Here at GordTep.com, we are happy and proud to give them the praise they deserve. This week, we have…

GENE

He was in the Vietnam War. He owns a bottle of dick cream. He fondles his sweaters. He smears mud on his ass. He talks to a can of mixed vegetables. He humps the fridge. All this and more make Christopher Meloni’s portrayal of Gene quite possibly my all-time favorite comedic performance.

And since it’s incredibly likely you’ve never seen Wet Hot American Summer, you have no fucking clue what I’m talking about. Shame on you.

Go see it. Until then, shut the fuck up and eat the corn.

300 Bucks Damage – Episode 19 – Rocky

300 Bucks Damage Episode 19

rocky4

Gord and Kev talk Rocky Balboa and all of his movies.

Happy 10th Anniversary Grand Slam Single

Just a quick note to say that on this date 10 years ago, this happened:

It was, and still is, my all-time greatest moment as a Met fan. If you’re looking for me today, I’ll be sitting at home with the the Essential Games of Shea Stadium dvd collection, watching Disc 4: Game 5 of the 1999 NLCS.

Ham City Kev’s Top Ten All-Time MLB League Championship Series

I’m a baseball fanatic, so please excuse another non-nostalgia posting and indulge me on the eve of the 2009 NLCS.

Since 1969, the Championship Series for the American League and National League have played Second Bananas to the World Series. While this is necessary and understandable, I often feel it unfair that even though there have been many great LCS’s, so few retain their shine in popular history. This year marks the 79th and 80th installments of the League Championship Series, so you know they can’t all be mediocre or boring. There is classic baseball buried in there, I promise.

Now, as a child of 1980 I fully admit to appreciating some of the following baseball from boxscores and hearsay only. I understand that sometimes there’s more drama than the numbers show and vice versa. It’s certainly not the best system to come up with a top ten, but shit, being born in 1980 isn’t my fault–and it’s not like MLB Network is putting together a Prime 9 to properly honor these Series. I may not be fully qualified to put together a list like this, but the way I see it, it’s me or nobody. Might as well listen to me, right?

So, without further ado, I present my Top 10 All-Time MLB League Championship Series. Click to links to read about the awesomeness of these series in greater detail on Wikipedia, otherwise enjoy my cliff notes.

Honorable mentions: 1984 NLCS – Padres def Cubs 3-2; 2008 ALCS – Rays def Red Sox 4-3.

10. 1986 ALCS – Red Sox def Angels 4-3
Infamous Red Sox from-the-dead miracle comeback (well, the first one anyways). After the Sox blow Game 4 to trail the Series 3-1, the Angels historically blow Game 5 and never recover. Angels closer Donnie Moore, tormented by fans over the Game 5 loss, kills himself 3 years later.

9. 1972 NLCS – Reds def Pirates 3-2
The best of the 4 NLCS’s played between the 2 best National League teams in the 1970′s. Roberto Clemente, in his penultimate game in the Major Leagues, was the only thing stopping Ross Grimsley from pitching a no-hitter in Game 4. The Reds win it in the bottom of the 9th in the deciding Game 5 off a solo home run from Bench to tie, and a run-scoring wild pitch to win it.

8. 1991 NLCS – Braves def Pirates 4-3
Everyone remembers the drama behind Francisco Cabrera’s game-winner for the Braves in 1992, but nobody remembers the insane pitching clinic of this series. 4 shutouts, 3 of which have a final score of 1-0. The Braves pitching staff, led by an untouchable Steve Avery, holds the Pirates scoreless in the final 22 innings of the series, lowering their collective series E.R.A. to 1.57–and they still lost 3 games!

7. 2004 NLCS – Cards def Astros 4-3
“The Best Series that Nobody Watched?” Perhaps. While the nation’s attention focused on the other LCS (more on that in a sec), this series saw the home team win every game, with Carlos Beltran hitting a home run in each of the first 4 and finishing the series with a sick 1.521 OPS–and yet he was somehow outperformed by Albert Pujols and his OPS of 1.563. Game 5 had both teams pitching one-hitters into the 9th until Jeff Kent won it with a 3-run walkoff homer. Astros tie Game 6 in the 9th but strand potential Series-winning runs on 2nd and 3rd, Cards later win it on a Jim Edmonds 2-run walkoff homer in the 12th. Cardinals win pennant in Game 7 by defeating Roger Clemens in his “final” game.

6. 2004 ALCS – Red Sox def Yankees 4-3
Does this really need an explanation? Well, in case you’ve been in a coma the past 5 years, this actually happened: the Red Sox beat the Yankees. Not only that, they did it in a way that has never ever been done before or since in the long storied history of Major League Baseball–by winning 4 straight after being down 3-games-to-none (and down down to their final 3 outs, to boot). After tying the game off Mariano Fucking Rivera 2 nights in a row, the Sox win Games 4 and 5 in extra innings courtesy of David Ortiz. Curt Schilling wins Game 6 while constantly bleeding from the foot. I was on the phone with Gord as the Game 7 blowout ended, convinced the Yankees would somehow score 8 runs and win–it was that fucking hard to believe.

5. 1972 ALCS – A’s def Tigers 3-2
Some of baseball’s greatest names litter this Series, which was somewhat of a crazy palendrome through 4 games. The Tigers blow an 11th inning lead, then get shut out. The A’s get shut out, then blow a 10th inning lead. Oakland squeaks a 2-1 victory in the deciding Game 5 thanks in part to Reggie Jackson scoring and tearing his hamstring on a double-steal of home in the second. But perhaps most memorably, Bert Campaneris throws his bat at Lerrin LaGrow in Game 2.

4. 1999 NLCS – Braves def Mets 4-2
Braves win Game 1 by the score of 4-2, and that proves to be the biggest blowout of the series. Each of the remaining games would be decided by one run. Down 3-games-to-none, the Mets win Game 4 in their final at-bat, then use 23 players to win the epic Game 5, 15 inning marathon off Robin Ventura’s infamous “Grand Slam Single”. Braves win dramatic, see-saw Game 6 in the 11th with achingly anti-climactic bases loaded walk from Kenny Rogers to advance to the World Series.

3. 1986 NLCS – Mets def Astros 4-2
Mike Scott takes MVP honors despite being on the losing team after allowing only 1 run in 18 innings against the best offense in the league–with the alleged help of a scuffed ball. Mets win Game 3 on a 2-run walkoff homer from light-hitting Lenny Dykstra, then win Game 5 after a 12th inning walkoff base hit from Gary Carter. But let’s be honest, this Series ranks as high as it does because of the epic of LCS epics: the 16-inning Game 6.

2. 2003 ALCS – Yankees def Red Sox 4-3
If you check the box scores of this series, it doesn’t add up to some of the entries above. The numbers, however, are not what this series was about. This was edge-of-your-seat history in the making. This was about 2 incredibly matched teams renewing a great rivalry. It was about the Red Sox standing up for themselves and surprisingly hanging in there against a Yankee team that would normally steamroll them. It was about the benches clearing in Game 3 and Pedro Martinez tossing 72-year-old Don Zimmer on his head. Most memorably, it was about Boston once again tricking everyone into thinking they were going to pull it off in Game 7–until the other shoe dropped late, and Aaron Boone won the series with an 11th inning, walkoff home run. It was the highest of high for the winners, and the lowest of low for the losers.

1. 1980 NLCS – Phillies def Astros 3-2
How this series is not constantly celebrated is beyond me. Game 1, a 3-1 victory for the Phillies, was not only the sole game to feature a home run, but the only game out of 5 that was wrapped up in the regulation 9 innings. The remaining 4 games were back and forth, back and forth; runners stranded, plays at the plate, 3 10th inning victories and one in the 11th, the Astros blowing the first pennant in their franchise’s history and the Phillies winning their first in 30 years. There really aren’t any words that can properly capture the excitement of this series. Click on the link above to see for yourself.

What can be in store for us this year, the 40th anniversary of the League Championship Series? One or two new entries to this list, perhaps? Well, we can hope so. The 4 Divisional Series were wrapped up quickly, but each had a flair for the dramatic. Perhaps it’s a good sign. Hey, it’s a flawed playoff system (imo), but this year we’re actually getting what we’re supposed to get: the 2 legitimately best teams in each league facing eachother to determine a champion. I may not like who’s left to root for, but I applaud the victory for baseball fans everywhere.

Here’s hoping these 100 players provide games to celebrate for 100 years.

Favorite Underappreciated Fictional Characters – The Warden

Welcome to another edition of “Favorite Underappreciated Fictional Characters.” In this series, Gord and I will discuss fictional characters we loved in the 80s and 90s who, for whatever reason, didn’t get the cred they deserved for being awesome. Sometimes they were too obscure for the public eye, sometimes they were simply overshadowed by a fellow character, etc. Here at GordTep.com, we are happy and proud to give them the praise they deserve. This week, we have…

WARDEN DWIGHT MCCLUSKY

“He’s already dead, dickweed! You got — SHIET!”

Ah, Natural Born Killers. IMO, it’s the greatest cinematic love story in history (though Eternal Sunshine and Mulholland Dr give it a run for its money–again, IMO). So many great characters. Woody Harrelson’s Mickey gets all the credit, even though it’s really difficult to watch him and not think “it’s just Woody, he’s acting.” Juliette Lewis’ Mallory gets as much credit, and much more deservedly so–I’d never fuck with Juliette Lewis in real life out of fear she actually was Mallory Knox. Robert Downey Jr’s Wayne Gale perhaps deserves an entry into the series as well.

But today I’m here to give thanks to Tommy Lee Jones as The Warden, Dwight McClusky. Oliver Stone spends the first half of the movie praising anti-authority, so immediately he’s seen as an antagonist just waiting to be knocked off his perch. Yet, because Tommy Lee Jones is so fucking entertaining, you LOVE the Warden as the movie goes on. You laugh at his dialogue and accent. You sympathize with the horrific situation he’s in during the prison riot. And finally, you cheer when the prisoners put his head on a spike. Does that even make sense?!

Warden Dwight McClusky, I salute you.

Rocky Review

rocky_balboa_1Watching the Rocky films as an adult gave me an entirely different perspective. As a kid, the movies that I liked the most are unquestionably the ones that I like the least. In this brief review, I will explain the things I loved about the movies back then and what makes me dislike them now.

Here’s a quick refresher in case you’ve forgotten, or never seen, the Rocky series:

Rocky – He goes the distance with Apollo and falls in love with Adrian

Rocky II – He wins the Championship from Apollo

Rocky III – Mickey dies and Rocky loses to Clubber Lang. With Apollo in his corner, Rocky regains the belt.

Rocky IV – James Brown shows up and sings for no reason. Rocky buys Paulie a robot for his birthday. Drago kills Apollo. Rocky trains. Drago trains and injects steroids. Rocky trains some more. Rocky defeats Drago in Russia.

Rocky V – Rocky trains a homeless bum (Tommy Morrison) and kicks his son out of his house so the homeless guy can have his room. The homeless guy dumps Rocky for an evil promoter, George Washington Duke, who says, “Only in America” a lot (yeah, fake Don King). Tommy wins the belt and thanks Duke. The press tells Tommy that he’s no Rocky, so they have a street fight. Rocky beats the shit out of Tommy and then KOs Duke in spite of his warning, “Touch me, and I’ll sue.” Rocky responds after punching his lights out with, “Sue me for what?”

Rocky Balboa – Adrian’s dead. Rocky’s a pathetic old man. As Paulie says, “you’re living backwards, Rocko!” Ultimately, HGH and anabolic steroids allow a 60-year-old Rocky to go the distance with Antonio Tarver, the World Champion.

Best Picture

The original Rocky is unbelievably great. It’s the best one without argument. Sylvester Stallone’s screenplay is phenomenal, as is the acting, the music, the locations, et al. When I was young, this movie was never of any real interest to me. It has the least amount of boxing in it of any Rocky film. Ironically, that’s a huge plus for me now, but as a kid that was what I wanted most. The scenes detailing the development of Rocky’s relationship with Adrian are much more enjoyable as a 29-year-old than they were when I was a 9-year-old. The actual story is just so great. Viki King mentions in “How to Write a Movie in 21 Days” about how the hero’s goal will change, and she uses Rocky deciding that he has to go the distance with Apollo as a prime example.

Worst Films

Rocky IV & V are the films that I loved as a kid. Sadly, they’re both painful to watch today.

The log line for Part IV should have been, “You’ve seen great Rocky films, now watch a bunch of music videos with extra training footage and 70% less dialogue.” There is more “fighting” in this movie than any other Rocky. Apollo dies. Rocky drives late at night while we hear Robert Tepper sing “No Easy Way Out.” Rocky trains. Rocky trains some more. Drago says about five words. Can you believe I loved the Drago character as a kid? He’s like Darth Maul. He’s the cool sequel (or prequel) character that says nothing, yet he is one of the more memorable film characters in spite of his short existence. Oh, and what’s with that robot? It’s so stupid. Rocky’s kid sucks shit too. The best part is when Apollo is at the table and the robot leaves the room, he’s like, “Uh, OK, anyway…” which is how I felt now. As a kid, I probably loved that stupid robot. Since I mentioned Darth Maul, let’s call the robot the Jar Jar Binks of the Rocky films.

In Part V, Eric Murphy gets his ass kicked by Sage Stallone. Nice! It’s funny, I liked it as a kid for the excessive boxing matches and montages (e.g. Tommy Gunn’s winning streak), but this one is really lousy. It’s watchable in the context of the series, but as a standalone film, Rocky V is a joke of a movie. Strangely, I enjoyed the “nostalgic” feeling of this move when I was a kid, but it’s truly faux-nostalgia. There’s legitimate nostalgia in Rocky Balboa, but this one is just kind of there. It’s the only one of the six movies that could be completely erased without anybody caring. Also, why does Rocky’s kid age like six years in a week? The best thing about this movie is the Elton John song at the end, which I subsequently downloaded and listened to 50 times.

Best Monologues

Stallone has some great speeches, and my favorites are actually in the latest installment. I love when he is pleading his case to the commission to get reinstated and when he’s telling his son to take responsibility for his own life. These are both written and performed brilliantly. In my opinion, they’re so powerful that they can genuinely impact the viewer (in this case me) in their (my) own real life.

Favorite Characters

Burt Young is tremendous as Paulie. I had to check to make sure that he received an Oscar for his work in the original film, and he did. His character is so great, and he plays it perfectly.

Burgess Meredith didn’t win any awards for his portrayal of Mickey. However, these films wouldn’t be right with any other actor in this role. Rocky without Mickey would be like Daniel without Miyagi.

The Music

All the music is great except for the “jungle music” (as Paulie would call it) in Rocky V. Bill Conti’s orchestral score is epic and as recognizable as just about anyone ever produced. An honorable mention goes to Frank Stallone’s “Take You Back” song from the street corner that we hear at different times in the series. What a great song. Elton John’s song at the end of V is a hidden gem as well.

Rating the Rocky films

ROCKY ****
ROCKY II ***
ROCKY III ** 1/2
ROCKY IV *
ROCKY V 1/2 *
ROCKY VI ***

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