Sunday, November 29, 2009

Smooth Joey Apollo's 2009 NFL Picks, Week 12

Green Bay at Detroit (Thurs)
Aaron: A few years ago, there were rumblings that the NFL was planning to take the Lions' annual Thanksgiving home game away. The city put up a big stink and the league backed down. "You can take away our auto industry, Motown and our spirit, but hands off our late November home blowout losses, America!" Pick: Green Bay

Joe: Hey, I'm just happy for my annual holiday bonanza of fantasy points. No, not you, Frequently Injured Calvin Johnson. Pick: Green Bay

Oakland at Dallas (Thurs)
Aaron: Worst thing about Thanksgiving = hack sportswriters and broadcasters using the holiday to dredge up "turkey of the year" columns and commentary. "Turkey" hasn't been an acceptable derogatory term since Jimmie Walker left the airwaves, white people. Pick: Dallas

Joe: Hey, let's keep up the meaningless wins in a lost season, Raiders. That first round pick dan drop safely behind the Bills aaaaany time. Pick: Dallas

N.Y. Giants at Denver (Thurs)
Aaron: Both teams are fighting for their playoff lives and both teams haven't looked good in recent weeks. Especially, Denver. Huh...that was easy. Pick: NY Giants

Joe: Man, this is gonna be a boring holiday with us picking the same teams. Perhaps I'll go with Denver... Pick: Denver (gulp)

Picks for Sunday's games, after the break.

Seattle at St. Louis
Aaron: Seattle's 28-0 shutout of the Rams earlier this season doesn't scare me off from picking St. Louis. Rams RB Steven Jackson missing most of this week's practices, though? Yikes! Pick: Seattle

Joe: Up through the first quarter of that Saints game, the Rams had been a fairly reliable pest -- good for keeping games close without exactly winning. I wouldn't be shocked if they won here -- but I also wouldn't be shocked if the Seahawks beat them by thirty. Pick: Seattle

Carolina at N.Y. Jets
Aaron: After 11 weeks worth of fantasy games, I think it's finally safe to g'head and release the NY Jets defense from my roster. Pick: Carolina

Joe: My faith in the Jets has not been rewarded this year. In similar news, Michael Jackson's faith in being alive has not been rewarded this year. Carolina's been hot lately. All signs point to a
cooler game, right? (Note: This is why I don't gamble.) Pick: NY Jets

Tampa Bay at Atlanta
Aaron: I'll be honest: this rivalry has a lot less impact on me since erstwhile Buccaneer/Falcon RB Warrick Dunn returned to the forest moon of Endor after last season. Pick: Atlanta

Joe: As do-or-die games for the Falcons go, this one could be worse. Pick: Atlanta

Miami at Buffalo
Aaron: If I had known the Bills' new coach was Black, I'd have picked Buffalo last week on general principle. You know who else is Black? Ricky Williams. Pick: Miami

Joe: So Mike Shanahan met with the team for seven hours this past week regarding the head coaching vacancy. Now all we need is 1997 John Elway and Terrell Davis and we'll be in business! Pick: Miami

Washington at Philadelphia
Aaron: It's becoming obvious that the NFC East is planning to give us the league's first 7-9 division champion. Why can't us, Redskins fans! Answer - because your team is horrible. Pick: Philadelphia

Joe: The NFC East is still waiting for a team to back into its division title. There's still time for a few more non-fatal losses, Eagles! Pick: Philadelphia

Cleveland at Cincinnati
Aaron: Didn't we all agree that no struggling QB could use a good game against a terrible team and call it a "breakout performance"? Seriously, I thought this was a societal rule like "Always shake hands with your right hand". I'm not dusting off my Brady Quinn rookie cards yet. Pick: Cincinnati

Joe: Losing to the Raiders was bad, yes, but losing to the Raiders and THEN the Browns? That should be followed by a voluntary abdication of your playoff spot. Don't make us peer-pressure you into that, Bengals. Pick: Cincinnati

Indianapolis at Houston
Aaron: If I've learned nothing else from the increasing canyon between me and Joe's win-loss record, it's to stop picking against undefeated teams. Even though, I know it's gonna burn me here. Pick: Indianapolis

Joe: Well, I mocked the Texans' ability to keep it close with the Colts last time and they almost won. This time, they'll have the law of averages even more solidly on their side. Pick: Houston

Jacksonville at San Francisco
Aaron: Have I picked a 49ers game correctly this season? Those of you who bet the opposite of me should take heed. Pick: San Francisco

Joe: The Jaguars cannot make the playoffs. The Jaguars cannot make the playoffs. The Jaguars cannot make the playoffs. Damn it. Pick: Jacksonville

Kansas City at San Diego
Aaron: At this writing, the Chargers have until 1:00 PM on Saturday to sell 1,300 tickets in hopes of avoiding their first TV blackout in five years. C'mon, blackout. These are the things a fan of bad team must root for: ruining other fans' weekend. Pick: San Diego

Joe: Looks like the Chargers have a bead on that ill-fated playoff matchup Cam prophecied a few weeks ago. Pick: San Diego

Chicago at Minnesota
Aaron: I gotta say, I'm genuinely surprised by how much I'm enjoying the Jay Cutler backlash. 11 weeks into the season and NOW pundits are realizing how he might not have been a good fit for the Bears' grind-it-out offense? Pick: Minnesota

Joe: Rot in hell, Bears running game. Rot deep in the core of hell. Pick: Minnesota

Arizona at Tennessee
Aaron: We've gotta put a stop to this ridiculous "run the table" talk coming out of Tennessee. I can think of no other way to assure a Titans loss than... Pick: Tennessee

Joe: Sticking with the hot hand. Of course, Arizona's got a hot hand too. Pick: Arizona

Pittsburgh at Baltimore
Aaron: Why do those in charge of picking prime time games think that a final score of 13-12 played on a soft bog is compelling television? Pick: Baltimore

Joe: As you all probably know, we've progressed from a Charlie Batch Watch to a Charlie Batch Warning. Please find a safe place to ride this out. Pick: Baltimore

New England at New Orleans
Aaron: Well, I've painted myself into quite the corner. I like the Patriots here, but in accordance with my new "undefeated" team rule... Pick: New Orleans

Joe: This time, when Belichick makes the a-hole call to go for it on 4th down in his own territory, it will be from the comfort of a 10-point lead. Pick: New England

Monday, November 23, 2009

Hasty, Unformed Thoughts on the American Music Awards*

*Or the two AMA performances I've seen on YouTube.

So Adam Lambert closed the show and did this:

or hadn't you heard? And look, I'm not trying to be a Glambert hater or anything (I swear!), but my initial reaction (beyond the fact that his voice went off the reservation more than a few times) was that it was all so tediously desperate. Like, I get it when you're dragging the girl across the stage like she's a bag of meat. I get it when you're grinding the guy's face into your crotch. I get it when you're feeling up the girl's leg to her crotch. By the time he got to making out with the (male) keyboardist, I had to laugh. It was so very "Not enough? Well how about THIS? Shocked yet?" (By the way, Adam's trying to sell that kiss as "spontaneous" -- um, totally!)

I'm not offended by the sexuality -- though you put that shit out there on network TV and you know the outrage you're signing up for. And if he wants to be a provocateur, that's fine. But be provocative about something other than the desire to be provocative, you know? There's a fine line between Madonna's long history of shoving our face in it -- which always seemed to come at least partially from a place of rage that women weren't allowed to be sexual in the same way as men were -- and this kind of Marilyn Manson "please be offended so as to give me a reason for existing" theater. I honestly believe Adam is striving for the former (swap out women/men for gay/straight) but this kind of itchy-trigger-finger excess tips the scales to the latter.

EDIT: I should add that I also found the whole thing kind of hot shit, and if he'd pulled back on the throttle juuust a bit, I might have loved it. You know, sketchy vocals notwithstanding.

Also, I'm trying to reconcile my negative reaction to Adam with the fact that I remain endlessly amused by Lady Gaga (her AMA performance above). I think for all Adam's insistence that he's here for pure entertainment, Lady Gaga actually achieves it. And make no mistake, she's attention-seeking for attention-seeking's sake too. So why do I take to her more? I think maybe because her fakeness seems more organic. She just seems like a weird person, and while she's wearing latex face-masks and dresses made to look like bloody entrails and light-up granny panties all to make a show of herself, I feel like first and foremost, the show is for herself. We're invited to take it in or not, but she'll be sitting in her fire-cube regardless. I'm not sure what Adam would be doing with all those backup dancers if he didn't think we were watching.

Of course, despite the fact that I'm no fan of Adam's performance, fifteen minutes into watching The View -- and particularly Elisabeth's oddly passionate anger at Adam -- and I'm arguing Adam's side of the debate. And with the Thanksgiving weekend coming up, I suspect I'll be doing more of the same. I've been in these arguments before -- if I try to argue nuance, I just end up talking to myself for twenty minutes. I have a feeling I'll be sticking to the following talking points: Your damn kid should be in bed by 10:45 anyway, sometimes there are performances just for adults, and blah blah blah gay double standard. ...Okay, maybe I'll just avoid this topic altogether. I'm already bored.

I Have Had Actual Dreams Like This

Many, many thanks to Linda for bringing this clip to my attention. That subject line is no joke. If you've ever daydreamed about being pulled up on stage to sing with one of your favorite bands (even if you have not one iota of talent for singing, like some of us writing blog entries at this very moment), this clip is almost too wonderful to handle. This is The Swell Season (aka Glenn Hansard and Marketa Irglova, from the movie Once) performing in Houston a couple weeks ago. From the YouTube description:
Glen introduced a new song, inviting the audience to sing along. Upon a quick rehearsal of our part, he heard one voice that he dubbed "Aretha" and promptly invited it's [sic] owner, Moji to join him onstage. Here is the magical result!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

"A Lively Fisting"

The above image has been my single favorite gag in what has been a fairly spectacular seasons of Parks and Recreation so far. The ensemble has really come into its own -- sullen April, poor put-upon Jerry -- and the examinations of the petty intra-governmental squabbles have all been winners.

Last week's episode about creating a new mural for Pawnee city hall may have been my favorite. And this photo gallery about the other controversial murals throughout Pawnee history just puts it over the top. I can't recommend it enough. [Thanks, Tara!]

P.S. My sincere apologies for anybody who found this post via a Google search. No doubt this was a significant disappointment to you. Please don't let your enthusiasm for fisting keep you from enjoying a smart and funny sitcom, though. People can like two things.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Fight the Real Enemy

Pursuant to this post I wrote a couple weeks ago about gay celebrities coming out (or more prominently out than they are now) comes this editorial accompanying the annual Out 100 list. In it, co-cover boy Adam Lambert, and more pointedly his publicity team, are taken to task for their extreme skittishness about whether Adam would agree to be on the cover, and with who, and in how gay a context.

During the immediate aftermath of the Idol season, I had written about my frustration with the coyness of the Lambert camp when it came to just saying what was already plain as day to any casual observer. Adam did eventually verbalize his gayness in that much-publicized Rolling Stone article, but the hesitancy and the overly-managed nature of his public coming out lingered with me and was on my mind while I was writing the above linked post about Matt Bomer.

Now, I like Adam well enough. I really like Matt Bomer. And I was having a hard time expressing my frustrations with them while at the same time affirming that I rather appreciated them and their (apparently) nonchalant attitudes about their sexuality. Maybe all I needed to do was to separate those men from their publicity teams and vent my frustrations in the direction they belonged. In the Out letter -- and even more explicitly in this follow-up letter by Adam's interviewer -- the contrast seems pretty clear: an open, engaging, an unself-conscious artist surrounded by frightened, controlling publicity types.

On the one hand, they're the ones I should be annoyed with, if anyone, for keeping these celebs closeted. On the other hand, aren't publicists supposed to be frightened and controlling and gun-shy, while it's up to the artists to be bold and honest? Maybe. In the case of Adam and Out, he certainly seemed to balance out his publicists by being fairly candid.


Fantastic Clips

I didn't want to include video clips from Fantastic Mr. Fox in my review post for fear of clogging up the post. But there are clips available for three of my very favorite parts of one of my (current) very favorite movies.

First, Fox and Badger debate a land purchase. With cussing.

Next, Meryl Streep delivers my favorite line of the movie:

And finally, there is Whack Bat:

See this movie, you guys.

I Am In Love With This Ad

I love the audacity of using Walt Whitman to sell jeans. I love sound of the guy they got to read the poem. I love the sights and sounds of hot young model types running around a bonfire. I love how that manages to give a surprisingly appropriate rendering of the poem. I love how at the same time these skinny bitches are wildly incompatible with the hearty westward adventurers Whitman was writing about.

I love being able to marinate in Whitman's language ("sharp-edged axes"!) during a commercial break for Glee. I I love the idea of the "youthful, sinewy races" as society's pioneers -- reminiscent of that description of heaven in Angels in America ("racial impurity and gender confusion"). I love that the tan-faced children are embarking upon a newer, mightier, more varied world. I love that Levis thinks that world includes sexual ambiguity as ad fodder for the masses.

I love this kind of bald-faced audacity in advertising. I'm getting sold something anyway, might as well do it with something this impressive. I dunno, am I alone on this? The future as wild, young, sexually ambiguous revelers whose asses look great in jeans? I'll take that over The Road.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Sick-Making Thrills of House of the Devil

I didn't include a capsule on House of the Devil in my previous review post. I watched it On Demand the other night, alone in my apartment and cowering in fear. It's not for everyone, and it relies a lot on a sloooow build of tension with very few payoffs until the end. For me, I was on the edge of barfing in terror from the moment the girl went on her ill-fated babysitting job until almost the very end.

So, given my gastrointestinal terror, and given the fact that I was recommended the movie by my good friend Jason (he of the New Plaid Pants), I figured he should feel my pain. Immediately. Almost by accident, an email exchange ensued that touched on all the reasons we both loved the movie. Let's hear it for repurposed content!

NOTE: There are spoilers in these emails; some redacted, some not. This movie is available on On Demand. Right now. Watch it tonight. Then read this post.

Dear Jason,

I just watched House of the Devil. You now owe me money for therapy. I think at this point, Synecdoche, NY might even be a bright beam of sunshine. Clearly, my world is not right.

- - - -

Joe --
Wait, what does that mean? Did you like it? You know, "like" as in appreciate it, think it good. It's probably another time when "like" is relative I guess.

- - - -

I thought it was terrifically scary; my whole torso was in a knot for that whole middle hour. The end I did think was slightly underwhelming, but definite thumbs up.

- - - -

Totally agree about the end, but I've thought about it a bunch and I just can't really figure out what else there really was to do. Well not the exact ending, I love the final few minutes, but the lead up to that, the entire ritual part, I mean there really is no way to escape that being slightly silly. Because in real life it would be silly, and ridiculous. And horrible, obviously. So I've reined in my eye-roll at it with time, even though while watching it it seemed underwhelming.

But yes! So much of the mid-section's so freaking well done! The scene where she's dancing around with her headphones on almost made me crawl outta my own skin. And [REDACTED]! "You're not the babysitter?" UGH! I jumped the fuck right out of my seat, and that's the boyfriend's job. I just really remembering vividly thinking as the two girls drove up to the creepy house, "Oh my god, I really like these girls! I don't want them to go to this place!" And you know how infrequently that happens in these sorts of movies. For that lone the film made me so happy. Or you know, "happy" by way of feeling fucking awful. ;-)

- - - -

Oh, I totally don't know that you could do anything differently once the whole devil business started happening. But I feel like maybe it could have been crafted better? I dunno, all I can say is that my entire body was in one pukey knot and the second (that very instant) that she fully woke up in that attic, about 50% of that tension just went away. And obviously, that's the payoff, the tension is supposed to get released there, but I feel like it should be released into screaming of jumping or crawling up into the back of your seat. With this movie it really felt like a good bit of it just evaporated and went away. And it's frustrating that I can't explain why.

Not that I want to dwell on the bad stuff at all, because this movie really made me so scared, sitting alone in my living room hiding behind not one but two pillows, mumbling "don't open that door, don't open that door." I love the way the camera always lingered another second or two (or five or ten) every time Samantha left the frame. Anticipatory shit like that kills me. Also, did you recognize the girlfriend as one of the girls from Baghead? That took me a bit but I got it.

AAAAH! The more I think about it -- how weirdly desolate the college campus was; creepy [REDACTED]'s face (!!); or that awesome '80s song playing in the car as they leave for the house [NOTE: "The Breakup Song" by the Greg Kihn Band]! The more I think about it, I'm getting creeped out again in broad daylight.

- - - -

It's def. been a grower for me - I mean I really enjoyed it a lot while watching it, a lot, but it's one of those ones that just hasn't let go of my brain. Random bits from it pop into my head all the time and I'm dying to watch it again. Just a nice simple old-fashioned reliant-on-atmosphere horror flick that we don't see often enough. I wish the studio hadn't gone and fucked with whatever he (the director Ti West) was doing with the Cabin Fever sequel - supposedly he started taking it off into this weird not-what-they-expected direction and judging from what he's shown himself capable of here I bet it probably was gonna be great, or at least way more interesting than the usual low-budget straight-to-DVD sequel, but they stole it away from him and apparently hacked it to ribbons. A shame; I'm dying to see what he does next.

Capsule Reviews: Fantastic Mr. Fox, A Serious Man, More

Not that my little infographic down there isn't brilliant commentary enough, of course. But I saw a shitload of movies in the last week and a half, and here's where we get to discuss 'em, you and I.

Fantastic Mr. Fox
I had a smile on my face from beginning to end, which is generally the case with me and Wes Anderson. I have no idea how the growing horde of filmgoers disenchanted with Anderson will take this movie. A big part of me doesn't care. As someone who's been a fan of his all along, this movie was a real delight. Animation is a great fit for his ultra-structured, obsessively art-directed style. The way he uses stop-motion manages to make this feel idiosyncratic, even within the animation world. This is easily the best-looking movie he's done since The Royal Tenenbaums. The aspect of Anderson's movies that fits least with animation is the dialogue -- the kind of mumbly, melancholic, sly humor; there's a bit of a meeting in the middle here -- Anderson turns the volume up a bit, but it's still incredibly low-key for its genre. The story isn't breaking any new ground, but between the look, feel, sound, and sense of humor, it's pretty easily unlike any other movie right now. I really loved it. A-

A Serious Man
You know, I get what they were trying to do with this ice-cold look at a good man who bears the brunt of any number of inhumanties and whose anxieties all seem to be proved correct, all while repeatedly appealing to his Jewish faith for comfort and finding none. The ending seems like an especially bold and appropriate way to cap things. But by then, I had long since checked out. I am a HUGE fan of the Coens, and I appreciate how they keep their characters an arm's length away (or at the end of their nose down which the Coens look upon them), but this one felt so distant that I ended up getting pushed away too. As a result, it felt like a dull, dispassionately cruel movie peppered with a handful of funny moments and characters (I was partial to Fred Melamed as the touchy-feely cuckolder and Amy Landecker's stone-faced hot housewife). I can see where people would greatly admire such a disciplined movie, but it wasn't my thing. B-/C+

I saw this screened at IFC where I was once again within arm's length of a wicked hot actor, this time Joseph Gordon-Levitt. (I also saw Olivia Thirlby get introduced as "Olivia Wilde" by her own director, maybe the most awkward thing I have ever seen.) Anyway, the movie is this SUPER indie "two ways this story could go" affair. One set in Manhattan that morphs into this lovers-on-the-run thriller, the other set in Brooklyn that's your standard family slice-of-life. The Brooklyn one works okay, while the Manhattan one falls apart early and never really improves. But even in the inept thriller half, the chemistry between JGL and Lynn Collins (who played Silver Fox in the Wolverine movie) is intimate and . I totally want to see them reunited in a better movie. C

At this point, Von Trier's misogyny isn't even about hating women. It's about hating EVERYBODY. It can get tedious being in the presence of that kind of nihilism for almost two hours, but he manages to keep things compelling in ways that are thrilling (there is some deep, visceral terror here), stupid (can't decide whether the term "chaos reigns" is dumber or the fact that a fox says it), and transgressive (the scene everyone keeps spoiling). Anthony Dod Mantle's cinematography, however, is unambiguously brilliant. B

Observe and Report
I wanted it to be funny. I'll cop to being pre-annoyed by this movie's strident "anti-PC" backers, but ultimately I did want this to be funny. And it wasn't, unfortunately. Like, it was ridiculous. And I could see where it wanted to be funny, but everything sat too heavy. So without anything to laugh at, I was left with the story Jody Hill was trying to tell. And I don't have to tell you how much I love a story about white-male impotent rage. And in the end, it totally pusses out anyway. It's not a terrible movie, but it is really, really not as transgressively brilliant as it thinks it is. Also, something terrible has happened to Anna Faris's face, and it makes me sad. C


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Smooth Joey Apollo's 2009 NFL Picks: Week 10

Last Week:
Aaron 8-5
Joe 7-6

Season to Date:
Joe: 85-44
Aaron 81-48


Chicago at San Francisco

Aaron: After last week's embarrassing home defeat to self-proclaimed future Hall of Famer Vince Young, I'm ready to subscribe to the theory that the 49ers can't beat anyone outside the NFC West. I don't suppose San Francsico plays the Raiders this year? Damn. Pick: Chicago

Joe: Watch your step as I attempt to drop some football knowledge, but it seems to me the Bears are suckiest against the pass, while the Niners' strength is in their running game. BUT this could also be one of those inexplicable Vernon Davis 3 TD games. I say it's ugly and unwatchable (which: lucky for us Time Warner folks, then) either way. Pick: San Francisco

Cincinnati at Pittsburgh

Aaron: This is one of those games in which I'd pick the opposite of Joe just for the sake of picking the opposite of Joe. I could see either team winning by two points or two TDs. And, iiiiiit's..."tails". Pick: Cincinnati

Joe: I'd be happy to oblige you here, Cam, given my mental block on the Bengals going 4-0 against the other teams in their division. (No, I don't consider the Browns an NFL team.) Pick: Pittsburgh

Atlanta at Carolina

Aaron: It's been a few years since I received my degree in marketing from The San Diego State University, but I'm pretty sure it helps to have a discernable chin if you're going to do shirtless Gillette ads, Matt Ryan. Pick: Atlanta

Joe: Stopping. Googling. Checking. ...Yeah, that's doing nothing for me. Certainly not like that Tony Gonzalez as for PETA. Damn it, PETA! If only you didn't get so many celebrities naked, I'd be able to hate you more purely. Pick: Atlanta

Tampa Bay at Miami

Aaron: This week's SI details how the 2009 Bucs are headed in the right direction. They're on their third QB in as many months and fired their offensive coordinator before the season began. This isn't "direction". It's that leg-twitchy thing that happens to dead bodies in the movies. Pick: Miami

Joe: I'm still trying to get over the return of the tangerine uniforms last week. Sure, the color is fug, but I do kind of have a soft sport for that foppish Captain Morgan they had on their helmets. Pick: Miami

New Orleans at St. Louis

Aaron: We're ten weeks into the season. NO ONE is going to call Drew Brees on that Hulk Hogan haircut he's been rockin' all year? His receding-shag is the most underreported story of the year, people. Pick: New Orleans

Joe: I'm still fuming from the Rams defying my winless prediction for them from Week 1. Light 'em up, Saints. Light 'em up. Pick: New Orleans

Jacksonville at N.Y. Jets

Aaron: A long time ago, I remember reading that the Buccaneers had lost something like 300 games in a row when the temperature at kickoff was below some...specific temperature. I assume that applies to all Florida teams on the road. Still. Pick: NY Jets

Joe: This is nothing but pure hunch, but I'm feeling like this might be time for the Jags' monthly 30-point loss. Pick: NY Jets

Buffalo at Tennessee

Aaron: It hurts my heart to see Titan fans fall back in love with Vince Young. He's Chris Brown with a Wonderlic score of six, Tennessee. He will hurt you again. Pick: Tennessee

Joe: Part of me wants to be contrarian here. And the Bills DO seem determined to deep-six their chances at a Top 10 draft pick. It's not out of the question that Vince Young could throw two INTs for touchdowns. Why not pick the Bills? Oh, right, because Chris Johnson is gonna run for 250 yards. Pick: Tennessee

Denver at Washington

Aaron: I'm enjoying the media-fueled notion that the league's "figured out" the Broncos. The Redskins chances here have increased from "none" to...what, exactly? Pick: Denver

Joe: Man, I was so close to picking the Redskins in one of those sense-defying upsets that tend to happen. Thanks for talking some sense into me, Cam. Pick: Denver

Detroit at Minnesota

Aaron: So did that whole "set the clocks back" thing push back Brett Favre's annual season-ending six-week self-immolation or are we all in agreement that it's just not happening this year? Pick: Minnesota

Joe: Remember, Favre didn't kill the Packers in his last season with them until the NFC champtionship game. Keep hope alive! Pick: Minnesota

Kansas City at Oakland

Aaron: In their Week #2 match-up, the Chiefs outgained the Raiders in total yards (409 to 166), while JaMarcus Russell completed less than 30% of his passes. And, the Raiders won! Ugh. Pick: Kansas City

Joe: I'd pledged to pick the oppsoite of you in this game no matter what. I'm sticking by that. while holding my nose. Pick: Oakland

Dallas at Green Bay

Aaron: Sure looks like Tony Romo has raised expectations again. Couple of good games, Cowboy fans have stopped calling for his head. I've seen this pattern before. Now, wet the bed, Romo. Wet it! Pick: Green Bay

Joe: Dallas's defense continues to look uncharacteristically strong. Green Bay's offensive line might as well be riding lawn mowers in Mississippi. This could get broken-bone-y for Aaron Rodgers. Pick: Dallas

Philadelphia at San Diego

Aaron: No team can turn a gift-wrapped, unimpressive win like last week's vs. the Giants into a season-turning burst of momentum like the Chargers. In January, you'll all be wondering why you believed in this team. Pick: San Diego

Joe: The two most "never as dead as you think they are" teams. Also the two most "never as dominant as you think they'll be" teams. Last time the Eagles came out west, they lost to Oakland. OAKLAND! Pick: San Diego

Seattle at Arizona

Aaron: Earlier this week, I stumbled across ESPN showing highlights of former Seahawk Shaun Alexander running roughshod over the league earlier this decade. Few things have made me feel older. It felt like 40 years ago. Pick: Arizona

Joe: How 'bout remembering that Alexander was drafted the same year Arizona drafted Thomas Jones. That stint almost seemed like it never happened. Pick: Arizona

New England at Indianapolis

Aaron: I don't know how much impact a head coach has in the NFL, but in their first head-to-head match-up, I'm leaning towards the hoodied curmudgeon over the Negro neophyte. Pick: New England

Joe: Damn it, Cam. All signs do seem to be pointing to New England here. The injuries for Indianapolis, the law of averages, my own personal Murphy's Law. And yet, I feel like I should be contrary here. Pick: Indianapolis

Baltimore at Cleveland

Aaron: Jesus, how long can the Browns milk national TV appearances off of their 10-6 season from a few years back? Pick: Baltimore

Joe: Oh, it's not like anybody watches Monday Night Football anymore. Pick: Baltimore

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

So About James Franco Being on General Hospital

Sorry, you guys. Sometimes when my entire work day is consumed with the same thing (JAMES FRANCO JAMES FRANCO JAMES FRANCO) I forget that I haven't talked about that here. So James Franco is coming to General Hospital, starting next Friday. As you may have heard.

Now I must command you to watch the following promo because it is composed entirely of awesome, awesome gesturing with a coffee cup, and awesome ordering dead awesome to be buried as close to hell as you can. Watch!

(Ummm, if anybody asks, I have no idea how this YouTube video ended up here...)


"She's a No-Good B!"

I know I already talked about how much I loved this week's Community. But I felt like I should remind all of you, in song form. Anybody who wonders why I love Eric Christian Olsen need only watch the following clip.

Also, because Sling is awesome and there for me when YouTube is not, they have the FULL version of the song. Just more to love, baby.

Guilty Pleasures Week?

I'm not sure if I can stretch this out to a full week of content, but yesterday's Empire Records post led to some real lively discussion in the comments, and one of the guilty pleasures offered up was Camp, which: YES, YES YES. I don't think I have the heart to call it a bad movie, but I certainly can't deny it's littered with flaws.

But this is a movie that rekindled my love affair with performing arts kids. That actually gave me my first real exposure to Stephen Sondheim (weirdest/most appropriate cameo ever). That reminded us all of the tyranny of cute straight boys.

Plus, in this age of Glee, who can't appreciate these musical performances that ride the line between "obviously amateur" and "heart-burstingly wonderful"? My favorite remains the underhanded triumph of evil gnome Fritzi.

Seriously, if Anna Kendrick gets nominated for an Oscar for Up in the Air, all us Camp fans can say we saw her first.

Most of the other performances are far more earnest, but it's not a guilty pleasure if it lets you feel all ironically superior. So bask in the drama-queer sentimentality!

The un-embeddable "How Shall I See You Through My Tears." A pox on un-embeddable videos!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Happy Monday Rex Manning Day

You ever just wake up with a phrase in your head and you can't shake it? So it was with me this morning, when all I could think of was Rex Manning Day, as celebrated in the seminal mid-'90s teen-movie excuse-for-a-soundtrack-album (wow, think about that concept today) extravaganza Empire Records. Specifically, "Rex Manning Day" as dreamily uttered by Ethan Embry right here:

Even back when I first saw Empire Records back in the day, I knew it was a guilty pleasure. Like its spiritual step-sister Can't Hardly Wait, it's only grown to feel more guilty and more pleasurable as the years pass. Most of the movie is just cringingly fabricated, but I absolutely can't deny that a) I can recite whole chunks of dialogue by memory (my sister, my cousin, and I pretty much wore out our VHS copy watching it so often), and b) it puts a goofy grin on my face, without fail.

Like, this scene:

Just ridiculous, whitewashed sentiment from beginning to end. Love the shit out of it. I could sit here posting clips and surfing through YouTube all day (like this one, this one, and this one). Instead, I'll throw the question out to you guys: Talk about your favorite guilty pleasures. REAL guilty pleasures, the ones heavy on the guilt. That term's been co-opted for mainstream movies that people want to say they like without seeming less cool. I want to know movies you know are legitimately bad and you love them -- without irony -- anyway. Go.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

The Week in TV

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (11/5)
Time to start putting Brian Unger up in the pantheon of great Philly side characters, along with the McPoyles, The Waitress, Rickety Cricket, aand (my favorite) Artemis. The episode was pretty bulletproof from before the opening credits due to Charlie's "kitten mittens" pitch, but I also though Mac and Dennis held up their end with "dick towel" and the shot-gun/gun-shot. Not much for Dee this week, though since she's owned the bulk of this season, I can't hold anything against her.

Community (11/5)
Shirley just made me laugh so damn much this week -- blurting out Jeff's secret; saying she followed the wrong couple out of class. She makes a lot out of a little every time. And you know how much I love Eric Christian Olson and his tiny nipples, so that whole subplot was great, and it gave Pierce something funny to do, which has been a challenge.

30 Rock (11/5)
Better than most of the episodes this season, and Jack riding the subway was the absolute highlight. Though Kenneth seeing Jenna and screeching "Vampyr!" was also a winner. Also, I'm weirdly into this long-running backstory where Dot Com is striving to improve his station in life. I'm pulling for you, secretly gay Dot Com!

EDIT: I totally forgot to mention my other favorite moment, besides Jack's subway shenanigans: sending up Susan Boyle in the guise of Kathy Geiss. How incredibly perfect!

The Office (11/5)
Not sure why I was dissatisfied by this one, but I was. It's not that Michael and Dwight were made to look like petty jerks -- they should be petty jerks, in my opinion. Episodes like this are necessary to balance out the ones where we feel too sorry for them. So I was totally down with Pam punching Michael in the parking lot. And I liked a lot of the side gags (Toby coaching Pam; Ryan and his topless photos of Kelly at her desk), but in general I was less than satisfied.

Survivor (11/5)
Wow, so EVERYBODY is stupid this season. Awesome. Erik, John, and anybody even momentarily advocating voting out Monica played it all-time stupidly. No wonder Russell is probably gonna beat all these fools.

Parks and Recreation (11/5)
Excellent Ron Swanson showcase, though I was also partial to Andy and his odd jobs around town hall.

RW/RR Chllenge (11/4)
Man, Cohutta is the new world beater. You have to hope that this week starts a team-wide awakening where Derrick and Darrell realize that Johnny and Kenny plan to sit on their asses and waltz into the finals just because. I used to have a soft spot for Johnny, but his constant cycle of being an asshole and then acting all persecuted when he gets called on it has gotten beyond old.

Top Chef (11/4)
Even after, what, six seasons? All this time away from these people, and yet once they show up again for this all-star reunion show, it's like they never left. I still love Carla and Dale, I still am passionately in Tiffany's corner, I still cannot abide Richard Blaise, I still roll my eyes in amused exasperation at the Fabio/Stefan bromance. And I'll tell you what: Much as Ilan has revealed himself to be a total twat, I can't spend more than one minute watching Marcel without wanting to give him a swirlie. And worse. Some people ask for it, their whole lives, and he does.

Smooth Joey Apollo's 2009 NFL Picks: Week 9

Last Week:
Joe 9-4
Aaron 8-5

Season to Date:
Joe 78-38
Aaron 73-43


Green Bay at Tampa Bay

Aaron: So, wait. This is gonna be like Star Wars, right? Aaron Rodgers is Luke Skywalker, Brett Favre is Darth Vader, and after a return trip to Dagobah (Tampa Bay), Rodgers will come back and chop off Favre's hand in the playoffs. Right? Please? Pick: Green Bay

Joe: This scenario only works if Han Solo, Leia, and chewy were really, really terrible offensive linemen. Pick: Green Bay

Arizona at Chicago

Aaron: The first of many games this week that I'll be picking with my patented, occasionally correct "who's the home team" strategy. "Well, folks, when you're right 52% of the time..." Pick: Chicago

Joe: Okay, 1) I knew -- KNEW -- I should've picked Arizona to get upset last week. They're not a bad team, but not to be trusted either. Which cuts both ways -- they'll also win when you think they won't. 2) Unseasonably warm in Chicago today. Pick: Arizona

Kansas City at Jacksonville

Aaron: With all due respect to the ladies, "You got beat by Vince Young" is the new "You got beat by a girl". Hang your heads, Jaguars. Hang your heads. Pick: Jacksonville

Joe: I still have zero confidence picking Jags games. And they're certainly capable of making the KC offense look way better than they are. Oh, shit. I can feel it happening. I'm talking myself into it. Saaaaaave meeeeee, Jeeeeebuuuuuus! Pick: Kansas City

Rest of the picks after the jump...

Miami at New England

Aaron: Why do so many prognosticators seem use the words "they match up well" for the Dolphins regardless who they're playing from week to week? In seven games, Miami's beaten the Jets (twice) and the Bills (who hasn't?) They match up well with those two teams. Two. That's it. Pick: New England

Joe: I love how we've ended up in a universe where you hate the Dolphins more than I do. Having grown up in the era of Crybaby Dan Marino and Jerky Grandpa Don Shula, I never thought it possible. Pick: New England

Washington at Atlanta

Aaron: My sincere thanks to the Falcons for a textbook "backdoor" cover against the Saints last week that I laid real money on...and won! I only need to make another $205 this year to break even on my online gambling account for 2009! Pick: Atlanta

Joe: Always a good sign when there's public infighting among your coach, players, owner, AND alumni. All that's left is for Doug Williams and Jay Schroeder to pick sides and it is ON. Pick: Atlanta

Baltimore at Cincinnati

Aaron: The next two weeks for Cincy: Ravens, Steelers. The next three weeks after that: Raiders, Browns, Lions. The Bengals just might win 10 games this year. Rooting for them only serves to keep Chad Ochosambo on the fringes of relevance, kids. Pick: Cincinnati

Joe: OCHO! OCHO! OCHO! (Sadly, I do think the Ravens make enough adjustments to nip the Bengals this week.) Pick: Baltimore

Houston at Indianapolis

Aaron: Where did this misconception come from that the Texans "always play the Colts hard"? Houston's 1-13 lifetime against Indy and hasnt' beaten them since 2006. Do, like, four close defeats equal one eventual win at some indeterminate future date? Pick: Indianapolis

Joe: You know, I had the same observation. Is this "Texans play though" impression coming from that Sage Rosenfels game last season? I really, really hope not, sports media. Pick: Indianapolis

Carolina at New Orleans

Aaron: Dude I work with is a hee-YUGE Saints fan. But, after a lifetime of heartbreak, he won't wholly commit to this undefeated Saints team. I predict he'll come around just in time to see the 13-3 Saints get bounced in the 2nd round of the playoffs. Shhh...that's what I'm rootin' for. Pick: New Orleans

Joe: Good for the Saints the Panthers got all that pesky winning out of their systems last week. New Orleans will get their first lost eventually, but not this week. Pick: New Orleans

Detroit at Seattle
Aaron: After last week's loss to the lowly Rams, I think it's time to cordon off Detroit from the rest of the country and wait for Snake Plissken to try'n escape or something. What? Oh, is their current plan is working? Pick: Seattle

Joe: Fun fact: Seattle's only two wins this season were by scores of 28-0 (over the Rams) and 41-0 (over the Jags). So, good news, Lions! Score just once and you'll win! Pick: Seattle

San Diego at N.Y. Giants

Aaron: I can't be bothered to check the forecast, but if the conditions are favorable for Philip Rivers to throw the ball with impunity...ah, screw it, I'm five games behind Joe. I'm checking the conditions, hang on. Sunny and 64 degrees? Against the Giants' secondary?! It's clobberin' time. Pick: San Diego

Joe: This is basically two of the same team, right? Neither is as good as the media wants them to be when they're winning. The sky could not be falling harder when they're winning. Both hated by Cam for irrational reasons. Pick: NY Giants

Tennessee at San Francisco

Aaron: To paraphrase m'man Marsellus Wallace - a character from a little-seen 15-year-old indie movie - "I'm pretty f***ing far from taking Vince Young on the road". Good movie. Y'all should rent it. Pick: San Francisco

Joe: I still don't see how Tennessee's fortunes lie in any way with Vince Young. But I still like the Niners at home. Pick: San Francisco

Dallas at Philadelphia

Aaron: The stench from the Eagles' epic bed-crapping in Oakland is still pretty ripe. It'll be a few more weeks before Donovan McNabb lets his guard down against an inferior opponent, again. Pick: Philadelphia

Joe: It's too bad; I was enjoying the Dallas resurgence and the added layer of ridiculousness it added to the Roy Williams breakdown. Pick: Philadelphia

Pittsburgh at Denver

Aaron: My Monday Night plans include watching this game, celebrating my 7th wedding anniversary and heading down to Mission Valley for the Bill Simmons book signing appearance. I am kidding about one of these things. Pick: Denver

Joe: It's too bad, because I'm sure Bill would have fresh and trenchant observations on the subject of marriage. Pick: Pittsburgh

Friday, November 06, 2009

That Face!

Last night, I found myself close enough to James Marsden to touch his face. Heroically, I did not.

I passed the test. Now I will diminish, and go into the West. And remain that guy who writes about movies and things.

*[Apologies to those who follow me on Twitter for repeating a joke. But in lieu of a proper review of The Box (I may not get to it today), I figured the moment needed to be commemorated here.]

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Trailer Trash Tuesday Thursday: Avatar (Take Two)

I was kind of amazed when the second Avatar trailer arrived with such little fanfare.At least compared to the avalanche of hype that greeted the debut of the first one. That one landed with a thud of mixed reactions (I was not a fan), so I can understand why they'd want to tamp down on the expectations for this second effort.

So without the hype to be resentful of, this mega-trailer (three and a half minutes!) certainly looked like a marked improvement. The rousing buildup felt suitably epic. Sam Worthington's bland hunkiness felt unassuming rather than desperately overrated. Stephen Lang appears to be in Michael Ironside drag, en route to a role that will earn him a lifetime residency in the good graces of Aint It Cool News and CHUD partisans. It felt like an actual story (not a particularly original one, but whatever) rather an excuse for self-aggrandizement. It may not have crawled it's way up to the very top of my Must See list, but its prospects definitely seemed a lot sunnier.

That was my thought process at the halfway mark of the trailer. Then the Na'vi showed up and everything went Ferngully. Again. Look, I'm sorry. And I know I'm not seeing this footage "as it's meant to be seen," in 3D IMAX with James Cameron gently massaging your balls. But it all looks so silly. And the more I see of the plot, with the invading military forces drilling for oil mining for fortune rocks, and Worthington embeds himself with the enemy, but falls in love and goes native until he's found out, and Giovanni Ribisi playing the heartless bureaucrat, and blah blah blah, the less interested I become.

After Titanic, it's become impossible to criticize James Cameron for his piss-poor scripting, because it was just so obvious, and because Titanic was amazing anyway. And while it's way too soon to say for sure, I wonder if Cameron didn't take those lessons to heart, in all the wrong ways. Despite the grandeur of the technical endeavor, the animated footage all looks too slight. Cartoony, not to get all irony-intensive about it. Weightless. Showy, Empty. Stupid.

You guys, there's a slight chance I may not be an Avatar guy.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The Ten Gayest Freeze-Frames from the Hannah Montana Movie

Ever since Tara and I saw the Hannah Montana movie in the theatre -- yes, we did --I've been waiting for it to show up on DVD so I could chronicle the extreme gayness of Hannah's cowboy-twink of a boyfriend.

During the movie, I counted a baker's dozen points of gayness (as Tara will attest). Going through it on DVD, I could only screencap ten of them (sometimes, the je ne sais quoi of a cute boy swiveling his neck can't be captured in one image).

The point, as ever, is that the line between wholesome, red-state-baiting family entertainment and barely-restrained homosexual bliss is a fine one indeed. Remember that, Maine. [And we kind of already knew that, am I right, guys?]

Plus, now I can say that I watched The Hannah Montana Movie (um...twice) as research for a post.

So here they are, ten shots of one fabulous love interest (and one shot of an out-and-proud barn). Enjoy!

The Ten Gayest Freeze-Frames from the Hannah Montana Movie









*(Note: This works better if you know that Cheyenne Jackson is just off-camera, wearing short-shorts.)


Monday, November 02, 2009

On This Tedious Business of Celebrities Coming Out

Honestly, even I can't tell you why I react so strongly to these stories of coy non-denials much more than I do those deeply closeted Scientologist types, but I do. Trust me, I'd rather shut up about this too, but when it seems like we're so close to this finish line of actors and performers being able to come out without fanfare or controversy, stuff like Adam Lambert playing peek-a-boo with the press or the current (admittedly minor) dustup over Matthew Bomer seems all the more frustrating.

When Jason posted pics of Matt Bomer (currently starring on USA's White Collar, which I've got DVR'd but haven't watched yet) making out with a guy, my first thoughts (after, you know, HOT) was that one of the effects of living in the Facebook age -- besides how one ill-advised Mardi Gras can cost you a job and how athletes can no longer snort coke off a groupie's tits in anonymity anymore -- is that it's now become even more pointless to be closeted as a celebrity since there is almost certainlyphotographic evidence to the contrary out there somewhere. Be that good or ill, it's a fact of life, and if it discourages actors from living a lie, it's ultimately a good.

(My second thought, by the way, was how happy Bomer looked, in that young, drunk, "I really kinda like this guy" way.)

But besides the usual "Is he out? Did I know this? Does everybody know this? That's kinda cool" dance, I was mostly just impressed by how little hue and cry there was about it. No kneejerk denials. No disingenuous articles wondering if it would harm Bomer's career. When a little quick Googling revealed people kind of already knew, I felt heartened. Felt too soon, as it turns out.

As chronicled at Boy Culture (and Queerty), friend-of-Matt Sean Akers has seemingly taken a tour of blogs posting the pics and asked that they be taken down, on the grounds that they're old pics of Matt and an ex-boyfriend and are, as such, embarrassing to have out there today. Taken at face value ... okay. I can see the impulse to keep private photos private, of course. And Akers has made sure to say, at each and every pit stop on his tour de blog, that Bomer is gay and out and is not trying to hide it.

So what am I complaining about, then?

I don't know if I can say for sure. Is it because this whole thing has taken on the character of a co-ordinated P.R. campaign, which makes it feel less like a friend trying to help out another friend than a publicity team trying to sweep something under the rug as quickly as possible? (In fact, as Boy Culture and Queerty both report, Bomer's publicist refused to comment on the photos because they "don't comment on clinets' personal lives.") Is it because this kind of thing never, ever, ever, ever, ever happens with straight celebrities? Ever? I get that "private lives are private." But that sentiment doesn't sound at least a little disingenuous when it's used in service of a refusal to acknowledge something that's plainly obvious and should not be treated as a negative? At some point in an actor's career, when they've reached the point of starring in multiple major network TV programs, doesn't he (or she) kind of realize that a bit of gossip on their personal lives is going to happen? Why is it only the gay lives that need such steel-reinforced shelter around them?

I like Matt Bomer. I have since Traveler. I'm not posting these pics as a gotcha. I'm genuinely happy to hear another actor is gay. And, if his overly vigilant but well-meaning friends are to be believed, out. But I'd rather his publicist not be sending mixed messages, and I'd rather not get the impression that the wagons are being circled on account of two relatively innocuous photos.

This isn't one of those posts where I feel like I have something to say. This is one of those posts where I feel I have something to ask. Is something like this worthy of my annoyance? Is it realistic to expect explicit forthrightness from gay celebs? Is it fair?

I'm looking for an actual conversation about this in the comments, so if you're just looking to yell or whine or snark about how caring about how the discussion is beneath you, please don't bother.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Smooth Joey Apollo's 2009 NFL Picks: Week 8

Last Week:
Joe 9-4
Aaron 8-5

Season to Date:
Joe: 69-34
Aaron: 65-38


Denver at Baltimore

Aaron: Here's the deal - instead of claiming that THIS is the week the Broncos are "exposed" (as I've done once - maybe twice - this season), I'll just say they're going to lose. It happens. They're still good. Pick: Baltimore

Joe: I said it two weeks ago, if Denver wins (they did), they'll be last year's Titans. I'll stick with that. Pick: Denver

Houston at Buffalo

Aaron: The Texans should put as much on the board as they can. After Sunday, two of their next three games are against the Colts. This week will be the equivalent of taking on Glass Joe before signing on to fight 1987 Mike Tyson. Pick: Houston

Joe: Silly Cam'ron. Glass Joe wasn't within three fights of Tyson. For shame. Pick: Piston Honda Houston

Cleveland at Chicago

Aaron: G'head and start that oft-predicted Super Bowl run whenever you're ready, Bears. We'll just ignore your upcoming schedule (two vs. Vikings; at Ravens) and keep swallowing that optimism from September. Pick: Chicago

Joe: The Browns continue their tour through America's sausage-iest cities. Unsurprisingly, Cleveland is fattening these teams up. Pick: Chicago

St. Louis at Detroit

Aaron: GAAH! Not since Hiroshima, has a city been...etc. Pick: Detroit

Joe: TWO wins this season? Pace yourselves, Lions. Pick: Detroit

Miami at N.Y. Jets

Aaron: I like a pissed off and embarassed Dolphins team to do bad, bad things to Mark Sanchez in a game where the elements aren't expected to be a factor. Pick: Miami

Joe: These teams are too evenly-matched for there to be a season sweep. Also, glad to know that the universe has righted its axis and football fans can hate Mark Sanchez for being pretty throwing interceptions. Pick: NY Jets

San Francisco at Indianapolis

Aaron: So, this a trap game? The Colts play Houston next week - an in-division foe who always gives 'em fits. Or is the Houston game a trap game, since Indy has the Patriots on 11/15? Can we get a ruling on this? Pick: Indianapolis

Joe: This is a mismatch, Cam. A mismatch. Pick: Indianapolis

Seattle at Dallas

Aaron: How has Dallas WR Roy Williams gotten a pass from the national media despite being a me-first prima donna who half-asses it each and every time the ball's not thrown his way and 50% of the time when it is? If he were black...wait, what? Pick: Dallas

Joe: Wait, so you're saying Roy Williams is a wide receiver? In other news, Dallas seemed like a completely different team last week. At least on defense. Those guys wanted to hurt some people, each and every play. Keep it up and they might be able to save Wade Phillips's job! Uh...congratulations? Pick: Dallas

N.Y. Giants at Philadelphia

Aaron: Hey, they're playing the same day as Game 4 of the World Series between the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies! Why hasn't the national media picked up on this amusing coincidence? Pick: NY Giants

Joe: I can't expect a West Coaster like you to appreciate how important this covergance of space-time is. Pick: Philadelphia

Jacksonville at Tennessee

Aaron: Watching Titans coach Jeff Fisher look into the cameras and declare that the decision to start Vince Young was made by anyone other than ownership made for compelling TV. All that was missing were proclamations by Fisher that his captors were treating him well and America is the great satan. Pick: Jacksonville

Joe: Why even bother picking Jags games when I'm always wrong? I'm halfway to picking the Houston Oilers. Pick: Tennessee

Oakland at San Diego

Aaron: Let's see...on the one hand, the Raiders nearly beat San Diego in Week #1. On the other hand, the word "quit" was used one million times to describe Oakland's performance in their last two losses. Quite the prognostication conundrum, this one. Pick: San Diego

Joe: That plus the fact that the last time you picked a terrible team to beat San Diego based only on your ugly hatred it didn't turn out well for you. Also that. Pick: San Diego

Minnesota at Green Bay

Aaron: Aaaand, thanks to the NFL's rarely-if-ever bitched about broadcast policies, San Diego won't be getting this game on Sunday. Doesn't the league realize my only alternative is to spend time with my family? This is on your hands, commissioner. Pick: Green Bay

Joe: Clearly the universe is against us Brett Favre nonbelievers. Look for him to throw six touchdowns and make the Lambeau grass turn purple with a wave of his crease-less hands. Pick: Minnesota

Carolina at Arizona

Aaron: There's something to be said for a team that's so damn willing to cling to the anchor that is Jake Delhomme. Enjoy the cold, briny deep, Panthers. Pick: Arizona

Joe: Part of me thinks this is one of those logic-defying games where we all remember the Cards can't be trusted. But I can't pick Carolina on the road. Pick: Arizona

Atlanta at New Orleans

Aaron: I love how the media painted last week's incredible Saints comeback as "Drew 'Jeter' Brees willed his team to victory". Sooner or later, the Saints are going to be on the wrong end of a shootout. Just not this week. Pick: New Orleans

Joe: I was wondering how long it would take people to start hating Brees for being too good. "Jeter" indeed. Pick: New Orleans