Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Cleveland Browns are 0-6 in the AFC North: "We Are Marsh(m)all(ows)"

The id and I - It looks like we have a "Full House" in Cleveland ...and Mary Kay is my ambitious Olsen twin!

It's times like these when I feel like inviting Larry Dolan over for a snifter of brandy and a fine Cuban cigar to have a good laugh about The Cleveland Browns in my study.

Or not.

And with the 2006 season of The Cleveland Browns all but over (again) it's hard to feel sorry for this seemingly endless sad-sack organization.

But look no further than the NFC South, where The New Orleans Saints (and their city) have rebounded from Hurricane Katrina with a football force of nature all their own.

After many seasons of fans wearing paper bags over their heads, The Saints went in a new direction - hiring the former assistant head coach under Bill Parcells, Sean Payton, as their fearless leader and signing Pro Bowl quarterback, Drew Brees, in free agency.

In one year, they drafted running back, Reggie Bush, with the second pick of the draft in the first round - and wide receiver rookie sensation Marques Colston (from Hofstra) in the SEVENTH ROUND.

3rd year wide receivers, Terrance Copper and Devery Henderson, have emerged from out of nowhere to step in for former Saints sensation, Joe Horn, and complete one of the most exciting passing combos this season.

Now the Saints have won the NFC South and they are headed to the NFL playoffs with the weight of New Orleans on their shoulders.

Meanwhile, the Browns are back at square one (again) - and crying in their "Great Lakes Christmas Ale" on the not-so-mighty shores of Lake Erie. We have a "quarterback controversy" over two guys that the rest of the planet has to ask: "Who-???"

Brady Quinn is going to The Lions, or Raiders, or Buccaneers ...oh my! Often-injured Oklahoma running back, Adrian Peterson, could be a nice "cure all" for Cleveland after the Browns (shudder) passed on LaDainian Tomlison - but the problem with Peterson is that he's always been a one-man M*A*S*H unit.

And now Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith is being heralded as "the Heisman hero" who will come home to Cleveland to save the Browns - and our town. The only question remains on whether or not Smith is more Vince Young than Danny Wuerffel once he hits the NFL next year.

Which leads us all back (again) to the offensive line of The Cleveland Browns which has been patched together over the years with a strategy that resembles an old lady playing "PLINKO" on The Price Is Right.

I'm done shaking my "Magic 8-ball" for answers when it comes to The Cleveland Browns and their organization. The only question I have left for Randy Lerner, Phil Savage, and Romeo Crennel is this: "If the beleaguered New Orleans Saints can bounce back after enduring a natural disaster like Hurricane Katrina (AND George W. Bush) ...then why are the Brown and Orange of Cleveland more black and blue ...than Black and Gold-?"

Magic 8-ball sez: "Ask again later."

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Passing notes in Tribe class: Do you like the owner of The Cleveland Indians? Please check one box below: [ ] Yes? [ ] No? [ ] Maybe?

So I know it's a little too early to start talking about major league baseball - or even The Cleveland Indians - just yet. But my Super Bowl predictions (The Panthers vs. The Bengals) went down the toilet with The Tidy Bowl Man.

And does anyone even want to talk about The Cleveland Browns-? They have dropped the ball this season more times than Dennis Northcutt! It's pretty bad when I have to pull my "Members Only" jacket and Rubik's Cube out of storage ...and cheer for Marty Schottenheimer and The San Diego Chargers.

So you can image my eternal excitement last week when I read that the team owner of The Cleveland Indians, Larry Dolan, finally "got the message" from fans that he needs to spend more money this season (Whaaaaat? WHO said THAT-?!?!?).

Even better was the news that the Tribe signed former closer from The Florida Marlins, Joe Borowski, to a one-year deal worth $4.25 million. This is a great deal for The Tribe - I love it!

Borowski had 36 saves in 43 attempts for the Marlins last season - and this move re-ignites my faith in the team's general manager, Mark Shapiro.

Don't worry, I know it's the holidays but I'm not going to go all "Rankin/Bass" on you after last season when there were: "NO TOYS ALLOWED in Toyland!!!"

I highly doubt that you'll ever see me ("Kris McKringle") go up to Larry Dolan ("Burgermeister") and hand him a toy ("Grady Sizemore bobblehead") to try and melt his icy heart at "Chrismakkuh."

But, then again, I wouldn't discount my "capacity for cuteness" either - I've melted many an icy heart in my lifetime (Yeah, I'm looking at YOU, Cleveland Indians). If you keep making moves like this one in the off-season, Team Tribe, you'll be swooning faster than Buck Showalter can sing to Eric Wedge: "Put one foot in front of the other ...and soon you'll be walking out the door-or-OR!"

Regardless, it's a good move for the Tribe and, now, I need to get back to work. But I thought I would mention this because like Jerry Seinfeld: "My hair could be on fire and I could still talk about sports!"

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Browns vs. The Steelers: "Hey, Romeo Crennel, don't go all 'Care Bear' on us now, Big Daddy!"

Well, it's about 24 hours until The Cleveland Browns face their age-old nemesis, those Steel City Beer swillin' hillbillies from the shores of Amish country ...those butter-churning buffoons ...The Pittsburgh Steelers!

Hey, it's not like I enjoy making fun of The Steelers, their organization, toothless hillbillies, or the people of Pittsburgh ...I'm just a fan of colorful writing.

Meanwhile, back in Gotham City, The Cleveland Browns are coming off a kick-ass win over the still-stunned Kansas City Chiefs at the hands of (former) backup quarterback, Derek Anderson.

I truly believe that the starting quarterback for The Cleveland Browns, Charlie Frye, plays with a lot of passion but, with all due respect to Ma and Pa Frye back in Smallville, I wouldn't mind seeing this Derek Anderson kid get the start against Pittsburgh.

Hey, The Browns have got nothing to lose at this point (well, um, except the game ...but other than that) so they might as well see what this Derek Anderson can do. We already know what Charlie Frye can do (and, as Yoda would say, "do not") - it's time for some new blood (again) here in Browns town.

It's time to see what head coach Romeo Crennel can do, as well. Coach Crennel bounced back after a disasterous week when wide receiver Braylon Edwards went all "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman" on the sidelines two Sundays ago. But it's time to see if the Browns can win two tough games in row's time to see if The Cleveland Browns can get on a roll.

I have grown tired of Coach Crennel's cute and cuddly "Care Bear" routine where he shrugs after every loss and proclaims politely: "Aw shucks, I suppose we probably could have done better..."

I realize that Romeo Crennel is more of a "cerebral" coach, but this is football ...I wasn't looking for Randy Lerner to hire Professor Charles Xavier to train the X-Men and his merry band of misunderstood mutants here.

I also understand that Coach Crennel is a direct disciple of Bill ("Hobo Joe") Belichick, so I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and hope Romeo inherited something from Belichick ...other than his "fashion sense."

So what have we learned here today, kids-? Well, hopefully, Braylon Edwards has learned to tell the bartender at the Spy club his troubles rather than - you know - IMPLODING ON NATIONAL TELEVISION.

But if Coach Crennel wants to solve logarithms on the sidelines, while carefully clutching his favorite "Cabbage Patch Kid" and embracing his "inner child," that's all fine and dandy with me ...just make sure you BEAT PITTSBURGH!

This is Cleveland, after all, and as we all know: "You gotta be tough!"

And if Romeo Crennel doesn't believe ME, then maybe he should get out the New England phone book, call up his "old friend in a Hefty bag" ...and find out for himself.

Just don't mention my name ...GO BROWNS!!!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Box Office Poison reviews Kevin Smith's Clerks II (on DVD): "I ASSURE YOU, WE'RE RE-OPEN!"

I came of age in college when the original comedy classic by Kevin Smith, Clerks, was first released way back in 1994.

Clerks was an unrefined instant cult-comedy classic that put Smith on the map as a voice for a new generation (X). In addition to that, Clerks re-invented the comedy wheel, something sorely needed after Bill Murray went soft, John Belushi went to that "big frat house in the sky," Chevy Chase fell into a chasm of career oblivion, Steve Martin sold-out (repeatedly), and Eddie Murphy went all "Daddy Day Care" on us.

But, with the exception of Groundhog Day, Office Space and Swingers, the age of comedies died back in the 1980's - that is, until Kevin Smith and Clerks came along to tell the story of two disgruntled "convenience" store employees, Dante Hicks and Randal Graves.

Sorry, Adam Sandler fans, but Sandler's sorry, watered-down, rip-offs of earlier classics left my funny bone - and brain stem - numb. I got my comedy Ph.D. watching the early days of Late Night with David Letterman and Saturday Night Live - and I haven't looked back since (And, like most Ph.D.'s, I'm not qualified to work at Starbucks ...where's the justice-?!?).

But along comes Clerks II - a movie that Kevin Smith half-heartedly smirkingly claims he made because he needed to pay his mortgage. And when we first revisit Dante and Randal in this sequel of sorts, "the Quikstop" has burned down and these two engaging "losers" are forced to take jobs as fast-food workers at a place called "Mooby's" in order to keep their awkward existence, the present-day pop culture references - and this sequel - "moving along."

Now, with Dante and Randal in their 30's, the two main characters are forced to fight the future in the face of new technology, bloggers, and Peter Jackson battling George Lucas for dominance in their self-aware universe.

To be honest, at first glance, Clerks II appears to be the next biggest blunder since Caddyshack II - but, upon further review, nothing could be farther from the truth with this film.

"I'd do it for you, would you do it for me-? We will always be busy, making misery. We could build a factory and make misery. We'll create the cure, we made the disease. Frustrated, incorporated..."

Kevin Smith and his characters are still blunt, raunchy, and rough around the edges - but there comes a certain freedom within this framework. True change can never arrive by riding the fence of mediocrity and being politically correct (all the time). Sometimes, in everyone's life, eyes need to be opened with a cold crowbar rather than kind Hallmark words - and this is where Clerks II truly delivers on every level.

When Dante prepares to "pack up" with his fiancee and flee to Florida in hopes of a "brighter future," fellow New Jersey native, Randal, steps up to the plate to ponder this fun fact: "You hate this stupid town hate the stupid people in this stupid town what, after all these years, are you still doing here-?"

And this is where Kevin Smith plays his A-game. Instead of pandering to all his slacker fans still living a disgruntled life in the basement with their parents, Smith forces a satisfying "adult" resolution to the conflict in the lives of his cinematic characters - without completely "selling out."

Betty Crocker and her brownies are dead and gone. "Happily ever after" went out of fashion with The Wizard of Oz. Dysfunctional hybrid families are - for better or worse - the wave of the future. And that's the constant pop conclusion for all the "Clerk kids" who grew up in my generation.

When Randal questions Dante about his future about being a convenience store employee, it ignites a spark of debate that changes both of their lives - and this is where Kevin Smith regains his throne as the king of contemporary culture.

RANDAL: "Ten years ago, you said to shit or get off the pot-!"

DANTE: "YOU said that!"

RANDAL: "And you got all fired up, about changing your life and shit, and ten years later, you were still working as a convenience store clerk - until it burned down."

DANTE: "Hey, I took courses at Brookdale!"

RANDAL: "And then you dropped out!"

DANTE: "At least I was trying to do something with my life!"

RANDAL: "We were taking courses in Criminology. What the fuck were we training to be-? Fucking Batman or something-?!?"

And this is where Kevin Smith shines as a storyteller with Clerks II. Life is not about being a sheep who follows the herd to live a life that everyone else thinks you should lead. It's not even about "doing something." It's about doing what you LOVE - and doing it with the people you love doing it with... no matter what anybody else thinks matter what the consequences.

Sometimes, in life, it's not all about what you want ...sometimes it's about what you don't want (or, more importantly, something inbetween - Yin and Yang).

Kevin Smith had lost his way with his movies over the years (sad to say). But, with Clerks II, Smith has regained a Zen-like piece of "the magic" that made his original work-of-art so great in the beginning.

"The Transformers," gay hobbit jokes, The Silence of the Lambs satire, Rosario Dawson, a pitch-perfect soundtrack, a donkey show to end all donkey shows, and "One ring to rule them all..."

Clerks begins with black-and-white beauty. Clerks II evolves into muddy colorful confusion - and finally resolves into it's original light and dark areas of clarity (Much like The Wizard of Oz ...anybody?).

Kevin Smith could have "shit or get off the pot" with Clerks II. He got off the pot. Here's hoping we can all go out and do likewise.

"You see everything. You see every part. You see all my light ...and you love my dark. You dig everything, of which I'm ashamed. There's not anything to which you can’t relate. And you’re still here..."