Sunday, December 11, 2005


Silver Streak (1976): My favorite movie, ever.


When I was a kid, I never enjoyed watching movies. No matter if it was Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Pinocchio, or even Saturday Night Fever. Yeah, I really liked The Wizard of Oz, but that was because I fell in love with Judy Garland (pre-drugs and drinking).

My view toward movies changed one day, when my parents took me to the theater to see some runaway train movie with Gene Wilder and some other guy I never heard of. Yes, it was R-rated, but what did my parents care? I'm glad I grew up as a kid in the 1970's, when there wasn't the degree of ambivalence over taking kids to R-rated movies, in the context of today's exposure to all the sex, violence and gore occurring every day in video games, posted on billboards, and transmitted over the Internet. It was a simpler time.

Every time Gene Wilder got kicked off the train, he said, "Son of a bitch!" That merited big laughs from me every time. I reserved my energy, though, for Jill Clayburgh's wonderfully sleepy, sultry eyes -- I spent soooooo much time staring at her that I kept having dreams about Jill for months afterward.

But once Richard Pryor stuck his own Afro-ed head above the backseat of Gene's stolen police car, my concept of movies was forever changed. Here was this raw, foul-mouthed black guy who screamed at a Jewish comic about how he was trying to kill blacks by driving a stolen police car like a maniac.

I stared at him. Who was this guy?!? At the same time, I burst out laughing.

Gene and Richard were a wonderful team. A Jew and a black, hurling insults at each other, and laughing about it afterward. With Richard along for the ride, it was perfectly acceptable for Gene to strut around the train station in blackface and talking jive-Afro-black talk to elude cops who were on the lookout for them. (This is not to say I support white guys acting in blackface. It's objectionable and disgusting. But that scene with Gene and Richard -- that was very different. It was poking fun at blackface, and at how whites butchered the way blacks talk. This was just an incredibly funny scene.)

Sure, the Wilder-Pryor movies -- Silver Streak, Stir Crazy, See No Evil, among others -- were campy movies, in some cases poorly directed and acted. But there was no mistaking the genuine comedic talents of the Wilder-Pryor team. They acted off each other, and the result was nothing short of rib-ticklingly funny.

I could look past Richard Pryor's personal problems, because his true talent and passion was in his comedy. His literal "flame"-out in 1980 involving cocaine was shocking and unsettling, but it never changed my opinion of him.

It was truly a shame that Richard Pryor was rarely seen after the late 1980's, when he succumbed to MS and spent the rest of his days in private life.

Richard Pryor: you're insulting, annoying, and an asshole. And you're god-DAMN funny. I love you, and wish you the best in heaven, hurling foul-mouthed insults at God and the angels. They'll love you for that, too.

Rest in peace, Richard.

R.I.P. Eagles Triplets, circa 2005


I know, I've ragged on T.O. in the past, starting with my first posting in week 1 when I criticized his teamwork abilities and stated I would never work for him even if he threw millions at me.

T.O. is a cancer to any team. He makes life difficult for everyone on the team from the front office on down.

But, I never thought it was a good idea to suspend T.O. while the Eagles were still in the running in the competitive NFC East.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Dan Snyder fired Norv Turner in 2000, when the Redskins were 7-6 and fighting for a playoff berth. Lord knows, there were fans up and down the Beltway, in Virginia, and up in Central Pennsylvania clamoring for his head, after the Redskins lost close games they should have won. But that was the wrong time to fire him. Once the Redskins replaced Turner with Terry Robiskie, the team went into a tailspin, lost their next two games, and finished 8-8 and out of the playoffs.

Like I said, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

It's like the story of the noob FF owner who can't be satisfied enough with Shaun Alexander and Carson Palmer, is 4-6 in his league, and wants to bench them because they play Tampa Bay and Baltimore, and his backups play Houston and San Francisco. Puh-leeze. Shaun and Carson got you those 4 wins, not the 6 losses. Get real.


Sure, T.O. has been an ass. But when the news broke that the Eagles were going to suspend him for the rest of the year, my eyebrows rose (Note: that happens only on RARE occasions, like when Lawrence Taylor broke Joe Theismann's leg, but that's another story). I mean, it's one thing to discipline T.O. for what he said about McNabb on TV, and for whatever indiscretions and insults he made to the team in private, but it's another thing to send him off to the corner when the Eagles were very much in the thick of the playoff race and needed everyone to contribute.

Once T.O. left, it became academic. McNabb hung in there and did a great job in the post-T.O. games against the Redskins and Cowboys, but he made poor decisions that ultimately cost the team and, in the end, his own season. Defenses became more daring about crowding the box and chasing McNabb, because they didn't have T.O. to worry about, and could cover a whole lineup of pedestrian receivers. In a sense, not having T.O. put the onus on McNabb to perform. Once McNabb went down, it was up to Westbrook to carry the load. That didn't last long, did it?

But wait, what about last year, when T.O. got knocked out by injury? The Eagles continued performing at a top level and got themselves into the Super Bowl without T.O.!

There's a difference between injury and suspension. With an injury, it's one of those "oh, what bad luck!" occurrences that the team doesn't have control over. It's up to them to continue performing at a high level, and their morale and confidence will get them there because they know it wasn't their fault. It was just one of those unfortunate injuries.

A suspension -- that's different. The Eagles realized they had to perform not only to get them into the playoffs, BUT to PROVE to the whole world that the suspension was justified. That's a lot to ask for. That's why I respect the 1978 Yankees so much despite their Bronx Zoo mentality. That year, Steinbrenner fired Billy Martin in midseason about 3 weeks after the All-Star break, and replaced him with Bob Lemon. Management shakeups are bitches to deal with. In spite of Steinbrenner's stunning action, the players soldiered on, and the team roared back and knocked the Red Sox off their perch. They had to PROVE they could go on without Billy, and oh my good God in hell, they did!

It was one of those RARE instances where the "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" adage didn't apply.

As a general rule, the Eagles should have waited on T.O. until the end of the season.

Terrell Owens is laughing all the way to the bank. His value increases with every Eagles loss. He will get a fat contract next season from an NFL team who's sucker enough to want him.

New Orleans fans have a few beers ahead of the Monday Night showdown between their "hometown" team and the Atlanta Falcons.


Commish Tags announced earlier this week that the New Orleans Saints will hopefully return to the Louisiana Superdome in late 2006.

I'm wondering, is this really a good idea? I know, it's extremely important for New Orleans residents, and particularly for those across Southern Louisiana, that the Saints return to the Big Easy and boost the morale of a city devastated by Hurricane Katrina. There is no question that New Orleans will rise again, and the air of the city will be filled with energy, electricity, and colored beads.

But, last time I checked, it's still below sea level. The rapid erosion of Louisiana's coastal wetlands -- a prime reason New Orleans got flooded even though it didn't even get hit by Category 3-force winds (Category 4-force winds hit Biloxi and Gulfport) -- makes this city even more susceptible to moderate storm surges in the next few decades. Even Hurricane Rita, far out in the Gulf of Mexico, re-flooded parts of New Orleans.

In addition, the Saints return to an income base that has become far smaller thanks to the mass relocations of significant numbers of people to other parts of the United States, and the reduction of available housing stock in New Orleans proper (as much as 50% off pre-Katrina levels). That means smaller revenue streams -- I'm not just talkin' about tickets, but also other items such as luxury suites and merchandise. If I ran the Saints, I would get the team out of there in a flash. (And do a better job managing the public image -- as Benson tragically showed when he was threatened at the first Saints game in Baton Rouge.)

Case in point: Galveston was Texas' largest city in 1900, and very much a booming town. The 1900 hurricane hit Galveston, killed thousands of people, and promptly consigned this coastal city to second-tier status in Texas. Houston's population exploded after the 1900 hurricane as people from Galveston relocated up the bay. If it wasn't for that hurricane, Galveston would have had three professional sports teams by now, and we would be treated to the GalvestonDome instead of the AstroDome.

Baton Rouge is going to become a major metropolitan area in 10-20 years. I would move the Saints to Baton Rouge while the fruit is still low-hanging, and sign up for a much better and more profitable deal. Benefits the team all around, and ensures it stays in Louisiana.

New Orleans can keep its French Quarter, shrimp etouffee, and soul-stirring jazz funerals. We need them. But this city is no longer equipped to host a major professional sports team in an arrangement that is profitable to the team's owners.

Baton Rougers, enjoy what's left of your small-town feel. You're never going to get that back again.

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