Monday, March 31, 2008

Absent/Final Four

Let me apologize, again, for not updating the blog as frequently as I would have liked to. I had midterms, and then my teachers decided to give us tons of more work after those midterms so I have been swamped. Add to that within the past two weeks there has been some personal problems, but I am back, and ready to write. I'll start this week's blog off with the Final Four, which I will be attending next weekend.

This will be my seventh Final Four appearance, all coming in a row. I go every year with my dad and my two cousins and uncle. My dad and uncle have gone every year going on number 23 this year (so since 1986). This is the first year in Final Four history that all four number 1 seeds will be squaring off against each other. UCLA vs. Memphis is the early game on Saturday followed by Kansas vs. UNC. I am so ridiculously pumped for this Final Four. Each team has a legitimate shot to win the title, as each team has weaknesses other teams can prey on.

I picked them to win the title in my bracket (however my bracket has been pretty awful this year), but I'm not sure I necessarily believe they can win. I was skeptical of their chances, but after the Louisville performance they really showed me they can win in a close game against a good opponent. Kansas plays their style of ball and this will be the first time UNC will have an opponent who can go head to head with them in transition. With a healthy Lawson UNC will be very hard to stop on the break. Key for them is to continue to crash the offensive glass, as they're one of the best in the nation at doing that. Add to this matchup: Roy Williams going up against his former team that he bolted from to coach at his Alma Mater. Craaaaazy.

Kansas will have to get back on defense and make sure Kaun and Jackson and Arthur bang Hansbrough inside if they're going to contend with UNC. Their game against Davidson was a close one. Their previous three games they won with ease, so I'm not sure if it was the pressure of getting to the Final Four that affected their game or if Davidson really did play them well (I'm going to say both, because Davidson really is a good team). Either way, they're going to have to play much better against UNC if they want to win. Rush can't shoot the way he did against Davidson and their bigs are going to have to produce more (sans Kaun, who was a machine. Literally. My friends and I just made fun of him the whole game. He looks deranged. "Kaun smash basketball. Kaun score goal." I'm convinced he sees like the Terminator does, with a red computer screen).

With Kevin Love they might have finally added the right piece to the puzzle to win a National Championship. Their third Final Four in as many years, Love was the MOP in the Regionals and will have to be that much better to lead his team to their first title since 1995. Love is going to have to bang against Dorsey and a very athletic Memphis team and try to produce. Collison and Westbrook are going to find that they have yet to experience a team as athletic and long as Memphis. Just ask Texas.

Did they impress in Austin or what? Totally manhandling a pretty good Michigan State team and a great Texas team. Derek Rose really showed that he is the best point guard in the country, completely controlling every facet of the game. And there is no one quicker than him with the ball end to end (sorry Ty Lawson). And their free throw shooting, not a problem, going 30-36 against Texas. They are goooooood.

My Picks
I have Memphis over UCLA in OT by 3 in the first game and UNC over Kansas by 4 in the second. In the final, I have UNC over Memphis by 1 in eight OTs because it's gonna be an amazing game. Ok, maybe not 8, but one OT at least.

I hope I didn't jinx UNC....and if Kansas wins the whole thing I get $150. Sweet.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

The Wire Series Finale :-(

The dreaded Sunday has finally came. First of all, it's my last day of Spring Break, but more importantly, The Wire airs its last episode tonight on HBO at 9pm (95-minute episode). It's the longest episode they've made, it's more of a movie, but nonetheless, this could be one of the saddest Sunday's I've ever experienced. I'll post tomorrow with more thoughts on the episode and the show. Please tune in.

Carolina Blue

Last night was #1 North Carolina vs. #5 Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium (Duke's home court) and Carolina won the game by 10. Perrrrfect! I hate everything there is about Duke and love everything there is about UNC so I was extremely happy last night. When talking to my dad he asked me who I thought would win the game, and I told him if Danny Greene played well then Carolina would win (in the first meeting Danny Greene and Wayne Ellington shot a combine 4-24). Well you tell me how be played: game-high 18 points, 8 rebounds and 7 blocks. Whenever Carolina needed a big play he was there to make it. Now I'm not trying to brag, but I am. Greene is their x-factor. If he plays well, UNC has a much better shot of winning. It's also worth mentioning that Tyler Hansborough had 16 points and 15 rebounds and Wayne Ellington also had 16 points. Ty Lawson, who did not play in the first matchup against Duke, had 10 points and 4 assists. Carolina should have solidified their bid for the #1 seed in the East bracket, barring any loss in the ACC tournament.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Lost, The Other Woman

Last night's episode of LOST was a Juliet-centric episode. It was the worst episode of the season, however, that's not to say that the episode was by any means bad. This episode was less LOST as it was more soap opera. Who loves who and who was sleeping with who were some of the major questions last night. We'll get back to that. Even though this was a Juliet-centric episode we got a whole lot of Ben tonight, not that I'm complaining. Let's run down the big parts.

Ben loves Juliet. This was an unexpected twist. I saw it coming throughout the episode but not before this episode. Juliet reminds Ben of "her." Her has to refer to Annie, the little girl from Ben's flashback episode. My guess is that Annie ended up like Henrietta. Ben probably got her pregnant and then she died because of it. Ben then found Juliet and brought her to the island and believes her to be "his." Very melodramatic.

Widmore the Big, Bad Guy. I saw this coming throughout this episode connecting to last episode. I have no doubt he's trying to find the island, but I'm not sure if he wants to exploit his powers like Ben said. This would mean he's the Economist from Sayid's episode, trying to kill Ben. This also ties into the map which I spoke about below.

Ben, Master of the Universe. Ben always, always has a plan. And say what you want about him sending Goodwin out to the tail section, whether it was or wasn't because Goodwin was getting with Juliet, everything he does is for the good of himself and for the good of the island (which I'm sure he sees as an extension of himself). The whole Red Sox tape with Charles Widmore is part of his plan. And he even said it himself, he always has a plan. Harper informed us that Ben is exactly where Ben wants to be. It's just not fair that a guy could be that smart. And he's playing Locke again, he has to be. And poor Locke, you just have to feel bad for him.

Kate's Fugitive Status. Definitely not the reason she stayed at the Other's camp. Kate's pregnant, Sawyer's the dad, and she wanted to know if he wanted the job. Mark it down.

White Cells Depleting and the Immune System turning on the Fetus. Does that even make sense? Hari, my doctor friend, help me out with this one?

Faraday's Map of the Island. Not very in-depth for a company that has a next-generation satellite phone. Since there is no record of the island ever existing, that map must have come from the log of the first mate of the Black Rock which Mr. Widmore purchased at the auction last week. Which would point to Mr. Widmore being the big, bad guy. Check out the map below.The Tempest. The name of the new Dharma station is also the name of a Shakespeare play that featured people shipwrecked on a mysterious island.

Rabbits and Rabbits. Locke served Ben rabbit and Ben asked if the rabbit had a number on it. If you didn't understand that reference, check this video out:

During the above video everyone starts to freak out when a rabbit with the same number appears out of nowhere and everyone wants to make sure the two rabbits don't go near each other. Given last week's episode we can assume that people in the Orchid station are experimenting with time travel or mind-time travel.

Harper and the Whispers. Just so everyone knows, I did not think of this by myself. This is totally borrowed from a senior writer at Entertainment Weekly, but it makes perfect sense, so I'm sharing it. Now that we have the element of time travel, the whispers and people appearing out of nowhere are beginning to make sense. We know time on the island moves 31 minutes slower than outside the island. So, what if the whispers are actually time loops of the outside world catching up to the perceived time of the island.

How do people appear/disappear on the island? Simple of course -- time travel! We never knew that was an element of the show before, but now that we know, it's fairly simple. Harper was definitely not a ghost she was just unstuck in time (term used in Desmond's flashback). The Others are probably using the research from the Orchid station about shifting to transport people in space and time. The problem is that this requires them to apply real time to the island time, so the whispers are the residue of the shift. It's really all quite simple now that we have the element of time travel on the show, and pretty amazing too.

That does it for this week's episode of LOST. Next week is Jin/Sun centric. After that is Michael-centric (so we can guess he'll appear at the end of this next episode). And then that is the last episode for about a month. Keep checking back for more updates.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Movies to Check Out

So I'm on break for this week and all I have to do is write a paper, so I'll be spending much of my break catching up on movies and TV that I have not been able to watch. Yesterday I watched the Oscar nominated Michael Clayton and today I watched Gone Baby Gone. Both in my opinion were very good movies. Michael Clayton was more of a law firm/political thriller starring George Clooney, Michael Wilkinson, Tilda Swinton (who won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role) and Sydney Pollack. Gone Baby Gone is about two private detectives who are hired to try and find a missing five year old girl starring Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan, Ed Harris and Morgan Freeman (Amy Ryan won the Best Supporting Actress Golden Globe for this role).

Gone Baby Gone is a much more depressing film than Michael Clayton in that the movie forces us to choose between what is right and what is the law. There is one twist which I didn't see coming but than after that I was able to guess the rest of the movie, which didn't take away from it, it just made it more predictable. Casey Affleck has really garnered some attention with this role (deservedly so) and with his role in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (another movie I aim to check out this break).

With Michael Clayton we get an excellent opening fifteen minutes and an explosion. Then the movie takes us to four days earlier to give us all the events leading up to the explosion and then we go from there to conclude the movie. Not so much a guessing game as throughout the movie we have a clear idea who is on what side (whether it's good or bad is up to you I guess), but the movie aims more to thrill you than to stump you. Clooney, Wilkinson and Swinton all give remarkable performances which is what really makes this movie work.

If you have a chance check out these two movies, they're two of the better ones from 2007.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Omar Little, R.I.P.

So the episode officially aired last Sunday. Omar Little is dead. Arguably the best character on The Wire, Omar Little was gunned down in a convenient store while trying to buy a pack of cigarettes. He was shot in the back of the head and was killed instantly. He was shot by a young kid, Kenard, who was a corner boy and was "part" of Marlo's crew. Seldom seen in season 4 and 5, Kenard perhaps made the shot heard round the world. No other shot in The Wire's history was larger than that gunshot. Well, to be fair, I'll put it up for debate between Kenard's killing of Omar and and Omar and Brother Mouzone's killing of Stringer Bell in season 3. Either way, Omar was in the show from the beginning, and to see a character taken out like that, it's just heartbreaking.

Omar was definitely not a saint. He was a "bad guy," but at heart he was a good guy. He had a code and he lived by it -- only go after people within the game. Anybody else just is not worth it. He took it upon himself to "police" the other bad guys when he felt they were getting too powerful. When the Barksdale crew was running wild in the first couple seasons it was Omar giving them trouble, and through Season 4 and season 5 Omar was giving Marlo trouble. It was almost as if he was attempting to level the playing field so everyone could have a chance at dealing, making sure not one group had a monopoly. Now obviously that was not his goal, but it was a side effect of his actions.

Omar lived off of his reputation on the streets. He knew that no one would face him man to man and shoot him. His reputation had grown to mythic proportions. It was amazing he lasted as long as he did on the streets. His death, annoying as it was, was a necessary occurrence on the show. David Simon and Ed Burns strived to make The Wire as realistic as it could possibly be, and to have Omar survive throughout the entire series would not have been the most realistic thing to happen. Stickup guys like Omar normally don't live past the age of 25, let alone 30.

And thinking about it, the way Omar died was the only way he could have died. Omar lived by a code, and he would have never think about taking out a kid unless he knew for a fact he was in the game. He took a look at Kenard and thought about him, but then just went on about his business, only to be shot in the back of the head. Being shot in the back is also a key point because no one would shoot him face to face, it would only have to be in the back. And having a kid do it just makes it all the more realistic. Kids get dragged into the game earlier and earlier because they have no choice but to join. Kenard was no exception.

My friend and I argued over Omar's death for over a week and we still have no been able to find common ground. He is so totally against how Omar met his fate. We were both sad when Omar was killed, but I thought it was an OK sendoff where he didn't agree. We both agreed he had to die, but just differed in how he should've went out. The big shootout would have obviously been a better choice for him to die, but it would not have been the correct choice in trying to keep the show as realistic as possible.

Omar will always live on.