Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Mysterious Fifth Ennio Morricone Tune

This will officially end my unofficial Ennio Morricone birthday month celebration, but it was bought to my attention that in my tribute post I referenced five tracks that displayed the myriad range of the man's talent, but only posted four videos. Now either I forgot one, failed horribly at rudimentary mathematics or just typed five where I meant four...sadly my mind can be like a sieve and I have no recollection of which option applies.

Therefore, I present a fifth track to settle the deal, his score to Elio Petri's black comedy An Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion, about a Italian cop who is actually a murderer, hey it's a Dexter predecessor! I saw this about five years ago at a revival screening with some other of Petri's other film, he's a unique, political minded director who often mercilessly satirized the wealthy and powerful.

Morricone's score is as playful as Petri's film, a jaunty number with a syncopated beat that builds tension and serves as an oft-repeated anthem for the corrupt and murderous policeman.

Unfortunately most of Petri's oeuvre, including Investigation, is currently unavailable on DVD, a real shame especially considering that it won a Best Foreign Film Oscar and the Grand Prix at Cannes.

Colonel Mortimer's NFL Ranking Turkey Shoot

No chit-chat this week, just the rankings.

1. New York Giants (10-1) (2): As if a dominant defense and a punishing running attack complimented by a solid passing game wasn’t enough, Domenik Hixson reminds you they’re not too shabby special teams wise either. Clearly the most complete team in the league, and that’s even when they are lacking significant roster persona.

2. Tennessee Titans (10-1) (1): While I don’t imagine many people thought they would go undefeated, the Jets dismantling of them on both sides of the ball was surprising. Was it just a one game fluke? Should be able to pound out issues Thursday against Detroit.

3. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-3) (-): If Steelers get a high seeding in the playoffs, they will have deserved it. Check out the games that bookend their victory over the Bengals; Before: New York Giants, @ Washington, Indianapolis, and San Diego; after: @ New England, Dallas, @ Baltimore, @ Tennessee.

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-3) (5): I would not recommend Tampa spotting this week’s opponent (the Saints) a 17 point lead to start the game.

5. New York Jets (8-3) (6): Hey who knows, maybe Brett Favre will end his career with a Super Bowl victory after all.

6. New England Patriots (7-4) (7): Why was Matt Cassel stuck on the bench for so long?

7. Indianapolis Colts (7-4) (10): Next four games are all against sub .500 teams before a season ending rematch against the Titans who could possibly be resting their starters after clinching the top seed in the AFC. It’s possible that the Colts can take the momentum of a nine game winning streak into the playoffs.

8. Washington Redskins (7-4) (9): While it wasn’t as impressive of a win you’d expect them to have against a 2-8 club, their victory over the Seahawks in Seattle snapped a losing streak and avenged last season’s playoff loss.

9. Atlanta Falcons (7-4) (11): The off-season acquisitions of quarterback Matt Ryan, running back Michael Turner and coach Michael Smith have paid much more immediate results than anyone in Atlanta could have fathomed.

10. Arizona Cardinals (7-4) (8): Proved they are capable of playing well against the top tier teams in the league, now need to prove they can beat the top tier teams.

11. Baltimore Ravens (7-4) (12): Winners of five of their last six. Their defense is getting back their swagger. Quarterbacks of the NFL quiver.

12. Dallas Cowboys (7-4) (13): As I feared, the rumors of their decline were wildly exaggerated.

13. Carolina Panthers (8-3) (3): Steepest drop of the week, their loss against the Falcons proved something I long suspected, namely they are the quintessential paper champions.

14. Miami Dolphins (6-5) (-): Some advice for Miami, the next time you play the Patriots you might want to cover that Moss guy.

15. Minnesota Vikings (6-5) (18): I contemplated just having the top three NFC North teams tied here since they are all within one game of another and they fluxuate wins and losses each week. But the Vikings are the hottest of the three teams, currently riding a 5-2 record in their last seven games and have a dominate defense and running back, the cornerstone of any good NFC North team

16. New Orleans Saints (6-5) (20): Anyone else rooting for a Saints-Cardinals wild-card match up. The over/under will be 150 points.

17. Chicago Bears (6-5) (-): Rookie Matt Forte is providing the type of output at running back that the Bears thought 2005 first round draft pick Cedric Benson would.

18. Green Bay Packers (5-6) (16): I know there is a world of difference between the Bears and Saints offenses, but how do you go from allowing 3 points one week to 51 the next?

19. Denver Broncos (6-5) (15): Ladies and gentlemen, hot off a 31-10 loss to the Raiders, here is your AFC West leader! Say what you will about the NFC West, at least they have one good team.

20. Buffalo Bills (6-5) (23): Was lopsided victory over Chiefs proof of their reemergence or just making themselves feel better by beating up a not so great team? Probably the latter.

21. Philadelphia Eagles (5-5-1) (19): Between not knowing about ties and being benched after a half, this has not been a good week for Donovan McNabb. On a positive note: did not throw up on camera!

22. San Diego Chargers (4-7) (21): Hard luck losers, none of their seven defeats were by a margin greater than 10 points. Among those are losses of 2,1 (the Ed Hocculi game), 5,1 and this week: 3.

23. Houston Texans (4-7) (25): I’m guessing ESPN thought Monday night’s match up between the Texans and Jags would have playoff implications.

24. Cleveland Browns (4-7) (22): I am not as shocked by Brady Quinn being benched for ineffectiveness as I am as to why a young quarterback who’s probably the future of the franchise playing a meaningless game against the Texans when he has a broken finger?

25. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-7) (24): Last week’s start against the Vikings: two turnovers deep in their own territory that lead to two early Vikings touchdowns, pretty much encapsulated their season’s quick descent from Super Bowl contender to top ten drafters.

26. San Francisco 49ers (3-8) (-): Need to work on red-zone offense (even if there was a totally obvious holding penalty not called that would have led to a first and goal from the 1 situation) and play complete games, but are definitely better now than they were with Mike Nolan, although that in and of itself is not saying much.

27. Seattle Seahawks (2-9) (-): Have already clinched only the third losing record of Mike Holmgren’s 17 year coaching career. Still, I wouldn’t put it past them to upset one or two playoff hopefuls in the last five weeks.

28. Oakland Raiders (3-8) (31): Where did that effort come from?

29. Cincinnati Bengals (1-9-1) (28): Ryan Fitzspatrick is a combined 1-8-1 as a NFL starter; you don’t need to be a Harvard graduate to realize that record blows.

30. Kansas City Chiefs (1-10) (29): In their last twenty games, their record is 1-19.

31. St. Louis Rams (1-10) (30): Is Marc Bulger the most overpaid player in football? Has lead the Rams to only one winning season in the seven since becoming their quarterback.

32. Detroit Lions (0-11) (-): Doing their part to make the Detroit auto industry look good comparatively.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Morricone/Basterds Follow-Up

According to Variety (article link) Ennio Morricone has accepted Quentin Tarantino's offer to score his still in production Inglorious Basterds, but given the film's tight time constraints in trying to be completely shot and edited in time for next year's Cannes Film Festival, Morricone may not be able to provide more than a couple of tracks. 

Either way we will be hearing some original Morricone music accompanying Basterds when it hits theatres (which I am guessing will be Fall '09), but Mr. Tarantino it would wonderful if it's a fully realized collaboration. So to paraphrase your character in Pulp Fiction, "Quentin, you need to make some calls. You need to call some people. Then do it and get Ennio some dailies ASAP or you'll be fucking up my shit big-time!"

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Colonel Mortimer's NFL Rankings blah blah blah

So this is what parity looks like. We’re eleven weeks into the season and every team has played ten games. Seventeen of the thirty-two teams have a record somewhere between 6-4 and 4-6, meaning seventeen teams are either a two game winning or losing streak away from having the same record. While an argument can be made that the highest quality football is not being played, it should be an entertaining final six weeks of the season and I wouldn’t be surprised if by the final week there are something like seven playoff spots left to be determined.

The rankings:

1. Tennessee Titans (10-0) (-): Over the last 20 seasons a 10-0 start has led to only a 50-50 chance of a Super Bowl victory (Denver 98, Washington 91 and New York Giants 90 all won, New England 08 lost in Super Bowl, Indianapolis 05 lost in first round, San Francisco 90 lost in NFC Championship)

2. New York Giants (9-1) (-): Finally got revenge for the franchise’s only Super Bowl loss.

3. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3) (4): If you had heard there was a game ending in a 11-10 score for the first time in NFL history, wouldn’t you have kind of assumed that the Steelers were somehow involved in that contest.

4. Carolina Panthers (8-2) (3): Have truly played to the level of their opponents the last two weeks, those opponents being the Lions and Raiders.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-3) (-): Their quarterback is a short older guy who has bounced around the league and wasn’t exactly wanted by his coach, two of his top receiving targets include guys who have been suspended for drunk driving incidents. Add a voodoo worshipping defensive lineman and you basically have the characters for a football remake of Major League.

6. New York Jets (7-3) (11): I’ve been reluctant to jump on the Jets bandwagon, hence this week’s large jump, but they now control their own destiny in a tough division.

7. New England Patriots (6-4) (-): Was it just me or did Matt Cassell look Bradyesque in the final drive of the fourth quarter?

8. Arizona Cardinals (7-3) (-): A certain reader of mine claimed they were too highly ranked last time, they can prove doubters wrong by succeeding against upcoming quality opponents such as the Patriots, Eagles, Vikings and this week’s guest, the New York Giants.

9. Washington Redskins (6-4) (5): Their offense seems to lose something in primetime, they’ve scored only 23 points in their three night games this season and have an 0-3 record.

10. Indianapolis Colts (6-4) (14): Not dominating teams like in the past, but have won three in a row and are eyeing a wild-card spot. Have a chance to avenge playoff loss to San Diego this week.

11. Atlanta Falcons (6-4) (10): For those keeping tabs, Michael Turner has out rushed LaDanian Tomlinson by 285 yards so far this year.

12. Baltimore Ravens (6-4) (9): Way to tell the Ravens lost by merely looking at stats of the Giants game: Joe Flacco gained more rushing yards than Willis McGahee, Ray Rice and Le’Ron McLain combined.

13. Dallas Cowboys (6-4) (15): At least for this Sunday Terrence Newman’s return meant more to the team’s success than Tony Romo’s.

14. Miami Dolphins (6-4) (16): That Ted Ginn draft selection isn’t looking so bad now is it, Dolphins’ fans?

15. Denver Broncos (6-4) (19): Bad news: offense is not scoring as much points as earlier in the season. Good news: defense not allowing as many points per game as earlier in the season.

16. Green Bay Packers (5-5) (20): Sunday’s display against Bears is what this offense is capable of, they only need consistency.

17. Chicago Bears (5-5) (12): Uncertain Bears fan were heard chanting last week: “Put in Grossman! Put in Grossman! Put in Grossman? Uh, perhaps? Wait, let’s think about this.”

18. Minnesota Vikings (5-5) (17): Someone finally discovered how to slow down the Vikings defense: Jared Allen, Pat Williams and Kevin Williams all are facing three game suspensions for banned substance usage.

19. Philadelphia Eagles (5-4-1) (13): Donovan McNabb was very excited to try out some penalty kicks.

20. New Orleans Saints (5-5) (22): Reason the Saints are only .500 at this point: this was only the second game in the last six weeks that the defense did not allow their opponents to score 30 or more points.

21. San Diego Chargers (4-6) (-): Time is starting to run out on their chance for a late season playoff rallying win streak.

22. Cleveland Browns (4-6) (24): Despite not having the greatest individual game, the Browns are playing better with Brady Quinn in the lineup.

23. Buffalo Bills (5-5) (18): After throwing three interceptions in the first quarter, the Bills were lucky to have almost won Monday night’s game.

24. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-6) (23): Played the Titans tough for the first half before losing which is indicative of their year thus far, they haven’t really gave a complete game effort at all.

25. Houston Texans (3-7) (-): A streaky team: Lost first four games, won next three, lost last three games.

26. San Francisco 49ers (3-7) (27): We’re number two in the NFC West; if this was the Pac 10 we’d be eligible for the Emerald Bowl!

27. Seattle Seahawks (2-8) (26): Mike Holmgren repeatedly says he wants to take a year off before deciding to return to football in an executive position. Uh, doesn’t this year count?

28. Cincinnati Bengals (1-8-1) (30): Last three weeks results: Win-Bye Week-Tie, making this the best three week span for the team in years.

29. Kansas City Chiefs (1-9) (-): Their strong efforts are not resulting in wins, but in Tyler Thigpen and Dwayne Bowe they may have the nucleus for an offensive revival in the years ahead.

30. St. Louis Rams (2-8) (28): The good news: have outscored opponents 16-7 in the second half last two weeks. The bad news: they were outscored 75-3 in the first half of those games.

31. Oakland Raiders (2-8) (-): Have not scored an offensive touchdown in over three weeks, my teenaged self can sympathize with the whole not scoring part.

32. Detroit Lions (0-10) (-): Folks we are one week away from a possible Thanksgiving match up between an 11-0 and a 0-11 team. Titans, Lions: make this happen.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Happy Belated Birthday Ennio!

Last Monday one of the all time great film composers, make that musicians, celebrated his 80th birthday. I refer to none other than Mr. Ennio Morricone, and I humbly would like to wish him compleanno felice.

The one aspect of Morricone's legacy that sets him apart from other such distinguished composers as Bernard Hermann, Nino Rota, Danny Elfman, John Williams, Maurice Jarre, insert your personal favorite here, is his expansive variety. Throughout his career he's worked on projects ranging from hundred million dollar epics to the smallest micro budgeted exploitation flick, the lightest comedy to the darkest thriller. And as he reaches octogenarian status he shows no signs of laying low, he has five upcoming projects listed on IMDB and rumors are swirling that he will score Quentin Tarantino's next film, the much anticipated WWII saga Inglorious Basterds.

Here are five examples that in my estimation best display the man's varied talents.

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

Of course any discussion of Morricone work has to start with his collaborations with director Sergio Leone. Perhaps the "Ecstasy of the Gold" sequence of G,B, & U is a bit obvious (a remix of the track is currently featured in a David Fincher directed NIKE commercial featuring LaDanian Tomlinson and Troy Polamalu) but standards are standards for a reason. I could have just has easily placed the entire Once Upon a Time in the West score or the opening to A Fistful of Dollars here.

The Battle of Algiers

Stylistically you cannot get much further from Leone's over the top cinematic playfulness to the docudrama form utilized by Gillo Pontecorvo in Algiers, but Morricone proves just as adept at handling both, providing a pulsating militaristic march.

The Exorcist II: The Heretic

Sometimes Morricone's score is the major highlight of the film, as is the case with his psychedelic score for John Boorman's much maligned, but occasionally interesting-in-a-gonzo- sort-of-way sequel to The Exorcist.

The Bird With the Crystal Plumage

Morricone collaborated with Italian giallo filmmaker Dario Argento three times (the "animal" trilogy) in the 1970's, the first team-up, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage set the bar for the other two films, the score incorporates sounds as disparate as sharp angled free jazz and the melodic, yet haunting, suite featured in the above clip with the delicate sound of a woman humming and lala-ing.

Of course I just scratched the surface of Morricone's nearly fifty year career, and could have easily included such other inventive and lively music pieces as the ones that accompany the following films:

For A Few Dollars More, Navajo Joe, Danger: Diabolik, Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion, Duck You Sucker!, Days of Heaven, Le Professional, Machine Gun McCain, John Carpenter's The Thing, Once Upon a Time in America, The Mission, The Untouchables....and on and on.

Notable albums for starters:

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly Soundtrack
Ennio Morricone Anthology: A Fistful of Film Music--a great two disc, 45 track career retrospective compiled by Rhino Records that spans his career from his first Leone score to the 1991 Pedro Almodovar film, Tie Me up! Tie Me Down!

For more adventurous listeners I recommend:

Ennio Morricone/Dario Argento Trilogy--collects music from Bird, Four Flies on Grey Velvet and Cat O' Nine Tails

Crime and Dissonance--another two disc compilation, this one collected by Faith No More and Fantomas vocalist Mike Patton for his record company, Ipecac, features some of Morricone more obscure and experimental works. 

Further reading:

His wikipedia page.

An article written by Video Watchdog editor and Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark author Tim Lucas with special attention to the music accompaniment to the McBain massacre in Once Upon a Time in the West.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Movies Go to the Movies: Death Wish 2

In my review of Death Wish 2, I mentioned that one of the pleasures of watching the film today as a Los Angeles resident was to see Hollywood Boulevard of the 1980's in all it's dingy glory now that it's long been Disneyfied. In 1993 I was able to witnessed a little of the tail end of the disparity of the famous avenue when I worked on a film with my uncle that was shot on a theatrical stage that is now demolished. While homelessness still exists on the boulevard, 15 years ago the homeless population outnumbered the residence dwellers by a good three to one margin.  Today you are more likely to be accosted by drunk frat boys from the Valley and Orange County or a Scientologist concerned about your thetan levels than a guy looking for change to buy a bottle of whiskey. That is not change I can believe in! Seriously though, while I recognize the importance of a vital Hollywood Boulevard for both tourism and pride factors, I wish the boulevard renaissance would of had more to do with restoring the classic movie theatres that still lie unoccupied rather than constructing a giant mall.

That's why even a silly exploitation film like Death Wish 2 is of importance, shot on location in 1981, it provides a snapshot of a place that does not really exist anymore. Ironically, director Michael Winner would contend that fact as being a good thing.

This TMGTTM presents a first, unlike True Romance and Ed Wood, the three movie theatres in Death Wish 3 are all incidental location shots that play no role in the story of the film itself.

The first theatre is the only one still operating to this day, and arguably the most famous movie theatre in the world, the Grauman's Chinese Theatre (in the 80's it was retitled the Mann Chinese Theatre).

The movie on the marquee is John Boorman's Excalibur. Did Winner insert this shot as a symbolic nod, making a correlation between his film's hero Paul Kersey (Charles Bronson, natch) as the modern ancestor of the Knights of the Roundtable, keeping alive their endeavors and more importantly, spirit?

Or did Excalibur just happen to have been playing at the Chinese the day they shot this scene? Probably that.

The next one is a little hard to see,  it is the Ritz Theatre, it opened in 1939, became a Pussycat theatre (a chain that showed adult movies--kids, this was before the internet or video for that matter) and closed in 1991. It is currently used as a church. Porn theatre to place of worship, I'll let you decide if that's an evolution or devolution.

If you look very closely you can make out that the title of the film on the marquee is the classic 70's adult hit, The Devil in Miss Jones. And unfortunately my screenshots didn't come out as well as I hoped but crazy diaper-wearing dancing lady is blocking what is the poster for the infamous Linda Lovelace epic, Deep Throat. Apparently, these two films played continuously as a double bill for 8 years at the Ritz. 

The third and final theatre that can be seen in Death Wish 2 is the Fox theatre. Built in 1918 as the Iris Theatre, the theatre which originally was an art deco design was renovated in the 50's when it was modernized and retitled the Fox. It too turned out its lights in 1991, though it still stands today and plans are to make it an all purpose live venue, so I am sure you will be seeing this season's American Idol runner-ups performing there regularly by 2011.  

On the marquee is a double bill of the two Clint Eastwood/Orangutan buddy films, Any Which Way You Can and Any Which Way But Loose, studio mandated re-release double bills like that was another fun event that was terminated in the video era. 

In my mind I have invented an imaginary competition between Eastwood and Bronson, as you may or may not know, Sergio Leone initially wanted Bronson for A Fistful of Dollars but settled on Eastwood which in turn launched his career and made him a superstar. When it came time to cast Death Wish, the producers first offered the role of Paul Kersey to Eastwood, who turned it down thinking it mined too familiar territory to his Dirty Harry films. Bronson was eventually cast and played the role for over 20 years.  So in my dreamworld Bronson is having a conversation with the poster of Clint Eastwood: 

"So Clint, what have you been up to lately? Oh starring in hillbilly comedies with a monkey, well that's, uh, cute. (beat) Oh me, yeah, I am just keeping the savage streets of New York and Los Angeles safe for hardworking fellas. Anyway it's kind of busy work, so I should be going. But say hi to the monkey for me? (beat) Oh, orangutan, sorry"

For more info on the theatres, please click on the below links:

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Son of the Return of Colonel Mortimer's NFL Rankings

What is the cornerstone of a successful football franchise?

My answer: the combination of stability and identity.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have made a Super Bowl appearance in each of the last four decades*, in their entire existence they’ve been owned by a member of the Rooney family (first Art, now son Dan), they've made only two coaching changes since 1969 and have branded their own style of play that emphasizes a strong defense capable of game changing turnovers, a tempo controlling grind-it-out running attack and error free management by the quarterback with the occasional “big chunk” producing pass play.

Let’s look at the other three teams that have recently won Super Bowls. Jim Irsay may forever live in infamy for his punk move when he relocated the team from Baltimore in the middle of the night, but he wisely hired Bill Polian as president after the 1998 season. Polian focused on player's character personnel and improving through the draft with limited free agency signings. He correctly chose Peyton Manning over Ryan Leaf and Edgerrin James over Ricky Williams. The results? In ten years with Polian as president, the Colts have only missed the playoffs twice, one of those years being his (and Manning’s) first season, and won the Super Bowl in 2007.

After Robert Kraft became the owner of the New England Patriots, the team went from perennial losers to the current team of the decade, winning three Super Bowls and appearing in two others in his fourteen seasons. A look at the three coaches the team has had in that time span reveals their success: one Hall-of-Famer in Bill Parcell, one future Hall-of-Famer in Bill Bellicheck, and the one coach who didn’t really work out, Pete Carroll, became a premiere college coach.

Like the Steelers, the Giants have stayed owned by one family, the Maras, for decades. Also like the Steelers, they have made a strong defense and running attack their focus. The Giants are the only team to have won one Super Bowl in each of the last three decades.

Inversely, bad ownership and lack of identity and stability is the reason the Cincinnati Bengals could not parlay their impressive 2005 playoff campaign into long goal success and have not been over .500 since that season. It’s the reason the Detroit Lions haven’t won a play-off game since the first Iraq War. And it’s the reason the Arizona Cardinals are still considered suspicious despite their early season successes this year.

Of course I am working this around to the 49ers situation. John York has been an utter disaster as owner since inheriting the team following Eddie DeBartolo’s suspension (why Eddie, why?) in 2000. Firing Steve Mariucci after a division winning season in 2002 despite the coach's ability to turn the team around within two seasons after Steve Young was forced into retirement was the first sign that the York's would make negative changes to the culture of the franchise, Mariucci was obviously Eddie’s guy. The ensuing coaching search was aimless and the dart landed on Dennis Erickson, a college coach with a bad NFL track record. He led the team that went to the playoffs the year before to a 7-9 record with the same personnel, and then blew up the team with no plan, resulting in a 2-14 year and his firing. York then handed over full control to Mike Nolan, a man who had never been a head coach or general manager at any level, and kept him on after three more losing seasons. After being finally, mercifully fired last month (a move that a “good” owner would have made in the off-season) news came out that he had long ago last season lost the locker room and was considered a joke amongst his players. One of the most memorable sights of the Super Bowl winning 49ers team is Eddie DeBartolo giddily rejoicing and celebrating in the locker room with his players. York strikes me as someone not only unaware what is happening in his team’s locker room, but probably as someone who doesn’t even know where it is located.

Now his son Jed, aged 27 (meaning he was born during the 49ers first Super Bowl winning season) is being groomed to become the person responsible for operating the team as early as next season. I am, of course, suspicious of anyone with that last name, however, learning that he was the person that prompted the expedited firing of Nolan and the fact that things can’t get much worse (or can they?), perhaps a youth movement at the top could spur some results. Hell, it’s worth a try. I think he choose wisely in naming Mike Singletary the interim coach following Nolan’s dismal. Logic dictated passing the reigns to offensive coordinator Mike Martz who had head coaching experience, but Singletary has a more fiery personality and since this is his first time as a head coach, more to gain or lose. Thus far (I am not counting the first game versus the Seahawks because he had less than a week to prepare for it) I am seeing a team that is playing more disciplined, smarter and with greater passion than any Niner team since Jeff Garcia was lining up behind center. But after a lot of promise going nowhere, we have to see if this translates to results.

Jed will have a lot of decisions to make at the end of the year, obviously the coaching situation being top priority. A strong general manager or team president would be great, and the quarterback situation needs to be addressed. I like Shaun Hill, but ideally he’s a solid backup in the Frank Reich/Gary Kubiak vein, someone who can fill in for an injury or perhaps can start a season while grooming a rookie, but long term, he’s probably not the answer. JT O’Sullivan is also a worthy backup, but if the 49ers upgrade, would he be willing to be a number three now that he’s had some work as a starter? And as much I feel Alex Smith got a raw deal, at this point it’s for the best for him, the team and the fans if he moves on. So the decision needs to be made of upgrading the position via free agency or drafting someone like Colt McCoy or Tim Tebow with an early draft pick. I just hope we are not having this same conversation a year from now. I liken the 49ers under John York to a girlfriend who broke up with you but your still in love with. At some point if that love isn’t reciprocated it becomes time to move on….

*okay I flubbed the numbers a bit, they played in Super Bowl in January of 1980, but technically that was the 1979 season’s team.

And finally, what you came for, the rankings:

1. Tennessee Titans (9-0) (-): After 35 years without a team going undefeated in the regular season, could it happen in consecutive seasons?

2. New York Giants (8-1) (-): Currently 3-0 versus teams in the NFC East. Could accomplish one feat last year's Super Bowl winning squad didn't, win the division.

3. Carolina Panthers (7-2) (4): Anyone else get the feeling that Jake Delhomme made a bet with his drinking buddies that he could throw 4 interceptions, under 80 yards and complete only seven passes and still beat the Raiders.

4. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-3) (3): 0-2 versus teams with a quarterback named Manning. Bad news, the Chargers just signed and named Coooper Manning their starter for next week's game.

5. Washington Redskins (6-3) (-): Snatching up a big name free agent like DeAngelo Hall is the kind of impulsive move that always seem to backfire on the Redskins.

6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-3) (7): I didn't mention him up top, but Malcolm Glazer who turned around one of the league's most forlorn franchise since taking over in 1995 and making them consistently competitive, belongs in any list of quality owners. I just wish he'd bring back the creamsicle uniforms.

7. New England Patriots (6-3) (10): A win over the New York Jets could help reinstate their AFC East alpha dog status.

8. Arizona Cardinals (6-3) (9): If the other teams in the NFC West continue their losing ways, they can clinch the division title by Thanksgiving by winning next two games.

9. Baltimore Ravens (6-3) (11): If they make the playoffs with a remaining schedule that includes contests against all the NFC East teams and the Steelers, they would've earned it.

10. Atlanta Falcons (6-3) (12): Matt Ryan just outplayed Drew Brees. The Falcons have doubled their win total from last season.

11. New York Jets (6-3) (13): Applying for placement in the NFC West, they've averaged 51 points in their wins over the Rams and Cardinals.

12. Chicago Bears (5-4): (8): Played undefeated Titans strong, especially considering Grossman started.

13. Philadelphia Eagles (5-4) (6): Are not beating teams with winning records very often, a pretty important necessity to making the post-season.

14. Indianapolis Colts (5-4) (16): Finally back to normal after lackluster start? Back to back impressive wins over the Patriots and Steelers.

15. Dallas Cowboys (5-4) (-): Romo will be back, but will there be any repercussions from the thumb injury?

16. Miami Dolphins (5-4) (18): The Falcons have won twice as many games as they did last year, the Dolphins have that beat, they have won five times as many games as they did last year.

17. Minnesota Vikings (5-4) (20): It's painful watching their defense bang up their competition, I can't fathom actually, you know, playing against them.

18. Buffalo Bills (5-4) (14): That 4-0 start seems light years away at this point.

19. Denver Broncos (5-4) (21): Am I the only one that thought Brandon Marshall might be whipping out something a little more, uh, controversial, than a glove from his pants?

20. Green Bay Packers (4-5) (17): After being pounded by the Vikings, quarterback Aaron Rodgers remarks "you know that sitting on the bench thing was a pretty good gig now I think of it"

21. San Diego Chargers (4-5) (22): Norv Turner wonders what it is about his team that makes all opponents go for game winning two point conversions attempts.

22. New Orleans Saints (4-5) (19): In too tough of a division to underachieve as much as they do.

23. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-5) (25): Beat up on Lions to make them feel good about themselves, which is kind of like a guy beating up a little girl to feel better about himself. Make that a mentally handicapped little girl.

24. Cleveland Browns (3-6) (23): While they ultimately didn't win, the Brady Quinn era got of to a good start.

25. Houston Texans (3-6) (24): Um, the Texans. Well they, and uh, there's...I got nothing.

26. Seattle Seahawks (2-7) (26): Seneca Wallace has filled in admirably for Hasselbeck the last three games despite the 1-2 record in that span.

27. San Francisco 49ers (2-7) (28): A valiant effort, but no excuses anyone, that last play call sucked.

28. St. Louis Rams (2-7) (27): The team was negotiating with interim coach Jim Hasslett about taking over the position full-time when the league informed them any offer would be penalized for not taking into account the Rooney rule. See Rams, affirmative action has it's privileges.

29. Kansas City Chiefs (1-8) (31): Their improved play over the last three weeks under Tyler Thigpen gets them a boost in the rankings, one week they might actually win one of these games.

30. Cincinnati Bengals (1-8) (-): Enjoyed their bye week or as Bengals players call it "the one week of the season we don't hurt either ourselves or our feelings"

31. Oakland Raiders (2-7) (29): Remember when I said that successful franchises maintain a level of stability, submitted as evidence, the Raiders: five coaches in five seasons.

32. Detroit Lions (0-9) (-): Culpepper yells at agent: "When you said you signed me to a contract with the Lions I thought you meant the British Columbia Lions of the CFL. You're fired!"

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Return of Colonel Mortimer's NFL Rankings Strikes Back for Vengeance!

Sorry to both of my readers for lagging on this power rankings thing since I returned from vacation. I was really unhealthily consumed with this election, and spent most of my free time studying poll after poll and website after website to gauge the possible outcome. Also upon returning from my trip, I learned the tragic news that my cousin, Rob Panacci, had unexpectedly passed away at the age of twenty-seven. Seeing how Rob was a high school football player and a sports fanatic in general, I'd humbly like to dedicate this column to him. If you are interested in learning more about my cousin, or perhaps would like to make a donation to juvenile diabetes, which he was afflicted with, please visit this site. Thanks.

This rankings racket has not been made easy by the insane parity displayed in the last couple of weeks. Other than the top three and bottom six teams expect to see wild fluctuations in positions between now and the end of the season as the other 19 teams will streak hot then cold then lukewarm from now until the Super Bowl.

Here's le rankings:

1. Tennessee Titans (8-0): In these scattershot times you can always depend on a Kerry Collins lead team to lead you to the...wait...what?

2. New York Giants (7-1): Last year Tiki Barber retires and Jeremy Shockey goes out with a season ending injury. Result: Super Bowl Championship. This year Michael Strahan retires, OsoUmenyiora suffers a season ending injury and Plaxico Burress is suspended and benched. Results thus far: Best record in NFC. Tom Coughlin plans to cut entire team in off-season and bask in an undefeated Super Bowl winning team next year.

3. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2): Pennsylvania really came through for Obama this week, his easier than expected win of the state was preceded the night before with the Steelers keeping the Redskin rule in effect.

4. Carolina Panthers (6-2): After last season's inept offensive production (in fairness due to several injuries), Jake Delhomme is on pace to throw for 3500 yards, and both Steve Smith and Mushin Muhammad should pass 1000 receiving yards.

5. Washington Redskins (6-3): It took 34 quarters before Jason Campbell threw his first interception of the year, in other news, it took one quarter for JT O'Sullivan to throw 34 interceptions.

6. Philadelphia Eagles (5-3): Have won three in a row after a 2-3 start, but two of those wins were against the Seahawks and the 49ers, this week's game against the Giants should reveal if they are playoff caliber or not.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-3): Last season's team won the division with a 9-7 record, every other team in the NFC South is currently .500 or above, so they will need to be able to beat teams like the Chiefs without the assistance of a tremendous comeback if they want to repeat as division champs.

8. Chicago Bears (5-3): Illinois state senator Barack Obama won the presidency, the Bears lead their division and have won four out of the last five games, it's good to be a Chicagoian...wait...Rex Grossman may start this week. I take that all back!

9. Arizona Cardinals (5-3): Beating bad teams steadily, still striving for consistency against winning teams, but the good news is a .500 record wins them the NFC West.

10. New England Patriots (5-3): That was the least intriguing Colts-Pats game since 2000, but even with the loss the Patriots are tied for the division lead.

11. Baltimore Ravens (5-3): With a new head coach, starting QB and for the most part, running back, have already equaled their win total from last season.

12. Atlanta Falcons (5-3): Their next seven games, all against teams currently with a .500 or above winning percentage, should chart the true depth of their improvement.

13. New York Jets (5-3): At this point, they are almost winning despite Brett Favre instead of because of him.

14. Buffalo Bills (5-3): Their performance in the two games since extending coach Dick Jauron's contract is case in point as to why you wait until the season's end to negotiate these things.

15. Dallas Cowboys (5-4): How's your thumb Tony Romo, a Texas city turns it's lonely eyes to you. Koo-koo-ka-choo.

16. Indianapolis Colts (4-4): I will start to believe the Colts are regaining their winning ways if they can follow Sunday night's victory over the Pats with a win over the Steelers this week.

17. Green Bay Packers (4-3): Because Aaron Rodgers may be unaware of who preceded him as quarterback for the Packers, let's do some mid-season comparison shopping:

Aaron Rodgers 167 for 262, 1982 yards, 13 TDs, 5 INTs
Brett Favre 180 for 263, 1812 yards, 15 TDs, 12 INTs

So Rodgers has thrown less completions but for more yards, less touchdowns, but also less interceptions. A wash statistically at this point, but with the long term benefits, I think we can once and for all say the Pack made the right decision.

18. Miami Dolphins (4-4): A win over the Seahawks this week will give the Dolphins their first winning record since the final game of the 2005 season.

19. New Orleans Saints (4-4): Offensively averaging 27 points a game, impressive considering that they have not had a single game where their four primary rushing or receiving threats: Reggie Bush, Marques Colston, Jeremy Shockey and Deuce McAllister were all on the field in the same game.

20. Minnesota Vikings (4-4): The Vikings .500 record pretty much predicted Minnesota's state senatorial election between Norm Coleman and Al Franken which at current count is separated by a mere 200 something votes.

21. Denver Broncos (4-4): Looking to regain early season groove when their offense average 38 points in the first three games. Over the last four, the Broncos averaged 15 points per game. They went 1-4 in that span.

22. San Diego Chargers (3-5): More so than the Jaguars, the most disappointing team at the halfway point of the year. The good news, they play in AFC West with the lowly Raiders and Chiefs whilst the Broncos apparently still feel so bad about that Ed Hocculi call that they are fading quickly and allowing the Chargers a chance to win the division.

23. Cleveland Browns (3-5): And the answer to how many games it takes one person to go from unknown to Pro Bowl quarterback of a winning team to disappointment and eventually being benched is 23 games. Enjoy your return to obscurity Mr. Derek Anderson.

24. Houston Texans (3-5): Three game win streak after winless start snapped by the Vikings, who instituted a similar beating to quarterback Matt Schaub who may be out four weeks.

25. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-5): Their massively disappointing season will get a lot worse if they follow up their loss to the previously winless Bengals with a loss to this week's opponent, the currently winless Lions.

26. Seattle Seahawks (2-6): With his lingering back injuries and Holmgren's retirement, is it time to wonder if Matt Hasselbeck will return as the quarterback in 2009?

27. St. Louis Rams (2-6): That two game win streak after the coaching change to Jim Haslett seems pretty distant now.

28. San Francisco 49ers (2-6): Apparently talking to Condoleezza Rice about becoming team president after the season, I guess John York found the one institution that has been run worse than the 49ers this decade and said, "I want a piece of that!"

29. Oakland Raiders (2-6): In the four games coached by Lane Kiffin, the point differential between Raiders and their opponents: minus 23, in the four games coached by Tom Cable: minus 71.

30. Cincinnati Bengals (1-8): For most franchises not winning until week 9 is a major disappointment, for the Bengals it's business as usual.

31. Kansas City Chiefs (1-7): Have been improved the last few weeks, but unable to close the deal. In positive news, making the Royals look good in comparison.

32. Detroit Lions (0-8): Members of the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers await with bated breath to see if the Lions can match their feat and go the whole season without a win. Daunte Culpepper, last seen cut by the Raiders is their latest hope for salvation.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

America: FUCK YEAH!!!; California (or at least 52% of it): FUCK YOU

After eight years of woeful mismanagement of our country by the Bush administration, and a seemingly endless, and very nasty, campaign season, the people have spoken and chosen the right man to move our country forward.

Of course there is work to be done, but for now let's celebrate this monumentally historic moment in time. The Sam Cooke song "A Change is Going to Come" has been spinning around in my head today (Obama referenced it in his acceptance speech), a tad obvious, perhaps, but it still remains a powerful anthem. Sadly Cooke is not alive forty-four years after the the Civil Rights movement inspired him to pen the song to witness how prophetic his words became.


Sadly my enthusiasm for a Obama presidency is tempered severely by disappointment, nay disgust, that my native state of California pretty much legalized discrimination and struck down the notion that "all men are created equal" by allowing religious zealots (including the fucking Mormons) to pass their shameful "values" to this great state via Proposition 8. My mind can't make sense of how we as a state can give someone as progressive as Obama a 20 plus percentage win, while simultaneously preventing our gay citizens equal rights. I guess if there is a silver lining, 2001's "marriage labeling" Proposition 22 passed with 61% support in 2001 versus the 52% support for Prop 8 currently has. Slowly but surely the younger generation is rejecting past hatreds and currently gay marriage proponents and the ACLU are already hard at work to dismiss this proposition from California's constitution. Godspeed.

One step forward for America, one step back.
Related Posts with Thumbnails