Daydreaming About Great Football Games That Are Still 20 Weeks Away, Part One

nfl release

If you scoured the internet hard enough on Tuesday, you may have read that the NFL released its full schedule for the 2015 season. It was done in a very understated way. Only ESPN, The NFL Network, CNN and The Hallmark Channel produced special “NFL Schedule Release” shows.

Without the benefit of looking at other writers’ articles on 2015’s most exciting games, I decided to take a stab at identifying a few games each week that have piqued my interest. In honor of Earth Day, before I printed out the entire schedule I condensed it from 17 pages to 11 pages by making the font smaller and reducing the line spacing on my Google Doc. I’ve always been one to do his part to help Mother Earth.

Of course there are still 140 days until the Patriots and Steelers kickoff the new season. We still have to get through the draft, training camps, roster cuts, player holdouts, unforeseen trades and loads of injuries. It’s somewhat useless to try to predict what games will be the most entertaining by the time Fall comes around. But my second favorite thing after saving the Earth is getting bogged down in useless endeavors.

Here are my initial instincts on the NFL schedule. I’m giving you two or three “games I’m most looking forward to” each week and one “game that’ll be overhyped.” As you can imagine, teams like the Packers, Seahawks and Patriots made multiple appearances in the best games category, and the “often talked about in preseason but never heard from in the postseason” Jets graced the overhyped list several times.

Let’s begin with week 1 and a game I’m obviously looking forward to:

Week 1

Overall Excitement Level: High

  • First of all, it’s week 1 of the NFL season. Let’s get serious. They could have the Jaguars face the Titans, the Raiders face the Browns, and give the other 28 teams a bye week and I’d still be psyched about week 1. But this particular week 1 has a minimum of five games where possible playoff teams are facing each other.

Games I’m Most Excited For:

  1. Pittsburgh at New England – The only major sport that doesn’t get its opening game right is baseball. You have to put your defending Champion on display to kickoff the new year. The NFL has been doing this for a long time, and it always feels like a big game. This year could see a lot of scoring in the opener because both teams have awesome offenses and might have middle-of-the-road or worse defenses.
  2. Baltimore at Denver – This feels like a game to determine which AFC team will challenge the Patriots for a top seed in 2015. More importantly, it’s our first good look at Peyton Manning since Twitter left him for dead in January. It’s rare for a Baltimore defense to be bad against the run so you can expect that Manning will have to make throws to win this game.
  3. Giants at Dallas – If it feels like NFC East games are ALWAYS on National TV (like this one, which is the Sunday nighter), it’s because they are. After all, that division includes teams in the #1 (New York), 4 (Philadelphia), 5 (Dallas) and 8 (D.C.) media markets. No one ever accused broadcast companies of not trying to make a buck. This particular game features the established “best receiver in the game” in Dez Bryant versus the up-and-coming receiver who could usurp Dez as early as this season. Odell Beckham Jr. is going to be appointment TV all year.
  4. BONUS GAME: Tennessee at Tampa Bay – This is 100% contingent upon the Bucs drafting Jameis Winston and the Titans grabbing Marcus Mariota. If those two things don’t happen, this game is unwatchable.

Overhyped Game of the Week:

  • Green Bay at Chicago – Let’s face it: The Bears are going to stink this year. And whether Jay Cutler is the starting quarterback for this team or not is kind of irrelevant. What seemed like a division that could produce a lot of interesting games for years to come as recently as last season, the NFC North feels like it’s heading towards a period of what the AFC East has been like lately. One dominant team and three doormats.

Week 2

Overall Excitement Level: Medium

  • There’s not a ton to love here as you can tell by the three games I put in the marquee spot…

Games I’m Most Excited For:

  1. Dallas at Philadelphia – It feels like these two teams and the Giants are going to battle all year for the NFC East crown. So every game among them is going to seem huge. And of course this particular matchup pits DeMarco Murray against his former team.
  2. Seattle at Green Bay – Last year we got this game in the NFL Opener. This year we get it on Sunday night in week 2. Of course this is the matchup in the NFC…the conference’s two best teams. But for Green Bay, the Seahawks have been a nightmare opponent in the Russell Wilson era. First, it was the FailMary game in week 3 of 2012. Then it was last year’s 36-16 opening night stomping by the Seahawks. And finally it was the NFC Championship game just three months ago, where the Packers had it won…until they didn’t (something about a botched onside kick recovery). But for the first time in all these meetings, they’re playing at Lambeau.
  3. Jets at Indianapolis – You think I’m joking, but I’ll reiterate that this is kind of a weak week. I’m intrigued to find out if the Jets can survive (and thrive) on defense alone. They got Darrelle Revis. They got Antonio Cromartie. They got defensive guru Tood Bowles to coach them. But they don’t have a prayer at being good on offense. Can their defense be so good that it shuts down Andrew Luck in Indy on Monday night?

Overhyped Game of the Week:

  • New England at Buffalo – REX!!! The build-up to this one is going to be intolerable no matter what, but if the Bills beat the Colts in week 1? Look out. The Rex-a-mania hype will be through the roof. So why is it overhyped? Because the Patriots are going to continue doing to Rex in Buffalo what they (mostly) did to Rex in New York.

Week 3

Overall Excitement Level: Extremely Low

  • Just an awful slate of games this week. Sure, there are some that seem good if you blindly look at the team names (49ers/Cardinals, Bears/Seahawks, Broncos/Lions), but those matchups don’t do it for me when I’m confident at least one team from each game will be bad this year.

Games I’m Most Excited For:

  1. Cincinnati at Baltimore – I’m only giving you one awesome game for this week and the best I could come up with is this? Gross. Cincinnati is never exciting. Baltimore is always good, but hardly a team you get excited to watch. Mark it down. September 27th is a fantastic day to go apple picking with your family.

Overhyped Game of the Week:

  • Philadelphia at Jets – It’s just a perfect storm of ESPN’s favorite topics: The Jets, Chip Kelly, Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow. And add in the fact that those two quarterbacks (assuming both are on the Eagles’ roster at this point) are technically facing their old team. Ugh, did I mention that Sunday of week 3 is the perfect time to volunteer at that animal shelter that you’ve been meaning to get to?

Week 4

Overall Excitement Level: Medium

  • On top of a few really nice matchups there are some games that are good purely because they feature two teams from the same division (Jags/Colts, Panthers/Bucs, Eagles/Redskins).

Games I’m Most Excited For: 

  1. Baltimore at Pittsburgh – Yeah, this is one of those ugly Thursday night games, but these two teams from the AFC North almost always play ugly games against one another anyway. Le’Veon Bell will be back from his suspension at this point so the Steelers should be playing nearly 100% healthy. More often than not, this rivalry is decided by three points. Can we ask for anything more from a Thursday game?
  2. Jets at Dolphins – Only because this is one of those London games with a super early start time. For the east coast, it’s a 9:30am game. For us West Coasters, football begins at 6:30 in the morning! I loved everything about that Lions vs Falcons game last year that started in the wee hours of the morning (except for, you know, the two teams and the pathetic coaching meltdowns at the end of the game). I love this setup. Don’t stop doing it, NFL. You finally got something right.
  3. Dallas at New Orleans – I’m making some pretty big assumptions that both teams will be good. My instinct is to say Dallas slides back to 8-8 after one solid season, and that New Orleans will suck after getting rid of some key pieces. But let’s pretend for now that both are at least in that 2nd tier of NFC contenders. If so, this should be an entertaining game.

Overhyped Game of the Week:

  • Detroit at Seattle – The Lions are going to blowwwwwwwwww. But since this game features Seattle and takes place on Monday night, we will be told that this is a marquee NFC game. It’s not.

Week 5

Overall Excitement Level: Low

  • We only have two interesting games on the schedule, and I’m even struggling to come up with a compelling Overhyped game.

Games I’m Most Excited For:

  1. Indianapolis at Houston – Either you think the Texans aren’t going to be any good because they lack a quarterback, or you’re like me and are blindly jumping on their bandwagon because they seem to have some nice pieces and a good coach. I think the Texans could contend in the AFC South. I also think the Colts still aren’t that great. If the Texans can’t beat them at home, then obviously I’m completely wrong. I’m looking forward to it.
  2. New England at Dallas – If the Cowboys are similar to last year’s team, this will be a really good game. If they stink, the Patriots will win but we may still get some awesome Dez Bryant moments. It’s the best I can come up with for such an uninspiring week.

Overhyped Game of the Week:

  • New Orleans at Philadelphia – Will we hear the analysts talking up the two offensive gurus facing off against one another in Sean Payton and Chip Kelly? Of course we will! Even if both teams are 0-4 and neither has scored an offensive touchdown at this point in the season, the talking heads will go crazy about offensive geniuses in this one.

Week 6

Overall Excitement Level: Lower than Very Low

  • Our worst week yet!

Games I’m Most Excited For:

  1. Washington at Jets – See what I mean? I guess I’m excited about this game only because I could see both teams being winless going into week 6. Also, what will the state of the quarterback position for each team be at this point in the year? The intrigue is through the roof!
  2. New England at Indianapolis – If you combine the amount of revenge that the protagonists set out for in Django Unchained, True Grit and both Kill Bill movies, you’d still fall short of what the Patriots feel they owe the Colts in 2015. And since New England has mopped the floor with Indy in every game of the Andrew Luck era without having an axe to grind, well, week 6 can’t get here fast enough.

Overhyped Game of the Week:

  • Chicago at Detroit – Again, everyone wants the NFC North to have all these intense rivalries, but it’s just not there. I know it’s too boring and doesn’t take up enough airtime & internet space to say the Packers are going to run away with this division, but that’s precisely what will happen.

Week 7

Overall Excitement Level: Something better than Medium but worse than High

  • There seem to be a lot of “above average” matchups in week 7. Nothing that qualifies for game of the year, but a nice little schedule for late October (Texans/Dolphins, Steelers/Chiefs, Ravens/Cardinals are three OK games that didn’t make my excited list).

Games I’m Most Excited For: 

  1. Buffalo at Jacksonville – Because it’s in London at 6:30am pacific time! I don’t care what anyone says. These extra early games are a thing of beauty. If you already watch 8-10 hours of football on a regular Sunday, why wouldn’t you want to watch another three?
  2. New Orleans at Indianapolis – These aren’t two surefire contenders going into the season, but Drew Brees vs Andrew Luck is still a fun QB matchup to watch. The Colts will probably be at a disadvantage considering it’s going to take them until the Wednesday before this game to recover from the unspeakable things the Patriots are going to do to them the previous Sunday night.
  3. Dallas at Giants – A repeat of week 1, only this time it’s in New Jersey. When you have two of the best wide receivers in football matching up, then you’re guaranteed some entertainment even if one or both of the teams have already shit the bed by this point of the season.

Overhyped Game of the Week:

  • Jets at New England – I was going to say Seattle at San Francisco, but there’s a solid chance the 49ers are 1-5 going into that game. So instead we get Darrelle Revis and the revamped Jets defense going into New England. It’s too bad Revis and Cromartie aren’t Pro Bowl offensive players or else the competitiveness of this game might match the hype.

Week 8

Overall Excitement Level: High Medium

  • Out of the 14 games this week, six of them are division matchups. None of those six games made my excited list. There are a couple very compelling games in the late afternoon and evening on this Sunday.

Games I’m Most Excited For:

  1. Detroit at Kansas City – This isn’t one of those late Sunday games. It’s actually another London 6:30am game!!! Please, NFL, you’re too kind. I feel like I owe you something now. What’s extra beautiful about this is that Jim Caldwell gets to return to the scene of last year’s coaching double debacle that he participated in with the exiled Mike Smith. If you don’t remember what I’m talking about, I beg you to read the first half of this Bill Barnwell article on Grantland.com. No one captured the insanity more perfectly.
  2. Seattle at Dallas – The Cowboys went into Seattle last year and handed the Seahawks their only home loss on the season. The Cowboys should have gotten a chance to do it twice, but the NFL’s confounding rules on what constitutes a catch ruined a Dallas/Seattle NFC Championship game. I’m sure the Cowboys are looking at this as their biggest game of the year.
  3. Green Bay at Denver – Two of the best regular season quarterbacks of our time, Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers, have only faced each other once, and that was way back in October 2008. So if Manning lives up to his end of the bargain and performs at his usual level in 2015, this should be a fantastic Sunday night game. But both of these QBs have some injury history, so there’s at least a 7% chance that this game pits Brock Osweiler against Scott Tolzien.

Overhyped Game of the Week:

  • Miami at New England – The team in the AFC East that most people think has a shot to knock off the Champs gets its first chance. The Dolphins might not be that much better than the Bills up and down the roster, but they have one key thing going for them that Buffalo doesn’t: a slightly above average QB. It’s totally understandable that the media will keep pushing the “who’s going to finally end New England’s reign” storyline because if they didn’t, there’d be nothing to talk about in that division. Good luck to Ndamukong Suh and the Dolphins in this Thursday night game.

You know what? I’ve already eclipsed 2,500 words and we’re only halfway through the schedule. I’m breaking this into two parts. Check back on Thursday for weeks 9-17 of my NFL schedule breakdown.

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Everything You Never Wanted To Know About Movies: Handicapping the Oscars & Your Guide to the Best Movies of 2012

It’s February 15th and that means The 2013 Oscars are looming. It’s that time of year when all you people who didn’t see a single movie in the last 12 months—because you were too busy holding down a job, raising your kids, spending your time and money on something more fulfilling than “sitting in a theater while consuming 4,700 calories of grease, butter and sugar”—start scrambling to watch as many Oscar-nominated films as possible.

If you’re someone who thinks “Life of Pi” is a movie about the mathematician who came up with that confusing 3.14 number, or you think “Amour” is a romantic comedy about a man and a woman falling in love at a yard sale where they both tried to buy an antique piece of furniture, you’ve got a lot of catching up to do.

With so many different films and actors nominated it’s impractical to try to see it all. So which movies do you prioritize? Lucky for you this article includes a worst-to-best ranking of the 19 movies I saw in 2012. I have great taste in movies so just follow my list blindly and you won’t be disappointed.

But Oscar season isn’t just about seeing as many good movies as possible. It’s about predicting who will win each major award even though none of us know the first thing about acting, directing, adapting or costume designing. That doesn’t mean it can’t be fun to argue with a friend that “Tommy Lee Jones should never win any award because he’s such an asshole in real life.”

For the readers who are gamblers at heart, you’ll be happy to know that many betting websites allow you to bet on who will win each of the major Oscar awards. So of course in this article I’ll provide you the odds of the favorite in each category as well as a long shot that I like.

So let’s rip through the important Oscar categories real quick so you know what films to see in the next nine days, either by going to the movie theater or re-organizing your Netflix queue. I’ll make some very subjective comments next to the movies I’ve seen, and perhaps next to some of the movies I haven’t seen. (Disclaimer: I haven’t seen all the movies that are relevant to the Oscars. I’ve only seen the ones I thought I might actually enjoy.)

BEST PICTURE

  • Amour: I haven’t seen it. When “elderly” and “love story” are used in a movie’s synopsis, you can just about guarantee that I’ll never watch it.
  • Argo: A great movie where the story is a lot more memorable than the acting. Awesome job mixing in some light, humorous moments in an otherwise very serious plot. If there was a “fan favorite” Oscar award, this would probably win (or be a close runner-up to “Silver Linings Playbook”).
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild: This movie arrived via Netflix over a week ago and it’s been sitting on my coffee table gathering dust ever since. I just don’t think I’m going to like it very much. I hear the little girl who’s nominated for Best Actress is incredible, but I don’t typically watch movies for just one individual acting performance.
  • Django Unchained: During the first 30 minutes of this movie, I was worried it was going to be one of Quentin Tarantino’s worst films. It turned out to be one of his best. There’s no other way to describe it other than to say “it was just a fun movie to watch.” Such an enjoyable movie with some awesome acting performances (which we’ll talk about it in a minute). I’m rooting for this one to win even though I know it won’t.
  • Les Miserables: I can’t even correctly pronounce this movie’s name, and I heard a crazy rumor that it’s a musical. I doubt I’ll ever see it.
  • Life of Pi: Another movie I haven’t seen, mostly because in the previews the tiger on the raft didn’t look real enough to me.
  • Lincoln: I heard that the Academy would only allow one Lincoln film into the Best Picture category this year, and Spielberg’s “Lincoln” only narrowly beat out “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.” All jokes aside, this movie was surprisingly great. I say surprisingly because it’s essentially 150 minutes of 19th century politicians blathering on about amendments and slavery. The fact that this film held my attention should automatically put it in the lead for Best Picture.
  • Silver Linings Playbook: Loved it. It might be the movie I re-watch the most out of all the Best Picture nominations. But it’s pretty much a romantic comedy (even if it is a well-disguised romantic comedy). I don’t want “Silver Linings” to win and set the precedent that if all of Jennifer Aniston and Kate Hudson’s future movies just include a few more plot twists, they’ll suddenly be Oscar worthy.
  • Zero Dark Thirty: Better than “The Hurt Locker,” which was Kathryn Bigelow’s previous movie that won Best Picture. But up against much tougher competition than “Locker” faced in 2010. Best edge-of-your-seat, hold-your-breath story of all the nominees. And c’mon, it ends with the killing of bin Laden.

Odds-on favorite to win according to gambling sites: Argo (1/5 odds)

Long shot that I might put a bet on: Amour (100/1 odds)…Because the Oscars love picking the boring, stuffy, old people-bait movies. Just like “The Artist” did last year, an “Amour” win will set movies back 100 years.

(A quick side note: How interesting that this year featured three movies where the audience knew the ending of the story with 100% certainty before walking into the theater (Lincoln, Argo, Zero Dark Thirty). And yet, they were three of the best movies, and one of them is probably winning Best Picture. Somehow these movies were able to keep me in suspense the entire time even though there was zero chance for a surprise ending. Incredible work by everyone who made these three films.)

BEST DIRECTOR

  • Michael Haneke (Amour): I don’t have a goddamn clue if he did a good job directing.
  • Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild): I’m going to assume he did a good job because he coaxed a Best Actress performance out of a nine-year-old.
  • Ang Lee (Life of Pi): Apparently there’s an unspoken rule in Hollywood that says you should stay away from using children, animals and large bodies of water in your movie. Something about any of those three variables making things much more difficult. And yet all three were major players in “Life of Pi.” I haven’t seen it yet, but if people voted in this category based on “biggest headaches overcome,” I bet Lee has a great chance to win.
  • Steven Spielberg (Lincoln): Spielberg isn’t quite the lock for directing as his lead actor is for that category, but he’s probably going to win his 3rd Best Director Award on February 24th. Regardless of “Argo” being the frontrunner for Best Picture, Spielberg has the inside track here because Ben Affleck somehow didn’t get nominated for the directing category.
  • David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook): Adding to my “this movie is just a dressed-up rom com” comments from before…anybody who can mask a romantic comedy as well as Russell did with “Silver Linings” deserves a ton of credit. Trickery or not, the movie was still an A+.

Odds-on favorite to win according to gambling sites: Steven Spielberg (1/4 odds)

Long shot that I might put a bet on: David O. Russell (14/1 odds)…If this really is a “fan favorite” year and “Argo” wins the Best Picture, then it makes sense for David O. to win for directing. I promise you it’ll be the movie you stop the channel surfing on most often when you see it pop up on HBO or Cinemax over the next few years.

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

  • Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook): In 12 years this guy has gone from playing the gay dude in “Wet Hot American Summer” and the asshole villain boyfriend in “Wedding Crashers” to a bona fide A-list actor who can carry a movie. He’s legit and deserves to be recognized for that. Unfortunately this year he’s up against a guy who seriously made me question whether Abraham Lincoln had actually risen from the dead to play himself in a movie. Thinking Cooper will get his Oscar due eventually. I don’t think this will be his last nomination.
  • Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln): Just the man I was talking about. The Lead Actor category is not a competition this year. If ever there was a situation where someone shouldn’t bother preparing an acceptance speech, it’s the other four men in this category. I’m pretty sure Day-Lewis could murder the head of the Academy tomorrow and they’d still feel obligated to give him this award. I wasn’t alive when Abraham Lincoln was doing his thing. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a recording of the big man Presidenting it up, but I honestly believe he looked and sounded exactly like what Day-Lewis brought to this movie. This is one of those movies that’s worth watching purely for one man’s performance.
  • Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables): Didn’t see it so I have no idea about his performance.
  • Joaquin Phoenix (The Master): Ditto.
  • Denzel Washington (Flight): I actually watched this today. It was my first ever rental from a Red Box machine because I really wanted to see if there was any chance Denzel could unseat Mr. Lincoln. It was a solid, dramatic performance, but I thought the movie was a little boring. Washington had some very memorable scenes, but I knew I’d never take this movie seriously when I saw the trailer for it months ago and a plane was flying upside down.

Odds-on favorite to win according to gambling sites: Daniel Day-Lewis (1/50 odds)…That means you have to bet $50 just to make $1 of profit. Normally I wouldn’t recommend this, but if you’ve got $50,000 to spare, I guarantee you’ll make the $1,000 profit off of it.

Long shot that I might put a bet on: Bradley Cooper (40/1 odds)…It’s a waste of money, but maybe the Academy has a lot more white supremacists who are still irked by Lincoln’s freeing the slaves than we imagined.

 ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

  • Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty): Not to take anything away from her performance, but I think the intense storyline and the emotional appeal of hunting Osama bin Laden carried this movie much more than any single actor did. She was damn good, don’t get me wrong. But if you threw Heather Graham into Chastain’s role as the CIA Agent in this movie, I don’t know if the film would take that big of a hit…and Heather Graham is an awful, awful actress.
  • Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook): She would certainly win if we were voting for which actress we most want to see up on stage on Oscar night. But I don’t know how she wins Best Actress without Bradley Cooper winning Best Actor. He was a bigger piece of the movie and probably carried a lot more scenes than her.
  • Emmanuelle Riva (Amour): Didn’t see it.
  • Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild): Didn’t see it, but hopefully I will by Oscar night.
  • Naomi Watts (The Impossible): Didn’t see it.

Odds-on favorite to win according to gambling sites: Jennifer Lawrence (4/7 odds)

Long shot that I might put a bet on: Quvenzhane Wallis (50/1 odds)…Because I’m lukewarm about the two performances I saw, and it would be awesome for someone this young to win while watching whoever presents the award try to pronounce her name.

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

  • Alan Arkin (Argo): Basically him and John Goodman should have been co-nominated for “Argo” because they were in the movie almost equally and both were hysterical. Good performances from both guys, but not Oscar worthy in my opinion.
  • Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook): The problem here is that De Niro’s character is supposed to be a bookie in the movie, and I know far too much about sports to buy into his performance as that bookie.
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master): Didn’t see it so let’s just assume he won’t win.
  • Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln): I came out of the theater after seeing “Lincoln” and all I could remember was Daniel Day-Lewis’s performance. Everything else in this movie seemed like background noise. TLJ was actually really good in his role as Thaddeus Stevens (especially with the twist at the end of him wearing a wig!), but I’d only be rooting for him if he’d never won an Oscar before. Oh, and I hear he’s a real asshole.
  • Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained): Just like Waltz steals the show in Quentin Tarantino’s last film, “Inglourious Basterds,” so too does he steal the show in “Django.” In “Basterds” he was opposite Brad Pitt. This time he shared the screen with Jamie Foxx and Leonardo DiCaprio. Quite a feat to overshadow all of those guys. He might have given my favorite performance of the year in the non-Daniel Day-Lewis category.

Odds-on favorite to win according to gambling sites: Tommy Lee Jones (+110)

Long shot that I might put a bet on: Christoph Waltz (+140)…OK so it’s not really a “long shot” in the traditional sense, but I don’t care. He’s not the favorite and he should be.

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

  • Amy Adams (The Master): Didn’t see it, but I like her moxie.
  • Sally Field (Lincoln): If you can win an award like this based on one scene, then Sally Field should win for the scene in “Lincoln” when she talks circles around Tommy Lee Jones’ Thaddeus Stevens as she’s welcoming him to a dinner party. Great scene, but that’s all I really remember from her performance.
  • Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables): You already know I didn’t see it. I assume she’s going to win, but I hate her new short haircut.
  • Helen Hunt (The Sessions): Is this a real movie? Haven’t heard of it.
  • Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook): I saw this movie so long ago now that I barely remember her role as the Mom. I know she tried to break up the fights between Bradley Cooper’s character and Robert De Niro’s character, but I’m struggling to recall any other pertinent details.

Odds-on favorite to win according to gambling sites: Anne Hathaway (1/50 odds)…Apparently she’s as much of a shoo-in as Daniel Day-Lewis is.

Long shot that I might put a bet on: Jacki Weaver (50/1 odds)…Because it’s one of only two supporting actress performances I’ve seen and I’m a sucker for the big long shot.

And now, here’s my arbitrary, subjective and illogical ranking of the 19 movies I saw that came out in 2012:

19). Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

18). Snow White & The Huntsman

17). Wanderlust

16). The Campaign

15). Men In Black III

14). Prometheus

13). The Amazing Spiderman

12). The Hunger Games

11). Flight

10). This is 40

9). Ted

8). The Avengers

7). Dark Knight Rises

6). Lincoln

5). Moonrise Kingdom

4). Zero Dark Thirty

3). Argo

2). Silver Linings Playbook

1). Django Unchained

The Ultimate Molly Update: A Dog’s Life in Words and Pictures

I saw Django Unchained in the movie theater today, and the scene where three angry dogs kill a slave by ripping all his limbs off made me think it was time for a Molly update on the blog. The first thing you need to know is that Molly hasn’t yet ripped a person’s limbs off, and also, she’s not a racist dog. She’d just as likely rip a White, Asian or Mexican person limb-to-limb as she would a Black person.

Now the first thing people always want to know when it comes to any good Molly update is her size. I could tell you that we just weighed her yesterday and she came in at 76lbs. But that doesn’t really tell you how she compares to when we first got her or at any other milestone in her life. A smarter man than me could set up a professional-looking graph in Excel to show how her size has changed as she’s gotten older. A man of my average intellect opts for the handwritten graph:

IMG_1979

Or, if numbers isn’t your game, this might work better for you.

Here’s what “Molly being held by Julie” looked like as a two-and-a-half-month-old puppy:

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And here’s what “Molly being held by Julie” looks like as of January 9th (seven-and-a-half-month-old puppy):

IMG_1974

A couple more points on Molly’s size:

  • We’ve officially changed her name to “Clifford.” Please use her correct new name the next time you see her.
  • If that extremely accurate graph is to be trusted, it seems like her growth rate is finally slowing down.
  • This blog post is being dedicated to Julie’s formerly good back. Hopefully reading this post on her phone at the chiropractor’s tomorrow will cheer her up at least a little.

If you were only reading this to check in on Molly’s weight, you can stop now. For the rest of you, here are some more fun and/or alarming Molly tidbits for your reading pleasure:

-One thing we’ve been particularly pleased about in our five months with Molly is that she really hasn’t done any damage to any of our possessions. You always read these horror stories about the dog that eats all the contents of a trash can or an entire TV. But as happy as we’ve been about this, we’re also smart enough to realize she hasn’t destroyed anything because she’s really never had the chance. As a dog, when you spend every alone moment inside a crate and your Dad’s an unemployed writer who’s home 24/7, you really don’t get many chances to go to town on the prohibited household goods. So what happened on New Year’s Eve? Well, we went to a party until about 1am. When we came home, we put Molly on our bed to let her sleep with us for the night. She got restless at some point and decided to jump off the bed. Usually this wakes me up and I guide her into her crate for the rest of the night, but for some strange reason I was in a deeper state of sleep than usual that night. At 4am I woke up to find Molly innocently curled up on the living room couch, another favorite sleeping spot of hers. Of course all the innocence and “oh isn’t that the cutest!” feelings disappeared quickly when I looked on the ground and saw this crime scene:

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A few more thoughts on those pictures:

  • Julie says that was an expensive shoe. But when I asked her what we should do with the matching shoe that Molly didn’t eat, she said to throw it away. So expensive could those shoes really be?
  • I really do think Molly’s happy with her life, but can we really be sure she wasn’t purposely whittling that brush handle down to a sharp point to use as a weapon on me and Julie?
  • When we were at the Vet yesterday and they were trying to figure out what might be wrong with Molly’s stomach (more on that in a minute), they asked us several times if we were sure she couldn’t have gotten into something she shouldn’t have and swallowed something that could be blocking her digestive system. Somehow this entire New Year’s incident escaped our memory as we shook our heads and said there was no way she could have eaten anything off limits.

-Speaking of destroying things…Over the five months of having her, we’ve given Molly an array of toys (and a plethora…a plethora seems like a good word to describe the more than 30 toys Molly has at her disposal). In her first three-and-a-half months with us, Molly almost never destroyed any of her toys. Some of her older toys would inevitably get small holes in them from natural wear and tear, but she always seemed to play with them gently enough. But over these past seven weeks, Molly has turned into a homicidal maniac when it comes to her stuffed-animal toys. She’s out for blood and she’s taking no prisoners. Here are the toys she’s no longer allowed to play with because the risk of her demolishing them and eating all the stuffing is just too high:

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And the close-up:

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I’m pretty sure all the Toy Story characters would commit suicide if they saw Molly in action for 10 seconds.

-And here’s Molly’s new, smaller array of toys to choose from:

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Not nearly as exciting as the stuffed animals at times, but my dog budget doesn’t include “replace decimated stuffed animal daily” as a line item.

-So I mentioned something being wrong with Molly’s stomach. For simplicity’s sake, let’s just say Molly hasn’t really been “regular” for the past six weeks. The beginning of this situation coincided with a two-day period where Molly refused to eat the dog food that she’d been happily devouring for the better part of four months up to that point. I seriously thought she was just playing a game of psychological warfare with us and was holding out for better food (i.e. human food). But the Vet’s theory was that Molly’s puppy food might be suddenly too rich for her and it was time to switch to an adult food. But before we could do that, we had to get her back to normal again by putting her on a bland diet of wet food (basically setting the reset button on her stomach). Long story short, we’ve been playing around with so many different foods for the past month that we could literally run a black market pet store out of our apartment:

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And of course right before that first Vet visit where they told us to take her off the puppy food, we had just bought a new 30lb bag of the damn puppy food (pictured in the unmarked plastic container above). So if anyone wants to buy about 27.5lbs of puppy food, I’m willing to make a deal. I will not give it to you for free because I’m bitter. I’d rather throw it in the trash.

-Oh and the latest update is that the Vet no longer thinks the stomach issues are related to the type of food Molly’s eating. No, now they think it could be a bacteria/parasite/alien species living in her intestines. So on top of the food surplus, we could now start shipping most dog meds to you as part of our black market operation:

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We’re one more Vet visit away from having to get one of those pill organizers that says all the days of the week on it that old and/or pregnant people use to keep track of their med schedules. Our puppy is an 88-year-old woman.

-And finally, let’s end on a lighter note. If by some magical way Molly was able to talk to us for just 15 seconds, saying only one thing and never being able to talk again, I’d like to think she’d spend that time reassuring Julie that she’s never once been cold when Julie thinks she’s cold. She would say, “Look, I don’t need blankets, extra cuddling or a space heater pointed directly at me. It’s science, Mom. My body temperature is three degrees higher than yours. If you’re not cold, rest assured I’m not cold. I probably should have spent this time telling you guys what it means when I bark, pull on my leash or chew through my toys, but I just needed to clear this temperature thing up once and for all.”

So that’s the latest in Molly’s life. If you’ll excuse me, Julie just yelled from the bedroom to bring her all the blankets we have in the house.