Sunday, May 28, 2006

Slant-N-Go: 2-for-1 deal

Psst...hey you, the reader.
Do you ever find yourself wanting more out of what you are reading, but just cannot figure how to get get your selected readings chock full of entertaining tidbits. Well, the sick minds at Slant & Go Enterprises have an offer for you.
The brain mistrust that brought you "Slant & Go at the Movies" is going to temporarily break down that fourth wall thing that exists in theater--by presenting this one-time offer. Yes folks, S&G is presenting a 2-for-1 special.
Yes, two opinions for the space of one. It's two ideas replacing one, becoming one cohesive unit like peanut butter and jelly, Bert and Ernie, ivy and Wrigley Field, R. Kelly and videotapes and Mike Tyson and insanity.
First off, let's discuss Southeastern's upcoming football season. More importantly, let's discuss the Lions' nonconference slate for the upcoming season.
Whereas most Division I-AA schools "play up" once per season, the Lions tripled that by landing three Division I-A schools on the schedule this season. The Lions open the season in Las Cruces, M. Mex., when they take on former coach Hal Mumme and New Mexico State Aug. 21. The next game is a trip up Interstate 59 to Hattiesburg and Southern Miss Sept. 9. The whopper is a Sept. 23 trip to Lubbock, Texas to take on Texas Tech--a team that finished 2005 in the Top 20 in the Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN polls.
The Lions fit in home games against Jacksonville (Sept. 16) and Gardner Webb (Sept. 30) before opening Southland Conference play in October.
Lions coach Dennis Roland said it is not easy for a I-AA program like Southeastern to schedule games against their I-A counterparts. These games give his team a chance to gain a measure of exposure against the "higher level" of NCAA college football.
For Division I-AA programs, games against I-A programs also serve as major fundraisers that some in the sports world call "Rent-A-Wins." However, the prospects of pulling of a Maine vs. Mississippi State upset are few and far between. Coaches sometimes hope to get through the game with a strong showing and no players receiving major injuries, all while making sure the check clears.
New Mexico State went winless last season, and the Lions should win that game. However, Southern Miss and Texas Tech--bowl teams last season--will be tougher tasks. Sure, the Lions will collect a nice chunk of change for their "services," but it's all a part of the business known as Division I football.
OK, it's now time to get to the second part of this exclusive offer. Let's now talk about mercy in football, which is something like Bill Gates running into you in front of a grocery store and asking you for change for a $20.
The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, the Nutmeg State's equivalent to the LHSAA, adopted a "score management" policy that will suspend coaches whose teams win by more than 50 points.
The CIAC rule, also called the "Jack Cochran rule," was put in place after the New London High won four games by 50 or more points last season--including winning a game by the paltry tally of 90-0 over Griswold. In case you didn't figure it out, Jack Cochran is New London's coach.
According to reports, the head coach of the offending team will get disqualified from coaching the next game.
Yes, Connecticut's the same state where a professor of one of the state colleges was quoted in Sports Illustrated in 2001 saying dodgeball "encourages the best to pick on the weak." However, that's not the point.
Under this policy, Evangel's Dennis Dunn would have had to skip the Eagles second-round playoff game after plastering Hamilton Christian 70-0 in the first round of the playoffs.
Football is the one sport that capitalizes on incorporating war and military ideals the most. Think about it, you have blitzing and sacking the quarterback. Throwing the long bomb or the quick strike to gain the upper hand. Having good ground and air attacks to make the opponent submit to your will and breaking the opponent's will. One team imposing its will on its weaker opponent.
If Team A is beating Team B by more than three touchdowns, simply just start a running clock, get the cheerleaders and band members on the field and just keep playing. At least that used to be the mentality.
The CIAC is establishing a dangerous precedent here. What's next, allowing the team getting drubbed 46-0 to score 13-point touchdowns in order to make the score closer? High school basketball teams can't get a 30-point lead or greater in a game?
Besides, there are only two ways a team prevents being on the receiving end of a blowout-- get better or just simply drop football, period.

Sunday, May 21, 2006


Michael Wilbon, the Washington Post columnist and bespectacled guy on ESPN's "Pardon the Interruption," wrote the following one year after Maryland star Len Bias overdosed on cocaine and died two days after the Boston Celtics took him second overall in the 1986 NBA draft.
There's a basketball court in Rockville (Md.) on which some the day after Bias died painted on the backboards and court: "Len Bias Lives Forever." The kids play for hours a day, hitting the yellow paint.
A year later, the words remain. One wonders if they are read.

Bias died June 20, 1986 at 22-years-old, an All-American who some basketball experts considered to be better than a certain North Carolina All-American and omnipresent pitchman. Bias' collapse in his dorm suite became something that far transcended just a simple bad decision that turned fatal, it became a flash point in American sports and American society.
For me, Bias' death became the moment when my innocence sportswise was taken away. I was just turning 2-years-old when the United States boycotted the Moscow Olympics and the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles are just a blur in my memory. I was a few months shy of my ninth birthday, and this changed everything—not some green T-shirt with "Just Say No" emblazoned on the front.
Bias' picture on the cover of Sports Illustrated following his death turned him into more than a tragic figure, he became a symbol as the cocaine/crack epidemic gained a larger foothold in the American conscience and had an even larger impact in the black (now known as African-American) community.
Bias became a cautionary tale about the perils of drug abuse, sort of like a scary story police officers would tell kids to steer them away from talking to strangers. In terms of analogies, Bias was to the "War on Drugs" as Emmitt Till was to the Civil Rights Movement—their respective deaths brought those issues to the forefront in mainstream America.
Bias' death served as a case study in how far-reaching the impact of doing drugs is. Remember, the Celtics still had Bird, Parrish and McHale in the front court in their prime. That former North Carolina All-American was on his way to becoming the measuring stick all young players are held up to. Who knows the heights the NBA could have reached if Bias would have stayed alive to make in impact in the pro game?
Fast forward 20 years, and here sports fans sit in the wake of another flash point. USC starting point guard Ryan Francis was senselessly killed in Baton Rouge during Mother's Day weekend. Francis was not the guy the shooter was aiming for, but it was the former Glen Oaks star that died from the incident.
I watched Francis and Glen Oaks and caught some late night Pac-10 games when he took over the point for the Trojans—as a true freshman. Like Bias, it looked like Francis had a bright future. Unlike Bias, Francis became just another case of "wrong place, wrong time." Another bright light extinguished by stupidity, another son taken from his mother, another friend gone and one less teammate in the locker room.
The two do share a bond because they have became symbols, they put a face on the particular manners of death. Francis became a symbol of the seemingly increasing devaluing of life by many of today's youth and how this generation of young people seemingly seek to take life quickly and without thinking of the consequences of their actions.
Taking Wilbon's closing lines from that 1986 column and adapting it to Francis death:
There are basketball courts in North Baton Rouge on which someone the day after Francis was killed painted on the walls and court: "Ryan Francis Lives Forever." The kids play for hours a day, hitting spray-painted messages wishing Francis to rest in peace."
Like Bias, those words would remain as a reminder of those events that take people away from the world way before their time. More than just one nowadays wonder if the kids read the message and take it heart.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Slant & Go at the movies, Part Deux

Just when you thought it was safe to get back into the water, the brain trust at Slant & Go Studios return to tantalize the viewing public.
The attention garnered by some of S&G’s proposed projects a week ago have prompted officials at the entertainment conglomerate to think of something grand, something huge, something ... sequenced.
S&G is not afraid to look at trends as big-budget movie season draws near. The folks at the studios also know there is money to be made in sequels as well as remakes. Sequels are as American as apple pie, and the S&G brain trust is not afraid to make an impact on the pattented “next chapter” movies.
Think about it, these S&G guys aren’t playing. They think they can actually be larger than that guy Stephen Segal.
“Rambo: First Blood” will just be reduced to a whimsical date movie compared to what Slant & Go is cooking up. S&G will turn “The Godfather 2” into “Three Men and a Young Lady” just off what they are planning. Even all the “Harry Potter” sequels are not a match for the magic S&G can conjure and pack more force than the entire “Star Wars” saga — so take your wookies and skywalk all around Tatooine for all the S&G powers-that-be care.
S&G will keep with its current formula of casting professional athletes instead of some actor type. Athletes are literally beating down the doors and pushing down metermaids just to get their glossy 8x10’s into our offices and to get a seat on the very plush, but very long, casting couch.
This just in: John Williams (the guy that did the score in the “Star Wars” movies), the RZA (the guy from Wu-Tang Clan that did the score in the “Kill Bill” movies), Atlanta rapper Clifford “T.I.” Harris and Willie Nelson all have contacted S&G expressing interest in developing musical accompiament to these upcoming projects.
Raja Bell and Kobe Bean Bryant go mano y mano in “Face/Off 2”: The “Big Bean” tried to elbow Bell’s face off during the Lakers-Suns first round playoff series. Bell did his best Nikita Koloff impression in Game 5 and tried to Russian Sickle Bean’s head off in retaliation to Bryant’s elbowing.
This beef between the scrappy Bell and the hardwood prince Bryant will not be settled until one has eliminated the other. Think of the possibilities: The cool John Woo slo-mo shots with the birds flapping in the distance would add some flair to the scene, but unfortunately would make the basketball court a little more slippery.
It is a classic battle between the undrafted Bell, who caught on with the 76ers the year Iverson and Larry Brown were on the same page, and second-generation player Bryant, who feels the NBA is his fiefdom for him to rule with impunity. Bell could utilize the scrappiness and toughness that has kept him in the league while Bryant can use his elbows and his mutant ability to produce large diamonds whenever the situation calls for it.
Ricky Williams and Onterrio Smith co-star in “Up in Smoke, Again”: Ricky’s the shy, softspoken type that likes holistic medicine. Onterrio’s the high-strung guy that brought “The Whizzinator” into public conscience.
Together these “bud brothers” will walk around in a daze as they’re basically kicked off their jobs for the entire 2006 NFL season. Laugh histerically at their antics as they try to make the Portland Trail Blazers active roster. There are rumors that Damon “that’s not my pot on my coffee table, Mr. Officer” Stoudamire will have a significant role in this film.
Watch Williams and Smith set world record times in the 40-yard dash as they run into a (insert chain grocery store name here) and make a break for the junk food aisle or to the pharmacy section to pick up on some Visine or Clear Eyes.
This good-natured, full-bellied romp is a cross between “Dumb and Dumberer” and “Easy Rider,” the latter not to be confused with E-Z Wider.
Serena Williams in “Less than Zero 2”: This sequel will not involve any references to cocaine, James Spader, Andrew McCarthy and Robert Downey Jr. However, it is the story about a girl from a hardscrabble section of Los Angeles who rises to the pinnacle of her profession, only to blow it away to her addiction to a very powerful drug — fame.
The film would follow Serena as she takes her braids out and begins really kicking butt on the tennis court. However, someone comes along and tells her that she is a lot more than just a tennis player. Serena seemingly overnight becomes a sex symbol and fashion plate, while her game dwindles in that same span.
Black was certainly the best color choice she had for her attire at the Kentucky Derby, because fame killed Serena Williams’ chance to become arguably the greatest women’s tennis player of her generation. Speaking of fame, where’s David Bowie or Debbie Allen when you need them?
Paul Tagliabue stars in “The Godfather 4”: Hey may not be either Don Vito or Michael Corleone, but the retiring NFL commissioner could make offers people just could not refuse.
Just ask the good folks in Phoenix, Jacksonville, Detroit, Houston and other NFL cities that passed tax referendums to build multimillion-dollar stadiums for teams with billionaire owners. Tags punked ESPN into taking “Playmakers” off the air a couple of years ago, the same cable power the NFL virtually gave power to over a decade ago when the league awarded the once-fledgling channel some games.
Tags single-handedly kept the Saints in New Orleans while constantly flirting with Los Angeles. Work stoppages did not happen on Tags’ watch, partly because of the relationship he maintained with his consigliere — NFL Players Association head Gene Upshaw.
Tags must now watch as a new don gets to be at the helm of America’s biggest sports enterprise. Soon, even the Governator will have to kiss another man’s ring if he wants to see a pro football team in Los Angeles.
Reggie Bush starts in “The Golden Child 2”: No Eddie Murphy here singing “I Want the Knife.” Instead, it's Bush’s stepdad telling some equally unscrupulous hack, “I want the house, please!” Wait a minute, that is more of a prequel than a sequel.
This project is still in the very early stages of development, with Bush being pegged as the biggest thing to hit New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina/Styrofoam Cups/Reebok Classics and jeans designed by Marithe and Francois Girbaud.
Just like Thomas after Easter Sunday, Saints fans want to see Bush for themselves, and they know that anything that can go wrong will go wrong whenever the New Orleans Saints are involved.

Monday, May 01, 2006

SLANT-N-GO: S&G at the movies, baby

Big-budget movie season is drawing near, and it isnever too early to pitch ideas for potentialblockbusters. The latest trend in Holly-wood is the “retread,” ormore commonly known as the remake. Remakes are easyto do because a basic premise is already known andpeople already know what happened. Throw in a coupleof young, hip stars along with some cheezy referencesto the original, and you have yourself a retread. Things operate a little differently at Slant & GoStudios. The executives in charge at S&G believe intheir own twisted versions of remakes. These remakesinvolve big-budget athletes instead of some actor typebecause athletes have more emotion in theirperformance and, well, because athletes do their ownstunts for the most part (paging Dwayne “The Rock”Johnson). The S&G brass paintstakingly developed treatments ofmotion-picture projects with some of the biggestnewsmakers in the world of sports. Some may be dramas,others may be comedies, but all of these projects havewhat it takes to rake in some major coin at thebox-office — at least that is what the folks over atS&G are hoping. Some of those closely-guarded projectsare also rumored to be linked with such big-nameddirectors like Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee and the dude that brought us “Bad Boys” and “CSI: Crime SceneInvestigation.”
•Barry Bonds stars in “Greed, Allegedly”: Thisproject is being billed as one part comedy, one partdrama. Bonds can star as one of the greatest baseballplayers of his generation that takes Gordon Gekko’s“Greed is Good” speech to heart. Watch as Bonds transforms himself to an antisocial, automatic annual 30-30 year guy to an antisocial,home-run hitting machine. It would be great if S&G could get Jack Nicholson to play the guy who allegedlygives Bonds some magical flaxseed oil that’s good formore than breaking in gloves. Cast Ray Romano as Bud Selig because, well, Romano as Selig is about 1,000 times better than Selig as Selig.Cheech Marin as Victor Conte would be hilarious. Bythe way, how about a cameo appearance by Conte’s former Tower of Power bandmate Lenny Williams. Itcould be a scene where Bonds is loving it up with hisex-mistress while Williams’ classiclove song “Cause ILove You” is softly playing in the background. It’snot exactly “The Look of Love,” but it would do.
•Marion Jones stars in “My Baby’s Daddy”: This episode of CBS drama “Without a Trace” follows this separated couple. Montgomery was arrested Friday on charges he wasconnected to a multimillion-dollar bank fraud andmoney laundering scheme. This episode will delve intowhat possibly motivated him to allegedly go thatroute, and more importanly, to find Marion Jones — whofell out of sight quicker than a mogwai when brightlights come out.
•Delmon Young in “Reckless Youth”: Watch Dmitri Young’s younger, five-tooled, brother bump umpires andsling bats at them in the minors. Also getbehind-the-scenes interviews with Tampa Bay Devil Raysofficials as they wonder second-guess the decision totake Young over Milwaukee Brewers’ second basemanRickie Weeks with the first overall pick in MLB’samateur draft in 2003. It could have that John Grisham-ish feel, with just apinch of “Desperado,” but with Young walking aroundminor league parks with a duffel bag full of woodenbats instead of Antonio Banderas walking through adusty town with a guitar case loaded with guns.