August 29, 2008

Tennis Hotness

I was sad to see #1 seed (and Wimbledon Champ) Ana Ivanovic lose her U.S. Open tennis match yesterday. I think I speak for everyone when I say we need to see more of her, not less. to MissIvanovic up, I thought I would rank the hottest tennis players of all time. There is a good chance she'll make the list, I'm betting.


(Special note: while I fully acknowledge that Serena Williams has one of the most incredible bodies of all time, she is not included here because deep in every man's heart is the fear that Serena was born a man. The woman is just freaky athletic, and that's not her fault, but we just cannot take that chance.)


THE HOTTEST TENNIS PLAYERS OF ALL TIME



#10 Gisela Dulko - You already know more about her than I do. (If she every wins anything and they make a TV movie of her life, LeeLee Sobieski could totally play her, huh?)




#9 Tatiana Golovin - I think "Tatiana" is one of the prettiest names of all time.




#8 Chris Evert - Why don't tennis players wear THOSE outfits??? I bet they'd get lots more viewership.



#7 Daniela Hauntuchova - she may not look the hottest of these pictures, but Daniela might be the best "in-game hottie." In particular, she had a habit of dousing her entire body with water during breaks.



#6 Billie Jean King - Just kidding. (By the way, don't ever let anyone fool you about that so-called Battle of the Sexes in 1973 with Bobby Riggs. Riggs was 55 at the time, while King was 29.) Women tennis players are awesome enough, but the greatest tennis player of all time (SteffiGraf ) wouldn't make the top 100 of Men's in her era. It's simply a matter of how hard they hit. No shame in that. By the way. I would like to apologize again for havingBJK make this list. I owe Monica Seles an apology too.



#5 Gabriela Sabatini - a classic of the late '80s and early '90s; frequently mistaken for Gloria Estefan. Wait a minute, now that I think about it, have they ever been seen in the same place?




#4 Maria Sharapova - the dominant force in hot women athletes since the demise of AK. Plus, she actually wins. A lot.



#3 Sania Mirza - I'm just going to come out and say it. With the possible exception of Sweden and Portugal, India just produces the best looking people on the planet.




#2 Ana Ivanovic - Michael Wilbon called her the hottest female athlete of all time. It's getting hard to disagree.


and the hottest tennis player of all time is.....




#1 Anna Kournikova - What can you say? The Global Icon. At one point Anna Kounikova and Britney Spears accounted for something like 50% of all Internet traffic. I kid you not. Kournikova never won anything, but her sex appeal made her the first female athlete to hit mega stardom outside of the clean-cut Olympian pixies. There will never be a larger percentage of American men care about women's sports than they did during the time of Anna. That's gotta be worth something.

August 26, 2008

13 Memories with Hyperion


{This is a Guest Post written by my sister. I would like to completely disavow the following damnable lies.}

@@@



My Brother, or the Once and Future King, as I affectionately call him, has been the most influential person in my life. He is ten years my senior and as such has had the privilege, nay the duty to instruct and mold me into the perfect protege. When that didn't work out he settled with having a doting audience. He has been there for the most wonderful and often embarrassing moments of my life. On this the 13th year of his rebirth we celebrate and give thanks for his presence in our lives. I give you in no particular order:


13 memories with Hyperion


When I was younger, between 3 and 5, our family went away on vacation. We stayed at a Holiday Inn for part of the time and it was awesome. Next to the pool there were pool tables and the whole family was amused. One night we were all gathered around the hot tub and I wanted to be on the other side with my mom. It didn't occur to me to get out and walk around, or maybe I couldn't I can't remember. Well I jumped in and sunk to the bottom right in the middle, not realizing it was deeper. From what I was told at first no one saw me. Then a few seconds later they came to and before my mother or father could react my BIG BROTHER, reached in and yanked me out. I did not know how to swim and could have died. I remember the room and the feeling of going under. I also remember Hype saving me. He would never admit to actually preventing my grizzly death, but prevent it he did.



When Christmas rolled around my brothers would help my sister and me write our letters to Santa. Hype always helped me, with me sitting on his lap. I think he resented doing this until he figured out a cunning way of turning it to his advantage. I was far more naive and could be manipulated into putting Beef Jerky on my list, multiple times. When I was too young to read I have a suspicion that that was all he wrote. His response now "Good Times."



We lived in Albany, Oregon for a few years and along the edge of the neighborhood there ran a canal. I wasn't allowed back there so I always wondered about it. My brother often watched us kids when the parents were off "working," whatever that means. He developed a system to make me behave and I snapped to. When I wouldn't clean up or go to bed he would threaten to throw me in the canal. This became the saying and I believed him wholeheartedly. I didn't find out till much much later that it was actually a tiny stream about 2 feet deep. It didn't have alligators like the ones that haunt my dreams. He maintains it was much higher in 1989, but global warming is a bitch.



Hype always read the paper and looked through the mail growing up. I used to be so proud that he gave me the job of running to the end of the driveway to fetch it for him. We made a game of it and he would time me to see how fast I could be. I tried for years to beat yesterday's time and even as I got older still happily did this chore. When I was nearly an adult I was told that actually he made up the time EVERY day! The whole family was in on it!! Now the thought of mail makes me develop a small twitch.



When we lived in Lovejoy, GA during one of our parents trips he was staying in their room in order to be closer to the kids he was supposed to be watching. One rainy morning my sister and I needed a ride to school. We crouched by the door and knocked slowly. We held our breath as we heard the roar from the other side. "WHAT???" We told him we could use a ride and we were sorry to wake him. After repeating this a few times it sunk in and he answered my sister's question. "If you knock again I will crush the skulls of your unborn children!" It is was very scary to a 4'6 kid whose love for her brother was always coupled with a healthy fear. The threat soon was a family saying and still my sister won't wake Hyperion.



Hyperion often had the job of carting one or many of his siblings to wherever they needed to go. He took me to the rollerskating rink one Friday when I was 12 or so. The rink was the place on Fridays and very little skating happened. Mostly we talked and pretended we were much older than we were. The thing to do was to meet a boy and "go out." If you ended up making out in some dark corner then you were the envy of the 6th grade. I had several friends that were a little more progressed than I and I took my cue from them. I had my first kiss and later my first make out, by the air hockey table, and I thought I was so grown up. When my brother came to pick me up with his girlfriend at the time he asked what I had been up to. He always knew, it was annoying. I told him the G rated version and he was outraged. His girlfriend tried to explain it to him but nothing was going to stop him from using the 20 minute car ride home to rant. It resembled a scene from Footloose, only funny. I never will forget thinking despite the overprotective instinct, my brother really cared about me, as I shook my tiny fist.



Movies. This has been at the center of my relationship with Hype. Early on he decided I was going to be educated, and he has spent every day we have spent together trying to achieve this. WhenAFI came up with it's list of the 100 best movies of all time, He told the younger siblings that we would watch them. ALL of them. We skipped the ones we had seen already and never finished because of moving, but it started me on the path of good movies and to this day I think I have a better taste than seen in most people my age.



He took me to several movies as a young child and the memories have never faded. We went to see Mulan and I remember him crying from laughing so hard at Mushu. When he took me to see Something about Mary I was 12 and I didn't think I would be able to get in. The ticket guy, who of course was hot, asked to see my ID. Hype stood there knowing full well that it was just a formality, but I still had to show the hot high school guy my 6th grade I.D. My face could have rivaled the AMC sign it was so red. In the movie there was an awkward moment with...hair gel...my brother sighed with relief when he realized I didn't understand what I was laughing at. I was sheltered, Don't Hate! Then Harry Potter became our thing. We saw them at the first midnight showing and would organize dinner and snacks that we could not possibly eat in 3 weeks let alone 3 hours. As I got older the movies became more frequent and it's the best part of my week when we squeeze in the latest showing of whatever is worthy of us being in the audience.



During our stay in Canada I asked Hype to watch Silence of the Lambs with me. I had never seen it and wanted someone with me. He insisted on turning off the lights. Not to create the movie theater aspect like he said, but to silently try to scare me by putting his hand on my neck and making a slithering sound. I was so angry with the frequent chills that came from this that I went straight to my room after the movie. A few minutes later I saw his fingers under my door and I heard the soft hissing sound. Even now he will do this if we have had a disagreement. It's his form of an olive branch.



He often tried to surprise me. In Canada this developed into his stacking furniture outside my door. He would even put our stuffed hippo on top of the pile. It mocked me. This never got old for him, since he shared the refurbished basement with me and could watch the whole thing. When we moved into our current house he put this basket from Kenya that holds games outside my door. It only reaches my knee and I didn't see it. I not only hit it but completely flipped over it landing on my back. He likes to call it basket-gate. Yeah...good times.



His favorite author is the late great Robert Jordan. When he passed I suggested we go to Outback and celebrate his books and how much we loved them. It was one of our best meals. The parents joined us mid appetizer and we shared and laughed. This will forever be the method to deal with grief. Say what you want about feeding the pain, a good idea is a good idea.



I care about what my brother thinks. I actually care a little too much. When I date someone I end up talking about it to him, as much as he loathes these little chats. When I went through a particularly painful breakup at 19 my brother was the one that helped. He drove me to get essentials (grape soda, Doritos, ice cream) rented movies and spent time with me when my best friend wasn't able to get out of work. I was miserable, Kristi couldn't get away to help, and he had things to do. Nevertheless he spent the night keeping me laughing. That is the kind of brother he is.



I saved this memory for last because it is just perfect. In 1996 Romeo & Juliet came out. Opening night there was a late show in downtown Atlanta. Too late for me in fact, yet I was getting to go. He took my sister and myself to see this movie. We got snacks and walked in with the crowd. I remember thinking how cool my brother was. We sat in the packed theater and cheered with the audience as the movie started. There my love of Shakespeare began. Then 2 minutes in my sister asks very loudly "Why are they talking like that?" Hype was mortified and tried to explain it to her. I was so proud that I was watching the movie and was determined to enjoy every minute. I went home that night and read it at age of 10. This was one of the best nights of my life.


My brother Hyperion has taught me all I know about movies. He taught me how to take medicine and came between me and disaster countless times. He has helped me learn how to cook and bought me the stuffed animal I prize above all other possessions. He is my teacher, support system and partner in crime. He is my idol. He is my hero. He is my Hyperion. Go get your own.

Sniff Sniff

August 7, 2008

Morgan Freeman Movies





I got to thinking about Morgan Freeman movies last night. Take a look at his IMDB page: it's a Murderer's Row! You can make the argument that his best movies rank with or ahead of anyone's. (I have only gone back fifty years so far, but no one has been in more Best Picture winners than Freeman (3), and so far only two people have that many.)

I wanted to do a Top Ten list of Morgan Freeman movies. Stipulated that: A) I haven't seen a few that conceivably could make the list, like STREET SMART, MOLL FLANDERS or THE BUCKET LIST; B) I am not including THE DARK KNIGHT in this list, because I haven't had time to think about the movie properly, as to where it might place; C) I didn't include Narration, but I think we can agree that hands down Morgan Freeman is the best Movie Narrator of all time; D) I am judging the Movie, not his performance. Judging the "acting" would constitute a different list.

Honorable Mention: Gone, Baby Gone; Nurse Betty; Outbreak





THE TOP TEN MORGAN FREEMAN MOVIES





#10 Million Dollar Baby - I found the ending to this film to be a fraud (I don't believe either character would act in that way), so I was tempted to leave the movie off entirely. But it did win Best Picture, Morgan did win his own Oscar, and so here it is.




#9 Unforgiven - Another Best Picture winner I have serious problems with, though I seem to be the only one. In any event, Morgan is great in this beloved Western, loved by most.




#8 Wanted - This image makes me wonder what PULP FICTION would have been like with Moran Freeman as Jules. For that matter, picture Samuel L. Jackson with Miss Daisy. I'm sensing "foot-up-the-ass" in the near future!




#7 Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves - Because everyone turned on Costner with WATERWORLD (and the following decade of awd-gawful dreck), Robin Hood gets downgraded in your memory. But it's terrific, and Morgan Freeman MAKES this movie. His Azeem is the best movie interpretation of a Muslim I can think of. Hmm.... Maybe another top ten list. I'm open to ideas.




#6 Batman Begins - I love this image capture: "Whatchu talkin' 'bout, Bruce?" In a series that's as well-cast as Harry Potter or LOTR, Morgan Freeman blends perfectly with his Lucius Fox. Anytime you'd be interested in an entire movie on a small character who doesn't even get to do anything; that's acting, baby.




#5 Se7en - People tell me that Morgan Freeman (and for that matter, Mr. Denzel) always play the same character. But what they're really saying is, that's all they see. If you rank Freeman in the caliber of actors that I do, then you understand that the subtle shades of degree are where genius lies. Anthony Hopkins does it--the difference between his butler in REMAINS OF THE DAY and Hannibal Lecter is razor-thin, but Viva la Difference! It's time we realized that Morgan Freeman is capable of this too. Yes, he's often cast as the benignly stern (but really gentle) wise grandfather-type, but compare Eddie Dupris in MILLION DOLLAR BABY to William Somerset here in SE7EN. There is not much difference, BUT THERE IS SO MUCH DIFFERENCE!!!! I'm saying it right here and right now: any list of the best ten actors in the world today HAS to include Morgan Freeman, and to say otherwise is to declare war.





#4 Amistad - It's hard to believe a Steven Spielberg picture is one of the most underrated films of the '90s, but there you go. This film should be required in all schools. And, since I have nothing else to add, if I were in charge, Morgan Freeman would be required to always wear a cape. As would I.




#3 Driving Miss Daisy - I saw the film the other day. It seems dated, which is a weird phenomenon, since it was originally a fresh perspective on a dated time and place. Don't get me wrong; DMD still is amazing, but with where the culture has gone the "lessons" come across differently. Who wants to lay odds that Dan Ackroyd is never getting into another Best Picture winner?




#2 Glory - Dude, Morgan Freeman had GLORY and DRIVING MISS DAISY come out in the same year. You have to go back to Victor Fleming ('39) for a guy to have a year like that. [Actually, now that I think about it, Spielberg had SCHINDLER'S LIST and JURASSIC PARK both in '93, although he's not an actor. At the very least, Freeman's on the short list for greatest years.] Back to GLORY, it stands out in my mind as the first R rated film that my parents brought home. They considered it extremely important that my brother and I see it. I agree. The violence is scary, but I would show this film in 5th grade, explaining the significance of certain traumatic events. (Obviously the dying, but the lash marks, etc.) Arguably the greatest assembly of black actors in history (with the possible exception of UNDERCOVER BROTHER. Just kidding.)


And the number one Morgan Freeman movie (but just by a hair) is.....



#1 The Shawshank Redemption - I have to be the only person in America who would spend the majority of the night sick to my stomach over how to rank my top five. I know; I care too deeply, but Morgan Freeman is important, dagnabbit, and I wanted to do right by him. What tips the scales (even though this wasn't supposed to be a factor) is that Freeman's "Red" is so wonderful a character. It is Red that made us fall in love with Freeman the actor, made us trust him through thick and thin, and gave him that instant respect anytime you see him on screen. It is also Red's narration that made us all realize that Morgan Freeman should narrate everything. An amazing film that has not lost one step in the last 14 years.


You could do far worse than have a Morgan Freeman night. I'm not saying he's 100% responsible for the great films above (and others), but he has added to every film I've ever seen him in. With his recent serious-car crash and personal difficulties, there seemed no better time than to honor one of the Screen Titans. This is me throwing him a "Keep your head up, Morgan." Freeman always hated being called "black," feeling that it limits him (and others). I'll honor that. From now on this site will not call Morgan Freeman anything other than Awesome.





I love me some Vincent the Vegetable Vampire

August 1, 2008

Douglas Adams




Somehow I ran across a page of Douglas Adams quotes, and was immediately transfixed. Even though many of them were pulled out of context from various books and essays he has written, they still grabbed me with a Universal poignancy that seemed to shine a spotlight on my life. I culled the list down to a few of my favorites, which I have down below. (They aren't ranked, because how can you rank the immortal Douglas Adams?) After each quote I have my pathetic attempts at humorous commentary. Please do not let my failures as a comic lessen for one minute your enjoyment of one of the 20th (or any other) Century's greatest wits.



MY FAVORITE DOUGLAS ADAMS QUOTES




In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move. [Assuming the Universe didn't just spring into existence completely from nothing, do you think whoever or whatever created the Universe ever just sits back and sees what's going on and says, "Hmm.....so, that happened."?]




Life is wasted on the living. [Lately I've been semi-obsessed with that being dead means. What if it's nothing like we think/thought? We've all met people who had "near-death" experiences, but those people weren't actually dead. Not in any appreciable sense. Their brain never stopped working. I'd like to meet someone who's been dead for a year. Are they still in that box/urn? Did their spirits make it to afterlife? If so, does that make this world less important, or more? I feel an 8000 word musing forming in my belly, so let's just move on.]




A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. [I was going to write "Insert Bush joke here" but then I thought, too easy. I have to say, all the people who make "Bush is dumb" jokes realize they are just lashing out as a way to feel superior, right? It's like what Verbal Kint says about the Devil; the single greatest thing Bush ever did was make people think he wasn't worth taking seriously. And if he is that dumb, what does it say about you that he beat you twice??? (For the record, I'm not a Bush Hater per se. I hate all politicians equally.)]




The difficulty with this conversation is that it's very different from most of the ones I've had of late. Which, as I explained, have mostly been with trees. [Even out of the context (of the book where this quote comes), it explains my life so well.....]




For a moment, nothing happened.Then, after a second or so, nothing continued to happen. [I love his dry humor. This kind of passage is similar to a "Garden Path Sentence," where what we think is going on isn't, and when we come to the end we have reevaluate the sentence from the beginning.]




The mere thought hadn't even begun to speculate about the merest possibility of crossing my mind. [You're not going to believe it, but this kind of escalating hyperbole is very Biblical. The first author of Isaiah used it well ("Holy Holy Holy" is actually an escalating adjective, not some early mention of the Trinity), and Jesus himself used this kind of sentence structure often. Who knew?]




It is a well-known fact that those people who must want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it... anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job
. [A paraphrase of Groucho Marx, but so freaking true. Not the mother of all Catch-22s, but at least a nephew.]






I'm spending a year dead for tax reasons. [I love the simplicity. When I was sixteen, and not yet fully understanding the relationship between working and drinking, I was at a Subway one Sunday night. Two guys in their late thirties stumbled in looking like something the cat leaves on the doorstep. One of them said, "You gonna call in sick tomorrow?" The other one replied, "Can't. Called in sick too many times. Hafta call in dead."]





Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the drug store, but that's just peanuts to space. [There's a scientific concept called the Large Number Problem (I may have the term wrong; Google isn't working), that basically says that very large numbers are so impossible to put into context that people equate them with much smaller more manageable numbers. For example, if you truly understood the odds of the lottery, you would never play. However, most people see 350 million to 1 as 100 to 1; in other words, long odds but certainly possible. Space is the same way. Describing how big space is (especially if you include Dark Matter and Dark Energy), is so impossible to wrap your head around that it's almost not worth trying. Conversely, I think the longest distance in the universe is the several feet away your remote control is hiding when you're comfortable with your pillows and don't want to get up. By the way, not for nothing, but those lights in the picture aren't stars, they're galaxies, each with about 100 billion stars. Yeah.]




I don't believe it. Prove it to me and I still won't believe it. [Man, if this doesn't describe partisan politics, nothing does. Scott Adams wrote once that we tend to give credence to evidence that confirms our prejudices, and discount evidence that contradicts it. So true. This is my main reason for not understanding those affiliated with a political party. How can you be so sure a party is right on a vast number of issues that you've joined their ranks as a member? What if they're wrong about stuff? What if you're wrong about stuff? How on Earth are you ever going to be persuaded and convinced when you have a membership card to the clubhouse? Sorry. I'll get off my soapbox.]




It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes. [What about potatoes and cheese? I'd like to think, if I'm not being too bold here, that Douglas Adams would have rather enjoyed my BLKF Theory.]




He was a dreamer, a thinker, a speculative philosopher... or, as his wife would have it, an idiot. [Women of the former Hyperion Nation (not that there's not a Nation anymore, just that I don't call you that since Stephen Colbert stole it from me and as of yet haven't come up with a new....oh, never mind): Women Hoping to Bed and Wed Hyperion, hear (read) me well: this sentence will have to be your/my personal motto. Get used to it now. I'm good for many many many many things. Not a one of them is of any practical value.]




He hoped and prayed that there wasn't an afterlife. Then he realized there was a contradiction involved here and merely hoped that there wasn't an afterlife
. [The funniest part of the sentence (to me) is the sly dig at how compromised many atheists' motives are. (I said many, not all, so save your letters.) I rather enjoy tweaking atheists I know; not allowing them to say 'God Bless You' and so on.]




Flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss. [I've said it before, and I'll say it again; I KNOW HOW TO FLY. Every time I dream about flying, I am not flying anew, but simply remembering how to fly. If only I could translate that to waking. I do know it's something similar to this. You jump up and kind of just don't come down. That's all I got right now, but one day I'll get it right.]




You live and learn. At any rate, you live. [I feel like this should be tattooed somewhere on my body.]



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