Mothers, Sons and Cousins

Justin July 3, 2010 1

Let’s talk about movies. More specifically, let’s talk about movie posters.

I walked by a theatre this morning and saw an ad for Cyrus. John C Reilly plays a guy who dates Marisa Tomei and Jonah Hill plays her son. The two guys hate each other. Catherine Keener also plays some role.  The poster has the names of all four stars above the title. Reilley and Keener are billed as Acadamy Award Nominees and Tomei is listed as Academy Award winner.

I definitely want to see this movie. And that’s no small thing. I don’t generally say that. I see movies about as often as I have sex. (The only difference is that I need another person with me when I go to movies. I AM VERY LONELY.)  The concept of John C. Reilly and Jonah Hill going one on one in a passive agressive man-child face off is enough to make me giddy. But at the same time, I don’t expect either of them to break any new acting ground during their performances. And I don’t expect Marisa Tomei or Catherin Keener to add any additional weight to the plot through their roles. So, why advertise them all as award winning actors? Do you think you’ll fool people who don’t know what to see into buying tickets? “OOH, MAYBE IT’S LIKE A MERCHANT-IVORY FILM. I LOVED JOHN C REILLY IN CHICAGO.” No one is that dumb. And even if they are, Jonah Hill’s big fat face on the poster will pretty much convince those people that this ain’t Shakespeare.

Also, when does the Statute of Limitations run out on Oscar wins? I’m tired of hearing Matt Damon and Ben Affleck being billed as Acadamy Award winners when their new movies come out. Good Will Hunting was 13 years ago. AND THEY WON IT FOR WRITING, NOT ACTING.

Just give people what they want. Stop trying to convince them it’s something different.

This theme will return, as we dissect this week’s issue.

Sports Illustrated, July 5th, 2010

Ubaldo Jimenez, Baseball, Colorado Rockies


Richard Hoffer’s piece on Jack Johnson/ Jim Jeffries fight in 1910 was journalistically interesting. Did you ever read Call of the Wild or White Fang when you were a kid? (I didn’t but I know a lot of people did.) Did you know that the guy who wrote it was a virulent racist?

A black champion? The author Jack London, who was in Sydney at the time, immediately began campaigning for an amendment to this racial injustice: “Jim Jeffries must emerge from his alfalfa farm and remove the smile from Jack Johnson’s face. Jeff, it’s up to you!”

That seems like something  that should be taught in school when classes are assigned this guy’s books to read.


Year of the Pitcher/The Quiet Assassin by Albert Chen

Why did this have to be two separate articles?  It could have very easily started with a study of how pitchers are dominating the game this year like no season since 1968 then narrowed into a specific look at Ubaldo Jimenez, who is having the best season of any pitcher in the sport.

What’s Lost, What’s Next by Grant Wahl

It’s almost over. The World Cup finals are next Sunday.  Then these articles will stop. Until then, we will muddle through. Grant Wahl’s piece last week was pure poetry. This one? not so much. What will it take to improve US soccer? How many times to we have to go over this? Stop rehashing the same old arguments.

An Eternity on Court 18 by L/ Jon Wertheim

There’s a book called “The Iowa Baseball Confederacy” by WP Kinsella. He’s the same guy who wrote “Shoeless Joe,” the book that became “Field of Dreams.” I read The Iowa Baseball Confederacy years ago, and don’t remeber all the details, but the main thrust is that this guy enters some mystical realm where there’s a baseball game being played. And that game’s been going on for hundreds of years and neither team can win. Anytime a run scores in the top of the inning, the other team comes back and scores in the bottom. I don’t remember how it ended, or even if I finished the book.  But, its all I could think about when I was watching John Isner and Nicolas Mahut battle it out. It wasn’t a particularly well played match. But I couldn’t turn away. My favorite part of the match was the very end. After both men received gifts from the Wimbledon organizers and did an on-court interview with the BBC, they were asked to pose next to the scoreboard. Mahut pointed to the scoreboard right next to the spot where they were standing, but the interviewer said, “No, we need to go to the other one. Over  there.” So, two men, who had just played 11 hours of tennis, were forced to walk across the court for a photo op when there was a perfectly good scoreboard right  next to them.  All because the photographer had set up at the second place.

The Big Question Mark by Ian Thomsen

The NBA Draft is traditionally my favorite sports night of the year. Two years ago, I put together a  ten part preview. Last year, I did a Michael Jackson is dead recap. This year? I haven’t even mentioned it. That’s because no one taken last week is particularly interesting. No, Ian Thomsen, not even DeMarcus Cousins. He’s big and misunderstood. People think he’s a jackass. He says he’s not. OK. Enjoy your 11 year career spent as a 10ppg, 8rpg center on three different teams. I am willing to bet this is the last time DeMarcus Cousins is ever profiled in this magazine.

Motormouths by Lars Anderson

Yeah, right.

7 Days in the Life Of A Catastrophe by Gary Smith

I like to think of conversation as more than just a form of communication. I like to think of it as a competitive art form.  The best practitioners are able to predict the other person’s questions and answer them before they’re asked.  If all goes well, you’ve gotten your point across and convinced the other person that you’re right.  This is exactly what Gary Smith did in this article. The first thing I thought when I saw this week’s SI was, “The Oil Spill, what does that have to do with sports?”

Here’s the first paragraph in Smith’s piece

For six weeks, before the call came, I’d been living with a rock in my gut. Living in a place surrounded by waterways, marshlands and beaches, watching on TV as a pipe 700 miles away spewed death day after day, and doing nothing because … because those were someone else’s waterways, marshlands and beaches?

So when the boss called, asking me to go to the Gulf Coast to write a story about the oil spill, I felt almost relieved. But then, being a sportswriter, I couldn’t help myself. I asked, What’s the connection to sports?

And that gave him the cover he needed to write a great article about how the region is suffering. What’s it have to do with sports? Nothing. That’s the whole point. Some things are more important than sports.

Be honest, you were expecting some garbage about how the spill was affecting Drew Brees, weren’t you? I think we can all agree this is much better.

The Vault/

I’ve been ignoring this section for the last few weeks, but something caught my eye in Tom Verducci’s “Three Strikes” sidebar.

Stephen Strasburg is quickly establishing a reputation as a great finisher. Through Strasburg’s first four starts, 57 hitters had their turn at bat against him determined with a two-strike pitch—41 of them struck out, for a 72% putaway rate. How impressive is that?

I don’t know, Tom. How impressive is that? Putaway rate is not an actual stat that anyone has ever heard of.  So, I don’t know if 72% is good. Perhaps you could have provided me with another pitcher’s numbers or the league average so I have something to compare it to.

Point After by Phil Taylor

I don’t have kids or any prospects for getting any in the near future. Still, the specter of Autism scares the living fuck out of me.  So, Phil Taylors column about the Canadian boy who’s used golf to help him deal with autism hit me in a very personal way.  I read it on the subway. It might have put a tear in my eye.  Or the tear may have been caused by the drunk guy sleeping in the other side of the train car in a puddle of his own feces. I LOVE  NEW YORK.

One Comment »

  1. Jump Shooter July 17, 2010 at 12:59 pm -

    The first part of this piece makes zero sense. Re-read it. It just makes no sense. You write: “I don’t expect Tomei or Keener to add any additional weight to the plot through their roles.” What does that even mean? Actors are promoted as Oscar winners/nominees as a way of telling people that they’ve been really good in other movies, so they’ll probably be really good in this one. Which I’m sure you know, so what exactly are you taking issue with? There is some wit to your writing, but don’t try so hard to be clever in these SI reviews. Half the time — the last item about the autistic kid, for example — it’s not clear whether your you truly like or dislike a piece, or whether you’re just trying to set up a joke.

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