The Tree of Life Will Make Your Memorial Day Weekend Much More Complex, Cosmic

Trick question: there is no correct answer. As Terrence Malick would undoubtedly say, you must be comfortable living with ambiguity.* My dad bought us a beautiful Weber gas grill for our wedding a few years ago and we love the convenience/utility. Gas grills even make BBQing in the middle of a snow squall possible.

As for the flavor, a predictable defense of charcoal lovers, I don’t see anything wrong with a mild propane aftertaste. I usually mask the natural gas flavor with a few generous ounces of Frank’s Red Hot anyway so for a few less carcinogens I’m all on board the propane train.

In regards to the Heat closing out their series with the Bulls last night in Chicago, I’m disappointed but not surprised. My Windy City friends have already started to rationalize last night’s loss. To them, the Bulls were a year away anyway and won’t contend for a championship until they find another consistent perimeter scorer who can also defend. Free agent targets will include Jamal Crawford, JR Smith, or Jason Richardson. That is of course if we even have free agency this summer which. with the looming labor situation, is looking more and more unlikely.

*Here’s what bothers me about Malick’s latest “masterpiece”.  Critics are telling me that the film is supposed to be some sort of cosmic allegory for human existence with a dash of Oedipus on the side. My “artsy” friends are saying I shouldn’t even bother seeing the film because I probably wouldn’t understand the complexity or magnitude Malick’s semi-autobiographical opus anyway. Frankly, I don’t get what all the hoopla is all about. To be honest, I feel that I could have told you everything you needed to know about the movie after watching the preview. Maybe I’ll reserve final judgment until I actually see The Tree of Life but I shall remain skeptical for the time being.

view from the United Center courtesy of @LukeKosk

A Reason to Sing Along

“I’ve never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure.” – Mark Twain

It wasn’t as emotional as Whitney Houston’s. It wasn’t as spontaneous as this one in Edmonton. But Jim Cornelison version of the Star Spangled Banner last night before the start of the series opener between the Chicago Bulls and the Atlanta Hawks was still a transcendent moment for American sports fans.

The death of Osama bin Laden marks an important moment in history where Americans can reflect, bring some closure to the events of 9/11 and the now nearly decade long war on terror. Although the threat still exists, as do the scars, Americans can take comfort knowing that our armed forces continue to serve courageously and with incredible honor.

Life is a series a measurable quantities. Peace > War. Good > Evil. Love > Hate. Let’s keep it simple, the rest will fall into place.

view from the United Center courtesy of @silvia_delgado

Maurice Podoloff and the 2011 Academy Awards (Part II)

5: Toy Story 3/Amar’e Stoudemire (F, New York Knicks) – With every new Toy Story movie, it feels like a little piece of my childhood fades away.  I can remember when Andy first came home with Buzz Lightyear and now he’s (Andy not Buzz) headed off to college? College is no place for a guy who still plays with his childhood toys. This will lead to years worth of ridicule and stunted mental development. Andy has “clock tower” potential written all over him. It’s all too much for me to take right now.

Speaking of too much to take right now, how about the minutes Mike D’Antoni has Amar’e playing? It’s only a matter of time before both of his knees spontaneously combust. The addition of Carmelo gives fans something more to cheer about but does not mean the Knicks are ready to compete for a championship. The Garden is going to have to wait for 2012 and Chris Paul for that.

4: The Fighter/Dirk Nowitzki (F, Dallas Mavericks) – In between my junior and senior years of college, I spent an entire summer working and playing baseball in Lowell, Massachusetts. It was just like the movie Summer Catch, except there were no Cape Cod beaches and I never did get to see Jessica Biel in a bikini. The general manager of our baseball team, a great old guy who ran a heating/air conditioning business downtown, told us before the first day of practice that it was important for us to avoid Lowell at night.  As I watched The Fighter, I couldn’t help but think about college kids being terrorized on the mean streets of the Mill City by the likes of Christian Bale.

Nowitzki fourth on my list is more a testament to the success of the Mavs than Dirk himself.  He’s struggled to return to form since an early season knee injury but as the most talented player on a very dangerous western conference team, he deserves at least a mentioning.

3: True Grit/Kevin Durant (F, Oklahoma City Thunder) – My main issue with this Coen Brothers iteration of a John Wayne classic is that Jeff Bridges makes his Rooster Cogburn sound eerily similar to Billy Bob Thornton’s character in Sling Blade. It was so distracting that at one point I could have sworn Bridges asked the erstwhile Hailee Steinfeld whether or not she would like some “French fried potaters”. My other issue with True Grit was that Josh Brolin received top billing for a total of 4 minutes 32 seconds of actual screen time.  How is this allowed?  This is Hollywood stat stuffing akin to baseball home run records and Tammany Hall elections.

It’s only a matter of time before KD wins an MVP award. Probably won’t happen this year, unless the Thunder move up a few spots in the western conference before the playoffs, but he has the flashy offensive game and gaudy statistics to at least put him in the conversation.  Another factor that could stand in his way of an MVP award is the emergence of Russell Westbrook. Baseline to baseline, Westbrook might be the quickest player in the NBA.

2: The Social Network/ (tie) Lebron James & Dwyane Wade – Impossible for me to choose between the two Heat superstars.  Both are playing at an unbelievably high levels and their individual games seem to compliment each others much better than anticipated. I still don’t think Miami will compete for a NBA championship this season, not enough of an inside presence/defense, but I do expect this core to rattle off 2 or 3 titles in a row sometime in the near future.

The future is now for Facebook. Human culture and the way we communicate will never be the same – see Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, etc. The Social Network was a brilliantly scripted movie. My main issue with the film is that none of the main characters were likable. Couldn’t root for anyone of them, especially the Winklevoss twins. Have you ever seen those two in real life? Frightening looking mutants. Some rogue foreign dictator should develop a clone Winklevoss army.  They would instantly become the top threat to global security in the 21st century.

1: The King’s Speech/Derrick Rose (G, Chicago Bulls) – I find myself gravitating towards this entire Bulls team. They play hard, great team defense, and a have a likable/brash group of young all star caliber players (Noah, Rose, and Gibson). D-Rose is the total package and has put this team in position to challenge the beasts of the east for a shot at the NBA Finals. One worry, his game is so aggressive/reckless that I feel he could seriously injury himself at any moment.  Same thing goes for Blake Griffin and Luke Harangody.

The King’s Speech is everyone’s pick to win the Oscar.  It was my favorite movie of 2011 and really what’s not to like? Who doesn’t enjoy the inspirational story of an underdog monarch overcoming personal obstacles to lead his country during a pivotal time in world history? I am also calling Colin Firth for Best Actor, Christian Bale/Hailee Steinfeld for Supporting, Natalie Portman for Best Actress, and David Fincher for Director. Agree to disagree.

view from the United Center courtesy of @ShwanGan

Jay Cutler Needs to Grow a Pair of Crutches

The Madhouse on Madison was rocking last night during the Chicago Bulls 92-83 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.  With the win, the Bulls improved their record to 31-14 and now enjoy a healthy 13 game lead in the Central Division.  Derrick Rose is the clear frontrunner for league MVP and when Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer both return from injury, the Bulls will emerge as a team to beat in the Eastern Conference.

I’m sort of surprised so many fans were in attendance at the United Center last night.  I mean, only 24 hours had passed since the Bears were defeated by the Packers in the NFC Championship game and I figured fans would still be marching down Michigan Ave burning effigies of Jay Cutler.  Does yesterdays MRI, which revealed a Grade II MCL sprain, make Bears fans feel any better about the heart of their signal caller?  Have those current, and former, NFL players who called out Cutler for not “gutting out” the injury now since recanted their earlier statements?

Perhaps Frank Deford summed it up best regarding our immediate response to the “Cutler Identity”: “It’s terrible.  We move entirely too fast without thinking”. I agree with Deford that we, media and fans, are sometimes too quick to jump to conclusions.  Twitter and Facebook only exacerbate this 21st century tendency.  Perhaps Jay Cutler, and his wounded knee, would have been treated much more delicately before the advent of the interent and ESPN.  But, as one of the many fans who were too quick to question the severity of his injury, where’s the fun in that?

view of the United Center courtesy of @gneri