Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Rich Kotite (Bangin' Your Mom) At The Movies !!!

"Rocky Balboa"

3 out of 4 Smiling Kotites (Yeah; that's a smile ...)

There are a few things in this world that get any man riled up: A sexy woman, a few shots of tequila and the music from "Rocky." Whether it's the original instrumental version, or the Survivor "Eye of the Tiger" power ballad / instant erection (for me anyway) from the sequels.

"Rocky Balboa" doesn't stray far from the road that led its predecessors to success:

Step One: Establish Likeable Underdog Status for Protagonist.

Step Two: Establish Dominant Antagonist for Underdog -- Preferably a Minority (Mr. T, Apollo Creed, George Washington Duke and this versions Mason Dixon) or Foreigner (Ivan Drago).

Step Three: Establish Some Sort of Love Interest.

Step Four: Show Vastly Different Training Montages.

Step Five: SHOWDOWN! with a) ring entrances, b) motivational speech for Rocky, c) first and/or second and/or third round domination by underdog and then finally d) triumphant Balboa wins over the crowd, earns his opponents respect and rights all wrongs.

However, this "Rocky" - out of all the sequels - is the most similar to the original, which dominated the 1977 Academy Awards, and launched our boy Sly into the spotlight. The story begins in a graveyard, at Adrian's headstone, who seems to have past between film five and six from, as Stallone later describes, "Ladies Cancer." He lives in a crappy Philadelphia house (although in that city, what house isn't crappy?) and has two pet turtles in his bedroom, feeds the birds outside some sort of candy and does roughly six chin-ups a morning with his coffee. He runs a somewhat successful restaurant, with, what Paulie sums up in the funniest part of the movie, "... a bunch of Mexicans cookin' Italian food ..." His son is some sort of financial bitch, and seems to be doing OK for himself. During all this, we see glimpses of the current heavyweight champion, Mason "The Line" Dixon - another phenomenal name from the "Rocky" saga (played decently enough by current Light Heavyweight Champion Antonio Tarver). He's not the people's champion Balboa was, and, in many ways, we see Stallone taking jabs (pardon the pun ...) at the real boxing scene.

The most confusing part of the film - to Rich Kotite, anyway - was the character of Little Marie. Remember her from the first one? The cigarette-smoking, street-walking little girl? She's bartending now in South Philly, at a place I'm sure a ton of Eagles fans inhabit on game day. Balboa comes in to reminisce about a date he and Adrian had there years before, and is recognized by Little Marie. He drives her home, which begins what appears to be a courtship/friendship/parentship of Marie and her son, "Steps." ("Steps," by the way, was fathered by a Jamaican man, to which Balboa replies "Jamaican huh? So he's European?" Sly Stallone may be the only person on the planet who could deliver that line and actually convince me of the sincerity.)

"Steps" slowly turns into the son Balboa wishes his own boy was; the two buy a dog together, he gives the kid a job in his restaurant and he even takes him into the gym during the training montage.

Anyway; back to the plot. ESPN - that SOB - is what ultimately gets Balboa back into the ring. After showing a computer-generated bout between the current versus former Heavyweight champion, Balboa wins and pisses off Dixon, who has been searching for a way to regain his popularity with the Pay-Per-View buyers he so dearly wants to impress. Dixon's manager and publicist find their way into "Adrian's" to make an offer to the Italian Stallion - after learning of its location from "Cold Pizza" and Skip Bayless (who should be shot in the fucking head). Balboa accepts - after learning some of the proceeds will go to charity, of course - to a ten-round exhibition in Las Vegas; and then, my friends, the movie goes from good to orgasmic.

The training montage we've all grown to love hits hard, with an appearance from Apollo Creed's old manager, Duke (Tony Burton, one of only four actors to appear in all the films, by the way ...), telling Balboa he's got no speed and is falling apart. Balboa's only chance, Duke says, is the line that made me want to stand up and punch the lady next to me: "What we will be calling on is blunt force trauma ... Let's start building some hurting bombs ..." Solid gold. 100%.

Once the fight is on - and Balboa enters the ring to Frank Sinatra singing "High Hopes" - the action finally picks up; waiting for the climax like only the first "Rocky" did. Dixon warns Balboa not to try and hurt him, or else he'll punish the old man. Balboa does what he knows how to do: Leads with his chin and works the body. These scenes are the only ones Tarver looks comfortable in, pummeling a somewhat jacked, somewhat geriatric Stallone on and about the head and face.

I won't give away the ending, but it doesn't end with a senile Balboa screaming and crying "ADRIAN!" on his way to the nursing home (like I'd feared).

Overall, the film is exactly what you'd expect it to be: A cookie-cutter version of the series, with a modern twist. Look for Mike Tyson making a jaw-dropping cameo in Las Vegas, and keep your ears open everytime Paulie speaks. If you're a fan of the old "Rocky" movies, see it. If you're a boxing fan, see it. If you have something hanging between your legs, see it. Tell 'em Richie Kotite sent ya!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Welcome to BCS High

32 bowls sure seems like a lot.

It’s basically the same number of students as you might kind, as say, in a high school, especially if said high school is a large public one where education takes a backburner to football and the average SAT is about an 870 on the old scale. Each bowl, like each student, is unique, but comparable. Here now is each and every bowl and the kid from your high school you knew:

Poinsettia: Slutty but ugly chick. She’s first to give out the HJ’s your freshman year or sooner, and you know you can easily get your first bit of satisfaction from her, but despite this, you know you shouldn’t because the only reason you would is because it’d be first. You know you could do better.

Las Vegas: Awkward looking kid who doesn’t belong. BYU fans in Vegas are like sticking UNLV’s hoops team in the Salt Lake bracket. It’s just a misfitting situation not benefiting anyone, just like the foreign exchange student who doesn’t speak English in the FUBU sweatshirt.

New Orleans: Fat ugly girl with the cleft lip. You can’t look at her, she’s so ugly, you want her to go away, and you wish she didn’t exist; yet she does. The kid you don’t know anything about but don’t really care about either. Maybe this kid never says anything, maybe he reads Kurt Vonnegut books all through lunch at a table by himself. He seems harmless, but he also seems like you don’t know where he lives, what his real name is, or anything about what he does after school ends. He’s there, but who cares?

New Mexico: The obviously introverted kid. He keeps to himself, stays at home all the time, and nobody outside his family gives even the slightest crap about him. Kind of like how only New Mexico Lobos fans care about the New Mexico bowl, so it’s lucky the Lobos are in it…

Armed Forces, GMAC, and Motor City: The losers who have some sort of kinship because of how loserly they are. You know the type; they’re
similar in some freakish way, and hang out all the time, but no cool kid will ever even acknowledge them or give a care about seeing them ever.

Hawaii: The kind of hot foreign girl who doesn’t talk to anybody. Sure, she’s kind of cute, and she lives in a nice area, but she keeps herself down and doesn’t dress nearly hot enough to really want to get to know her.
She’s also really introverted too and likes to stay within her family, just like how Hawaii seems to always end up in this bowl year after year.

Emerald: The kid who used to be really cool but then got fat and stupid by 8th grade and everybody stopped being his friend. Everybody used to
think this kid was cool, but then it became obvious he was overrated and all his success was built on his former glory days, in this case 3rd grade when he had all the coolest toys. Now he’s a shell of himself and nobody who’s anybody acknowledges ever liking him. Hello, FSU (and to a lesser extent, UCLA).

Independence: The kid somebody’s friends with who shows up at parties but no one really wants there. I mean, he’s OK, but would the world go on without him? Hell yeah it would. Does Alabama really want to go to Shreveport? Eh, no.

Holiday: The ridiculously underrated girl. She’s hot, and smart, but unfortunately for her, too smart. She consistently outperforms some of the cool girls, is kind of rich and lives in a nice area, but she’s just not able to bring in the football stars. She does get noticed once she hits the Ivy League, however and then all the guys in high school realize how much they screwed up.

Texas: The chick who somehow gets herself between two guys who used to be best friends. Hello NFL Network and cable providers everywhere. This girl isn’t really that hot, but somehow got stumbled into every girl’s dream where two hot guys are fighting over her like there’s no tomorrow. Maybe her family won the lotto or something, but it is what it is.

Music City, Sun, Liberty: The third tier kids who show up together as a group at parties, bring some weed, but otherwise, no one cares that
they’re there. You know the types, they’re usually entertaining for a few minutes when they show up at parties, and you talk about something, but then you go back to doing keg stands with your real friends. It’s like, if I didn’t have New Year’s Eve off from work, would I care about the Sun Bowl? No, no I would not.

Insight, Champs Sports, MPC Computers: Another group of weirdos nobody acknowledges. They’re like the Armed Forces, GMAC, and Motor City weirdos, but they play Dungeons & Dragons at lunch instead of Magic: the Gathering. In the case of the bowls themselves, they just happen to be later in the schedule, but just as meaningless in the bowl social strata.

Meineke: The kid you know is going into the military from day one. He shows up in a ripped Stone Cold Steve Austin shirt and fatigues with a flattop haircut his first day of freshman year and from then on just calls the football players jackasses and quits the wrestling team because the coach doesn’t “get him.” He just wants to go kill him some al-Qaeda. Kind of like how this bowl has a hankering for some Naval Academy every year.

Alamo, Chick-Fil-A: The otherwise cool kids with some critical defect. They could be just as cool as the cool kids, really, but they have some issue, like, they dress slightly off, or have no sense of humor, or are secretly poor, just SOMETHING that keeps them from the top echelon of popularity. They’d like to be there, and everybody seems to pretty much like being with them, but there’s just that something missing right now.

Outback, Cotton, Gator, Capital One: the kids who think they’re totally awesome, and the really cool kids hang out with them at all times, but then make fun of behind their backs. Just like how Steve Spurrier used to say about the bka Citrus (now Capital One) Bowl, “You can’t spell citrus without UT (Tennessee)” as a dig against the bowl the SEC’s #2 team went to. Everybody below them would die to hang out with these guys, but the truly elite just mock them.

Rose, Fiesta, Orange, Sugar: The elite. These guys are the coolest kids, but they’re still at the beck and call of their leader, the BCS Championship. Picture Lacey Chabert and the other girl in “Mean Girls.” (What? It was on Saturday night at the party I was at, sue me). A lot of people are content just to be dating them (Wake, Louisville, Boise St.) while others REALLY wish they could be with the Rachel McAdams character, aka the Championship (see: Michigan, USC, OU, ND, LSU).

International: The kid in the trenchcoat you’re scared of and confused by. Who is this kid? Where did he come from? Why is he in the room with the rest of us? He sits in some far off corner, says nothing, but is there, almost as though he’s plotting some terrible plan to justify his dark, pointless existence. Just like a bowl in Toronto. In mid-January. After the BCS games are done.

The BCS Championship: The hottest chick everybody wants. Everybody,
no matter how lowly or otherwise popular wants this girl (or guy, as the case may be). This bowl is the head cheerleader, starting QB, and lead singer all rolled into one. You HAVE to be cool with this bowl to be anybody. People fight over it, cry over it, heck, maybe even kill over it. It is the crème de la crème.