Thursday, January 28, 2010

Movie of the Week

This Week,


Starring- John Wayne, Lauren Bacall, Ron Howard, James Stewart

The final film in John Wayne's storied career is a classic. Although sometimes overlooked, it provides us with what I believe to be Wayne's best performance. The Duke plays J.B. Books, the last of the great gunmen, who is dying from terminal cancer. This film has very poignant overtones because Wayne himself died from cancer a few years later.

Books stays at the home of the Widow Rogers (Bacall) while he decides how to live out his remaining days. During the ensuing week Books is prey to old flames, enemies and newspapermen, all hoping to cash in on the famous shootist before he dies. For Books, death is a very private matter and he chooses to make sure that he does it on his terms.

Wayne adeptly goes between vulnerable and tough, as he wrestles with mortality. It is very moving, and it makes you want to treat your own demise with a much dignity as he does. The cast is very strong, and features some of Wayne's old pals, like Jimmy Stewart, in supporting roles. The Shootist ends a great era in film with wistful aplomb. Westerns would never be the same after Wayne's death, just as the world in the movie would be different without the gunfighter. The parallels between Books and Wayne make the film better than it could have been with any other actor.

Things to watch for-

Opie Cunningham
Colonel Potter as Marshal Thibido
Some bitchin red paint they use for blood

"I won't be wronged, I won't be insulted and I won't be laid a hand on."

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The State of the Union

Tonight marks Obama's first State of the Union address to the nation, and as such, I have some thoughts. I am a Democrat, I voted for Obama and I like him, so please understand that I have a bias. Yes, things in the country are not where we hoped they would be, yes we Democrats have seemingly given away the advantage, and yes, health care is in the lurch, but the state of our union is much stronger now than at any time during the years 2001-2008.

Obama was handed the biggest mess imaginable, and everybody in the United States needs to back off. I don't have a job, I am going to eventually run out of unemployment pay and I am disappointed by the crisis, but I don't feel the need to start ripping the President because we haven't made a 180 degree turnaround from this time last year. Those who thought things were going to change for the better overnight are idiots. Republicans who want to call Obama's presidency a failure need to use their elephant memory and think back to how their guy and his people spent eight years ruining EVERYTHING! It makes me so upset that even those with the HOPE bumper stickers and Obama mugs are saying he hasn't done enough yet. Guess what? He told us repeatedly when he took office, and even in the campaign, that there would not be a quick fix, one hour photo solution to our problems, and that things would probably get worse before they got better.

Therefore, please have the HOPE that Obama instilled during the campaign, and give the guy a chance. I am trying to make the best of my situation, and everyone else needs to do that too. These are dark times for our country, but it could also very easily be our finest hour. It is critical that we band together and support the leadership in Washington. If we do not, and succumb to negativity and in-fighting, we will never know how much good could have been done. Barack Obama deserves the opportunity to make things right, and even though it will take time, I know it will be worth the wait.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Movie of the Week

This Week,


Starring- Paul Newman, Tom Cruise, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio

The sequel to the 1961 film The Hustler, this movie gave Paul Newman a long awaited Oscar for Best Actor. Newman probably had better performances, but this one is very good. He plays Fast Eddie Felson, who after his fall from pool playing stardom, has settled in as a liquor salesman to local bars and restaurants. In one such bar he sees a young pool junkie named Vincent (Tom Cruise) and thinks he might be able to recapture his lost glory. After some wheedling, Eddie convinces Vincent to come on with him as his protege.

Vincent proves to have the "balls" but not the "brains" that Eddie feels he needs to become a successful pool hustler. The two clash over how best to make money and achieve glory, and in the end they part ways- Eddie now deciding to return to the fold as a player.

Martin Scorsese's direction heightens the drama between the two stars, and makes Newman appear confident and fragile at the same time. Even though he is older, Newman still manages to out cool his younger co-star, as he deftly teaches Vince about the nuances of being a hustler. One almost wishes that Fast Eddie would take us under his wing instead of the compulsive Vincent, and tell us about how to score and make big money. A wild card in the mix is Vince's girlfriend, Carmen who has her own angles and ideas on the business of hustling. She is a nice foil for the two men, and really helps ratchet up the tension.

The Color of Money is by no means Scorsese, Newman or Cruise's best work, but together they make an entertaining movie. I could watch Paul Newman read the phonebook, so that may have something to do with why I like this film, but it provides a good lesson about luck, life and how to navigate them.

Things to Watch for-

Forrest Whitaker as a young pool hustler
A bit of a cliffhanger ending
The Balabushka
Scorsese's cameos
VINCE's T-shirt

"Money won is twice as sweet as money earned."

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Things I Think- Sporting Edition

Sports are the great equalizer. Everyone from the richest of the rich, to the poorest of the poor can enjoy a game of football, basketball, baseball or even curling. Whether in person or on T.V., sports are dramatic, redemptive and heart-wrenching. I love sports, some more than others, but I follow the ones I like quite religiously. On top of reading Sports Illustrated, I also watch Sports Center and Pardon the Interruption daily on ESPN. As such, I have some thoughts on the sporting world.

I think that people need to pick a team to cheer for and remain loyal to that team- FOREVER. Nothing bugs me more than people who jump from team to team just because they are winners. Also, I dislike people who don't root for their hometown teams and instead follow some sexier, big market team like oh, I don't know, The LAKERS! For the record, I follow the Jazz in basketball, the Packers in football, the Cubs in baseball and the Calgary Flames in hockey. If I ever root for someone else, you can kick me in the pills.

I think that NCAA March Madness is awesome the way it is. Lately there has been talk of expanding the tournament from 64 to 96 teams, and I hate that idea. If the field were expanded it would completely devalue getting a bid, and it would make filling out a bracket ridiculously difficult. Don't mess with the most perfect thing in sports!

I think that the best sports movies are Rocky, Raging Bull, Miracle and Hoosiers.

I think USC, Notre Dame, Lakers and Yankees fans are annoyingly smug.

I think any attempt to lengthen the playoffs or regular season of any sport is a mistake and is so obviously just a way for owners to make more money.

I think it would be nice if I could get into soccer because we have a team here in Salt Lake that just won the MLS Cup, but I can't.

I think Tiger Woods needs to come out of hiding and address the media. The longer he stays away, the worse it will be when he returns. It has been said that winning is the greatest deodorant, but I'm not sure that just putting up some W's in tournaments will be enough to redeem Tiger.

I think that Tiger should have been more like Arnold Palmer, who is a legend in the ass-getting department, but kept his business on the down-low.

I think PTI is on. Bye.

Monday, January 18, 2010

50th Post Special

Well, dear readers, Conned has made it to the 50th post. Its a special milestone for me, and I hope you recognize how far this blog has come since August. We started off with a crappy layout and no pictures, and now we have a less crappy layout and pictures. Yay! Anyway, to mark this momentous event here are some facts about/related to the number 50.

50 is the atomic weight of tin.

Former Spurs Center David 'The Admiral' Robinson wore #50.

President Ulysses S. Grant is on the 50 dollar bill.

There are 50 chapters in the book of Genesis.

The T.V. show Hawaii Five-O is called this because Hawaii is the 50th state.

There is a Canadian beer called 50 Ale.

5o's Roman numeral is L.

50 is the golden anniversary.

In the year 50 C.E. the Romans learned the use of soap from the Gauls.

Bill Murray, Randy Quaid and Tom Petty were all born in 1950.

Just wait until we hit 100, that party is gonna be off the hook.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Since I grew a beard, people have told me that I am starting to look like my dog. People who look like their dogs are known as Bowzers, and I'm not really that keen on being one. I know there are much less attractive dogs that I could look like, and I do love the pooch, but I still
don't see it. You be the judge.

Even if you think we look somewhat alike, you have to agree that these people are much worse.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Get Bent, Jay!

Conan O'Brien is too good for NBC. The fact that they want to keep Jay Leno instead of Conan shows that they are even dumber than CBS who still continues to show that sociopath Charlie Sheen in the moron-fest, Two and A Half Men. By the way, that kid should count as a whole man by now- he's a big boy. Did he eat Jon Cryer? I'm just saying. Jay has never been funny, and will never be funny, no matter at what time they put his stupid show. I've seen episodes of This Old House that made me laugh harder than anything Jay Leno ever did. I hope Conan gets his own show again, and that NBC takes a huge hit for sticking with the giant chin. Here now is a link to Conan's hilarious monologue from last night's Tonight Show.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Movie of the Week

This Week,


Starring- Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Dorothy Comingore

I'm going film school on your ass this week, kids. I know it sounds super pretentious of me to say this movie is one of the greatest ever made, but I was in film school once, and I really do appreciate this as one of the best films of all time. Sadly, Orson Welles peaked at the age of 26 with his work as Director, writer and star of this masterpiece. I guess I better get cracking, since I turn 27 in March.

I digress, this film is amazing in almost every regard, especially when you consider a 26 year old kid made it. Citizen Kane is the story of newspaper magnate Charles Foster Kane (based on real-life media baron, William Randolph Hearst) and the search for the meaning of his last word "Rosebud." Most of the film is told in flashback, as an unseen reporter interviews those close to Kane for clues as to Rosebud's identity. Welles masterfully crafts the mystery, and drops hints along the way as we are taken through Kane's successful and also turbulent rise and fall from power.

Welles plays Kane at all stages of life (except his youth) remarkably well, and his supporting cast gives him plenty to play off of. Many of the actors in the film are veterans from Welles' Mercury Radio company, and their pre-existing rapport is evident in their onscreen interactions. Joseph Cotten's work with Welles especially stands out. (See my first movie of the week for another Welles/Cotten classic)

While Welles deserves much of the credit for Citizen Kane, he would have been lost in his first film effort without a few select individuals. Cinematographer Gregg Toland creates some of the most iconic shots ever committed to celluloid, and Robert Wise's editing is fabulous. It's not surprising that both men were nominated for Oscars. Wise eventually won as a director. The script also received polish from Herman Mankiewicz who claimed sole authorship of the script. History has come out in favor of co-authorship for Welles and Mankiewicz, with much of the dialogue being credited to Mankiewicz.

All of the scandals surrounding this movie aside, it is a great work of filmmaking in every facet of the trade. See it again, or for the first time, and try to figure out what Rosebud is before the big reveal at the end.

Things to watch for-

The depth of field shot that opens the film with the snow globe
Bernard Hermann's amazing score
Agnes Moorhead (Bewitched's Endora) as Kane's mother

"I don't think there's one word that can describe a man's life."

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Look at These Schmohawks

Schmohawk is a word I stole from one of my favorite people, Larry David. It is used to describe a person who is an idiot, moron, douchebag or all of the above. Here now are some people that
I think fit the bill as Schmohawks.


Thank god this guy lost the election, or we could have had President Schmohawk. I admit, I was a huge Edwards fan, and I enjoyed his populist message, but what a Schmohawk. While his wife, who is awesome, had cancer he went and knocked up some other woman, and then refused to accept responsibility as the father. Textbook Schmohawk behavior.


Bang! Bang! Agent Zero, or now, Agent Schmohawk, brought guns into the Washington Wizards locker room in a clear violation of NBA rules. Yeah, way to help the people of one of our nation's most violent cities forget that the team used to be called the Bullets. He apologized, but then in true Schmohawk fashion did this (see picture) during last night's introductions. This Schmohawk will be lucky to play again.


Sure, his wife is a raging bitch on wheels, but this guy is a total Schmohawk. His whiny, lazy ass is lucky that his spawn bought him his fifteen minutes of fame because I've seen more interesting stains on my driveway. His kids would be destined for a future as an Arby's night manager if they followed his example. Please tell me the gossip columns will drop this Schmohawk like a bag of dirt in 2010.

That's it, and there's no hope for these Schmohawks to be un-Schmohawked. Once a Schmohawk, always a Schmohawk.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Middle School

I used to think that as a teacher I could protect kids from the painful experiences of their adolescence, and spare them the horror that I was subjected to in my formative years. When I was a recess monitor for Middle School I saw kids being so cruel to each other that I felt compelled to step in and help, but then something happened. I realized that being teased, picked on, laughed at, made fun of, beaten up and humiliated is what Middle School is all about. There is no other time where people are so awkward, and everybody is ready to call them out because of it. The only kids who come out of Middle School unscathed are the pretty girls who are the ring leaders of the their little clique, and the smart jocks. Every other boy and girl is fair game for wedgies, cruel rumors and eating disorders.

When I was in Middle School I was popular, but super awkward looking, so even though I had many friends, I still got picked on. I remember a day when people took turns spitting on me. My friends spit in my hair, my face, etc. MY FRIENDS! This event, while traumatic, did not ruin my life, or force me into therapy, in fact it might have made me stronger. With this and other similar incidents in mind, I never again interfered with the goings on at Middle School recess. I knew that these kids needed to experience the full brunt of the pain of the worst three years of their life to be complete adults. I know I grew either in spite of, or because of Middle School, and I couldn't deprive the kids of that critical time. I can't speak for everyone (like the girl who some friends wrote a hate petition for, that I signed), but overall, Middle School is supposed to suck.

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Conor Awards 2000-2008

If you haven't already guessed it, I love movies. I was a film major for a time, and I have really come to appreciate all kinds of films, directors and actors. Another thing I appreciate about movies is awards season. The Golden Globes and Oscars are fun for me because they (supposedly) showcase the best films the movie industry has to offer in a given year. I have tried to watch as many Oscar nominated and winning films as I can because more often than not, they truly are the best. However, sometimes I disagree with the Academy or the Hollywood Foreign Press, and as such I have been compiling my own list of the best films of the year since 2000. In advance of the Oscars which are now only two months I away, I present the Conor Awards for the last nine years. I will of course give out awards this year, but not until I have seen more of the acclaimed films.


High Fidelity
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Almost Famous

BEST PICTURE- The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Gosford Park
Bridget Jones' Diary
Wet Hot American Summer
Monsters Inc.


Catch Me If You Can
Minority Report
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
My Big Fat Greek Wedding

BEST PICTURE- The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Master and Commander
Dirty Pretty Things
A Mighty Wind


Finding Neverland
Million Dollar Baby
Napoleon Dynamite


Batman Begins
Walk the Line
Goodnight, and Good Luck


Little Miss Sunshine
The Departed
Casino Royale

BEST PICTURE- Michael Clayton

Knocked Up
No Country for Old Men
The Bourne Ultimatum

BEST PICTURE- The Dark Knight

Slumdog Millionaire
The Reader

P.S. Send me a note if there is a movie I should consider for this year's awards.