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Archive for the ‘Fantasy Football’ Category

Whenever I visit Granville Island to pick up some matcha from that little tea shop, I always ask the woman who serves me: “What are you reading?”.  We discuss and I always complete my purchase by recommending a book.  On my most recent trip, she had just finished reading (and throughly enjoying) one of my recommendations, Karen Joy Fowler‘s We Are Completely Beside Ourselves.   Pleased, I offered her another one: “This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper.”  And then, offer her furrow-browed reaction: “They just made a movie based on the book – but don’t go see it.  Read the book instead!”

“Too late,”she told me, and the look on her face told me that her dissatisfaction with the film ensured she would never pick up the book.  I liken it to suffering food poisoning at an otherwise great restaurant.  After that bad experience, there’s no way you’ll be able to go back and fully enjoy yourself.  Just the smell of cumin or the taste of curry or the sight to Timothy Olyphant is enough to send you running for the exit.

Which is why I have – well, I want to say “mixed feelings”, but they’re not really mixed at all, so let’s go with – “homogenous feelings” about the announced big screen adaptation of Jeannette Walls’ The Glass Castle.  I don’t care who write the script or directs or stars, the movie will NOT be as good as the book.  The best that can be hoped for is something different, a film no better or worse than the source material that, nevertheless, stands on its distinct own as an enjoyable product.

It happens, but rarely.  Most book-based movies range from disappointing to atrocious.  As I gave it some thoughts, numerous bad examples came to mind.  And a few singular good ones.

Here are my Top 5 Best and Worst Book to Film adaptations:

THE WORST

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5. I AM LEGEND

The movie, based on the short novel by Richard Matheson, tries to go it’s own creative way – and fails miserably.  A film that will be remembered for only one thing: killing off the dog.

14. THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN

Okay, look, ANY film based on the works of writer Alan Moore are going to pale in comparison to the original.  The best you can hope for is “good but not close enough” (Watchmen) to atrocious (The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen).  Hey, I don’t recall Tom Sawyer in the graphic novel.  Oh, right.  He was added to appeal to an American audience (“Hey!  Tom Sawyer’s in this movie!  Let’s go see it!”said no one ever).  So disastrous that not only did Alan Moore disown it, but so did it’s star, Sean Connery.

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3. WORLD WAR Z

It’s the book’s fractured narrative that allows us a sweeping understanding of the global pandemic on both the public and personal level – and the attempt to capture it proves to be the movie’s undoing.

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2. HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE

My favorite book in the series was the worst film in the series – as far I know given that I stopped watching after this one.

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 1. A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS

My favorite children’s book series of all time.  The movie gets nowhere close to capturing its clever narrative and darkly humorous tone.

(Honorable mentions: Daredevil, The Fantastic Four [any version]).

THE BEST

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5. THE SHINING

I know that author Stephen King was never a fan of the big screen adaptation, but I thought this was one of those rare instances where the  movie almost exists as a separate entity, a different version of the same story that is just as good as the original.

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4. A CLOCKWORK ORANGE

Like The Shining, this is a case of a film that charts its own stylistic path, creating a visual counterpart that pays its respect to the book but is still very much its own animal.

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3. THE PRINCESS BRIDE

I actually fell in love with the movie before discovering – and falling in love with – the book.  It helps that both were written by the same hugely talented writer, William Goldman.

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2. MISERY

Loved the book and loved the movie.  This is one of those rarest of instances where the book and film actually co-exist in the same creative world.  Whenever I watch the movie, the experience is complimented by elements I recall from the novel.  On the other hand, whenever I read the book, Kathy Bates is always Annie.

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1. BLADE RUNNER

I’m sorry, Philip K. Dick fans, but this is one of those rarest of all instances where the movie is actually better than the book.

(Honorable mentions: Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, the 1973 & 1974 Three Musketeers and Four Musketeers, The Godfather)

Just in time for the opening of GONE GIRL…based on the excellent novel of the same name.

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We're up!

We’re up!

After starting the fantasy football season by dropping our first two games (by a combined five points!), my Snow Monkeys have bounced back big time, winning last week and, today, racking up a lofty 136 points to cast to our second consecutive victory, knotting our record at 2-2.  I predict BIG things for this team.  We’re on a roll!  GO SNOW MONKEYS!

Today, we watched the games at Rob’s place where our affable host served up the perfect football feast -

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Pulled pork nachos!

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And, in case we were feeling guilty, the veggie platter.  Note: I wasn’t feeling THAT guilty.

And, for dessert, gluten-free pastries (compliments of Ivon), some of which didn’t exactly taste gluten-free, some of which did taste EXACTLY like gluten-free pastries.

So, how are your fantasy football teams doing?

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Are they back yet?!

Are they back yet?!

As much as the dogs miss us when we’re away, I think I miss them even more.  Especially at night.  After a while, you not only get used to sleeping like a contorted magician’s assistant in one of those sword-through-the-box tricks, but you come to draw comfort from their pudgy, snoring, encroaching presence.  As crazy as it sounds, I now have trouble sleeping on a spacious bed.  A quiet room will keep me up.  When I’m away, I miss their plaintive cries the second dinner time rolls around, or their impatient barks as I hurry to fill their bowls.  Lulu’s version of fetch which involves her bringing you her toy and then snatching it back and running off with it the second you show an interest.  Bubba’s indolent refusal to go out for his final bathroom break of the night, forcing you to  scoop him up off the couch to help him along.  Jelly’s bad hips which require she be “chauffeured” from her comfy dog bed to the backyard or up the stairs or on and off the bed.  The way they eat their snacks: Jelly, challenged by the simple act of chewing, Lulu, always gentle, Bubba, who attempts to take the tips of your fingers too.  The day one of our national airlines starts selling pet seats is the day I  start buying flight passes.

I’ve always dreaded the prospect of being offered a terrific job somewhere overseas, not because it would place me in the difficult position of having to choose between my work and my dogs but simply because I’d have to turn down a terrific job.  It’s bad enough being offered work on the other side of the country as past experience well proves.  Remember that Toronto gig?  The major headache with that charter company?  The fact that I had to take the five and a half hour flight to Toronto with Akemi and two of my dogs, then turn around and fly back to Vancouver the next day so that I could fly back with a friend and my other two dogs the day after that?

Ideally, I’ll be working in Vancouver next year but if it’s L.A., then at least I won’t have to worry about flights.  Instead, we can all look forward to a family road trip!

Hopefully, it won’t come to that though.  The gang kind of likes it here, even with the occasional snow.

Big day tomorrow for my Snow Monkeys who go for their second championship trophy in fantasy football league play.  Wish us luck!

Touchdown dance! [Source: PacificCoastNews.com]

Touchdown dance! [Source: PacificCoastNews.com]

Anybody live on the way

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Well, you’ll be pleased – nay, thrilled!  – to hear that the NFL’s minimal stats corrections for week 15 of the regular season did NOT impact the score of the semi-final fantasy football match that saw my Snow Monkeys win by the slimmest of margins.  To refresh your memories:

Screen Shot 2013-12-17 at 3.25.25 PMDamn, that’s tight!

So now, with last weekend’s victory finally assured, it’s upwards and onwards.  There’s a fantasy football championship on the line (potentially my Snow Monkeys’ third in two years!) and I’ve got to start prepping for my final match versus Petunia Power.  In my other league, Ivon Bartok’s Running Dead faces off against Alex Levin’s Flemish Giants.  After fifteen long weeks, it finally comes down to this.  For THIS:

1Gorgeous, isn’t it?  By Tuesday of next week, it’ll be sitting on my virtual shelf alongside my 2011 championship trophy, my Primetime Emmy award for Outstanding Drama Series, and my MTV Video Music Award for Best Hip-Hop Video.

Hey, you know what’s really crowded nowadays?  EVERYWHERE!  I can’t even pick up a salted caramel cream puff at my favorite chocolate shop without having to wait in line.  Seriously, people!  Is this your first Christmas?!  Did nobody warn you it was coming?!  Did somebody change the date on you?!

How are you all faring?  Braving the crowds or battening down the hatches?

I thought I had everything well in hand until I received a late text from my sister informing me that my mother has nixed our plans to get her a tablet computer, for skyping purposes.  Apparently, she doesn’t like Skype because it makes people’s heads too big and grotesque.

And here’s where YOU come in.  Just leave a suggestion for what I should get my mother for Christmas in the comments section of this blog and you’ll automatically become a member of Mom’s Christmas Brigade with all of the perks that membership entails [note: membership entails no actual perks].   So what are you waiting for?!  Start suggesting!!!

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Screen Shot 2013-12-17 at 3.25.25 PMHmmm.  Well that was a little too close for comfort.  My Snow Monkeys won their semi-final fantasy football playoff match-up by a score of 109.30 to 109.10.  Yes, that’s right.  They won by a whopping 0.2 points.  Rather than celebrate, however, I’ll be on the edge of my seat until Thursday morning when the NFL releases their final stats corrections for this past weekend.  Every week yields about two dozen slight “in retrospect” adjustments, a yard gained here, another lost there, that could make the difference between playing Petunia Power for the championship or drowning my sorrows in bourbon-spiked eggnog.

It certainly would be a bitter defeat that would find its way into my Bitterest Losses of All Time, a list that goes something like this…

5. LAWREN 106.20  SNOW MONKEYS 83.76 [2013 FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEK 12]

It’s the second to last week of the 2013 fantasy football season in my Stargate Fantasy Football League.  I need to win my final two games to have any shot at making the playoffs.  Fearing the fearsome Chiefs defence in Kansas City, I bench my starting quarterback, Philip Rivers, in favor of the Houston Texan’s Case Keenum, a hot start according to the so-called experts.  The result?  Keenum puts up a paltry 4.96 points.  As for Philip Rivers, he has the game of the season, racking up 28.78 fantasy points – which would have been more than enough for me to win the week. What makes this loss particularly disappointment in hindsight is that I ended up winning the next game handily and would have secured the sixth and final playoff spot.

4. BOSTON CELTICS 108 DETROIT PISTONS 107 [1987 EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS, GAME 5]

The young Detroit Pistons have victory within their grasp.  With seconds to go, all Isaiah Thomas has to do is inbound the ball, perhaps force the foul, and take a strangle-hold on the series.  For some reason, Thomas telegraphs the inbound pass to centre Bill Laimbeer in the low past.  Larry Bird cuts in front and, with one second remaining, scores the easy lay-up for the win.

3. ANY ROAD TEAM PLAYING IN THE NBA

In every other sport, the “home team advantage” usually refers to the intangible edge the home team receives from playing in front of their home fans.  In professional basketball, however, it refers to the very tangible edge the home team receives from the home town refs.  The slanted calls are so outrageous that they made me give up on the NBA years ago and still make me wonder why supposed fans of the game put up with it.  I can only assume that it is simply an accepted part of the game’s ingrained culture, like fighting in hockey and tartan pants in golf.

2. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS 16 OAKLAND RAIDERS 13 [2002 AFC DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS]

When is a fumble not a fumble?  Why, when it’s league-darling Tom Brady dropping the ball.  January 19, 2002.  The AFC divisional playoffs.  Late in the game, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is sacked by the Raiders and drops the football.  It’s recovered by the Raiders who hold off the late Pats rally to win the game!  No, wait.  Officials reviewed the play and reversed the call on the field, declaring it a non-fumble because, in their estimation, Brady’s arm was moving forward.  Thus, the call on the field was “incomplete pass”.  Never mind that he was clearly not attempting a pass and that the sketchy “on second thought” reversal didn’t meet the requirements of “incontrovertible visual evidence” necessary to overturn a call.  The Raiders went on to lose the game and the “tuck rule”, as it was called, spent another ten gloriously crappy years in the books before finally being abolished in 2013 by a vote of 29-1.

1. I DON’T EVEN REMEMBER THE SCORE

In the final week of the 2012 fantasy football season, my high-flying Snow Monkeys were in tough.  Even though my Monkeys were the second highest-scoring team in the league, they were also the #1 scored against.  As a result, I desperately needed a win in the final week in order to secure a playoff berth.  Things look great heading into the Monday night match-up.  All I needed was a a couple of points from Green Bay receiver James Jones, and I’d be headed to the post-season.  Things looked good.  After all, I was relying on Aaron Rodgers and the high-powered Packers offense.  Looking good, right?  Wrong.  James Jones ended up putting up a grand total of 0 points.  Yes, that’s right.  0.  He did absolutely nothing, not even dropping a pass.  Aaron Rodgers didn’t look his way once – and my Snow Monkeys were done. I will forever hold a grudge against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.

And you, sports fans?  What makes your list for The Bitterest Loss of All Time?

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Whuuuuuuuuut??

Whuuuuuuuuut??

It’s that time of year!  Yes, time for the Fantasy Football playoffs.  On the back of a fearsome running game, my Snow Monkeys took the second seed in my league, winning themselves a much-needed (last) weekend off with a first-round bye. Today, they were back at it, meeting As Luck Would Have It in semi-final action.  My opponent managed 109.10 points, in most part thanks to Jamaal Charles’ annoying 51.50 outburst.  With five of my players still to hit the field, including QB Matt Stafford this Monday night, I’m feeling cautiously optimistic about the 42 points I need to snag the victory.  I need BIG games from Antonio Brown and Giovanni Bernard tonight.  Wish my Snow Monkeys luck!

In other fantasy football playoff action, Ivon Bartok’s team, The Running Dead, fresh off a wild-card weekend beatdown of Robert C. Cooper’s Landsharks, won again in impressive fashion, destroying Lawren Bancroft-Wilson’s (creatively named) team, Lawren.

So, if all goes as it should – and why wouldn’t it? -next week, Ivon’s Running Dead will be playing Orphan Black writer (and former Stargate script coordinator) Alex Levine’s Flemish  Giants.  While, in my other league, my Snow Monkeys will face off against Tio’s team, Petunia Power.

Condolences to Robert Cooper’s Dallas Cowboys who continue to find new and creative ways to lose.

Yes, it was a full football Sunday.  And there’s still the late game to watch.  And, once that’s done, the Survivor season finale (Go Tyson!).

So, how were your weekends?  What wast the most exciting thing you did?  Don’t be shy.  Do tell!

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Oven-roasted porchetta

Oven-roasted porchetta

Look at what Akemi made!  Yesterday, she stuffed, seasoned, rolled, and trussed a pork belly.  Then, this morning, she woke up at 6:00 a.m. to slow-roast it for five and a half hours before finishing it off with a 30 minute broil to render the skin extra crispy.  She served it for lunch with her home made chimichurri sauce and a side salad.

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And while we were eating, my Snow Monkeys were winning!  They’ve improved to a less-than-impressive 3-6 in Stargate League Play but a very impressive record of 6-3 in my Original League.  I will, of course, be managing my team from Japan for the next two weekends – so wish my Snow Monkeys luck!  A double playoff appearance is going to be a hard trick to pull off.

Yesterday, Akemi and I met up with our friends, Jeff and Barb, who are in town, visiting from Chicago.  We hit Campagnolo for lunch and enjoyed some brunch, pizza…and some unexpected belated birthday gifts.

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Barb and Jeff from Chicago, home of the deep dish pizza. But I don’t hold that against them.

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Surprise!  Belated birthday presents!  Or, in Akemi’s case, EARLY birthday presents!

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Southern cook books for Akemi (and, indirectly, me!)  We were up all night deciding what we wanted to make.  Conclusion = everything!

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Souther horror fiction for me.  A little research to get me in the mood for the new pilot.

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Crispy ceci.  A house speciality!

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Sausage, arugula and chiil pizza

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And a side of thick cut pancetta

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