I am a man of conflicting passions.  For example, I don’t like to bowl, but I do enjoy rolling heavy, polyurethane stock balls into unmoored objects (like beer cans, potted plants and small children).  It fills me with a fetid sense of acute sexual arousal and national pride.  It also lands me in jail on occasion.  But that’s cool.  Danny Trejo went to jail a bunch of times, and he turned out okay.  

I mention this because my life is chock-a-block with little “Sophie’s Choices” (albeit bereft of steamy bouts of bouncy-bouncy with the ever delightful Kevin Kline), and I often tend toward the pedestrian.  Do I hit up the American Cinematheque and take in a batch of Budd Boetticher movies I’ve never seen, or do I stay home and watch some random sporting event?  Do I venture out to MOCA (easily reachable via L.A.’s frustratingly limited Red Line subway) for the heralded Murakami exhibit, or do I stay home and watch some random sporting event?  Do I attend the first night of The Greats of Roth at The New Beverly, or do I stay home and watch the NBA All-Star Game?  

Staying home is too damn easy.  And I really like easy.  So guess who opted for overpaid athletes jogging up-and-down the court for forty-eight minutes over an apparently transcendent evening of “Bitches and Bastards”?  On the plus side, Torso and Pieces are playing tonight and tomorrow.  On the downside, Eli won’t be there to introduce them.  Where’s the rest of me!?!?

And now, I present to you the fruits of my listlessness:

(There’s movie-related stuff coming; if you’ve no interest in professional basketball, please skip to the next bolded segment.)

Is Basketball Still Kurtis Blow’s Favorite Sport, Or Is He Now a Football Guy Like Everyone Else?

The National Basketball Association will never be a second-rate league so long as Nike is willing to pump money into the careers of false supernovas like Kevin Durant* or, inevitably, O.J. Mayo** (much like CAA funding the “phenomenon” of Julia Ormond), but if the seasons keep culminating in clutch-and-grab contests like last year’s Finals between the San Antonio Spurs and the overmatched LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers, I could see the ruthless shoe manufacturer throwing the hardwood over for the soccer pitch.  What used to be a high-flying, fast-breaking product now resembles a less bruising variation on the NHL circa 1995; when a scrappy (some might say dirty) defender like Bruce Bowen is getting superstar leeway, some “tweaking” is probably in order.

For those of us who grew up on the “Showtime” Lakers and the stunningly caucasian Boston Celtics of the 1980s (it’s Mark-Harmon-in-Magic-in-the-Water that Greg Kite has two championship rings), the yearly All-Star game is generally the only chance to watch the game played (messily) as it was in its television ratings heyday (Phoenix Suns excluded, although they’ve seemingly capitulated to the grind-it-out ethos by trading Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks for the lethargic Shaquille O’Neal).  People gamble for steals in these games, willing to give up two points for the potential of a highlight reel dunk.  They lob sick alley-oop passes that only have to get in the vicinity of the backboard for a righteous flushing (or a spectacular miss that’ll carom off into the commemorative banners).  They don’t play defense until the fourth quarter… oh, wait.

I haven’t seen the ratings for this year’s NBA All-Star Game, but I’m sure they were lousy; relegating your festivities to TNT on the same day that the Daytona 500 dominates FOX is a terrific way to reaffirm your second-tier status.  Had people bothered to watch, they might’ve remembered a time when the NBA Playoffs were the palliative to meaningless divisional scuffles in Major League Baseball (not that I’m above blowing up to twelve hours over four days on a Cleveland Indians/Detroit Tigers set-to in late May).  The first half was a dunk fest (the highlight being LeBron’s mini-oop to Dwight Howard), while the second half got kinda serious once the Western Conference cut into the East’s game-long lead.  Suddenly, Doc Rivers realized his Three Pistons and Two Non-System-Dependent All-Stars strategy needed a bit of a shaking up (the Pistons aren’t quite the defensive juggernaut without the criminally unsung Tayshaun Prince), and opted for a ‘Bron/Wade/Howard/Kidd/Bosh fivesome.  The East promptly blew the lead.  Then Rivers realized Chris Bosh is perhaps the most overrated player in league history, and benched Mr. Softie in favor of the best shooter in the game, Ray Allen.  Several clutch threes later, the East had pulled even again.  Taking advantage of the West’s preoccupation with Allen on the perimeter, LeBron drove into a slow-reacting agglomeration of seven-footers and emasculated Dirk Nowitzki with a go-ahead dunk.  The Germans haven’t had it this bad since Falco died.

This was basketball as it should be:  unencumbered by jersey-grabbing and hand-checking, the best athletes on the floor triumphed.  And, yes, a little defense was involved (dig D-Wade’s block of winning-time whipping boy Nowitzki).  But for all the Sportscenter coverage, it’ll quickly be forgotten as the NBA returns to its regularly scheduled diet of ugly, defense-first competition.  And if, god forbid, we get a Spurs/Pistons Finals in June, Ronaldinho jersey sales will spike in the U.S.

12 Peeved Ninnies

The other night, I dreamt that there was a recently unearthed, madcap courtroom sendup from 1961 starring Bob Hope, Milton Berle, Jackie Gleason, Red Buttons, Don Rickles, Stan Freberg, Phil Silvers, Bob Newhart, Sid Caeser, Joey Bishop, Don Knotts and Jack Benny as the dissenting voice of sanity.  If only I had someone to film my subconscious ala Brainstorm.  God, it was glorious.

More on Briana Evigan

While everyone’s drooling over Lindsey Lohan’s troubling, Bert Stern-enabled reproduction of Marilyn Monroe’s “The Last Sitting” for New York Magazine, I figured it’d be a good time to once again call attention to the best thing to ever come out of Greg Evigan (currently appearing in Step Up 2: The Streets):

On Deck

I finally got that Public Enemies screenplay (with Michael Mann’s revisions).  A Crop Report is forthcoming.

*Right now, call him Alex English with hops.

**A flash-in-the-pan cautionary tale if he leaves for the NBA after this season.