There can't just be seven, can there?

Wired this month offers another of their cool little info-graphics, this one attempting to chart the prevalence of the seven deadly sins in the United States. Funny how the conservative, God-fearing southeast seems so disproportionally sinful.


Knee-jerk review: "Inglorious Basterds"

1. Audacious.
2. We're not sure, but this may be something of a minor masterpiece. Pulp Fiction remains the gold standard for QT, of course. But this could be a close second. In case you're wondering, Kill Bill loses points because Volume 2 isn't as sleek and steely as Volume 1.
3. Some critics have called Brad Pitt's performance as a hillbilly solider lazy or one-note. We don't understand these people. He's great.
4. There really aren't many writers out there who can write dialogue like Tarantino. It seems so easy, doesn't it? Trust us, it ain't.
5. It would be easy to dismiss the whole thing as pop culture regurgitation, a self-conscious blending of cheesy B-movie genres. That all may be true, but this is also a movie with layers and subtext. Complex questions about cinema, about war, about language, about nationalism, about racism.
6. Christoph Waltz? Genius. Look for him as a Best Actor nominee. He walks away with the whole movie. And he knows it.
7. We probably could have done without the Mike Myers cameo.
8. Who knew that Germans gestured numbers with their hands differently than Americans and Brits?
9. The baseball bat scene is incredibly brutal. We had to close our eyes a little. Worse than the ear cutting scene in Reservoir Dogs by about a factor of 20.
10. There are pregnant pauses in movies. And then... there are... Tarantino's... pregnant... pauses. We appreciate the ratcheting up of tension as Wait for Something Bad to Happen, but sometimes he can takes things too far.
11. Poor Max's father.
12. "And I want my scalps."
13. Melanie Laurent, where have you been all this time?
14. The ending has to be seen to be believed. And even then you may not believe it.
15. Good stuff.


Knee-jerk review: "District 9"

1. Believe the hype.
2. It's very satisfying to see the Hollywood establishment collectively freak out when a movie with no stars and a relatively small budget opens at number one with a $37 million gross. "Does not computer." But a strong story can trump any presumed liability. Most importantly, a great concept executed well makes it easier for the marketing departments to get the word out.
3. There is a big twist halfway through. If you can, see the movie without learning what it is. We had an idea of it and the moment wasn't as strong as it could have been had we gone in blind.
4. The TV spots sold hard the social satire element of the movie - alien xenophobia equals human racism. But the film is much more than that.
5. Since it involves Peter Jackson, you should expect a fair amount of blood-and-guts action. People don't just get shot. They're blown to bits.
6. The bad guys are, to us, a little bit over-the-top. They practically twirl mustaches. But maybe that's okay.
7. It is surely no accident that the bad guys' company - a Blackwater-styled outfit named MNU - shares the same initials as the UN. They even drive the same white armored vehicles.
8. The ending is ambiguous and rather heartbreaking. Just the way we like it.
9. One of the best movies of the year.

The Most Interesting Post in the World

Sometimes, television advertising can be more entertaining and well-made than the show you're watching. Case in point is the hilariously deadpan Dos Equis "Most Interesting Man in the World" campaign.

It's not just the concept - you should drink Dos Equis because the world's most manly man "prefers" it. It's also the execution. Funny one-liners matched with oddball mockumentary footage of the Most Interesting Man in the World in all sorts of ruggedly worldly adventures: playing jai-alai, rescuing a fox from hunters, arm wresting a banana republic dictator (in black and white archival footage), leading a vote at the UN, splashing down in an Apollo space capsule, playing a back alley game of craps with what appear to be Pacific Islanders.

Seth Stevenson at Slate took an in-depth look at the spots.

Below are our ten favorite one-liners describing the Most Interesting Man in the World.

1. His blood smells like cologne.
2. He has never lost a sock.
3. If he disagrees with you, it's because you are wrong.
4. He can speak French in Russian.
5. He lives vicariously through himself.
6. Even his enemies list him as their emergency contact number.
7. He once had an awkward moment... just to see how it feels.
8. People hang on his every word... even the prepositions.
9. He'd never initiate a conversation about the weather... even in a typhoon.
10. He won the same lifetime achievement award twice.

My mascot can beat up your mascot

In theory, sports mascots are designed to evoke certain elements of ferocity and determination, to energize the fans, to intimidate opponents, to inspire the players. Some work better than others, coasting on tradition rather than reality. Which NFL mascots, in the real world, are the scariest? Which mascot would you not want to bump into at the end of a dark alley?

Our picks, in order from the scariest to the silliest...

1. Titans - We're going with the definition that suggests a "titan" is a omnipotent god. Doesn't get much more formidable than that.

Next come the big animals.

2. Bears
3. Lions
4. Bengals - Funny that our top three match the things Dorothy was most afraid of in The Wizard of Oz.
5. Panthers
6. Jaguars - Jaguars seem fast, but the word "panther" suggests a certain cunning and stealthiness. Edge to Carolina.

Now the scary, presumably angry, and often armed humans.

7. Vikings
8. Raiders - The name suggests their main objective.
9. Buccaneers
10. Patriots
11. Chiefs
12. Redskins - Chiefs are the bosses and presumably smarter. Advantage Kansas City.
13. Cowboys - Not aggressive per se, but usually have a gun and don't back down from a fight. If only Dallas had the same mentality.

Now the smaller animals who might only pose a threat if spooked and charge at you.

14. Rams
15. Bills
16. Broncos - Evoke a snorting wild animal, not a cute and cuddly baby horse. Edge to Denver.
17. Colts
18. Browns - This one's a stretch, but in theory a bulldog could maul you.

And the predatory birds. Surprising how many birds there are.

19. Seahawks - The word "hawk" just sounds aggressive. It's the consonant K.
20. Falcons
21. Eagles

Now the more benign humans.

22. Giants - Being tall doesn't make you scary.
23. Saints - Even holy men can be pushed to the limit. We've seen the movies. And if they're in New Orleans, they're probably drunk and spoiling for a fight.
24. Steelers
25. 49ers
26. Texans - We needed more information on this one. What kind of Texan? From what time period? An Alamo-era Texan or some blue-blood oil millionaire from Houston?
27. Packers - We know how to pack, too. Big whoop.

And the bottom five.

28. Ravens - Isn't a raven essentially a fancy name for a crow?
29. Cardinals - Are they serious with this one? Why not call a team the Sparrows?
30. Dolphins - Obviously.
31. Jets - We're assuming this is a commercial plane and not a fighter. As long as it doesn't crash on top of you, no one's frightened, New York.
32. Chargers - We weren't sure how to address this one. Is it just pure energy? One could argue that this should be number one since electrocution would seem to be a real possibility. But we need more information.


Cassette tape rewind: senior summer

The Cheese Fry was on top of the world back in July 1989. Working the concession counters at the state-of-the-art UA Park Lane movie theater (now torn down), developing an award-winning proficiency with a large plastic mascot head, rolling in a 1979 sky blue Ford Granada (a sleek silver model is pictured below), eating his weight in chicken strips and french fries, anticipating a great high school senior year.

The top ten songs from July 29, 1989:

1. Martika "Toy Soldiers" - Great time-capsule song, layered synthesizers and drum machines that instantly evokes the late 80s. Still worth listening to. "Step by step, heart to heart, left right left, we all fall down..."

2. The Artist Formerly Known as Prince "Batdance" - Lame then, lame now.

3. Madonna "Express Yourself" - Solid middle-of-the-road Madonna, neither as catchy as "Into the Groove" or "Open Your Heart" or nor as annoying as "Who's That Girl" or "La Isla Bonita."

4. Love and Rockets "So Alive" - Best one on this list, part of that trendy late 80s/early 90s "alternative" wave of gritty pop music. You're not still listening to KISS-FM, are you? You have to be listening to 94.5 the Edge! Great song.

5. Bobby Brown "On Our Own" - Guilty pleasure song from a guilty pleasure movie (Ghostbusters II). Yeah, we sang along when it came on the radio. So what? They're Ghostbusters and they're in control.

6. Simply Red "If You Don't Know Me By Now" - We know we're all supposed to like this bluesy, jazzy song. It's oh so very artistic. But honestly, it's too slow, too repetitive, goes on way too long, and the lead singer is kind of freaky looking.

7. Bon Jovi "Lay Your Hands on Me" - Whatever.

8. Great White "Once Bitten Twice Shy" - Part of that hair band craze of the late 1980s. At least this song rocks a little. How hilarious is it that all of those cheesy metal bands (Cinderella, Warrant, White Lion, et al) only had radio hits with sappy, ponderous love ballads?

9. Dino "I Like It" - We don't remember it, either.

10. Richard Marx "Right Here Waiting" - You'll get a cavity listening to this one, a schmaltzy, melodramatic ode to love and longing. So romantic, so reassuring especially for fickle hormone-fueled teenagers. High school proms all across the country put this one on heavy rotation, including Thomas Jefferson HS.