Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Matrix: 4/5

"There is no spoon."  Keanu Reeves really should have said that about a dozen times in The Matrix.  How great would it have been if, after Agent Smith empties a clip in Neo, Neo opens his eyes, looks Agent Smith in the eye, and quoth, "There is no spoon."  Crowning moment of awesome!!

I first saw The Matrix almost ten years ago.  I had been told how it was awesome, mind-bending, spectacular, and all the other meaningless adjectives we use.  "Dude.  It is sooooo crazy.  It.  Will.  Change.  Your.  Life."  Unfortunately for my expectations, I had just finished reading a bit of Descartes for school; the idea that we might be living in The Matrix was something I had just gotten through processing.  (I applaud the Wachowskis for introducing a generation of young men to the philosophical dilemma of reality without making it a boring exercise in linguistics.)  When I watched it today, I wasn't looking for mind-bending awesomeness; I was actually watching to hone up for potentially forthcoming philosophical debates.*

*Wittgenstein cured me of the desire to understand and explore ontology one fine Saturday afternoon, but I seem to be the only dab of paint who has given up on trying to see the painting.  Still, everyone else seems to care about it, seems not to be conversant in Cartesian philosophy, and seems to be conversant in the philosophy of The Matrix.  When in Rome and all that.

And in the process of philosophical edification, I got caught up in the story.  How will Neo figure out whether he is The One?  And what will that mean?  How will Neo save Morpheus?  How will Agent Smith be thwarted?  By what miracle will the bad guys get what's coming?  That, my friends, is good storytelling.

And this time, it gave me pause, asking a more interesting philosophical question than that of ontology: What is my place in the Universe?  Am I Thomas Anderson---someone special for whom the rules don't really apply---or am I the homeless guy at the subway station---just another (expendable) brick in the wall?  To go one step further: Who decides?

How exciting!

The Lakers and Celtics are in the NBA Finals for the first twelfth time ever!  I was a little surprised that they've only met in the Finals twelve times.  Between them, they have 32 championships (out of 64 total), and I was under the impression they had met every year in the 1960s and 1980s.  I guess I was wrong.

Side note to American sports: this is a bad year for the home team.  The Yankees are reigning champions of MLB, Duke reigns in college basketball, and now the Lakers or Celtics will reign in the NBA.  Is it any wonder the NFL is America's most popular league?

I wash my hands of this.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

NBA Playoffs: Part Trois

By the way, these playoffs are lame.  I'm no longer really interested in who wins or loses.  Brief picks:

Celtics beat Magic in 5.  Lakers beat Suns in 4.  Celtics beat Lakers in 6.

Because sometimes the NBA sucks.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

NBA Playoffs: Part Deux

The first round is over, and the second round is just beginning.  How'd I do?  Let's see:


  • EC-1 Cleveland Cavaliers beat EC-8 Chicago Bulls in 5 - This was actually a lot closer than I think anybody expected.  I think we all expected a sweep.
  • EC-2 Orlando Magic beat EC-7 Charlotte Bobcats in 4 - This was actually a lot less close than I think we all expected.  The Magic pulled out the only sweep in the First Round.
  • WC-7 San Antonio Spurs beat WC-2 Dallas Mavericks in 6 - This was one "upset" I think about 2/3 of people predicted.  Good games with good results.
  • WC-5 Utah Jazz beat WC-4 Denver Nuggets in 6 - Hate to say I told you sooooooo---aight.
  • WC-1 Floss Angeles Lakers beat WC-8 Oklahoma City Thunder in 6 - Who can stop the purple machine??
  • EC-3 Atlanta Hawks beat EC-6 Milwaukee Bucks in 7 - Just add another log to the fire of Milwaukee's hatred of Atlanta.  This series was a lot closer than I expected.
  • WC-3 Phoenix Suns beat WC-6 Portland Trail Blazers in 6 - I love watching the Suns lose.  This was a disappointing series for me.
  • EC-4 Boston Celtics beat EC-5 Miami Heat in 5 - Who saw this coming?  Not me.  I'm not saying the Celtics are back; I'm saying the Heat never showed up (except in Game 4).

So by my count, I am sitting even at 4-4.  Biggest surprises: Celtics beating the Heat and Bucks taking Atlanta to Game 7.

Modified Predictions
  • WC-1 Haymakers v. WC-5 Jazz - Rematch from last year's First Round.  I like how the Jazz have been paying, and I hate the Rakers, so you know my vote.  Jazz in 6.
  • EC-1 Cavs v. EC-4 Celtics - These Celtics are old.  Both teams won their first round in 5 games, but the Cavaliers seemed less hesitant.  I pick the Cavs in 5.
  • WC-3 Suns v. WC-7 Spurs - I'm hoping for a replay of 2008's first round, complete with a Tim Duncan three and everything.  But the Suns have given us some heck this year, winning the season series 2-1.  I still pick the Spurs in 6.
  • EC-2 Magic v. EC-3 Hawks - This is a good old-fashioned regional rivalry (or should be).  Maybe this round will make it one.  I doubt it, though.  The Magic were the only team to sweep in the first round, and the Hawks were the only team to go 7 games.  The Magic also won 3 of the 4 regular season matchups.  So . . . Magic in 5.

Random Notes

First, the lowest ranked team at this stage is the Spurs at # 7.  It's not so much that their beating the Mavs was an upset as it is that the Western Conference is just a very even playing field right now.

Second, speaking of even playing fields, the Western Conference First Round featured two "upsets" (the Jazz were the other), while the Eastern Conference First Round went straight by seeding.  It seems there are two powers in the East, and it's not the two from the early 1960s.

Third, all four of this year's pairings are (or should be) storied rivalries.  
  • Lakers-Jazz: these two teams are geographically close enough and culturally opposite enough that they should be (and probably are) a great rivalry.  Two historically strong West Coast teams like this?  I like it.  
  • Cavs-Celtics: I don't know anything about this, but apparently the Cavs and Celtics have hated each other since the 1960s.  If they haven't, oh well.
  • Spurs-Suns: I'm not an authority, but I know that there are three teams I love to watch lose more than any other: the Lakers, the Mavericks, and the Suns.  To me, that spells good rivalry.
  • Magic-Hawks: These two teams are close geographically, share a division, and while the Magic have dominated for a couple of years, the Hawks are historically the strongest team in this division.
So these could be a few good series.  I'll update in a week or so.