Pop Quiz: NFL Free Agency

By Reid Kerr
PSDC Offensive Coordinator

The first week and a half of the NFL Free Agency period has been a pretty crazy time, with deals coming fast and furious for defensive backs and edge rushers, while veteran quarterbacks and running backs sit waiting for the phone to ring like Brendan Fraser.

You may have missed some of the big events, so here’s a handy pop quiz to see how much you’ve been paying attention to the NFL’s annual big human garage sale.

1 – This season’s free agency period is a good time to be an NFL…
A) Safety
B) Offensive lineman
C) Lawyer

2 – The market for running backs is similar to the market for…
A) Interior defensive linemen
B) Kickers
C) Bags of used dirt

3 – Eddie Lacy weighed 267 pounds when he signed with Seattle, making him…
A) A two-down back
B) A power back for goal line situations
C) “Feast Mode”

4 –  The best deal a running back has pulled down so far is Kyle Juszczyk, who is…
A) Someone you’ve never heard of
B) A bad investment by a first-time GM
C) All of the above

5 – Adrian Peterson’s dad’s comments about the Minnesota Vikings offensive line were…
A) A bad idea
B) Spot-on
C) Not the biggest thing working against a new contract for AD

6 – The Dallas Cowboys didn’t expect…
A) To have so many problems unloading Tony Romo
B) To lose two cornerbacks in fifteen minutes
C) For Ezekiel Elliott to get all “Girls Gone Wild”

7 – Next year, Tony Romo will be…
A) A Texan
B) A Bronco
C) Injured by Thanksgiving, regardless of job location

8 – The Kirk Cousins situation in Washington is a fascinating example of…
A) Free agency problems
B) How teams use the franchise tag
C) Hostage negotiation gone horribly wrong

9 – The Chicago Bears signed Mike Glennon for fifteen million dollars a year.
A) What?
B) Who?
C) Why?

10 – The New England Patriots appear to be…
A) Reevaluating other players
B) Ignoring most free agents
C) Shopping for groceries out of other teams’ carts

11 – Robert Griffin III still has value as…
A) A veteran backup quarterback
B) A spot-starter
C) An organ donor

Scoring: Give yourself one point for every “A,” two for every “B,” and seventy-three points for every “C” answer. Total your points up and realize no matter how many you have, it’s still not enough to get Jimmy Garoppolo away from the Patriots.

- Reid Kerr talks a lot, as his wife always reminds him. Reid’s second book, “I Hate It Here: A Love Story,” is out now on Amazon.com. You can always tweet questions, comments, and angry messages to him at @reidaboutit.

What We Know In The NFC Championship Round

By Reid Kerr
PSDC Offensive Coordinator

And then there were four.

After a really good weekend of Divisional games, we’re down to the Championship Round for the NFL. There’s only three games left in the season, so what have we learned so far?

Well first, this is a great time for quarterbacks. We’ve got an amazing final four. I know it’s shallow to say that because it doesn’t show enough appreciation for the defenses, backs, line play, etcetera, but come on. We’ve got the best four quarterbacks in the league all still standing.

And while we’re at it, this year shows there’s no price too big to pay to get your franchise quarterback. Look at the four remaining teams and you’ll see three Super Bowl winners and a guy who’ll probably be the MVP. Look at the bottom of the league and you’ll see teams who desperately need quarterbacks, and they try and they fail about every other year. Look at Houston hurling millions at a guy they had never worked out, just in hopes he’d be the best quarterback the Texans have ever had, which is to say he’d be slightly better than average. The Jets had four quarterbacks on the roster this year, and might do four different ones next year until something sticks. If you have a Pro Bowl guy taking the snaps, you’ve always got a chance. And if not? Forget it.

The only thing more important than quarterback might be the overall philosophy of these teams. The organization is all on the same page, from owner to coach to assistants to scouts to popcorn vendors. There’s a long-term buy-in there from three of them, and Atlanta is well on their way too. The teams still playing are, for the most part, always there. Their team philosophy is well understood, and has been for quite some time.

Basically if you can imagine the team name fitting into the sentence “The (Blank) Way,” they know what they’re doing. The Patriots Way. The Packers Way.

Ever try it with a bad team? Can you define “the Jaguars Way” without stammering for a moment and then just letting your voice trail off?

Speaking of locker rooms and attitudes, just a reminder, kids. Post-game complaints are whiny. They put the “loser” in “sore loser.” Travis Kelce blamed the Chiefs loss on a holding penalty, and called out a referee who’s going to be working the Super Bowl. Kelce also committed one of the dumbest after-the-play penalties I’ve ever seen in the playoffs, and plays in an offense that couldn’t make a two-point conversion from the twelve if you gave them six downs to do it. So calling out the ref for a fairly obvious penalty is a pretty weak argument.

And please, that “you never played the game so you can’t criticize me” argument is beyond lame. The NFL is a public entity, it’s not a secret society. The reason these players can buy houses and cars and mistresses is because people who never played the game at the highest level are willing to shell out thousands of dollars for seats, shirts, jerseys, socks, caskets, and anything else the NFL is willing to slap a logo on. If that means you have to answer questions once in a while from a guy who went to college and actually went to class, then that’s a small price to pay for league minimum wage.

And finally, we learned bad teams are willing to take some chances. We saw no major retreads in the coaching hires, and lots of (sometimes very) young, hungry assistant coaches working their way up the food chain, earning one of those thirty-two gigs.

Of course, the success rate on those young coaches is somewhere around thirty percent, but one of them could be the next Bill Belichick, just as soon as they get fired from this first job and land another one.

On to the picks for Sunday. I was 1-3 last week, and also 1-3 against the spread, which makes me 5-3 straight up, and 4-4 against the spread in the playoffs. I’ll need to get lucky this week to stay on the sunny side of the street.

Here’s the picks for Championship Sunday. Remember, these are for the purposes of discussion only. As always, no wagering.

Green Bay (+5.5) at Atlanta: This game might come down to two or three defensive plays, quite possibly because those are the only plays made defensively in this entire game. Aaron Rodgers may be the most exciting quarterback in decades, but magic runs out in Green Bay eventually. Or at least Don Majkowski did.
Pick: Falcons to win and cover, which means I think they’ll win by six.

Pittsburgh (+6) at New England: I don’t know what the big deal was about Antonio Brown’s live video from the locker room. That’s pretty much what everyone outside of the immediate Boston area calls the Patriots.
Pick: Patriots to win, but Steelers with the points, which means I think the Steelers will lose by five or less.

I’ll also admit here that I’m hoping for the exact opposite of those results, but you root with your heart and bet with your head. I’ll be back next week to talk about the exquisite ridiculousness of the Super Bowl, but until then, good luck, everybody.

- Reid Kerr talks a lot, as his wife always reminds him. Reid’s second book, “I Hate It Here: A Love Story,” is out now on Amazon.com. You can always tweet questions, comments, and angry messages to him at @reidaboutit.

Project Shanks Monday Night Movie: Female Trouble (1974)

By John Baggett
PSDC Movie Dude

Note: I kinda spoil this movie, but I don’t think it’ll diminish your enjoyment of the film at all.

In December, NBC will be airing a live production of the musical, Hairspray, following the recent successes of Grease Live and The Wiz. I’m actually excited about the production, as I’m a big fan of the show (and I’m not just saying that because a friend of mine co-directed a production of it last summer). What does this have to do with anything? Well, the connection is that the play was based on a 1988 film of the same name from writer/director, John Waters. And to this day, it remains the only one of his films you could comfortably watch with your family. (Maybe, Serial Mom too.)

Waters would laugh about the success of his film, saying he could imagine a family saying, “We loved Hairspray! Let’s rent another John Waters film!” Only for them to be immediately horrified by what they might see. Waters is often named the Pope of Trash or the Prince of Puke, a man whose career began as a guerilla hippie filmmaker in Baltimore in the 1960s that led to him being one of the kings of the midnight movie in the 1970s, before he went legit(ish) in the 80s. He rose to infamy with his 1972 film, Pink Flamingos, which made him a cult figure and his company of actors, named Dreamlanders, stars (sort of), especially the 300 pound drag queen tour de force known as Divine. Pink Flamingos may be the more obvious choice to cover, but I’m not going down the easy path. This week I’m examining the Flamingos follow up, the 1974 comedy, Female Trouble.

 FemaleTrouble2

Female Trouble is the story of Dawn Davenport (Divine), as told in various stages of her life. We first meet her as a troubled teen in 1960 that is more interested in getting cha-cha heels for Christmas then she is her schoolwork. She and her two best friends, Concetta (Cookie Mueller) and Chicklette (Susan Walsh) cut class, threaten other students, and would rather be expelled than be in school for another female. Besides, Dawn doesn’t need school, she’s gonna be famous one day.

On Christmas morning, after her parents don’t get her the cha-cha heels she asked for, Dawn attacks her parents, pinning her mother under the Christmas tree, and running away from home. After leaving home, she hitches a ride with a man named Earl Peterson (also played by Divine), who takes her to the city dump for some sexy time. Naturally, said sexy time leads to Dawn getting pregnant and Earl refuses to help, telling her to go fuck herself.

Dawn ends up being a pretty terrible mother, unable to control her daughter Taffy (played as a child by Hilary Taylor and as a adolescent/teenager by Mink Stole). Dawn’s idea of discipline includes chaining Taffy to her bed and beating her with a car aerial. She confides in her friends Concetta and Chicklette that she doesn’t know how to control Taffy, even though she is not setting a good example, byu harboring her two friends every time they go out stealing.

Dawn’s life makes a change for the better when she ends up in the Les Lipstick Salon, run by beauty experts Donald (David Lochary) and Donna Dasher (Mary Vivian Pearce). She impresses the Dashers, who allow her to become their new customer and she even catches the eye of Gater (Michael Potter), a hairdresser who lives with his aunt Ida (Edith Massey). Ida refuses to accept that Gater is straight and continues to try and set him up with nice young men. But, Gater has eyes for Dawn and the two soon marry.

Wedded life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be for Dawn, as she and Gater are having some problems in the bedroom. The two split, but with the Dashers helping Dawn rise to fame, they help her make Gater’s life rough, even firing him. Dawn becomes a sensation, even after a violent attack by Ida, who throws acid in her face, and becomes a superstar that mixes murder with beauty and art. This career move helps lead her to the biggest achievement in her career – the electric chair.

Now, part of the reason that I picked this film over Pink Flamingos is that I think it’s a better movie. I don’t dislike Pink Flamingos, in fact I might cover it and the other entry in Waters’ “Trash Trilogy,” Desperate Living, at later dates. I just feel like if it didn’t end in Divine eating dog shit, I don’t know how well remembered the movie might be. Female Trouble shows Waters getting better as a writer and a director. It has all of the trashiness of Flamingos but with a slightly more cohesive story.

Even John Waters has called it his favorite of his early films. In the commentary, he described it as a vehicle for Divine and it really shows. He (and I use that pronoun as Divine was a drag queen, not transgender) was always a performer that gave his all and after his passing, Waters’ films never really felt the same.

Female Trouble is the kind of anarchic filmmaking that we don’t see very often these days. It’s 42 years old now but still packs as much of a punch as I’m sure it did back then. If you’ve never seen a Waters film, I definitely think you should start with Pink Flamingos, but this also isn’t a bad place to start. It’s funnier, more shocking, and more in your face than the “raunchy comedies” coming out today. It’s a brash slice of cinema that was everything it ever set out to be.

Now, where are my goddamn cha-cha heels?

Rating: **** (out of 5)

Project Shanks Monday Night Movie: Maximum Overdrive (1986)

By John Baggett
PSDC Movie Dude

It’s been a really long time since I’ve written a Monday Night Movie article and after a long absence I decided it was time to resurrect this series. If you don’t remember this series, sometimes I would write about a really good new movie that was off the radar, or something personal to me, or sometimes it was something just ridiculous and stupid. For this triumphant return, I’ve clearly chosen the latter.

So, what do you get when you combine a director’s chair, an incredibly coked up Stephen King, and a shitload of AC/DC? You get Maximum Overdrive!

maximumover8

The movie opens in OUTER SPACE (just imagine I did that in an epic, echoey voice). We get an exposition dump that the Earth has passed through the tail of a comet. The tail of said comet gives off plot energy that causes things to come alive, like vehicles, vending machines, lawn mowers, electric knives. The story takes place in somehow not Castle Rock, Maine, but rather in Wilmington, North Carolina. We see inanimate objects come to life, including an ATM which calls the man using it, played by Stephen King, an asshole, which is something critics would do to him after this movie opened.

Most of the action of the film takes place at a truck stop run by Commissioner Gordon…I mean, Bubba Hendershot (Pat Hingle). Hendershot is laying out his demands for his new short order cook, Bill (Emilio Estevez), a college educated recent parolee in need of employment, that he is to work nine hours but only clock in for eight. When Bill protests, Bubba reminds him that since he is on parole, he owns Bill’s ass and if he doesn’t bend to his will, he can try to send him back in dutch with the state of North Carolina.

In other parts of town, things are a real horror show. A baseball game becomes deadly thanks to a soda machine turning into a cannon, killing the coach of one of the teams, and maintenance equipment starts running down other players. Luckily, young Deke Keller (Holter Graham), is able to get out alive and as he bicycles through his neighborhood, seemingly stalked by a blood covered lawnmower and a driverless ice cream truck, he decides to head to the truck stop where his dad, Duncan (J.C. Quinn), works.

 The truck stop horror begins after Happy Toys driver Handy (Frankie Faison) brings his shiny rig, complete with a giant Green Goblin face on the front of his truck, comes in. Handy exits the truck with the keys, but it doesn’t stop the truck, and the others around him, coming to life. In the kitchen, high-strung Wanda June (Ellen McElduff) is attacked by an electric knife that springs to life and slices her arm. Bill bashes it to death with a hammer, but the nightmare is about to get much worse.

The rest of our assorted cast of characters includes bad girl drifter (driftress?) Brett (Laura Harrington), who will naturally serve as the love interest for Bill. There is pervy bible salesman Loman (Christopher Murney), mechanic Brad (Leon Rippy), and recently married couple Curtis (John Short) and Connie (Yeardley Smith), who barely make it alive after nearly being killed by a series of vehicles on the road and in there parking lot. They must all band together to stay alive, but surprisingly not everyone is cooperative. Thankfully, Bubba has a basement full of secrets that will help the humans take down the machines and remind them who made who.

Maximum Overdrive, based on the story “Trucks,” is the only film that one Mr. Stephen King, author extraordinaire, has helmed as director. Which is pretty surprising considering it’s not the worst directed film I’ve ever seen. In fact, in terms of King adaptations, it’s on the upper middle scale of films based on his material. It’s not the only film he’s been involved with, he has written the screenplay for quite a few adaptations and most of them were painful to sit through. King is a great storyteller, but an awful screenwriter. (Watch Storm of the Century if you don’t believe me.)

The film was somehow not well received when it was released in 1986, receiving two Razzie nominations for Worst Actor – Emilio Estevez (not deserved) and Worst Director – Stephen King (probably deserved). The Razzies actually ended up both going to Prince for his performance and direction in the film Under the Cherry Moon. King admitted years later that he was “coked out of his mind” and had no clue what he was doing. King also earned an $18 million lawsuit against him from director of photography Armando Nannuzzi following an on set accident that resulted in the loss of his eye. Between the on set accidents (plural), King’s lack of skill and raging coke habit, and both audiences and critics destroying the film, bringing in a total of $7.4 million against a $9 million production budget, King vowed to never direct another film.

Despite being a coked up maniac on set, I think that time has been kinder to this film. If being on coke made you a bad director, Martin Scorsese wouldn’t have made a single memorable film after Mean Streets. Now, I’m not saying King made some kind of masterpiece here. No, not at all. He rightfully deserves all of the damning that he received from audiences, critics, and, ultimately, himself. Yet, I also think there is quite a bit of charm to this blunderfuck of a movie.

Yes, it’s poorly written. Yes, it’s goofy as shit. And yes, it couldn’t be more dated if it tried. But, it’s also fun as hell. It’s a movie about fucking 18 wheelers that came to life and try to run over Emilio Estevez to an all AC/DC soundtrack. It’s 96 minutes of stupid, but it’s a stupid that almost seems gloriously self aware. Sometimes a bad movie knows it’s a bad movie, so it revels in its idiocy, thus no longer making it an actual bad movie. The Room is a bad movie because it does everything wrong and refuses to acknowledge it. Maximum Overdrive is a movie about giant trucks that come to life and go on a murder spree. Honestly, I could sit there and nitpick the movie for its flaws, but at the end of the day, I would be the asshole because this thing was never trying to be art. It was the height of big, dumb, loud movies and they don’t get much bigger, dumber, and louder than this one.

In a way, I hate that this film was such a bust and King never made another film. I think once he sobered up and with another two or three trials, he could have made something brilliant. Or, we could just sit back and remember that this is the man that prefers the movie version of The Shining that he wrote starring the guy from Wings over the version that Kubrick made that pretty much mangled the book, but was the greater cinematic nightmare. Yeah, he probably made the right call.

Maximum Overdrive is an objectively bad movie, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth watching and not a shitload of fun. I laughed from start to finish and had a big dumb smile on my face when it was over. Sometimes we need films like this in our lives. I know I do. I mean, I thought Spotlight was a fantastic, nearly flawless film, but I don’t want to watch it on a lazy Sunday afternoon. It’s too heavy. That is the time for movies like this. If you haven’t seen it, or haven’t seen it in a while, I urge you to get on the highway to hell with Stephen King and the well behaved Estevez brother and take a 90 mph drive towards joy.

Rating: ***1/2 (out of 5)

Follow John on Twitter – @TrapperJohn1210

Reid’s Official Unofficial NFL Draft Timeline 2016: Smoke and Mirrors

By Reid Kerr
PSDC Offensive Coordinator

Two Weeks Before Draft Day: The newly-rechristened Los Angeles Rams pull off a huge trade with Tennessee, claiming the top spot in the draft. The city of Los Angeles responds by telling the Rams to draft Kobe.

One Week Before Draft Day: Cleveland trades with Philadelphia, giving the Eagles the number two spot in the draft. The Browns now have twelve picks in this year’s draft, which gives Browns fans hope that their team will take those choices and turn the team around. Sort of like last year when they also had twelve picks, won four fewer games, and fired their coach and general manager. Or in 2012 when they had eleven picks and also fired their coach and general manager. [Read more…]

Von Shining Moment: The Unofficial Official Super Bowl Fifty Timeline

Sunday, January 31, 2016 - Denver moves on to the Super Bowl in a thrilling win over New England that goes down to the final minute. Three hours later, Carolina advances with a win over Arizona so lopsided, Cam Newton plays the entire fourth quarter without a helmet, wearing a “Panthers NFC Champions” hat.

Monday, February 1, 2016 – The Panthers arrive in California, and Cam Newton’s pants trend on Twitter. And I don’t have a joke here, either. That’s actually what happened. [Read more…]

Project Shanks Monday Night Movie: The Green Inferno (2013)

By John Baggett
PSDC Pop Culture Guru

Project Shanks Monday Night Movie: The Green Inferno (2013)

Rating: *** (out of 5)

There is a trend in every subgenre of horror films – make one great one (or a handful of them), let the imitators roll in until the fad dies, and then the tribute films can roll in years later to possibly start the cycle over. We’ve seen it in slasher films, vampire films, and, as of late, zombie films. The zombie trend is particularly painful for a lot of horror fans because that was where we went for something truly gory and disturbing. Now we have teenage zombie rom coms. Thanks for ruining that, “The Walking Dead.” [Read more…]

Project Shanks Monday Night Movie: The Late Shift (1996)

By John Baggett
PSDC Pop Culture Guru

Project Shanks Monday Night Movie: The Late Shift (1996)

Rating: **** (out of 5)

Every now and then I look back at some of the films that shaped my adolescence and realize I’m not normal. Case in point, one of my favorite films from my mid-teenage years was an HBO TV movie about the war between David Letterman and Jay Leno for The Tonight Show, which is something that impressed all the ladies, let me tell you. And since we are now entering a Letterman and Leno free late night TV era, let’s jump in the way back machine and take a look at the 1996 film, The Late Shift. [Read more…]

Project Shanks Monday Night Movie: Chef (2014)

By John Baggett
PSDC Pop Culture Guru

Project Shanks Monday Night Movie: Chef (2014)

Rating: **** 1/2 (out of 5)

The Monday Night Movie is back after a long, mostly unplanned hiatus, but things have calmed down in life for me to get back to this column. And since it is Labor Day, I could have totally done something on the nose, like review Jason Reitman’s film Labor Day, but that would be totes obvious, as the kids might say. (Don’t worry. I hate me for that sentence too.) And because I also can’t think of any Labor Day themed horror movies (because doing a Google search was out of the question), I am doing what I usually do every week – picking something completely at random! This week I am taking a look at the 2014 comedy from writer/director/actor Jon Favreau, Chef. [Read more…]

Project Shanks Monday Night Movie: Would You Rather (2013)

By John Baggett
PSDC Pop Culture Guru

Project Shanks Monday Night Movie: Would You Rather (2012)

Rating: ***1/2 (out of 5)

We’ve all played the game, Would You Rather, where you are given two awful situations to pick from, usually saying that you can’t pass or say “neither.” For example, would you rather smash your thumb with a hammer at full strength or slice your peephole with a large papercut? (Well, the obvious answer is the hammer. I write about movies online. How much strength do I actually have?) [Read more…]

Project Shanks Monday Night Movie: Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

By John Baggett
PSDC Pop Culture Guru

Project Shanks Monday Night Movie: Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Rating: ***** (out of 5)

This review spoils the entire movie, but this movie is 16 years old.

On March 1, 1999 legendary filmmaker held a screening for his fourteenth feature film, Eyes Wide Shut, for its stars Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, along with executives at Warner Bros. Kubrick had declared it the best film he ever made, the result of an over 400 day production, requiring some key roles to be recast and holding Cruise and Kidman in London for the entirety of the shoot. Six days after the screening, Kubrick died of a heart attack at the age of 70. [Read more…]

Project Shanks Monday Night Movie: Bound (1996)

By John Baggett
PSDC Pop Culture Guru

Project Shanks Monday Night Movie: Bound (1996)

Well, folks, we wrap up Pride Month this week. I handled it like I handle so many other things in this life – poorly and at the last minute. My plan to review 30 films for this month failed. In my defense it was an incredibly busy month for me, so the plan became pretty impossible. Had I started maybe in mid May I could have pulled it off. So what I’m going to do is squeeze in one more film for tomorrow and then as my schedule permits I’m going to continue the Project Pride series and committing to cover at least two LGBT related films a month. Sound good? (Doesn’t matter how you answer, I’m doing it anyway.)

But for the purposes of this review, I’m just gonna ask you one question. Do you know these Wachowskis? [Read more…]