Ranking the James Bond films...from worst to best

Because everyone here is asleep, and I really don't have anything better to do: a ranking of the James Bond films, from worst to best. Enjoy (or not). Please remember, these are just my opinions, so...no wagering. 24. Moonraker 23. Licence to Kill 22. Octopussy 21. The Man With the Golden Gun 20. Live and Let Die 19. The Spy Who Loved Me 18. Diamonds Are Forever 17. Quantum of Solace 16. Tomorrow Never Dies 15. A View To A Kill 14. The World Is Not Enough 13. Die Another Day 12. Never Say Never Again 11. You Only Live Twice 10. The Living Daylights 9. GoldenEye 8. Thunderball 7. Casino Royale 6. On Her Majesty's Secret Service 5. Dr. No 4. For Your Eyes Only 3. Skyfall 2. From Russia, With Love 1. Goldfinger

Ten Second Book Review: Paterno

So I just finished "Paterno," the latest from Joe Posnanski. Posnanski is the best sportswriter in America, so it's obviously well-written, but no one is judging this book by the quality of the writing. Poz was really in a no-win situation. He went to Happy Valley expecting to write a certain type of book -- a celebration of the career of Penn State football coach and anointed saint Joe Paterno -- and it turned into a completely different book after the revelation of the unimaginable horrors perpetrated by Paterno's long-time assistant Jerry Sandusky.

I liked the book, and I thought it was even-handed. If you are looking for a slash and burn attack on Paterno, you aren't going to get it here. Posnanski was very critical of Paterno's actions in relation to Sandusky, but he also spent a lot of words talking about all the good things Paterno did in his lifetime. The contrast between the moral authority that Paterno spent his life building, and the way he went out -- accused of ignoring, and enabling, contemptible crimes against the most innocent of victims -- is stark. He helped hundreds of kids during his lifetime, but it's the handful of kids that he did not help that has stained what had been a remarkable career.

It's a terribly sad story, but I do recommend the book.

Top 20 DMB songs

A couple of guys have been counting down their top twenty Dave Matthews Band songs (including covers) on Twitter the last couple of days. Since I'm easily persuaded, I let them talk me into making my own list. To wit: Honorable Mention (in no particular order) The Stone Tripping Billies Best of What's Around Spoon If I Had a Boat Dreaming Tree Old Dirt Hill Rhyme and Reason Halloween Louisiana Bayou Bartender When the World Ends Don't Drink The Water JTR Big Eyed Fish Dancing Nancies Seek Up Satellite Typical Situation What Would You Say Crush

20. Why I Am 19. Cortez the Killer 18. Two Step 17. #27 16. Pig 15. Ants Marching 14. Warehouse 13. Grace is Gone 12. The Maker 11. The Song That Jane Likes 10. Raven 9. Granny 8. All Along The Watchtower 7. #41 6. Recently 5. Jimi Thing 4. Long Black Veil 3. Grey Street 2. One Sweet World 1. Lie In Our Graves

On Barry Larkin

Yesterday, my favorite baseball player was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Barry Larkin, of course, played for the Cincinnati Reds his entire career. I watched and listened to a lot of Reds games during those years, and Larkin was simply a joy to behold. He should have been elected to the Hall of Fame two years ago, but we'll take what we can get.

For some reason, my most enduring memory of Barry Larkin came in Game 2 of the 1990 World Series. The World hadn't really been fully introduced to Larkin yet, but Reds fans were already beginning to realize what a special kid we had playing shortstop. In Game 2, the A's had taken the lead in the top of the first when Larkin stepped to the plate. Two pitches later, Bob Welch (that year's Cy Young winner) had Larkin in an 0-2 hole.

I'll never forget that next pitch; it was a fastball and it's no exaggeration to say that the ball was eye-level. Inexplicably, Larkin took a mammoth swing and hit a ground-rule double. By the end of the inning, the Reds had taken the lead and my confidence that the Reds could actually pull off a victory was restored.

I guess the reason why I remember that play most was that it was so unlike the Larkin I came to enjoy throughout his career. Larkin was a guy who did the little things correctly; he was a great fielder, an excellent base-runner, he took a walk. On October 17, 1990, he hacked at a pitch, and I'll never forget it.

Anyway, I'm happy for Larkin, and I'm glad I got to watch him play. (Below are a few pics I snapped of Larkin at Great American Ballpark a few years ago.)

Virginia basketball vs. Miami -- 2012.01.07

I thought I'd post some photos I snapped at Saturday's Virginia - Miami game at John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville (click on the individual picture to embiggen):

"Weekend Update" Anchors: Worst to Best

So, I tweeted that Kevin Nealon was the worst anchor in the long history of Saturday Night Live's "Weekend Update" segment (yes, I forgot Colin Quinn). That inspired an enthusiastic and inane discussion about Weekend Update, and which anchors were the best and worst. Not willing to leave well enough alone, here are my completely subjective rankings of all the Weekend Update anchors. It may include anchors from the "SNL Newsbreak" and "Saturday Night News" segments, I may choose to exclude anchors who didn't spent much time behind the desk, and I may or may not rank certain co-anchors together or separately. It's my list and I'll cry if I want to...or something.

And, as always, these are my opinions only, so please: no wagering.

14. Kevin Nealon: the guy can't even read a teleprompter. Funny in other roles on SNL, but go back and watch him on Weekend Update. Simply brutal.

13. Colin Quinn: Sticking to my guns since I made such a declaratory statement on Twitter, but there's an excellent argument that Quinn was the worst. Terrible anchor. Great on "Remote Control" though.

12. Charles Rocket: no thanks, although he does receive points (or have them deducted, I'm not sure) for being the only cast member to utter a profanity on the air.

11. Jimmy Fallon: I feel like I have him ranked too high. Got sick of Fallon pretty quickly, and the "I can't stop laughing" schtick didn't work.

10. Brian Doyle-Murray: completely forgettable in every way, except for having a funny brother.

9. Brad Hall: he's married to Elaine. That's cool, right? Right?

8. Amy Poehler: Poehler is brilliant on "Parks and Rec" but she was just meh on Update.

7. Tina Fey: big gap here. Seems like I have Fey ranked too low. Consistently good, and she carried Fallon (and, to a lesser extent, Poehler). Plus, she's a fellow Wahoo.

6. Jane Curtin and Bill Murray: good duo, and consistently funny. Of course, that was the point in his career when Murray could do no wrong.

5. Seth Meyers: yeah, probably ranked too high, but I'm a big fan. Meyers has that sly delivery that works well with the fake news. I think he'll be regarded well in SNL history, though his tenure with Poehler was not as strong as the solo years.

4. Chevy Chase: the original, and always funny. Generalíssimo Francisco Franco is still dead.

3. Dan Akroyd and Jane Curtin: the "Point/Counterpoint" gag remains one of the highlights in SNL history. Never really cared for either of them in anything else (except Ghostbusters), but together they were brilliant. Curtin, in particular, is underrated.

2. Dennis Miller: great in every way. Obscure references, witty rejoinders, and a perfect delivery. At one point, I couldn't imagine anyone could do Update better, until...

1. Norm Macdonald: ask me again next week, and I'll probably flip Miller and Macdonald in the top two positions. Both were brilliant. I have Norm at the top here because I was a huge fan of his standup -- and that deadpan delivery -- before he joined SNL (that was the golden age of standup), and he never disappointed on Update. By the way, did you know the Germans love David Hasselhoff?

Wow, I had way too much time on my hands today...

I wish I had written this.

I very rarely discuss my job online, for obvious reasons. Tonight, I deviate only because I just read something that struck me as profound. I could have written this, and I'm not sure I've ever seen a better description of the way I feel personally about the law:

But like my hero Billy Beane, I know deep down that I should never have enrolled at Harvard Law School, which will forever live in my heart as the educational equivalent of the New York Mets — not intrinsically evil by any stretch, but a constant reminder of making lifelong commitments for all the wrong reasons. And like Billy, my only realistic option going forward is to try my hardest to succeed on somewhat contrarian terms in a line of work I wish I'd never embraced as my own.

That last sentence sums up my entire career.

Ten Second Movie Review: Cyrus

"Cyrus" is a film that I had intended to watch last year, but never seemed to get around to it. Wish I hadn't waited. Here's a bold statement: John C. Reilly is one of the best actors around. There, I said it; he's superb in every film in which he appears. Of course, he's joined by Jonah Hill here, and I continue to wait desperately for Hill's fifteen minutes of fame to expire.

Surprisingly, however, he isn't bad as the son of Reilly's love interest (Marisa Tomei). The relationship between mother and son, which is unique, is thrown for a loop with the introduction of this new guy. Reilly doesn't seem like he has much going for him (and, well, he doesn't) and things take a strange turn very quickly. The film turns into a bizarre love triangle, for lack of a better term.

It isn't really funny, and it isn't really heart-warming, but it is a compelling story from beginning to end.

Four stars out of five.

Ten Second Movie Review: Midnight In Paris

Midnight in ParisDirector: Woody Allen Writer: Woody Allen Stars:Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams and Kathy Bates

I saw this film one week ago today, in Richmond, VA, and perhaps the best way to describe Midnight in Paris is to say that I haven't been able to quit thinking about it since.

I'm a confessed Woody Allen-phile (to coin a term), but his recent efforts have certainly been mixed. Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Match Point stand up to anyone's best work, but while I enjoyed films such as Scoop, Melinda and Melinda, and Whatever Works, no one is comparing any of those to Annie Hall.

I won't compare Midnight in Paris to Annie Hall, because that's not fair -- Annie Hall is the best romantic comedy that has ever been made -- but Allen's latest is a brilliant film in its own right. Owen Wilson stars and, while I may have made a different casting choice here, he is better than you would expect as the hack screenwriter who dreams of literary success and becomes intoxicated by Paris. Rachel McAdams is lovely, as always, as Wilson's fiance, and Marion Cotillard is perfect as...well, she plays Adriana, and I won't reveal too much about her character.

The most memorable performances are by Alison Pill, as Zelda Fitzgerald, and Corey Stoll, as Ernest Hemingway. That should give you an idea of the direction this movie takes, and it absolutely works. It's a reflection upon nostalgia versus living for the present. That certainly isn't a unique theme, but Allen has put together one of the best films I've seen in a while. It's proof that Woody Allen remains capable of moving work.

Five stars out of five. Must see.

Final Four

What a weekend! Men's Lacrosse earned a trip to the Final Four with a stirring victory over Stony Brook. Then the Men's Tennis team earned yet another berth in the Final Four by defeating UCLA.

Oh yeah, the baseball team had a pretty good weekend, too. More on that later.

I know a lot of fans are down on the UVa athletic department based upon recent horrific results in football and men's basketball. Let's be honest, though: this athletic department is outstanding. I am constantly amazed at the level of success achieved in non-revenue sports. Makes a man proud to be a Wahoo.

UVa baseball rolls into the post-season

It doesn't get much better than this:

The top seed in the ACC tournament and the Coastal Division title had been secured by the time the first pitch was thrown at Miami’s Alex Rodriguez Park on Saturday.

Apparently, that was not enough for top-ranked Virginia in the regular-season finale.

The Cavaliers exploded early and held off a late rally from the ninth-ranked Hurricanes to secure a series-clinching 7-4 victory.

Virginia improved to 45-10 overall and 23-7 in the ACC entering the conference tournament, which starts Wednesday in Greensboro, N.C. The Cavaliers will be joined in their pool by fourth-seeded Miami, fifth-seeded Florida State and eighth-seeded Boston College, which used a tiebreaker to edge out North Carolina.

“To win two out of three in the final weekend to win the league title is a great accomplishment, especially to do it at Miami,” said Virginia coach Brian O’Connor. “Miami has an excellent club this year and we had to play great baseball to win the series with them.”

Let's just be honest: you can't stop Brian O'Connor, you can only hope to contain him. What he has done with this Virginia baseball program is remarkable.

Phase one of the season is complete, and UVa did what they had hoped: win the regular season ACC title. Phase two begins now, and there is no rest for the weary:

John Hicks, Steven Proscia and Keith Werman mulled over the group of teams that the top-ranked Cavaliers (45-10, 23-7 ACC) were given for the upcoming ACC tournament in Greensboro, N.C.

As a reward for landing the event’s top seed, Virginia was “graciously” given single games in pool play with eighth-seeded Boston College, fifth-seeded Florida State and fourth-seeded Miami.

Two of the Cavaliers’ foes (FSU and Miami) entered the week ranked seventh and 14th, respectively, in the nation. The other, Boston College, swept N.C. State, just earned a bid by beating Georgia Tech and leads the league in fielding percentage.

“I was talking to Proscia and ‘Jaz’ [Hicks] and we were like, ‘Wow, Florida State and Miami and Boston College? There’s no easy win there,’” Werman recounted. “But at the same time we were like, ‘Shoot, we are in the best conference in the country.’

“We are never going to be in a spot for an easy win.”

That's an understatement. What a tough group of teams.

Virginia will open with BC on Wednesday, at noon. I'm hoping we'll see Branden Kline get that start, but Coach O'Connor hasn't made that decision yet.

One last note: UVa got the top seed, but there is another thing that makes this even sweeter. Behold:

There is one thing, however, missing from the eight-team event: North Carolina.

The Tar Heels, despite sweeping the Hokies this weekend and making four straight trips to Omaha, lost out to BC on a complex tiebreaker since the two never faced in head-to-head competition.

Heh. Go Hoos.

How good is the baseball team doing?

It doesn't get a whole lot better than this, from Baseball America:

Virginia allowed just six runs in its first-ever three-game sweep of North Carolina, running its winning streak to 14 games—tied with Jackson State for longest active streak in the nation. UVa. now leads the ACC by two games over Miami and Georgia Tech. Jr. OF Jarrett Parker had two hits in each game to lead the Cavaliers' offense. After UNC tied the first game of Saturday's doubleheader with a run in the top of the ninth, Jr. OF John Barr delivered a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the frame. In the nightcap, Jr. RHP Robert Morey (9 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 K) became the first Cavalier to throw back-to-back complete games since Andrew Dobies in 2004. Jr. RHP Tyler Wilson (5.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R) earned the win in relief Sunday, as Virginia capped its comeback from an early 3-0 deficit with So. 1B John Hicks' walk-off three-run homer in the ninth. It was UVa.'s first walk-off homer since David Adams hit one against Georgia Tech in 2007. The series drew a school-record 13,294 fans.

Wow. Just wow. I almost can't believe they're talking about our Hoos.

Big weekend

It's good to get the first one out of the way:

And just 12 seconds into the game, it felt like there just might be “life after love.” With Love’s family in the stands, Virginia scored right off the opening faceoff when Charlie Finnigan took a pass from Whit Hagerman and fired a shot past Towson goalie Mary Teeters.

The season-high crowd of 2,270 at Klockner erupted.

But it wasn’t until late in the second half that sixth-seeded Virginia was able to put away a feisty Towson squad. A goal by Finnigan with 1:58 to play gave UVa a hard-fought 14-12 victory.

With the win, Virginia (14-5) advanced to play No. 3 North Carolina next weekend in Chapel Hill, N.C..

“This was obviously much more than just a game today,” said Virginia coach Julie Myers. “Obviously, the last couple of weeks have been unfamiliar territory, but our players, our coaches, everybody surrounding our program — and even people who aren’t attached directly to our program — have been so strong and have really helped keep us hopeful, keep us together and keep us really focused.”

Virginia needed that focus. After jumping out to a quick 3-0 lead, No. 11 Towson responded by scoring five of the next six goals to take a 5-4 lead.

That story just doesn't stop being a heartbreaker. Glad the Hoos could focus long enough to win. Next up: UNC, next weekend.

Let's not forget that the men won in the first round, as well. They will play Stony Brook in round two.