Monthly Archives: April 2010

Man Crush (1 in a series of 25): John Cusack

crush (krush) v. crushed, crush-ing, crush-es  1.  To break, pound, or grind (stone or ore, for example) into small fragments or powder. 2.  To extract or obtain by pressure or squeezing:  crush juice from a grape.

n.  informal 1.  A usually temporary infatuation. 2.  One who is the subject of an infatuation.

Heterosexuality is my most consistent characteristic.  It is as certain as sun up or sun down, as a Starbucks on a street corner near you or the better-luck-next-year of the Chicago Cubs of any season since 1908.

Straight husbands suffering from a quarter life crisis have crushes, too; ours bear a little more sophistication from the teen-aged version:  Sheer lust is replaced by admiration, frantic obsession is muted by respect, candle-light vigils trumped by google searches.

To wit:

The career of a former child star follows a familiar arc:  Fame is sudden and the ascent is meteoric, public consciousness/tolerance reaches a saturation point, the decline is a horrific–albeit spectacular–plummet back to where any social relevance has been reduced to random trivia answers, TV reality programs with a nostalgic bent, or a hallucinogen-induced crime spree .

Then there’s John Cusack.

The native Chicagoan is the rule’s exception, having successfully navigated the treacherous straits of Hollywood burnout.  In the process, he has assembled an impressive, if not prolific, inventory of film credits that even the venerable Michael Caine must view with a spot of envy.

Identifying Cusack as a former teen heart-throb is like preceding ‘addict’ with ‘recovering.’  Cusack seems sensibly rooted in a clever understanding of where he began his career and where it has evolved from.

Cusack has saturated movie audiences with a heavy volume of projects, seemingly releasing a movie every year since 1983.   The recent Hot TubTime Machine demonstrates that he possesses the quality that eludes most entertainers:  He doesn’t take himself too seriously.

More reasons to love John Cusack, in no particular order:

1. He golfs.

2. He contributes to the Huffington Post.

3. He’s made-out with Amanda Peet, Diane Lane, Daphne Zuniga, Ione Skye, Annette Bening, Dianne Wiest, and Minnie Driver.

4. His sister is Joan Cusack.

5. He loves baseball.

6. He made out with Nicolette Sheridan, Katherine Zeta-Jones, Marisa Tomei and Demi Moore.

7. He loves The Clash and The Ramones.

8. He is fearless with his political views.

9. He starred in Being John Malkovich.

10. He made out with Julia Roberts, Catherine Keener, Lisa Bonet, Iben Hjejle, Bridget Moynahan and Kate Beckinsale.

By definition, a crush suggests something fleeting and temporary, yet the  man crush I have for Cusack defies even this description.

Cusack has fanned the flames of my smoldering man crush ever since he portrayed Hoops McCann in One Crazy Summer.

Cusack is a dude’s dude, sharp as a dagger and an icon of film.

Just don’t call him Kevin Spacey (see below).

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Expand the Tournament Field? Now That Would Be Madness.

For the local pee-wee level soccer league, there are no winners and losers.  Literally.

Every Saturday morning, the neighborhood youth soccer association near my corner of Southern California plays to a stalemate:  The league mandates that every game played during the two month-long season will result in a tie.

The belief is that the kids will learn that the object of competition is not whether you win or lose, as long as you participate.

Such programs aim to protect children from the threat of hurt feelings and cultivate self-esteem.

This year’s Academy Awards expanded the Best Picture field from five to ten movies to promote the inclusion of films that narrowly missed the cut.

The decision was meant to pacify the annual complaint that the Academy had once again failed to properly acknowledge deserving candidates for the award, causing bitter disappointment and feelings of resentment.

Further, the move would protect filmmakers from the threat of hurt feelings and cultivate self-esteem.

The NCAA, it seems, has sympathized with the above logic.

The governing body that runs the yearly Men’s Basketball Tournament is looking to increase the number of teams allowed to compete for the National Championship.

At press time, the tournament allows 64 teams to vie for the most coveted trophy in College Basketball.  The committee is considering expanding the field to 96 teams.

The NCAA believes that this would allow more teams the opportunity to participate for the National Title, thus creating a tournament of unparalleled democracy.  Said one NCAA staffer, more kids would be offered the privilege of  experiencing the excitement of the yearly tournament.

The theory is that the expanded tournament field would protect collegiate players from the threat of hurt feelings and would cultivate self-esteem.

Ninety.  Six.  Teams.

The possible revision to the NCAA Tournament is a continuation of a disturbing trend in our culture.  We are cultivating a softer, more tolerant breed of individual that is spoiled, and filled with a false sense of privilege.

The author of this blog hates to type these words, but he shall:  We are becoming a bunch of over-indulged pussies.

If the NCAA has their way — and they will — we can look forward to such scintillating match-ups as number 1 seed Kansas potentially locking horns with number 96 seed Canisius.

Canisius, you ask?  Exactly.

We will wait with sweet anticipation as perennial power house North Carolina collides with the barely qualifying Coastal Carolina (student population 8,000).

A Chihuahua would have better fortune against a Pit Bull.

The proprietors of this blog would like to submit another opinion.  Let’s view this for what it really is — corporate greed at its highest level.

Don’t believe the NCAA rhetoric of the spirit of competition and the selfless act of expanding opportunities to marginal basketball programs.

Here’s how it went down:

A bean-counter at the NCAA corporate offices made a fancy spreadsheet with bushels of  hyperlinks, graphs and colorful pie charts.  These graphics told the story of how much advertising revenue the NCAA tournament games generated.  The bean-counter made an easy sale to these profit chasers — if some is good, more must be better.

“Think of how much more money we could make,” the spindly accountant whined to his bosses.  Since stodgy old executives love colorful graphs, pie charts, and revenue the idea of 96 teams took root.

Regrettably, the fancy pie chart failed to consider the blatant exploitation of the student athletes.  Or worse yet, the fancy pie chart did consider the blatant exploitation of the student athletes and the executives still moved forward with their decision.

This revision to the tournament  would cheapen the quality of an already near-perfect product.  Rather than giving hand-outs to teams on the bubble, here’s a radical suggestion to those NIT-bound teams:  Perform better during the regular season!

Let’s recap:

1. Winning vs. Losing

Edge: Push

2. 64 teams vs. 96 teams

Edge: Colorful pie charts

3. Student athletes vs. stodgy NCAA executive

Edge: Bean-counters

In summary, any attempt to expand the NCAA basketball tournament field should be met with strong opposition.  A group of 96 teams cheapens the quality of the event and reduces its value.

A Maserati wouldn’t be a Maserati if everyone owned one, now would it?

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