REMEMBER LAST WEEK when I complained about Thursday night NFL games? Here's a follow-up:
It was about a quarter to midnight this past Thursday, and I'm sitting in auditorium 6 at the Columbiana Grande waiting for the 12:01 a.m. Friday showing of "Avatar" to start in all its 3D glory. In the premovie chatter of a packed house, I hear someone lament, "I heard we missed a great football game."
"Aw, man," his friend whined. "I keep forgetting the NFL even PLAYS on Thursday nights."
That's when I swooped to the rescue like a Na'vi on an Ikran (although at that point, I wouldn't have understood that reference until I had seen them do that in the movie two hours later).
On my drive to the multiplex, I had heard the end of the game on the radio. So I explained:
"The Colts beat the Jaguars, 35-31. Jags had been up, 31-28, but they punted and backed up the Colts offense to their own 30. But on third down, Peyton Manning, facing no pass rush, dropped a 65-yard bomb to Reggie Wayne with about five and a half minutes left. Basically, it played out the way anyone with half a brain knew it would. Indy is still perfect."
So while I was proud of myself at delivering the scoop, I was mad at the NFL for depriving its fans of a great ending by forcing these games on us at times when we aren't expecting them. Thursday night college football works because it serves a niche audience. The reason the NFL is so successful on Sunday and Monday is that it's shared, communal story telling that we make time for.
Speaking of communal story telling ... ya gotta see "Avatar." It's big, it's bold, it's breathtaking. It's going to get better with each repeated viewing.
It also made me realize: This is the third decade in a row I've been turned on by Sigourney Weaver in a sci-fi movie. The first time was "Ghostbusters" in 1984 when I was 11 and she was 36. Then "Galaxy Quest" in 1999. Now in "Avatar" in 2009 - well, at least her motion-captured, abs-of-steel-eriffic avatar version. Judges, I'll say that counts.
Besides, how's that for a critic's blurb on the movie's Bluray cover: "This is the third decade in a row I've been turned on by Sigourney Weaver in a sci-fi movie!" -Gregory Hardy, The State. Move over, Richard Roeper.
My evil twin brother Orville was forced to watch the 2D screening. It's impossible for him to watch 3D because he has no depth perception. He has a glass eye after he lost his left eye in a tragic 1996 jai alai accident while waiting for a New York Jets game to start.
I guess O. liked it, because he didn't complain on the drive home. All he said was, "Is it just me, or could Avatar star Sam Ellington be an avatar for Dale Earnhardt Jr.?"
To the picks!
Guesspert's Glad Tidings
QB: If the Na'vi were purple instead of blue, "Avatar" could be called "The Brett Favre Story."
RB: In a game that's a million galaxies from being relevant, the Chiefs' Jamaal Charles will bring the leverage against the Browns.
WR: Unleashing Anquan Boldin on the Lions defense is meaner than a bunch of military thugs blowing up a giant sacred tree.
DEF: Did you know that in James Cameron's first draft, the Na'vi were creamsicle colored? Seahawks bully the Bucs.
Evilpert's Bad News
QB: Ladies and gentlemen, may we present Curtis Painter in the role of Jim Sorgi. Sure, Indy has already won this week. But if the Colts go 19-0, their backup quarterbacks better not get rings until they can prove their uniforms had a grass stain this season.
RB: Rashard Mendenhall is running out the clock as Pittsburgh stops looking like a competent team.
WR: Randy Moss? Now you see him, now you don't.
DEF: I'd bet my good eye that Oakland will watch Denver score a lot of points.
LAST WEEK: Greg 3-1, Orville 1-3
SEASON TO DATE: Greg 40-15, Orville 29-26
ORVILLE'S LAST WORD
"James Cameron spent hundreds of millions of dollars on special effects, but my favorite visual was Michelle Rodriguez in a tank top."
ESPN.com runs Greg's Power Rankings each Monday. Cure your blues at Twitter.com/HardyVision.