Tuesday, March 29, 2011

John Cena/The Rock Feud: Real, Fake or Something Inbetween

With Wrestlemania XXVII fast approaching one of the biggest storylines going into it is the feud between WWE superstar John Cena and Wrestlemania host The Rock.  People have begun to wonder if this is more then just a storyline feud between the two as it seems to have gotten personal over the past several weeks.  While I have no doubt that there is probably some legitimate beef between the two, I believe this is more then likely just a clever marketing ploy by Vince McMahon  and the WWE to try and beef up the buy rates for the upcoming pay-per-view.  One thing is clear this storyline has stirred some excitement for the product.

The Rock is arguably one of the biggest stars of the WWE's Attitude Era second only to Stone Cold.  But roughly about 7 years ago the Rock decided to retire from the ring to concentrate on his blossoming acting career.  In the meantime John Cena emerged in the WWE and became one its biggest stars.  Cena sells more merchandise then any other wrestler in the company currently.  Cena is clearly the current moneymaker for the company..

Upon the Rock's triumphant return on Raw he was announced as the guest host of the upcoming Wrestlemania.  The crowd erupted with cheers and the Rock poked fun at the expense of John Cena because of some alleged comments that Cena had made about the Rock.  Over the following weeks the two traded insults back and forth between raps and via satellite recordings.

This past week in Chicago though the Rock and Cena finally came face to face.  After a brief interruption by the Miz, Cena laid the Rock out with an Attitude Adjustment.  While the anticipation is high for what will happen this coming Sunday on Pay-Per-View, we are left to wonder where does this angle go from here?  and is there any truth to the words being exchanged between the two?

Where the angle goes from here can only be speculation, its certain that there will be some kind of confrontation and retaliation by the Rock at Wrestlemania.  The smart money says one of two things will happen, either the Rock runs in during the match and costs Cena the Championship or Cena somehow wins, perhaps with an assistance by the Rock, then after the match while Cena celebrates the Rock lays him out with a Rock Bottom.  What is certain is that this is a money making opportunity for the WWE and they would be foolish to let it fizzle out and go no where.

So is the beef real or not?  To start with Cena has been very vocal about the Rock in various interviews over the past several years.  Back in '08 Cena made some comments about how he felt that the Rock really hadn't gave anything back to the WWE and the industry that made him famous in the first place.  He questioned rather or not the Rock really cared about his WWE fans.

Last year during a sit down interview for Wrestlemania John Cena had these comments to make:

I don’t want to say that you misread it; I may have been misquoted. What I actually said, and I’ll stand true to it to this day, I don’t even care, is that here’s a guy who, when he was with the WWE, pounded his chest that he really loved the WWE, and that wasn’t the truth. The truth is that Dwayne Johnson is a great actor and I think always wanted to be an actor, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s like an athlete saying, “Hey, I don’t do drugs,” and then getting busted for drugs. It’s not the truth. I mean here’s a guy who said he was WWE through and through, and then the first chance to take a road to a different career path, he took it. There’s nothing wrong with that. Dwayne’s one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. He’s one of the hardest workers you’ll ever meet, and he certainly is a great actor. The roadblock that I have, because I certainly am in love with this business and I don’t see myself leaving it any time, is when someone says that and then leaves, it cheapens our business. If he’s going to say that, then back your word. That’s the only beef that I have and that’s what I told the people at The U.K. Sun. It just cheapens that phrase: “Oh, I love this business.” So then next time I come up and say I love this business, well, the guy before me who said that left. That doesn’t look good for me or our business. 

Over the past several years Cena has made several other comments or hints at the Rock and has been vocal about wanting to wrestle the Rock in the past.

“It’s tough for me to say this and then have people believe it just because of the people who’ve come before me, but I’m not going to leave the ring anytime soon. I’ve done two features now. I haven’t sacrificed one bit of commitment to the WWE. I can do two things at once and it’s two jobs that I enjoy. I love making movies and I love my time in the ring. I wouldn’t want to give either one of them up.”

"What I kind of get peeved about, and this is my Achilles heel, is that I've wanted to do this my whole life. Rock falls into that category. At one point he loved wrestling and wanted to do this all his life. So explain to me why he can't come back for Raw's 15th anniversary show or why he can't make an appearance at WrestleMania

The Rock has responded back with a few statements through the media as well over the years and at the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony a few years back.

"John's perspective is very interesting to me. It's borderline laughable.But can I just say that I wish him the best of luck with his movie career and everything else he does." 

"I Don't understand some of the recent comments being made about me in the media.  I do know that recently there was some controversy concerning the WWE and one of its star.  It appears that it was found that the army was torturing some Iraqi soldiers by tying Iraqi soldiers down and making them watch DVD copies of The Marine."

"John Cena said a variety of things that came across my desk which at first I thought was interesting and then I felt was laughable because the comments really didn’t make any sense to me. To be clear, not that they ever make me mad. I just thought the comments were an interesting choice of things to say. ”
I can openly agree as a wrestling fan that it sucks that he has not come back to the business in so long.  But the fact is I do not believe the Rock has to come back.  He was a huge star that has moved on.  Times change and stars change.  People do not openly question why some past stars like Brock Lesnar or Goldberg do not return the ring after having success elsewhere.  The fact remains that the Rock had a great run in the WWE, but he is no longer the star of the company.  That role has moved on to John Cena, Randy Orton, CM Punk, and the rest of the new generation of superstars.  Times change and people's interests and likes evolve and change with it.

I have often been left with the impression that the WWE has been hoping to get the Rock in the WWE for years now and some of the comments made by Cena were a way of planting seeds for a potential feud and perhaps trying to entice the Rock to come back.  Its possible as well that some of the comments might have been made out of jealousy.  While I don't think Cena would ever admit it, I am sure that it does eat away at him that he is one of the largest stars in the company today and is still heavily booed by older fans.  Cena's main fan base is the younger kids and women.  The older fans, generally those over the age of 14, seem to boo Cena and despise him.  Part of this is the WWE's focus on being a PG product now and Cena being the face of it.  Another thing that I am sure is in the back of Cena's head is how while he has attempted to make movies, they have all pretty much bombed and the fans continue to despise him.  Meanwhile the Rock has left the WWE, become a huge action star, and is still heavily respected and liked by the wrestling fan base.

Whatever happens though, I look forward to their eventual showdown in the ring.  Rather it be early this year or at Summer Slam as the rumors insist, this feud is sure to deliver some memorable moments and keep the fans entertained until the end.

Movie Review: Red Riding Hood

Red Riding Hood is a re-telling of the classic children's story.  While the movie does seem to stick closer to the original darker tones of Little Red Riding Hood, it still manages to be a very sub-par movie overall.  The plot is generic and makes little sense. This film comes across as a blatant rip off of the Twilight series, and it takes everything from that series and does it much worse. I will let that sink in for a minute. The one thing that I am glad about is that in Red Riding Hood, the werewolves have teeth and don't parade around shirtless while in their human form.  While watching this movie you get the idea that the film was conceived by several Hollywood executives who decided that they wanted to cash in on the Twilight cash cow.  So they just transferred the movie into the medieval fantasy land of red riding hood, but in the process they never really got what it is that makes Twilight what it is and makes is so widely popular. To be fair, that is a difficult thing to nail down to begin with, but this film is designed to exploit, not entertain. The movie's main focus rather then the Wolf at times seems to be the poorly written love triangle between the three main leads.  The storied love triangle at times almost seems like it was borrowed from director Catherine Hardwicks previous film Twilight.
The story does make the smart choice of staying true to the original setting of the movie by staying in a medieval fantasy land.  In this movie the unnamed Church, though clearly of Christian origins, wields great power over the lands.  In the fantasy world that the movie is set witches and werewolves are very much real creatures. 

The main story takes us to a small village named Daggerhorn set in the middle of a large forest.  Our protagonist is a young woman named Valerie (Amanda Seyfried).  Valerie is madly in love with her childhood playmate Peter (Shiloh Fernandez), a poor woodcutter.  But as luck would have it Valerie's mother (Virginia Madsen) and father (Billy Burke) have other plans for their second born child.  They have arraigned for her to marry the wealthy Henry (Max Irons).  Though it is never established what makes his family so rich, being as they are just a family of blacksmiths.  Valerie has little affection for Henry despite his obvious love for her.

Red Riding Hood

Midway through the story, Valerie's grandmother (Julie Christie) a recluse who lives alone in the woods gives her a red cloak as a wedding gift.  Quickly, the story changes pace and the love story fades into the background.  The shift in the story is set by the discovery of Valerie's sister, who had been mauled to death by the local werewolf.  This sets the town into a panic because while it has long been plagued by werewolf attacks on every full moon this attack is different.  The town has some sort of deal with the wolf where the best live stock is sacrificed in place of any actual people being attacked.  The local townsmen in a drunken fit go out to slay the beast and return with the head of a grey wolf.  Unfortunately, Henry's father was a casualty in the hunt.  In a state of panic the local priest summons a master demon-hunter and werewolf slayer, Father Solomon (Gary Oldman), to the village. Father Solomon quickly establishes himself at the one in charge of hunting the wolf.  Solomon shares his knowledge of werewolves and tells the village that the wolf is a person during the days. Oh, and he brings a giant metal elephant with him that he sticks people in and lights a fire underneath to torture them. So basically they drag a metal elephant that has to weigh several hundred pounds through the woods because they really love their torture. And then everything seems to quickly go to hell for the village from there.  It is reveled that once every 20 years or so the moon is red and a bite from a werewolf that would normally kill a man instead turns them into another werewolf.  And it is because of this they must find the identity of the wolf and kill him before he turns another.

At this point that the town decides rather then to believe the famed werewolf hunter that the small wolf they killed could not possibly be the werewolf that has plagued their town for centuries, they decide to throw a rather strange and drunken festival celebrating the wolf's death instead.  During the festival the wolf strikes slaughtering several townspeople in the process.  During the attack, the wolf speaks to Valerie and tells her that it wants her to leave town and join it. As Valerie is the only one that can hear it, she is inevitably accused of being a witch. This entire plot thread is later rendered pointless, by the way. Once you learn who the wolf is and what its powers are, you will realize that trying to force her to leave in this fashion–by threatening the locals–is like trying to steal a nuclear bomb to blow a vault while robbing a bank. The rest of the film then deals with Valerie trying to piece together who the wolf is in order to save herself, and the people of the town.

The two best parts of the film are Amanda Seyfriend and Gary Oldman who do their best with the material that they are presented with.  Gary Oldman attempts to shine in his character, but at times seems to go a bit overboard with the theatrics.  His character seems to border that gray area between being a hero or villain in the film.  While often times taking extreme measures to seek the identity of the werewolf, no real motive is given as to why his character acts this way.  Father Solomon begins as the most interesting and complexed character of the movie. But is quickly turned into little more then your average cookie-cutter bad guy in the film.  His main bodyguards, two African brothers seem out of place in this story and setting.  Its obvious that their characters are meant to come from elsewhere in the world, but their characters are never built upon other then brief mentions that they are brothers and that one of them has a wife and kids.  Shiloh Fernandez and Max Irons come across as emotionless extras that have no real talent to be cast as leading roles in a movie.  Like Twilight it appears that the director took more notice when casting her male leads in their appearance rather then their actual acting ability. 

The framework of the classic fairytale remain, but that is all that remains.  Screenwriter David Leslie Johnson does his best to try an flesh out the plot of the classic fairytale into a more substantial plot with horror underlinings to it.  He fails miserably at it. While Little Red Riding Hood has been adapted in many different ways over the years, the creators of this movie do little do distinguish it from the others.  Red Riding Hood here seems stuck between being a fantasy love story and a true horror film.  For awhile the movie takes a mystery approach, with the identity of the werewolf kept hidden till the end.  Several red herrings are even inserted into the plot to purposely mislead the audience.  Once the revelation is made, its a bit of a disappointment as the culprit was one of my early predictions.  The climax and conclusion of the movie seems rather ho-hummed and predictable, lacking of any real substance or anything that will make the movie stick out or distinguish it from the other lackluster horror films out there.
Though the movie fails to deliver in many categories, Hardwicke does display a mastery when it comes to atmosphere.  The opening helicopter shot is impressive and the isolation of the village is felt throughout the film.  Visually the movie is actually breathtaking.  But the overall content of the film really brings the experience down.  For a horror movie the film is lacking in really any gore or blood at all.  At one point the mother is attacked and seems miraculously to have little to no evidence of the attack a few scenes later.  It leaves you wondering while watching her being mauled by the werewolf and quickly healed if rather or not she is freakin' Wolverine or something

The movie does little to impress.  I don't even think that the Twilight crowd would be taken by this film.  The film leaves one wondering where was the plot going?  Where was the direction of the film?  Why did most of the performances seemed to have been mailed in? The film suffered from a lack of spirit and flaccid storytelling.  I give the film a very generous 2 out of 5.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Big Love Series Finale Review -Spoilers

*******Spoilers ahead in this article don't read if you haven't seen the series finale of Big Love********

I've been a fan of Big Love since the first season.  I've stuck with it through all five of the seasons.  The last season was a major step up from the previous sub par and often rushed season four of the series.  Everything has been leading up to this, as most shows would have you believe in when the series finale comes around.  Big Love's final show was mostly good, though there were some bad mixed in with the good.  My main problem was that like many finale's there were many questions left unanswered.

There is an issue that many shows face when it comes to the finales.  It becomes the only time that the writers are faced with an ultimate finality of their work.  Its not that the show is going away and off the air, its that the direction and choice that the writers choose to take are final.  They can never be undone once the final show airs.  Its different then a season finale because any mistakes that they felt they made can be addressed and changed in the upcoming season.  In a series finale that is it, the end, no second chances.  What's done is done.  The problems or mistakes are just that final and can never be addressed or altered again. The choices you make in your series finale will live with that show forever and often times become how the show is defined. BJ will always tell Hawkeye goodbye in his own way.  Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer will never not go to jail. Tony will always play Journey in the cafe. Good or bad these are the images we will forever be left with.

Let's jump into the plot of the season.  The previous episode saw the conclusion of the storyline with Alby and Juniper Creek.  Alby in attempt to kill Bill had gone to the state senate building killed a guard before being subdued by a gun brandishing Bill.  Nicki had been dealing all year with her effort to help people that were victims of the compounds much like herself and had failed to notice Cara Lynn's inappropriate relationship with her math tutor.  Nicki had managed to more or less traumatize her daughter and severely damaged her relationship with Cara Lynn.  Bill had been struggling all season long with the exposure of he had brought upon himself by outing them as polygamist after winning the State Senate seat.  The LDS church was out to destroy him and protests had caused him to lose the casino and severely hurt Home Plus.  Sara's old friend Heather had resurfaced this season.  She had begun a relationship with Ben.  This relationship broke up after Ben's admission to having slept with Rhonda and desire to have more then one wife.  Lois had been struggling all season as she had developed dementia. Barb had been struggling all season with her place in the family and her desire to seek the priesthood holder.  Margene was trying to find her place in the world and become involved with Goji Juice as a way for her to try and help those in need. Lois had been forced to live in a home and count on Frank to take care of her. Meanwhile the revelation that Margene had lied about her age and was indeed underage when they entered into a spiritual marriage had come back to haunt the Henrickson family.  Bill was facing rape charges because of this situation.

And that brings us to the opening scene of the show.  Bill is leaving prison after having been locked up for two days following his arrest on the rape charges.  Bill makes it a point to walk out of the prison with his wives in tow assisting he had done nothing wrong.  Bill refuse to take a plea that would have sent him to jail for 2-3 years because he refused to plead guilty to a rape charge.  Bill was ready to take his chances in court and risk serving 20 years in jail.  However Bill had adopted the idea that if he was going to go down he was going to go down in flames.  Bill conducts an interview with outside news source telling them about his harassment from the church.  Bill then learns from Don that they had lost Home Plus because of all the banks sensing the problems they were having all decided to call in their debts something Home Plus could not afford.  In the last day of sessions for the State Senate Bill was given the floor and defended himself, his family, and demanded that the state talk about legalizing plural marriages again.  This was one of the highlights of the finale and showed you the power that Bill had inside him. He became a hero of the compound people and his church became flooded with those wishing to follow him.

During the course of the episode Margene explained her desire to go on a mission and help those less fortunate.  She tells Bill though that she no longer wants to do this as she does not feel that this is the right time for that.  Bill tells her that he understands and later even tells Niki that should Margene desire to go that he wants her to support her choice.  Margene was always a character that did not really seem to have the strong belief in the principle as the other characters.  But she always was shown to have a charitable and good heart.  Her desire to reach out and want to help others did seem like the natural progression to her character.  My only real qualm with the storyline was that it seemed MargeneMargene finally stood up for herself and told Nicki she had no right to call her hopes and dreams ridiculous.  Her character had finally matured and seemed to finally see a life outside of the Henrickson Home.

Nicki during this season had been struggling greatly with her innerself.  In the finale she still showed some of the cold hearted and selfish actions that we have come to associate with the character.  But a turning point came when Barb confronted her at the shelter and Nicki admitted that she knew she was a bad person and she was afraid that she was going to end up alone and she didn't want to.  Barb comforts her and seems to awaken somewhat a more understanding character in Nicki.  Nicki then confronts her daughter Cara Lynn in the family and proceeds to show her that she can identify with her and her desire to seek a relationship with her math tutor.  This seemed to begin a turning point in their relationship as Cara Lynn realized that her mother knew her better then she thought and that she was struggling to try and help her in her own way.

Barb had been struggling the entire season as she came to the belief that she too had the priesthood holder.  She had been struggling to find her place and had seeked acceptance in the reform church.  On Easter Barb was set to be baptised into the church.  Before the baptism could be completed she came to the realization that she was a Henrickson and that her place was with her family no matter what.  It took finally getting the chance to have the power she so desperately wanted for her to realize that it wasn't worth a dime without her family being there. So she left to join them in their church for Easter mass.  This seemed to be somewhat of a setback for the character to me.  Barb seemed the entire season and most of the finale to have finally found her place outside of the family only to be drawn right back into them.

This all brings us to the final moments of the show.  Lois who had been dealing with dementia all season seemed to be progressively getting worst.  After the Easter mass she asked to go back to her retirement home so she can change.  At some point while she was there Frank came to fulfill the promise he had made to Lois earlier in the season.  Frank promised that if Lois ever got to a certain point he would end her.  While we do not know for sure if Frank killed Lois or if Lois killed herself we are presented with the scene of her final moments.  On the nightstand next to the bed is three used syringes of insulin.  Frank is laying in the bed with Lois talking about all of the good times they had and about how Bill was her light.  We are left with a somewhat touching scene as the often cold Frank is shown being very compassionate and caring towards Lois in her final moments.  As Lois drifts away into the abyss we get to see Frank gently holding his wife and talking to her in a reassuring manner as she drifts off to sleep never to wake up again.   Bill while in the middle of presiding over the Easter mass receives a vision of Joesph Smith's Wife and many of the church's ancestors in the back of the church listening in.  As  Smith gave Bill a nod, he is brought back to the church and sees Barb entering the church to join his family.  Ben later confronts his father outside telling him that everyone in the church sensed something had happened.  Bill stops writing on the notepad he had to tell Ben and Don that everything was going to be OK and that they would be alright.  Bill then proceeds to leave the house on his way to pick up Lois.  Their neighbor Carl from across the street confronts Bill as he is about to step into his vehicle.  Carl had been struggling all season with marriage and financial issues.  A dispute over Bill laying sod in Carl's yard leads to him pulling a gun and shooting Bill.  The sister wives all run out to find Bill dying on the ground.  In his final moments Bill asks for a blessing from Barb, essentially saying he believes her to hold the priesthood.  As Bill dies he looks up seeing all of his wives looking down on him and slowly the sound and picture fades away to white and Bill is gone.

Flash forward 11 months and the family is gathered celebrating the baptism of Sarah's baby that was named after Bill and Barb now a priesthood holder in the family had proceeded over the mass and we are lead to believe that she is the leader of the church now.  As they prepare to leave for the airport we learn that Teeny  is hidden away in a bathroom, Ben and Heather are apparently married, and Margene is preparing to leave on her second three month missionary.  As everyone leaves and says their goodbyes Margene runs back for one final hug.  In the background at the end of the table out of focus we see the figure of Bill sitting there observing his family.  Cue the original Big Love music "God Only Knows" and the credits roll, end of show.

While when I first watched the finale I really felt the passion and was moved by it.  Upon a second viewing and time to reflect upon it, I've come to the conclusion that it was not the best finale, but it was a good one.  Not everything was neatly wrapped up and several questions remained.  I felt that the 11 month jump was short of a cop out by the writers so that they could show everything smoothly wrapped up without actually showing how it came about.  At the time of Bill's death no real plot lines had been resolved.  Barb still wanted to be a priesthood holder, their marriages were still considered illegal, and Bill was still facing felony charges.  The only thing that truly was resolved with Bill's death was the felony charges that died with Bill.  The jump forward attempted to show that everything had been neatly resolved.  All the while I was left wit the questions of how.  I would really have liked to actually seen the resolution of these storylines.  Perhaps an episode after Bill's death would have been more appropriate.  The numerous questions included was how was the friction between the sisters wives  dealt with?  Did everything go to Nicki and how did they keep the houses?  how did Ben and Heather get back together and married no less?  How was Barb able to become a priest holder in Bill's church that was mainly filled with fundamentalist polygamist sects.  Then ending with Bill's spirit in the background and the sister wives hugging showing their bond with each other was moving.  Ultimately I would give the show four our five stars.  A good finale but not the best. Like I've come to realize you can never appease all the fans. The writers can only do their best to tell their story and try to make as many people happy with the story as the can.  In the end things are over looked and no story is left without some plot holes and questions left unanswered.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Decertification, Litigations, and Lockouts! Oh My!

March is normally the time of year that sports fans focus on the upcoming baseball season, March Madness, and how their favorite college basketball teams will do in the tournament.  But in the sports world what seems to be the main subject of all the recent talks is the NFL labor negotiations or lack thereof them.  The last few weeks have really brought into light what really is at stake.  The fans have become increasingly more aware of what kind of losers they really will be in the wake of these negotiations. 

Cities and businesses began to dread and fear the lost of income and revenue that the lost or shortening of the NFL season might bring.  Many small businesses such as restaurants and even hotels depend on the income brought about from the NFL season. Gas stations and stores see a surge of business on game days as fans stock up on gas, food, and alcohol for tailgating.  Some of theses same business may not survive should the league shut down and the season be lost.

Fans have found themselves wondering and arguing about labor negotiation tactics.  Asking questions like what is decertification and how does it help the players. 

The labor talks between the two sides essentially came to an end a mere hours before the latest contract extension had expired Friday.  Putting into play the most likely first work stoppage of America's most popular sport since 1987.  

All along while the negotiations continued the NFL said it was certain that the players union would dissolve itself and open the doors for antitrust lawsuits.  The players union insisted that the league's owners were planning to lock out the players.  As the talks broke down that is essentially what happened.

The NFL Players' Union decertified once the talks broke down -meaning that they have effectively ceased to operate as a certified union.  In exchange for giving up their rights under labor law, the players became able to take the owners to court under antitrust law.  .Then ten players including stars like Manning, Brees, and Brady have done just that and sued the league in a class action lawsuit. 

The league owners’s released a statement essentially calling the NFLPA's decertification nothing short of a sham.  They claimed that the players' court actions is "built on the indisputably false premise that the NFLPA has stopped being a union and will merely delay the process of reaching an agreement.”

This conclusion to the talks comes as no real surprise to anyone involved in the talks or observing the negotiations.  The Union and owners have been at a standstill more or less for months now with no real progress seeming to come in the negotiation talks.  A federal mediator was unable to help the sides come to a compromise in the extensive 16 day labor talks.   While the owners claim to be undecided about rather or not to lock out the players at this point it seems to be a foregone conclusion.  The players however have gone to court to try to get an injunction to block the owners from making such a move. If the union does win an injunction against a lockout, a long shot at best,  it could insure fans that the games would proceed as scheduled while the battles are fought in court.

"The parties have not achieved an overall agreement, nor have they been able to resolve the strongly held competing positions that separated them on core issues," mediator George Cohen said. "No useful purpose would be served by requesting the parties to continue the mediation process at this time."

The strategy behind the decertification is simple.  By announcing that it no longer represents the players in the collective bargaining the path has been cleared for class action lawsuits to be brought against the NFL.

The original CBA was set to expire last week, but the players and owners opted to extend it twice while the ongoing negotiations continued.  The main issues in the negotiations have been over how to divide the $9 billion in annual revenues that the NFL produces. 

All of this sets in play possible lengthy court battles that threaten part if not all of the upcoming 2011 season.  While the lost of the season is not a foregone conclusion being as the start of the new season is still six months away.   It could take a month for there to be a ruling on the union’s injunction request, and antitrust judgments should take longer.

When the owners decide to lockout the players (a right they have once any CBA ends), this will cause all talks between players and owners to end.  No free agency signings, after the draft no rookies can be signed.  No health insurance will be paid for players leaving them to seek outside medical doctors and footing the bills out of their own pockets. 

The NFL players went on strike 24 years ago, causing the last work stoppage in the league.  This lead to games with replacement players before a new deal was reached and a strike shortened season was allowed to progress.  The NFLPA decertified back in 1989 as well.  This brought about Antitrust lawsuits by the players against the owners and eventually led to to the recently expired CBA in 1993.  That CBA brought with it free agency and the union was able to reform later that same year. 

"We met with the owners until about 4 o'clock today," union head DeMaurice
About 15 minutes after this statement, the union decertified.

 Under the expiring CBA owners got the first $1 billion before dividing up the remaining amount with players.  The owners originally were wanting to double that to roughly $2 billion but have been willing to diminish that number to $1.5 billion.  A number that the players still viewed as being too high. 

Other things that were offered at the last minute was maintaining the current 16 game season for at least an additional two years.  Instituting a rookie wage sale through which money saved would be paid to veterans and retired players.  New year round health and safety rules were discussed.  The owners were willing to establish a fund for retired players with $82 million being contributed to the fund by the owners.  The owners were wiling to share certain financial disclosures and club profitability information that isn't even shared among club owners.

The players balked at the deal, saying that it would have rolled back players salaries to 2007 levels.  They said that it would have cost the players more or less $5 billion a year, a move that the players said they are unwilling to make.

Colts owner Jim Irsay said via Twitter that the "union left a very good deal on the table."

The players' union immediately shut down its websites, NFLPA.org and NFLPlayers.com. A search for NFLPA.org yielded this message: "Error 404: Football Not Found. Please be patient as we work on resolving this. We are sorry for the inconvenience."

A judge ruled earlier this week that the owners won't have access to the rights fees during a lockout. But ratings agency Standard & Poor's said it still believes the league has the financial resources to weather at least a full season without games being played.

Owners seen leaving the negotiations seemed hopeful that negotiations might soon begin again in hopes of reaching a conclusion shortly. 

Behind all of these talks there will be other losers besides the players and the owners.  Assistant coaches and non-playing staff with many teams would be laid-off. Stadium staff --those who sell concessions, take tickets and clean-up after the fans - would lose those part-time jobs. The players would lose salaries they might never get back since most players only last a few seasons in the league.

In the end the only true losers in all of this will be the fans.  Fans that are loyal to their teams in players may have to do without football this year.  The players and owners demands may drive up the already high costs of attending a live game and buying team merchandise.  While the players and owners may line their pockets with money the fans in this recession hurt economy will be forced to just take it.  The owners and players may not realize how much their reputation could be hurt by a work stoppage.   They seem to have ignored the resentment and hurt feelings the fans shared with MLB players and owners after their strike in the '90's.  It took a long time for the league to recover from that and opened the door for football to overtake baseball as America's favorite past time.  Only time will tell if the NFL and its players will suffer this same fate and rather or not they are taking for granted their popularity among fans.

The Self-Destruction of Charlie Sheen and America's Obsession With It

The last few weeks the public spiraling out of control by Charlie Sheen has fascinated America and been the focus of the media.  Sheen's drug fueled out of control behaviour is almost like the train wreck that is so horrific you can't help but stare.  What has been behind this outrageous behaviour?  The bizarre quotes, the public feud with Two and half Men writers and producers, the obsession with winning, the goddesses, and his bizarre live Internet chats?  Has Charlie Sheen really lost his mind? Has he taken one too many drugs?

America seems fixated on his self destruction. The 45 year old actor regardless of the reasons has been the center subject of many Americans and new reports.  People have been questioning is Sheen really as crazy as he looks? Could all of his crazy antics be one big marketing ploy?

While I don't want to put anything past Ol' Charlie, I don't think this has all been planned or is some clever marketing strategy created by Sheen and his publicist.  I think Sheen has become not only the victim of his own addiction but of all the enablers he surrounds himself with.  Its a sad thing to watch one of my childhood comedy heroes suffer such a public downward spiral.  

The problem with Sheen is that he needs help and all the media and public attention is not helping him one bit. I mean really, people! Have we all lost our minds along with Sheen?  Why is that we seem to be unable to tune him out and get him out of the public eye?  

Sheen should be close to losing everything.  He's almost irreparably damaged his public image in my opinion.  He's lost his show and main source of income in the public firing from the hit show  Two and Half Men.  His looks seemed to have diminished as he now appears disheveled, skinny, and severely aged in his public appearances.   Yet he seems to keep on keeping on. 

Charlie Sheen is scoring interview after interview.  He's the fastest rising star on Twitter.  Thousands upon thousands log on to watch his Charlie's Corner webcasts.   And he keeps on making money not despite it but because of all of it.  Sheen is like that horrible gruesome train wrecks in a movie that we all see coming and know its going to end horribly but we cant help but go along for the ride and see how it all ends.

The fact really isn't so much that people are enjoying Charlie Sheen and seeing him lose it. Its that fact that America seems to have a fascination with watching public meltdowns of our celebrity heroes.  Sheen is not the first and will not be the last celebrity that we obsess over.  Anybody remember the Britney Spears meltdown? Paris Hilton and her outrageous hijinks? Or even the ongoing self destruction of Lindsay Lohan? But why can't we stop watching? What is it that makes us become so absorbed in a star's misfortune?

Part of this obsession is the change in our society.  We have become so focused on celebrities and reality TV in this age of the Internet that anything that is newsworthy about a celebrity almost takes on a life of its own.  Another part of it is that I think people like the fact that they can see these famous people dealing with troubles and in some cases worst then what any of us might endure.  With the current recession people need to escape and focus on things that aren't about the wars in  the Middle East or the housing market burst or the high jobless rates.  Celebrity self destruction are not pure entertainment, but they still provide that same escape that going to a movie might.  They help people to momentarily forget their own troubles and worries.  Celebrity lives and their troubles at times seem to be larger then life. Look at Charlie Sheen as the perfect  example.  People that suffer drug problems and breakdowns do not have the paparazzi hounding them or the easy access to the media that would draw attention to them.

But celebrities do and America seems to love a public celebrity meltdown. Seeing such a public figure suffer even in a small way makes the general public feel better about themselves.  People put celebrities and politicians on such high pedestals that it seems sometimes that these people can do no harm.  In reality these people are just like you and me.  They suffer the same family drama, the same pains of everyday life.  Just that under normal circumstances this is not seen by the public and they do their best to hide any thing that might be perceived as an imperfection in their lives.  When they have troubles with the law, drugs, and other scandals it proves to us that they are not flawless and can suffer as much as you or I.  

Charlie Sheen is almost the ultimate in this category.  Sheen comes from a family of actors.  He was a golden boy of the late '80's and early '90's.  Sheen had good looks and seemed like comedy goal in many of his roles.  Charlie went away for awhile with few hits but reappeared with the resurgence of his career because of his hit show.  Sheen is no newcomer to scandal, with a well documented history of drug and alcohol related problems in the past, but never before have they seemed to have been so apparent. 

Here is Charlie Sheen now a constant in the public eye.  He's acting nuts, and he's apparently not going away anytime soon. You can't log onto your Facebook or Twitter feed without seeing somebody mentioning that they are "Winning!" or have "Tiger Blood" and on a new drug called "Charlie Sheen!" 

not  have the millions  of dollars, the personal trainers, and the entourage of followers that these celebrities have, but we can believe in the fantasy that if we did have all of this, we would never turn out like them.  We would not throw away our chance at fame and fortune like these celebrities have.  Their public falls from grace allow us to have a temporarily win in the moral superiority category even if its all just in our heads.

The meltdowns of celebrities also have a way of bringing us together in ways.  They give us something different to talk about with our friends, co-workers, and family.  Something that isn't as risky as bringing up like politics and religious happenings.  People are sensitive and we don't want to offend in this ultimate sensitive society we find ourselves living in.  Its far easier to bring up about what Charlie Sheen said or what public criminal trouble Lohan is in now then other more risky subjects.  Partially because we can all publicly condemn their behavior and partially because you never know what stance somebody might take on politics or religion.

Hopefully though Charlie Sheen gets the help he needs before its too late.  I don't really wish to see anyone self destruct to the point of no return.  Plus if there is anything that America loves more then a public meltdown its a comeback.