September 02, 2012

Randomannual football predictions

Every year I try to use my extreme lack of knowledge to predict the NFL season and occasionally the Big Ten. I never actually go back and look at them though (laughing). Here are my NFL picks from last year (actual results in italics)

AFC Playoff teams:

North: Steelers (12-4)   Ravens 12-4
East: Pats (12-4) Pats 13-3
South: Texans (9-7) Texans 10-6
West: Chargers (12-4) Denver 8-8
WC: Ravens (9-7) Steelers 12-4
WC: Jets (9-7) Bengals 9-7

NFC Playoff teams:

North: Packers (11-5) Packers 15-1 (!)
East: Eagles (11-5) Giants 9-7
South: Saints (10-6) Saints 13-3
West: Rams (9-7) Niners 14-2 (self-directed facepalm at Rams pick)
WC: Cowboys (10-6) Falcons 10-6
WC: Lions (9-7) Lions 10-6

NFC North:

Packers: 11-5 15-1
Lions: 9-7 10-6
Vikings: 7-9 3-13
Bears: 4-12 8-8

Super Bowl: Steelers over Saints Giants over Patriots

Final Tally: 4 out of 8 division winners, 6 out of 12 playoff teams. I kind of underestimated the Bears last year (laughing). And I have no idea how I gave a Vikings team led by Christian Ponder 7 wins. Here's my NFL WAGs for this year

AFC Playoff Teams
East: Patriots 13-3
North: Ravens 11-5
South: Houston 12-4
West: Chargers 9-7
WC: Buffalo 10-6
WC: Pittsburgh 9-7

NFC Playoff Teams
East: Giants 10-6
North: Packers 12-4
South: Falcons 10-6
West: Niners 12-4
WC:  Lions 10-7
WC:  Eagles 9-7

NFC Central
Packers 12-4
Lions 10-7
Bears 9-7
Vikings 4-12

Bonus: Big Ten Standings (I refuse to use their stupid division names)

Division  1
Wisconsin 7-1 (They get aOSU and MSU at home, Nebraska on the road)
aOSU 6-2
Illinois 4-4
Purdue 3-5
Penn State 2-6
Indiana 1-7

Divison 2 
Sparty 6-2
Nebraska 6-2
Michigan 5-3
Iowa 4-4
NW 3-5
Minnesota 1-7

August 19, 2012

Futurama top 25 episodes

(updated since I somehow forgot How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back, one of my all-time faves)

I love Futurama so much that I would even consider the blasphemy of putting it above Golden Age Simpsons, at least on quality of episodes, characters, jokes, etc. You can't really beat The Simpsons when it comes to cultural impact, when I experienced it, how it paved the way for Futurama, etc. etc., but on a purely episode to episode basis it's pretty close. I love the characters on Futurama much more than I ever did on The Simpsons, even before my view of Homer was retroactively diminished as he went from buffoon to jerk in post golden era seasons. Lisa is my favorite Simpsons character by far, but I'd put Leela, Fry, Zapp, Zoidberg, and the Professor ahead of her.

I was trying to cobble together a list of top episodes for fun and found this baffling top 25 at IGN that put Amazon Women in the Mood as it's "undisputed" number one, when it wouldn't even make my top 25, let alone my top 50 in the series's original 72 episode run. However, it did remind me of just how many great episodes there are, and just how hard of a task it is to rank them.

So here's my top 25. To be fair to those rankings. I'll stick with the original 5 seasons and add some honorable mentions from the rebooted series. Spoilers abound, obviously.

25. I, Roommate

The episode in general is just okay, but this is the first appearance of Calculon and All My Circuits, which is one of my favorite running background jokes on the show. It also has one of my favorite lines - Fry: "I can't tell if he's objecting or backing up!"

24. Teenage Mutant Leela's Hurdles

23. A Leela of Her Own

The baseball, er, blernsball episode! Bonus points for guest star Hank Aaron, and for using the Mets instead of the Cubs for the terrible baseball franchise.

22. Mars University


21. War is the H-Word

If we hit that bullseye, the rest of the dominoes will fall like a house of cards. Checkmate.

20. A Taste of Freedom

Zoidberg is one of my favorite characters on the show but I've never been as big of a fan of the Zoidberg-centric ones. This is probably the best. His lawyer is great too. "I demand a Satanic funeral!" *groan*

19. Fry and the Slurm Factory

Slurms MacKenzie! The Grunka Lunkas were great in this episode too

18. The Day the Earth Stood Stupid

A good episode in its own right, and it set up some even better ones down the road. Also the first appearance of the Nibblonians, which are always great. Sometimes they fear they ARE cute.

17. Love's Labours Lost in Space

The first appearance of the transcredible Zapp Brannigan. Also, Nibbler. "Kif, I have made it with a woman. Inform the men."

16. The Devil's Hands are Idle Playthings

A great Leela-Fry episode, and worked well as a possible series finale.

15. Mother's Day

Mom is a great secondary character in the series, and this is her best one. I find her henchmen/sons to be super-annoying (beyond what you're supposed to feel about them) but she is hilarious. 

14. The Sting

This is a good episode but I never felt the next level of emotional "punch" that they were trying to achieve. Despite the fact that at this point many of the characters have died (sort of) in the run of the series, I never really felt the stakes of Fry's apparent death in this one. They weren't going to kill the main character. 

13. A Head in the Polls

Nixon! I think this show overuses the Nixon jokes (Matt Groening is a little obsessed), but they worked here.

12. The Series has Landed

I've always enjoyed this one much more than the pilot, which had a lot of exposition to get out of the way to introduce characters and how Fry got there in the first place. This did a good job of establishing the stories that they wanted to tell on the show. It's also the source of one of the main team names I use for fantasy teams, the Crushinators, so named after the third of the moon farmer's three robot daughters.

11. Parasites Lost

This tells the Flowers for Algernon story even better than the original. 

10. Time Keeps on Slipping

I wish this series made more use of The Harlem Globetrotters, masters of particle physics.

9. The Farnsworth Parabox

Who doesn't love alternate universe episodes? Also, some great Zoidberg in this one

8. How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back

I just love this episode. The song that he sings in the end gets stuck in my head all the time.

7. Leela's Homeworld

Futurama's at its best when it hits the emotional chords, and this is a good one. Probably the best Leela episode. Also, I love the Cookieville Minimum Security Orphanarium.

6. Brannigan, Begin Again

Those filthy Neutrals. *shakes head*.

5. Roswell That Ends Well

I did do the nasty in the pasty! Which sets up...

4. The Why of Fry

I love the Nibblonians, and all of the Fry backstory conspiracy stuff all comes to a head here. Combine that with some great Fry-Leela stuff and you have a great, action-packed episode.

3. Xmas Story

"I'm gonna get you so many lizards!". The entire concept of an evil Santa Claus that roams the streets on Xmas Eve, punishing the naughty, is tons of fun. I also love the gag where Fry hangs from a digital clock.

2. Luck of the Fryrish

1. Jurassic Bark

These are both such great episodes, and hard to write about because of the emotions they stir up. Who would have guessed that an animated half-hour comedy show could put together two of the most poignant episodes to ever air on televison? Anyone who has ever had a dog knows what I'm talking about.

Honorable mentions

The movies ("season 5") were mostly meh, though Bender's Big Score was pretty good. They suffered from having to also be split into four standalone-ish episodes, and I thought that this was especially noticeable in Bender's Game.

I didn't see all of season six, but the two episodes that jump out to be included on this list are That Darn Katz and The Late Philip J. Fry, which would probably both go in at the low teens in this list. That Darn Katz did a great sendup of academia (Amy gets her PhD) and is the most quoted episode around here these days due to our dog Lucky's topical disinfectant spray ("Ooh, he's going to get such a spritzing!").

The newer Futurama episodes have been good but in general haven't been as great as the original run. Not that I'm complaining, if the original run was an A, the newer ones have been about a B+/A-.