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Showing posts from April, 2013

Our Next Challenge

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"Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” — Matthew 22:37-40

This has been a challenging time for Christians in the world. Being a part of a church that just left a denomination and helped form a new denomination because of changing cultural values surrounding the gay lifestyle, I know how tough and caustic this argument can be.

Yet it seems to be front and center in our world. When I lived in California, voters were asked four times to vote on a gay marriage amendment. Each time it failed, yet the government of the state seemed to try and push it through. Just last month the matter was taken up by the Supreme Court, and their decision will likely shape policy for our nation for years to come.

For a long time people have projected that a player in a…

Getting Over Grief by Getting Involved

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"Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us." — Romans 5:3-5

One of my favorite topics to consider is how we deal with hard things in life. There is a tendency in Christianity to make it seem like, past the moment of conversion, a fairy tale. There is this belief that once we give our lives to God, we will endure no hardship or suffering.

That's not the case. What I find beautiful are the moments where people are able to push through their grief and see the ways God can use that to make them stronger and the world better. The hardest thing for the world to reconcile — including Christians — is how a loving God can allow bad to happen in the world, and why bad things happen to "good" people.

When we suffer tragedy, we …

A Litigious Society

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"I think he did the right thing no matter the consequences." — Frank Reagan, "Blue Bloods"

"Blue Bloods" isn't the most popular show. It isn't the most dense show. It won't win any awards, probably, but it does achieve something interesting. It is about family. It is about ethics. And it is about asking and doing the hard things.

We like, publicly, to talk about the world in black and white terms. We do this in terms of the law, morality, and religion. But we live in a world that is full of grey areas. We all have to live in the grey areas, in the margins, and most people like living there.

We are also a world that likes to jump to conclusions, harshly judge others, and fails to take personal responsibility. That all came to mind when I watched "Blue Bloods" from Friday. One of the key story lines revolved around an off-duty police officer who foiled a robbery. Not only did the thief get caught without a shot being fired, all the ci…

Going Out With A Whimper

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"This is the way the world ends This is the way the world ends This is the way the world ends Not with a bang but a whimper." - T.S. Elliot, "The Hollow Men"
The world isn't ending, it just feels like that for the Los Angeles Lakers. Coming off the worst playoff loss in franchise history, down 3-0 to the Spurs, and with more injuries than can be sustained, all hope is lost for this Laker team's ability to make a run in the playoffs.
Sure, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard are hanging in there, but they're playing with people that shouldn't be starting in a playoff game. Kobe Bryant is out with injury, so is Steve Nash, Jodie Meeks, and Steve Blake. That's the top four guards for the Lakers in case that wasn't clear. Now, Metta World Peace is likely out as well.
Basketball is dominated by stars, and you need stars to win, but you need other players too. Just ask LeBron James. For as great as he was, the Cleveland Cavaliers couldn't get to that top…

The 1983 Draft, 30 years later

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Last night was the first round of the 2013 NFL draft. Unlike many years, when a glamorous player is taken No. 1, the top pick for the Kansas City Chiefs last night was a left tackle. In fact, the second pick was a left tackle too, and in all nine offensive lineman were taken in the first round.

As I watched the action, I couldn't help but reflect on "From Elway to Marino," and ESPN "30 for 30" documentary released last week that chronicled the draft 30 years ago. Among other things, the class of 1983 is noted for the quarterbacks taken, and their impact on the game.

I am a life-long Denver Broncos fan. I love John Elway, and I think when the Broncos won Super Bowl 32, it was one of the happiest moments of my life. I loved everything about that game. I loved what Elway brought to the Broncos.

Watching the ESPN documentary, it was amazing to reflect on how different it could have been.

In 1983, six quarterbacks were taken in the top 27 picks, but the prize was E…

Upcoming Releases — May

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With the dawning of May, the summer movie season is upon us. Action film fans rejoice!

Friday, May 3:
Iron Man 3 — This is the third film in the "Iron Man" series, and follows the events of "The Avengers." The trailer looks awesome, and it will be great to see Robert Downey, Jr. paired with writer/director Shane Black for this third installment. The stakes look higher, the action looks darker, and this might be the best "Iron Man" film yet.

The Iceman — This indie film opens in limited release on May 3. Starring Michael Shannon and Winona Rider, the film looks to glorify a renowned hitman. It won praise at film festivals and will be more of a darker, thinking man's film.

Friday, May 10:
The Great Gatsby — This film was originally slated to be released in December but was pushed to summer. It's hard to tell why that happened, moving a potential awards bait movie to the second weekend of summer seems an odd choice. This film does look to have lavis…

Going to Hard Places

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"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference." — Robert Frost, "The Road Not Taken"

This week, as we kicked off the GO series, we looked at the idea that God is a God of action. He is a sending God. And often the places He calls us to go are tough. We are called to go to and through those tough places in our lives.

It reminded me of a scene in the new movie, "42," which was along those lines. In one of the early scenes, Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) tries to goad Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) into an angry response. It seems harsh, but it is nothing compared to what Robinson will face on a daily basis.

Robinson responds, "You want someone who doesn't have the guts to fight back?"

Rickey says, "No. I want someone who's got the guts not to fight back."

As Robinson lets that wash over him, Rickey tells him that if he decides to sign the contract and play for the …

Broncos know who they'll have to get through in 2013

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We are on the cusp of the NFL draft, but it was last week's release of the 2013 schedule that was meant to help tide fans over until games return in August. Of course I still wonder if the Broncos will be ready for the season based on the moves they've made — or haven't made — this off-season, but that's a question for another day.

For today, it's time to consider some of the big dates on the 2013 schedule.

1. Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos, Thursday, September 5
The season begins the same way last year ended — with the Broncos hosting the Ravens. It will be a big match of a game that was both fascinating to watch and heart-breaking for Broncos fans. This time around the Broncos will have Wes Welker, the Ravens will be missing some famous pieces (Ed Reed and Ray Lewis), and Elvis Dumervil will be wearing purple. Oh, and it's the first game of the season on National TV. What a way to start.

2. Denver Broncos at New York Giants, Sunday, September 15
It doesn…

Earth Day and Global Warming

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"We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children." — Native American Proverb

Yesterday was Earth Day, and as part of our GO series, we encouraged folks to get out and clean up their neighborhoods. It seemed like a good thing to do. One problem — a blizzard rolled in. Yes, it's April 22 and 23, and it is still snowing.

In fact, when I woke up this morning, my deck looked like the picture above. That's because that is an actual picture of my deck. In fact, like clockwork, every week this month of April has produced a blizzard warning or an actual blizzard.

It is spring, so they tell me, but it is 19 degrees and snowing outside. And I have to walk across the street soon, so I'm really looking forward to that.

Also, this weather couldn't help but make me wonder about the whole Global Warming thing. I know some people say that late season storms and super storms are further evidence of Global Warming, but that strikes me as odd. How…

Living with Regrets

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“Seduce away. It’s been so long. Though I rather think it’s all for naught. What happens when the nonexistent bumps against the decrepit? A question for the philosophers.”  — Lady Olenna, "Game of Thrones"


It's been a rough few weeks for many in Westeros. Plans have been made and haven't worked out, and that's led to some tough introspection. And, for many, a lot of regret.

Last week Jamie Lannister stepped outside himself and tried to intercede for someone else. He paid for it with his right hand. This week, the once mighty Kingslayer was ready to give up. It was clear a part of him wished that he'd not decided to look out for others and had rather focused on number one. He spent most of the hour throwing himself a pity party or picking fights he couldn't win.

But the biggest regret might have come from Theon Greyjoy, who was once a valued member of the Stark forces who tried to impress his birth father by turning on his adopted family. It was a move th…

Summer Movie Preview, Pt. 2

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Last post I looked at the first half of summer, which is full of AWESOME films. Then there's the rest of summer... Let's just say July and August don't look at good.

July:
The Lone Ranger — July 3
Director: Gore Verbinski
Starring: Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, Tom Wilkinson, and William Fichtner
About: I am torn on this film. On the one hand, I like Depp, and his teaming with Verbinski for "Pirates of the Caribbean" part one was great. One the other hand, there's the second and third "Pirates" movies. On paper this seems like a pretty cool idea, and some of the trailer looks fascinating. But I'm not sold. Depp has been on a bit of a cold streak the past few years, and I'm not sure this one will be as great as it wants you to think it is. Only time will tell. I remain cautiously optimistic because I wasn't sure how a "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie would work, and I liked that. So there's some hope.

The Way, Way Back — July …

Summer Movie Preview, Pt. 1

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"You think you world is safe? It is an illusion. A comforting lie told to protect you. Enjoy these final moments of peace. For I have returned to have my vengeance. So, shall we begin?" — John Harrison, "Star Trek Into Darkness"

The most action-packed, effects-driven, and packed movie season of the year is nearly upon us. Sure, movies released between May and August don't generally bring home the awards, but they put butts in the seats and rake in the cash. They're also pretty fun.

I love movies. I love serious movies that make me think. I also love big, spectacle films that I enjoy. After all, one of my favorite directors is Michael Bay. So for the Bay fans out there, summer begins on May 3. Here's the first half of my look at the films of summer, covering May and June.

May:

Iron Man 3 — Friday, May 3
Director: Shane Black
Starring: Robert Downey, Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Kingsley, Guy Pearce, and Don Cheadle
About: This is the film that kicks off th…

Now Playing

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Here's a look at the new movie I saw this week.

42
Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Harrison Ford, T.R. Knight, Christopher Meloni, and Lucas Black
Synopsis: In the spring of 1947, an infielder for the Brooklyn Dodgers named Jackie Robinson changed the world. Sixty-six years later it’s easy to see that, and he’s celebrated as a hero. But at the time, it was a gamble for Robinson and the Dodgers, as he became the first player to break the color barrier in Major League Baseball. Growing up in a different era — particularly if you live in a place like California — it’s easy to fail to appreciate what Robinson’s presence on the Dodgers meant to baseball, America and African American youth throughout the country who saw him as a symbol of possibility. “42,” a new biopic on Robinson’s path to the Dodgers and his first season with the organization, seeks to put that into perspective in a real way. It’s not overly romanticized or overly harsh, but rather seeks to honestly portray the people i…

Kobe, Phil, and the languishing Lakers

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Miraculously, the Los Angeles Lakers, with a win tonight against the Houston Rockets, could finish seventh in the Western Conference. That really shouldn't be considered a miracle. Heading into the season, most people thought the Lakers could compete for a title. Now, most people just hope they qualify for the playoffs.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

But if the Lakers get the seventh seed — and that's a big if — they might actually be able to advance. They would play the San Antonio Spurs — a team that's great in the regular season that has scuffles in the post season. But beyond that it would be a date with the Denver Nuggets. The Nuggets have suffered some injuries but were still one of the hottest teams in the NBA down the stretch.

Heading into the off-season, there is plenty to wonder about here. The Lakers don't have Dwight Howard under contract, though many think he will sign. If he doesn't, that will be a huge hole. Even if he does, there are more question…

Rough hand for the Kingslayer

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"There’s a beast in every man, and it stirs when you put a sword in his hand." - Jorah Mormont, "Game of Thrones"

For most of the run of the series, the legend of Jamie Lannister has been just that — a legend. Sure, he had a quick sword fight with Ned Stark in season one, but he spent season two in chains and it hasn't gotten much better in season three.

After Sunday night's episode, it's clear it's not going to get better for the mighty Kingslayer.

One of the things I've found interesting in "The Walking Dead" is what happens in the world of that show to people who try to show compassion or think beyond themselves. Usually it's nothing good. I've had my suspicions about why, and I won't go into that here. What I will say is that I've noticed a similar thread developing in "Game of Thrones."

The world of "Game of Thrones" is a hard one, and not just because the Seven Kingdoms are at war. People are …

HBO's hidden comedic gem

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"Tell her I'm canceling the lunch with Catherine that was supposed to prove there's nothing more important than Catherine because something more important than Catherine has come up." — Selina Myers, "VEEP"

HBO comedies are a mixed bag. Historically, the most popular has been "Sex And The City." In recent years, the comedies have been all over the map. "Curb Your Enthusiasm," which has aired eight seasons and is supposed to come back at some point, is one of the most revered. "Girls," which just wrapped its second season, is one of the most critically acclaimed and popular.

Then there's the misfires. I enjoyed "Bored to Death," but apparently few others did. "Enlightened" never really caught on, despite a nice pedigree, and has been put out to pasture. Then there's "VEEP," a little comedy starring Julia Louis Dreyfuss about the vice president of the United States. The show just began its s…

Fading dreams in Laker land

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"When something like this happens, everybody wants to know why and there's not always a reason why. If you look at our season, it's been a nightmare." longtime Lakers' trainer Gary Vitti

Heading into tonight's penultimate game of the season, the Los Angeles Lakers are 43-37. There are a lot of teams that would be happy to have that record after 80 games and be on the cusp of the NBA playoffs. The Lakers aren't one of those franchises.

After a couple years of disappointments in the post-season, the Lakers went and traded for point guard Steve Nash and center Dwight Howard. Pairing those two all stars with guard Kobe Bryant, forward Pau Gasol, and forward Metta World Peace (Ron Artest) was supposed to make the Lakers unbeatable on the court.

It hasn't.

In fact, by all accounts, the team has played better when one or more of those five was out injured — which has been frequently. The under performing Lakers survived an Achillies injury by Gasol early in…

Nothing good happens with chainsaws

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"A chainsaw? As if things weren't bad enough already!" — Sheva Alomar

Those who are regular readers of this site or my Facebook page will know that if there is one thing in the world I don't care for (aside from the New York Yankees), it is chainsaws. That's because nothing good comes when a chainsaw is involved.

I have seen hundreds of horror movies. In fact, in college, I wrote a research paper on the evolution of slasher films. During that time I sat through just about every film in every major horror installment — save one. That one: "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre." No thanks, not doing it.

Jennifer Lawrence is a fantastic, gritty actress. And while I appreciated "Winter's Bone" for what it was, when the chainsaw came out, I left the room. I returned to catch the end once I was sure no one lost a limb. Still, it was a harrowing moment.

And what about Al Pacino's legendary performance in "Scarface." I've seen half the f…

Lasting legacies

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"I have long feared that my sins would return to visit me, and the cost is more than I can bear." — Benjamin Martin, "The Patriot"

"Game of Thrones" is a fascinating and engrossing show. Based on the densely written story of the books from George R.R. Martin, there is a lot to absorb. I have read the first book, but as I enjoy the show, I have held back diving into the books so each week's episode can still be a surprise.

One of the things people complain about with the show is the pace. Sometimes there isn't a lot of action — in terms of battles on the field, in the back rooms, or between the sheets. But for me, it's in the quieter episodes that you get a sense of the larger issues of faith, character, and worry that make these characters human.

Sunday night's episode was one of those times. For a while now, Cat Stark has been a somewhat unlikeable character. It's been hard, at times, to understand her motivations and actions. Still,…

Now Playing

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Here's a look at the re-make of "The Evil Dead."

Evil Dead
Starring: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, and Jessica Lucas
Synopsis: When I was in college, I stumbled upon a little horror film called “The Evil Dead.” It was made in 1981 on a shoestring budget. It was campy, a little funny and buoyed by star in the making Bruce Campbell. “The Evil Dead” became a cult classic. It inspired two sequels — “The Evil Dead 2” and “Army of Darkness.” Campbell became a B movie and TV star, and writer/director Sam Raimi has had a varied career that includes three “Spider-Man” films and the recent “Oz the Great and Powerful.” As expected in our current state of recycled ideas, the cult classic of “The Evil Dead” has been reborn for a new generation. Though Raimi and Campbell serve as producers on the film, it bears little resembalance to the low-budget cult classic they released in 1981. Both say the new “Evil Dead” is the film they always wanted to make — and maybe that…

Diving into the latest reality fad

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"Reality TV is sleazy, it is manipulative. It is as momentary as anything in popular culture." — Morley Safer

I don't care for reality TV. In fact, I think few things are as contrived and manipulative as "reality TV." I would like to believe what Morely Safer, a curmudgeon from "60 Minutes," says about them being momentary, all evidence points to the contrary.

Call if voyeurism gone wrong, call it the dumbing down of America, but it seems that the interest — and ratings — in reality TV is only increasing. For my part, I avoid reality shows like the plague I believe them to be. Once upon a time I watched season 1 of "Survivor," until I figured out that it was a race to the bottom, then I gave up. I used to watch "Last Comic Standing," but it got heavy on the drama and light on the stand up, and now it's gone.

So, much to my surprise, when I got sucked into a new reality show — ABC's diving show "Splash" — it felt …

Wind and home owning

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"The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails." — William Arthur Ward

I really don't like wind. This, I realize now, is ironic considering where I moved — to the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. When I arrived, I heard people speak of 70 or 80 mph winds, but I sort of dismissed that. Then I encountered my first wind storm... that's no joke.

For the second time in a month, we have a blizzard warning here. Setting aside the fact that it's April and I'm used to spring... maybe a shower but certainly not a blizzard. This is the second blizzard in a row that has been light on snow and heavy on gail-force winds.

Last night I had plenty of time to fret about the wind as I listened to it slam into our house all night long. In between my 10-15 minute bouts of sleep, I wondered what the wind that wouldn't end was doing out there. Yeah, it's been a fun day.

What has been even more fun is the fact I own m…

A new take on Hannibal Lecter

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"l want to help you, Will. You'd be more comfortable if you relaxed with yourself! We don't invent our natures, they're issued to us with our lungs and pancreas and everything else. Why fight it?" — Dr. Hannibal Lecter, "Manhunter"

Some movies don't need to be weekly TV shows. I said this when looking at "Bates Motel," an attempted weekly prequel show that's meant to explain how Norman Bates got to be Norman Bates of "Psycho." I didn't care for the premise and rejected the notion that could make for a compelling series. A&E just picked it up for season two, so I guess it's doing fine without me.

Still, some things don't need to be made. I sort of felt the same way about "Hannibal," NBC's new series that serves as a prequel to the stories by Thomas Harris that have become famous films. Of course, when we talk about Hannibal Lecter, most people think of "Silence of the Lambs." And why no…

Love and Respect

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"However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." — Ephesians 5:33

OK, I get it, men and women are wired differently. It doesn't take a genius, a Bible passage, or a world renowned speaker for me to believe this. I have eyes and ears. Also, I've been married about nine months, so I don't think I'm an expert on marriage, but I think I have observed a few things about communication.

But when I was watching the Love and Respect video series on marriage, I couldn't help but think this has been a bit oversimplified. I can read the passage above and see that it commands men to love their wives and women to respect their husbands. It, quite literally, says that. But how do we interpret that passage?

It seems to me an oversimplification to say that all men need is respect and all women need is love. Maybe, because of our differences, we lean toward those ends. But I don't think the Bible is trying …

Jurassic Park, 20 years later

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"The world has just changed so radically, and we're all running to catch up. I don't want to jump to any conclusions, but look... Dinosaurs and man, two species separated by 65 million years of evolution have just been suddenly thrown back into the mix together. How can we possibly have the slightest idea what to expect?" — Dr. Grant, "Jurassic Park."

I remember the first time I saw "Jurassic Park." I was 12 and it was a field trip from summer camp. The movie was great, but the experience was magical. I remember seeing the dinosaurs, seeing the story, and being completely hooked.

It wasn't long after that my life-long love affair with Michael Crichton began. I read the novel of "Jurassic Park" in just a few days. It was the first time I'd really tackled something that extensive and done it of my own accord. I now have all of Crichton's novels and have read most of them, but I still always remember "Jurassic Park."

The Balcony is Closed

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"If a movie is really working, you forget for two hours your Social Security number and where your car is parked. You are having a vicarious experience. You are identifying, in one way or another, with the people on the screen." — Roger Ebert

When I got my first apartment, thinking about what to lay out on the coffee table as I was wandering through a bookstore, there was only one thing that felt right. I saw the book "Your Movie Sucks," by the great film critic Roger Ebert. It was a collection of his one and zero star reviews, as well as answers to readers questions and a fascinating opening essay where he talked about his process in responding to Rob Schneider, who was sad his sequel to "Deuce Bigelow" didn't get a good review. Go figure.

I had the book on my coffee table the whole time I was in that first apartment. People would pick it up and thumb through it when they arrived. I would occasionally pick it up and read a different review. It was f…

Now Playing

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Here's a look at the films I saw this week.

Admission
Starring: Tina Fey, Paul Rudd, Wallace Shawn, Michael Sheen, and Lily Tomlin
Synopsis: The TV landscape became a much darker place in January when the lights went out at "30 Rock" for good. Of course, that doesn't mean its star and creator — Tina Fey — will be disappearing. No, she'll now, hopefully, be top lining adorable cinematic offerings. Option No. 1 is this feature co-starring Paul Rudd about an admissions officer at Princeton who's in need of a major life change. She just doesn't know it yet. Fey is great in these kind of roles, and she works well with Rudd, who is a similar comedy delight. Audiences haven't flocked to this film — perhaps because of the wealth of overly violent films in theaters right now — but that doesn't mean it wasn't a good one. There are plenty of strong comedic supporting roles too — including from Tomlin as Fey's mother, Sheen as her former boyfriend no…

The Elvis Debacle

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Well, the shine is off the free-agent season rose for the Denver Broncos. In the early going, the Broncos seemed to be on track to make all the right moves for the win-now mentality. They landed Dominic Rodgers-Cromartie to bolster the secondary and took Wes Welker from the Patriots to give them another great weapon in the passing game.

Then came the great fax debacle. Elvis Dumervil, the second best pass rusher on the team and best defensive end on the team, agreed to a paycut. The paper work didn't come in on time, so the Broncos cut him. Frustrated, he signed with the Baltimore Ravens.

So why does this matter? Well, first off because Dumervil is a productive player that will bolster a conference rival, the Baltimore Ravens. Second, this is a blow to the front-seven for the Broncos. Last year the team had two great pass rushers — Von Miller and Dumervil. For as great as Miller is, he can't carry the defense alone.

After a good start to the off-season, the Broncos have more …

Get the Project Kickstarted

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"It's amazing how fleeting perfection can be." — Veronica, "Veronica Mars"

Two weeks ago Kristen Bell, star of "Veronica Mars," and its creator, Rob Thomas, launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a movie to serve as a follow-up to the show. Of course, at the time the show ended, those involved clearly hoped for more. The third and final season ended on a bit of a cliff hanger, so it was left to all of us to wonder what happened.

Well, less than a day later the campaign reached its goal and the question was answered. So, given the success of fans putting their money where their heart is, so many shows are toying with the idea of trying to get fans to invest in a feature-length film. The question for many is: will it work, and should it?

Funny Or Die, a comedy Website co-created by Will Ferrell, actually did a send up of this idea on April Fools' Day. They re-named their site Kickstarter or Die and launched fake Kickstarter videos for a bunch of s…