Feature: list of the obscure

@ April 23, 2009

No Observed Effect
Distinct Nucleus
Death Phase
Bacterial Enumeration
Exposure Routes
Hazard Quotient
Chronic Daily Intake
Potency Factor

You are welcome.

@ December 30, 2008

When the Giants lose their first playoff game a week from Sunday, you can look back and blame me for this column. I am about to jinx them by rating which AFC team represents the most interesting Super Bowl matchup, from 1 to 6. 

6.  Miami Dolphins

I'm not going to lie.  When I had the idea for this list, I thought this spot would go to New England or the Jets.  Can you imagine it? The Patriots: A rematch from last season, when the underdog Giants swooped in and ruined the Patriots perfect season.  The Patriots would be back for revenge, this time as the underdogs.  What a great matchup that would have been.

Or the Jets: New York vs. New York.  Brother against brother, father against son, obnoxious jerkoffs against loudmouth assholes.  The subway Super Bowl, even though you can't ride a subway to Giants Stadium or Tampa Bay, where the game would actually be played.

But instead, we get the Dophins.  The best I could come up with is that their coach is named Tony Sparano, which is pretty close to Tony Soprano, like in that show that took place in New Jersey, which is where the Giants play, even though they are actually called the New York Giants.  Damn it all. 

5. Baltimore Ravens

Rematch of Super Bowl XXXV, when the Ray Lewis-led Baltimore Ravens defense held the Giants to one special teams touchdown in a 34-7 pasting.  This matchup might be more intriguing if there was more than a single Giants starter left from that Super Bowl run. 

4. Pittsburgh Steelers

Two stud quarterbacks from the draft class of 2004, Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger, each go for their second Super Bowl ring.  As an added bonus, my employer is a Steelers fan, so excessive gloating on the day after the Super Bowl could have severe career ramifications. 

Did you know that there is a burger joint in Pittsburgh that has an item on the menu called a Rothelis-burger, which is made with a 7-pound beef patty in honor of the number worn by the QB? I think 7 might also be a reference to the number of people in Pittsburgh who still have jobs today.

3.  Tennessee Titans

You probably think that this game is interesting because it would represent a matchup between the two top-seeded teams in the playoffs, or the two teams who were at the top of the standings all year, or because it matches the Giants against Kerry Collins, the quarterback who took them to Super Bowl XXV. You would be wrong.

No, this game is interesting because it matches two teams whose names mean the same thing.  Giants! Titans! This game is going to be huge!! Get it?!?!?  Most exciting Super Bowl matchup for me since the Buccaneers played the Raiders.

2. San Diego Chargers

In 2004, the Chargers drafted Eli Manning number one overall.  He refused to sign with them, forcing a trade to the Giants.  Who did the Giants send back? Philip Rivers, the number 3 overall pick and current QB for San Diego.  Rumor has it that Chargers fans are still not incredibly pleased with Eli.  This could be the biggest potential storyline in the playoffs, if not for... 

1.  Indianapolis Colts

Manning vs. Manning.  Eli and Peyton, fighting it out for their mother's love in the biggest game of the year.  NBC, the network that airs the Super Bowl this year, will have a collective boner for 2 weeks.  Advertisers will be falling over themselves to throw money at them.  It will be the most watched Super Bowl in history.  Oops, they got a semi right now just thinking about it. 

It will be the most over-hyped storyline since Jerome Bettis going home to Detroit to win a Super Bowl in his final game.  In fact, I'm already sick of it.  Every advertisement in the month of February will have either Eli, Peyton, or Archie, who will probably send a sample of his sperm to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton after the game. 

That is, unless the Giants lose to the Eagles in round 2.  Dammit all.

@ November 17, 2008

Are you planning on heading out to a karaoke bar for the first time? Then do yourself, and everyone else who will be there, a huge favor: print out this list and bring it with you.  Because chances are, you will commit one of the following karaoke sins, and be damned to hell's karaoke bar. 

1.  Nobody wants to hear you sing for seven minutes

Hell's karaoke bar, by the way, only has one song in its book: "Hotel  California" by The Eagles.  It's only six and a half minutes long, but it feels like so much longer.  It's like the menorah of karaoke songs: you think it's only going to last for one day, but then the guitar solo plays for eight days while you stand their with the mike in your hand looking for something to do with yourself.  I have a few suggestions, by the way.

Other offenders include: "Paradise By The Dashboard Light" by Meatloaf, "Rapper's Delight" by the Sugarhill Gang

Exceptions: NONE.  Keep your songs to 4 minutes.  5 if you are a good singer, but guess what? You can't sing.  You are in a karaoke bar.

2. Are you Michael Stipe? No? Then you don't know the words to "The End Of The World As We Know It"

mumblemumblemumblemumblemumble LEONARD BERNSTEIN

Other offenders include: "One Week" by the Barenaked Ladies, "We Didn't Start The Fire" by Billy Joel

Exceptions: The guy to did the heavy metal version of "We Didn't Start The Fire" who didn't know all the lyrics, but it was still awesome when he did HEAVY METAL SUICIIIIIIIIIDE.  That guy was cool.  The rest of you? No dice.

3. Okay, so now you've made the rest of us feel depressed, too.  Are you happy now?

You know who you are.*

4. Uh, maybe you should have checked the lyrics before you started singing that song...

Hey, two guys who sang  "Endless Love" by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie:  I was totally grooving on it.  You were into it, the harmony was nice, and I was just kind of amazed to see two openly homosexual men singing together in a karaoke bar in Houston.  But then I realized you were both here with your wives, and it made me feel just incredibly awkward.

Other offenders include: Those same two guys singing "Unforgettable" by Nat King Cole and Natalie Cole.  Seriously, guys? Is there something we should know?

5. "All Summer Long" by Kid Rock

If hell's karaoke bar only has Hotel California in the songbook, then "All Summer Long" by Kid Rock is the only song you can play on the jukebox.  Not only does it suck, but now two other, formerly great songs suck by association.  Imagine if "Werewolves of London" by Warren Zevon" and "Sweet Home Alabama" by Lynyrd Skynyrd had a baby, and that baby had Down's Syndrome.  That's what this song sounds like.  Stop singing it.  STOP IT VERN.

Other offenders include: "Werewolves of London" and "Sweet Home Alabama".  Sorry, but all I hear now is the retarded Kid Rock version.  They are tainted.

6. Stop actually being an awesome singer

It's great that you are a really good singer.  Really.  But you know what? I suck.  That is why I am in a karaoke bar, and not in a recording studio.  So don't come into my karaoke bar and sing all good and shit, because you know who is next? I am.  And if I sounded like crap before, what do I sound like now? 

Oh, and also? The little sexy salsa dancing? You can cut that shit out, too.  And why are you wearing a tie and a jacket?! WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE??!?

7. This is the 3rd time you have sung this song, and it isn't getting any better

Hey, almost-cute blond girl? I haven't been in this karaoke bar for over a month, and you are still singing the same two country songs.  You still suck. Sing something else.  This book has hundreds and hundreds of songs in it.

Other offenders include:  The old broad that sings "Men" every time she is there.  Pretty great the first time.  Not so much anymore.  Sorry.

Exceptions: Me.  I can do "In The End" by Linkin Park as many times as I want.  Cause IN THE EEEEEEEEEEND, IT DOESN'T EVEN MATTER...

* It's Jim

@ October 19, 2008

Flipping through the Houston Press, Houston's alterna-weekly newspaper, Suzi came upon a 2-page spread with advertisements looking for participants in medical research studies.  Let's help her pick one to participate in.



The study: The University of Texas - Houston, Mental Sciences Institute is looking for cocaine users to participate in a study on memory, mood, and attention.

Requirements: Cocaine habit

Cons: Cocaine habit

Pros: Compensation is available, which would offset costs of cocaine habit

Conclusion: Eh, maybe if she already had a cocaine habit, but does not seem worth it to start one from scratch.


The study: Advances in Health is conducting a research study on an investigational latex-free diaphragm and contraceptive gel.

Cons: Uh, what if you are in the control group?

Pros: Uh... seriously is there a control group?

Conclusion: So if the study is a failure everyone ends up with kids? At least Suzi could quit her cocaine habit.



The study: Holy shit, HIV gives you diarrhea too? HIV is now officially the worst thing ever.

Cons: Suzi would need to contract HIV and then start pooping alot.

Pros: The ad features a picture of an HIV-positive man kicking a roll of toilet paper.  Also, it appears that they used the Star Trek font for their ad.  I really need a scanner.

Conclusion: The cocaine thing is looking better and better!



The study: Accelovance is seeking volunteers 18-49 to participate in a pandemic flu vaccine nasal powder research study.

Cons: Um...

Pros: Damn, $825 bucks! And when the bird flu hits, I'll be vaccinated! And I hate needles! Forget Suzi, sign me up!  Plus, it sounds like we could go straight from this to the cocaine study.

Conclusion: I'm calling tomorrow. To be continued?

@ October 9, 2008


Apparently tired of using good music without permission, John McCain has lately taken to using the Foo Fighters' "My Hero" as his campaign theme.  Aside from the unfortunate choice (even their spectacular live performance couldn't salvage this particular shitheap of a song), the band said that permission to use the song was not sought from them, their management, their label or their publisher.

"The saddest thing about this is that My Hero was written as a celebration of the common man and his extraordinary potential," Dave Grohl wrote in a public statement.  "To have it appropriated without our knowledge and used in a manner that perverts the original sentiment of the lyric just tarnishes the song." 

As an amusing sidenote, Matt Yglesias argues fairly convincingly that contemporary hiphop, where "conservative values like greed and violence are frequently lauded" might make a more appropriate soundtrack.  And frankly, I'd rather listen to TI mangle the English language for hours than hear one more of the trainwrecks of faux-folksy dependant clauses that vomit themselves out every time Sarah Palin opens her mouth.

@ September 7, 2008

With the Pandora's Box of hilarity that is Sarah Palin, it's easy to forget the O.G. of terrible candidates, John McCain.  However, he's been doing his best to keep from being overshadowed by apparently declaring war on musicians.

The most recent is Heart:
Palin's nickname is Barracuda, causing the campaign to use it post-speech.

"The Republican campaign did not ask for permission to use the song, nor would they have been granted that permission. We have asked the Republican campaign publicly not to use our music. We hope our wishes will be honored."

McCain, who runs an honorable, respectful campaign in no way influenced by Rove protege Steve Schmidt, did not honor them, using the song again after his own speech.

"I think it's completely unfair to be so misrepresented. I feel completely fucked over." 

They issued another statement following:

"Sarah Palin's views and values in NO WAY represent us as American women. We ask that our song 'Barracuda' no longer be used to promote her image. The song 'Barracuda' was written in the late '70s as a scathing rant against the soulless, corporate nature of the music business, particularly for women. (The 'barracuda' represented the business.) While Heart did not and would not authorize the use of their song at the RNC, there's irony in Republican strategists' choice to make use of it there."

But this is no one off event.

Van Halen:
Van Halen management tells us the band had no idea McCain was planning on using "Right Now" during his big entrance in Ohio telling us, "Permission was not sought or granted nor would it have been given."

John Hall:
Yes, Rep. John Hall (D-NY).  In delightful irony, George Bush did the same thing a few years earlier. 

"This is yet another example of John McCain not learning anything from George Bush's mistakes," Hall wrote First Read in an interview over e-mail. "First, McCain adopted Bush's failed policy of an open-ended war in Iraq, then he wrapped his arms around the failed Bush economic policies that have put the squeeze on middle class families. Now, he's making the same mistake George Bush made illegally using a copyrighted song without asking either the writers or the performers for permission."

Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, asked and got permission to use the song at her rallies.
Yes, the diehard Democrat who actually stumped with possible babydaddy John Edwards for months last year. 

"Mellencamp hasn't yet made a public response, but his reps are quietly reaching out to McCain and asking him to stop playing his tunes. (McCain's press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)"

But surely, surely this must be it, right? 

Jackson Browne

Yes, anti-nuclear activist Jackson Browne is suing the campaign.  Why?  Far from simply playing the song at a rally, the McCain camp set one of their ads to "Running on Empty" without bothering to license it or even sending a postcard.  Unfortunately thanks to McCain-Feingold's Campaign Finance Reform, the settlement he's likely to receive will not go to McCain's opponent, as Browne has already maxed out his donation to Obama's campaign.  Perhaps, in a blatant violation of the spirit if not letter of McCain-Feingold, he'll set up a 527.  Just like John McCain.

But all that leads up to the ultimate betrayal.  His very favorite band of all time, the band so embarrassing that he actually cited his POW experience to explain his love for.


Back during his primary campaign, he "found out that he has few fans in Scandinavia when he tried to adopt Abba's "Take a chance on me" as his campaign song. After running into difficulties with the Swedish supergroup, McCain lamented to reporters on board his plane that it wasn't as easy to play the song as he thought.

"It gets expensive in a big hurry and if you're not careful you can alienate some Swedes," he joked."If word gets out to Stockholm that we're using Abba music, then there'll be a
worsening in U.S.-Swedish relations.""

Apparently this poor experience with the costs of licensing is the reason he's stopped even asking, much less paying. 

@ May 28, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull just cleaned up at the box office, despite a 19 year wait since the last installment in the franchise.  Way to capitalize on that momentum, guys.  I'm not even sure the target audience was alive when the last one was released, but that didn't seem to stop them from buying tickets. So, in honor of the success of the sequel everyone forgot they wanted, I give you today's List of the Obscure: Sequels That Got Made...Eventually.


Star Wars, Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Released: May 19th, 1999
Sequel to: Return of the Jedi, released May 25th, 1983
Time between movies: 15 years, 11 months, 24 days

Why the wait:  This would seem to be the least important question we could ask about the prequel trilogy.  Some more pressing questions are why, how come, and seriously, what the fuck.  Enough ink and nerd tears have been spilled over this.  Let's just move on.


Basic Instinct 2

Released: March 31st, 2006
Sequel to: Basic Instinct, released March 20th, 1992
Time between movies: 14 years, 11 days

Why the wait:  Development hell.  Originally slated for a 2002 release, the film was delayed when they couldn't find an actor willing to get naked and sweaty on screen with Sharon Stone.   On the bright side, this left an open spot in her schedule for Catwoman.


Clerks 2

Released: July 21, 2006
Sequel to: Clerks, released October 12, 1994
Time between movies: 11 years, 9 months, 9 days

Why the wait: The film was planned as far back as 1999, when the end credits of Dogma promised the return of Jay and Silent Bob in the upcoming film, Clerks 2: Hardly Clerkin.  The title was subsequently changed to Clerks 2: Rude and Unwrapped and Clerks 2: The Passion of the Clerks before Kevin Smith decided that he wasn't as witty as he thought he was and just called the damn thing Clerks 2.   The delay could probably best be blamed on Smith's participation in such brilliant counter-culture fare as Daredevil, Jersey Girl, and Catch and Release.  Seriously, what happened to him? At least he was finished with Clerks 2 in time for...


Live Free or Die Hard

Released: June 27, 2007
Sequel to: Die Hard With a Vengeance, released May 19, 1995
Time between movies: 12 years, 1 month, 8 days

Why the wait:  The Die Hard series has always been a little strange.  The 3rd movie in the series was not originally written as a Die Hard movie, but was adapted from a script called "Simon Says." This one was based off a script titled "WW3.com", stalled after the 9/11 attacks (what wasn't?) and eventually rewritten as a Die Hard movie.  Got an idea for a movie that isn't going anywhere? Change the name of the main character to John McClane and...magic!


The Two Jakes

Released: August 10th, 1990
Sequel to: Chinatown, released June 20th, 1974
Time between movies: 16 years, 1 month, 21 days

Why the wait:  Aah, the best laid plans... Chinatown was the first film in a planned trilogy.  The events of the first film took place in the 1930s.  The Two Jakes was set in the 1940s, approximating the amount of time that actually passed between the two movies.  The final movie, which would have been called Cloverleaf, would have taken place in the 1950s if The Two Jakes hadn't been a total bomb both critically and at the box office.  The planned plot for this movie very closely approximates Who Framed Roger Rabbit, although presumably without the giant cartoon knockers.


The Color of Money

Released: October 17th, 1986
Sequel to: The Hustler, released September 25th, 1961
Time between movies: 25 years, 22 days

Why the wait: Well, the book didn't come out until 1984.  So why did it take so long for the book to get written? I dunno. I'm not researching books here.  My guess is the author was hungry.


@ March 8, 2008

Before we begin tonight's list, I would like to address some comments made about the previous List of the Obscure.  In my first issue, I may not have reached quite as deep into the realm of the Obscure as one would expect based on the name.  Or, as our good friend Greg King put it:

Wow, so Deep Impact and Armageddon had some things in common? Is the next list going to be the ways that black people are different from white people?

Fine, point taken.  Maybe not everything I write about will be so obscure.  In that light, I'd like to propose a new slogan for this feature.

List of the Obscure: I'll write about whatever the fuck I want (TM).

(I'm just kidding Greg, you know I wuv you.)

1. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

Sean Bean is a walking spoiler alert.  At some point in his career, casting director's must have decided that he gave a really great death scene, because everytime I see him in a movie, he ends up dying.  More often then not, he dies in a really spectacular way.  Let's start with his biggest hit, Fellowship of the Ring.

Bean is Boromir, the conflicted wannabe hero who succumbs to the lure of the ring. Blah blah blah, everybody saw this one, I don't need to tell you about his death.  Three giant arrows to the chest, shot by a giant monster.  And this was one of the tamer deaths on this list.

2. Patriot Games (1992)

One of the reasons that Bean keeps ending up on the wrong end of a horrible death is that he plays the bad guy really well.  This time he is Sean Miller, an IRA terrorist who is sent to prison based on testimony from former CIA operative Jack Ryan (Harrison Ford).  Sean Miller/Bean learns the same thing that Darth Vader, Nazis, and Calista Flockhart have all learned:  when you engage Harrison Ford in hand-to-hand combat on a speedboat, you end up impaled on an anchor.

3. Equilibrium (2002)

Uh, he gets shot or something. I didn't actually see this. Did anyone see this? What the hell is this movie? Why did Sean Bean agree to be in a cheap looking Matrix knockoff? British actors will be in anything.  Jesus, look at this poster. 

matrix-equilibrium-posters.jpgLet's just move on.

4. The Hitcher

Shotgun to the face!  That'll teach him to hitchhike.  I didn't see this either.

5. Goldeneye (1995)

Aah, Goldeneye - the only movie to have its reputation improved by being adapted into a video game.  However, the movie had something that the video game could only dream of: an awesome death scene for Sean Bean! This one is my second favorite on this list.  The favorite? Well, you'll just have to keep reading.


Losing a fist fight 200 feet above the ground never ends well, but I don't think it could end much worse than this.  We're going to have to go second person on this one.  Your an ex-00 agent.  First, Pierce Brosnan foils your plan to take over London by hitting it with an EMP.  Then, he kicks you off the top of the dish, and you fall 200 feet to the bottom.  Are you dead? Well, maybe you are dead, and maybe I am dead, but Sean Bean is a former 00-agent.  He is about to get up and roll out of there.  But THEN, fucking Pierce fucking Brosnan has to go and blow up your satellite dish, so that the whole works comes crashing down on top of you while he flies off in a helicopter with some hot Russian chick.  Pierce Brosnan is a dick sometimes.

6. Don't Say A Word (2001)

This movie sucked, but it will always hold a special place in my heart.  The Suze made me watch this Michael Douglas/Sean Bean/Brittany Murphy crapfest, because it had the girl in the commercial saying, "I'll never tell..." and she was all spooky about it.  Sean Bean takes Michael Douglas' family hostage, threatening to kill them unless he can get crazy ole Brittany Murphy to tell him where a hidden fortune is, uh, hidden. 

Turns out it was hidden in a grave.  So Sean Bean goes and digs it up, but somebody should have told him, "Hey, Sean Bean, you die a horrible death in all your movies, are you sure you want to go digging up graves?" Nobody did, and that's why the grave collapses, burying Sean Bean alive. To death.

So why does this masterpiece hold a special place? Because this was the movie where I realized, "Hey, that's the Lord of the Rings guy! And he was in Goldeneye too! Does he die in every movie he's in?!"

7. The Island (2005)

And The Island was the movie that confirmed it: yes, he does.  This was also my favorite Sean Bean death scene.

Too bad its trapped in another terrible movie.  The problems here are too many to count, so we'll just stick to the big one:  why is Lincoln Six-Echo (Ewarn McGregor), a clone from an organ farm, able to turn into a super-spy in order to take down the organ farm? He was stupid enough to think the organ farm was a utopian society, but smart enough to infiltrate the organ farm and take it down? Organ farm! ORGAN FARM!!

Sean Bean is the evil mastermind behind the ...organ farm... and he tries to stop Abraham Eight-Bravo, or whatever, from taking it down.  And what does he get for his trouble? The same thing every scientist who messes with God's creations should get.  Spear gun to the neck! Yeah! And then he falls off the walkway they are fighting on (did I mention that? there's a walkway) and Washington Twelve-Zulu falls off the walkway, but he holds onto the spear gun, and Sean Bean is dangling from the spear in his neck, so Obama Seven-Hotel can climb back up, and escape with Scarlett Johanssen, and get on a boat and sail to an island.  The end.

Got an idea for List of the Obscure? Let me know about it.

@ February 16, 2008

Welcome to a new feature here at ObscureBlog.  In List of the Obscure, we chronicle the furthest reaches of pop culture.  In list form.  Because, uh, doesn't everyone like lists? Seriously, how am I supposed to have a website without some sort of list on it? I actually thought websites came with lists pre-installed, but turns out I have to write it myself and everything. 

List of the Obscure: Because some things haven't been put into lists yet (TM).

1. Armageddon and Deep Impact (1998)

Did you ever get the feeling that the movie you are seeing an ad for already came out? Or that Hollywood was creatively bankrupt? Yeah, me too.  Turns out we weren't hallucinating.  And I'm not even talking about the endless string of remakes, or when a genre suddenly becomes popular, like Save the Last Step Up 2 The Yard Dance, or Jerky-Moving Pale-Faced Japanese Girl Horror Theater.  I'm talking about really specific plot points.  Sometimes they don't even try to hide it - they just make the same movie twice! In the same year!  We'll start with 1998's dueling space-object-hurtling-towards-earth movies, Armageddon and Deep Impact.

Well, I guess I'm not giving them enough credit for being different, because, you see, Armageddon is about an asteroid, and Deep Impact is about a comet, and...and...whatever, that's as much defending as I'm about to do.

Ridiculously Identical Plot Point
The comet/asteroid hurtling towards Earth can only be stopped by sending a rag-tag group of astronauts to bury a nuclear bomb under the surface to destroy it.

Box office
Deep Impact  $140.46M
Armageddon  $201.58M

Deep Impact  44%
Armageddon  41%

Ebert's take
Deep Impact  "... the movie as a whole is pretty routine." (2.5 stars)
Armageddon  " Here it is at last, the first 150-minute trailer." (1 star)

My take: The real disaster? These movies made a combined $340 million. Winner: Deep Impact

2. A Bug's Life and Antz (1998)

Was there a writer's strike in 1998 that I'm not aware of? Does anyone else have an explanation for why they kept making movies twice that year? 

I actually think that Dreamworks missed a winning formula here.  Why stop at Antz? How about:

Toyz, starring Woody Allen as the voice of neurotic Cabbage Patch Kid;
Monzterz, starring Woody Allen as the voice of a neurotic Sasquatch;
Carz, starring Woddy Allen as the voice of a neurotic compact car

Ridiculously Identical Plot Point
Uh, both of them are about bugs? What more do you want?

Box office
A Bug's Life $162.8M
Antz  $90.8M

A Bug's Life  91%
Antz  97%

Ebert's Take
A Bug's Life  "The story ... is similar in some ways to the autumn's other big animated release, "Antz," but it's aimed at a broader audience and lacks the in-jokes." (3.5 stars)
Antz  "It enters into a microscopic world .. and makes it into a world so vast and threatening that comparisons with ``Star Wars'' are not unjustified." (3.5 stars)

My take: Uh, was somebody comparing Antz to Star Wars? Really, Roger? All I remember is that the Jennifer Lopez ant had a big ass, too.  Push

3. Volcano and Dante's Peak (1997)

If the late '90s are to be remembered for anything other than the dot-com boom and Monica Lewinsky, it should be that every fucking movie got made twice.  At least this time one was a comedy.  What? Yes. Dante's Peak was a comedy.  That scene where grandma has to jump out of the boat into the lake of acid and push everyone ashore? HILARIOUS. I laughed for days.  Or, should I say, I laffed.

Ridiculously Identical Plot Point
Climactic scene where our hero must outrun the eruption to save his family.

Box Office
Volcano  $49.3M
Dante's Peak  $67.1M

Volcano  42%
Dante's Peak  32%

Ebert's Take
Volcano  "The ads say 'The Coast Is Toast,' but maybe they should say 'The Volcano Is Drano.' This is a surprisingly cheesy disaster epic." (1.5 stars)
Dante's Peak  "'Dante's Peak' is constructed about as skillfully as a disaster movie can be, and there were times when I found it working for me, sort of." (2.5 stars)

My take: I actually saw Volcano in theaters.  I was such a tool in 1997.  Winner: Dante's Peak

4. United 93 and World Trade Center (2006)

For all those future filmmakers wondering "How long do I have to wait to use a world-changing disaster as the inspiration for my movie?"  Paul Greengrass and Oliver Stone have answered your question: 5 years. "But what if it feels to soo..." No. No more questions.  The answer is 5 years.  Next question.

Ridiculously Identical Plot Point
Terrorists hijack airplanes and fly them into the World Trade Center and Pentagon.  Been there, done that, invaded Iraq.

Box office
United 93  $31.5M
World Trade Center $70.3M

United 93  91%
World Trade Center  70%

Ebert's Take
United 93  "This is a masterful and heartbreaking film, and it does honor to the memory of the victims." (4 stars)
World Trade Center  "The phrase "less is more" just isn't in Stone's directorial vocabulary." (2.5 stars)

My take:  By all accounts, United 93 was a powerful, apolitical telling of a real American tragedy.  Too bad everyone saw the shlocky Oliver Stone version.  Winner: the terrorists.

5. The Prestige and the Illusionist (2006)

Was there a writer's strike in 2006? Does anyone else have an explana ... oh shit, I already made this joke about 1998, didn't I. This list is really starting to have an effect on me.

The Prestige had magician's brutally maiming each other, crazy twists left and right, and Billy Idol as Nikolai Tesla.  Yes, this awesome movie worked Tesla into the plot.  The Illusionist had, uh, well, it had Jessica Biel in those period costume's that push the girl's boobs really high.  That was cool.

Oh wait, The Prestige had Scarlett Johanssen in period costume with high boobs, too.  Yeah, The Illusionist sucked.  In soft focus.

Ridiculously Identical Plot Point
Like, the whole movie was a magic trick, man! Trippy.

Box office
The Prestige $53.1M
The Illusionist  $39.9M

The Prestige  75%
The Illusionist  75%

Ebert's Take
The Prestige  "What you will learn in the movie is, I believe, a disappointment -- nothing but a trick about a trick." (3 stars)
The Illusionist " If 'The Illusionist' approaches the realm of art, its spell is heightened by a subtly mesmerizing Philip Glass score and cinematographer Dick Pope's flickering, sepia-tinted visuals..." (3.5 stars)

My take: A tie? WHAT? Unbelievable.  I saw both these movies, and The Prestige was awesome.  How did this happen... Winner: Push The hell with that, its my list, and I'll arbitrarily change the rules if I want.  Winner: The Prestige