Big Fan Hits Theaters Today

Friday, August 28, 2009 |

As the Giants prepare to face the Jets for the 41st consecutive preseason tomorrow night (they are 18-21-1 in the previous 40 contests), I figured I'd drop this quick post to remind you that writer/director Robert Siegel's Big Fan opens today (Fri. 8/28) in New York and Philadelphia.

I did a short write-up about the film back in July, but here's another link to the trailer.

In short, Big Fan is the intense story of Paul Aufiero (Patton Oswalt), an obsessed Giants fan whose violent run-in with his favorite player (the fictional linebacker Quantrell Bishop) brings his entire world crashing down around him.

In the wake of the Plaxico Burress fiasco, the film's pivotal scene cuts
chillingly close to the bone, so it will be interesting to see how the Giants organization responds to it. In a recent interview with Deadspin, Siegel (The Wrestler) told Sarah Schorno that he did not seek (or need) permission from the Giants or the NFL to use the team's name, trademarks, or stadium as a backdrop in the film, and that the filmmakers have "no formal relationship with the team." Though former Giants tight end Howard Cross has cooperated with the filmmakers by participating in a few Q&As, Giants VP of Communications Pat Hanlon told me this morning that to his knowledge, nobody in the organization has seen the film. That would, I assume, include linebacker Jonathan Goff, who shares a number (54) and position with the fictional Bishop. 

In today's New York Times, Mahnola Dargis writes that Big Fan is an "agreeably low-key and modest film" that "avoids sentimentality without abandoning sentiment." Those are words rarely, if ever, used to describe--for lack of a better phrase--sports films.

To my knowledge, Big Fan is the first feature film since Warner Bros' atrocious 1972 adaptation of Fred Exley's masterpiece, A Fan's Notes, in which the New York Giants are featured in any kind of prominent way.

As an official partner of the film I'll be screening it over the weekend and likely posting a review. I'm also working to arrange a short interview w/ Siegel, who like me is a native Long Islander and graduate of the University of Michigan. So stay tuned for updates on that.

Making the Cover

Monday, August 3, 2009 |

Hi! I'm Mark Weinstein. You might remember me as the guy who writes 4,000-word odes to mostly forgotten ex-Giants like Charley Conerly and Rodney Hampton. Or as the guy who once kind of had a radio show. Some of you might even remember me as the fellow who released three albums nobody has ever listened to. Or as the guy who's spent the past 10 years helping to realize other people's dreams.

What you probably don't remember me as, though, is as a writer of books. And the reason for that is because up until about a month ago, I wasn't one. Believe me, as an editor I've had to rewrite more books than I'd care to admit, and my name has appeared in the acknowledgments of more than a hundred Timeless Works of Literature (TWOL). But until the book pictured above came off press back in June, I'd never before had my name appear on a book's front cover.

Examining the photo you might notice that I am only listed as a co-writer on the project, and that I do not earn top-billing. That's true, and entirely justified. I penned only 5 of the book's 30 chapters, the others written by "Mr. Stats," himself, Elliott Kalb. So it's not so much my book as it is a book I contributed to (and edited). Gotta start somewhere.

In The 30 Greatest Sports Conspiracy Theories of All Time, Kalb and I examine the most notable conspiracies in sports history, from Major League Baseball, the NFL, NBA, NHL, NCAA, to the Olympics, NASCAR, the horse track and the prize ring. Separating fact from myth, we attempt to determine which of these long-held conspiracy theories hold water, and which ones fall flat under scrutiny.

The five conspiracies I tackle in my chapters are:

: Did UNLV throw the 1991 NCAA semi-final game against Duke?
#27: Was ironman Cal Ripken's 2001 All-Star game home run a set-up?
#28 &
#29: (Double conspiracy!): Did the New England Patriots, with an assist from the NFL, cheat their way to a dynasty?
#30: Did Chinese Olympic hero Liu Xiang fake an injury at the 2008 Beijing Games?

You might be surprised by the answers to these questions. And the only way to learn the answers is to buy the book. Or borrow it from your public library. Or beg me for one. Or steal a copy.

This post isn't all self-promotion, either. There's a Giants angle, too, as chapter #10 deals with the scandal surrounding the 1946 NFL championship game, before which two Giants (quarterback Frank Filchock and back Merle Hapes) were accused of conspiring with gamblers.

Taking that into consideration, as well as how I've selflessly used this blog to help promote books by both Ralph Vacchiano (my acquisition) and Murray Greenberg (not mine) in the past, I hope that you will forgive this rare bit of self-promotion. If not, I apologize. More Giants (and Mets) posts are forthcoming. I promise.

Carry on, now.

Edit 8/11/09: Newsday's Neil Best offers a nice mini-review on his Watchdog blog, referencing my Newsday-carrying past.