Thursday, December 20, 2007

Out of Town Notice!

Just a quick note to those interested in this blog:

I'm going to be on holiday in Asia from December 21 - January 6, which means I probably won't be blogging. However, I'll have loads of amazing things to discuss when I return, so keep an eye out!

Happy Holidays everyone!

Papelbon's Dog Eats WS Ball

This story is absolutely ridiculous, but I love it.

Apparently, Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek gave closer Jonathan Papelbon the ball he threw the final out of the 2007 World Series with. Paps took it home with him and left it on the counter.

And then Papelbon's dog, "Boss," ATE THE DAMN THING.

Yes, I'm serious. A dog ate a piece of history. *shakes head* It boggles the mind.

To distract from this story, I present the following, which is sure to bring holiday cheer.








If this doesn't make you smile, I want nothing to do with you.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

1-31-08

= The return of LOST.

Season 4.

After a mostly lackluster Season 3 (it seriously almost lost me, and I'm not one to drop a show I've been following since Day 1 lightly), the show was absolutely lights-out fanastic in the last few episodes. I managed to put the cliffhangers and unanswered questions out of my mind for the last few months (because otherwise you just drive yourelf crazy).

But then they go and release the official two-minute trailer for Season 4.




And now I'm just DONE. I can feel my inner TV geek getting excited. My anticipation for the premiere is only going to grow and, by this time next month may threaten to all-out consume me. I'm almost afraid to find out how many episodes they managed to shoot before the strike hit. Because you just KNOW this season is going to rock your socks off and possibly (probably) halted production in the middle of something ridiculously awesome.

Not sure how much I gleaned from the trailer. Anyone else think the titles look weird? Has the reflection in the water never matched the island "skyline" above...or am I just crazy and/or blind? There are a couple of new faces (the "rescuers," a term I put in parenthesis purposefully) and the lack of Charlie just made me incredibly sad. Locke still hates Ben, he and Jack are probably still going to be at odds (one of my absolute favorite parts of the show) and Sawyer and Kate will continue to shoot each other smoldering glances of barely-restained sexual tension. Other than that...it just sent me to the edge of my seat and made me go "WHAT?! There's NO MORE?!" to my empty living room.

The countdown begins, JJ. Don't you disappoint me again.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Dodgers Sign Kuroda

This weekend, the Dodgers won the (quiet) bidding war for Japanese right-handed pitcherHiroki Kuroda. Kuroda, 32, has a 3.69 lifetime ERA and 103-89 record and is coming off the most successful year of his career. He will get $35.3 million over the next three years to pitch in Dodger blue.

Experts call him a ground ball pitcher with exellent control and the ability to step up and take command late in a game (the 6th and 7th innings). He's probably going to slip into the Number 3 starter role, behind Derek Lowe and Brad Penny.

Los Angeles? Hmmm..I hear the weather is nice there.


I'm liking our winter signings thus far because we're actually doing what we said we set out to do. We needed a power bat, so we signed Andruw Jones to a two-year deal. I already commented on my slight misgivings about that deal, but I really think last year was an abberation and, now that he's healthy, Jones will step up and do what we need him to in 2008.


We needed another solid starting pitching arm and in comes Kuroda. I'm waiting for more word to start coming out on him, but I like what I'm hearing so far. Our rotation will consist of Lowe, penny, Kuroda, Billingsley and either Loaiza or Schmidt (the preferable option, in my opinion, if he's healthy). Not the most impressive in baseball, but definitely solid.

Those two acquisitions cost us a lot of money (if you're doing the math, which I am). However, we signed both of these guys without giving up a single young prospect. Martin, LaRoche, Kemp, Ethier, Billingsley and Broxton are all still in Dodger Blue and at least three of them figure to be significant contributors to the team in 2008. I call it a win-win.

I still think there's work to be done. I'd love to add a bat at third, but the market was thin to begin with and Lowell and Rodrigguez re-signing with their current teams and Cabrera going to the Tigers, I'm not sure who else is out there that's really worth having. We may end up having to count on Garciaparra to step back up to his 2006 Comeback Player of the Year form or on Andy LaRoche to mature enough to step up to the Big League level. This concerns me...

I simply cannot do it...a-looooooone!

I also would feel better having another solid lefty arm in the bullpen. Broxton shouldered most of that weight by himself last year and, toward the end of the season, he started to chow the strain. Injuries have decimated our bullpen in the last few years, and it got to the poitn where it was a total crapshoot what you'd get on any given night: a lights-out strikeout machine or a ragtag troupe who couldn't get an out to save their lives. It hurt my heart.

Still, heading into the holidays, I'm happier about the way we're shaping up than I have been in the past few years. Though I do tend to be an offseason optimist...

Reason #1024 Why America Needs to Read More

So, a friend of mine reviewed The Golden Compass last week, from the perspective of someone who’d never read the book and thus really had no idea what to expect.

I, on the other hand, love Philip Pullman’s trilogy (The Golden Compass, the Subtle Knife and the Amber Spyglass). The His Dark Materials trilogy commands a top-shelf display in my bookcase.


Run (don't walk) to Amazon.com for these. I beg you.


We both thought the movie sucked. He watched a bad movie. I watched a bad movie AND bemoaned how a great book was whitewashed, dumbed-down and made almost completely nonsensical by Chris Weitz and TPTB who decided that any religious overtones be removed.

Pullman tells a dark, complex story that offers a very clear, critical commentary on piety and the Church. Every person has a “daemon,” a talking animal spirit that can shape-change until their human companion reaches puberty, at which point they stick in one form. These “daemons” (convenient name, no?) are, in a sense, a person’s “soul” and are meant to suggest the potential for sin that exists in every human being. “Dust” is a mysterious, hard-to-see particle that sticks to adults (their daemons are conduits for it) but is absent in children. Not hard to connect the dots here: “dust” is essentially sin, the kind of sin that the free will humans develop as they mature exposes them to. In the story, the all-powerful Magesterium is bent on preventing children from ever being exposed to “dust” by severing their connection to their daemons – turning them into blank-faced, controllable pillars of goodness.

Are we all starting to see how removing all religious overtones and still trying to make a story that makes sense is an endeavor that fails before it even begins? The movie still has armored bears and daemons and dust and even a gun-toting hot air balloon pilot with a Southern drawl…but none of them have a real REASON to do what they’re doing. The Magsterium still wants to rid the world of dust and separate children from their daemons and Lyra is still trying to stop them – but the WHY is never really clear. The neutered story is a mess of characters ambling from Point A to Point B to Point C, but their reasoning for going on this madcap adventure is completely unclear and, thus, completely uninteresting. Nobody cares.

I’m sorry, but cool CGI, a polar bear fight between Ian McKellan and Ian McShane and (I can’t believe I’m saying this) even the presence of the riveting Daniel Craig couldn’t calm my indignation. This movie is NOT The Golden Compass. I refuse to accept it. The most egregious travesty? Deciding to end the movie as Iorek, Lyra, Roger and Lee Scoresby heading to see Lord Asriel. All four are happy and accomplished and the uplifting music swells in the background.

When this man can't save your movie, you know you're in trouble.


The book does not end this way. The end of The Golden Compass is jaw-dropping. An insane cliffhanger and definitely not uplifting in the slightest. But it’s beyond amazing. The ending was filmed; ultimately, the filmmakers supposedly decided to “save it for the beginning of the second film, where it would lend more emotional weight.” I believe this is code for “we realized halfway through making this movie that is sucked so badly there’s no way a sequel will ever get made, so best not end it on a cliffhanger.” A $25 million opening weekend appears to have made this a sound decision. Still, to me it was the movie’s last “screw you” to the Pullman fans who came to the movie with high hopes and left wishing they’d just stayed home and re-read the book instead.

I think everyone who paid to see this, whether they were familiar with the material or not, should be issued a refund and an apology. But the hurt is just a little greater to those like me who know what it COULD have been, if only…

Oh well. At least the movie gave us this:


Iorek Byrenson (Ian McKellan) to Lyra: You wish to…ride me?


Oh, I giggle at unintentional innuendo...to keep my tears at bay.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Golden Globe Picks - Television Edition

I divided the nomination list for the Golden Globes in half (TV and Movies). Below are my thoughts about who will/should win in each of the television categories. I use my own brand of reasoning ad do not claim for a second that anyone else will find it critically viable. I also don't care.

It should be noted that, because I'm me, I wrote analysis backward, from #25-#15.

~*~

15. BEST TELEVISION SERIES – DRAMA

a. BIG LOVE (HBO)Anima Sola and Playtone Productions in association with HBO Entertainment
b. DAMAGES (FX NETWORKS)FX Productions and Sony Pictures Television
c. GREY’S ANATOMY (ABC)ABC Studios
d. HOUSE (FOX)Heel and Toe Films, Shore Z Productions and Bad Hat Harry Productions in association with Universal Media Studios
e. MAD MEN (AMC)Lionsgate Television
f. THE TUDORS (SHOWTIME)Showtime/Peace Arch Entertainment/Working Title/Reveille Productions Limited/An Ireland-Canada Co-Production

Mad Men is too small time. The Tudors, as a whole, really wasn’t THAT fantastic. Grey’s was beyond terrible last year. Big Love never really did anything for me. I think it will be a fight between Damages and House, and I’m not quite sure who will come out on top.

16. BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A TELEVISION SERIES – DRAMA

a. PATRICIA ARQUETTE – MEDIUM
b. GLENN CLOSE – DAMAGES
c. MINNIE DRIVER – THE RICHES
d. EDIE FALCO – THE SOPRANOS
e. SALLY FIELD – BROTHERS & SISTERS
f. HOLLY HUNTER – SAVING GRACE
g. KYRA SEDGWICK – THE CLOSER




Good, but good enough?


This category is so incredibly loaded (and crowded to boot). It’s just chock-full of the hot new “strong women” characters that all those fancy entertainment magazines are so keen on writing about. Hunter and Driver are on two of my studio’s shows, so I would really, rally love to see one of them win. However, I think Hunter’s character is too polarizing to win and Driver’s just isn’t strong enough…I realize that (on the surface) doesn’t seem to make much sense. If Arquette wins, I will throw my remote at the television. I say the award goes to either Close or Field – both veterans of the “strong women” character mold and absolutely fantastic in their current roles.

17. BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A TELEVISION SERIES – DRAMA

a. MICHAEL C. HALL – DEXTER
b. JON HAMM – MAD MEN
c. HUGH LAURIE – HOUSE
d. JONATHAN RHYS MEYERS – THE TUDORS
e. BILL PAXTON – BIG LOVE

My undying love for Hugh Laurie and the belief that everything he does is perfection prevents me from judging this category properly. I think the third season of House was incredibly strong, and no one else (not even Michael C. Hall, who is sublime as Dexter) can come close.

18. BEST TELEVISION SERIES – COMEDY OR MUSICAL

a. 30 ROCK (NBC)Universal Media Studios in association with Broadway Video and Little Stranger - Inc.
b. CALIFORNICATION (SHOWTIME)Showtime Presents in association with Aggressive Mediocrity, and Then…, Twilight Time Films
c. ENTOURAGE (HBO)Leverage and Closest to the Hole Productions in association with HBO Entertainment
d. EXTRAS (HBO)BBC and HBO Entertainment
e. PUSHING DAISIES (ABC)Living Dead Guy Productions, The Jinks/Cohen Company in association with Warner Bros. Television


We've already got an Emmy, bitches

Entourage didn’t have its best year. Californication isn’t a strong enough show to win. Pushing Daisies is the new critics’ darling, but 30 Rock is coming off that shocking Emmy win. I make it a toss-up between those two, but I give the edge to 30 Rock.

19.BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A TELEVISION SERIES –COMEDY OR MUSICAL

a. CHRISTINA APPLEGATE – SAMANTHA WHO?
b. AMERICA FERRERA – UGLY BETTY
c. TINA FEY – 30 ROCK
d. ANNA FRIEL – PUSHING DAISIES
e. MARY-LOUISE PARKER – WEEDS

I love Applegate, but Samantha Who? got old after the second episode. She’s got pluck, but you can see her straining to milk laughs from a desperately unfunny show and it’s just not enjoyable to watch. America is still just as fabulous as always, but I’m always one of those “time for new blood” people. I put my hopes behind Fey.

20. BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A TELEVISION SERIES – COMEDY OR MUSICAL

a. ALEC BALDWIN – 30 ROCK
b. STEVE CARELL – THE OFFICE
c. DAVID DUCHOVNY – CALIFORNICATION
d. RICKY GERVAIS – EXTRAS
e. LEE PACE – PUSHING DAISIES


How can you say no to that smile (and free pie)?


I feel like it will be hard for Baldwin NOT to win. Duchovny is good and people love him because he’s playing so against type, but I’m not overly impressed with the show or the character he plays. Still, I have a soft spot for Lee Pace. The tone of Pushing Daisies is a tricky one to balance: you have to play to its over-the-top sensibilities while not pushing it too far, yet you also have to find a way to ground such a fanciful show in real emotion. Pace is pitch-perfect walking that line.

21. BEST MINI-SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION

a. BURY MY HEART AT WOUNDED KNEE (HBO)A Wolf Films/Traveler’s Rest Production in association with HBO Films
b. THE COMPANY (TNT)Sony Pictures Television
c. FIVE DAYS (HBO)HBO Films in association with BBC Films
d. LONGFORD (HBO)A Granada Production in association with Channel 4 and HBO Films
e. THE STATE WITHIN (BBC AMERICA)BBC America, BBC

Okay, so I actually saw The Company. I was actually at the TCA for it. It was incredibly well done all around: actors, cinematography, direction, writing. All that = win.

22. BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A MINI-SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION

a. BRYCE DALLAS HOWARD – AS YOU LIKE IT
b. DEBRA MESSING – THE STARTER WIFE
c. QUEEN LATIFAH – LIFE SUPPORT
d. SISSY SPACEK – PICTURES OF HOLLIS WOODS
e. RUTH WILSON – JANE EYRE (MASTERPIECE THEATRE)

Doesn’t the Masterpiece Theatre movie, that no one has ever really even heard of, let alone actually seen, usually run away with one of these? That’s where I’m placing my bet.


23. BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A MINI-SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION

a. ADAM BEACH – BURY MY HEART AT WOUNDED – KNEE
b. ERNEST BORGNINE – A GRANDPA FOR CHRISTMAS
c. JIM BROADBENT – LONGFORD
d. JASON ISAACS – THE STATE WITHIN
e. JAMES NESBITT – JEKYLL

I’m sorry, if Earnest Borgnine wins for something called A Grandpa For Christmas, I don’t know that I’ll be able to take the HFPA seriously ever again. Apologies for my snobbery, but really… I never watch miniseries or TV movies, so my judgment in categories like these is based purely on things like the following: Adam Beach and Jason Issacs = pretty. I would like to stare at them while they receive their awards on the podium. The end.

24. BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A SERIES, MINI-SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION

a. ROSE BYRNE – DAMAGES
b. RACHEL GRIFFITHS – BROTHERS & SISTERS
c. KATHERINE HEIGL – GREY’S ANATOMY
d. SAMANTHA MORTON – LONGFORD
e. ANNA PAQUIN – BURY MY HEART AT WOUNDED - KNEE
f. JAIME PRESSLY – MY NAME IS EARL


Color me pink and call me stupid: I just don't get it


Am I the only one not that impressed by Heigl? I feel like her “Strong, opinionated woman” persona that she has IRL colors people’s opinion of her performance. She does a good job, yeah, but Grey’s isn’t half the show it once was and Izzie is quickly becoming more annoying than Meredith…and I didn’t think that was possible. Rose Bryne was, in my opinion, the worst part of Damages. I honestly don’t have a strong opinion on any of the remaining options, except to say that I’m glad Pressly finally started getting some recognition because I thought she was criminally overlooked in My Name is Earl’s first season.

25. BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A SERIES, MINI-SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION

a. TED DANSON – DAMAGES
b. KEVIN DILLON – ENTOURAGE
c. JEREMY PIVEN – ENTOURAGE
d. ANDY SERKIS – LONGFORD
e. WILLIAM SHATNER – BOSTON LEGAL
f. DONALD SUTHERLAND – DIRTY SEXY MONEY

William Shatner, my ass. The Piv, I’m over it. Your schtick is great, but the shine has warn off. Donald Sutherland rocks my world as the patriarch of the perennially screwed-up Darling clan. He’s understated but forceful; a quietly dangerous man who nonetheless has obvious warmth for his family.

Dark Knight Full Trailer + Poster

I have no words.

http://atasteforthetheatrical.com/deathtrap/default.htm

*Insert loud, fangirl squeal here*




I don't like this poster as well as the "Why So Serious?" one, but it is still AMAZING.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

"Juno" is due this holiday season

"Little Miss Sunshine's got nothin' on me"

It seems pretty clear that “Juno” will be the undeniable darling of 2007 indie cinema (stealing the crown from last year’s winner, “Little Miss Sunshine”). It’s the kind of movie that has critics falling all over themselves to praise it and people falling all over each other to go see it (and say they’ve seen it, and discuss its pros and cons endlessly).

So, here begins my praise. My favorite part of Juno was Mr. and Mrs. MacGuff (J.K. Simmons and Allison Janney). Too often in movies, parents are shown as the “explanation” for why their teenagers drink/smoke/do drugs/get pregnant. Mom and Dad are usually abusive, neglectful, druggies/boozers (the first generation) or just plain oblivious. The audience is supposed to nod along, agreeing that this is acceptable explanation for their children’s behavior. Brenda and Mac MacGuff are sharp, attentive and loving parents who handle the news that their daughter is pregnant like, well, adults (no screaming and wailing “where did we go WRONG?!” here).

The MacGuffs are actual parents, full of beleaguered love, and it’s amazing to me how refreshing that is. Through the movie, they act the way I expect my own parents would have if I’d gotten pregnant at 16 (though I doubt my mother would’ve had the pluck to comically rip into the sonogram technician for daring to pass judgment on her daughter the way that Janney does in one scene). I think the biggest laugh of the whole movie was when Juno waddles into the kitchen, eight months pregnant, and her dad (barely glancing up from his paper) remarks “Hey there, big, puffy version of Junebug.”

Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner are fantastic as a 30-something married couple with polar opposite attitudes about “growing up.” Bateman’s Mark is a guy desperately trying to hold on to the hipness of his youth as he’s being dragged, silently kicking and screaming, into the confining role of upper middle class suburban fatherhood. Juno finds common ground in their shared love of music, guitar-playing and slasher movies. They enjoy spending time together, seemingly oblivious to the vaguely inappropriate nature of their relationship (they always hang out when Mark’s wife isn’t around). In him, Juno sees someone who still manages to “stay cool” despite all of his adult responsibilities. In her current situation (as the “cautionary whale”), seeing someone who can, at least on the surface, pull off that dichotomy appeals to her. Mark enjoys her mild version of hero worship; he desperately wants to still be seen as young and hip. Juno’s repeated visits serve as affirmation that he’s still relevant.

Don't be fooled: He's not really a grownup


Mark obviously thinks (or hopes) that she has a little crush on him, something that Juno, despite her grownup situation, is too na├»ve to see. The scene where Mark and Juno’s disparate viewpoints on their relationship comes to a head is one of the best in the movie (I don’t want to spoil it; it’s that good).

I don’t know why I was surprised at how great Jennifer Garner is in this movie. I’m still trying to figure out if her straitlaced, proper Vanessa really was that prim and uptight, or whether she mold herself into that persona because she thought that’s who she had to be in order to be seen as a “real mom.” Her desperation for a child is quiet, heart wrenching and consuming; she feels incomplete unless she’s a mother. I’m finding that I can’t pick the right words to describe just how amazing she was in this role. How about this? Just watch the scene where she runs into Juno in the mall and kneels down to try to talk to the baby that will soon be hers (but isn’t, really). When it’s over, you tell me if you can put into words the mesmerizing job she did as Vanessa Loring.

Enough has been said about Ellen Page and Michael Cera, so I’m not going to add much to it. Page does a great job at delivering the quirky, pop culture-laden dialogue written for her. In the hands of a lesser actress, lines like “silencio, old man” or “I’m going to call Women Now because they help women now” would come off as cheesy and trite. Cera is great (and everyone lauds his comic timing and wry humor endlessly) but I wish he’d play a different character for once. I’d rather an actor be great and layered instead of brilliant but one-note. To me, Cera is the latter…so I hope he picks something that allows him to stretch a bit for his next role.

From stripper to writer of snappy one-liners...who knew?

The dialogue is snappy and full of hip lingo and thoroughly modern one-liners that, thankfully, only occasionally fall flat. I really think, perhaps counterintuitively, that writing quirky, modern comic dialogue (though it’s supposedly more the way people talk nowadays) is actually one of the hardest things to do. It’s so easy for it to try too hard and end up sounding cheesy and hollow. This happens occasionally in “Juno,” most notably for me in the scene in the drugstore where Page’s Juno chats with the drugstore clerk (Rainn Wilson) about pregnancy tests. But overall, Diablo Cody’s script is a real achievement: it takes a story told time and time again with familiar characters, turns it on its head and then, when you’re not looking, turns it on its head again.

My one big complaint: the music. It was overly folky, self-indulgent and incredibly distracting. UGH. I hated that the movie ended the way that it did (I the to spoil things too much, so apologies for my vagueness). I get it. You’re an indie film. Even your music is quirky and almost painfully hip. That doesn’t necessarily make it good. Just FYI.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Sex and the City - now bigger (and better?)

Fans of "Sex and the City" rejoice, for the teaser trailer is here:



Now, here's the thing. I like "Sex and the City" in spite of many things. In spite of the fact that, most of the time, I think what they're wearing is pretty freakin' atrocious looking. In spite of the fact that I can relate to about 2.5% of what went on in the series. And, most of all, in spite of the fact that I think the main character is one of the most unlikeable characters I've ever come across.

This, to me, means that this show has some sort of magical power that cannot possibly be understood by my feeble little mind. The movie probably will too. And I will go see it. Though I remain unconvinced that most shows actually NEED to be made into movies - especially ones that got 5-7 seasons to tell their story on the small screen. You ended it once; why start it up all over again and end it AGAIN? (Yes, I know the answer is "because it will make us lots of money." I'm not an idiot, but that doesn't make it artistically RIGHT. Art above all! Damn the man! *coughahem*)

Something like "South Park" or "The Simpsons" making a movie is different because these shows were still on the air when the movies were made. Thus, their stories were ongoing. A movie like "Serenity" is also an exception because "Firefly," the series it was derived from, got canceled in the middle of its first season and thus had no satisfying conclusion.

So, in short: "Sex and the City: The Movie" is totally and completely unnecessary. However, that will totally not stop me from standing in line to buy a ticket in May 2008. Because, as Depeche Mode says, I "just can't get enough."

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Jones dons Dodger blue

Andruw Jones. Two years, 36.2 million.

2007 STATS

G HR RBI R OBP AVG
154 26 94 83 .311 .222

AVG CAREER STATS

G HR RBI R OBP AVG SLG OPS
162 34 103 96 .342 .263 .497 .839

Watch the bad arm, guys!



Jones supposedly played most of 2007 with a hyperextended elbow, which contributed to his unimpressive season. In theory, this seems like a good get. Jones is an outstanding defensive player AND (usually) a potent bat in the center of a lineup. The Dodgers have been in dire need of a power bat for a long, long time. Having him behind speedsters Furcal and Pierre (in my opinion, not nearly as big a disappointment as all the bloggers on ESPN.com bemoan) in the lineup could prove to be an RBI gold mine.

But I can't shake my lingering suspicion that the Dodgers are developing a reputation for coming just a little too late to the party. I think they have a tendency to overpay for players JUST after they've passed their prime and end up with egg on their faces (to varying degrees) come October. Juan Pierre. Eric Gagne (when they re-signed). Darren Dreifort. Kevin Brown. Need I go on?

When it comes to the boys in blue, however, I am the eternal optimist. I sincerely hope Jones' 2007 season was an aberration rather than an ominous sign of things to come. Bringing him on board creates a surplus of talent in the outfield (I'm talking Ethier or Kemp; I'm not going to get into the debate raging over whether to try and unload Pierre just yet) that may prove important in a trade for a starting pitcher.

I like this move overall. Assuming his elbow is healthy, Jones is a serious offensive (and defensive) threat. He's 30 years old with more than 10 years of major league experience (and a wealth of postseason experience as well) and 10 Gold Gloves. While he's no wunderkind or magical fix-all, landing him is a huge (if overly expensive) positive.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Behind the Scenes: The Final Shot in "Gone Baby Gone"

Double the Affleck, double the fun


One of the cooler perks of my job is the ability to see free movies. I saw Gone Baby Gone on Saturday night.

Before anything else, I would like to present to you my interpretation of the final shot (this won’t really spoil anything as I don’t describe anything IN the shot at all).

~*~

Ben Affleck: Aaaaand…action!

Voice in Ben Affleck’s head: Hmm…dude. I’m hungry. I could really go for a sandwich. That would be completely delicious right now.

Ben Affleck: That’s an awesome idea.

*Ben Affleck wanders off to craft service and prepares himself a nice pastrami sandwich. He sits down and is about to take a bite*

Voice in Ben Affleck’s head: Oh, crap. We forgot to say “cut.” That shot is still rolling!

Ben Affleck: Damnit!

*runs back to set and mercifully stops the shot*

First AD: Um, Ben…should we cut that down in post?

Ben Affleck: What?

Voice in Ben Affleck’s Head: Pastraaaaaaami.

Ben Affleck: No. Just stick it in. It’s a good shot. Quality. Money. Print it.

*runs back to sandwich*

Voice in Ben Affleck’s Head: MMM…delicious. Go Sox!

~*~

Despite my teasing above, I liked the movie a lot more than I expected to. I don’t think he fell victim to the “actor as first-time director” pitfalls of being overly self-indulgent with his filmmaking. Actually, come to think of it, I really, really liked it.


C'mon...it's got Ed Harris!

It was thoughtful, morally complex, darkly funny and genuinely disturbing and shocking. I thought Affleck told a compelling story and got great performances from his cast. My only complaint was that that the movie pulled a minor “Lord of the Rings” by very obviously ending three times. I know that a lot of movies have twists and layers and whatnot…but this didn’t feel as…seamless, I suppose…as I thought it should. It was a little too obviously “Part One, Part Two, Part Three” for me. Also, despite the fact that I mocked the last shot mercifully, I thought it was a powerful and poignant one (it just lasted a little TOO long, in my humble opinion).

I highly recommend that everyone check it out. If you have an Affleck bias (totally understandable given the last three years or so of his career) I suggest you get over it. Because this film is definitely worth seeing, and I really look forward to his next directorial effort.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

BCS: The "C" stands for "Chaos"

I have yet to find a single person who disagrees with the idea that this college football season (especially since the dust from the bowl selections has finally settled) proved, more than any other, that the BCS system is severely flawed.

Every year, multiple articles bemoan that very same fact, however. There's always some team that gets overlooked because it's in the wrong conference or it lost at the wrong time or having it in that particular bowl game isn't the best monetary decision (and, we all know, that last part is what REALLY skews things).

Ohio State is the No. 1 team because of a soft non-conference schedule, a final week bye and a top ranking in a completely unimpressive Big 10. Hawaii is the only undefeated team in the nation, but playing in the WAC and not being a college football "heavyweight" (read: lacking the pedigree and the ability to draw in the big money like a top team in the Big 10, Big 12 or SEC could) means a No. 10 ranking and a spot in the Sugar Bowl. Not too shabby, but still...


We're Number One!

Really? REALLY?!

This isn't fair. But it isn't unfair, either. It's not an argument I really want to go anywhere near, because there's just no way to satisfactorily resolve it under the current system.

Almost every other NCAA sport had a playoff system in place. I realize that implementing such a system in college football has huge hurdles - the largest of which is a big, fat dollar sign. I wish sportsmanship and the spirit of competition and drive to prove who REALLY is number one still took precedence over who could draw the most sponsorship money. But you know what they say about wishes...

Still, there's something clean and satisfying about a playoff system. You fight all year to MAKE the playoffs, but once you get there, everyone is on equal footing again. You have to prove yourself all over again. In a year where it seems like no one REALLY, CLEARLY belongs at the top, playoffs seem like the thing that would calm the chaos. Make those two-loss teams (nearly all of whom suffered an embarrassing, heart-wrenching upset) lock helmets and EARN it. Can you just imagine the football games we'd get to see? I'm getting excited just sitting here thinking about the mere possibility.

Damnit. I always do that, though. Get really, really excited about things that will never happen. Because money always wins out. Always (though I will cast a sidelong, puppy dog glance at the BCS committee that says "please, boys. Prove me wrong.").

Barring my pipe dream, here are my gut picks (sans any real analysis...yet).

ROSE: USC over Illinois
SUGAR: Georgia over Hawaii
FIESTA: Oklahoma over West Virginia
ORANGE: Virginia Tech over Kansas

BCS CHAMPIONSHIP: (I hate both of these teams, but) LSU over Ohio State