Thursday, July 30, 2009

Tainted Era and other odds and ends in the Sports World

Everyone needs to, pun intended, take a pill and relax. Yes, David Ortiz got caught in '03, along with Manny Ramirez, in the notorious drug test report that has the reported 104 or so names. The names on that list are not role players and journeymen. A-rod, Manny, Papi, Clemens, Petitte, and many others are just some of the guys that have surfaced as cheats. Better sit down for the next bombshell....ready? Here it comes...

*Yawn*

They whole Era is dirty, from 1996 on to probably even today, as there are some awfully gaudy numbers being put up by some big names. There's a reason for this. The shit works. Big Time. Papi was a .270 hitter in '03 when he got to Boston, and WHOOOSH, like magic, he's Superman. His numbers drop off, beginning in '07. Fell off the face of the earth in '08. Maybe more like fell back to earth. David's test and subsequent admission is disappointing, it's certainly not shocking. I've blogged about it here before, and probably will again. The whole lot of 'em are dirty, asterisk the whole era and move on. We had the dead ball era, the raised mound, and now the steroid era.

Nothing to see here, move along.

Odds and Ends: Michael Vick is reinstated. I'm not belittling what he did, but he has served the time. If the NFL is going to allow criminals who have done worse things, like Donte Stallworth and Plaxico Burress, then this guy being a dog killer shouldn't stop him from making a paycheck. The real answer is the NFL should not allow these thuggish types into their league. While I don't see any team running to sign him, camps just opened this week. Wait until some QB goes down. Then the owners'll be more apt to take a little heat in the media. I say the NFL should have a policy that if your guilty of a crime greater than _______, your out. As The Commish says, it's not a right to play in the NFL, it's a privilege.

Can we call off the John Smoltz Experience? The guy is a Hall of Fame lock, and he was great, but we need to win right now, as we're behind 3 games. Shut up about the wildcard for now.

What is up with you, Dice K? How about you shut your mouth to the Japanese press and get in shape. Red Sox ownership paid over 100m, 50 to you, to have you do it their way. If you didn't want to, you shouldn't have taken the money.

With NFL camps opening, I'll leave you with this steroid thought: How many of those guys do you think are juiced?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Separated at Birth





Tell me you can't hear either one of 'em saying " Lock up your back door, and run for your life, precious."

Concert Review: AC/DC Black Ice World Tour, Gillette Stadium, 7/28/2009


One of the few bands left on my 'bucket list', AC/DC played to roughly 45,000 at Gillette Stadium last night. This band will never be confused as the most gifted, talented, or certainly handsome rock band, they can definitely rock, and have been for over 30 years.

The band; Angus Young on guitar, Brian Johnson on vocal, Phil Rudd on drums, Cliff Johnson on bass, and brother Malcolm Young on rhythm, performed from their vast library of arena rock hits. They played 5 songs from the most recent album, Black Ice, opening with Rock-n-Roll Train. Lead vocalist Johnson and lead guitarist Young dictate the energy throughout the night, using the full massive stage from one side of Gillette to the other. Malcolm Young, and Cliff Johnson stay very close to drummer Rudd, looking more like a 3 piece playing a small local pub.

The band wastes no time dipping into the archives, bringing the crowd's energy up with Back in Black, Shot Down in Flames, and Dirty Deeds early in the set list. The middle of the set comprised of Thunderstruck, Black Ice, The Jack, (complete with Angus' striptease) and Hells Bells. The only noticeable snafu occurred at the beginning of Hells Bells, when the sequenced bell sample did not ring as Brian Johnson hung from the giant bell hanging mid-stage. The crowd seemed not to care as the band ripped thru that song, following up with Shoot to Thrill. The energy waned when the band opted for War Machine, Dog Eat Dog, and Anything Goes, all 3 from Black Ice. This seemed an interesting choice, as many in the crowd would have rather heard Jailbreak, Rock-n-Roll (ain't noise pollution), or one of the other many hits from the 80's. You can't help but think the set list is comprised this way not only to sell albums, but to keep the band interested. I can hear any one of them " If I play F-ing Big Balls one more time I am gonna F-ing puke." They finished up with Shook Me, TNT, (a crowd favorite) Whole Lotta Rosie, and Let There Be Rock. Not surprisingly, the encore comprised of Highway to Hell and For those about to Rock (we salute you), complete with the prerequisite 21 gun salute. Fireworks ended the evening, precisely at 11pm.

AC/DC proved that for a little more than 2 hours, Rock -n-Roll indeed ain't noise pollution. Even though they are old enough to be grandparents to many of the kids accompanying their parents, they still can bring it.

Random Stuff; Every time I looked at bassist Cliff Johnson, I could picture him riding some big ol' full dress Ultra Classic down through The Wiers...Angus is the least rock-star looking guy on the planet...Our seats were 50 yard line, 10 or so rows from the top. As Lucious Malfoy says "If it rains, you'll be the first to know." I'm glad we don't sit up there for football games. The place moves a lot, considering its concrete and steel...The traffic headed in to the parking lots was definitely not a football crowd. No one seemed to know where the hell they were going...Image from Boston.com

Monday, July 20, 2009

Review: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

There has not been a more anticipated movie in our house than HP and the HBP. This had my daughter marking the calender and counting the days. This installment of the vastly successful franchise marks a high water mark for performances from some of the young cast. It's also a very entertaining trip back to Hogwarts. However, if you've read all the books, this movie is the first from the studio where I felt major parts of the book were cut.

I thoroughly enjoyed Harry's interaction with Dumbledore. Daniel Ratcliffe was certainly up to the task of matching up with Michael Gambon throughout their journey. I also thought Emma Watson played her best Hermione, complete with heartache over Ron Weasley and exasperation at Cormack McLaggen. Rupert Grint nearly steals the movie when he's made victim of a love potion intended for Potter. However, it's Radcliffe who owns the movie, thanks to a small flask of Felix Felicis. I was thrilled to see Harry acting a bit cocky, and in my mind, with more swagger that the leading man should have. I know JK Rowling has made Harry everyman, it was still fun to see him almost dare Slughorn to turn him in.

Spoiler Alert: don't read this paragraph. I felt for the first time, too much was cut from the book. JK Rowling's take on Harry and Ginny's first kiss was nothing short of, wait for it, magical. The smooch in the Room of Requirement? Boring, and lacking passion. No funeral? I really anticipated seeing all the characters from all the movies, even if it was one 30 second shot that had to be paused on DVD to see all in attendance. I would have loved the opportunity to say goodbye to Dumbledore myself. No Dursleys? I also looked forward to Dumbledore's interaction with Vernon. The replacement scene of Harry flirting with the waitress was cute enough and made for a valid replacement. There's much more cut, but those were some of the scenes I had looked forward to.

My verdict: This movie is probably the best one of the lot, thus far. They seem to be getting better each time. They are all spectacular, from Prisoner on to the current offering. While I can't say I'm happy how much was cut, I did enjoy the film. I count the days until Deathly Hallows I and II with my kids.

4 Trophies

Movie Rating Scale

Here's My Movie Rating scale, known as Lombardi Trophies:

0 Trophies: a suckfest that should have been 'straight to DVD'

1 Trophy : No redeeming value. Wait for DVD, don't spend the cash.

2 Trophies : ok, nothing better to do? Let's go see a flick.

3 Trophies : Pretty good. Some enjoyable moments, and I would probably watch it again when it comes out on DVD.

4 Trophies: Good to Great. Might win an award or two. Very Enjoyable. Go see it. Now.

5 Trophies: And the Oscar goes too...

Review- Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is the latest studio big budget, summer popcorn movie. TRoTF features plenty of eye candy, little acting, lots of exploding stuff, and way too many new toys to list. It stars Shia Lebeouf and Megan Fox, reprising their roles from the original Transformers movie. While overall I found the movie entertaining, as I sit here, I'm finding it hard to find good things to say about it.

While this movie doesn't pretend to be Oscar-worthy for plot or acting, the special effects are 1st rate. The opening sequence of a giant Decepticon named Demolishor is especially spectacular. In general, the battle effects are alone worth the price of admission. I would say this movie will get nominated for special effects, sound editing or some other technical Oscar.
Then there's the other reason to pay for admission. Megan Fox returns to her teen-juvi role that made here a star, Michela Barnes. While this movie lacks the breakout 'underhood' scene that had Lebeouf gnawing on Bumblebee's hood, Fox looks pretty sweet pinstriping motorcycles at her father's bike shop. The scene comes pretty near the beginning for the movie, and doesn't last very long, so don't have your nose buried on your popcorn, or you may miss it.

As far as the rest of the movie, there was plenty not to like. First, a contrived plot line revolving around a Matrix of Leadership. (some key type thing) Second, many annoying characters. Lebeouf's roommate in college, Leo Spitz, plays the role of annoying sidekick. 2 new Transformers, Mudflap and Skids, appear to be nothing more than toy ads aimed at the 5-9 year old boy demographic. Third, The constant barrage of new 'gotta have it' autobot/decepticon toy cross marketing. Yes, I know it's a toy movie. I get it. Ugh. Enough already. Do I need Jetfire, Sideswipe, The Sisters (ok , they were kinda cool), Jolt, Ironhide, Sideways, Grindor, Mix Master,Long haul and all the rest? Yes, there is more, I chose not to name them further.

Did I enjoy this movie? Sure, but I've been known to enjoy some crap worse than this. ( go look up Infra-man ) Would I say it's the best summer movie? Not by a long shot.

Recommendation: 2.5 Lombardi Trophies