Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Last Stand?

First off...I posted a "teaser" for TFT's Fighting Ultimate Championship Knockout. I can't wait to unleash more details about that. It should be ready to go fairly soon.

I caught the latest installment of X-Men yesterday, and have to say I'm still not entirely sure what to think. It had its good moments, including some great action pieces, but it felt like something was missing. It was also a little on the short side. The first X-Men film suffered from the same problem in terms of length, but it did a tremendous job of setting up the characters, with the real payoff being X2: X-Men United. With X3's length about the same as the first movie (according to IMDB, they both run 104 minutes), it was a letdown to have so many new characters crammed in there while the ones we're familiar with were cast aside. Character development positively blew for Cyclops, Rogue, Iceman, Mystique...hell...you name a character, I'll tell you how they got the short end of the stick.

Even Wolverine wasn't quite as entertaining, transforming from mysterious loner to lovelorn tragic figure. Hugh Jackman is great, please don't get me wrong, but the character has definitely lost some of his luster in this version.

Furthermore, why add a bunch of new characters if you're going to do absolutely nothing with them?

I'm going to grab a page right out of Krildog's playbook, and put my positives and negatives in a color similar to TFT's background in order to keep you relatively free from spoilers (unless you look really, really closely!!!). Highlight to read...

X-citement

  • Great action, terrific opening scene in the Danger Room ripped straight out of the comic storyline in an alternate future where Sentinels are everywhere
  • The great line from Wolverine, "Let's see you grow those back"
  • Lots of cool flying/levitating from Storm and Jean Grey
  • Loved seeing Magneto crush some cars with his powers; apparently, he can also move bridges (he's also good at burning them, not so great at building them if you catch my drift)
  • Kelsey Grammer was perfect as Beast, and the character looked very good
  • Fun interplay between Beast and Wolverine
  • Loved the fact that Beast was upside down in his first scene
  • Great to see Iceman take it to that ass doink Pyro

X-Factors

  • I like the character of Angel, but why in the world was he included in the movie if they weren't going to "use" him!!!? I understand how his plight influenced the cure, blah, blah, blah. But I ask you this: take him away, and the cure plotline is still intact. Completely and tragically underused character
  • I didn't like how the Dark Phoenix Saga played out; if Jean Grey/Phoenix is so utterly powerful, why did she stand there and do nothing during the final fight?
  • Downer of an ending!! I mean, no one ever really dies in these types of movies (the immutable "Law of Spock" applies to comic book films), but to have the Professor, Cyclops, and Jean Grey die really left me depressed
  • The changes to Juggernaut didn't bother me like they bothered Krildog; since there's no back story between him and the Professor, having his powers as a mutation was fine, although basically I think they did it only so he could be in the movie
  • Congratulations, Cyclops: you're officially irrelevant in all three X-Men movies
  • Hey look: the cure apparently isn't a cure at all as Magneto predictably feels his powers return at the end
  • Rogue was hardly in it at all; after being a big deal in the first movie, she's become pretty much irrelevant

Sunday, May 28, 2006

And so it begins...

A Dog's Eye View: X-Men 3




I hit the cinema solo Friday night to check out the premier of X-Men 3: The Last Stand. I was rather nervous about seeing it due to the fact that Bryan Singer had ditched the film to take over the Superman franchise and Brett Ratner ended up in the director's chair. It seems like a lot of movie people on the net don't care for him, but he did direct both Rush Hour films (which I greatly enjoyed) and all of the principal cast was returning. My take? I enjoyed the film, though it was too short. Not enough time to properly develop characters. Lets take a look at what I liked and didn't like about the film (due to spoilers, highlight text to read my words of wisdom):

The Good
  • The Final Battle: kicked all sorts of ass.
  • Beast: Kelsey Grammer surprised me. Did the character perfectly. Great blend of intellect and feral fury.
  • The Danger Room: about fucking time it was in the damn film. Very cool to at least tease the Sentinels as well.
  • "Oh my stars and garters!": never thought I'd hear it on the big screen, so cool it gets it's own bullet.
  • Woverine. Hugh Jackman owns that role.
  • Wolverine in the forrest. 'Nuff Said!
  • Magneto. Another Superb job by Sir Ian McKellan.
  • Iceman fully iced up: major markout moment for me; wish it would have lasted a little longer.
  • The Kitty Pride/Juggernaut chase. Fun and exciting.
  • The completion of Pyro's heel turn. Finally becomes the evil dick that X2 foreshadowed.
  • Another great Stan Lee cameo.
The Bad
  • Lack of Angel: I thought Ben Foster was perfect for the role and they fucking wasted him. Yes, hes integral to the plot (being that his old man invented the cure), but not nearly enough screen time. Really pissed me off.
  • Lack of Gambit. Could have sworn that he was promised to be in this one, but that could have changed when Singer hit the bricks.
  • Lack of character development for the following: Angel, Colossus, Kitty Pride, Multiple Man (Jamie Madrox), Psylocke (who's barely in the fucking movie anyways).
  • Lack of Nightcrawler. I realize that the X3 game explains this (haven't played it), but it's still bullshit.
  • The Juggernaut. Didn't mind that he was made into an Englishman. Didn't mind that they didn't make him Xavier's half brother. Majorly pissed they made him a mutant. Anybody who's read the comics knows that he gets his powers from the Gem of Cyttorak. Did not like this one bit.
  • The ending. Pissed about how Magneto's powers were coming back. There are plenty of other villains in the X-Universe, he doesn't need to be in every fucking movie! Seems like the whole "cure" thing is a temporary cop out then as well.
Grade: B-

Trailer-wise, saw another Superman Returns trailer that looked decent. Saw the Snakes on a Plane teaser that got a big cheer from the crowd. Was kinda pissed that we didn't see the Ghost Rider trailer, but I checked it out today here and it looks pretty sweet. Also intrigued by the Pirates of the Caribbean sequel, though I should (and will) probably catch the first on DVD.

Well not much else shaking here at Mission Control. Hope ya'll are enjoying the long weekend. Catch you all again here soon!



R.I.P. Craig "Ironhead' Heyward
1967-2006
He made the world safe for men to use body wash and not feel like they had no testicles.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

So dark the con of man...

Well, I saw the Davinci Code over the weekend. I really enjoyed it much more than the book.

To me, the book fell apart about halfway through. The writing was sloppy.

But this movie, well, it seemed to flow smoother and it seemed to fit together a little better than the book.

I welcomed the change of Langdon from a believer (in the book) to more of a skeptic when it came to the major crux of the movie. I also liked the major change to Sophie's story (if you've read the book, then you know where the major change occured). Some changes were also made to Aringarosa and Fauche's characters, but I see where those had to be made.

Yes, the first half hour or so was rushed through, especially the Louvre scenes, but it cannot be made into a 3 hour plus movie.

Overall, I give it a B+. If you have read the book and enjoyed it, go see the movie. If you didn't like the book, I would still say go see the movie. And, if you haven't read the book and are intrigued by the storyline, go see the movie.

One down on my list, so many to go. X-Men: The Last Stand is up next with a viewing sometime this week.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Being a bit of a tease

I promised a major campaign that will last several weeks in my last post. And I was working diligently to produce a fun teaser graphic for the purposes of leaving you wanting more.

But a funny thing happened on the way to entertaining people.

Technology got in the way.

I don't want to talk much about my idea, lest I give it away. I will say, however, that I needed to pull a few images from some DVD movies. I don't have a DVD drive on my computer (color me stone-aged), so I was using Krildog's computer to pull some screen caps. His computer DVD player, however, doesn't like it when you skip past a chapter, and continually crashed. So, I didn't get that done.

So, I decided to turn to the internet, believing that would be the place I'd find the images I needed. Well, I guess I need to pay my cable modem more money, because it didn't want to work. It's been shaky lately, and Krildog and I believe it's probably the splitter. So we'll try a new one of those before caving in, and watching Comcast screw us with a big service fee.

What am I saying? After promising something big...I've got nothing.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Pretty much an incoherent jumble

Don't judge me, monkey.

I don't really know what that means (I don't have a monkey in my life), but it's definitely an attention-getter. Try starting a conversation with that particular statement, or heck, try it out at work after your Puritanical co-worker gives you a dirty look when you talk about the heavy drinking you did during your weekend. I'm sure the couch you broke didn't cost that much anyway. Otherwise, it would still be in one piece, wouldn't it?

I'm up this afternoon in a rare session, so I thought I'd inject a little life into TFT, which at last check was in "serious but stable condition." It's been difficult to write much lately (I'm just not that interesting!!!!), but I'm trying the best I can right now.

I just rented the first four discs of the show 24. I've never seen it, don't know what's going on in the "new" episodes, and don't want to know. I have to say, I'm pretty hooked. Instead of writing this, I should be watching more of the show. Doing that, however, would leave TFT barren and dry. That wouldn't be fair.

From a writing standpoint, TFT was most enjoyable when I took up the project of writing Fake Moments in Olympics History. While the Olympic Games are well past us now (so long, Turin...er...TORINO), that really gave me something to do, and Krildog can attest to the fact I put in a lot of hard work. So I think it's time to once again put my time on the line, and come up with some kind of continual theme for a week or two. And I have just the idea...check back tomorrow for more.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

In a Da Vinci Mode

I love Stryder's excellent list of movie releases, although once I get to a certain point, namely October 6th through October 27th, I lose interest. I'm just not a big fan of the horror/slasher genre. I'm not even sure if Krildog can remember watching one of those movies with me. If he does, then, it's a rarity. And we've watched a lot of movies together over the years. Still, the list is a veritable checklist for my summer viewing.

I'm happy to report that I can check off the very first movie on the list, The Da Vinci Code. I went to see it with my fiancee and her brother. Overall, I enjoyed it, and I can certainly see why some people are so upset about it. On the other hand, it's entertainment.

I've heard some people say Tom Hanks wasn't right for the character of Robert Langdon as he's portrayed in the book. The good thing about not having read the book is that I don't have any preconceived notions of how the character should look, act, or feel. I'm not a big fan of Hanks' hairstyle in the movie, but hey, that's a minor gripe on my part. Some people look fine in long hair, others shouldn't be caught dead in it. I fear Mr. Hanks falls in the latter category, though it honestly stopped bothering me about 20 minutes into the movie. Er, well, almost stopped bothering me.

The movie has a very interesting mystery at its center, and it's fun to watch it move along as the film progresses. The always enjoyable Ian McKellen steals the show (and could pose a one-two punch for this weekend's box office as the Da Vinci Code goes up against X-Men 3), and I always love an appearance by Alfred Molina. Paul Bettany is also effectively creepy as an albino monk devoted to stopping "the truth" from getting out.

From a film standpoint, it does drag on a bit. The movie is very "talky," (not preachy, mind you) and I'm sure some folks won't enjoy the fact it's not a "popcorn movie" with tons of explosions and epic battles. I also felt the movie suffered a quasi-case of Return of the King Syndrome. That is to say, once you think it's over, there's another scene waiting around the bend. My fiancee's brother also agreed with me on this point; we were just kind of waiting for the movie to come to a close, only to sit through a few "false endings."

Of course, my fiancee's brother also noticed that he, my fiancee, and I were laughing out loud at some parts of the movie, while the rest of the theater remained relatively silent. Maybe we're just warped.

And the funniest part of the whole movie wasn't even in the movie; an older member of the viewing audience in the row behind us shouted an obvious "revelation" seconds after it was revealed on screen. We will not forget that.

Now that I've discussed the Da Vinci Code on its merits as a film, I'd like to talk a little bit about the religious implications found in the movie. I'm not going to get preachy, and I'm going to avoid talking too much about the "secrets," but you've been warned about this for Today's Theological Sidebar.

After seeing the film and its "scandalous" allegations, I was definitely intrigued. Could there be a secret society protecting the "truth" about Jesus? Would Leonardo Da Vinci lace his works with hidden signs and symbols in order to help later historians uncover the truth? It's tantalizing stuff, even though it doesn't have a lot of legs to stand on from a serious historical standpoint. I'm no expert on this topic, of course, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night (translation: I watched a series of documentaries on the History Channel this weekend, which is the historical research equivalent). Most of the basis for the book has been around for a while, gaining more "mainstream" attention in a book called Holy Blood, Holy Grail. I'd like to say more, but I don't want to spoil the movie or book for anyone who may not have read it. I'll say this: some real-life researchers speculate Jesus Christ was not literally the Son of God, and that he married, and has a continuing holy bloodline still in existence to this day.

Unfortunately for the researchers, the real crux of their argument happens to rest on a bunch of forged documents incapable of proving anything. These radical thoughts aren't resting well with Christians (especially the diabolically-portrayed Catholic Church and its Opus Dei sect).

To an extent, I can understand the uproar. If this research were to pan out, and everything said in the Da Vinci Code and Holy Blood, Holy Grail turned out to be true, the very foundations of the church could conceivably crumble. The thing I don't understand about these protests is that religion itself is a matter of faith. If you are a true believer in the church, God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, you shouldn't give a whip as to what the movie says. I have no problem dismissnig all of this conspiracy talk as super-coincidental-geez-that's nifty gobbledygook. I just don't think it holds much water (of course...the researchers would say the Holy Grail doesn't hold much water itself...since the Cup of Christ isn't actually a cup at all!).

Of course, one of the interesting things about the research is that the authors assert that believing in a Holy Bloodline is actually much easier to digest than the concept of divine sacrifice and resurrection. This point has a certain logic to it that's hard to dismiss. On the other hand, they're asking people to take a leap of faith in their shaky research!!! Isn't that a little on the ironic side?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Snakes on a plane, motherf*cker!

Movie Dates to Remember…

Theater Releases…

May 19, The DaVinci Code
May 26, XMen: The Last Stand
June 30, Superman Returns
July 7, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
July 21, Lady in the Water
July 28, Miami Vice
August 11, World Trade Center
August 18, Snakes on a Plane
August 25, Invincible
September 15, Gridiron Gang
October 6, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning
October 13, The Grudge 2
October 27, Saw III and The Prestige
November 17, Casino Royale
December 8, Apocalypto

DVD Releases…

May 23, The 4400, Season 2
June 6, Underworld: Evolution and Glory Road
June 20, The Hills Have Eyes and Lois And Clark, Season 3
August 1, V For Vendetta
August 8, Prison Break, Season 1

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Walken with the Legend

I'm very excited today...my fiancee and I have rented four Christopher Walken movies for a Christopher Walken-thon. I've made no secret of my affinity for the versatile and comedically-underrated actor (previous Walken entries are here, here and here).

We'll be watching four Walken movies; three of them I've never seen before, and one of those I've never heard of. The one I have seen is his awesome performance in Catch Me if You Can. The others I've heard of are The Prophecy II and The Prophecy III. The one I haven't heard of is called King of New York, and is supposed to be ultra-violent. Needless to say, I'm pumped. If I could stay up a long, long time, we'd also stick in Batman Returns, Sleepy Hollow, Wedding Crashers, and The Deer Hunter. However, with my wonderful 1:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. work schedule, I can't stay up much past 6:00 p.m. or so on a day like this. We'll be lucky to get through at least two of those movies without having to worry about my tendency to get a little on the sleepy side.

And, if we can get through a few of the movies...I'll also have my Best of SNL Christopher Walken DVD handy...you know...just in case.

Monday, May 15, 2006



Here is The Word being his natural self.

Frightening Quotes

Isiah Thomas (on the Larry Brown situation):

"I am loyal to winning and I am not loyal to any singular individual," Thomas said then. "I'm going to do what I need to do to make our team better."

--from ESPN.com

TRANSLATION: If making the team better means canning Larry's ass, and going courtside myself, I'll do it. Don't think I won't. It will go down in history as one of the greatest moves in the history of the NBA, right along with the Steve Francis deal. Hey, speaking of deals, do you think the Pacers will let me get Steve-Jer-Maal (Stephen Jackson, Jermaine O'Neal, and Jamaal Tinsley) in exchange for cash?

Felipe Alou (on the Barry Bonds media circus):

"I like this, man. I like a lot of people," he said. "I like controversy. I like storms. Any time we have hurricanes in Florida, I wish I were there. I'm not the eye, but I am the mouth of the storm. Look around and I'm the guy who has to answer a lot of this stuff."

--from ESPN.com

TRANSLATION: I would rather be stuck in a small bungalow with Richard Simmons during a category freakin' five hurricane than to have to keep answering questions involving "the cream," "the clear," and "HGH." Please, strike me down now, Lord.

My Weekend: Yahtzee and Cruise are a Hoot

I had a very nice weekend, thanks for asking.

Friday, I went to see Mission: Impossible III with my fiancee, and absolutely loved it. Sure (cue required Tom Cruise potshot), Tom Cruise is mentally unbalanced, and 35% of the proceeds from the flick go directly into Scientology's coffers, but it's a fun ride. Without giving away much, I'd have to say my favorite line is when Cruise screams, "If you don't kill me, I'll die!"

I enjoyed the humor interjected into the action, especially from Cruise, Ving Rhames (back for his third M:I stint!), and a character named Benji. Philip Seymour Hoffman (henceforth, PSH) was an effective bad guy; if you've seen Capote, then you'll come away with a sigh of relief knowing "the lisp" didn't become part of PSH's permanent repertoire. He's also back to being bulky again, and doesn't feel like he has to bring a sense of "deep meaning" to every word he's saying. Once again, if you saw Capote and worried that PSH was going to be lisping and softly saying things like "I can't finish my book if you don't tell me what happened," then allow me to put those fears aside for you. Great action, some intrigue...it was a lot more like the first M:I than the second one.

I like all of the Mission: Impossible movies, but favor the first one over the second one. That's mostly because the first one has more intrigue, double-crossing, and teamwork than M:I 2, which is mostly a show of Cruise's ability to ride vehicles, grow long hair, and wax poetically about a killer virus (but don't worry...I still love it...it's just not as suited to my tastes as the first one, you know, which doesn't have birds, mid-air motorcycle collisions and other stuff like that). I'll admit M:I 2 is definitely the most "poetic" of the films, and I give it super-high marks for differentiating itself.

One thing I love about summer movies is the fact that the trailers are usually awesome. Before M:I 3, I got to see previews for X-Men 3, Superman Returns, the new Adam Sandler comedy Click (with Christopher Walken!), Over the Hedge (which really looks funny), and the Vince Vaughn vehicle The Break-Up (oh, yeah, I guess Jennifer Aniston is in that, too). As a movie-goer, I come away with a warm, tingly feeling when I get to see great previews for good movies, as opposed to darker, slower movie periods, when the previews hit maximum suckocity.

After I picked M:I 3 for Friday, my fiancee picked Hoot for Saturday night. It's a movie for kids, but it wasn't too bad. I think I may have actually enjoyed it more than she did, even though she's the one who picked it! The big highlight for me was Luke Wilson, who plays a completely bumbling local police officer. At one point, he loses the privilege of driving his police cruiser, and gets this tiny car he refers to as "the smallish vehicle." For some reason, that struck me as particularly funny. As for the movie as a whole, I'm a little alarmed by its somewhat casual attitude toward extremist environmentalist groups that sabotage big, bad, evil corporate America's construction projects. Hey, at least the kids stood up for what they believe in. Fewer and fewer people do that these days.

A long-forgotten love was rediscovered Saturday afternoon. My new cell phone has a demo of Yahtzee preloaded on it, and I got tired of getting two rolls, and then being told I had to buy the final product, or quit. So, I caved in and bought the full version; my cell phone bill will hate me next month. Anyway, it's the most addicting thing I've played in a while. I loved the "regular" game of Yahtzee when I was a kid (my family used to play it all the time), and this version stacks up pretty well. Of course, playing "real" Yahtzee isn't much fun by yourself (there's something about keeping score on your own that's completely anticlimatic; the cell phone version keeps score for you, eliminating that problem). Thankfully, "fake" Yahtzee is a real blast. Just ask Krildog; he'll tell you I buried my head in concentration, and yelled a few obscenities when the rolls didn't go my way. I don't really think the computer rolls are as random as real ones, but that's just a prejudice, I'm sure. Especially given the relatively few "Yahtzees" I've rolled, and the number of times I needed that one certain number, only to stick the total roll in the "Chance" category because I didn't get what I wanted.

If I weren't at work right now, I'd play a game.

Then again...that's what this blog is for: wasting time at work.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Table of the Baseball Gods

The Kid still has it.

With one swing of his bat on a rainy evening in the Queen City, Ken Griffey, Jr., made us all remember why he's a hitter to be reckoned with. Why, for more than a decade, he was the best player in Major League Baseball. These fleeting glimpses of greatness don't come around often, but when they do, Reds fans, Mariners fans, and baseball fans alike remember just how much game Junior used to have.

Those glimpses are brief, powerful, supernova moments.

Once, Ken Griffey, Jr. burned more brightly than any other star in the major leagues. Then, his light began began to fade. A strained hamstring here, a sprained knee there. A fantastic, crowd-pleasing grab followed by a tape measure home run. Then, a stint on the disabled list when his team needed him the most.

But moments like last night make us remember, make us believe once again, that this special player is a child of destiny. A naturally gifted slugger who should be fighting for elbow room at the table of other baseball gods. Instead, the Kid remains uninvited to the dinner at all, wondering what should have and could have been.
The Reds only hope he has enough left in him to convince fans to believe again, and fuel the unexpectedly good Cincy squad to a postseason berth.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Double Dose of DVD

All right, I've stayed up way too late for someone who has to go to work at 1:30 in the morning. But hey, while I'm up, I thought I'd do some TFTing. It's because of you, dear readers, that I continue to write. Or...it could be that I have nothing better to do (DING DING DING!!!).

My day consisted of mailing off another resume tape, and then watching a couple of DVDs that I rented. I feel pretty stupid because I have a whole coupon book full of free rentals, and I completely forgot to take it with me. That's another story, however.

I'll start off with the serious movie I rented, Munich. The movie was nominated for Best Picture, and I can certainly see why. It's very good, very thought-provoking. And the performances were outstanding. Many of Spielberg's films get criticized for having a kind of forced sentimentality to them. I've always thought this particular criticism was unfounded; Spielberg tends to be optimistic about human nature (and the fact he still believes this is really pretty amazing), and I find that refreshing. Critics, though, tend not to like something that puts an emotional "punch" into movies, especially if it's something that hits them over the head. And, being the intellects they are, that's easy to do.

Munich, however, plays more into the morally ambiguous category. Much like Syriana (you see, George Clooney is a CIA agent...), it's up to the viewer to figure out who's right and who's wrong. In this case, you can't really find a clear cut "good guy" and "bad guy." Most everything is firmly entrenched in a gray area, even though the movie gives more the Israeli viewpoint than anything. It doesn't pull its punches about several issues. For example, killing members of the Israeli Olympic team was wrong. But Spielberg will tell us, even in its despicable nature, the Black September terrorists had motivation. Many accuse Spielberg of humanizing the terrorists in this film. Something important to keep in mind is that, well, they do have a reason for what they're doing. I know it's wrong, and I'm allowed to draw my own conclusions in that respect.

The Israelis, on the other hand, are portrayed much differently than they'd probably like. They've always been strong from a military standpoint, and Spielberg forces the characters to take a good, long look at their country and its motivation. In the movie, the main characters are assigned the top-secret task of killing the Palestinians who organized the 1972 attack on the Munich Games. Eventually, each character (with the pointed exception of Daniel Craig...yes the next Bond...who remains dedicated to his cause throughout) begins to grapple with the moral dilemma of how violence begets more violence. Eventually, the hunters become the hunted in the gray and morally ambiguous portrait Spielberg has painted in film. It's up to the viewer to make up his/her own mind about the justification for violence by both sides. As one character says (and I'm paraphrasing here), when one side injures the other, and the other fights back, nothing can ever get solved.

I was especially struck by the moral certainty both sides claimed in this film. I'm not Israeli, and I'm not Palestinian, so I can't really say I've ever truly understood the conflict. All I know is that the "war" is just as fierce as any other, and both sides claim their "home" in the Holy Lands. This is a socio-political topic that I'm not going to bore you with. Let's just say that both sides, yes Israeli military and Mossad (or "terrorists" as your Palestinians would call them) and the terrorists (or "freedom fighters" as your Palestinians would call them) are pretty darn convinced their side will win in the end. And, if you've got two sides both convinced they're going to win a war, even if it takes hundreds of years, then, well, let's face it: you're going to have a never-ending war.

I like these kinds of films; they make you think. As for the acting, Eric Bana completely carries this movie. I'm a big fan of his work in movies like Hulk and Troy (where he fit exactly my vision of the Trojan hero Hector), and this guy needs to become a serious star. He's displays the whole range throughout this movie, from confident in his cause, to doubtful about it; from assured in the success of his mission, to realization of its ultimate failure; from secure, to completely paranoid. It's through his character you see the ultimate tragedy of the whole thing, from years of conflict between Palestinians and Israelis, to the tragedy at the Munich Games, and its ultimate shocking end and subsequent response.

Needless to say, I highly recommend it. And, even if you're not "into" commentary on problems in the Middle East that will never go away, the movie has some spectacular visuals and sound. If it convinces you to watch it, some explosions will rock your room, and the back channels get some great workouts during some of the gunplay.

Now, as you can imagine, after sitting through nearly three hours of moral quandary, I needed to lighten things up a little bit. So, my other rental, Grandma's Boy, came through. When I checked out from the video store, I felt dirty for renting the movie. The trailers were awful, and the TV commercials lame. I would say it was completely mismarketed. Of course that's easy to say; I don't really have an idea on what the proper way to market it would be. I will, however, say that I was laughing out loud by myself during a few parts. I'm not someone who typically laughs by myself while watching a movie; it's a lot more fun being obnoxious with a friend. I was pleasantly surprised at the movie; it just had that goofy feel and off-the-wall comedy that I find irresistible.

Of course, my views on Grandma's Boy could be a little tainted; after all, after watching terrorists brutally slaughter Israeli Olympians, and Israeli agents exact vengeance on those terrorists, I needed a good laugh. This "film" (and I mean that in the loosest sense possible) may have been funnier just because of that. The movie is a Happy Madison production, meaning it has Adam Sandler's fingerprints all over it. You'll see some familar faces, and some typical cameos (David Spade, Rob Schneider, and Kevin Nealon). Over all, though, it takes some pretty outlandish stunts. I'm sure most of you will see it as the same ol' same ol' crude jokes (you know, masturbation, screwing, pot, geeks, etc.), but I found it extremely entertaining. So I suppose if you lower your expectations, then you're bound to enjoy something of a dubious nature such as this. I'll have to have Krildog put it through its paces to see what he thinks. The movie avoids any type of tendency to be preachy or sentimental (sans one part I can think of). And even though swearing can sometimes get tedious in a flick, it usually brings some uproarious results onscreen here. Especially during a live TV interview with a pothead in the movie after his pet lion gets loose in the neighborhood. If that sounds like something that makes you laugh, be sure to check it out.

Of course, I have my doubts about an older lady, specifically Raymond's mom from Everybody Loves Raymond, who's able to show off some mad skills at video games. This is probably a minor quibble considering everything else that goes on in this movie. As Krildog can tell you, I tend to pick out the oddest things to criticize a movie for. The most glaring example of this phenomenon was a few months ago during a viewing of the awesome spectacle Judge Dredd. During a critical point in that movie, I decried that fact that the futuristic society didn't have a more sanitary and less messy method of extracting DNA from a person (a character basically stuck his arm in a tube, which was then pricked simultaneously by four big needles...blood was everywhere). Krildog became indignant. "After everything that's wrong with this movie...that's what you're upset about!? After all the incoherent plot machinations, the terrible acting, and spotty special effects...you have a problem with their DNA sampling system? I think there are a lot of other things you should be focusing on!!!"

And he's probably right. Enjoy the show.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Quick Job Search Update

I just dropped a good chunk of change on some packages I'm sending through UPS. Today, I mailed off 12 new resume tapes to TV markets ranging from the really close (Indianapolis), to the relatively close (Terre Haute and Dayton), to the extremely and nonsensically distant (Horsesheads, NY -- cue Jack Woltz screaming -- and Amarillo, TX -- cue George Strait "Amarillo by morning...Amarillo I'll be there"). It's pretty much like taking a trident, throwing it up in the air, and hoping it sticks in someone. So, that's kind of how it feels right now.

For my first round of resumes, I sent some older clips of me for the sportscast portion (a tape is typically divided into three parts: stand-ups where you look pretty on location, an in-studio bit that shows how you can ad-lib while in a safe, controlled environment, and a package, which is a story you've put together with soundbites and video). I was able to record a new sportscast last week, and that should really help. The Nebraska station I sent my stuff to wanted to see a second tape. I should've sent it earlier, but I'm going to mail it tomorrow. That tape hasn't been dubbed over to VHS yet, so I need to do that at work tomorrow. I try to do it when no one is around. I mean, I know everyone realizes I'm looking for a new job, but I don't want to advertise it with on billboard. It's been an interesting experience so far.

I have heard from two stations about my original tape. The one news director liked it, and lamented the fact it arrived toward the end of their tape submissions. Another news director in Nebraska really liked it, and wanted to see a new tape. That's what I plan to mail tomorrow...complete with a new sportscast plus a new package. I edited the thing myself this morning, and it didn't take too long. I actually did do that at work, because there's no way I could "make the time" to do it before I actually have to do my "real" writing job. I haven't gotten any calls about my tape yet (the other responses were via email), and I may not get any. But I have to remember that these people are going through the routine task of filling another position; for me, it's more of a live-or-die situation on which every breath I take rests. When my phone rings, I'm waiting for it to be a number that I don't recognize. The last time that actually happened was Friday night. It was my cousin, letting me know she was going to be in town for a basketball game this weekend. A great person to talk to, but not exactly what I was hoping for!!

So the search basically is on hold indefinitely as I wait for my cover letters and resumes to infiltrate the new markets. I'm still hoping I'll hear something back from somewhere. Right now, the count stands at 19 tapes sent out into the market. If I have to send out another 20 in the next two months to get noticed, so be it.

Friday, May 05, 2006

I SWEAR no alcohol was involved...

While flipping around this afternoon...I saw a movie on Encore starring O.J. Simpson and the woman who played Samantha on Bewitched. It was called A Killing Affair, and the Juice played a police detective. Could this be a retroactive case of "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em?"

Pranking the Roster


Thumbs-up.

That's what Christopher Walken has to say about Krildog's suggestion to blow up the Pacers' roster. He thinks certain players on the team should be traded...or pranked to death with a tire iron.

He also has a few suggestions on who needs to be "pranked" and who should stay.

The "Players to be Pranked" List (Stiffly Stiffersons who must go)

Jermaine O'Neal. Front and center, J.O. is the team's marquee player. The Pacers invested a ton of money in him, and he makes nearly $18 million a year. However, he's been hobbled by injuries, inconsistency, and shows an on-court immaturity that pretty much personifies this team. If the Pacers try to make a trade, he's virtually the only guy they can move if they want something decent in return.

Stephen Jackson. "Crazy Stephen" has never been embraced by the fans here, thanks to his inconsistency, his constant whining, and most importantly to me, complete lack of hustle. He's the type of player who would rather jaw with the refs after contact on a shot than rush back on defense to stop the other team from getting an easy breakaway bucket. Sometimes, the announcers call him "emotional," which means he can't shut up and just ball. And he's always a technical foul waiting to happen.

Jamaal Tinsley. The Human Injured List is pretty good when he's healthy. The problem: he's never healthy. Heck, even when he is, he thinks he's a good perimeter shooter (which he isn't). It's time to give up on this particular project, and let him go. You probably can't trade him without making him part of a package deal. Unless you're dealing with Isiah Thomas.

Guys who Shouldn't be Pranked, but May Get Pranked Anyway

Austin Croshere. Great guy, class act, terrific shooter. But his production doesn't match his contract, and he's got one year left on his deal. That makes him an attractive player thrown into a trade. Teams love those one-year contract guys for some reason.

Fred Jones. Love his athleticism, but his two terrible shots at the end of Game Six may have sealed his fate. An explosive scorer at times, he's also got a penchant for getting hurt. Personally, I love #20, but I can definitely see him getting traded to another team in need of some depth.

Scot Pollard. Personally, one of my favorite Pacers, and a terrific role player. He's kind of a "hulking" version of Jeff Foster who can't score worth a darn. Seriously, when Pollard scores a bucket, it's well, almost cause for celebration. Let's put it this way: if you had a drinking game based on the number of jumpshots Pollard hit during a contest, you'd have...well...a lot of leftover Irish whiskey.

The Unprankables

Danny Granger. If given more time in the lineup, Granger could have been a contender for Rookie of the Year. Nevertheless, he had a great season for the Pacers in his rookie campaign. This is a guy who's rangy, explosive, and tough. I think he'll end up being a steal for the Blue and Gold.

Jeff Foster. If there's a player on the Pacers who I admire the most, it's Foster. He plays hard, and is always the guy who hits the floor while trying for that offensive or defensive rebound. He can also score on occasion (mostly on putbacks, but he'll unleash the occasional J). The Pacers can't do without him. At least I hope they think that.

Anthony Johnson. I love AJ, but when he's the guy you're relying on to pull you through in the playoffs, you've got problems. It's not because he's not good or because I don't like him. It's because that's not supposed to be his established role on the team. His performance last night was inspiring...too bad the other players around him couldn't get inspired, too.

Wild Cards

Sarunas Jasikevicius. The most disappointing free agent signing and most overhyped player I've seen in a while, he never found his shooting touch, and his defense is atrocious. The Pacers will probably keep him around, and if they do, they've got to find more minutes for him so he can actually look comfortable out there.

Peja Stojakovic. A dynamic scorer, I was very impressed by Peja's play, especially when J.O. was out. I don't know how bad his knee injury was, but you'd think a guy would want to play in the playoffs, and not watch his team lose. A fantastic shooter whose defense isn't great (but it's better than I expected, to be honest), the Pacers could offer him a lot of money to re-sign if they think he's worth it.

David Harrison. An attitude problem with a history of punching inanimate objects that taunt him when he's drunk, Harrison is another poster boy for immaturity. He's also been injured a lot. This kid could be really good, and I think the Pacers will keep him around since he's in his second year. You never know, though...some team might want him.

Eddie Gill. Didn't see much action, he probably won't have much of an impact either way. I know this is a short rundown on him...but...well...that's kind of what his role is.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

In the aftermath of the Pacers exit from the playoffs...

Dear Larry and Donnie,

The season's over and the team sucks. Blow the fucking thing up and start over.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Trilogy Notes

Ah mayonnaise. Nothing is better straight out of the jar on a weeknight. Just ask Krildog; he eats it by the spoonful.

Or should I say by the tub?

Just watched The Godfather: Part III yesterday. You know, it's a shame about some of the decisions made regarding that film (it's on the List of Movies that Never Happened). It could've been decent enough if a couple of things had been different. Specifically, Sophia Coppola was awful; no one can ever convince me otherwise. When I hear the phrase "cuz" it makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Her delivery is terrible. In addition, I think the movie could've been much improved if Robert Duvall could've been in it. That would've added some extra weight and familiarity to the whole deal; instead his son entered the fray, and Tom Hagen earned a one-liner in the script lamenting his death (that's what a contract holdout will get ya). It's not that George Hamilton is bad in what is essentially the same role in many respects, it's just that he's...well...George Hamilton. I don't think I have to explain that any further. These are not the only problems with the film, but a different actress to play Mary, and the addition of Robert Duvall really would've helped things along.

Oh...and having an Asian-Rican like Andy Garcia portray an Italian is just not right.

I also read the news today (or shall I say...wrote the news today) that the holy and classic Star Wars Trilogy will be re-released on DVD in September. Gee...I've never seen Lucasfilm and Fox release several versions of the films on home video ever before. Never. Isn't that right, original VHS release? Just ask the CBS-Fox Home Video re-release. Or the 1995 THX Remastered Versions. How about the 1997 Special Editions...you know..."experience George Lucas' definitive vision of the Star Wars Trilogy?" And who could forget the subsequent VHS re-releases over the past few years for the prequels, most notably, the 2002 VHS boxed set with "special preview footage" of Attack of the Clones?

It's unfathomable that this would happen.

What's unique about this, though, is that (some) Star Wars fans will no longer have a reason to complain about George Lucas anymore. Oh, if that were true. You see, the versions to be released in September will feature the Classic Trilogy. That means Greedo doesn't shoot first, the Ewok "Yub-Yub" song comes back in Return of the Jedi, Hayden Christensen never sets foot in a classic Star Wars film, the Wampa doesn't get much onscreen time in The Empire Strikes Back, those "blast rings" from both Death Stars go bye-bye, matte lines will be all over the place (although those could probably taken out), and Jabba the Hutt doesn't appear in the classic trilogy until Jedi (no more "Han, me boo-kee!").

Now, this is what a lot of "diehard" Star Wars fans have been waiting for. They don't like the prequel movies, and despise the changes made to the originals (I've read and heard fans say "George Lucas raped my childhood"...it's that severe in some cases). So, they're finally getting what they want. It should be interesting to see how extensively Lucas decides to have the old versions versions cleaned up (for matte lines, grain, and such). Obviously, some restoration work needs to be done, and it'll be interesting to see how fans react. I mean, let's face it, if Lucas literally gives them grainy, matte lined-filled versions of the movies, some folks will be upset. But if he goes too far in cleaning them up so that they have the dynamic look and beautiful, clean "sheen" of the current DVD versions, others will loudly again accuse him of messing with Hollywood history. I'm not being pessimistic here...let's just say I once in the while have the insight to "see things before they happen."

And...now I'm wondering...what is it going to cost? The movies are going to be two-disc versions of each movie; I'm guess one disc will have the "original" version while another one will have the "special edition" version. Put 'em in a boxed set...and that's six discs. Any new bonus features?

(sigh)