Saturday, September 30, 2006

GAMES: The Godfather

Normally I don't have time to play video games but I saw the trailers for this one and I just couldn't say no. (See what I did there? I had an opportunity to be a schmuck and I opted against the impulse to say in my best Brando impression, "It was an offer I couldn't refuse.") The graphics are too good to do that. It's like Grand Theft Auto but with the Godfather. Who could turn that down? Not to mention that they got Brando to record his voice for the game before he died. I got it for a good price at Target (29.99); it's been out for a couple months now so I opted to get it on PC. I would have gotten it for my Gamecube, but obviously this game is not very kid-friendly and I guess Nintendo has a reputation to uphold. If you do, however, buy this game, make sure you have an X-Box or a Playstation 'cause the graphics take a hit on the PC. The people and the gameplay are still good but the backgrounds and the cars are white with no definition. I've been having a hell of a time trying to adjust my video options to make the graphics as good as they can be for my Dell, but it ain't working. Still, even with the technical challenges, it's still pretty cool.

You start out, much like in Grand Theft Auto, as a button (enforcer) for the Corleone family. You are trained by Luca Brasi and allowed to roam the streets of New York. Of course they are broken up into the Five families. The Corleone' s are in Little Italy, the Tattaglia's in Brooklyn, Cuneo in Hell's Kitchen, Barzini in Midtown and Stracci in New Jersey. You basically follow the arc of the first Godfather as the Tattaglias try to move in on the Corleones. The difference here is that the perspective is that of a bottom-of-the-trough enforcer. Everyone from the movies is portrayed here, from the Corleones to Sollozzo. Check out The Godfather the Game site over at EA and remember, this game has language and extreme violence so keep the kids away.

The game is available on PC, X-Box, X-Box 360, Playstation 2 and PSP.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

TV: The New Fall Lineup--My Lineup!

Because of my DVR, I have been able to watch a pretty decent amount of new shows this fall. Of course, I can't wait for Lost, Scrubs, Medium, 24, Sopranos and Big Love to come back. There are too many shows: the Fall season has just started and I'm already on overload. This DVR thing is like crack - I look at my queue sometimes and I don't even remember picking some of these shows. But I have finally watched them all and I have a pretty good idea where I think some of these shows are going.


Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

So far this has been the best new show on TV. Of course it helps to love creator Aaron Sorkin and it helps even more if you loved the West Wing. Instead of a behind the scenes look at politics, this time Sorkin goes behind the cameras of a Saturday Night Live-esque show and the writers who bring the funny. It stars Bradley Whitford, Matthew Perry, Amanda Peet, Steven Weber, D.L. Hughley, Nate Corddry, Timothy Busfield and Sarah Paulson. I've seen two episodes and I already know that this show is going places. Sorkin's sharp and rhythmic dialogue is back and funnier than ever. We get to go behind the scenes of a network and all the politics that come with it. Bradley Whitford and Matthew Perry have great chemistry and they are the primary reason this show works. Amanda Peet is great as a studio suit who is more interested in quality rather than greenbacks - yeah, unfortunately this is fiction. In the first episode Judd Hirsch's character gets booted from Sudio 60 for his Network-esque rant about the state of TV today. Hopefully we'll see more of Hirsch's character as the season progresses.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip airs: Monday nights at 10PM on NBC

Ray Liotta has decided to venture into TV full time - I guess he enjoyed himself during his guest stint on E.R. This definitely has the potential to be a great show, plus it's got a great cast: Liotta, Virginia Madsen, Johnny Lee Miller, Simon Baker, Franky G and Amy Smart. It got off to a bit of a slow start for the pilot, but this week's episode packed a bit more punch. It's kind of like the Sopranos except that they're thieves. It also reminded me a bit of the movie Heat.

Smith airs: Tuesday nights at 10PM on CBS

Six Degrees

Creator J.J. Abrams likes to stay busy, as he has created another show for ABC. I hope they are paying this guy a lot of money - every time I look around he's creating a new show. For me he has done no wrong after Alias and Lost so let’s see if he can keep the streak going. (I never saw What About Brian.) On Lost, one of the focal points of the show is the connectivity between the characters. Obviously Abrams liked that concept enough to make it the main premise of this show. Six Degrees takes place in New York and revolves around six strangers whose lives interconnect with one other's at various places in the pilot. Sometimes they walk past each other in a scene, again very much like in Lost. The cast is great and the pilot episode was interesting enough. My wife made a good point to me, that the show could be better if everyone in it weren't so good looking and seem so well off in New York. We live in New York, damnit, and we want to see more shows about people barely able to pay the rent. Anyway, the stars of this show are: Erika Christensen, Hope Davis, Jay Hernandez, Dorian Missick, Bridget Moynahan and Campbell Scott.

Six Degrees airs: Thursday nights at 10PM on ABC



I came by this show completely by accident. I had just finished watching Office Space on Fox for some reason and afterwards they showed the ad for this show. I really like Ron Livingston (Office Space and Band of Brothers) so I thought I'd give this one a chance. It does not seem episodic; it falls more in line with C.S.I or Law and Order except that the main characters are dating each other. This show is about two F.B.I negotiators, Matt (Ron Livingston) and Emily (Rosemarie DeWitt), who not only partner together - they also sleep together. It's kind of like The Honeymooners meets C.S.I. . So far it's kind of fun - not a lot to think about, but not everything we watch needs to feed the brain. Also I like to see the beautiful Gina Torres working again. She's been fun to watch on Firefly and Alias.

Standoff airs: Tuesday nights at 8PM on FOX



So this one was okay. I gotta tell you I was not enthralled; it is a pretty big rip off of X-Men and Lost. You have six principles that may or may not have strange X-Men-like powers: One can fly like the Angel, another can teleport like Nightcrawler and one has a healing factor like Wolverine. The other two are a little different: one guy paints disasters before they happen, which causes him to flip out screaming about the devil and that his hands are evil or something. Then there is the troubled single mom who may or may not have a split personality. I'm not quite sure what her power is but maybe they'll explain it next week. I like the idea of the show but the writing is very cheesy and already I'm annoyed with some of the characters. The kid who thinks he can fly is aggravating, as well as the cheerleader who mutilates herself. We get it: you heal very quickly, move on. The best part was the Japanese guy trying to teleport himself. He's hilarious and the fact that the scene was subtitled is even funnier. Next week Greg Grunberg makes his debut as one of the heroes - hopefully they won't throw him to the side like they did on Alias. He's funny and he deserves a good part. We'll see what happens with this show; personally, I don't think it will make it past Christmas.

Heroes airs: Monday nights at 8PM on NBC

There are a few other shows that I am curious to see but I may wait until they come out on Netflix next year. If you guys have any new shows that you like or don't like, let me know. 'Cause I can't seem to turn off the damn TV, so you might as well give me another excuse to keep watching.

Monday, September 25, 2006

COMICS: Lost Girls

Before I begin, I wanted to say that Alan Moore, the writer of this book-- as well as the writer of some of my favorite graphic novels of all time: The Watchmen, V For Vendetta, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Batman: The Killing Joke and From Hell-- is a friggin mad man and a genius. When I first heard about this project, Reinterpreting three beloved children's stories, I was intrigued. When I heard that Alan Moore was interested in making a pornographic graphic novel I was wondering how that would work, combining porn and classic literature. I mean, the first thing that comes to mind are those porn spoofs of blockbuster movies like Forest Hump and Whore of the Rings. But this is Alan Moore, I told myself, he's one of the best writers in the world. If anyone could pull off Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz servicing the Cowardly Lion and still be able to call it art, it's Alan Fucking Moore. As I began to read the first book of three, I realized I was about half right.

Alice from Wonderland, Dorothy from Oz and Wendy from Neverland meet at a Swiss Hotel a few days before the onset of World War I and exchange stories as well as bodily fluids. Honestly, if you took out the sex parts, it's really just three women sitting around having tea and telling their childhood stories. But as you can imagine Alan Moore covers all the basics of porn: orgies, girl on girl, guy on girl on guy, girl on girl on girl and even guy on guy. This book pulls no punches; Moore said he was going to do porn he has done just that. It is the most tasteful porn I have ever read and probably the most intelligent. The artwork by Melinda Gebbie makes the book appear more refined and elegant.

I am reminded though of a book that circulated in the west about a hundred years ago or so showing pictures of men and women having sex in very strange ways -- it was called the Kama Sutra. Many people tried to boycott it as filthy and disgusting and I am sure there were many pages burned. The Kama Sutra today isn't really even given a second glance; it's not really controversial anymore. I think that in some way Alan Moore is trying to say: it's sex and it's not a big deal, so just relax. I think the part that I have trouble trying to cope with is the alterations on the classic stories of each girl. It's kind of weird to see Peter Pan doing Wendy while John and Michael Darling, um, please themselves in the background. To see what, I believe, to be the characterization of the White Rabbit molesting a very young Alice is, well, disturbing. I grew up with these stories as a kid and even though to some degree it's kind of humorous to see this kind of twist, it also really destroys the innocence of these stories. Oh, and Dorothy is really a disappointment because not only is she depicted as kind of a redneck, but she is also an out of control nympho who has sex with the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion. So if you are looking to branch out a little bit and read something that is, well, a little -- who am I kidding, very lewd and possibly offensive -- then pick up this very beautifully drawn and very interestingly written graphic novel. Who knows, maybe Alan Moore has accomplished the impossible -- Porn as a true art form.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

SPORTS: A-Rod: Alone and lost on an island of self delusion.

"Reggie hit .230 one year," Rodriguez said. "That's awful. He struck out 170-something times in a year. I don't care who you are, extremes are just part of the game. I was awful [in Anaheim], but Jeter was 0 for 32 [in 2004], Mo blew three games in one week [last year].... Everybody goes through it."
Alex Rodriguez - from Sports Illustrated (issue date 9/25/06) article (A-rod Agonistes) written by Tom Verducci

Alex Rodriguez doesn't get it. He doesn't get why New York fans have not accepted him yet; why they didn't support him during his disastrous slide earlier this year; why he hasn't, in their eyes, earned his pinstripes. This should be evident to anyone who has read Tom Verducci's article in this month's Sports Illustrated.

In it, A-Rod literally comes up with more excuses than hits he had during his now infamous slump from June 1st to August 30th. A slump which saw the Yankees third baseman hit .257, with 81 strikeouts and 13 errors in 80 games, culminating in a disastrous West Coast trip to Anaheim in which Rodriguez went 2-for-20 with 14 strikeouts.

The Verducci article (which should be read by every Yankee fan) is incredibly insightful, and displays almost unprecedented access to the Yankee clubhouse. Verducci peppers the interview with several disarmingly candid quotes from other Yankees (including Jason Giambi and Johnny Damon) that seem to represent A-Rod as a guy who hasn't even fully earned the trust of the players around him. Verducci also recounts closed door meetings Rodriguez had with Yankee manager Joe Torre, as well as personal conversations with 1st baseman Jason Giambi.

Above all else, the Verducci article portrays Rodriguez as a man who is very concerned, perhaps obsessed, with appearances. Specifically his own. The article quotes one unnamed Yankee veteran, "It was always about the numbers in [Seattle and Texas] for him. And that doesn't matter here. Winning is all you're judged on here."

Verducci goes beyond A-Rod's self-importance on the field. He notes an instance back in December 2003, "when the Red Sox were frantically trying to acquire Rodriguez from the Texas Rangers, several Boston executives called on Rodriguez in his New York hotel suite after 1 a.m. Rodriguez answered the door in a perfectly pressed suit, tie knotted tight to his stiff collar. The Red Sox officials found such polished attire at such a late hour odd, even unsettling."

But, perhaps the most damaging evidence of A-Rod's self-delusion comes from his own mouth. The Verducci article is littered with direct quotes in which A-Rod blames his salty situation with the team, the city, and the media on everything from the flu to his good looks. Here’s just a small sampling of why A-Rod just doesn’t get it:

- "I can't help that I'm a bright person," he said last month. "I know that's not a great quote to give, but I can't pretend to play dumb and stupid." (A-Rod, on his obsessive work ethic)

- "I was absolutely on fire in Detroit early in the year. Then I got sick and I didn't play for three or four days. And then the whole month was kind of lost. It took a while to get my strength back. I'm not explaining that June, the month I stunk, was because I got sick. Let's make that clear. You ask, 'What's the turning point, going from Player of the Month in May to June?' That's the only thing in the middle." (A-Rod, on the reason for his season turning sour)

- "My agent, Scott Boras, was talking about [Oakland third baseman] Eric Chavez, who's a great player. He's hitting .235. He's got 16 home runs, 43 ribbies? This guy is getting cheered every time he comes up to the plate. If I can look back on 2006 and see I made 25 errors, hit .285 and drove in 125, I mean, has God really been that bad to me?"

- "Mussina doesn't get hammered at all," he said. "He's making a boatload of money. Giambi's making [$20.4 million], which is fine and dandy, but it seems those guys get a pass. When people write [bad things] about me, I don't know if it's [because] I'm good-looking, I'm biracial, I make the most money, I play on the most popular team...."

The Verducci article is the Rosetta Stone, so to speak, in unlocking the mystery of why A-Rod has been a piece of the Yankee puzzle that has never quite fit. It’s not his good looks, it’s not how much money he makes, and it’s not that he’s a bright guy. It’s his ego. It’s the chip on his shoulder. It’s his blatant lack of consideration, in throwing other players (including his own teammates) under the bus by making unprofessional comparisons.

With this article, A-Rod had a great opportunity to reach out to his critics; to be the bigger man in all this nonsense. All he had to to was just keep it simple, keep it humble, and keep it about himself. But instead chose a more petty and juvenile approach. The big league equivalent of a spoiled child who, when he doesn't get his way, screams at his parents "You love Cindy more than you love me!"

Inevitably, with the New York media as ferocious as it is, the fallout from this article is already being felt throughout the sports world. With the Yankees poised to make a big run in the post-season this October, fans of the Bombers are left to hope the negative impact of this article does not adversely affect the team's mindset. Not to mention, A-Rod’s already questionable ability to remain focused come playoff time.

In closing, I’d like to offer a word of advice to Alex Rodriguez. Please spend less time focusing on the kind of season The A's Eric Chavez is having, or how much Mike Mussina is making, or what Reggie Jackson’s batting average was twenty years ago. Instead, assign this new found time in your day to focusing on your own problems. Everyone will be a lot happier.


To read the Verducci article in it's entirety, click on the link below:

Sunday, September 17, 2006

MUSIC: Roger Waters Has Returned

Let me just say right off the bat if you are in any way a fan of Pink Floyd and you especially enjoy albums like Darkside of the Moon and The Wall then you are going to love this show. It was absolutely phenomenal it was by far the best show I've ever seen and I've seen Paul Simon and Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Wu Tang Clan and Rage Against the Machine and The Allman Brothers at the Beacon Theatre. I've seen some of the greats but this show was something special.

My Brother, his friend and I started out from Brooklyn early in the afternoon because we had to catch the bus to New Jersey. When we told people the concert was in Camden, NJ, we got some nervous faces. "Camden, New Jersey? Do you own a firearm or weapon of any kind?" Apparently I was to learn that Camden, New Jersey has the highest violent crime rate in the United States. According to some who have gone to concerts in Camden they say the Waterfront has a great acoustic sound the harbor is charming and one should avoid downtown like the plague. We decided to follow this advice as we sped through downtown as quickly as possible. Of course we got stuck in concert traffic. Once we made it inside we got ourselves a Dark Side of the Moon t-shirt, a beer and a pretzel and then headed out to the playing fields. Really it should have been called the playing dirt cause it wasn't much of a field per-say there were patches of grass here and there. That's when we realized we had forgotten the lawn chairs or blankets. Shit! This was turning into a fiasco.

The stage was elaborate and had a giant old timey radio and a giant bottle of whiskey. After a couple glances back at the stage I noticed a giant hand turning the knob on occasion, smoking a cigarette and pouring a glass of whiskey. What I thought was a set was a very elaborate and flawless looking projection. The concert was supposed to start at 8 sharp but instead we see the hand channel surfing on the radio. Then as if we thought this was going to go on for another twenty minutes the lights dimmed and they started. It was In the Flesh? from The Wall. He played a few more from The Wall and then played a few from albums like Animals and my favorite Wish You Were Here. Next he performed some of his solo stuff like Perfect Sense 1 and 2 from his album Amused to Death and Leaving Beirut which is from his CD single To Kill the Child/Leaving Beirut. It was very cool they had a comic strip on the screen that told the story as he sang. All of a sudden we look up over the stage and they've got this um, floating pig. The band starts a slow drum beat -- Sheep. The Floating Pig hovers over the crowd I start to smell the chiba. I think it says Impeach Bush on the pig's ass. They've got pyrotechnics and psychedelic colors flashing on the screen. Roger throws in the Bush barbs throughout the show. They took a little break and then got down to business playing the entire Darkside of the Moon from start to finish. It was incredible, the sound, everything. If you listened close enough during The Great Gig In The Sky you can hear the whisper. (All you Pink Floyd Fans know what I'm talking about.) The pipes on the background singers--awesome. Katie Kisoon, P.P. Arnold and Carol Kenyon were dead on I felt like I was listening at home, it was better than the studio sound. Some guy next to me was crying that he wished he had some shrooms.

So Roger finishes Eclipse, the last song on Darkside and he thanks everyone and walks off-stage. They have to play an encore-- everyone is shouting. They took a little longer than I thought they should but you could hear the drums building again--I hear the helicopter rotors in the background. They started out with The Happiest Days of Our Lives and go right into Another Brick In the Wall, part II. They also played Vera, Bring the Boys Back Home and ended the show with Comfortably Numb. Fucking Awesome!

Roger played a great show; he had a great group and an incredible guitarist that made me forget all about David Gilmour and the Pulse tour. Dave Kilminster was great on guitar, vocals and bass. He performed the entire Darkside of the Moon perfectly. If you do anything else between now and the end of the year you have to see Roger Waters: Darkside of the Moon tour. Here are the rest of the dates, and if you are lucky enough to see it in Europe you will have the privilege of seeing Roger reunite with his former Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason.

North American Tour Dates:
  • 18 Sept - The Palace, Detroit, MI, USA
  • 20 Sept - Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Canada
  • 21 Sept - Bell Centre, Montreal, Canada
  • 23 Sept - Nissan Center, Bristow, VA, USA
  • 24 Sept - Post Gazette Pavilion, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
  • 27 Sept - Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH, USA
  • 29 Sept - First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre, Tinley Park, IL, USA
  • 30 Sept - Verizon Wireless, Indianapolis, IN, USA
  • 03 Oct - Cricket Pavilion, Phoenix, AZ, USA
  • 05 Oct - Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles, CA, USA (with Nick Mason)
  • 06 Oct - Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles, CA, USA (with Nick Mason)
  • 08 Oct - Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles, CA, USA (with Nick Mason)
  • 10 Oct - Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View, CA, USA
  • 12 Oct - Key Arena, Seattle, WA, USA

Thursday, September 14, 2006

SPORTS: Joe Torre needs my help!

I have had scientific studies done on me and it has been proven that I am right 96.7% of the time. Rounded up, that’s almost 97%! A solid A+. So when Joe Torre came to me in a dream and said to me “C-Dog, [that’s the nickname I imagine he’d call me if we were ever to become really good friends] I’ve got quite the conundrum before me. I’ve got all these really good players and only 25 spots on the post season roster. What am I to do!?!” I immediately woke from my slumber, drenched with perspiration. I knew that it wasn’t simply a dream, it was a message… a plea… sent to me psychically from Joe Torre (since he doesn’t have my phone number). Well, sir, I will answer your call. I’ve heard through multiple sources, which will remain anonymous, that Joe is a fan and frequent visitor of Troy’s Bucket. So, per Joe Torre’s psychic request, listed below is what I believe are the most solid moves that should be made for the post season 25 man roster:

Starting Rotation:

1). Randy Johnson - Big game pitcher. Has been coming on strong in the last couple of months.

2). Chien Ming Wang - The most consistent starter. Cy Young candidate.

3). Mike Mussina - Old Reliable.

4). Jaret Wright - Has looked considerably better in his last several starts. Look for Wright to spot start, in between working long relief.

Corey Lidle - This is a tough call. But I think it's possible he doesn't make the playoff roster, in exchange for an extra spot in the bullpen. Lidle has just been too inconsistent as a starter.


1). Scott Procter - The lynch pin of the bullpen. Procter has proven to be the most reliable guy coming out of the bullpen this year.

2). Ron Villone - Proven himself this year. He's a guy that can come in and pitch out of jams.

3). Mike Myers - Lefty specialist.

4). Brian Bruney - If Lidle does make the roster, I think, unfortunately, it will come at the expense of Brian Bruney. Bruney has pitched exceptionally since being picked up. And I think Torre and Guidry really like what they've seen. I think he makes it.

5). Kyle Farnsworth - Hot, cold. Hot, cold. But when he's hot, he's hot. And he's done an admirable job in September (with Mo out) to warrant a playoff spot.

6). Mariano Rivera - No question. Greatest. Closer. Ever!

Octavio Dotel
- A long wait, a lotta hype, for not a lotta action. Cool name, though.

Jeff Karstens - Shame. This kid has some great stuff. Look for him to either make a really big impact next season or vanish into obscurity.

TJ Beam - Again, some great stuff, but just too inconsistent and too inexperienced to warrant a spot on the roster.

Some other shmoes - I'm not taking the time to list them for a reason.

Starting Line-Up:

1). Johnny Damon (CF): Can cover a lot of ground in center. Makes up for a below average arm. One of the top five lead off guys in the game today.

2). Derek Jeter (SS): Because it would just be weird if the Yankee captain and current MVP candidate didn't make it on the playoff roster. Not to mention, he plays a pretty decent middle left infield.

3). Bobby Abreu (RF): Besides Jeter, there has not been a hotter hitter in the line up since August. Has a rocket arm and fits perfectly into the number 3 spot.

4). Alex Rodriguez (3B): Say what you will about his playoff record, A-Rod is still the BEST all around player in baseball. Nuff said. STOP BOOING ME!

5). Jason Giambi (1B/DH): Here is where things get a little tricky. But I expect Giambi will spend most of his time at 1st Base. Look for Joe to compromise defense for offense, so he can work both Matsui and Shef into the line up.

6). Hideki Matsui (LF/DH): Will be spending most of his time out in left, thereby vanquishing Melky Cabrera to the bench. Sorry, I know most Yankees fans don't want to hear it, but with Matsui back, and Giambi and Shef in the line-up, Cabrera’s only function will be to serve as the fourth outfielder and a pinch runner.

7). Gary Sheffield (DH): I just can't see Torre starting Shef at first base during the playoffs. This is Shef's last run as a Yankee. He'll get his starts at the expense of Melky Cabrera. I know, I know, I love Melky too, but you just can't use a guy like Gary Sheffield solely for pinch hitting purposes. Joe is very loyal to the old guard and Shef will be his full-time DH come the playoffs.

8). Jorge Posada (C): Having one of his best seasons ever on both sides of the ball.

9). Robinson Cano (2B): One day, in the distant future, will be regarded as the best second basement of all time. I truly believe that. Beautiful at bat. Beautiful in the field.

The B-Team:

1). Melky Cabrera (Outfield): Tough break pal. The fans love you, and for good reason. Tons of heart, gritty at-bats, amazing defense... I could go on. You've been dealt a raw deal and on any other team you'd be in the starting line up.

2). Bernie Williams (Outfield): Because what would October Ball be like without the Old Man?

3). Miguel Cairo (Infield): Probably the best utility infielder in the game.

4). Nick Green (Infield): Look for Green to spend most of his time pinch running.

5). Andy Phillips (1B): Another tough call. The Yankees have four guys, FOUR GUYS, who can play first base (if you count Sheffield, it's five). But look for Joe to go with Phillips as a backup to Giambi, over Guiel and Wilson. He is a better defensive first baseman than all of them, and with a line-up as offensively potent as the Yankees, Craig Wilson’s mediocre bat will hardly be missed.

6). Sal Fasano (C) - Because he's Italian. And he's their only real back-up catcher.

Craig Wilson
(1B) - As I said above, Look for Joe to go with Phillip’s glove over Wilson's bat. Could be wrong here, but I don't think I am. Definitely won't be a Yankee next year.

Aaron Guiel (1B/Outfield) - Versatile player. Was a nice addition, but unfortunately with a line up as deep as the Yanks, there just isn't a place for a guy like Guiel on the playoff roster. Like Wilson, won't be a Yankee next year.

Kevin Thompson (Outfield) - Good looking kid. End of the day... he's just trade bait.


We'll Joe, I hope that helps. No need to send flowers. My wife is allergic anyway. If you need anything else, please feel free to once again contact me psychically in my dreams...

Go Yankees!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

TV: Is It Too Soon To Aire Docu-Dramas on 9/11?

After the recent spate of movies and TV Movies I think it needs to be said that Americans need to stop obsessing over 9/11. This past Monday marked the fifth year to the day of the World Trade Center bombings, as of course you all know. We have been preparing for this day for months and once it occurred you can turn to any channel on TV and find someone talking ad nauseum about the tragedy. Now before you bite my head off and call me callous and insensitive I want to say that for the people who lost friends and family in the attack, five years is nothing, I have no doubt that it hurts, and nothing that anyone can say can bring those loved ones back. But for the rest of us, mostly the media and politicians, its big headlines. There have been so far a few documentaries two films and now a docu-drama on ABC. The headline for the ABC two-part mini-series is that it is accurate, according to the 9/11 Commission Report. The controversy arose when ABC began showing it to various people mostly Conservative critics and writers. We found out later that the writer was making up scenes to heighten the drama. Now normally in dramas even some historical ones this is a part of making a film more provocative. I don't always agree with this process because I think when you are telling a story about history through narrative then you must be as accurate as possible when depicting real people. I would say even more so when the event you are depicting happened only five years ago. When it comes to September 11 the history books are not closed yet. There is still controversy and because of partisan bickering between Democrats and Republicans there are vast differences in how the event actually happened.

So I ask you dear reader, what do you think? Do you think ABC was out of line? Did you watch the movie what did you think? I recorded it on my DVR but I as yet have not had time to watch it in full. Just a few minutes of the beginning. Although I have been following it as they have shown the most controversial clips on TV. Apparently the film revolves around Richard Clarke, former Counter terrorism czar, he has come out saying there are scenes in the film that did not happen or are incorrect. I think we have all politicized 9/11 enough; it's time to move on with our lives.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

MOVIE REVIEW: Hollywoodland

Is there a Superman curse? The first actor to play Superman in a live action movie was Kirk Alyn. He played the boy in blue in two films, in 1948 and the sequel in 1950 called Atom Man Vs. Superman. Critics seemed to think his role as the Man of Steel was underrated; nevertheless his fame was short lived as he faded into obscurity--no, he didn't die mysteriously. He retired to Arizona. It was the second fellow who wore the tights that really intrigued Hollywood Conspiracy theorists and Superman fans alike. Who was George Reeves? Why was his death more intriguing than his life? Director Alan Coulter (Sopranos) has brought this true Hollywood tragedy to celluloid and he presents some interesting theories. They present three possible theories, two involving murder and one possibility of suicide. L.A. is shown as it always is portrayed: glamorous, with an underbelly of corruption and murder. It makes you wonder if the L.A. police department has ever or will ever solve a true murder case. I mean, next week the Black Dahlia comes out, another film about a mysterious, botched investigation into a murder. I guess if you want to commit a murder go to L.A. where if you actually kill someone you will be automatically arraigned. That's at least how these things always appear when they make docu-dramas or just dramas about Hollywood.

I enjoyed this one as it switched back and forth from George Reeves (Ben Affleck) living his final days to the Private Dick on the case, Louis Simo (Adrian Brody). Reeves is the actor trapped in the red and blue suit doomed to be typecast as a kiddie hero. His affair with a mogul's (Bob Hoskins) wife (Diane Lane) and his ambition to lose the cape forever seem tied to his untimely fate. Throw in a gold digging Fiancé (Robin Tunney) and you've got yourself a compelling whodunit.

Adrian Brody is great as the despicable Louis Simo who is intent on exploiting Reeves' death. He recognizes how to play the Jake Gittes style gumshoe in L.A. While Ben Affleck plays a very nuanced George Reeves, who wants more from his career and gets frustrated when no one can see past the cape. I'm sure Affleck can relate given his status in Hollywood as of late. I have only seen the original Superman series a few times but I think Affleck captures the essence of George Reeves. This will of course garner an Oscar nod for Ben and I think he deserves it. So is there a Superman curse? Who knows. To my knowledge, of the six or seven men that have worn the big red S on their chest only two of them have met with real tragedy. Of course they are the most iconic and best known for their portrayals but I suppose in Hollywood anything is possible.

Grade: 5 Buckets

Sunday, September 03, 2006

MOVIE REVIEW: The Illusionist

I love the bandwagon mentality of Hollywood. A couple of years ago I heard about a project that Chris Nolan (Batman Begins, Memento) wanted to tackle called The Prestige. Not long after he finished with Batman Begins I heard another report that the script was locked and he had his cast. Christian Bale, Michael Kane and Hugh Jackman. Wow you can't snub your nose at that cast. So of course, you hear the headlines Wolverine squares off with Batman in new movie about magicians. I saw the trailer over the summer and I got excited. Now just last month I saw a trailer with Ed Norton sporting that goatee that makes him look dangerous and mysterious. I saw Jessica Biel and Paul Giamatti and it looked like Rufus Sewell playing yet another creepy royal. What the hell is this, The Illusionist? It looked like some studio had heard about The Prestige and decided to rain on Chris Nolan's parade by releasing this duplicate magician movie, and to put it out a full month and a half before. What the hell was going on? I was intrigued by the trailer though, and again, I can't say no to Ed Norton or to the beautiful Jessica Biel, unless we're talking about Stealth... and maybe that third Blade movie... Before I go much further the cinematography was excellent. The sets, the scenery the effects were all magnificent. I felt like I was watching Nosferatu from 1922, except in color. The acting was excellent and I'm confident that Ed Norton and Paul Giamatti will be garnering Oscar nods for their work.

The story follows a young magician in the making who makes the mistake of consorting with a young girl who is apart of the upper class royalty in Vienna. The young man grows up and changes his name to Eisenheim (Ed Norton); he performs as an illusionist for the public. He garners a special invite to perform for the Prince of Vienna (Rufus Sewell) and pisses him off by flirting with the Prince's fiancée, Sophie (Jessica Biel). The Prince asks his right hand man Chief Inspector Uhl (Paul Giamatti) to investigate the magician and to expose his secrets.

I have to admit I really liked this movie. When the film began I couldn't tell if there was something off about the score. It sounded as if the projector needed cleaning. The picture was great, the main audio was fine but something seemed off with the score. Then I realized something, it sounded like a really old movie they had just collected from some library in Prague, they put it between the spokes and flipped the projector on. I cannot tell you if it was intentional or not but it did a very effective job of setting the mood. I felt like I was in Vienna at the turn of the Century, late 1800s. This movie was not what I thought it was going to be and for that I was pleasantly surprised. It was a top notch film and I recommend everyone to go and see it. There aren't very many effects but the ones they have are very good and very subtle. I really love all the deception and sleight of hand tricks, its fun and interesting and this may be the first time, at least for me, to see Paul Giamatti play a strong decisive character. Usually he plays these nebbish geeks. Not this time my friends. His Inspector Uhl is crafty, sometimes devious, almost menacing. This film I believe is still in a platform release, but just this week it has been released to about 971 screens nationwide, so be on the lookout for it. It may not be easy to find but if you do check it out you won't be disappointed.

The Prestige opens October 20.

Grade: 4 Buckets