Thursday, November 26, 2009

2009 World Series Champions New York Yankees - The Movie

Monday night Cody Dee and I had the opportunity to attend a red carpet event at the Ziegfeld Theatre honoring the World Champion New York Yankees. You may ask, how in the world did Cody Dee and I score tickets to such a big time event with celebrity folk from Manager Joe Giardi to Timothy "Poindexter" Busfield(from Revenge of the Nerds)? Only a cool thirty five bucks each and lightening quick fingers on the keyboards got us through the doors and into the thousand plus seat house. Once we found our seats and the place started to fill up it felt and sounded like a typical crowd at Yankee Stadium. They were feisty yelling out curses and praises as the ads began to play on the big screen. I also noticed a fairly large section toward the middle of the theatre was empty. Cody Dee assured me that the event was sold out so it occurred to me that the same rich jerks that call themselves Yankee Fans were at least consistent, they couldn't be bothered to show up during the season, so why show up for the celebratory World Series movie?Before they started the movie John Sterling, the voice of the Yankees on radio and Yankeeography, took the podium to get the ball rolling. Sterling seemed a bit punchy as he made some pretty kick to the nuts comments about the Red Sox and the Phillies. I got a little chuckle out of it, the man seemed like he'd been pulling on the jug a bit before coming out. All of a sudden the crowd started to boo loudly as I noticed a woman in red coming to the podium. Sterling welcomed Suzyn Waldman to the podium for a few words. She is the other half of the radio show with Sterling and she apparently is not well liked, at least by this Yankee crowd. I honestly don't know much about her although I have heard her some on the radio and I have to say she is pretty terrible as a commentator. She said a few things and was basically booed away until Michael Kay stepped up to the podium. Michael Kay was welcoming and said a few words about the championship season, he made a little slip when they introduced the Championship trophy though. He said something about the trophy LEAVING New York next season... and of course the place erupted in boos. Of course he meant to say until they win it again next year but, he diffused it and moved on quickly, introducing General Manager Brian Cashman and Manager Joe Giardi. Giardi was gracious and said a few kind words about the enormity of the win and what was in store for next year. I don't care what people say, Joe Giardi is a class guy. He made gutsy calls during the season and the post season and let's not forget his heroics after his big World Series win saving that woman on the Cross County Parkway in Westchester. He crossed over 5 lanes of traffic to stay with her until help arrived, what a guy.The lights dimmed and the show began. I will say up front that if you hate the Yankees then this isn't the movie for you. We saw a recap of the amazing season with the pies and the new faces like CC, AJ, Tex and Nick. They showed a few behind the scenes of the Phillies and the Yanks as they responded to one another as to who will win it all. There are a some amusing parts especially with pitcher Pedro Martinez, that guy is certainly not operating with a full deck. We had to relive the embarrasing first game against Cliff Lee, but we also got to witness on the big screen what AJ Burnett's pitches look like when he is lights out. And let me tell you just seeing that was worth price of admission. It always amazes me how a pitcher does what he does but watching Burnett's pitches dance all over the plate makes it look like magic. What can you say about a ballclub that has won 27 World Series championships? It's just exciting to be a part of it in some way. I think for the older generation, and my Father can attest to this, it was the one thing he had in common with his father. It was the unspoken joy they shared which is Yankee baseball. Now I feel I have much more in common with my Father but this feeling is certainly one of them and it is something I truly hope to pass down to my son and beyond.I fully intend to show this film to Nathan when he's old enough. And thankfully the operators of this wonderful event decided to surprise us with a free DVD of the film as the credits were rolling. It was a really fun night, I enjoyed sharing it with my good friend Cody and I got a great memento to show to future Marvin's about this amazing season of baseball in the greatest city in all the world.
Grade: 5 Buckets (Of Course)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Twilight Saga - New Moon

Yes, I was one of the many who helped contribute to New Moon's over 140 million dollar opening weekend. I have read all four books in the series and saw the first movie in the theatre opening weekend.

Now, having said all of that, I must admit I am a fairly easy going critic to this series. The movies are cheesy and I have gone in expecting that for both films. The dialogue is bad and the acting is painful at points, but I generally enjoy the spectacle of it all.

The newest Twilight saga again follows Bella, Kristin Stewart, in all of her awkward glory. This film sees very little of the Cullen family, but instead explores the friendship of Bella and Jacob (Taylor Lautner). The movie ends up being only 30% vampire and 70% werewolf.

New Moon feels like a formula movie. Basically girl is sad over a breakup. Girl deals with sadness by focusing on anything else and finds help from this by friend who has romantic feelings for her. Girl ends up saving the boy who broke up with her and ditching the friend. It's a classic story - only with vampires and werewolves.

I thought Lautner faired best acting-wise. He certainly beefed up for this movie and his reactions are the most realistic. Stewart tones down the sputtering but at points is all over the place. Pattinson is hardly in the film but in his few scenes he continues his brooding act.

I said it last movie and I will say it again, Billy Burke is the best thing about these movies. Playing the father of Bella, he delivers an understated performance that no one seems to recognize. I think I enjoy his facial reactions the best.

The biggest difference from Twilight to New Moon is that there are few awkward scenes. There were a couple of times last movie I wasn't sure what the director was trying to pull off. Thankfully the structure in this film is easier to follow. Unfortunately the spinning field shot makes a reappearance, but it didn't take up nearly the amount of time the first did.

Watching this film in theatres over opening weekend is an experience. The high pitch screaming that occurred the moment Summit's logo entered the scene was frightening. At one point after the movie started a shouting match erupted in my auditorium between two groups. One shouted "Team Edward" and the other retorted "Team Jacob". It was reminiscent of being at a Backstreet Boys or NSYNC concert back in the day, I honestly have never been to a movie and had the same experience.

I'm not quite sure what this franchise brings that others do not. Is it the "dreaminess" of it's male stars? Is it the nature of the books? The religious undertone of the story? I don't know but this fan base grew over the course of the last year. I'm curious to see how this franchise develops.

2 Buckets

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Yankees Win 27th World Series!!!!

It's hard to put into words the emotions and excitement after watching my Yankees win their 27th World Series! It's also not half bad to do it in a brand spanking new Stadium! 2009 has been an incredibly satisfying year for me in the sports department. (My Tarheels won their 5th NCAA Championship against Michigan State earlier this year.) What can I say about this team that won 103 games during the regular season, which is the most in all of baseball. They led the American League in Home runs and RBIs. They had the most saves, this was a dominant Yankee baseball club. They were also a thrill to watch, I think my Grampa Ned would have loved to watch this team do battle.Now the first thing the pundits have thrown out is that the Yankees have finally bought their World Series Championship. Is it true that the Yankees spent a lot of money in the Pre-Season? Yes they have. But these talking heads are missing the bigger picture. The Yankees as a club have spent billions in the last 9 years trying to catch that elusive 27th World Series and have met failure in ways no fan would like to remember. I get it, they have the biggest payroll in sports, but if anything these 9 years have proven that no matter how much money you throw at a problem it will not get you a championship. So what made this year so different? Obviously the pitching between the big three C.C. Sabaithia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte were a major factor. But I really believe that the relaxed attitude in the dugout mixed with the strong bond between these Yankee players is ultimately what got the job done. These Yankees were hungry but they also played as a team. Unlike in previous seasons where the Bombers won many games and their bats were heavy, time and time again The Yanks were unable to put the pieces together in the post-season, and I firmly believe it was because of the business like attitude they took toward the game. They weren't having fun they weren't enjoying it. It was frustrating to see this the past few years. But after the first game this year I could tell a world of difference thanks to manager Joe Giardi and the fun Bench guys like Nick Swisher and A.J. Burnett, they calmed this team down which I think contributed to their success in this series. 17 Pies to the face is proof in the pudding.This was a World Series for the ages, and I have to give the Phillies their props they almost gave me and Cody Dee a few heart attacks along the way. What can you say about Chase Utley and his monster bat. He tied our own Reggie Jackson for 5 homers for the World Series record. The spinedly Jayson Werth and his big bat was also quite overwhelming and of course the tenacity of Cliff Lee and his ability to shut down the Bombers in Game 1. These are great contenders and I'm almost certain they will be here in November again. They are a also a cocky group, I believe it was the Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins who said to Jay Leno that he would beat the Yankees in 5. And what the hell was Pedro talking about being the King of New York after Game 2? Who's your Daddy now Pedro? Even though they beaned A-Rod 3 times and Tex once, the blood didn't seem to be too heated between these teams which allowed a fairly clean series to unfold. I also think the officiating was much better in the overall series then it was in ALCS division series. Maybe next year they will try to utilize the playback a bit more, it's a fine line but I think this post season has shown that the eye in the sky could make for better play calling in the future.
There were some instances in this series that stick out in my mind as key moments to the World Series. Regardless of AJ Burnett's meltdown in game 5, his shut down performance at home for Game 2 allowed the Yankees to recover off of the blistering game 1 loss to Cliff Lee. He went 7 innings and only gave up a run, 4 hits and he struck out 9 for the night. Say what you want about A.J. Burnett but when he's cooking you ain't getting in his kitchen. Andy Pettitte also came up big in Game 3 when he gave up 3 runs early but recovered his stride and even hit an RBI single to build out of the defecit. Andy proved the Yankees were making their case to stay in every game no matter what the Phillies tried to do. Pettitte truly earned his place among champions as he dug in and gave a gutsy pitching performance in Game 6 on only 3 days rest. I will admit I was worried going into the game but I never had any doubts about Andy. Game 4 was a wild one but Johnny Damon rose to the challenge in the top of the ninth inning as he fought his way onto base with a single. But what he did next was the stuff of legends, he miraculously stole 2 bases off of one pitch just because someone on the Phillies couldn't be bothered to cover third base. This move allowed A-Rod to crush a two run double and Posada to single bringing in two more. This was the decisive game for the Yankees, without Johnny Damon's play this series could have ended very differently. Even though the Yanks lost Game 5 I felt they battled honorably in the 8th and 9th innings cutting a 6 point defecit to 2 but it wasn't to be when Tex whiffed one for strike 3. But I firmly believe that the Yankee bats put the fear of God into these Phillies which brings up the last hero of the series Hideki Matsui. His performance in Game 6 was incredible. He made Pedro his bitch as he hit a two-run homer in the second, a two-run single in the third and a two-run double in the fifth. He almost hit for the cycle which had never been done before in the World Series. He had 6 RBIs which is a World Series record for a single game. He also received the MVP trophy which has never gone to a DH before.

Note to Yankees Management: DO NOT LET MATSUI GET AWAY FOR THE 2010 SEASON!!!What a rush this season has been between lows of A-Rod and his steroid problem, the Wang Meltdown, Joba's struggles to pitch a full game to the highs of A-Rod becoming Mr. October with clutch hits down the stretch in both the ALDS and the ALCS. To Damaso Marte and his level-headed pitching in the post season. His strike out of Chase Utley in the 7th inning was big time but Marte topped himself by then striking out Ryan Howard in the top of the 8th. I mean this is the same guy earlier in the season who had an ERA of 9.45. What a difference a World Series makes. Although to be fair the guy was recovering from an injury earlier this season. What else can I say, it's been a hell of a year! My Yankees played exceptionally and they kept on chugging through all season through thick and thin. I'm proud of my boys and I'm proud to be a Yankee fan. As my Grandfather and Father before me and hopefully my son and his kids after me---YANKEES FOREVER!!!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

The Bucket's List of the Top 10 Overlooked, Underrated, and Underappreciated Screen Villains of All-Time

It's almost Halloween and we at the Bucket decided to do the ultimate Top Ten list. A couple years back AFI, or the The American Film Institute for the non-industry laymen, came out with their list of the 50 Greatest Movie Villains of all time. There are some goodies on that list but for some reason they have left out, in our humble opinion, some of the most fearsome and funny evildoers to be shown on celluloid. Now, while I have the utmost respect for The American Film Institute and whatever it is that they actually do, which I assume is something greater than just coming up with various countdown lists, their list of the 50 Greatest Movie Villains of all time is, to say the least, a wee bit pretentious. Unless you’re an esoteric, NYU film school brat, who dresses in all black, and wears a scarf in 70 degree weather, then you probably disagree that “Man” from the classic Disney film Bambi is one of the top 20 screen villains ever. So, where is the list for the rest us, you ask?

Well, just in time for Halloween, we here at The Bucket have answered the call and have put together our list of the Top 10 Overlooked, Underrated, and Under-appreciated Screen Villains of All-Time. Now we've sweetened the pot a bit. I got some of my folks at Cave Drawing Ink to pitch in with some original drawings of our fearsome 10 and we will be unveiling our countdown one by one up until Halloween when we announce who the Number #1 overlooked, underrated, and under-appreciated baddie of all time is.

So you can check it out here at the Bucket or on the comic site Cave Drawing Ink. Enjoy and have a happy and safe Halloween!!!