Friday, September 30, 2005


Ran across this, this and this tonight and thought I'd share. Very nicely done. The last one is the best.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

2005 AL Central Champs

Your Chicago White Sox. This season has been a blast to watch. Good pitching, timely hitting and one of the better defensive teams that Chicago has fielded. The Indians made it close by playing .700 ball for the last two months, but today's victory gives the Sox the division. Very happy.

Flying the colors Posted by Picasa


Heard on the radio today that Smokin' Joe Frazier of boxing fame was blind in his left eye for a significant portion of his boxing career. I'd never heard that before.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Good Will Hunting - 1997

Will Hunting is a genius. He's also troubled and adrift. He's capable of understanding math that only a handful of people in the world can understand. And picking a fistfight with someone that pushed him around in kindergarten.
This movie was co-written by Matt Damon and Ben Afleck. It's the movie that put them on the map. The dream of writing and then starring in a movie is pretty well universal in the acting world. These two went out and did it. The story is interesting. The acting is very good. And the dialouge is brilliant. The only other movie from this project (so far) that even comes close is 'Pulp Fiction'.
But what really sells the movie is Robin Williams. He plays a counselor that tries to heal Will and help him direct his life. Williams plays a shrink with a sad past, having a buried a wife who died young and slowly. He's authentic and insightful. The 'cure' is a bit quick, but very touching. Some of Williams best work.
Minnie Driver also does a fine job. She's a Harvard student who gives Will a reason to straighten out his life. Her part is brief, but she does well with it.
Matt Damon is also very good in this movie. I've never understood why his career has been calmer than Afleck's. He's clearly the better actor. Maybe he's just not dating the right people.
This is a great movie.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

U2 Concert Review

In a word, awesome. For more words, let me point you to this review from the Strib. Of interest is that this concert produced an arena record large crowd. And they could have sold twice as many tickets. About the only empty spot was a section of seats behind us and over about three where a patron barfed about half an hour before the concert started. Cleaning crew came and wiped it all up. My lack of smell worked in my favor. The FP Gal tells me that it lingered.
Despite that, it was still a wonderful concert. We had upper deck seats. We could still see and hear without problem. The stage was at the other end of the basketball court with a long looping runway forming a ring out into the crowd. Their previous concert had a similar runway in the shape of a heart, while this one was smoothed into a ring. The inside and outside of the ring was lighted, sometimes solidly, sometimes chasing. The lighting colors changed from song to song. A bank of monitors hung above the main stage, usually split into four screens with a camera on each band member. Set list and reviews can be found here.
The played a good mix of old and new songs. My personal favorites were 'Electric Co.' (complete with 'Send in the Clowns') and 'With or Without You'. The only one that underwhelmed me was 'Elevation'. At one point, they dedicated a song to the Mayo Clinic and all that it does. Bono joked that they had taken the Edge there for study and had been told his brain is 'impossible'. He also proclaimed that Edge was from the future. (Which would explain the guitar playing...)
Loved it.

Update: Here's another review with some pictures of the concert.

Mea culpa

In this spirit, I'd like to apologize for a couple of things.

Firstly, I'd like to apologize for the abysmal play of Duante Culpepper. His last two starts have accounted for 37 turnovers (an NFL record) and it's all my fault. When I drafted him for my fantasy football team (first round no less) I didn't realize that I'd be killing any chance of the Vikings winning their first two games. He'll be benched for this coming week in favor of Matt Hasselbeck. Seahawk fans are warned. I also drafted Michael Bennett, therefore endangering the lives of all Minnesota lineman. I've since released him to alleviate this problem.
Secondly, I'd like to apologize for the storm that hit the north metro area this week. The FP Gal and I have taken to watching the summer reruns of 'Lost' on Wednesday night. We've grown to enjoy it and look forward to each episode. In a classic example of a hostile universe, Wednesday nights have produced repeated storms throughout the state. Local weathermen have taken their duty seriously to breathlessly warn of any thunderstorm in the six state area. Thunderstorm warnings are then shown in an unimportant 2/3 of the TV screen, making normal broadcasts difficult to watch. With the season premiere, this past Wednesday, events were taken to an extreme. The loss or power and property damage are regrettable.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Blog posts keep getting chewed up...grrrr

1996 in review

English Patient
Jerry Maguire
Secrets & Lies

This year goes in the books (and I finally write about it!). English Patient was clearly the best film of this year. And Jerry Maguire should get some credit for originality in the Oscar film. The other three films are very arthouse. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
Not an especially strong field of movies. There were a number of films that year that could have been popped into the Best Picture slot. 'Courage Under Fire' and 'Trainspotting' were both very good movies, for instance. My memory is that this trend continues for the rest of the decade, with 'very good' and 'great' but not unforgettable movies.
Guess I'd have to give 'Shine' the edge on music. Can't imagine running out to get the soundtrack, though.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Scored some tickets

Through a chance bit of conversation at work, and a little extra green in my pocket, I bought me some tickets to see my all-time favorite band. Eight days from now the FP Gal and I are going to see U2. A little bit excited? You might say that.
The beauty of it is this: most bands with their mileage would play some new stuff that's kind of ok and maybe sprinkle in one or two of their good (old) stuff. But U2's latest album is very strong. 'City of Blinding Lights' and 'Yaweh' being my favorites.
Very excited.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Secrets & Lies

The setup for this movie has lots of play. A young black woman in London discovers that her biological mother is white. She tracks her mum down and reveals herself. What she discovers is that her mum is a deeply unhappy woman who already has a deeply unhappy daughter at home. Mixed into this is a brother/uncle who is living very distantly with his wife. Also deeply unhappy.
When the secret of the hidden daughter comes out, the rest of the 'secrets and lies' that make up the title come out.
Some interesting characters and the story is interesting as well. But the movie didn't capture my interest at all. At nearly two and half hours, it just went too long. And even though it's billed as a comedy, it really only qualifies in the Greek drama sense that the protagonist doesn't die at the end.
Can't really recommend this film either. It's OK at best.

From opening day of the 2004 season. I'm the one without the braids. Posted by Picasa

Opening Sunday

Finally the Vikings play a real game. Well, so to speak. The defense looked very good. The offense looked out of sync. The defense did very well even when put into bad spots. The offense had continual problems with the Bucs front line. The running game was very bad. And the breaks went the other way.

UPDATE: I forgot the obvious reason for the Vikings bad offense. It's Bush's fault.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

So sleepy! Posted by Picasa

FP Gal and I at Mt. Ranier (this one's for you, Carrie) Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Mike Cameron

is the Mets center fielder. Earlier this season he suffered a truly horrific outfield collision. Cameron suffered extensive fractures to the cheekbones and nose. Surgery followed and titanium plates (permanent, I'm sure). This is the story of him dropping in on his teamates.
I noticed this for two reasons. He used to patrol the outfield for my beloved White Sox. Never a superstar, he seemed to get by on hard work. Especially defense. Modern sports seems to demand that you hate players that are no longer on your team. For instance, AJ Pierznyski gets booed at the Metrodome for the terrible sin of having been traded away to the Giants. But I've never felt that way about Cameron. Always glad to see him gliding around in New York.
The other reason is that I've been in almost the exact same spot that he's in now. He's not kidding that having your jaw wired shut is the best diet out there. And I can completely sympathize with his plans for pizza. For about two weeks, I dreamt about cheeseburgers!
Good luck to you Mike.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Shine - 1996

The biggest flaw with this project is that sometimes a movie comes up in the rotation and I'm not really in the mood for it. This might be the best example of that. As a result, this review is probably more negative than the movie deserves.
Shine is the story of a brilliant pianist, David Helfgott. He's a prodigy that grows up with a very stern and notional father. The father's upbringing helps focus the piano playing but restricts the choices of the boy. And when David is recognized for the talent that he is, the father won't let him leave to a prestigous music school. David leaves anyway and is cast out of the family by his father.
The story finds David in London being taught music and preparing for a concert. David has selected Rachmaninoff's 3rd Piano Concerto, one of the toughest pieces around. He plays magnificently. And immeadiatly collapses following the piece.
The movie isn't very clear, but shock treatments come into play. They only intensify the growing eccentricities that David is suffering. He returns home, but has no home to return to. He disappears.
Flash forward a number of years and David is in an asylum. He's very manic and has a strange facsination with water. He wanders into a club and plays an astonishing 'Flight of the Bumblebees'. Recognition of who he is follows.
Geoffery Rush plays David Heffgott and he's amazing. The manic chatter is very difficult and completly convincing. The piano playing is nothing short of stupendous. But...the movie didn't really move me. As I said, it may have been just when I watched it, but there it is. The best I can really say is that this movie is Ok.

Football pool

Just a note here, I've finally gotten the football pool put together. Been doing this for almost a decade here and it's something I really enjoy. Go here if you'd like to join. Click on Create or Join group. Then select to join an existing group. The group ID is #29110 and the password: football.
Pass the word if anyone you know would like to join up.

Jerry Maguire - 1996

Loved this movie when it first came out. Was curious to see how it stood up. In some ways, this is the most modern movie of this project so far. This current era of free agent sports is unlike the past in some important ways. The rise of the star agent is fairly new. And (to my tastes) repugnant. Ignoring the money side is my way of enjoying sports without the awful side stuff. This movie seems to agree with that. (That it spawned an HBO series on the life of a sports agent is the fault of HBO's vision, not this movie.)
The movie opens with Tom Cruise as sports agent Jerry Maguire. He suffers a crisis of conscience and writes a mission statement/memo to his company about the need to rehumanize, to accept fewer clients for less money. This leads him to be abruptly fired. In the race to see which of his clients he can keep he only ends up with two. The likely first pick of the NFL draft and a receiver for the Arizona Cardinals, Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jr). His mission statement has also inspired one of his coworkers to go with him, the adorable Renee Zellweger. She's a single mom with one of the cutest kids in movie history.
The movie centers around two different relationships, Cruise and Zellweger and Cruise and Gooding Jr. Zellweger finds Cruise to be very pretty and a possible replacement for her dead husband. She manipulates him into feeling lonely and getting romantic with her. Out of fear that she'll leave, Cruise proposes and they become a family. Notice I didn't say a happy family. Father bonds with new son, but not really the mom. She eventually asks them if they can take a break from each other. He does and has an emotional response and returns. This is the "You had me at hello," scene. Only in this last viewing was I completely underwhelmed by this. They still have divorce in a year written all over them.
The friendship with Cruise and Gooding Jr, is much more interesting. It's part agent and client, part guy friends. Gooding Jr is very, very good. His memorable line here is, of course "Show me the money!". But the one that stuck with me was "You think we're fighting here, but I think we're finally talking!".
This is a very good movie. Great in spots and weak in others. Gooding Jr won for Best Supporting Actor (I agree) and Cruise was nominated for his acting (bit of a stretch). It should get some credit for being different than most Oscar noms.