Tuesday, February 27, 2007
In a move that would make Reggie Dunlap proud, the Pens traded for the NHL's Top Heavyweight yesterday, Georges Laraque. Laraque's in his 9th season, and spent the majority of his career kicking ass in Edmonton. He'll have one job here in Pittsburgh: Protect Sid.
Gary Bettman made the message clear when he failed to punish NY Islander Jason Blake for his blatant spear of Crosby earlier this year: The NHL won't protect its stars. So the teams that they play on, will. Welcome, Georges.
No longer will teams be able to take liberties with the young studs of the Pens. Whoever does, will get their face punched in. Old time hockey. I LOVE IT.
This post also gives me a chance to hype a great site:
Check it out. It has fight cards for the league's best goons. Here's Laraques. Some fights even have a YouTube link. Great stuff.
MUST SEE VIDEO. Pay careful attention at about a minute in, Laraque is mic'd up. Priceless:
And 2 final notes, or rules if you will, regarding the Oscars:
- When you win, you are no longer allowed to READ your speech from a crumbled up piece of paper (uh um, Alan Arkin). Show us your improvisational skills as an artist. Be genuine, ala Forest Whitaker. You are permitted, to look at your notes for a list of people to thank. But reading the entire speech is rather lame.
- If you are the prohibitive favorite to win in your category, you are NOT allowed to act shocked and amazed, and comment "I didn't think I was gonna win" (uh um, Jennifer Hudson). Save the acting for the movie, please. Again, be genuine, which in turn, will show class, ala Helen Mirren. This ain't American Idol for chrissakes.
Monday, February 26, 2007
So I finally got to see Babel Saturday night, the last of the 5 films up for Best Picture that I'd seen. And I must say, it's my least favorite of the 5. That being said, it's better than last year's winner Crash.
Not a great year for Hollywood, imho. I enjoyed all of the Best Picture nominees, but nothing blew me away. As a matter of fact, I'd rate all of the 2006ers ahead of the overrated, undeserving Crash, but behind 3 of the others up for Best Picture in 2005: Capote, Good Night and Good Luck, and Brokeback Mountain.
Babel was nice. A couple of phenomenal performances from Rinko Kikuchi and Adriana Barraza, both justifiably were nominated for Best Supporting Actress. But I've grown a little tired of the whole different-stories-which-all-connect-at-the-end thingy. I recommend seeing this on DVD, just don't expect to be bowled over.
My co-favorite, The Departed, of course won the big prize. And I'm all giddy inside for Marty Scorcese, an honor that was long overdue. It's just a shame that this award came for a film that probably wouldn't rank in his own personal Top 5. While it blows away The Aviator and Gangs of New York, it's definitely no Good Fellas, Mean Streets, Raging Bull, or Taxi Driver. Again, don't expect this going in...or you may be disappointed. Kudos to Marky Mark and Leo, both great performances. Jack has done much better, again imho.
- The Departed
- Letters From Iwo Jima
- The Queen
- Little Miss Sunshine
I was real close to nudging Letters From Iwo Jima to the top spot. I hate to use the word "refreshing" when talking about a war movie, but that's exactly what this was for me. Eastwood does a tremendous job of setting the mood in this one, and taking the perspective from the Japanese side is a well-crafted change of pace. Consequently, he avoids the usage of your cliched, cookie-cutter American G.I. characters that have been so popularized by Hollywood war films of the past.
You know the guys I'm taking about. There's the "even keel" main character, who goes through the film narrating on all the crazy barrack surroundings, and how his new life in the army is so different from his farm life upbringing. There's his buddy, and main "confidant," whose the outcast of his platoon and then tragically dies at some point. Then there's your "nutjob" guy...you know...the character that eats his 3 squares a day with his toes and shoots everything that moves. He's your Jim-Bob, 4x4 driving, meat and potatoes character. Oh..and don't forget your demanding drill sergeant whose good for a few comedic relief one-liners.
In Letters, Eastwood makes a film that avoids all of these conventions. It's probably the best film about war I've seen since...well...since Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket, which oddly has a lot of those elements I mentioned in the previous paragraph.
And it pains me to say this, because I prefer little indies like Little Miss Sunshine. I don't like big Hollywood studio movies. I'm that guy. But when I saw Sunshine earlier last year, I just didn't walk away, saying "wow." Again, it's a good movie. Just not great, like I was expecting. It's definitely no Sideways, which I felt was the Best Picture of 2004. I'll revisit Sunshine again to see what I missed. Props to Alan Arkin for his Best Supporting Actor...he was very good.
So that leaves The Queen. Mirren was amazing, and the easy choice for Best Actress. I knew very little about the time surrounding Princess Diana's death. Because to be brutally honest, I didn't really care that much. And when I went to see this at the theatre, I thought going in that it would be my least favorite of the lot. After it's all said and done, it may be borderline Top 10 of the Year material, and may just make my cut ahead of Little Miss Sunshine.
A final note on Best Documentary:
I completely get the message in An Inconvenient Truth, and I highly recommend that everyone sees it for this very reason. However, how this wins an Oscar is beyond me. Was the Academy simply making a political statement? Doesn't surprise me. An Inconvenient Truth is basically a high-end Power Point presentation that's video recorded in front of an audience. Props to Al Gore, and I've got all the respect in the world for this message. I wanna do my part. But message alone does not equal "great film."
The only other doc within the nominees that I'd seen so far is Jesus Camp, which is a much better testament to "film making." However, I'd recommend these 3, as well as Jesus Camp every day of the week ahead of Truth:
Ok...that last one shows my futbol bias. Still, a nicely played documentary. No personal interview with Pele, however...which is its only major flaw. Again...in my humble opinion.
Sunday, February 25, 2007
"I have never, pinned up my shirt sleeves, period."
These new hats MLB is sporting is just not a good look.
If you haven't heard the news, Tennessee Titans scum bag CB "Pac Man" Jones has been implicated in some more crime. This time, 3 people were shot, one of which remains paralyzed.
Apparently, Jones and his posse were at a Las Vegas strip club late one night during the NBA's All Star weekend. Pac Man brought with him $81,000 of singles in a garbage bag, with the intention of "making it rain." Standard practice in the "make it rain" ritual is to drop the plethora of bills about the stripper (hence, making it rain), and afterwards, when the stripper has the audacity to pick up the money as a tip...you punch her in the face. Or at least that's in accordance with the Pac Man Jones school of "making it rain."
After Jones grabbed the stripper by the head, and punched her in the face, the bouncers at the strip club had the gall to restrain Jones from applying any further beatings. How rude of them. This resulted in an altercation between Jones' entourage, which included rapper Cornelius Haynes, Jr. (better known as Nelly), and the strip club staff. During the brawl (Nelly left before the festivities), Pac Man bit one of the bouncers on the ankle, and proceeded to threaten a bouncer that he was going to kill him.
A short time after, an unknown shooter came back to the club, and shot 3 victims. One of which, is now paralyzed.
It should be noted, Tank Johnson is not considered a suspect, and his whereabouts at the time of the incident are unknown.
Pac Man Jones, in the meantime, should be forgiven since he hasn't had a good role model throughout his life. And, if he were to go to jail, it would be a tragic waste of good NFL talent. I'm sure a few teams out there could use a good cornerback. After all, what's wrong with a dude that likes to spit on women and punch them in the face. Surely this can be forgiven with a couple of timely interceptions.
Tragically, while I'm being a little sarcastic above, this will likely be the scenario. A few ignorant circles will continue to make excuses for this piece of trash, and he will likely get another chance. The idea of prison was contrived with these people in mind. They're a danger to the decent human beings of the world. They don't deserve to be included in the general population, let alone be in a position to earn millions of dollars. But since he has talent, he likely will be.
For a very interesting, and well written article on the NBA All-Star weekend in Vegas, and all of its extra curricular activity, go here to read Jason Whitlock on AOL Sports. I'd never been a big fan of Whitlock when he was on ESPN, but he makes a ton of sense here.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Two days after my Pens break their 16 game point streak, my beloved Inter Milan squanders a 1 goal lead TWICE(!!) to Valencia, the 2nd of which came with 4 minutes left in regulation. The 2-2 tie, and more importantly 2 "away" goals scored by Valencia, pretty much means Inter MUST win in the rematch at Valencia in 2 weeks (Tuesday, March 6th 3:00 EST).
Estaban Cambiasso (above) and Maicon got the 2 Inter goals, and from what I hear, stud Argentinian striker Hernan Crespo missed an opportunity to make it a 2 goal game.
Inter coach Roberto Mancini says to fear not...they "will win in Valencia." I feel much better now.
In other Champions League action, big props go out to Liverpool, who took down Barcelona, 2-1 on the road (this game, I actually saw thanks to tape delay on ESPN Classic). Liverpool took advantage of some sloppy defensive work by Mexican defender Marquez (what were you thinking, dude?!?!), and merely needs to pull out a draw back home in England in 2 weeks to advance.
In honor of Inter's 1st round opponent, I give you:
(left click to play; right click to download)
The Decemberists - O Valencia!
from their 2006 record "The Crane Wife," one of Jess's favs
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Monday, February 12, 2007
Did a little road trip to Baltimore Friday, and got to see the extraordinary Yo La Tengo live at Sonar Lounge. Frickin AMAZING!!!!! Perhaps one of the best (non-GBV) shows I've seen in recent years.
Although the place filled up nicely, we were fortunate enough to get there early enough to check out the Rosebuds, and get a nice little spot up front. See Photos Here.
I'm not the set-list writing down type, but we did get a nice mix of new and old, noise and pop...including a sedated version of Tom Courtenay. I'm Not Afraid Of You and I Will Beat Your Ass (BUY HERE) sounds fantastic live. It's funny to watch a few of the show-goers who may not be familiar with the long drawn-out escalating jams (i.e. "Pass the Hatchet..."), just to see their bewildered "when does this end?" look. But if you're strapped in for these songs, you really get the full treatment to Ira's improvisational skills & talents on guitar. Follow that up with the poppy, fun-filled "Mr. Tough", and you're now witnessing the wide array that is Yo La Tengo.
The only issue seemed to be the sound for the vocals were a bit off early in the set with a few of the low-key numbers, as Ira commented that they seemed to be set up for The Rapture, who was playing the "late show" that night. It also appeared that Sonar may have let people in early for the Rapture show, because there was quite a contingent of conversational peeps in the back that curiously seemed to have zero interest in YLT. Maybe there was just an inordinate amount of hipsters out that night...I'm not sure. Other than that...a phenomenal show.
Here's some live footage, covering Jad Fair's Half Japanese band:
Like a few of the other bands I love, my "favorite" tune seems to be forever changing depending on the time of the year. Currently...the song that has been on constant repeat happens to be this little jam from the '93 album, Painful (also released as a single), which seemed to mark a progression of different styles from the band. Painful is perhaps my 2nd favorite album of YLT's right behind '97's I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One. "From a Motel 6" has a little bit of shoegazer influence in it (i.e. My Bloody Valentine, the Jesus & Mary Chain, Lush). Ira's guitar rippin over Georgia's lovely vocals...good times. Rawk on:
(left click to play; right click to download)
YLT - From a Motel 6
Haven't seen this in a long time, so I felt compelled to search out this one here on YouTube. The best part: "the Foghat Rule = your 4th album should be Double Live." This is hilarious. Also, one of my favs from YLT, a poppier number, but one that was unfortunately left off the set list Friday.
Hey...and speaking of the Rosebuds, they were awesome as well. I got a chance to chat with Ivan (dude on right, below), a very friendly chap, who tells us there's a new release on its way. Night of the Furies will be released on Merge Records in April. Here's a sampling of the Rosebuds, from their Friends Make Good Neighbors record (also from Merge):
(left click to play; right click to download)
The Rosebuds - Boxcar
Oh...and finally, had a wonderful little medley of crab dinner at Mo's Fisherman's Wharf near the Inner Harbour. And a big THANX to our friend and gracious host for the evening, Allison.
Friday, February 09, 2007
note again: there is zero affiliation between this site and RMU. I'm just a big fan.
Last weekend, my Beloved Colonial busted out the Beat Down Stick on the #16 team in the Nation...the Niagara Purple Eagles...sweeping the 2 game set on Neville Island:
Friday. 7-1. WINNER.
Saturday. 5-2 WINNER.
Coming into the weekend, Niagara was in 1st place in CHA, and had the TOP FIVE scorers in the league, including the #1 goal scorer in the NATION in Ted Cook. Bobby Mo not only squashed all that, but did it convincingly.
Goalies Christian Boucher (sat) and Joe Tuset (fri) were phenomenal. All 4 lines were flying around. 4th line Left Winger Brett Hopfe was back on the ice...hitting everything that moved. Frosh Kyle Frieday busted out with a huge 2 goal / 2 assist night in the opener. Aaron Clarke & Ryan Cruthers, both offensive studs, put on displays. A bunch of dudes were worthy, but my personal POW:
(insert drum roll here)
Centering the 3rd line, the Junior from Apollo, PA was HUGE all weekend. Friday night, he tied a school record (w/ Frieday from the same game) with a 4 point night, tallying 2 goals and 2 assists. But that was the easily noticeable part. Saturday night...with RMU up 4-2 in the 3rd period and the Colonials on the Penalty Kill (for what seemed to be the whole ENTIRE PERIOD, thank you refs), Berkstresser was blocking shot after shot, busting up the passing lanes, taking pucks off the face...an incredible display guts, desire, and determination. Something this team seems to feeding off right now.
Sean was also named Inside College Hockey's Player of the Week.
Not that INCH has more clout than Empties Crushed. (jokes)
This weekend...Bob takes on 1st place Bemidji St (who leapfrogged Niagara), back on the Island. Unfortunately, RMU-TV will not be there (this little thing called Fight Night, which has since been cancelled, threw this outta whack). I also, will be outta town Friday, but plan on being back for the finale Saturday...not announcing...just as a viewer, this time. Hopefully, the Colonial Crazies will be in full force, and the Beloved can make it 4 straight vs. #1.
See. You. There.
Thursday, February 08, 2007
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
The Essex Green show at Club Cafe I was so jacked about got cancelled last night due to weather. What a buzzkill. Appears the band had a hard time getting here from their Monday night show at the Southgate House. DAMN! All dressed up, and no place to go.
Go buy some Essex Green here. Package it with some Camera Obscura for nice little deal:
Not wanting to waste a night on the Southside, Jess & I went to our favorite little wine & tapas joint, Ibiza. I highly recommend Ibiza. Great tapas, and a pretty extensive wine list...much of which is available by the glass or by sampling flights for different countries. We tried the Portugal flight last night, in honor of Portugal's big 2-nil victory over Brazil yesterday (see...it always comes back to futbol).
Extremely friendly & helpful waitstaff as well...they know how to treat people. Ibiza is located at the far end of the strip, right next to its father restaurant, Mallorca:
2224 E. Carson
Back to the pop music tip:
So this little band here called Office is from Chicago, and is in the running for SPIN magazine's "underground artist of the year."
Go vote now (HURRY, there's less than 48 hours to vote):
Not only because I'm telling you to, or because they're from Chicago, or because guitarist Tom Smith is a relative of a friend of a friend of a friend (Empties Crushed is all about the 6 degrees, baby)...but for the shear fact they write some beautiful, brilliantly catchy pop songs. We like that sorta thing around here.
If you need further convincing, check out Office here:
Looks like they'll be releasing an album in the upcoming months on New Line Records, so be sure to check their web page for news and shows:
Friday, February 02, 2007
Play it loud, play it proud:
(left click to play; right click to download)
Go ahead. Get up and dance. Feel it. FEEL the Whale.
Go to http://www.brassbonanza.com/ where you can register to download ring tones. How fun.
Staying with the hockey theme, I'm very giddy to have been asked to be part of RMU-TV's broadcast of their Men's & Women's D-1 hockey games. Producer Dave Weldon deserves the props for getting this done...he's assembled a veteran crew, gotten some help from MCA-TV, and it appears these games will be shown on RMU-TV, as well as "on demand" from Comcast. Kick axx!
Last week went well, more so on Saturday than Friday (our 1st game). I'm probably a bit too chatter-happy as a "color guy." But we'll get better.
Anyways, over the next month, I'll be throwing out my personal RMU hockey player of the week.
note: this site has absolutely zero affiliation with RMU, and any opinions expressed here are not to be taken as such. I'm just a proud alum, supporter, and fan.
So, without further adieu, here's my co-players of the week, from the Women's team:
#19 Jessica Riley - RW - (Sat) freshman from Hamilton got her 3rd goal in 3 games, giving the Colonials an early 1-0 lead against Wayne St. The week prior, she'd scored her 1st 2 of the season, the 2nd of which came with 6 seconds left in OT to give Bobby Mo the win over Northeastern. Riley, along with linemates LW Jordan Riley (her twin sis), and C Alissa Dorman (Madison, WI) consistently set the tone on the ice for Coach Handrahan's squad. Albeit, a 3-2 OT loss (8 seconds in) to WSU, the Riley sisters & Dorman provided a ton of energy that everyone seemed to feed off.
#33 Brianne McLaughlin - G - (Sat) Bob was out shot 38-20 in the same contest. And despite improvement by the Colonials from Friday night (in terms of giveaways in their own end), the Warriors still had too many quality chances. McLaughlin was simply amazing in net, keeping the Beloved Colonial in the game. Without #33's stellar effort, captain Kristen Miles (who also deserves mention here) may have never had the chance to tie it with :40 left.
This weekend...the Men's team returns home to play #16 nationally ranked Niagara.
Speaking of RMU-TV...got a chance to pay a visit to my old Colonial Sportscenter show last night, and I must say, I was extremely impressed. No disrespect to any former producers, but me thinks CSC has never looked better. Major kudos to what appears to be a tremendous team effort.
There's a very professional atmosphere in the control room. Director Dan Yost has his act together. The graphics look amazing. There's a slew of packages incorporated (the Superbowl package with Bill Romango...complete with Chicago accent...was hilarious), and the rundown is packed with interesting stuff / tidbits. Brian Tirpak, who was a great producer in his own right, has blossomed into "the man" on the desk...adding that much needed personality to the show. A plethora of talent is utilized (I can't remember a CSC show where there was so many different people on cam), and they all seem comfy / cozy in their roles. Up-and-coming producer Scott Golmic was calm and collective.
Speaking of Dan and Scott, it appears they've both recently won an "Aegis Awards" for their work on CSC. Go HERE for the complete deets. High five.
An outstanding group effort, one that should make all former CSCers very proud. Bravo, people! Keep it rolling.
And finally...the Pirates just inked RHP Tony Armas to a deal. All the pieces are in place.
For what, I don't know.