Wednesday, December 26, 2012

2012 Review - Music

Is it just me or does every election year coincide with a kick ass year in music?  Probably just me.

Anyway, I usually look to my iPod for my list of year end favorites and was shocked at what album wound up on my most listened to list.  As always, I'm no music expert, just someone who knows what I like. 

Off we go.  Be warned, there was a lot of great music out this year.  Might be a lengthy list.  Settle in and prepare to spend some time listening to a few samples. 

MUST HAVES

The Black Keys - El Camino:  This was my most listened to album of the year according to my sentient, music clogged, iPod.  What's surprising is I got this last December.  That it's still in constant rotation could - quite possibly - mean that this is one of the best releases of the past decade.  Several of these songs have already embedded themselves in my brain forever.

For your consideration:  'Lonely Boy' (which has one of the best opening riffs ever and is quickly becoming a pop culture staple), or 'Gold On The Ceiling' or 'Little Black Submarine'.  Or just go pick this up.  You won't find a bad song. 


Baroness - Yellow & Green:  To give you an idea how far this group has expanded their sound, remember that they still 'technically' fall under the hard rock category.  Now listen to this song.  Yes, it could be their shortened twist on 'Stairway to Heaven', but check out the songs below and tell me they not only are trying to reinvent themselves, but also dragging rock into a new, diverse age of enlightenment.  Keep it up, fellas!

For your consideration: 'March to the Sea' and a live version of 'Take My Bones Away'


Divine Fits - A Thing Called Divine Fits:  The lead singers of a band I love (Spoon) and a band I like (Wolf Parade) join forces to create a quirky, funky, additictively strange album.  The songs can initially sound like out takes of their original groups, but repeated listenings prove that cross collaboration can bring out the best in everyone involved. 

For your consideration: One of my favorites, 'Flaggin' A Ride'.  As a bonus here is 'Baby Get Worse' live from Letterman.


The Word Alive - Life Cycles:  Every now and then a band decides to take two different types of music and mash them together.  No, it doesn't always work, but when it does - as it does here - the results can be exhilarating.  Cramming dance, metal, screamcore, pop and punk together is one thing, but making it seem effortlessly organic is remarkable. 

For your consideration:  Don't be scared away by the initial metal underpinnings of their songs.  Instead focus on the other elements and the remarkable beauty incorporated into them.  I do realize this isn't for anyone, but give it a chance.  I'll start you off slowly with 'Astral Plane'

Ready for more?  Here is 'Hidden Lakes' which could be the most danceable metal song ever recorded.

One more.  Here is the title track, 'Life Cycles' which starts off with the angry screaming and machine gun drum staple of most metal bands only to morph (2:44 mark or so) into a beautiful reflection on what it means to grow up.  And then it gets angry again. 


Torche - Harmonicraft: Finely crafted hard rock, with crunching bass and stellar guitars.  Think of this as a more melodic version of Tool. 

For your consideration:  'Roaming' and a live version of 'Kicking'.  I'll let these speak for themselves.


Menomena - Moms:  A shockingly honest album with hatred, embarrassment, and hope for both themselves and everyone that had a hand in creating them along the way.  Lyrics like 'Heavy are the branches hanging from my fucked up family tree' or 'You brought me into this shit show without a penny or a plan' pretty much sum it up.  The music - varied and wonderful - is what brings you back.

For your consideration: 'Plumage' and - one of my favorites of the year - 'Pique', which I may or may not have listened to five times in a row when I first heard it.  I can neither confirm nor deny such things. 


Future of the Left - The Plot Against Common Sense:  Raw, strange, hilarious, and completely in a class by themselves.  I'll just give you the songs and you can make up your own minds.  My mind was made up when I realized I had listened to nothing but this album for an entire week during my commute back and forth to work.  Nothing says endorsement like obsession.

For your consideration:  'Beneath The Waves An Ocean' and the video for 'Sheena Is a T-Shirt Salesman' 'She paid for our equipment with her tits'.



Bob Mould - Silver Age:  The veteran from Husker Du and Sugar cops an attitude and decides to show all these young punks how it's really done.  Between this new material and touring for his old 'Copper Blue' album, 2012 should be known as the year of Mould. 

For your consideration:  Here is Mould and his band performing 'The Descent' on Letterman.  Would you have thought someone that looks like a high school science teacher could rock like this?  Enjoy some 'Star Machine' as well.  It's on me. 



HONORABLE MENTIONS

Accelerators - Fuel for the Fire:  Fast, fun, Ramones-like punk pop. 

For your consideration: A live version of 'Statues'


Hot Water Music - Exister:  The Florida band hones and neatens up their sound without losing any of the rock and roll raggedness that makes them ferocious. 

For your consideration:  An acoustic, live version of 'State of Grace'


Anathema - Weather Systems:  An alluring album length ode to lost relationships and regret that I still go back and listen to on a regular basis.  Not sure how long these guys and girls have been around, but they're on my radar.

For your consideration:  Live version of 'Lightning Song'.  Sound isn't great, but you get the idea.


Blood Red Shoes - In Time To Voices:  My one and always Crush of the Month makes this list not due to beauty, but talent.  Amazing what one guitar and a set of drums can accomplish. 

For your consideration:  The video for 'Cold'.  The anger within the song makes me wonder if these two are at each other's throats all the time.  Fine line between love and hate.  She is so sexy, though, it may be worth it to take her abuse. 


Django Django - Django Django:  Easily one of the best debuts of the year.  Weird, Beach Boy inspired pop that runs off into strange, instrumental directions at times.  Would love to see these guys live as they're probably a blast. 

For your consideration:  The video for 'Hail Bop' that's just as strange as I would have expected. Can't wait to see where they go from here.  And that could be anywhere.


Fang Island - Major:  Not as free wheeling and fun as their debut, but they expand their sound just enough to call it growth while retaining their hard rock, guitar based backbone that reminds me of Lindsey Buckingham at his most enjoyable.  I get the feeling we're on the verge of something great with these guys.  Their next may knock our collective socks off.  Which is good since I just got new socks, so I'm stocked for a while. 

For your consideration: 'Sisterly' which begs the question of how someone fires their sister. 


The Fixx - Beautiful Friction:  No shit, these guys are still around and pumping out good music.  I always thought they were under rated back in the 80s (listen to 'One Things Leads To Another' again...it still holds up).  Here they prove relevance has nothing to do with age. 

For your consideration:  Live versions of 'Follow That Cab' (from this album) and 'Secret Separation'.


The Menzingers - On The Impossible Past: The Philly band rocks it out with Springsteen type lyrics that vividly flesh out lives of dysfunction, partying and anger.

For your consideration: The excellent 'Gates'.


WTF SECTION

LostProphets - The Betrayed:  One of my favorite bands puts out what seems like rejects from every other album in their catalogue.  The title might as well refer to every fan that paid for this.  Are they fulfilling a contractual obligation with this? 


Fun. - Some Nights:  Don't get me wrong, some of these songs are enjoyable and I like that they attempt to capture the epic sound of vintage Queen at times, but why they thought Autotune was needed on some of these songs is beyond me.  The lead singer can belt them out with the best.  Plus some of these songs just don't work.  For every song I enjoyed there was a jaw clenching 'WHY?!' thrown in for no reason I will ever figure out. 

Think that's it for this year.  I'm probably missing some like I always do.  I'll add any urgent ones to the comment section if I think of anything.  Carry on, good folks. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

2012 Review - Television

Holy shit did this year fly by!  Can you believe we're here already?  CAN YOU??!!  Oh, right.  I can't hear you.

Anyway, I still  had plenty of time for watching the boob tube so let's get right to it.

REQUIRED VIEWING

The Walking Dead:  While last season teetered and stuttered and spun its wheels for a bit, it still packed plenty of wallop when it was over.  This season has been balls to the wall; killing off major characters as quickly and efficiently as ninja sword lady kills little zombie girls.  To be fair, Wifey wants no part of this show.  She tried to catch up with me over the summer, but checked out when Rick started smearing zombie intestines all over him in order to disguise himself while walking through Atlanta.  She walked in last season just in time to see a zombie head get run over by a truck's tire. This may not be for everyone is what I'm trying to say.

Modern Family:  What else needs to be said?  The most consistently laugh out loud show on television.  Julie Bowen is still super hot, too. 

Live From Daryl's House:  Daryl Hall (yes, from Hall and Oates) invites different musical guests (Cee Lo Green, Plain White Ts, Neon Trees) to his house in upstate New York to perform hits from past and present.  If you have any appreciation for music and the dynamics of collaboration, search this one out.  I believe it has a regular home on Palladia, but you can watch most performances online, as well (check out the Guster episode).  The sheer joy of playing is visible in the faces and attitudes of everyone who takes part. 

Check out this clip with Joe Walsh jamming with the gang.  Hall's regular band members start off worrying about technical proficiency and sticking with the song.  By the middle, everyone is in full swing and having a ball, as evidenced by a quick shot of the drummer. 

Interspersed with the music is a cooking segment and interviews with the guests.  He even has an unplugged room which is put to terrific use.  If you stumble across this, spend some quality time with Daryl, who, by the way, still sounds fantastic. 

Part of me wonders if I enjoy this show so much because Hall basically lives the life I want: Live in a great home while cool people come to hang out.  Oh, and he gets paid for it.  Damn him!

Sidenote:  Joe Walsh summed up what is wrong with the current state of music perfectly.  Over dinner he brings up Beyonce winning a Grammy for one of her songs.  'The song had five writers and three producers' he says, '...the song HAD EIGHT WORDS!!'

The Good Wife:  I'll admit it slacked a bit towards the end of last season, but the introduction of Kalinda's scum bag, yet somehow endearing husband put the edge back in this show.  Cary coming back to the firm and the potential bankruptcy helped, too.  Still one of the most well written shows on television. 

Community:  Yes, it's weird and uneven and has more backstage drama than any show since Saturday Night Live, but, at it's best, it reinvents what we should expect from a half hour comedy.

Parks and Rec/30 Rock:  These two shows pack more laughs into 30 minutes than any show on television (even Modern Family).  30 Rock in particular machine guns so many jokes into an episode I have to rewind when I realized I missed something. 

Boardwalk Empire:  One of the greatest characters ever (Gyp) nearly made us forget the loss of Jimmy.  As psychotic and damaged as he was, he made me look forward to every episode. 


SHOWING PROMISE

New Girl:  Still funny, but seems to be trying too hard this season.  Every now and then they kill it (like Schmidt's self organized birthday party - 'Now I will dance with fire'), but beginning to strain a bit at the seams. 

GoOn:  Really took off after the first few episodes when it stopped trying to cram sensitivity into every 30 minutes and embraced its natural lunacy and dysfunction.  If there was ever a vehicle for Perry's natural sarcasm and ball busting ability, this is it.  Kudos to Harold (or was he Kumar?) for getting back into comedy.  He and Perry are great together. 

Suburgatory:  Getting too touchy feely for my liking.  The entire premise is the cynical, jaded, city teenage girl plopped into plastic, perfect, suburban fakery.  Sadly, the suburbs are changing the girl and not the other way around.  Still has it's moments that make it worth sticking around. 


FADING FROM GLORY

The Office:  It's actually better than it was last year and I'll keep watching since it's the last season, but still not nearly as good.  It really should have signed off when Carrell did. 

Revenge:  That didn't last long.  What started as a guilty pleasure, fast paced, revenge obsessed story has morphed into every nighttime soap opera ever.  Excuse me, Emily?  I know you're hot and all, but would you mind getting back to taking actual revenge on someone?  Anyone?


OFF THE WATCH LIST

Up All Night:  What a disaster.  The creators kept messing with the premise, introducing new characters and changing the format (it goes before a live audience next).  Then it took two wildly successful people and made them insanely insecure about everything and everybody.  Could quite possibly be the worst show on television right now. 

Jersey Shore:  Just like seven million other people.

Animal Practice:  Came and went so fast it barely registered


MARATHON CATCH UP

Breaking Bad:  I love Netflix for the sole reason of allowing me to get mid way through season 2 of this show that (fingers crossed) may become one of my favorites of all time.  So good I risk the chance of spending an entire weekend watching one episode after another.  Can't wait to finish up in time for the last season.  Although I don't think I'm going to make it. 

Game of Thrones:  HBO finally took my advice and allowed everyone to watch the first two seasons in one fell swoop.  I am caught up, fully invested and ready to roll for the upcoming season.  Boo yeah!

That's it for now friends.  If I don't get the music entry up before next week, enjoy the holidays. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Holiday Musings

Some random thoughts and stories to pass along while you digest leftovers.

-  Belated Happy Birthday to long time reader/co-owner of this space, DA, who I believe just turned 40.  Congrats on reaching such an important milestone! 

-  One of the changes an adult undergoes after having children is a new found appreciation for the holidays.  I used to ABHOR this time of year until son #1 turned two.  It's usually that age they display that special enthusiasm only kids can exude when it comes to shiny things, lights and trees inside a house.

It can be contagious. 

Sadly, eldest is now 12, doesn't believe in the red man any longer and has been warned he will be penalized with death (read losing his XBox) if he tells his little brother. 

-  While I know this makes me a terrible person, I could help but laugh out loud when I heard Ronald McDonald dropped dead during the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade.  Perhaps it was how my friend told me: 'You hear a clown died during the parade?'

Or perhaps I'm just a dick. 

Perhaps both?

-  My fantasy team is falling apart.  I was in third place two weeks ago despite having lost DeMarco Murray, Ben Tate, Hakeem Nicks and Aaron Hernandez to injuries and Brandon Lloyd to the Patriots offense.  Since then, I've lost LeSean McCoy to a concussion then last night I lost Andre Brown to a fucking broken leg.  This is two years in a row my roster has been decimated by injuries.  Good thing I don't pay two hundred bucks to play in this league.  Oh, right...I do.

-  Let my oldest and his cousin watch 'Alien' with me over the weekend.  By the end both of them were on the edge of their seats with their hands near their eyes.  Nothing like traumatizing a new generation of kids with a classic. 

This is the first time I've watched it in over a decade and admit it stands up well considering it was made thirty years ago. 

-  I've decided it's the perfect time of year (not to mention time of my life) to start taking vitamins on a daily basis.  I went out and bought Men's One A Day since I'm a man and I only want to take one of them a day.  I'm logical like that.  Directions on the back of the bottle:  'Take two a day'. 

I'm going to guess women can take these, as well, since false advertising is a business plan with this group. 

-  Watched the new 'Fright Night' and couldn't have been more disappointed.  Taken alone I suppose it was ok, but compared to the original it doesn't even come close.  Kudos for getting Chris Sarandon to play an unsuspecting victim (like he had nothing better to do) and Colin Farrell has quickly become under rated after being over rated for years.  Between this and 'In Bruges' he's cruising lately.

-  Had Thanksgiving dinner at my sister in law's house which is always a highlight.  Her husband and I get along famously and he has a tendency to push my alcoholic tendencies (which completely explains why we get along now that I think about it).  He even had a shot of Bailey's waiting for me when I arrived.  I wanted to wait until after I ate, but he rationally explained that it wouldn't have as much of an effect on us if we waited until after we ate.

Solid point, my friend!!!

So we had a pre dinner shot, a post dinner shot (to aid with digestion, of course) and one more for the road.  Good thing Wifey was driving home although I did not feel the slightest bit tipsy even after those three shots and several beers. 

-  The Wednesday before we broke for the long weekend, my colleagues and I gathered in my office and discussed how we were spending the holiday.  One joked that we should be doing shots before we leave today.  Without hesitating and opened my bottom drawer and pulled out four nips of Jack Daniels. 

'Run down to the vending machine and get some Cokes and we're in business'

One of the guys looks at me in all seriousness and said 'You are a TERRIBLE influence'.

Amazingly, I have heard that exact phrase from four different coworkers over the past decade.

And they're all dead on!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Wishful Thinking

Below is the Christmas List my seven year old handed to me yesterday.  It's verbatim and all misspellings are his:

-  IPAD

-  Nook

-  Bugati (put on the street)*

-  14 diamonds

-  15 gold**

-  pet spider

-  Mighty Eegle Angry Bird***

-  100 dollar card for ipod


Few notes:

*  In case you aren't a car fanatic, the Bugatti Veyron is the car he is referring to.  It cost just in the general area of two million dollars and can get up to speeds of nearly 300 miles per hour.  I found it considerate of him to let Santa put it on the street instead of struggling to get it into our living room.

**  I'm assuming this means he wants 15 gold PIECES.  He's been into the video game MineCraft lately and is obsessed with diamond and gold and obsidian and sapphires and anything else that can be pulled out of the ground. 

***  This Angry Bird he's talking about costs over 100 bucks and weighs more than I do.  The thing is massive.  Even if he did get it, there would be no safe place in his bedroom to store it. 

When I told him that not even Santa had unlimited resources, he looked at me as if I had five faces.  'Dad, he doesn't have to buy a Bugatti...he can just build me one.'

'What about the gold and diamonds?  He can't make those'

'He can just take them from the houses he visits before ours.  People are trying to get rid of their old jewelry all the time.  They can leave them out for him and he can give them to me.'

There you go, Santa.  You now need to resort to a life of crime in order to satisfy my kid.  Good luck!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Crush of the Month

Let's be clear, there needs to be a VERY good reason for me to dig this Crush of the Month thing out of the dusty, moth ridden, blog closet. 

And what better reason than this lovely lady.

Who?:  Actress/model/pretty sure she's a witch considering the spell she's cast over me, Lauren Cohan. 

Wait, maybe this will help:


Oh, yeah.  You see what I mean, right?  Of course, if you've been reading here for any length of time you would know that looks aren't everything.  I demand substance from my hotties.  Although, those eyes are beguiling, are they not?  Don't stare at them too long for I fear you will never look away. 


Really, who is this?:  It's Lauren Cohan, dammit!  Does she actually need an introduction?  Fine, she's been in the show 'SuperNatural' (It's SUPERNATURAL...duh duh duh dadadada duh duh dadadada - sorry, inside joke), 'Chuck' and...well....let's leave that for the next section....

What else?:  What really brought her to my attention was her turn as Maggie in 'The Walking Dead'.  One of the great aspects of this show (besides the blood, gore and general carnage) is watching characters develop over the run of the show.  Imagine my pleasure when the new hotties decides to get down and dirty with our sensitive, Asian hero on her second episode (or third, I forget). 

Morphing from horny, sheltered, preacher daughter to relentless zombie killer was....well...frankly....it was sexy as hell.  Take the above, trim some hair, and add a machete (you know, to save on ammo). 




You can imagine how that picture winds up -  Gloriously. 


That all?:  No, it's not.  What spurred this entry....

Oh shit.  Wait.   SPOILER ALERT!!!!  For Walking Dead fans anyway...

Ready?

What prompted me to add Lauren to this highly esteemed list of honorees was her character, Maggie's, direct impact on the death of one of the most annoying characters on the show.  I won't give away who, but if you watch this you know exactly what I mean.  She should have sliced her open long ago. 

Really, that's all?:  Well, no.  Cohan does look great in a bikini.


And?:  Has a killer smile and is one of the few women that can pull off orange:


Out with it!!:  Fine!  Despite all of the above there is one person who understands the complete reason behind adding Cohan to the list.  How weird is it that she was in 'SuperNatural'?

As infatuated as I am with this lovely lady, she doesn't come close to the who she makes me think of.  You know who you are and why this is posted.  You put this one to shame.

Although that dress is kick ass!

Congrats to Lauren Cohan for being BeachBum's Crush of the Month. 

And congrats to the other person for being my crush of a lifetime.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Fraud

Some election day thoughts for your consideration.

-  I came home from work two days ago to find my seven year old and his neighborhood friend sitting on their bikes in my driveway.  Both are excited to see me pull in. 

'Dad, I'm voting for Mitt Romney!'

'Really,' I ask, 'why is that?'

'I just like him more than Obama.  Obama has spent way too much money on wars and stuff'

'Well, that's a good point'

His friend pipes in: 'And we want Scott Brown to win'

'Uh huh'

'Yeah,' my son continues, 'Elizabeth Warren lied to people.'

'Where did you hear that?'

'It was on the radio'

'Listen, one harsh lesson you both need to learn: All politicians lie.  It's how they think they can get elected.'

They both stare at me.  I turn to go into the house.

'But, Dad!!!  Are you going to vote for Romney?'

'No, I'm not'

'Why?'

'Because I don't like either of our choices and politicians in general are making me angry.'

'But....'

'You know what,' I interrupt, 'neither one of you can vote and I'm done having a political debate with two seven year olds.' And, with what little dignity I had left, I turned and walked away.

- That little conversation made me realize that political ads are geared towards people as impressionable and gullible as a seven year old.  Just remember that when our nation's leader is declared later tonight. 

-  I did vote today, but I couldn't vote for either Romney or Obama.  I almost voted for Romney, but that name just to the right (Ryan) scared me away.  Instead I wrote in Spongebob Squarepants.  Don't judge me.

Btw, I'm not joking. 

-  I did vote for Scott Brown, however, for the sole reason that he's got two hot daughters.

Well, that and he's one of the few Republicans standing up to the lunatic fringe and telling them that he's voting OLD SCHOOL Republican and not this new fundamentalist, christian conservative, Republican that is taking over the country. 

-  Do you think there's a part of Obama that doesn't want to win this election?  He's aged in dog years over the past 4 years.  He can't possibly be looking forward to another term.

-  Massachusetts has an assisted suicide question on the ballot this year.  'Do you support the right for a terminally ill patient to receive a prescription from a doctor so they can commit suicide in their own homes?'  I answered Yes to that and my wife is beside herself.  She voted No.  My response: 'Why do you care either way if someone wants to kill themselves?  You'd rather them die a prolonged and horrible death from cancer or ALS?'

Her response: 'I just don't agree with it'

Well then. 

-  Unsurprisingly, I voted to legalize marijuana.  Not just for medicinal use, either.  There was a non binding question to prompt our Senators to legalize and tax weed like we do alcohol.  Hell yeah.  Let's do it!!!  Our local drug dealer will be a small business owner over night!  I want this to happen just to witness him mulling over the tax forms.

-  If you didn't notice by the theme of this entry, I'm severely disillusioned by our candidates, our process, all of the debates that were staged in fantasy land since anyone could say whatever they wanted and not be called out on it, and the media for not providing any sort of insight into the candidates. 

To their credit, our Fox News station here in Boston attempted to have every candidate on during election coverage to give their views, but they always degenerated into a shouting match.

It didn't help that political ads have been bombarding our airwaves for the past three months in a non stop campaign to eliminate honesty and any resemblance of centrist logical thinking from the race.  Both Obama and Romney are trying to convince us that if we elect the other one America is going right into the toilet. 

I'm done.  Done with them all.  They can all go rot at the bottom of the Potomac when this election is over.  I'm glad today is election day for two reasons:

1:  No more fucking ads on television

2:  No more fucking ads on television making shit up

Wait....that was redundant since every ad makes shit up.  My apologies. 

What's sad is there are very few (I've seen exactly two) that have told us anything positive about the candidate running the ad.  The plan seems to be to get people to NOT vote for the other person instead of just running on ideas and platforms.  'Don't vote for him, he's CRAAAZZZZY.  Vote for me instead even though I have given you no clear definition about what I actually believe'.

Guess what?  Neither one of you are getting my vote.  Go screw.

I do realize this sounds cynical and bitter, but don't care.  Every inkling of hope that one candidate (just ONE) would rise above the bullshit and come out as honestly and straightforward as they can were dashed yet again. 

One final thought:  The big, untold secret of this Presidential race is that there is nearly no difference between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama.  Other than their running mates, they agree on nearly every policy.  Want to know how I know this?  Because we had four years of Mitt as our Governor here in Massachusetts and a lot of what he's done (health care, taxes) is what Obama has done or has tried to do. 

Stepping off my bitter soapbox.  Go rock the vote. 

Or don't.  Won't matter either way. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Foiled Foliage

Over the past three years two twigs I barely paid any attention to have morphed into massive, view destroying trees that I keep hoping will get wiped out in a storm.  Every thunderstorm or half hearted hurricane or punk ass blizzard that rolls through gets my hopes up.

I've been denied every time.

Enter Sandy, which admittedly the Boston areas were mostly spared from.  Businesses were dismissed early and I spent a majority of Monday staring out the back window using my meek mental powers to persuade the two trees to take a dive. 

The trees aren't enormous and they have sprouted from the same trunk.  Since we live on ledge rock the roots probably only go down a few feet before spreading out.  They're also growing out of the side of a wall and have been leaning over the side yard of the house behind us for the past two years.  How they've held on this long is beyond me.

But this past week I felt the circumstances were perfect.  We had a light, soaking rain for nearly 36 hours before the fury of the wind even hit us. My thinking was if the ground was muddy the wind would have a better chance of pushing those two eye sores out of my life forever. 

For the record, I have nothing against trees in general, it's just that my back yard is surrounded by trees from our surrounding neighbors that have increasingly blocked sunshine.  This past summer was the worst with mushrooms actually growing during the longest dry period we had this past June. Mushrooms!  In summer.  When there was no rain.  That the trees aren't on our property means I can't even hire anyone to come take them down.  Even if I could, they are so difficult to get to I'm not sure anyone would agree to do it. 

So Monday was my day!!  I could feel it.  Two trees, not fully grown, leaning out from a wall, growing in shallow soil that was soaking for two days and the strongest wind we've had in years. 

As I stood by the back window with my fingers crossed, my seven year old jumps up on the couch to stare out the window the window with me.

'What are you looking at?'

'Those two trees are going down today.'

'How do you know that?'

'Because this storm is perfect for it to happen.'

'Well, that one is falling over,' he says, pointing to the right.

Sure enough a MASSIVE elm tree directly to the right of the two small ones falls way from our house.  Mud spews all over the yard, dying leaves go flying, twigs and breaking branches flip and fall out of sight.  My son and I look at each other and, at the same time, say 'Awesome!'

I ran out to make sure the house behind us wasn't hit and run into our neighbor who had the tree in his yard.  He says the same thing I was thinking 'We're going to have a lot more sun in our yards'.

So, while my two nemisis tress are still standing, we unexpectedly have way more skyline than we've had in over ten years.  Even this morning I could notice the difference. 

But I'll still try to force those other two trees over in my mind during the next storm.  It will happen!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Scarefest 2012 - The Tall Man

Today's Movie:  The Tall Man (2012)

Starring:  Jessica Biel, the Cigarette Smoking Man from 'The X-Files', one of those actors that you see all the time but never know the name of.

Plot:  An old mining town trapped in a downward spiral is terrorized by a child abductor known as The Tall Man.  That's pretty much it only it doesn't even begin to describe the plot in even the slightest way, shape or form.  I will explain below.

Gore Factor:  Mild. Biel does have the living shit beat out of her throughout the film, but there aren't any graphic murders or gory scenes.

Nude Factor:  Sadly, since Biel is one of my hottie crushes, none.

Scare Factor:  Not much.  The lone creepy scene happens early on.  This is less a horror movie than an action thriller. 

Review:  This is a difficult movie to review mainly because I went in expecting a certain type of movie, watching the first half as if it's setting up that EXACT type of movie, only to have it turn the tables not once, but three times along the way (may actually be four now that I think of it, but you get the idea).

Phase one:  Biel is a county doctor (really a nurse who took over for her deceased husband) who becomes a victim of The Tall Man when her son is abducted.  Not taking such things lying down, she proceeds to chase the kidnapper down, manages to crash his truck, and track him into the woods only to lose him.  Not a bad way to start things off.  She is found by a Federal agent who has been coming in to work the missing children cases for a few months.

Phase Two:  The Fed strangely takes her to a local diner instead of a  hospital because....well...mainly to further the plot along.  While there the towns folks act weird towards her and it seems as if this entire town is in on the child abductions.  Biel becomes wise to their conspiracy when she sees the picture of her son on an altar surrounded by candles.  Is the entire town involved in some sort of cult that sacrifices their own children???  Biel escapes out the back door and the entire diner goes after her. 

SPOILERS BELOW!!!!!!!!!

Phase Three:  Biel hides in the back of the sheriff's car (who is the weakest link and showing doubt about this entire thing) and manages to find her son.  Only she's knocked out by the kidnapper (Biel's character takes so much trauma to her head in this film she would have been brain dead in real life)  She awakens to find herself strapped to a chair while the resident crazy lady explains that the boy is actually her son and that Biel is the one who kidnapped him.  Wha, wha????  Is this lady telling the truth or is she nuts?

Phase Four:  She's not nuts.  Biel's character is the one behind all the kidnappings and it now appears she is working for The Tall Man and killing children left and right.  She manages to get loose and 'gets rid' of the boy (she ominously brings him into the basement) before the cops come to arrest her.

Conclusion:  But WAIT, she's not killing the kids (even though she admits she did), turns out she's 'saving' them from a social service standpoint and getting the kids to wealthy families and providing them with a better life.  Um.....what?

The premise is really confusing and stupid, but there is talent behind this film.  The director (no idea who it was and too lazy to look it up) sets up scenes to provide maximum impact (the opening CPR scene with a newborn, the arrest scene where Biel is taken out through an enraged town, the chase when her son is kidnapped, the diner scene that turns menacing).  The script also plays on our expectations by opening the movie with her bloody and battered and the Fed saying something that leads us to think one thing when it really means something else entirely when that scene comes around again.  

All that said, this movie was all over the place in tone and logic.  How is this convoluted plot to better kid's lives any more effective that a standard social service program.  Biel's character at one point says 'The system is broken', but how is this stupid, convoluted plan any better?  Not only that, but her partner in crime is her husband (not dead, btw) who lets his wife go to jail and possibly face the death penalty.  How is this effective?  And who are they to decide what life is better for which kids?  These parents obviously love their kids and are devastated when they're are taken.  Just because they are poor doesn't mean they aren't good parents. 

And that's not even getting into how some characters react.  Biel could have easily just walked away with her husband at one point but chose to stay to get arrested.  Her partner in crime fucking hangs herself instead of just getting out.  All of this makes even less sense when it's revealed that there is some secret organization behind all of it and Biel was just one of their agents.

Bottom Line:  While there are some very effective moments throughout the movie, the script lacks the logic and Biel nudity to make this worthwhile.  I applaud the filmmakers attempts at creating something surprising and unpredictable, but the entire plan behind bettering kid's lives is flawed. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Scarefest 2012 - Shiver

Today's Movie:  Shiver (Eskalofrío) - 2008.  Watched on Netflix streaming (Spanish with subtitles although horror has no language barrier)

Starring:  Nobody I've ever heard of or will ever see again.  Although there is a hot chick girlfriend.

Plot:  A teen allergic to the sun (there is a technical term for it, but I don't remember what it is) and his mother move to a small village in order to keep him out of the sun for longer periods of time.  Coincidentally (and conveniently) people start seeing a creature in the woods who steals soccer balls, throwing rocks at kids and...something else...oh yeah...murdering people and drinking their freshly spilled blood.  Everyone, including the lead detective, suspects the new kid who can't be in the sun and has extra large canine teeth. 

Gore Factor:  Medium to high depending on your sensibilities.  One squeamish part with an Achilles being severed (ala Pet Sematary) and some bloody victims.

Nude Factor:  None which was odd as I thought all foreign women enjoyed showing themselves off.

Scare Factor:  Not bad.  There are a few truly terrifying moments, the most notable being when the son is home alone and wakes to find the creature in the same room with him.  Great directing here as we are shown only glimpses of a shadow or from the reflection of a knife.  That the kid does a great job acting scared adds to the tension.  Also, the scene near the end of the movie that takes place in the woods was intense.

Review:  Warning a major spoiler here.  I'm giving away the main plot point so don't read any further if you want to watch this yourself.

Still here?  Alrighty then.

What starts as a decent horror/monster movie turns inexplicable when it's revealed the 'creature' is really a nine year old girl that was raised by wild animals when she got lost in the jungles of Africa.  No, sadly, I'm not even kidding.

This revelation makes her abilities somewhat mysterious as the creature (before the reveal) in the woods has super human reflexes, can kill a grown man with a swift movement, and moves through the trees like a nuclear monkey.  Why she is killing people and drinking their blood is equally confusing as it would sure be easier to simply rummage through a kitchen to get fresh food.  She's constantly breaking into certain homes for reasons that go unexplained and only seem to exist to provide some scenes of terror (well done scenes, but in hindsight they aren't that frightening and makes the hero seem a bit of a pussy).

Stranger still is the explanation for how she arrived in these particular set of woods which involves the murder of her parents and subsequent cover up by the man, the man's gentle father AND his mother.  Really?  They all kept quiet about this?  Even when they begged him not to kill the little girl?

Even more frustrating is how the teen boy and his friends figure out what's going on in order to prove to the detective that he really is innocent only to find out that everyone in the entire town knows all about the little girl.  But she left for Germany years ago so it couldn't possibly be her.  Right, there are two crazed little girls roaming around.  Good reasoning there.

Bottom Line:  Extremely competent directing, acting and legitimate scares, but the steam goes out of this movie as soon at the explanations start coming.  If they had just kept this a standard monster movie, it would have been so much better.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Tragedy

Something horrible happened this past Saturday morning.  It was a weekend that will live in infamy with my family for generations. 

Our Dish Network receiver died and we've had no television for the past three days. 

Sorry, I should have prepared you for such devastating news but part of me thought it best to just blurt it out so you could recover from the shock. 

If your first thought was my inability to watch any Red Zone yesterday you weren't the only one.  I kept attempting to repair the receiver on my own in hopes I could get a few last, desperate hours out of it.  Alas, it was not to be. 

Instead I was forced into the following activities:

-  Playing cribbage with my wife (beat her two out of three....sorry...is 'beat' and 'wife' not supposed to go together?)

-  Assisting my eldest son in creating a model of an animal cell for his school project and reaffirming my long held belief that school sucks. 

-  Watching in disbelief while my seven year old taught himself how to ride a bike with no training wheels.  Didn't even know he was going to try until I looked out the window and saw him riding around the circle at the end of our street. 

-  Getting work done.  No shit.  I was productive over a weekend. 

-  Went to the gym.  Again, I should have prepared you for that, as well.  My sincere apologies.

-  Read (gasp) a BOOK!!!!

-  Watched '21 Jump Street' on DVD.

-  Watched two horror movies and 'The Walking Dead' season premiere on my laptop.

-  Went to bed at 9:30 pm on a Saturday night and slept for 9 hours.

-  Listened to the Patriots under achieve on the radio like it was 1935. 

The good news is the replacement receiver should be here tomorrow and my life will go back to being normal.  I won't have to help my kids with homework, I can pretend to listen to my wife bitch about work while half watching PTI out of the corner of my eye, I'll get to watch and fantasize about JC Monyhan and Dorothy Krysiuk every morning, and most importantly, the NFL will be making a full time comeback next Sunday.

Everyone keep me in your thoughts over these trying times.  I will try to get along as best I can, but it will not be easy. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Scarefest 2012 - The Haunting

Today's Movie:  The Haunting (1999)

Starring:  Liam Neeson, Catherine Zeta Jones, Owen Wilson, Lili Taylor

Plot:  A psychologist (Neeson) decides to run an experiment with three paid volunteers to see how group dynamics responds under intense fear conditions.  His brillliant idea is to make them all stay overnight in a haunted mansion/castle/possessed house not realizing it really is haunted and possessed.  Nell (Taylor) starts seeing ghosts and a convoluted, semi incoherent story unfolds.

Gore Factor:  Movie is PG-13 so other than Wilson losing his head in a surprisingly bloodless fashion, not much to report. 

Nude Factor:  Non existant which was disappointing as I forgot how stunning young Zeta Jones was. 

Scare Factor:  Barley any.  The ghosts we do see are non threatening (until the end at which point it's far too late) and Taylor's acting ruins any chance of actual suspense.  Her reaction to Wilson's beheading is to simply say 'Oh no' and walk away.  There is one cool scene where a bedroom becomes the ghost haunting the house, but other than that this is a waste of time.

Review:  Is it odd that the movie with the most star power and budget (it was directed by Jan de Bont who, between 'Speed 2: Cruise Control' and this movie, seems intent on proving the first 'Speed' was a fluke) is also the worst horror movie reviewed so far.  Even John Carpenter's 'Prince of Darkness' had more scares than this stupid entry. 

I suppose it could have been better if someone other than Lili Taylor were playing the lead.  Neeson, Wilson and Zeta-Jones all exude the ease on camera quality that made them stars.  Taylor spends her time over reacting when she shouldn't and under reacting when she should.  I laughed out loud at her lack of reaction to Wilson's death (whoops, spoiler alert many times over).  At times she comes off as mentally challenged.

What doesn't help her is a story so confusing and convoluted you have to work your way through it in order to figure out what exactly is going on.  Take it from me, it's not worth your time.  Here it is in a nutshell:  Nell is actually the grand daughter of the menacing dude possessing the house and she winds up sending him to hell and freeing all the trapped children's souls...ah whatever. 

Bottom Line:  Don't waste your time.  Sit in a dark room and watch any nightly news program.  More creepy stories there.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Scarefest 2012 - The Prince Of Darkness

Today's Movie:  The Prince of Darkness (1987) directed by John Carpenter in a blatant attempt to cash in on his Halloween success. 

Starring:  The dude from 'Simon and Simon' (the blond one with the stache), Donald Pleasance reprising his role from 'Halloween' only as a priest and even more poorly acted, and a homeless guy who I could swear was Alice Cooper but he was uncredited and never said a word. 

Plot:  A priest dies with a box on his chest (this wasn't the cause of his death, but strange nonetheless).  Inside is a key that Pleasance's character somehow knows exactly which door it will fit.  Inside he finds a mysterious green goo that is either an ancient cotton candy maker or the 'PURE ESSENCE OF EVIL!'.  A team of student physicists are brought in for reasons that are entirely unclear and bloodshed ensues. 

Gore Factor:  Not terribly high.  The gore that is here is ridiculous and laughable.  This includes an elderly bag lady stabbing a guy to death who doesn't bother even raising his hands in protest, Alice Cooper shoving a bike through a guy (I wish I were kidding) and the single lamest broken neck scene ever filmed.  Oh, some dude loses his paper mache head, as well. 

Nude Factor:  None and let us all be thankful for that.  Not terribly attractive women in this movie.

Scare Factor:  Despite all of the above, Carpenter does provide some spooky images: People surrounding a building unmoving and silent, hands attempting to grab at feet, bugs crawling all over the place.  Also, the last image of a woman trying to reach for help before the exit is cut off will stick with you.  Hard to explain without giving things away. 

Review:  This movie was all over the place.  Trying to be part rational debate over the existance of God, the clash between science and religion, while keeping violence and fright at the forefront.  It doesn't work.  The acting is terrible, the budget is so low I'm betting they shot this is a week, and the story makes very little sense.  It doesn't help that what is supposed to be scary is simply hilarious most of the time.  The green liquid takes over people by peeing in their mouths, the gateway from hell is any mirror apparently (a commentary on narcissism?  Who fucking cares!), and the girl that everyone is supposed to be head over heels for is plain looking at best and an emotionless bitch. 

On top of everything is a dream shared by everyone in the house that they decide is a video sent back in time from the future to warn everyone what is going to happen.  Somehow this is taken with a nod of the head and a decision that it can be stopped.  Well done, brainiacs.

I'll give this movie a break since it was made in the 80s (the music, the clothes, the hair, the attitudes, the mustaches), but if this ever was scary it certainly hasn't aged well. 

Bottom Line:  Hey Hollywood.  Why not remake this movie with better special effects, better actors and more scares?  The idea behind it isn't bad, just poorly (both quality and money wise) executed. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Scarefest 2012 - Paranormal Activity 3

Today's Movie:  Paranormal Activity 3 (2011).  Viewed during EPIX free preview. 

Starring:  Nobody I have ever seen.  The two sisters from the first two movies make a cameo mainly to lay the ground work for what we're about to watch.

Plot:  Same as the first two movies:  Found video footage shows us increasingly agitated and annoyed ghosts wreaking havoc on a family.  In this case we witness the origins of the two sister's paranormal involvement. 

Gore Factor:  Barely any.

Nude Factor:  None, although there was promise when husband and wife get high and begin shooting a home made porn.  Alas, things get interrupted by a party pooper ghost. 

Scare Factor:  Not bad, although we should jump to the review for further explanation.

Review:  I am fully on board with the first two Paranormals.  Thought they were well done, super scary in parts and actually had a story thread connecting the sisters and the first and second movies (which happen in parallel, it seems).  I don't hate the third one but about halfway through this one (right when the babysitter arrived) I realized I was just seeing the same movie all over again.  Yes, there are creepy moments, genuine jump in your seat scenes (one of which had me laughing) and the actors come off as a genuine family and likable people you would want to hang around with.  What makes these movies effective aren't the camera tricks (although they pull off a great one here with the oscillating fan rig) but making us care about the characters.

The problem here is that staleness begins infringing on the latter parts of the movie.

Bottom Line:  If you enjoyed the first two, you'll like this one.  It also does a good job tying the stories together but I had moments of boredom once deja vu took over in the last half of this.  Not terrible by any means, but the originality of the series is starting to wear thin.  I should confess that the knowing PA4 is on the way didn't help my frame of mind while watching this one. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Scarefest 2012 - Absentia

Since we're quickly approaching Halloween let's start a new series so I have something to write about rather than my current lack of lifestyle.

Every now and then I'll review some scary movies I've seen recently.  

Today's movie:  Absentia (2011) watched on Netflix streaming.

Starring:  Nobody you've ever heard of

Plot:  A woman coming to terms with her husband's seven year disappearance begins experiencing guilt hallucinations after having him declared dead.  Her (poorly) recovering drug addict of a sister arrives for moral support and they both "stumble on the truth" (say in scary narrator voice). 

Gore Factor:  Minimal.  There is a shot of a crumbled body, but it's not terrible.

Nude Factor:  Non existent although I kept hoping the sister would have a shower scene.

Scare Factor:  Pretty high.  The first two thirds of this movie amp up the suspense very effectively.  It takes talent to create tension out of a scene of a woman brushing her teeth. 

Review:  Considering how low budget this is, the movie was quite effective and super scary in parts.  The initial setup for a mind boggling plot turn (seriously, this moment in the movie floored me due to the entire counselling conversations I mistook to be filler) displays some serious film making chops for the people behind this film.

The performances were better than expected and the creep factor leading up to the climactic explanation was highly effective.

However (could you sense the 'However' coming?) there are times when scary, supernatural happenings in movies like this don't need explanation.  The minute you start explaining what is going on, the more ridiculous it sounds.  I won't give anything away, but if the sister's theory was correct (and of course it is) the simple resolution was to simply move away from that neighborhood.  Do they do that?  Of course not.  That would be smart and rational.

Bottom Line:  Recommended with the caveat that when it's revealed what's going on you'll be less scared and more angry at the film makers for trying to make sense of things.  It would have been much freakier if there was no explanation. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Broken Valentine

Setting: 

Fenway Park and other Major League Ballparks

Cast of Characters: 

Red Sox Manager played by Bobby Valentine

Red Sox General Manager played by Ben Cherington

Red Sox Ownership played by Tom Werner, John Henry and Larry Lucchino (Curly, Larry and Moe respectively)

Red Sox Roster played in the first act by well known, highly payed, All Star names.  Played in the second act by new faces and aspiring stars trying to make a name for themselves.

Special Guest Star: Dustin Pedroia as himself. 

Cameo by David Ortiz.

Theme:  Comedy that turns tragic set in the year 2012.

Story:  After an historic 2011 collapse the Red Sox front office decides to clean house.  Leaving the team are home grown hero Theo Epstein and the most beloved manager in Red Sox history, Terry Francona, who led a bunch of misfits to two titles and numerous playoff appearances during his stint. 

After his firing, stories 'leak' that Francona had lost control of the team due to personal issues and a dependency on pain killers.  A story that is called 'bullshit' on by any and all that know Francona personally.  The backlash against the ownership (who everyone knows is responsible for the story) is swift and fierce. 

Also revealed is that Red Sox starting pitchers Josh Beckett, John Lackey and Jon Lester had been spending time during their off days drinking beer and eating fried chicken in the clubhouse during games. This does much to explain the poor performance and bloated appearance of each towards the end of the season. 

In an effort to clear the stink from 2011, Red Sox management decide to hire the brash and opinionated Bobby Valentine to whip the club back into a disciplined, honed, baseball mashing machine....forgetting, somehow, that even the World Series teams were never labeled as such. 

Hiring an alpha male manager in a club house full of over paid, pampered athletes works about as well as expected. 

Before he's on the job a month, Valentine refers to one of the hardest working, most dedicated and caring players on the team as not being 'physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past' which leads to an understandably angry reaction from every player in the Red Sox clubhouse and 90% of the fans.  Way to get off on the right foot, Bobby.

The rift never heals which Valentine blames on Youkilils never getting over his initial comments.  While I'm no psychologist I'm pretty sure this frame of mind indicates an alarming and severe personality disorder.  Youkilis is eventually traded to allow young phenom Will Middlebrooks more playing time, although everyone knows it's because he can't stand being near Valentine for any length of time.  A sentiment shared by a majority of others, it seems, because Valentine is often sitting by himself. 

Time for montage:  Poor play; arguing; morale on the field and in the stands plummeting; sniping in the press back and forth; pictures leak of Valentine taking a nap; Fenway is half empty for the first time in over a decade; owners still cling to a 'sell out streak' as if that's all that matters; injuries mount (including Middlebrooks who was supposed to make fans forget Youkilis).

Climatically, management guts the team by trading Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto to the Dodgers for a carton of milk, some crackers and the psychological relief of not having to pay 220 million dollars still owed to three of them. 

Let the free fall begin.  After the trade nobody pays much attention to the team.  Random stories pop up about players still hating Valentine, but the young players nobody has ever heard of play hard and are appreciated by the fans. 

Ending:  On the last day of the season Valentine is shown roaming around the players, offering encouragement and joking around before the game.  The players fake smiles, look awkward and reward Valentine's last minute insincerity by losing the final game of the season 14 - 2.

Closing credits:  Record 69 - 93

Players who helped win World Series no longer with the team:  2

Other All Stars Traded:  2

Number of players who put on Red Sox uniform:  54 (league record)

First Sox manager to only last one season since 1934

Number of foot in mouth moments:  lost count

Largest drop in win total (non strike season) since 1946

Number of boos rained down from stands directed at one person:  millions

Sell out streak over even if owners won't admit it.

Most entertaining moment: Valentine wiping out on a bike in New York while trying to read a text from Dustin Pedroia that I can only hope read 'Just heard you were toast'.

Punchline:  This entire season was a celebration of Fenway Park's 100th anniversary.  It's oddly appropriate if you grew up with this team - a century worth of dysfunction packed into 162 games.



 

Monday, September 17, 2012

NFL Postmortem - Week 2

Man alive, what a Sunday. 

First, my morning was spent trying to figure out if Hakeem Nicks was going to play.  He was listed as 'Questionable' all week.  My gut told me he was going to play.  Ten days off between games, he's been resting all week, he looked decent in the opener (even if Eli didn't). 

Finally, around 11:30 I get word that he's going to play.  Off I head to my buddy's house to watch the Pats.

On my way, I get a text that Wifey reads off to me 'Nicks is inactive!'

What the hell?  Fortunately (not really, but stay with me) I have Yahoo's Fantasy app on my phone.  I walk Wifey through changing my roster - replacing Nicks with Lance Moore.  Go ahead and check out the disparity between those two yesterday. 

I get to my former friend's house and he's got the wide screen TV, a laptop streaming another game with another laptop showing everyone's fantasy scores.

Imagine my surprise when Hakeem Nicks pops up with numbers.  'Uh, dude?'

His face drops, 'I swear the TV said he was inactive.  Yahoo confirmed it'.

I spend the afternoon watching Nicks fantasy score climb to over 30 points.  Lance Moore?  My replacement?  4 points. 

Second, there is a new guy in my league who replaced a psycho all of us wanted gone.  Draft day seemed fine, but once the games started he's turned into a flaming asshole.  He jumped the waiver wire to steal Ogletree THE DAY Dallas was playing.  Several of us protested, but he's refusing to hand him over (we all hope Ogletree never catches another ball the rest of the season).

He then offered me two trades the day after Jay Cutler left a steaming pile of fantasy shit all over my computer screen (9 points?????!!!!).  He offered me Drew Brees and some no name RB for Andrew Luck and LeSean McCoy.  No thanks.  I like McCoy and wouldn't trade him for Brady.   Well, maybe....

I refused that trade and he immediately came back with Drew Brees and Toby Gerhart (Petersen's backup) for Petersen and Luck.  To that I said yes.  Hell I get Brees and keep McCoy and DeMarco Murray?  Done and done.  Plus, there is a good chance Petersen has a set back from knee surgery and Gerhart is suddenly valuable. 

Nearly minutes after I accept the trade, someone posts that they would have given this new guy more than I did for Brees.  New Guy posts a few hours later that he wants the trade voided.  Well, fuck that.  I post and say nothing.  The way it works is the trade gets voted on by the league.  If more than half refuse it, the trade is off. 

This morning the trade became official and the commish posts that if we want to void it, we have to re-trade the players back to each other.  New Guy posts 'Yes, please.  Let's do that'.  Um....no.  I'm not doing that.  He offered a trade and I accepted.  Fuck a do over.  Just because he wants a better deal doesn't mean I have to take a bath on it. 

Third, imagine my pleasure when my starting tight end gets hurt on the very opening play of the game.  Yup, I had Aaron Hernandez who is now out for at least six weeks.  Whatever fantasy football god I offended last season with all my injuries is apparently still pissed off at me.  Sorry for whatever I've done, football deity.  I am truly sorry. 

Lastly, of course, is the Pats game itself which fluctuated from anger at their play to elation from a last minute fumble recovery to joy watching Woodhead rumble in for a last second touchdown to frustration over a stupid hold (which was entirely unnecessary) to complacency when I realized our kicker is one of the best in the league to disbelief when he missed a game winner BY A MILE!

Overall it has not been a fun football week for me.  Therefore I'm foregoing any game analysis since my anger will cloud any positive aspects and I'll wind up writing something insulting and regrettable.

Consider this my mature side (finally) showing itself. 

I will give you this, however:

Stat of the Week:  Jay Cutler, Aaron Hernandez and Lance Moore combined to get me 13 fantasy points.  My kicker (Mason Crosby) scored 14. 

Here's hoping I enjoy next Sunday a whole lot better than this one. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

NFL Postmortem - Week 1

Football is back!  Have you heard?? 

Well, it is.  You can tell from the thunderous sound of eyes rolling from every woman in America (except for DA who might be the only female who enjoys the NFL as much as us guys do). 

I, for one, couldn't be happier.  I'm now in THREE fantasy leagues but there is still only one that matters (READ: Involves money).  Since I know you all care so much, here is that team: 

QBs:  Jay Cutler, Josh Freeman, Andrew Luck

RBs:  Adrian Petersen, DeMarco Murray, LeSean McCoy, Ben Tate

WRs:  Hakeem Nicks, Brandon Lloyd, Kenny Britt and his explosive knee ligaments, and a bunch of scrubs. 

TEs:  Aaron Hernandez, Owen Daniels.

K: who cares?

DEF:  Da Bears!

Other than my running backs, I'm not super stoked about my team.  Which might be a good thing.  I was loved my team last year and wound up getting crushed by injuries to Britt, Vick, Fred Jackson (out again already), and nearly every player that hit my roster. 

But let's get to the games.  Boo YEAH!  Some random thoughts while enjoying my first week of NFL RedZone.

-  My buddy and I have a side bet going regarding the Pats tight ends.  I have Hernandez (drafted in the sixth round) he has Gronk (drafted in the second).  I firmly believe this is the year of Hernandez and bet 50 bucks he'll have a better fantasy year than Gronk.  Current score:  Hernandez 15.40 to Gronk's 15.00.  This won't be decided until the very last game. 

As for the game, I'm not taking much from this.  Titans are in the growing pains phase of their rebuilding and the Pats always look good against inferior teams.  One good thing is pretty boy Brady got his nose smashed.  Maybe it will remind him how it feels to play football and bring him back to his gritty glory days. 

One sidenote: Will there be a more devastating play for any team this year than Nate Washington getting crushed followed by Locker injuring his shoulder making a tackle 20 seconds later?  What a nightmare scenario for Tennessee. 

-  I realize it's way too early to read much into any one game, but there is a good chance the Giants might be bad this year.  They looked terrible.  If you can't get geared up for a home game when you're celebrating your Super Bowl, when will you? 

-  Speaking of looking terrible, my aversion to everything Vick was confirmed as accurate yesterday.  He looked awful.  I'd like to thank Reid for staying true to himself once again, as well.  McCoy was running at will through Cleveland's so called defense.  The Eagles are down six, get to the four yard line with time running out (thanks to another great McCoy run, btw), and Reid proceeds to call three pass plays right in a row.  Yes, they did score the winning touchdown so it's tough to second guess this, but why pass when you're four yards from the end zone?  And you have one of the best running QBs and RBs in the league?  Why, Reid??? WHYYYYY????

-  RG3?  I'm a believer. 

-  Weren't the Saints supposed to come out and give everyone the middle finger by bashing the 'Skins?

-  Has anyone looked as terrible in victory as Stafford did yesterday?  Oh, right.  Vick again.

-  Two big names coming off knee surgery looked fantastic:  Jamaal Charles and Adrian Petersen.  Wonder if they went to Germany over the summer?

-  Reason number 452 not to trust 'experts' and injury reports:  Everyone was worrying over Arian Foster's knee and that Ben Tate was the big 'sleeper' of the week.  The reasoning being that Foster would have limited carries even if he started.  Right.  Foster - 26 carries, Tate - 5.  Fuck you all!!

-  While I'm not a fan of Matt Ryan, I have to admit he and the entire Falcon team looked good.  Really good. 

-  If laying the smack down on Rodgers and the Packers in Green Bay doesn't get the attention of the rest of the NFL, then I don't know what San Fran needs to do.  That defense was staggering to watch.  It was like they had 15 guys on the field. 

-  Game that tells us nothing about either team:  Vikings 26 - Jaguars 23.  Although I will say Ponder and Gabbert looked down right competent. 

-  Either Rex Ryan had the Jets play the best possum ever seen in the preseason or Buffalo's defense is historically terrible.  You decide. 

-  Is Peyton Manning really back to his old self?  He certainly looked like himself.  Still, can't shake the dread every Denver fan must also be feeling that he is one awkward hit away from the end of his career. 

-  Fantasy name to consider:  Brandon LaFell.  Now starting next to the ageless Steve Smith in Carolina and had a good game one.  Could be his breakout year.

Stat of the Week:  If you take away Aaron Rodgers' scrambles, San Fran held the Packers to 18 yards on 9 rushes.  2 yards a carry.  Are you fucking kidding?  And Peyton Manning chose Denver over the 49ers why, exactly?

Until next week, my football friends. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

London Calling

Usually these Olympic opening and closing ceremonies are dull, lifeless, bizarre and a waste of time and money.

Thank you, London, for showing the rest of the Olympic host cities how to do it right.  The Who, Freddie Mercury looking as young as ever, Spice Girls looking good, Russell Brand lip syncing his way through a strange performance (would we have him any other way), three people I have never seen or heard before (although I enjoyed their Rolls Royce entrances), George Michael stopping in from the men's locker room to perform Freedom,  Eric Idle singing a song from one of my favorite movies and even Madness of all groups playing Our House (still one of the greats).

A celebration of everything British.  I even spent time educating the boys on who everyone was and who else should have been there (no Stones or Zeppelin, England?  WTF??).

I also can't wait until the boys are old enough to watch my favorite movies with me.  Most are adult oriented (Life of Brian) or a bit too scary (Jaws - although my 12 year old watched it with me a few weeks ago and claimed to have not been traumatized despite his hesitation to go swimming in the ocean a few days later) or violent (Goodfellas, Godfather, French Connection) or long (Bridge Over River Kwai). 

It also provoked this conversation:

If the United States had the same celebration who would we have as musical guests?

Only one definite I would say:  Bruce Springsteen. 

But who else?  Let's keep in mind they still need to be able to perform and epitomize what American music is all about.  Or helped evolve it into what it is now. 

Tentative list that is open for comments and debate:

Bruce Springsteen

Stevie Wonder

Michael Jackson (ala Freddie Mercury.  How about Rockwell performing with a video MJ singing the chorus??)

Run DMC (I would pair them up with the remaining Beastie Boys.  Damn, they should do that anyway!! I would buy that album.)

Madonna (as much as it pains me)

Aerosmith

Beach Boys (although after the Grammy's I'm not sure I want to witness that again)

BB King/John Lee Hooker/any other decrepit blues guitarist that can still keep their heads up

The Brady Bunch kids


Fats Domino/Chuck Berry/whoever is still alive from that era

Diana Ross (I'm grasping at straws here)

Green Day (if England can have half of Oasis, we can kick ass with Green Day)

Eminem/Dr Dre/Snoop Dogg

Black Keys

and, of course, Debbie Gibson and/or Tiffany

Who am I missing?  I left Aretha Franklin off because she's in rough shape, but if she could get out there she's a definite.  I would think Mariah, too?  What about Carol King?  Simon and Garfunkel?  Just Simon?  Van Halen (with Roth)?  This conversation could go on for days....

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Musical Notes

It's been a while, so let's do a quick roll call. 

Kos, no longer posting

Bigs, off on his annual summer long bender

Rob, driving around in his cool new car wondering why hot Boston chicks are suddenly smiling at him.

Jum, most likely holed away in his apartment with a month's worth of facial hair while trying to par Pebble Beach on his new Golden Tee.

That leaves me picking up the slack - defined here as not doing anything for over a month.  But hey, don't blame me.  I've been on vacation, hang out with my new work buddies during Cigar Fridays (which doubles as Beer O'Clock, of course) and been balls to the wall at work. 

But I always have time for music.  As should you, even if our tastes don't always merge.  And, believe me, they won't for some of these.  Apologies in advance. 

Hot Water Music - Exister:  Rumor had it these guys were ready to call it quits a few years ago.  Thankfully, they've stuck it out and just released their best music to date.  Nothing fancy with these guys; just solid rock and roll with not a bad song in the bunch. 

Look they have an actual video now, too:  State of Grace

Personally I prefer Drag My Body but you can decide for yourselves. 


Anathema - Weather Systems:  An atmospheric, complex, genre defying, could be great album that will most certainly be on my list for best albums of the year.  You want a beautiful ballad?  Sure.  Want some of the best drumming you'll hear all year?  Got that.  Want hard rock?  Got that, too.  How about all of that in one song?  Why SURE!



The Cribs - In The Belly of the Brazen Bull:  While not on par with 'Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever' it is a major step up from their last release which appeared to be a hail mary attempt at mainstream acceptance.  Frankly, it was terrible.  They get back to what they do best with stripped down garage rock.  Glad to have them back where they belong. 

This is the Cribs I've grown to know and love.  Let's just pretend their fourth album never happened.  Perhaps we should do the same with this bizarre video. 


Fun - Some Nights:  Meh, whatever.  I would link to a song, but I'm sure everyone is very familiar with 'We Are Young' which will go down as this summer's most over played song. 


The Ghosts - The End:   Now we're talking.  If you're looking for danceable pop songs skip Fun and pick up this one.  Very reminiscent of early '80 English bands (lead singer brings to mind the Pet Shop Boys).

Here is a song titled Ghosts.  By The Ghosts.  Perhaps diversity isn't their strong suit. 


The Heartbreaks - Funtimes:  More addictive pop rock even if the singer is overly earnest and emotional.  They are called the Heartbreaks after all.  Not all of this works, but you can probably hear this band during the course of Zoey Daschenel's next indie movie. 

Delay delay.  Which is the theme song of my work day today.  These guys look like they're 16.  Quick survey: Is this an openly gay love song?


The Lillingtons - The Back Channel Broadcast:  Nothing ground breaking here, just the Lillington's channelling their inner Ramones for quick fire, 2 minute punk songs that zip by in a blur.  Quick!  Listen to this song before it's over.  Hurry!!!!


The Men - Open Your Heart:  A rip roaring, take no prisoners release that drains you of all energy by the time you get done listening to it.  Not sure if this it their debut or not, but if it is this is a band to keep an eye on.  Friggin' fantastic.

Here is a live version of Open Your Heart. 


Riverboat Gamblers - The Wolf You Feed:  The Gamblers are back with another fine, fun loving batch of songs that make you want to head down to Texas and roll around in BBQ sauce.  I should point out that I have no idea if this band is even from Texas, but they seem like it.  I should also point out that I would roll around in Texas BBQ sauce regardless.  Full disclosure and all.

Here is your Eviction Notice. Everyone moving out should blast this. 

Quick sidenote here:  While it's nice everyone with a camera phone is sharing out live performances they do realize the sound absolutely sucks, right?  It's muffled and muted and usually drowned out by the camera owner and crowd screaming incoherently.  In short, don't bother. 


White Rabbits - Milk Famous:  Strange, addictive, techno laced rock that I can only hope will gain some sort of recognition over the next few months.  With all the shit playing on the radio it's comforting to know quirky, impossible to brand bands like this can still get their music out to the masses. 

In fact, they made it on Letterman a while back.  Here they are playing one of my favorite songs of the year.  We need more bands with multiple drummers. 


The Word Alive - Life Cycles:  Like their counterparts 'A Day To Remember' this heavy metal band is stretching the form; incorporating bits of techno and pop into their scathing, teeth rattling foundation.  The result is one of my favorite releases of the year.

A taste for those who enjoy such things.  Apologies to everyone else, however I urge you to give this a chance.  Listen to it all the way through just one time. 


Future of the Left - The Plot Against Common Sense: The term 'alternative' tends to get thrown around more than it should, but this band is truly off in their own world.  With lyrics like 'Where were you when Russell Brand discovered fire' and 'I have seen into the future; everyone was slightly older', entire songs about a rich brat apologizing to his father for not being socially conscious, and titles like 'Robocop 4 - Fuck Off Robocop' this is a world I'm tickled to dive into.  This is truly deranged music and I can not get enough of it. 

Let me give you two examples of this gang.

First here is A Guide To Men strangely put to a German Fairy Tale. 

And here is Beneath The Waves An Ocean which is a song about only they know what.  Food eyeing customers?  Looking for song inspiration and accidentally having a good time?  Incorrectly named children? Your guess is as good as mine.


Baroness - Yellow and Green:  Whenever Mastodon releases a new album I know Baroness can't be far behind.  I swear they work together in secret.  After their Blue and Red albums Baroness returns with a double album combining the next two colors of the rainbow (I guess).  I'll be upfront here, not all of this works.  There are two or three songs that miss by a mile but out of 18 songs striving to expand an established sound that's a great average.  While there are some heavier songs, I'm not even sure you can qualify this as metal.  More likely this is what metal is heading towards.  The future in progress. 

Take a listen and enjoy.  Even if you don't like harder material, you'll enjoy these. 

Take My Bones Away

March to the Sea

Eula

On a side note, between this, Future of the Left and Anthema's new one, album cover art is in full stride.  I would love the Future of the Left cover as a poster in my office. 

That's all for now folks.  Enjoy the weekend. 





  

Monday, July 9, 2012

Summer Thoughts

I would apologize for taking so long to post random, meaningless, distracting entries, but that is getting old.  If it helps at all I've been meaning to post for the last few weeks, I just haven't had the time.  I find I get so busy that I now lose the thread of an idea I had, nevermind actually getting it in writing. 

While I'm thinking of it, this new layout Google has for the blogs certainly isn't helping.  What two clicks used to do now takes 3 or more just to figure out where the 'New Post' link is.  I'm old and not happy with change, Google. 

Frankly, we're all losing. 

Let's get to some random thoughts I've had rattling around in my cobweb tangled brain. 

Texting and Driving

I'm fully on record that this shit needs to stop, but we've just enacted an official ban on it here in Massachusetts and it is not having the desired effect.  What people used to do is put the phone up near the windshield so they could at least see what was going on in front of them while they texted.  Since the new law went into effect I witness people texting and driving just as much, only now they're trying to hide it by putting it down by their laps.  One girl drove by me looking straight down, thumbing away a message while taking a left hand turn into a parking lot.  Sure, she's probably stupid anyway, but the law seems to be making matters worse.

Also, if texting while driving is illegal then so should having a dog in your lap while driving.  One idiot woman drove by with two dogs sitting in her lap; one looking out the windshield over the steering wheel with the other looking out the driver's side.  The woman herself was smoking a cigarette at the time.  Stay classy. 

There are talks of making all cell phone activity illegal unless it's hands free, which is fine, but if you require that then you must give out hands free devices to everyone.  A law cannot make millions for Verizon and AT&T by forcing us to buy their products to adhere to your laws.  Want to bet both companies are spending millions to lobby for this law?

Coworkers

I've lucked into working with two guys who mesh well with my way of life.  We now take 'Cigar Friday' trips to Two Guys up in Salem, NH.  Only a ten minute drive to cigar heaven where we sit in leather, smoking recliners, shoot the shit about work and the coming weekend.  Then it's to the pub across the street for lunch and beer.  Sure, my life expectancy drops two days per visit, but life is good. 

Sports

Still not sure what to make of Ray Allen defecting to the Heat.  I've always respected Allen and didn't think he was a 'title hunter'.  There are rumors that he and Rondo didn't get along, but since when does everyone have to be best friends to play well with each other.  Bird and McHale barely tolerated each other, but that didn't stop them from kicking ass.  Besides, it sure looks like the Celtics have improved from last year's team that came six minutes away from making the Finals.  Seems weird Allen would take a three million dollar pay cut just to get out of Boston and play for a team with no point guard. 

Can Red Sox executives now admit that Francona was not the reason last season went up in smoke?  Valentine has done a decent job (I guess) considering all the injuries, but there is no zip or passion in this team.  Love the young guys, but nobody really seems to be having fun except Youk who is now in Chicago.  I thought they should have hired a no name, young manager wanting to prove himself instead of a 'Name', but what do I know. 

Make no mistake, Youkilis will single handedly destroy the Red Sox when they next play.  Something like a 7-14 with 3 HR series is coming up. 

Summer Vacations

Have two coming up.  One this month to Cape Cod and next to Maine.  Can't wait for some RR&R.  Rest, relaxation, and inevitable rehab from my over zealous drinking binge that will surely take place.  Feel like I've used that joke before.

Movies

Hangover Part 2:  What a disappointment.  I'm fine with totally ripping off the first (let's be honest it was a carbon copy), but make it funny.  I didn't laugh for the first 45 minutes of this movie.  I should point out that Ken Jeong's character was not what made the first one memorable.  Therefore even more of him here did not help matters. 

Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol:  Brad Bird (Iron Giant, The Incredibles) cements himself as one of my favorite directors by injecting humor and zaniness into the fourth installment of Mission Impossible.  The climatic, car garage scene is nearly genius.  Tom Cruise may be crazy off screen, but he knows how to make a good movie.  Well, if you discount 'Rock of Ages'.

Horrible Bosses:  Way funnier than The Hangover Part 2.  Drags a bit in places, but more than makes up for it with hilarious scenes scattered throughout.  Love the Dustbuster bit. 

Love and Other Drugs:  Can someone please explain to me what the fuck this movie was supposed to be about?  There seemed to be hints at greater thoughts sprinkled throughout regarding the drug industry (which  got off scott free) and Parkinson's disease (the most honest scene coming from the man at the support group who tells the lead 'go find a healthy girl' before his life gets sucked away).  At the same time, this is trying to be a feel good, old fashioned love story that glosses over Parkinson symptoms as some shakes and an occasional drinking binge and the fact that she needs to take monthly trips to Canada with elderly patients so they can afford their prescriptions. 

At one point in the movie, Hathaway's character is a mess because she forgot to fill her prescription and not once does anyone think 'Hey, her boyfriend is a pharmaceutical salesman.  Shouldn't he have connections to get her drugs?'.  Nope.  That was probably opening a can of worms a movie as simple minded as this didn't want to get near. 

There was also a weird, brotherly, homosexual, envy thing going on that (I think) was supposed to be comic relief.  Unfortunately it wasn't funny so it just was weird. 

On the plus side, Hathaway gets naked a lot. 

Television

Other than occasional Red Sox games, Veep (which was fantastic) and Wimbledon, I haven't watched an ounce of TV this summer.  And I don't even miss it.  That should be concerning. 

Family Life

I'm seriously considering a starting a Twitter account just to pass along things my seven year old says on a daily basis.  Just not sure I can impart his delivery.  Example: My brother in law lives in Vermont and decided to raise his own chickens (don't ask, Vermont is a different culture).  We went up to visit only to discover that five of the six chickens had been slaughtered by coyotes or bears or foxes or something.  My oldest seemed horrified and while wondering why an animal would do that, his younger brother looks at everyone in total sincerity and says 'That's just how life goes, folks....that's just how life goes...'


Music

Eh...let's hold off this until another time.  Much to discuss here.

Enjoy the rest of your day.