Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Book Review: Fantasyland (2006)

Sorry, no film review today, but don't fear - Fantasyland by Sam Walker was a hilarious read! The film is about one man's inaugural and zany journey into the world of fantasy baseball for the 2004 Major League Baseball season. It is geared more towards fans of sports, fantasy baseball in particularly, but it received a great deal of acclaim since its release in 2006. I did a bit of reading in my recent travels and I just got around to finishing it.

Wall Street Journal sports columnist Sam Walker received an invitation to play in an elite fantasy baseball league (Rotisserie rules) called the Tout Wars, which consists of only the upper echelon in fantasy baseball players. Walker accepted the invitation to play in order to conduct an experiment and solve a long standing argument in the fantasy sports world: which school of thought is more accurate in winning a fantasy baseball league as a newcomer versus seasoned veterans of the game - Decisions made purely based on statisical information or by the "old school" of traditional player scouting? The premise sounds boring to non-sports and non-fantasy baseball players, but trust me when I tell you that the rest of the book is entertaining and everything but predictable.

For those of you who are not in the know of what exactly fantasy baseball is exactly, let me provide a quick explanation: Fantasy baseball is a game where players manage imaginary baseball
teams based on the real-life performance of baseball players, and compete against one another using those players' statistics to score points. (from wikipedia). The managers draft the real life players utilizing a salary cap system (let's say the cap is $200) where each player costs a certain amount of imaginary money (e.g. Manny Ramirez would cost $30). The manager must fill their team with an "X" amount of players to qualify, so the manager must budget their money according to not exceed the cap. During the course of the season, managers can sign the undrafted players or make trades with other managers to help strengthen their team throughout the grueling 162-game MLB season.

The Preface of the book hooked me in immediately. After the conclusion of a spring training baseball game, Minnesota Twins outfielder Jacque Jones sees Walker sitting in the stands and reading a fantasy baseball publication, one that analyzes the pros and cons about each individual player. Curious of how he is ranked in this publication, Jones yanks the book from Walker's grasp and reads the many disparaging remarks about himself. He gets visibly upset (over some magazine author's opinion) and vows to prove the analysis wrong. Inspired, Walker records Jones as a player he "must draft" because of Walker's unintenional motivation.

Being a sports journalist and having a press pass to all professional sports locker rooms, Walker lives every fantasy owner's dream. First, he recruits two "scouts" from both aforementioned schools of thought to help him prior to the draft: one guy who bases his analysis strictly on a ballplayer's makeup (attitude, conditioning, ballplaying skills, etc.) and another, a former NASA mathematician, who creates a program that bases all of his decision on statistical information only, not at all about the player himself. So there are constant funny clashes between the scouts and Walker on managerial decisions made throughout their season together.

Walker spends thousands and thousands of dollars to scout and "follow" his team throughout the season even though the league champion receives ZERO monetary compensation. Using his own money and the benefits of his press pass, he flies and drives all over the country in order to go to ballparks before and after games to converse with his "players" and their real life MLB managers in order to gain insight. He even goes as far as letting these players know that they are on his team and encourages them to hit better and steal bases - all aspects that will help him score more "fantasy sports" not really hlp the player in question. Real life players are not fans of the fantasy baseball "universe", but that does not stop Walker from doing things like giving his players custom made jersey shirts, hats and even awards for his team's "players" to wear and cherish. So it's no surpise that they don't cherish the gifts and think he is insane.

No, thumbs up to you Sam. Well done!

Some funny highlights include:

- Walker hires a very atrractive actress to pose as a photographer during the league's draft. Her purpose is to flirt and distract the other managers en route to make them act "cool" and pay more attention to her and less on the picks they are making. It is successful to a certain point.

- Walker gets so enthralled in watching a game with several of his players involved that he does not realize that his apartment building is on fire!

- Walker makes a bet with another manager to see who finishes higher in the standings at the end of the season. Loser has to eat a whole stick of butter

- One player instructs Walker to trade him because he is not that good enough to be on his team. Walker's team suffers because he does not heed the player's advice.

- After a successful game, Walker buys one of his players a six pack of his favorite beer and drinks with him in celebration.

- Upon learning that Walker plans to trade him, one player warns him not to complete the trade and then later mocks him for going through with it when the player goes on a "tear" and the returning player in the trade hurts Walker's team.

- Walker becomes so obsessive over his team's performance that he no longer even follows any real MLB team standings, only his own "Streetwalkers" team.- Walker gets duped into trades because he overthinks every move he makes.

- Walker has a few more run-ins with Jacque Jones, who holds a chip on his shoulder for Walker based on their spring training run-in. Oh and Jones is on Walker's team and that drives Jones nuts!

Again, these are just a few of the highlights. There are also some serious experiences Walker faces with other managers and perils in the lives of his ballplayers. Some are tragic and sad, but they are not heavy-handed.

All in all it is a great book that is good for some laughs. Walker becomes so obsessed that he does not care how much of a fool he makes himself out to be in the locker rooms of real MLB teams. Slowly but surely, Walker becomes addicted to the craze that is fantasy baseball. Hats off to Walker, and as a longtime fantasy sports enthusiast I say to him, "Welcome to the club!"

Monday, June 29, 2009

Headline of the day 6/29/09


“Evert: Women's 'grunting' getting out of hand”

Add your own punchline because it is too damn easy. Winner gets a nickel (times are tough!).

Super and Supernatural Double Feature Saturday: Reviews of Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus and The Uninvited

Live from Reston, VA.

I need to dust off some of the cob webs here in the Man Cave before I begin this post. Between traveling back from the Delta, to resting briefly for a day, before heading back out again to Virginia, I have had no time for updates. I’m not going to bore you with the (ahem) boring details of my travels. But I will tell you about the double header of horror films (well I guess they can be considered horror films) that I indulged before hitting the road once more. It was this past Saturday and that Saturday is affectionately labeled...

“Super and Supernatural Double Feature Saturday: Reviews of Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus and The Uninvited”

Wow that title is longer than the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie and Borat titles combined.

Leading off is a film that I have been waiting for some time to watch – Mega Shark vs. Giant Shark (MSVGO) by those bastards at The Asylum. I read some reviews on this one and I thought people were simply being snotty. I mean of course MSVGO is going to be bad film – look at the title for Lamas’ sake! But I guaraneed that I would enjoy it because:

1) Geof likes sharks…on television/film, not swimming with them. (I mean, I’m not Frank Whaley…lol I’m SO funny! You get a nickel from me if you get that reference)
2) Geof loves shark movies of all budgets
3) Geof loved Debbie Gibson when he was younger
4) Geof would not kick Debbie Gibson out of bed to this very day
5) Geof always has a laugh when Lorenzo Lamas is around
6) This movie had “Amateur Hour” entry written all over it before it entered the DVD player

I just can't shake your love Debbie. Sorry I just can't.

So what went wrong? Throughout the film, it seemed like everything was played straight and serious…in a movie called f’n MSVGO. It was just nowhere as fun as it should have been. Even the Debbie Gibson sex scene was short and boring!

I will leave it at that. The only pleasure that I got out of this movie was the plane scene. I watched this scene about 6-7 times in a row. If only the film consisted of this scene on a loop then it would have been the greatest film ever made. Pants-peeing from laughing was on the verge…


Come on! Was that the greatest or what!? That flight attendant was a complete ball buster though, which is the most realistic aspect of this scene.

This film did worse then just be "bad", it was boring! Even Deborah Gibson’s horrible acting, Lamas’ cue card reading performance and reuse of shark CGI effect shots over and over again could not save this one from Planet Boredom. How could a perfect formula so bad go so wrong?

This is way more exciting than the final battle in MSVGO

"Amateur Hour" score is: Utter Drek! If only the whole movie had been as campy as the plane scene. Moving on to the second half of my double feature…

Before you watch this one...

The Uninvited. I didn’t know anything about it going in, so I didn’t realize it was a remake or a reboot of Tale of Two Sisters. If I knew that I could have skipped it and saved myself some time because I saw that film a few years ago. It’s not a direct remake, but close enough - especially the ending. I would recommend it to anyone who has either not seen TOTS or is a huge fan of that film. Personally, I thought it was ok but surprisingly more enjoyable than MSVGO - and I am shocked as hell to actually be typing that line right now.

..watch this instead.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

It's Just a Flesh Wound

As I mentioned in one of my recent posts - in Taken, I laughed my ass off at the scene when Liam Neeson's character Bryan Mills shoots his friend's wife in the arm, which causes his friend to get all upset and worried. Mills yells back at him, "It's just a flesh wound!" This made me think of the infamous scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which in turn made me think of what would happen if the Bryan Mills character yelled this line during some key moments in other cinematic masterpieces. Let's see shall we...






I'll see if I can think of any more for later. Let me know if you have any ideas.

Bryan Mills and William Foster...we salute you!

Quick thoughts:

Don't mess with this guy!

Taken (2008) was awesome and Liam Neeson's character Bryan Mills is my # 1 favorite bad ass and unconventional hero today. This dude busted his ass, as well as his arm, to get his daughter back from those criminals and help her get a career in music. Sure he was a relentless killer, but remember...he always warned everyone that he would kill them if they didn't comply. He warned them. They didn't listen, so he kept his promise. You could tell early on that he is a man who kept his promises.

Side note: I nearly pissed my pants in laughter when he shot his friend's wife in the arm. The friend starts to freak out and Bryan yells, "IT'S JUST A FLESH WOUND!" Hilarious!!!

Bryan Mills reminds me of another (and extremely) unconventional hero: Michael Douglas as William Foster in Falling Down (1993). Yes he was a bit deranged, but all he wanted to do was see his daughter and gve her a gift on her birthday. Along the way he:

1) Beat up gang members who threatened him when he walked through a public park that they called their "property". Then the rejects killed themselves trying to drive-by him - good

2) Destroyed that Korean's store for jacking up his prices and taking advantage of the American consumer - good

3) Killed a extreme racist in self defense - good

4) Busted that fast food manager's balls when he wouldn't serve him breakfast even though he was one minute late before the breakfast menu changed to the lunch menu. He accidentally shot the ceiling but no one was hurt - good

5) He played out that drug addict in disguise as a bum and told him to F-off - good

6) He shot two cops after violating a restraining order on his wife and kid - bad

So he has a couple of bad marks on his record, but still has a hell of a batting average. He was a man who had "enough" and did what a lot of people wish they could do. And I don't mean the killing. Please don' think I am that whacked out - I mean turning the tables on the gang members, scam artist bums, crooked vendors, and fast food managers of the world.

Don't mess with this guy either!

Mills and Foster are two great unconventional characters in cinema and I salute them!

Run Forrest Run...away from Jenny

Poor guy. Although I am pissed at Hanks for publicly dissing his classic Bachelor Party film

This is a little random, but after watching Forrest Gump (2004) again after some time between viewings, I was really pissed off after the film's conclusion - poor Gump deserved better. Jenny was pure trash.

Let's see how many times she crapped on him throughout their lives together:

1) She was at a strip club singing when certain audience members began to heckle her and then try to grope her. Gump comes her to her rescue and she basically tells him to piss off.

2) He tells her that he loves her and she responds that he doesn't know what love is all about...playing to his handicap.

3) He comes to her aid once again when she is in an abusive relationship with that radical Black Panther enthusiast. She essentially tells him to piss off again.

4) Then she comes back some years later only to tell him that they have a son together before dying of what I assume is HIV or AIDS. Brokenhearted, poor Forrest is left in tears forever to live with the loss of Jenny.

Thank God she didn't pass anything along to him on her way out! You know what I mean?

Jenny should have never tried to look for something better, because Forrest genuinely cared about her and he also excelled in every task he pursued: running, football, ping pong, military tactics, etc. Forrest was the purest, most unselfish soul in the film's universe.

Let's look at his track record:

1) He saves a majority of his ambushed platoon, except for Bubba, and gets shot in his "buttocks" as a result.

2) He continues to care about Lt. Dan even though Dan blames him for saving his life and leaving him a gimp with no legs. (btw - what the hell is Gary Sinise up to nowadays? CSI spinoffs? He deserved better too)

3) He fulfills the deceased Bubba's dream of owning a shrimping boat and company

4) He helps Lt. Dan to appreciate the life he still has left even without his legs

5) After Lt. Dan sells the shrimping company, invests in Apple and gets millions of dollars in return, Forrest takes the portion that would have been Bubba's and gives it to Bubba's mom so she can live as a millionaire for the rest of her life.

And Jenny is too busy posing in Playboy, getting ousted from college, "singing" at strip clubs, getting into abusive relationships, telling Forrest to piss off, rejecting Forrest's love, and becoming a severe drug addict instead of having a good life with him. Did I miss anything?

"Bye Forrest. Here is what my legs are going to be doing tonight with some other dude."

Finally, she decides to "settle" for Forrest so he can take care of her now that she is all used up, nobody wants her and is dying. Mainly, I believe that she needed him to take care of her and if he wasn't loaded, I think she would not have had anything else to do with him. She goes to him to take care of her and she rewards him with everlasting heartbreak.

Poor Forrest! He should have told Jenny, "I don't know what love is, but I do know what a skeet-skeet is and you are the number one skeet-skeet in the U-nah-ted Stay-its."

Yes he could have done so much better. And that's all I have to say about tha-at."

Monday, June 22, 2009

Rob Zombie's Halloween 2 Trailer

Greetings from Mississippi (yes I'm back here on business again)...

People usually either loved Zombie's reboot or hate it. I happen to be in the former's camp because I groaned going into it but came out very entertained. I am not big on icon characters getting the remake treatment but with some egging on by my wife and the fact that I really enjoyed House of 1,000 Corpses and Devil's Rejects, I saw it opening weekend. And I am really glad that I did.

Today I was on Dark Horizons and saw another version of the trailer, so I included both for you all to check out if you have not had the chance to do so yet. This looks really awesome but the one gripe I have already is that Sherri Zombie will be back as a ghost cheering on Michael to do the murders. So now Michael has mommy issues ala Jason? Grrr. Well, Rob had to get his wife in the film somehow, so I will wait and see before passing judgment. Other than that, I will be in the theater on 8/28 to watch Myers go on a slaughter fest once again.

Which one you do you like the most? My vote is for the Sherri-less trailer...

version 1

version 2


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Moneyball dropped by Columbia

Soderberg Pitt Lewis' bestseller

And I could not be more happier. Moneyball (2003) is one of the greatest baseball reads that I have ever experienced, along with Fantasyland, and that is where the story should stay - on the bookshelf. According to E! Online, Columbia decided not to move forward with the project placing it into a "limited turnaround" phase. This basically means that there is still a small window of opportunity to settle the film rights with a different studio.

For those who do not know what Moneyball is all about - author Michael M. Lewis followed Oakland Athletics' GM Billy Beane around for a season. Lewis details Beane's unconventional approach to running a MLB team on a small market budget of $55 million dollars. You are probably thinking that $55 million is a lot of scratch, and it is, but not when you have to supply a full roster with that amount and your competition can easily invest 100-250 million on their teams. So Beane's creativity shaped a team that went to the playoffs a number of times during the early 2000's.

Beane retains a philosophy, where he discounts statistics such as home runs, saves and RBIs while basing his team managerial decisions on certain lesser considered (at the time of the book) statistics like walks and OBP (On-Base Percentage).

Another philosophy that Beane uses is one that takes advantage of baseball's "unfair" terms when it comes to player contracts. Beane brings up his drafted players from the minors, so that they will make the league minimum for two full seasons. After those two seasons, players have a few years left called "arbitration years" in which they appear before an arbitrator and have their salaries adjusted according to current player market and player performance. Or the organization can offer a long term contract and buy out those arbitration years. Usually arbitration does not inflate a player's salary too much from year-to-year, but even if a player wants more money, he cannot hold out, ask to be traded or anything like that. So he is playing for whatever amount he is given and cannot control that aspect. Per the rules established between the players union and the owners, a player is under control of their team for at least six years until he becomes a free agent. This is when the player can cash in on the large salaries you read about in the papers.

Even if his players are winning individual awards like the Cy Young Award or Most Valuable Player Award, Beane will manipulate the salary structured system and keep the players at the lowest possible salary until the beginning of that player's last season with the team or until the trade deadline before the player reaches free agency. These are the times when Beane deals that player to the largest bidding team out there. By largest bid, I mean the team that will trade the best prospects to Beane so he can start the salary cycle all over again with the new players coming in.

Director Steven Soderberg was set to helm the project as director and Brad Pitt would play Beane. By the way, Pitt is a solid choice for Beane!

Pitt would have been awesome as Beane

So you might be asking "With all the love and praise, why do I hope that it never sees the light of day as a feature film?" From what I read, the creative ideas for the format of the film would not be good at all thus butchering a masterpiece of literature...well, masterpiece in terms of a sports book. I don't wish to sound like a pessimistic fool, so let me dissect my reasoning of why this wouldn't work:

1) The format of having the film be a third-person format and then cutting to interview segments with real-life Beane acquaintances, like Darryl Strawberry.

If you are going to do the interview angle, do a real documentary on Beane. Private Parts did a great job of blending the two but that was a comedy. Moneyball is played straight. In my opinion, cutting back and forth between Brad Pitt portraying Beane and then to interviews of real life players talking about the real Beane and then back again to Pitt again would just kill the theatrical illusion that should be built for a film such as this one.

2) Beane is very overrated as a GM. I will give the guy all of the credit in the world when it comes to putting together a competitive product on the field for a good period of time in a small market. That being said, Beane was really lucky during this period. He was able to draft some "can't miss" prospect pitchers named Barry Zito, Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder. Those three carried the team along with shortstop Miguel Tejada and third baseman Eric Chavez (Chavez is the only player to still remain on Beane's Athletics roster to this day). The book paints him as a baseball business genius and undermines the intelligence of old school baseball scouting. Which leads me into the final point...

3) Most people that follow sports (a main demographic for this film) will roll their eyes knowing what they know now about Beane's "brilliance" during the seasons that transpired after the book. For example, a big section of the book is how Beane passed on several good players that were obviously going to do well in the majors for players who fit into his philosophical "mold" of player. This led to his drafting a catcher out of college named Jeremy Brown. Brown had a knack for walking (BB's) a lot and large OBP to match. But he also was not figured to do very well as a major league ballplayer in the long term. Guess what Brown is doing now? Nothing. What did he ever do for the Athletics? Nothing. What are players like Prince Fielder that Beane passed on doing now? He is in the majors and killing the ball for the Brewers! Carlos Pena? He is among the leaders in home runs for the past couple of seasons.

Beane's luck ran out when the three aforementioned pitchers left the team and the philosophy began to expose its flaws over time. For a while, it seemed that Beane could get away with the salary cycle forever by bringing in young players and trading them at the last second for more young players in order to continue the cycle all over again. But in more recent times, arbitrators are awarding larger and larger arbitration salaries to players based on their performance and other GMs have caught on to his act. Some teams will wait out the storm and cause Beane's demands to drastically drop because they know that the A's will never have enough money to sign the player in the offseason and the trading team can just wait and sign that in the offseason without losing anything but a draft pick.

A more recent example, Beane traded a relief pitcher (Huston Street), who has been one of the best relievers in the game for the past few seasons, for a high profile batter (Matt Holliday) that everyone knows he cannot afford when this season ends. So Beane will be forced to trade him Two problems here, outfielders are a dime-a-dozen in baseball but pitching is always critical for a contender to obtain. Street has been shining again this season and the team he plays for will shop him and definitely get a huge return for him. Holliday will not have the same demand. Beane does not value the saves category, but a majority of baseball GMs do.

The real Billy Beane

So the film would be glorifying a flawed system that was WAY over hyped after the release of the book. Beane's team has not been able to win a World Series to date with him as GM.

If this film came out three or four years ago, I would be on board. But knowing what happens afterwards would just kill it for me and other true baseball fans. In closing, I say once more, I hope that Moneyball stays on the shelf.

For a better story on small market team who was able to use the system and put a winning team on the film, how about the story of the 2003 World Champion Florida Marlins. The philosophy in that organization got them into the World Series and a victory over the New York Yankees, a team with more than double the budget of the small market Marlins.


Anyone else out there excited for this? Don't know how I missed this news, but a couple of months ago a V remake trailer was released for ABC. Maybe sometime ago I might have heard about it, but dismissed it as another in the long line of V reboot rumors going on since late '98. After a while, I gave up caring and figured that it would just never happen.

The remake is not a continuation, which is something I originally wished for, but ultimately that is a good thing. Too much time has gone by and the actors have gotten too old. This reboot reminds me of Battlestar Galactica, where the source material is the same but the adventures are all brand new. I even checked IMDB and all of the characters have different names then the previous V installments.

I am a fan of the original mini-series and I can tolerate the sequel (the series legitimately sucked) so I am looking forward to watching when this new one premieres. Anyone else?

Below is a video of the remake that I watched on youtube. It is the longer version (2:51) but there is a 1:15 version out there as well. Check it out and let me know what you think...(and yes I realize that Scott Wolf is it but he doesn't seem like his character will be annoying):


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Facebook: The Movie???

Coming soon to a theater to you! (barf)

I just read this on Dark Horizons. Hollywood has become so committed to the remake market that now they are really pulling stuff out of their asses for film ideas. Now, they are "re-envisioning" Facebook updates for the big screen. A sequel is already in the works. It will be called:

And it will be produced by yours truly!! The trilogy will end with the film:

Then the MySpace prequels will follow.

But seriously, please read below. I have attached the full article below for the link lazy..

Facebook Update Becomes a Film by Garth Franklin

You knew it was bound to happen, it's a shame hell froze over so damn quickly.

Lisa Hamilton Day, a book executive for Dreamworks, has a book and film deal being shopped around by UTA and Fletcher & Co. based on a Facebook update she posted last week says Publisher's Weekly.

The update in question? "Lisa Hamilton Day's Pomeranian raided Chinese takeout bag overnight, opened and ate a fortune cookie. Her fortune: You have strong spiritual powers, and you should develop them."

Thus the aim is to make what could be the next "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" or "Underdog". Sigh, next thing you know it'll be a tweet on Twitter that becomes a movie.

One more reference for the article: http://www.darkhorizons.com/news/14456/facebook-update-becomes-a-film

Amateur Hour Quickie: Night of the Living Dead 3-D (2006)

I have no one to blame but myself for watching this. I was all ready to sit down and write my review for Still Waiting when I decided to look on FearNet for any movies of interest. Then I saw Night of the Living Dead 3-D listed, which screamed crap-tascular, and gave it a viewing. It is only 80 minutes long, so I felt it could be harmless enough. Right?

Wrong! You all know the drill - guy and girl go to graveyard, zombies attack and girl runs off to large farmhouse to escape massive zombie horde outside. The film tries to be different and the story sways a bit from the original's plot, but it is not for the better. Even as much as I appreciate Sid Haig, I realize that he was only doing this for the paycheck. He is in it for about 20 minutes, give or take, and was a big reason I hung around for the ending. Well, Brianna Brown had me hooked in as well.

The Good Stuff:

- The lead chick was hot! At least I liked her. I said that Sid was a reason I hung around, but Brianna Brown is easy on the eyes.

Brianna Brown: she's not too bad looking, right? (maxim.com)

- First time I ever saw 3-D effects used in scenes where someone is offering someone a spliff or smoking and/or blowing smoke in 3-D.

See? Did you think I was kidding? (chud.com)

- Sid Haig just makes me laugh when he delivers lines in any film. Don't know why. There is a scene at the end that I cannot tell of it was supposed to be unintentionally hilarious or not. If you dare to watch this (please don't), you will know exactly what scene I am referring to.

The Devil's Advocate:

- I have a good feeling that the 3-D effects sucked. Some of the shots were just laughable

- There were at least four instances where scenes from the original NOTLD were being watched by our characters on a television set. Made me miss the original so much more.

- For characters watching the original on television, why didn't anyone get the idea to board up the windows? There were enough bookshelves and the like available. Just a thought.

- Beware of dastardly tire irons in trunks. They will come up and get 'ya like a damn snake.

- Longest 80 minutes ever

- The lame, lame, lame ass ending!!!!

In pro wrestling, they call this move the ear clap - highly effective against zombies!

Again, it's my own fault for watching movies that are obviously going to suck. And my love for any zombie film made me take a chance that I could niot resist. Fellow Pennsylvanian Mr. Romero, I wished that your masterpiece did not end up in public domain to be used and abused throughout the years, so I hope you are seeing some sort of financial compensation from this...even though you still owe me my money back from
Land of the Dead.

NOTLD 3D easily earns an EPIC FAIL. Avoid like the plague...haha get it? Like a zombie plague?

Ratings System:

- Must See Cheese
- (Awesome)

- Check It Out - (Cool)

- Epic Fail
- (Utter Drek)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Werewolf The Series - first half review

Werewolf The Series
was one of the first programs to launch for FOX's 1987 lineup that originally aired on Sunday nights only. This lineup consisted of Married with Children, the Tracey Ullman Show and a few others that I cannot remember off hand.

The show was about Eric Cord (John J. York), a young college student who had everything going for him, including a great life and beautiful girlfriend. One night during a full moon, his best friend Teddy asks Eric to come over and help him out. Ted tells Eric that he is a werewolf, is responsible for the recent murders happening in their area and wants Eric to kill him once he transforms and end his misery. In total disbelief, Eric is bitten before he is able to kill the wolfed-out Teddy and therefore having the werewolf curse passed along to him.

You all know how things work in werewolf films, right? Like when the wolf changes back to human form once dead so it looks as if a human is murdered, not a werewolf. Same thing happens here as Eric is charged for Teddy's murder. After Eric is taken into custody and released on bail, it is not long before he flees from the law in order to hunt down and kill the head of the werewolf bloodline, Janos Skorzeny - played believably by Chuck Connors (R.I.P., sir). If Eric can eliminate the head of the bloodline, he will end his own werewolf curse before he loses control to the beast now within him. To make matters worse, he is constantly dodging bounty hunter Alamo Joe (Lance LeGault) who always seems to be hot on his trail.

Sounds familiar, huh? Kind of like
The Fugitive mixed with The Incredible Hulk? I like the formula even though it has been beaten to death, but the werewolf spin is really kick ass.

When I was a kid, I thought this was the greatest show on T.V. at the time. I have not seen any episodes for several, several years but was able to get my hands on the complete series at a convention. My memory is coming back with each episode, but I feel like I am watching them for the first time.

Did it hold up over time? I would be able to see for myself after watching the first 12 episodes including the two-hour pilot. And I had plenty of time to do so with the extensive traveling that I did recently (see my San Francisco post).

Let me preface by saying a few things before indulging:

- The show is 22 years old. 22 years!

- No CGI. Used old school makeup effects from Rick Baker

- Minus the two-hour pilot, each episode was only 1/2 hour

- The show was constructed on a television program budget, but one I bet was above the average of television programming back in the day

So let's get some more of the obvious crap out of the way. The fashions are dated (Eric just loves his white pants!) and the effects are as good as they can be for 1987-88 standards. All of the werewolves basically look like guys dressed up in a full-body werewolf suits, so a great deal of close-up angles combined with slow-motion effects are used in an attempt to hide that fact. But I am not going to take off points for that. The transformations are very cool, although they happen very rarely, especially Skorzeny's. Shit is freaky even for today's standards.

Connors as Skorzeny

As I mentioned above, the acting from LeGault and Connors is top notch, but York is lacking as the lead. Eric Cord is a likable character enough because he is not a bad ass who is always ready to scrap. Instead, he is a young kid out to tackle something that is way over his head and goes out of his way to not hurt anyone when the moon is full. There are just some lines that initiate a groan because of York's delivery and it is very distracting.

York as Cord

So far, I am intrigued enough to finish the remaining episodes and give my full opinion later. As of now, I can't wait to see where the story ends up because I don't remember how this one ends. But I won't keep my hopes up too high because it only lasted one season.

The two-hour pilot is awesome and a great film on its own. The first episode of the season keeps the tone of the pilot, wih the exception of ditching the girlfriend angle. Connors shows up in the next few then mysteriously disappears. Eric gets into adventures that are outside of the Skorzeny-hunting arc, but dammit if Alamo Joe is not always right on this kid's ass.

Recognizable faces include:

- Gail O'Grady and Linden Ashby, who are the first two people to get off'ed in the pilot's opening

- The little red-head kid from Different Strokes, who became the stepbrother

- Amy Yasbeck (John Ritter's wife) from Wings

Right now, I am loving the show! Check back in a couple weeks for a second half review.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

"Nobody Needed Towels!!!!" True Blood S2 Ep1 Review

WARNING: Spoilers Ahead

After several months off, HBO's True Blood returned earlier this evening and it played out like it never missed a beat. The episode began right where season one left off, with the body found in the back of detective's car. Thankfully it was not Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) because he f'n cracked my shit up last season.

Good points:

- As stated above - Lafayette is still alive, although a slave to Eric's vampire regime. Probably because he used to sell "V".

Nelsan Ellis as Lafayette

- Speaking of Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) - you got to see the full strength of his vamp powers as he destroyed one of the rednecks who burned down the house and murdered Eric's three vampire friends last season. I have never seen a vampire attack so ferociously with foils in his hair before. Yes, highlighting foils.

- Ah Jason Stackhouse (Ryan Kwanten) getting himself in a mess again. I am going out on a limb and predicting that he bangs that Fellowship leader's wife within the next few eps.

- Michelle Forbes has played some interesting characters in the past, most recently the female Kane in the
Battlestar Galactica re-imaging. A really underrated actress who I see will be a vital part to some of this season's plotlines. Her Maryann character is shrouded with mystery, so I am glad to see that she will be sticking around for the long haul. She delivered the "Nobody Needed Towels!!!!" line from my post title in a hilarious scene.

Michelle Forbes as Maryann

- Sookie (Anna Paquin) buck-ass naked in a hot sex scene! No body double was used, I can assure you.

The previews for next week look great too, so here's hoping that the season stays the course.

Crazy Ronald McDonald pics...

Forgot the dollar menu. Buy something off the 'Penny' Value Menu!

Ronald gets his McNuggets checked out.

This one is TOO easy...

...and this one is self-explanatory

Simon Baker.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Greatest Video Ever Made (part 1)

Jesse James...hot!!! I don't really know much about the song and all, but this really got my attention.


What do you think, Carl?

Amateur Hour Quickie: My Bloody Valentine Review

I have a bone to 'pick (axe)' with this remake.


I heard that the 3D effects were great in the theater, but I just finished watching this film at home on DVD (non-3D version)...and I was extremely disappointed in the end result. Going into this one, I figured that I would be disappointed being a huge fan of the original and the fact that the trailer looked silly as hell. But I didn't think that I would be AS disappointed as I am.

This is the type of marketing crap that I am talking about.

Still, I figured it was a horror movie, so of course I would at least be able to enjoy the ride for 90 minutes. And I'm sorry to say it, but I just could not have fun watching this film. Even for horror films, this is one horrible remake. Not as bad as that Prom Night remake (hard to be on that level), but this remake took everything that was good about the original, like atmosphere and tension for example, and threw it away. The dooming atmosphere of being trapped and stlaked in the dark and brooding mines are what made the oriignal unique from the other slashers at the time. Instead, we are left with characters who we are not given enough time to really care about (for horror movie standards) and a really foolish ending unlike the original.

It is unfair to compare a remake to the original, but if remakes continue to dominate the horror market, I just hope that these remakes are going to be at least fun to watch. There have been the good (Ed. Note: IMHO): the
TCMs, House of Wax and Halloween. And then there have been the bad: Prom Night, Black Christmas and this one.

The plot: Pennsylvanian miner Harry Warden goes on a killing spree before being put into a coma. Ten years later, the murders resume as a survivor of Harry's rampage returns to the original site of the massacre. Will he and his friends be able to outlast Harry again?

The Good Stuff:

- Filmed in PA (holla!)
- Gore, gore and more gore
- Some scene ideas threw homage to the original (and made me miss it that much more)
- Tom Atkins ("Thrill Me!")
- Betsy Rue, who plays Irene. A majority of her screen time is naked...and it's wonderf

Betsy Rue = Hottie!

The Devil's Advocate:

- Atmosphere and tension from the original are lost
- They retain the same names, but the characters are not as intriguing as in the original
- Silly ending
- Jensen Ackles' performance was bad, even for horror films. He overacted to the point where I started laughing out loud.

"Oh cheer up, Mr. Ackles. You still got paid for the performance."

I have read so many positive posts about this film, so I realize that my opinion is not a popular opinion. But it is an honest one. This installment of Amateur Hour gets an Epic Fail.

Ratings System:

- Must See Cheese
- (Awesome)

- Check It Out
- (Cool)

- Epic Fail
- (Utter Drek)

Sing it with me: "If You're Going to San Francisco..."

You all know the song, right? "If You're Going to San Francisco, Put a Ribbon in Your Hair" (or something like that). Well I am doing a remake of that song and calling it "If You're Going to San Francisco, Don't Fly Out of Philadelphia International Airport!" Catchy, huh?

I have not been updating or commenting on blogs (except a brief blurb on iMike's blog) recently due to my horrific travel experience(s) this week. As you will read, I was VERY occupied in a bad way. You all know that I do a good bit of traveling on my profession and had some annoying experiences but nothing that would cause me to rant about it...until now.

First, let me tell you about the original 'plan'.

- On Tuesday morning, I was to take a direct flight to SF from my hometown of Philly using US Airways.

- Tuesday afternoon, I was to meet up with some colleagues and do a tour of San Francisco including the Golden Gate Bridge, the Giants ballpark and some fine eateries. This would be my first time in California, so I was pretty jacked!

- Wednesday morning, do a bit more sight-seeing before setting up for our event in which I was to deliver a 2-hour presentation in front of more than 100 attendees.

Sounds pretty cool, right? Yeah...let me tell you what actually wound up happening:

- On Tuesday morning: due to the horrible weather we had that morning, I missed bag check-in by one minute. No lie or exaggeration - one lousy minute. I needed to check my bag, so that was that. I could not catch my flight and I would be on standby all day. Then the ticket agent alerts me that the five remaining flight times to SF were packed with an average of 5-7 people already listed on standby. Light at the end of the tunnel: I would have to wait for 5 hours, but I was booked on a flight to Pittsburgh that connected to SF. I would get in around 8pm PT and still have time to take in some sights.

- After the five-plus hour wait, I get on the plane to Pittsburgh before the flight attendants make an announcement that takeoff is going to be delayed for two hours, meaning that I will miss the only connecting flight to SF from Pittsburgh. So I might as well get off the plane, go home and take another direct flight tomorrow, right? Well there were three locals in this dilemma and the airline refused to let us off the plane. Mind you that the doors were not closed yet and within TSA guidelines.

- So I land in Pittsburgh at 7:15, miss the connecting flight by an hour and wait in line at Special Services to get my ass to SF. About an hour later, I learn that I (and the twelve others who missed their connecting flights) am staying in Pittsburgh for the night at a hotel connected to the airport. The kicker? I am going to have to pay for the room and U.S. Airways is not covering the cost of my room even though their error has stranded me in Pittsburgh. I really felt for the other travelers that were in my predicament. My company will cover the cost of my room, but the other travelers had to pay out of their own pockets. Sure it was discounted but $112 is a lot of scratch. One of the guys I was with was on his way for an interview. That really sucks!

"Welcome? F-You!"

- Oh I almost forgot - US Airways sent my bags to SF without me even though they knew I was booked for a flight the next day. So I could not take out my contacts, no deodorant, toothbrush, nada! And I would be in two planes for a total of 8 more hours stinking up the joints because I would be without new clothes.

Dude, where's my luggage?

- The next morning, I woke up at 4:30am after only having 4 hours of sleep by the time I ate dinner and then settled in for the night. The NHL Stanley Cup Finals Game Six between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings was played in Pitt the night before, so there was a huge line at security. Took me an hour to get through it.

Me in my hotel room looking more unflattering than I usually do. My Man-Tan is kickin' though!

- Finally, I flew 4+ hours to Las Vegas. Oops...did I say 'finally'? My bad. When I arrived at the Las Vegas airport and ran almost all the way to the other side of the airport to reach my gate, I learn that the connecting flight to SF has a two-hour delay.

- After the long delay, I fly two more hours to SF , get in around 1pm PT, drive close to an hour away from the airport to reach Mountain View, CA in some heavy traffic, and check in at my hotel. I finally shower and head to the presentation site for setup. This is where I begin to feel jet lagged!

This turn of events was sure different than what was originally planned, no?

So US Airways can bite me and then go to hell!!!! They are really the worst airline company when it comes to customer relations. But they have me by the balls. See I have to use them because Philly, which is the worst airport when it comes to on-time flight schedules, is the number one hub for US Airways. Basically, there are more flight times and variations to select from then you would have using another airline. Also, when the delays come and everything is all backed up (which is a guarantee in Philly), US Airways gets first priority for takeoffs over the other airlines. If this was not the case, I would never use these fuckers again. I have had my share of run-ins before with these pricks. For my blogger friends out in cyber land: Use every possible outlet to never fly with US Airways. I offer this as friendly advice from a traveler, not with a vengeful agenda.

The positives of the trip? According to my superiors, my presentation went great and I gained exposure to other business units and a bit of notoriety now within the company. Not bragging - I am just happy that things went so well.

The second positive was that I didn't get to sight-see in downtown SF, but I did get to see the main headquarters of Google and Yahoo! Not as cool as the Golden Gate Bridge, but at least I got something out of it.

Google Road - lol Entrance to Google

Welcome to Google - sorry but there are no pics of Golden Gate Bridge to show you all.

The third positive is that, since I'm a bit of a foodie as well, I was treated to some authentic Mexican cuisine at a level I have not had since I was in Mexico City last August. Mole Pablano - loved it! I got that dish from a place that Steve Young use to frequent back when he was with the 49ers.

Lastly, I got to meet former Philadelphia Flyers and Detroit Red Wings defenseman Mark Howe, son of NHL legend Gordie Howe. He was on his way to Pittsburgh for the NHL game and surprisingly remembered me from my days working with the Flyers. At first I thought he was just trying to be nice until he remembered the department that I worked in and a funny story that I told to scouts one time. I use to interact with a lot of the NHL teams' scouts and he was one of them. That was pretty cool and I was blown away that he remembered me.

Mark Howe in his younger days

After the presentation, I headed back to San Francisco International Airport and took a red-eye home to Philly. I landed back in my state around 6:45am and had a really, really bad case of jet lag. Worse than ever before! Seriously, I am just starting to recover from the beast as I typed up this post.

During my trip, I did get to watch half of the old FOX Werewolf series, so I will be posting about that soon. My fantasy baseball team, The Ball Busters, has fallen out of first place and my players keep dropping like flies to injuries, which I will NOT be posting about. And I am about to finish up reading a book, which I will be posting about as well.

Until next time...