Tuesday, March 25, 2008

2-Fer - Hollywood Edition

My wife and I watched two movies this weekend that had previously skipped under our radar. When you get an active Blockbuster subscription, you run out of mainstream movies fast. The following two we watched and enjoyed.

Dan in Real Life
3.5 / 5

This film is billed as a comedy. I think of it more as a drama. I ended up feeling sorry for the guy rather than laughing at him most of the time, but this isn't a horrible thing. The best part of of the film is its realism. The in Real Life part of the title isn't just there to add length. This film is pulled off in such a way that makes me believe that this is a family that I actually know or can see myself knowing. This doesn't feel like a typical Hollywood attempt at being down to earth, it actually is.

I would highly recommend going into this film without reading the promo bits about it. They give away too much of the plot. The movie starts a bit slow, but as the the movie progresses you can see how it fits into place. This movie also is exciting in that comedian Steve Carell breaks out of his typical comedy routine and resists the urge to be goofy. Of course he can't leave his dancing ability at the door, but his other usual tricks are nowhere to be found.

This film is rated PG 13 for what I would call one main awkward scene where his brother give him advice. I think the general mood elevates this movie to a more mature level as well. Don't let the pancake DVD cover art scare you off.

August Rush
2 / 5

This is the story of a young boy who uses his music to find his parents. I enjoyed the music or soundtrack of this film more than any other part of it. The songs were well thought out. Unfortunately the plot line was far too predictable for me. I found that after maybe 20 minutes that I had the whole thing scoped out fairly well, and I was right. The main undertone of the movie was that there is music and creativity everywhere just waiting for people in tune with life to hear and release it.

The acting in this film varied from person to person. Freddy Highmore did a fairly good job considering his age. The little choir girl tore it up. Robin Williams never ceases to amaze me with his ability to be freaky. This movie was rated PG but pushed that boundary in my opinion. The main relationship was pushing it as well as scenes involving Robin Williams. Those made me question its soft rating. The movie ends in a utopian climax of music and family.

Monday, March 24, 2008

2008 Baseball Predictions

Last year I had the good fortune of putting my oh so prescient baseball predictions down in writing. Therefore this year I must at least do my part in predicting the upcoming season. Playoff teams are in italics. Bold if they make it to the League Championship. In the end I pick the Detroit Tigers over the New York Mets.

AL East

  1. 90-72 Boston Red Sox

  2. 88-74 New York Yankees

  3. 79-83 Tampa Bay Rays

  4. 74-88 Toronto Blue Jays

  5. 67-95 Baltimore Orioles

AL Central

  1. 94-68 Detroit Tigers

  2. 91-71 Cleveland Indians

  3. 79-83 Chicago White Sox

  4. 73-89 Minnesota Twins

  5. 70-92 Kansas City Royals

AL West

  1. 92-70 Los Angeles Angels

  2. 85-77 Seattle Mariners

  3. 79-83 Texas Rangers

  4. 72-90 Oakland Athletics

NL East

  1. 91-71 New York Mets

  2. 89-73 Philadelphia Phillies

  3. 85-77 Atlanta Braves

  4. 73-89 Washington Nationals

  5. 68-94 Florida Marlins

NL Central

  1. 88-74 Chicago Cubs

  2. 83-79 Milwaukee Brewers

  3. 82-80 Cincinnati Reds

  4. 78-84 Houston Astros

  5. 77-85 St. Louis Cardinals

  6. 69-93 Pittsburgh Pirates

NL West

  1. 91-71 Arizona Diamondbacks

  2. 86-76 Colorado Rockies

  3. 85-77 San Diego Padres

  4. 82-80 Los Angeles Dodgers

  5. 69-93 San Francisco Giants

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


I hit a sort of mini jackpot on Sunday night. I took out the trash to the apartment dumpster and found that someone had thrown away an entire collection of CDs. There were probably 75-100 of them stacked next to the dumpster. Well my curiosity got the best of me and I sifted through them and found a few that I wanted to listen to.

When was the last time that you listened to an entire CD from start to finish? In modern era of IPods and MP3 players, a custom order playlist is much more common than listening to an entire album of possibly less than perfect songs. So here is my review of listening straight through two very popular albums that I found on the side of the road. More reviews will come as I have time to listen to them.

Artist: Pearl Jam

Album: Ten

Year: 1991

This album is one of the most popular of the decade. It quickly took over the as the leader of the grunge movement, at least on the popular side of things. Ole Eddie Vedder was an instant pop culture icon with his passionate lyrics. The guitar of the period is very good and blends well with the songs rather than sticking out for the sake of having a crazy solo. This being the band's first album, they had a less time pressures and therefore had a good amount of time to perfect the sound. Here is my rating of each song as I listened yesterday.
  1. Once - 4
  2. Even Flow - 5
  3. Alive - 4.5
  4. Why Go - 2
  5. Black - 4
  6. Jeremy - 4.5
  7. Oceans - 3
  8. Porch - 3.5
  9. Garden - 3
  10. Deep - 3.5
  11. Release - 4
The opener and non-radio hit Once was the best surprise for me. I enjoyed the entire album as a whole. 3.73 is the average song rating that I gave. I will boost the album up a quarter point to a 3.98 based upon the way that it worked together so well.

Artist: Matchbox Twenty

Album: Yourself or Someone Like You

Year: 1996

This band features a similar vocal sound as the previous album. Rob Thomas presents a more soulful sound as compared to the rougher Vedder voice. The big difference in my opinion is the development or further emphasis of the singing. Popular Rock took a turn towards less of a guitar emphasis and this is one of the first groups to pull it off.
  1. Real World - 4.5
  2. Long Day - 4
  3. 3 AM - 4
  4. Push - 4.5
  5. Girl Like That - 2.5
  6. Back 2 Good - 3.5
  7. Dam - 3
  8. Argue - 3.5
  9. Kody - 2.5
  10. Busted - 1.5
  11. Shame = 2
  12. Hang - 2.5

The hidden non-radio gem on this album was Long Day for me. Unfortunately the second half of this album tended to drag on in my opinion and left hoping that it would be over soon. The first few songs are all ones that you can sing along to and enjoy. The average song rating of this album is 3.17.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Welcome Back

Because of my schedule over the past month, I have been absent from blogging. Today I will describe my first trip to Detroit (for business).

The first thing I noticed about the city was the snow. Being from Dallas I have not seen that much snow in probably forever. It was snowing when I arrived, and 4 days later it was snowing when I left. I am going to guess that they got 8-10 inches while I was there. I also had no idea that 8 degrees was that much colder than 30 degrees. Boy was it ever and with wind added in, it was brutal for me. I arrived around 11 PM at the airport and the first thing that got my attention was what I thought was a disco at the bottom of our escalator. It turned out to be an extremely long moving sidewalk with constantly changing walls. It is hard to describe the way that the colors fluidly morphed, but here is a youtube video of it.

The city of Detroit has had a rough go of it lately. While I was there, the Axle Workers Union went on strike. The Silverdome is vacant. I saw no Chrysler vehicles driving into the Chrysler headquarters. My boss warned me to stay well above 12 mile. In spite all of that, the people that I interacted with me very friendly. I had some excellent local pizza. I even managed to stay warm some of the time.

If I ever go back, I hope that it is in the summer and that I get to see a Tigers game.

... also I hope that my father-in-law who admits to reading this blog occasionally heals fast from his broken toe.

Currently listening to: Audioslave - Be Yourself