Thursday, April 30, 2015

2015 NFL Draft Predictions

It's been complicated over the last few years with all the trades, so I'm basing this on whether or not people stay pretty close to where they were supposed to pick. It's just too difficult to predict when a team will move up 2 slots to take someone nobody wanted anyway.

  1. Tampa Bay - Jameis Winston, QB, FSU - I think he's going to be a bust, but he has the athletic ability to be a starter. Immaturity in the NFL isn't going to fly in the age of social media. 
  2. Tennessee Titans - Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon - I think Tennessee will make the choice and then listen to offers. If there is a trade it will be a three team deal or to Cleveland for #1's.
  3. Jacksonville Jaguars - Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama - Not giving Bortles a big time target is going to kill his development. They need a pass rusher, but he's too good to pass up.
  4. Oakland Raiders - Leonard Williams, DT, USC - Rated the #1 player in the draft by almost everyone. Raiders have to pick him. If Jacksonville takes him, Raiders will snatch Cooper.
  5. Washington - Dante Fowler, DE/OLB, Florida - I will be shocked if Washington doesn't trade down and don't be surprised if it's to SF or Houston.
  6. New York Jets - Kevin White, WR, WVU - Cue the boo birds. This is an awful pic, because the Jets can pick one of five de/olb who can start right now.
  7. Chicago Bears - Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford - Might be a reach, but with their two WRs gone, they go for solid protection for Cutler.
  8. Atlanta Falcons - Arik Armstead, DE/DT, Oregon - Some have this guy going much later, but I think he might be the best DE in the draft and could move inside in Fox 3-4 system.
  9. New York Giants - Brandon Sherff, OT/G, Iowa - Typical NYG lineman. There are rumors the Giants like one player immensely and will trade down if they don't get him, but I think it's him.
  10. St. Louis Rams - Cameron Erving, OL, FSU - There are better players and the Rams would love to take a WR, but this guy can play all five OL positions. Too valuable with their holes.
  11. Minnesota Vikings - DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville - I can't name anyone on this offense other than a guy who didn't play most of last year. If he plays, Parker is a great pick. If not???
  12. Cleveland Browns - DJ Humphries, OT/G, Florida - Most people have him going later, maybe even with Cleveland's second 1st rounder, but they snatch up protection for ???
  13. New Orleans Saints - Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan St. - A true need pick. Saints could try and trade down to pick a CB later, but Waynes is the best in the class.
  14. Miami Dolphins - Nelson Agholor, WR, USC - Everyone in the world just dropped dead...well everyone in Miami. Gurley is slotted by everyone here. Miami always does this. 
  15. San Francisco - Vic Beasley, DE/OLB, Clemson - I've seen mocks with him taken third and others with him in the 2nd round. Pass rushers are all over the place.
  16. Houston Texans - Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia - I think Houston is one of those teams quietly ready to offer the world for Mariota. If they don't, they get a stud, who will be a starter.
  17. San Diego Chargers - Erick Flowers, OT, Miami - Trade rumors are swirling, but they are all created by ESPN. SD keeps Rivers and protects him. 
  18. Kansas City Chiefs - Kevin Johnson, CB, Wake Forest - For a team that isn't that bad, the Chiefs sure do need to fix a lot. KJ, will step in nicely, but wow, does he have a tough job.
  19. Cleveland Browns - Danny Shelton, DT, Northwestern - Cleveland was terrible against the run last year and this guy fills huge holes. Cleveland needs to draft smart.
  20. Philadelphia Eagles - Landon Collins, S, Alabama - OK, this is a reach as most have him going in the last 2-3 picks, but this guy reminds me of Laron Landry before he went insane.
  21. Cincinnati Bengals - Bud Dupree, DE/OLB, Kentucky - Some have this guy as a top 5 pick, some have him mid 2nd round all because he goes to a basketball school.
  22. Pittsburgh Steelers - Bryon Jones, CB, UConn - As always, the Steelers get a guy who on paper should have gone about ten picks sooner. Gregory is the sexy pick, this is the smart one.
  23. Detroit Lions - Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin - Will split time in backfield and add some offense to an already potent one. Probably a bad pick here, but good player.
  24. Arizona Cardinals - Marcus Peters, CB, Washington - Best available player who fills a need. Two names with off the field problems are the reason for this pick.
  25. Carolina Panthers - Dorial Green Beckham, WR, Oklahoma - Top ten talent, I'm actually questioning him still being here. If so, Carolina is more than happy to take him. 
  26. Baltimore Ravens - Shane Ray, DE/OLB, Missouri - Off the field issues are a norm for Ravens players, so why not take a chance on this guy? Bust written all over him. 
  27. Dallas Cowboys - Jordan Phillips, NT, Oklahoma - Mid 2nd round prospect taken early by Boys who avoid going with WR, CB or RB here. 
  28. Denver Broncos - Eric Kendricks, ILB, UCLA - Malcolm Brown is the sexy pick, but Kendricks is more of a need. Of course, I want Brown.
  29. Indianapolis Colts - Eric Rowe, CB/S, Utah - Colts are probably going to be in the Super Bowl this year and really just need 2nd stringers, so this is a solid pick.
  30. Green Bay Packers - Bernardick McKinney, LB, Miss St. - Absolutely nobody has him going first round, but this guy is a beast. Perfect player for GB.
  31. New Orleans Saints - Philip Dorsett, WR, Miami - Brees needs a new toy and Miami's WR is perfect in this offense. Devin Smith could also be a choice.
  32. New England Patriots - Devin Smith, WR, Ohio St. - This won't be the pick, because coach will probably trade for the rights to Jerry Rice somehow, but they need another WR or CB.

Review - Moonrise Kingdom...Is This Wes Anderson's Best?

Only Wes Anderson, the king of quirk, cast two children who had never acted in leading roles. Jared Gilman, 12 at the time and Kara Hayward 14, knock it out of the park. The characters speak quickly and often making no sense, that is, with the exception of the children. The children are all wise beyond their years and learn from their mistakes, whereas the adults, well, they do as adults do, since the dawn of time. They repeat theirs over and over, because they are restricted by rules as is depicted obviously and openly in a scene towards the end.

Many will find the movie silly, because they watch Anderson's films the same way they watch something like Whiplash or Boyhood. They need to make sense of a child's life as an adult, where Anderson lets the children stay children, but allows us all to learn. Even with subject matter as recognizable as first love, we're shown the pain, the frustration and the inept attempts of the adult world to understand that this is everything to us. This is true love, because it's indefinable.

There are things the prudish will be bothered by, such as kids kissing, a breast felt and the mention of a boy's erection, but it is the innocence with how it is handled that amazes me. In the same scenes where the boy and girl share their first kiss and she allows him to touch her breast, he also reveals that he might wet the bed and commends her on her reading. She is impressed by his chivalry and the simple fact he notices her among the crowd, despite her being what adults would call out of his league. Some will be bothered by Suzy being depicted as sexy, but they must realize this was the style of 1965 and upon careful inspection, her "adult" makeup looks like it was put on by a child. Something that immediately shows, not only her immaturity, but her parents lack of attentions towards her. In the end it's as innocent as any child romance and those that see differently are probably confirming Anderson's point, that we adults just don't get it or have forgotten how it feels.

True film fans will go bananas with all the little references to other films, many even recent, such as Shawshank Redemption, Titanic and even the Godfather. The music is music many of listened to as children in our parents attempt to introduce us to classical music. I won't pretend to understand the corn metaphors, but I'm sure someone will point out how obvious it was. I took it as this. When we think of corn, we think of Native Americans and all camps have Native American names. We also have taken that over and claimed it as our own, much like the land, which may be a metaphor for how age has taken over our innocence. I don't know. I can figure out Interstellar, Inception and Memento in ten minutes, but this corn thing has me baffled. It doesn't matter.

The film is shot with the wonderfully ridiculous style of Anderson and his mind and it ads to it completely. The yellow hues in nearly every scene with the children show the bright sunshine and the simplistic metaphor for sunny outlooks, while each scene with the adults is blue, brown or grey, depicting the solemn reality of being an adult. Maybe that's what hits home. Maybe I simply miss chasing Jenny Singer all over the halls, waiting til the final day of school for that kiss on the cheek, which got me through the summer of '83.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Free Writing - Take 81

Too warm, too hot, I don't know, because I have lost interest in the weather. It started some time around the age of being able to bounce a ball. Every day above ground is a good the sick say. I am sick, but I don't say it. Why? I watch young wanting to be old and old wanting to be young, but their pathetic nature is no match to those who wish to impress the alternative. Children can not impress the old, because of some false sense of wisdom and the old can not impress the young, because the young will always let them know there is a better way. I watch from afar and laugh, but truly feeling sorry for those who can't embrace the age at which they stand. My grandmother understood this and realized her life of diapers to dentures were merely about memories to be shared, maybe learned from, but that wasn't important to her. She was still learning, but not from us. She was convinced those here now have nothing to offer. She would rather listen to a child bash keys on a piano and smile, then play one handed and remind us, she wasn't easily impressed. She had outgrown her skills, her achievements and had no peers left to impress and if she had, she'd have laughed with them at all of desperate to be liked.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Ten Things People Need To Stop Doing Immediately

1. Saying or writing "and it's just about the best thing ever?" Unless you're marrying the person of your dreams or having a child, let's go easy with some celebrity doing a skit being equal or better. We get it hipsters, you're expressing your joy at something you found on the Internet, which you believe you found first, but the reality is...someone posted it! You're late...let it go.

2. Parents who are over the hill, but active, we all applaud you, but forcing, yes forcing your kids to waste their weekends watching your workout, your race or your softball games is too much. That's family time, not me time. I'm all for kids supporting their parents, but support is your job. Those three hours you spent getting ready for some dumb race to prove your man or womanhood, is time your kid could have been playing with friends or you. Them being trained, obedient cheerleaders isn't parenting. Get a dog.

3. Posting pictures of their goddamn houses on Facebook. I know the way into about half of your houses and I'm not a thief. I know where nobody can see, because you've built a fence and when you post on social media that you're going away for six days, I know when to rob you. If I know how and when, imagine someone who does it normally might do?

4. Using your kids maladies for sympathy. I know people who have kids who have outlived their life expectancy by almost a decade and you know what they do with their sorrow and their woes? Cherish each and every second. Do they get down? Yes, but they keep that shit bottled up so they will never know. Never ever use your child's disability for any purpose other than to educate. Ever! Even careful how you do it.

5. Stop using other people who are unaware to get someone mad or jealous. Trust me, it will come back to bite you. Also, if you're doing this to me, just realize, I know exactly who are my real friends and who aren't, so if you cross that line, I will make you regret it.

6. Stop being against everything and then post how you're a god loving person. What fucking Satan-like god are you worshiping who gives a flying fuck about what someone's gender, sexual preference or color is? If you're against anyone for any reason other than them being bad people, stop it. Nobody cares and people saying they are with you are awful people. I'm not against you, I feel for you.

7. Embracing stupidity. If someone writes a poem posts a meme or just status that is littered with misspelled words, poor grammar or simply make no sense whatsoever, stop liking it. Send this person a private message about their error. Also, if you're a teacher bashing testing and you don't know when to use "than or then" you are an idiot. That might be a typo, but when you've done it before, I'm guessing not. Also, you're a teacher...check it.

8. Stop saying "SO TRUE." Their is true and there is false and sometimes there might be some grey area, but so true? I don't get it. Do you mean that the person said something that exceeds the normal levels of truth? It's idiotic.

9. Not everything is OMG or LOL funny. A kid getting hit in the balls with a wiffleball bat is hilarious. Your daughter asking the whereabouts of the cookies is not. Unless of course, she's covered with cookie crumbs. We're also all not that funny and even those of us who are considered funny, don't always translate well to story telling. I appreciate family stories more than anyone, but it's not always the kind where I fall on the floor and scream laughing. A simple smile works.

10. Top Ten Lists. They are "so" yesterday...the ultimate yesterday.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Quick Thoughts On Bruce Jenner

Dozing off around 11, trying to digest my odd meal of sushi, mashed potatoes, salsa and the last of my iced coffee. Don't judge. We all judge. Two hours (I believe, I didn't watch) for Bruce Jenner to come out to a world that will call him a hero or freak, but why is he doing this on TV. If he is doing for the most noble of causes, which is to help others, then yes, a hero is not too strong a word. I have more thoughts on this, but want to see how this plays out in the next few days. A book and interview tour will show me he's no better than the family he surrounded himself with. Funny how the most poignant words of encouragement are alleged to have come from Kanye West, who must himself feel like a pariah as should his wife, but I don't think she gets it.

But here's why it simply doesn't matter. Bruce Jenner is asking a world that knows him as an Olympic Men's champion, to accept the fact that he has lived his life wanting to be a woman. He's asking the same world that consists of no less than seven people who called the players on the Pittsburgh Penguins girls, faggots, sissies and ask if their vagina(s) hurt. So if being a woman is seen as a negative to so many men, how can a woman who feels trapped in her male body ever be accepted? The answer is, she will never have that luxury, Ever. And that is why it is so important that Bruce Jenner not stop with this single interview, but selectively pick important times to champion his cause. If he can get those seven people down to six, he will be a hero. Yes, a hero.

Friday, April 24, 2015

My Movie Problem

Over the past few years, I've had two friends with whom I can discuss film in detail. I have many friends I can talk to about this film or that, but it's hard to find someone to discuss film in a way, where the simple dissection of one film turns into an elongated discussion on genre, social commentary and film as a true art form. Twitter gives me glimpses of these discussions, but I've found most tweeters are so genre specific, I find myself posting notes to no one, hoping for a response. I rarely get them. I do have a few people who can discuss at length, but this is very rare. Even those people I see now, seem so distracted by other things, they never really get what they've seen until reading a professional review and hearing someone else's thoughts. For me, that's not a passion, it's simply faking it.

I watched three films in eighteen hours yesterday. An action thriller with a subplot of how our mind works and what would happen if we could expand its use. The second was a documentary on the Hadron Collider and the Higgs Particle. It delved into the importance in understanding how all matter was created. It's basically the scientific equivalent of meeting god. Finally, I saw a New Zealand coming of age tale. A young boy, his deadbeat dad and the odd circumstances that occur in this child's awakening. Three very different films and three I'd have to scour the earth to discuss with one person. This pains me.

I assume it pains me the way bookworms look at me with disgust when they ask me if I've read this or that and boast how little I've read in the past twenty years, yet they find it odd I can discuss topics covered in those books. I read constantly and I want to learn, but I don't have the patience to curl up in a chair and commit hour to one book, when I can cook a meal, sip coffee and watch three movies in the same time. I wish I could speed read, because that would motivate me. Sadly, it seems these days, I can't speed-anything.

It's always tough when nobody you see on a daily basis shares your passion, but I think I've tried so hard over the years to share others, I sometimes forget how much these things mean to me. I've long thought about how to pursue a career in film in some manner, but I hold it in such an odd place in my head and in my heart, it's hard for me to envision it. I want people to see film like I do. I don't want a review to tell you the killer or even the plot. I want you to figure it out for yourself. I'm tired of the word ambiguous to describe ending, because the writer, director, actors and everyone else involved had a clear vision and if you didn't get their vision, they shouldn't allow you that pass. They should demand you understand it and if you don't, at least discuss it. 

I guess it's not just entertainment for me, when the curtain closes, because even some of the bad ones stay with me for days, trapped like a bird, dying or flying away. Bukowski's bluebird perhaps. I just want to feel what Toto felt at the end of Cinema Paradiso, but be able to share that feeling with someone else who understands and not be alone with it like he was.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Review - The Babadook vs A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night

Horror movies have been getting a lot of hype lately and I was lucky enough to see two in the last few days that have received a ton of it. Thankfully, despite the hype, I've managed to stay away from any huge spoilers. I had thought the ending of The Babadook was ruined for me by a tweet, but in an all to common circumstance, I lucked out when the person posting completely misunderstood the film. Something I'm finding most people do these days with all films, but especially in horror. 

Both films deal with loneliness in very different ways. One takes the traditional route (AGWHAAN) and goes for the popular genre driven take on it and the other goes in a completely different direction and decides to look at depression and mental illness, one could even say PTSD. Both films use light and dark setting to convey a real sense of reality and use the proven method of something lurking in the shadows to haunt, more so than violence and gore.  The problem is, neither works on that level. That isn't to say one isn't a good movie, but it needs to be digested and becomes more effective after it's done, where as the other one loses it's way and in my case the viewer's attention.

The Babadook is gut-wrenching by the time you are done and it's every parents worst fear, becoming the monster you hope to protect your child from. It uses a children's book to depict the mental breakdown of the mother and we're never quite sure where the film is going, until the final scene. What's most important to the success of the story as a whole is to realize why the things that might frustrate us at the beginning are happening. Without going into any details that might spoil the experience, if you find yourself annoyed by one of the characters, this is entirely the point and when you realize why you start to feel anxiety when they are on screen, you realize how well done the film is. I won't lie, this film didn't resonate with me until two days after watching and now I realize, it's one I must revisit in a few month or maybe years. It may in fact turn out to be hurt so much by the hype, that I'm missing the reality, which is it is in fact one of the finest horror films ever created. 

This leads me to A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, which for some inexplicable reason is being compared to the Babadook. The film is not in any way similar other than it is dark. It is filmed in Jarmusch-esque black and white and even has the restrained dialogue of his films. The problem is, it is never sure what it wants to be and it's a problem that leaves the viewer feeling as if the message is still stuck in the writer/director's head. It is supposed to be an Iranian Vampire tale, but it feels like the movie is taking place in East LA in a barrio run by Ukranian mobsters. As ludicrous as that sounds, it's nothing compared to how ridiculous it plays out. The film fails in that it never allows to understand why anyone is where they are and why we should care. It uses cliches such as vampires living off the weak and somewhat sympathizing with the sad and lonely, but it never makes us care about them. Each character seems to have material things they love, but when faced with true attachment, we're left grasping. The final scene of the film wraps it up nicely and by nicely, I mean, we don't really know why they must be where they are or how, but we do know we don't care. The only thing that stands out is the lovely star, Sheila Vand, who is limited by no real lines and the director's odd take on what her desires are. 

The real problem for both of these films is that we want to care about the lead characters and we don't. While the Babadook is completely different in it's approach, because we're asked to empathize, not care, it still failed to have me embrace Essie Davis' character until the final moments. Had I realized three quarters of the way through, then I would have felt something, but then again, it would have completely taken away from the ending. In the other film, I never care. Not even my primal self, when she is at her weakest and most vulnerable (or was this just nudity for the sake of nudity?), was I even a slight bit interested in her how, what, where and whys. Even more distracting is the male lead, who we're never asked to question how he got to where he got without anyone noticing, but a little boy. If that last sentence has you scratching your head, let it, because it wraps up the irrational view the movie takes. And people, if you hear any comparisons to Only Lovers Left Alive, please slap that person for me. 

If you're looking for entertainment, see the New Zealand horror-comedy Housebound. If you want a thought provoking, sad horror film, see The Babadook and if you want to impress your man-scaped, Radiohead loving, cafe crowd, claim you loved the cinematography and depth in A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night.  I'll be over here waiting for Pascal Laugier to come out of the shadows and make another damn movie.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Four Walls

I remember the first time I ever went away from home on my own. A friends house for the weekend. Somewhere about an hour, maybe two, from our home in Brooklyn. I was only worried about the evenings, as I was a chronic bed-wetter as a child.  Despite one accident, made easier by an understanding friend who had just overcome it himself, I had a great time. I learned to ice skate, he had a cute older sister and his mom made us hot cocoa, it seemed liked every 2 hours. The thing that eased my mind was knowing "home" was so close.  Throughout my life and I'm sure, most of yours, trips are always fun, but one of the best parts is being back in your own bed, your own kitchen and with the familiar surroundings that comfort you. I don't have that anymore.

People used to laugh when I'd describe my old apartment. It was tiny and awful, but it was my safe haven until it was ruined. It was my shelter, with a bed, a fridge and a bathroom. Within those four walls I realized that life isn't about what we collect it's about what we can do without. Towards the end of my stay there, I lived without the things most people call essentials. I didn't have a good light to read from, nor did I have cable. I didn't have an oven that worked and my room was cluttered with crap, but it was crap I needed (to some extent).

Now I'm away and while I still have four walls, which is more than many, I am not comforted by them. It might feel this way, because they aren't truly mine or it may be for other reasons. I think the reason I don't have that comfort is because I don't have places to go. I don't have days that are spent away, looking forward to those four walls. I don't have friends calling (texting) to come over or to meet out for drinks. I don't work to bitch and moan about, although my old job made me happy, so who knows. I don't understand the feeling of wanting those four walls anymore and it didn't start in Ithaca. It was taken from me. It made me realize that we're really simply creatures.

I sat tonight, alone in the kitchen, sipping hot coffee at midnight and I thought about the silliness of materialism. Coffee, bagels and hummus. An occasional steak. A tomato and onion. A movie. My phone. A roof and four walls. It's all I need to survive, but being able to leave and want to return, is really what I am missing.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

2015 NBA Playoffs - Predictions (Is the league still fixed?)

I don't watch the NBA, because it's fixed. It has been since the the rise of MJ and the all the rules that went into the game to make him the greatest player of all-time. I'm not knocking MJ, I'm knocking David Stern. I know a few things about the man personally from his neighbors in Scarsdale that would make your skin crawl, but I'm not Perez Hilton and I don't have a team of lawyers to defend me, so I'm sticking to my predictions. I also think this new commissioner is a straight shooter, so I don't think we'll see as many phantom calls as in the past. It's literally up for grabs...almost. Stars still sell and the NBA is desperate for ratings, because nobody likes the sport anymore, they just love the jerseys. So here it goes. I haven't watched more than 20 minutes of the NBA all season, so who better to trust with your predictions?

Eastern Conference
Round 1
Atlanta over Brooklyn in 5
Washington over Toronto in 5
Cleveland over Boston in 5
Chicago over Milwaukee in 4

Round 2
Washington over Atlanta in 7
Cleveland over Chicago in 6

Conference Finals
Cleveland over Washington in 5

Western Conference
Round 1
Golden St. over New Orleans in 4
Memphis over Portland in 6
Houston over Dallas in 6
San Antonio over Clippers in 7

Round 2
Golden St. over Memphis in 5
Houston over San Antonio in 7

Conference Finals
Houston over Golden St. in 7

Cleveland over Houston in 6

Friday, April 17, 2015

My Sherlock Holmes Moment

I've been watching the BBC version of Sherlock and while I love Mr. Holmes' (played by my new man-crush, Benedict Cumberbatch) ability to read people, I find it somewhat funny that they chalk this up to some intellect. It's merely being perceptive. Most of us think we are, but the reality is, we miss so much. This is never more evident than when people post something without realizing what the article is actually saying. This isn't about you, the people that drive me batty...not this time. This time it's about me and a funny night.

I was in a bar and a girl sat down and we struck up a conversation. I was aware she wasn't interested in me, but she also didn't want to sit and stare at sports. She was overdressed for the bar she was in and in the course of about 45 minutes to an hour, she allowed me to know more about herself without her even knowing it. The strange thing was, despite her being very attractive, I never felt any physical attraction to her. Mainly, because of everything she threw out inadvertently.

Within about 20 minutes, I realized that despite her aesthetic attempts at glamour, she had no money. I bought her a drink and from the size of her sips, I realized this drink was going to last her the hour. She wasn't interested in me and despite her starting the conversation with me, I realized she wasn't looking to mooch. This told me she was biding her time and awaiting the arrival of her friends. During the conversation, she continued to make assumptions about me and nearly every one of them was wrong. I asked if she was a psych major and she said she was. I warned her that what she learns in textbooks doesn't equate to an ability to see these things. So once she felt as if I was telling her how to do her future job, she somewhat turned on me. She guessed I was divorced, with kids and worked outside. I told her to be careful analyzing people, because they might do it back. Finally, as she got to the end of her drink, she challenged me. She said "OK me." And this was when I went into full Sherlock mode.

I said "You're obviously meeting someone here, but you thought it was nicer or you wouldn't have worn that dress and your nice jewelry, You don't normally wear the bracelet, because it's summer and despite your tan, you don't have any tan lines on your wrist. You also took off a ring you normally wear, which I assume means you're recently broken up with someone, but still wear the ring they gave you." She started to slouch and I continued. "You also suffer from bulimia, which I'm very sorry about, but it's quite evident. You have split ends, which in itself isn't a tell-tale sign, but you have your your right pointer finger is a little ragged, even with the polish. This is from making yourself vomit. You decided to major in psychology, since you think having a psychosomatic disease somehow gives you some expertise in the field."

Around this time, I realized I was pretty much on the money, so I started to slow down. Oddly, she told me to continue. "The guy you're meeting either is very late or not coming, because you've checked your phone only once, but it must not have been him, but you have glanced at the clock over my shoulder about twenty times. It's about 10:05 now, so you're pretty sure he isn't coming, since he told you 9:30. You are also frustrated, because you got you hair done just for this date." She stopped me and said "Oh, why you think my hair would be a mess otherwise?" I said "Of course not, you're a pretty girl who is very self conscious about her appearance, but if you brushed your hair right before you came in, there would inevitably be a stray hair on your collar line or shoulders and there isn't."

Right about then, she got up and said she had to leave. As she did, she turned in her chair and was facing me. She said "I'm not saying you're right about everything, but I just want you to know that this is probably why you're single, because you're a know it all. I also hope you realize that you never had a shot." She started to walk away and I said, "One more thing. I know I didn't, but he really screwed up, because he had more than a shot, he had a sure thing." She walked back over and said "oh, let me hear this one." I said "If he wasn't you wouldn't have been so particular about your undergarments, but you're not wearing a tiny thong or some regular panties, you're wearing a very nice pair of white lace panties and a matching bra." Girls wear these types of things to weddings, grandma's birthday and when they are going to go home with somebody." I won't say what was said, but I was right. I'm guessing about everything, but who knows. I do know one thing, I know jack squat about reading what women say, but I can read body language and other things.

I hope this wasn't too long-winded, but it's a better story than the time I told a girl that she was going to give a guy blue balls and when she asked me why, I said "because you're dressed to the nines, but wearing a sports bra and granny panties,  because you have your period." She was a good friend, so I just got a laugh and slap and then "I fucking hate you."

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Movie Review - Interstellar

Before you go on...I am not a Christopher Nolan fan. I preface this silly blog entry with this statement, because his fans are insane. They get confused thinking his name is an anagram for something surpeme. They think and over-think every scene and fail to watch things like credits and opening scenes, which he is infamous for giving almost everything away in. Interstellar is no different. First there are the books, the title, the dust, some names, the odes to every sci-fi film ever made and that fucking Dylan Thomas poem over and over again. Seriously, anyone who has seen a handful of films, read handful of books, paid attention in History class and puts their phone down for a few seconds, will not be astonished by the complexity of the film. They'll be bored to tears at it's obvious and never ending metaphors.

I won't take anything away from the acting. McConnaughey and the girl who played young Murph are very good. The rest of the cast is adequate, with a nice little surprise cameo about halfway through. But here's the real problem. There is never a feeling of urgency or understanding from the characters and if you're really being honest, you need that to care. The movie is almost three hours long and it feels like seven. There so many homages, that for a film fan, it's irritating. I'm sure I missed a number of the book references, but the obvious ones were in the first ten seconds. Some are just silly, like Anne Hathaway's character's name or the robots STAR & S(P)ACE, sorry I mean TARS and CASE or KIPP...the writer of the book it's based on is named Kip Thorne, who happens to be the guy who Stephen Hawking lost the bet to and had to buy Penthouse. See The Theory of Everything, a much better movie.

Listen, I'm not saying people won't find things they like about it. There are also some who might be shocked by every twist and turn. I don't need to make myself feel smart by bashing this, I can bash all of his films for that, but Nolan doesn't work for me, because I pay attention. Sometimes too much attention. I have never, and will never understand the reason for "Easter Eggs" in movies. Why the hell would you want some random thing written on a wall or some sign in the background giving away the plot twists? Why not just let them happen? This ruined Shutter Island for me in about 45 seconds and since then, I've been so keen on noticing these things, it destroys so many films. This is why things like The Usual Suspects and Stalker are brilliant. I'll stick to those and I have to admit, I don't think I'm rushing out or putting the next Nolan film anywhere near my Netflix queue. Oh sure I will, because I'll want to say I figured it out again.

Two Quickie Reviews - Kill The Messenger & The Lunchbox

Kill the Messenger was one of those odd Hollywood films that flew under the radar despite having an all-star cast. It seems as though there is a name actor in each and every role and in a way, this makes and breaks the film. You keep waiting for more depth, but it never really materializes. The film is so well acted and scripted in the first 90 minutes, you're completely blindsided when the movie just fades, resorting to postscripts to explain what happens. It's a huge letdown for a movie that showed constant promise. The very fact this is a true story, with an absolutely incredibly hard to believe ending makes the movie an overall failure, despite Renner's magnificent job.

Romantic Comedies are a tough nut to crack. As a man, who doesn't seek them out, it's refreshing when one strips away the macho bullshit and goes right to the heart of what we all want from a relationship and that is to be appreciated. Being loved, even worshiped, gets old pretty fast, but appreciation is the key. In The Lunchbox, an Indian Film from 2013 that actually received a Best Foreign Film nomination from the BAFTAs, we are given two people who are in need of attention. One is a married young mother, who is trying to make her husband happy, but also just feel like she matters. The other is a soon-to-be retired claims adjuster, who misses his dead wife and has become detached from the outside world. He doesn't want friends and he doesn't want to be bothered. The movie is all abouta mistake that leads a chance "encounter." To explain it further, would give away too much of the film, but trust me when I tell you, it isn't what you'd expect. It doesn't tug at the heartstrings or follow a formula, but it shows you the importance of what you do and how you do it. And it always matters.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

2015 NHL Playoff Predictions

OK, I'll start off by saying this. I'm not really a hockey fan. I do love watching the playoffs, but I don't really have a team, so I can't claim any real knowledge. But I can make one claim. I made predictions on this blog one other time and that was the 2013 playoff season. I got all four of the semifinal teams correct and the Stanley Cup Winner correct. So here I go again.

Western Conference
St. Louis over Minnesota
Chicago over Nashville
Anaheim over Winnipeg
Calgary over Vancouver

Chicago over St. Louis
Anaheim over Calgary

Chicago over Anaheim

Eastern Conference
Montreal over Ottawa
Tampa Bay over Detroit
Rangers over Pittsburgh
Islanders over Washington

Tampa Bay over Montreal
Rangers over Islanders

Tampa Bay over Rangers

Stanley Cup Winners - Chicago Blackhawks

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Quickie Review - WolfCop

Tonight I was in the mood for a mindless horror film and I came across WolfCop on Netflix. I expected to sit through an hour and a half of pure idiocy. Well, every once in a while the old adage rings true, "you can't judge a movie by the silly picture on the cover" or something like that. WolfCop is as much fun as I've had watching a so-called bad movie in a long time. Despite the silly premise, the hilarious antics, the sub effects and makeup, this film is actually pretty amazing. Successful horror movies usually add just enough humor to balance out the bloodshed, but WolfCop makes takes the humor to a new level. The movie has pace, has excitement and even has some seriously amazing plot twists. Here's the most surprising aspect of it...the acting actually isn't bad at all. The people seem real and each is likable in their own way. Let's also make things clear for the male viewers. Sarah Lind is worth the time and the price of admission and Amy Matysio isn't only beautiful, but actually has a great role in the film. Her once chance at humor is a home run. I know most people will probably think I'm drunk or had an out of body experience and ended up at Joe Bob Briggs' house, but this movie is excellent. Plus, if you hate it, it's 72 minutes long. Oh yeah, even the rap song....yes the rap song, is excellent and plays well with the rest of the fairly awesome soundtrack. A must see for horror fans.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Writing To Write

This started out as one thing and as is the case so often, just turned into a free writing exercise.

I'm surrounded by the sounds of people so desperate to be published, yet we live in a world where every bad writer is given a degree, a grant and an internship or whatever they call it. Young men and women, dreaming of stardom and writing about everyday topics with such fabricated depth, it makes an old curmudgeon like me smile. I feel badly for people who are so transparent, yet feel their use of language gives them mystique. Professors and publishers eat this up, the public, confused by their use of multi syllabic words. But does it sell? No, idiocy sells. Straightforward, no metaphors, simplistic symbolism is what they want. Inner goddesses and dragon spells is where we have arrived.

I think my current situation has made me so much more aware of how people use words in print. They don't have smiles or hair tosses to camouflage their souls. No laughter or hand movements to distract us from the real message. When you read something by someone you know and those generalizations you made about them ring so true. I've a keen eye for human behavior and it's always been picking up the eating disorder or the victimization, but that can't be seen by staring. Reading others words tells a story. The married man who feels the need to comment on the new divorcees status update, commenting how he was the first to post. The innuendo laughed off by both, but sometimes you wonder. I play the game myself at times, just to gauge others perception and yet, when I'm blatant, it falls on deaf ears, or in this case, blind eyes.

I like to write at times just to write. Just to let me mind run free, because my body can't. I don't have delusions as to my ability. I can convey thoughts, that is all. I don't have poetic tone and I tend to use the same phrases as when I speak and they become monotonous, even to my own eyes and ears. One of the things that astounds me though is just how poorly people write when they haven't experienced anything. I don't mean they haven't done anything, I mean experienced it. I've gone to many baseball games, but I've experienced few. I've had many relationships and felt love and loss, but sometimes it was simply a product of feeling the way you're supposed to feel. No regrets now, so why did I then? I also make no bones about who I am and who created this person and there was never an oedipal complex as I see in so many writer's work. What makes it glare is how it is hidden and this, makes me question it more. I find the words people write between each other to be fascinating, both as education into their minds, but more so into their desires. It's funny when you read the written word and it says so much more than simply commenting on the day.

I appreciate those who take the time to read what I have to say and even more so those who comment privately. Whether it be a "nice" or an interest into my well being. I can assure you all, my mind is clear, possibly more than ever, but the laughter has left my life and that I need to regain. I thank three people for bringing it to me with their words, but I need to see them laugh. One thing I miss about one friend in particular was her laugh and the tears we cried in utter joy together. I miss that, because all I've seen is laughter that comes nervously after something told that is neither funny or awkward enough to need a buffer. I know this sounds weird, but two people, laughing at someone's shirt or hat. This is what I miss. Memories being made. I have none for so long now. Reminds me of another time in my life, but that was followed by some of my fondest thoughts. So I am content and I wait, but would love to see that smile and that laugh and know that the lull in communication means nothing, because it's just hibernating.

2015 MLB Predictions

Last year I went away from my usual way of doing my predictions and yes, I was as awful as could have been imagined. So here it is. New and improved and trying to battle Nate Silver's analytics. Here we go:

AL East
Boston* - Too many bats to lose a weak division. Betts MVP?
Yankees* - Arod and Beltran will carry this team, as pitching woes mount
Baltimore - No playoffs this year with a lack of power and depth.
Toronto - Batista can only do so much, but keeps them at .500 all year
Tampa Bay - The team lost ten games with the loss of Maddon

Al Central
Detroit** - Too much pitching and Cabrera is still the best player in the league
Kansas City* - Last years AL champs are stronger this year and hungrier
Chicago - Will miss playoffs by a game or two
Minnesota - Will be better than they look on paper, but falter in late summer
Cleveland - Francona is a great manager, but this team will be lucky to win 75 games

AL West
Seattle* - Another close battle with three teams fighting it out the last week
Los Angeles - Star power is there, but those intangible aren't
Oakland - Everyone says Beane is crazy, but always good enough to compete
Houston - Could surprise early, but need a big bat to keep up
Texas - Darvish being lost is a killer to the staff and morale

AL Wild Card:
Kansas City over Yankees
AL Divisional Series:
Detroit over Kansas City
Boston over Seattle
AL League Championship:
Detroit over Boston

NL East
Washington** - Will own the best record in the regular season
Miami - Mid-season moves could help or hurt their run. A player away
Mets - Improved lineup, but health in this organization is unheard of
Phillies - The biggest story this year will be who gets Hamels
Braves - On paper, the worst team in baseball

NL Central
St. Louis* - Quietly improved in off-season
Cincinnati - If Jay Bruce does what I believe, they could win it all
Milwaukee - People forget they won 82 games...w/injury bug
Chicago - I'm not jumping on this bandwagon, even w/ Maddon
Pittsburgh - I have everyone's WS pick in last place

NL West
San Francisco* - Key will be inter-league games, they have a DH
San Diego* - They are the 2014 Royals with better bats
Los Angeles* - Ride Kershaw, but what about his playoff history?
Colorado - Much better than people think, wrong division
Arizona - Despite an MVP candidate, on paper a bad team

NL Wild Card:
San Diego over Los Angeles
NL Divisional Series:
Washington over San Diego
St. Louis over San Francisco
NL League Championship:
St. Louis over Washington

World Series: Detroit over St. Louis 4-2 WS MVP: Yoenis Cespedes

MVP: Robinson Cano & Giancarlo Stanton
Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw & Felix Hernandez
Rookie of the Year: Steven Souza & Jorge Soler

Quickie Review - Killers (2014)

I couldn't wait to see this after seeing the trailer a few months back. Got it the second it came out on Netflix and can not believe how bad it was. The film is nothing more than a checklist of action film cliches and gimmicks. Everything about it is stolen from something else, but that's fine, because in this day and age, it seems action films have run out of ideas. This film fails in a big way however, in that unless you're younger and haven't seen many films from the past 30 years, you'll see everything coming a mile away. The last 20 minutes could have been scripted by anyone who has seen 3 or 4 80's films. I think the directors simply bit off more than they could chew, because the basic premise is an interesting one, but it goes in too many different directions and the actions scenes seem to repeat themselves. The action is also comical in how implausible it is. If you're expecting Raid: Redemption, Raid 2 or I Saw The Devil as I've seen people mention, you're going to be very very upset. Truly a style over substance film, which I'm sure will work for about half its viewers, but I was left very disappointed.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Free Writing - Take 80

The holidays came and went without a sound. Mixed emotions this year, more than most. No festive feelings to be had, just stuck in the middle of this land of confusion and wasted time. I'm trying, behind the scenes, but failing miserably. I've gone away from the land I lived in for so long. One made on conversations and communications, often mistaken words of feelings, but communication nonetheless. I've fallen down this rabbit hole of post it notes and e-mails, where emotions are displayed with three dollar adjectives and literary quotes. I sat on Easter, listening to the same stories I'd heard during Thanksgiving or around, then Christmas and before that fourth of July. I turn to Facebook to hear about first steps and traffic anger, but at least it is fresh. Stories that have been memorized, embellished, shall we say edited to perfection, but have lost their luster, much like Dr. Seuss' magic dwindles and for the same reason, age. I've long wondered how the human mind works. Why can we remember the size of our shoe from our first grade recital, but can't remember how long the same box of pasta we cooked Saturday will take today? Why is it that the words of meaningless people on the TV and Radio are remembered and repeated over and over, the same giggle or sigh following with each retelling, but the words from our human contacts are forgotten literally seconds after they are spoken. I'm getting older and more sullen. I'm realizing that I've found myself in a world that doesn't care about human interaction, simply the need to say we did something. The entire community makes seven trips to a market nobody wants to be in, while I used to shop for the week on Tuesday nights, because it was the only night I didn't care to be bothered. Seven or eight bags, weighting my down. Sweat pouring in the dead of winter as I struggle not to fall and even more concerned with running into a neighbor, who might ask if I need a hand. Midnight, I'm heating my dinner, listening to a bug play in the dirt of the flower pot. Is he playing or stuck? I let him be and somehow I wonder if that's what he wants.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Quickie Review - The Drop

I'm interested to know if there were severe time constraints on this film. It felt as if so much of it wasn't carefully attended to. The first and the most glaring mistake was the title. The movie is based on a short story called Animal Rescue by Dennis Lethane (from an anthology called Boston Noir), which if you've seen the film, is the absolute perfect title, both in reality and as a metaphor for how the film plays out. Just from looking at this board the title change would have settled any doubts about the not-at-all (yet described as) ambiguous ending.

I didn't love the movie (something of a surprise considering Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace starred), but it wasn't so much the story, the acting or the odd mistakes, but the painfully obvious clues given throughout. Some coming directly before the scenes they foreshadow. In the end, if you read the short story (it's available online), you find the story is so painfully simple, it's not surprising the film lacked the depth it so desperately attempted to show. The ending, however, was a nice homage to Mr. Gandolfini.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Quickie Review - The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game - It's rare that I will say this, but it's a near perfect film. The script is incredible, acting magnificent and the music is brilliant. It covers entire topics in simple scenes and while some will complain about it's neglecting or embellishing certain aspects of the man's life, it was carefully constructed to do so without distracting us from his contributions (see Theory of Everything). Not since Argo have I seen a film where I can't imagine a single scene that should have been scrapped or a scene added. The use of humor, so perfectly displayed as to allow us a much needed breath. Can't say enough how impressed I was with Cumberbatch, Strong and Knightley. While I still have two to go, this movie should have swept the Oscars.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

March Movies

Here's my list of movies I watched this month. Slow month thanks to March Madness. #26 of this month was #89 for the year. Tonight I officially dipped below the "one movie per day" quota.
  1. Cronos - Del Toro's first is a beautiful take on a classic. Aurora is the standout.
  2. Honeymoon - Atrocious acting, silly plot and not a single boo!
  3. Finding Vivian Maier - Uneven, but wonderful doc on the secret life of brilliant photographer.
  4. Foxcatcher - 90% fictional tale, ruins a fascinating true story. Awful acting or negligible?
  5. Ravenous - Silly horror flick, but elevated by the incredible Robert Carlyle.
  6. The Judge - Predictable and filled with Hollywood cliche, but stellar cast make it enjoyable.
  7. The House of the Devil - homage to 70's/80's is typical Ti West yawn fest. Nothing happens!
  8. The Grand Budapest Hotel - Wonderfully quirky Wes Anderson does it again. Stellar Fiennes.
  9. Nightcrawler - Brilliant idea falls flat with unlikable characters and implausible second half.
  10. Dracula Untold - Solid, fun start, derails into CGI mess with awful ending. Gadon - yowza!
  11. Confession of Murder - Scattered mess of a film ends up destroying great start and concept.
  12. The Station Agent - Dinklage, Cannavale, Clarkson and Williams deliver an A+ story.
  13. Clerks 2 - Re-watched. So much of it is better than the first, but in the end, nowhere near.
  14. Rosewater - Stewart's let down and he gives in to his own detractor's stereotypes and snubs.
  15. Kumare - Powerful documentary about fake guru, who helps, despite his deceitful premise. 
  16. The Scribbler - Typical graphic novel come to life. Starts great, unravels into a true mess.
  17. Session 9 - Incredible for 85 minutes. Unfortunately it has a 95 minute running time. 
  18. Sushi Girl - Awful B-Movie studded Reservoir Dogs knock off. Cortney Palm though, wow!
  19. Fury - Solid cast, especially LaBoeuf, make up for poor script. Much better than expected.
  20. Fading Gigolo - Turturro stars and directs Allen and Paradis brilliantly in NYC. Paradis(e)!
  21. Berberian Sound Studio - I'm still not sure if this is just one big in-joke. Brilliant or Mess?
  22. Birdman - Near nauseating visuals and sound, add nothing to boring take of hurt egos.
  23. Her - Brilliant! 10/10 Spike Jonze just puts perfect scene after perfect scene. Johannson's voice!
  24. The Equalizer - Fuqua proves again he's not a very talented director and worse story teller.
  25. The Theory of Everything - Marsh's inability to gravitate towards TV movie a good cast.
  26. V/H/S Viral - My new selection for worst film ever made. Four shaky vignettes - not a movie.