Wednesday, April 08, 2009
Like every other baseball fan, I have a way-too-high opinion of my baseball knowledge. I'm convinced I could run a major league baseball team as well as, if not better, than the yahoos who run them now. Of course, this is all butkis cause these guys do it for a living while we are all arm-chair GMs and managers. However, a number of Fantasy Baseball Championships over the years has given me a swelled head and the fact that I have predicted three of the last five World Series winners (Boston in '04 and '07 and St Louis in '06) has convinced me that I know what I'm talking about.
Which I most likely do not.
As always I will try and not let my fanatical nature get in the way 0f my predictions. In reality I have only picked the Mets to win the world series once in the last eight years, but have picked them to make the playoffs every year since 2005.
I'm not going to get into HUGE detail here, but if anyone wants to debate my predicitons I would be very much into that. Of course these predictions are stringent on the teams staying relatively healthy except in places where the players have a history of injury (Yeah I'm looking at YOU Burnett). In other words, if any of these teams loses one or two big time players to an extended DL stay, then all bets are off.
Ok... here we go:
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
1 - Boston Red Sox
2 - NY Yankees (Wild Card)
3 - Tampa Bay Rays
4 - Toronto Blue Jays
5 - Baltimore Orioles
Why Boston at the top? Even with the Yankee's huge influx of high priced free agents I see Boston as a stronger team. I think the pitching is close but A.J. Burnett's health is always a question, Pettite struggled last season and is a questionable fourth, and Joba should be in the bullpen. The Bullpen's are the main difference where as awesome as Rivera is, the rest of that bullpen (with Joba in the starting rotation) is suspect, whereas Boston's strong bullpen got stronger over the winter when they signed Satio from the Dodgers as a set up man. The Rays are no fluke and their absence from the playoffs is due more to the Red Sox and Yankees strengths than their own weakness. The Rays have some amazing young talent in Longoria, Crawford, Kazmir, Shields and Price, but like the Yanks their suspect bullpen can be their undoing but unlike the Yanks they don't have a no-doubt closer to rely on. Of course if A-Rod misses the year due to his hip and the Rays trade for a big time closer during the season those teams might flip flop. The Blue Jays are always a few players short of a seriously contending team and injuries to Marcum and McGowen and losing Burnett to the Yankees seriously hurts this team. Roy Halladay is one of the best pitchers in all of baseball and Veron Wells is as solid a player as there is, but add in the fact that closer BJ Ryan is struggling and Toronto is looking at another decent year that goes no where. The Orioles are getting better and should actually start to look soild next year, but this year still have way too many question marks and young players needing experiance to do much.
AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL
1. Minnesota Twins
2. Cleveland Indians
3. Chicago White Sox
4. Kansas City Royals
5. Detroit Tigers
This was a hard division to predict. All of these teams have serious flaws. None of them stand out in any way. In the end, the main reason I gave the advantage to the Twins? Cause they always seem to get it done. The Twins are a very soild TEAM. They are an excellent example of soild teamwork day in and day out. Yes they have to worry if Joe Mauer is sidelined for any real length of time, but overall they have some soild hitting, excellent defense and very good (if unspectacular besides their closer) pitching. The Indians have a soild closer finally in Wood and since he was healthy pretty much all of last year, maybe being in the bullpen is the best thing for him. If Wood is healthy, he becomes one of the better closers in the Majors. The Tribe have a lot of question marks like if Travis Hafner and Victor Martienez are going to return to form after both of them had nightmarish 2008 seasons. They need Cliff Lee to be close to what he was last year and need Carmona to pick it up after he stumbled somewhat last year (after a great 2007) for this team to have a chance to win the division. The difference between the White Sox and the Royals isn't as large as some people might think and the Tigers? Well, Despite having some great hitters, their starting pitching is in tatters and their bullpen isn't any better. Unless Rodney stays healthy and becomes the closer people think he can be and Verlander and Bonderman return to their pre-2007 forms, this team is in serious trouble.
AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST
1. LA Angels
2. Oakland A's
3. Texas Rangers
4. Seattle Mariners
This division would pretty much be a no-brainer of not for the fact that the Angels are starting the year without three of their starting pitchers. Lackey should be back by the end of April and should be fine. Escobar should also be back by early/mid May. Ervin Santana though? He might be out much, much longer. If Lackey and Escobar are both back and healthy in May, then this team should be fine. It has a lot of talent and Mike Socia is one of the best managers in baseball and has won world series' with less talented teams. Losing K-Rod hurts the bullpen but new Closer Fuentes is a solid one in his own right. The offense does all the little things right and though there aren't going to be a lot of home runs hit, they'll do enough to win. The A's are a mix of very young (Gallager, Cahill, Andersen) and kind of older (Giambi, Chavez, Cabrara) with a superstar thrown in (Holliday) and a hurt ace (Duchscherer). The offense could be strong and the pitching (if all goes right) could be the next coming of Zito, Hudson and Mulder in their prime. That's a lot of "ifs" though. Both the Rangers and Mariners should be improved although the Rangers have little pitching and the Mariners have little offense.
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
1. NY Mets
2. Atlanta Braves
3. Philadephia Phillies
4. Florida Marlins
5. Washington Nationals
Ok, first off, just because I have the defending World Champs ranked third does not mean I think they are going to be bad. I expect them to be able to win around 85 or so games and contend into Sept. The two things I have heard the most when looking at predictions for the 2009 season is:
A - The Phillies have almost the exact same team as last year so they should win again
B - The Mets have almost the exact team as last year so they won't win.
Ok, this makes no sense. To pick the Phillies to win the NL East because it returns basically the same team from a year ago with the exception of left fielder Pat Burrell and then say the reason the Mets will not even make the playoffs is because they did nothing to upgrade this team offensivelly is a total farce. Last year the Mets were 2nd in the NL in offense (tied with Philly)behind only the Cubs. They'll have a full year out of Murphy who most people agree is a "hitting machine" and Church will likely be healthy since his concussion issues are behind him. This will help and besides, the offense was NOT the problem last year. The bullpen was. The Mets blew 27 games last year after the 6th inning. TWENTY SEVEN. If they won just 15% of those games they would have won the division. With the MAJOR upgrade in the bullpen the Mets have seriously improved upon a team that won 89 games last year without a single reliable arm in a relief role in the 2nd half of 2008.
So, the Mets improved their bullpen with two of the best closers in the game setting up and closing and have a seriously reliable arm in Green for the 7th inning... meaning, the bullpen, which was the main reason the Mets lost at the end of the season last year, is no longer a problem. However, to claim the Phillies are going to win because they are the same as last year when they did NOT upgrade their team at ALL is being overly optomistic. First it's not really realistic to expect Lidge to do the same thing this year as he did last year and be perfect? The Phillies should expect to have at least a marginal decrease in their bullpen this year just due to the fact that being perfect after the 7th inning like they were last year is highly unlikely. The Mets were only two games worse than the Phillies last year and that was due to a bullpen that couldn't have gotten my son Tyler's 10 yr old Little League team out. The Mets improved on their biggest weakness. The Phillies did not. Add in the fact that their one true solid pitcher (Cole Hamels) has already had elbow tightness and he had a history of injury issues and that their second best relief pitcher (JC Romaro) will miss the first 50 games of the season due to suspention for testing positive for steroids, I cannot see how the Phillies are better than then Mets, world series title defense not withstanding. Yes, the Phillies offense is impressive, and they have a very good team, but it's not enough.
Forgotten in all this is a seriously improved Atlanta team who may not have a lot of power in their offense but have upgraded their starting pitching big time and have a great manager in Bobby Cox. Their bullpen is seriously talented, yet seriously fragile since both of their top bullpen arms (Soriano, Gonzalez) have spent more time on the DL the last two years than on a pitching mound. The Marlins are young and brash and talented but I think last years improbable run at the wild card was a fluke. This team is way too free swinging and the defense if not soild. They have seriously talented arms in their starting rotation though and if some of the young newcomers (Maybin, Boinifico) can put it all together quickly and Herminda ever lives up to his hype this team could contend again. The Nats are actually improved a little from last year but their pitching is a total mess. If they win 75 games Manny Acta should win manager of the year.
NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL
1. Chicago Cubs
2. St Louis Cardinals
3. Milwaukee Brewers
4. Cincinnati Reds
5. Houston Astros
6. Pittsburg Pirates
This is a basically easy division because the Cubs should (note I said SHOULD) be one of the top teams in the NL overall. They have a solid starting rotation (Zambrano, Harden, Lilly, Dempster), a decent bullpen and a rock solid offense (Soto, Rameriez, Lee, Soriano). Winning the Division shouldn't be too hard, but winning in the playoffs? Not too sure about that when you look at history, but this is a good team that can go far. The Cards, Brewers and Reds are all very close to each other. If Carpenter comes back to his old form after a mess of injuries the last two years and the bullpen can pull itself together, the Cards can push the Cubbies a little and content for the wild card. Their offense should be decent with oft-MVP candidate Albert Puljos leading hitters like Duncan, Ankiel and Ludwick. The Brewers lost Sheets and Sabathia but have gotten your hotshot pitcher Yovani Gallardo back which should ease the pain a little. A soild year from Jeff Suppan and Manny Para would give the Brew Crew the tools to contend for the wild card. The Reds have a soild base of young talent (Votto, Phillips, Bruce) and have some hot shot young pitchers (Cuerto, Volquez, Bailey) but will struggle to replace the lost offense of Adam Dunn's 40 home runs and 100 RBIs. The Astros don't have a lot to look forward this year despite a surprise run last year. The have some rock soild hitters in Carlos Lee and Lance Berkman but after Roy Oswalt and maybe Wandy Rodriquez their starting pitching is nothing to look at. The Pirates? The less said about them the better. There's a reason this team hasn't had a winning season since the early 1990s.
NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST
1. LA Dodgers
2. Arizona Diamondbacks
3. San Francisco Giants
4. Colorado Rockies
5. San Diego Padres
This is a tight division that sees each contending team have a glaring weakness. For the Dodgers simpley put, Manny give them the slight advantage. Their pitching is suspect and the offense is relying on some younger players who need to really put it together (Kemp, Ethier). For the Diamondbacks the starting pitching is strong (Webb, Haren, Garland) but the offense is way to free swinging and inconsistant. The Giants have extremely solid starting pitching (Lincecum, Cain, Lowry, Johnson, Zito) and absolutely NO offense. Hell, if Manny had signed in SF instead of LA those two teams might be reversed that's how close these teams are. The Rockies are a decent team with a lot of holes and trading Matt Holiday did not help them. Atkins, Tulowitzki and Hawpe are all decent hitter though. Their pitching is ok, but shakey and pitching in Coor Field is always an adventure anyway. The Padres have Jake Peavy and little else and Peavy is expected to be traded during the season (with the Cubs being the likely destination).
You'll notice I didn't pick a NL Wild card winner. Unlike the AL where I think it'll be the Yankees (or maybe even the Rays), the NL Wild Card could any of the following: The Braves, Phillies, Cardinals, Brewers, Red or Diamondbacks. If I HAVE to pick one, it would either be the Braves or Cards.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
No, I'm not kidding.
No, I did not do a mock up.
No, I have no idea what they were thinking.
This... this... MONSTROSITY will premeire on February 18th, 2010.
The following was posted on the Marvel.com website:
"Mark your calendars now, thwippers, “Spider-Man, Turn Off the Dark” opens on Thursday, February 18, 2010 at Broadway’s Hilton Theatre, 213 West 42nd Street. And some lucky Broadway goers will get to see the show when preview performances begin Saturday, January 16, 2010."
Thwippers? Did they ACTUALLY call people 'thwippers'? My God, it sounds like Elmer Fudd in a strip joint.
I knew that Marvel was a shameless company always looking for it's next cash grab, but a Spider-Man MUSICAL? On Broadway?
It made sense for the Lion King and Beauty and The Beast... cause... ya know... they were ALREADY musicals.
This is a... a... a...
Ok, deep breath.
Does anyone else remember the old "Spider-Man Rockomic"?
I do. I listened to is fondly when i was seven.
And stopped listening to it when I was... like... nine.
I'm not too sure I get this. You see, for the most part Superheroes are aimed towards younger kids. Yes, both boys and girls, but on average many mainstream comic books and superheroes are looking to grab the attention of boys.
And of course, the fanboy adults that read comics as kids and continue to do so. I mean, most comics these days are more geared towards adults than kids anyway.
What I'm trying to do, however, is see where a Broadway musical motiff works into that aim.
I'm already cringing at the thought of the song lyrics:
"Power and responsibility!
That's the most important thing for me!
I will stop the villain YOU WILL SEE!
Because I have power and responsibility!"
NO IT'S NOT! I came up with that in 12 seconds. AND ODDS ARE THERE WILL BE A VERY SIMULAR SET OF LYRICS SOMEWHERE IN THIS THING!
Oh God, now it's stuck in my head.
For pete's sake (heh... pete... Peter Parker. Get it? It's a pun. Spider-Man's real na... OH FORGET IT) Marvel can't get a lousy Saturday morning Cartoon right... they're going to get a BROADWAY MUSICAL to fly?
What's the demographic for this thing?
Ok, Bono and The Edge are doing the music and lyrics it shouldn't be as bad as my lyric sample above... but... I just can't wrap my head around this.
There's going to be a Dance/fight scene. I know it. I KNOW IT!
Imagine the "knife fight" from Michael Jackson's "Beat It" video, only have it between Spider-Man and The Green Goblin. Or the "fight scene" from West Side Story. Great. Spider-Man will come down an alley snapping his fingers and sccidentally spray web fluid all over the place. Cue the "Wah, wah, wah" trumpet and the canned laughter.
This is a bad idea. It's going to be a train wreck. I know it. Remember Twilight Express or Legs Diamond (and why the hell do I know about either one of those? John C is our resident broadway expert...)? Well, this is going to make both of them look like Les Miserables. I just know it.
Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe this will be ok. Some cool music from Bono and the Edge... maybe an actor who can pull off the Superhero/dance and sing thing like Hugh Jackman can... some non-cheesy special effects, a good script... it could be ok... right?
OH GOD... IT'S GOING TO BE A DISASTER OF BIBLICAL PROPORTIONS.
Do you know why the Spider-Man movies worked? Why the first two X-Men flicks were so good? Why Batman Begins and The Dark Knight were so amazing? Why Iron Man was great?
Because they were done by people who understood the characters, the mood and had an ability to balance taking itself seriously but with the right amount of realism and humor to keep from being stuffy or campy.
What are the odds that a Broadway producer/director will go in that sort of direction? Well... I honestly don't know. Like I said above, John Castro is the broadway expert. Not me. I'll have to ask him what he thinks. However, I think the odds are not too good that we'll avoid the glitter and pomp and circumstance of a big time flashy, Broadway scene.
And then it'll be more like Catwoman or Steel than Spider-Man the movie.
So, lock the doors, put out the cat, get the kids in bed...
Spider-Man is coming to broadway. God help us all.
And I STILL have that stupid song stuck in my head!
Monday, December 01, 2008
I've been thinking about how to put some of the feelings I've had about this past weekend into words. I was unsure how to start this mainly because i was trying to avoid coming across as a total, weepy sap.
This past weekend was my and Chrissy's 20 Year High School Reunion. Yes, for those few of you who actually read this rambling mess of disjointed musings I call a blog and who do NOT know... my wife Chrissy and I were high school sweet-hearts. We both went to Levittown Division High School. We started dating in 1987, went to the Senior Prom together and have been a staple in each others lives since. Through thick and thin she's been my guiding light.
Jeez... see what I mean about sappy?
ANYway... as I was saying... this past weekend was our 20 yr reunion. We had gone to our 10 year reunion, and while it was nice... it was not exactly a barn-buster. Wasn't much to write home about. I had my reservations about going to this one.
First off, the money situation (being so close to Tyler's Birthday and Christmas) was a factor, and second... I wasn't totally sure I was in the proper mind-set to revisit the past. Not that I had horrible memories of high school.. I don't at all. I have many great memories... but I also have a tendency to get very melancholy about such things and sometimes it's hard for me to shake it... so I was leaning towards not attending.
Chrissy wanted to go. She said a number times that she was hoping we'd be attending, and I hate not giving the lovely lady what she wishes, so the odds shifted.
Then came Lisa Fischer Macon.
Lisa and I have been friends for about... ten thousand years. We go back to third grade at Northside Elementary and were constants in each other's lives throughout graduating high school. Lisa was basically there for almost every major point in my life (sometimes in a major role, other times as a bit player) and there are few people who really KNEW me at almost every aspect of my life while I was growing up.
However, as much of us do, after graduation Lisa and I moved on in life and went in different directions. We lost touch and hadn't spoken in roughly 17 years or so. Time waits for no man (or woman) and life went on.
Fast forward to sometime in 2007. Thanks to the internet wonders of MySpace and Facebook, Lisa and I reconnected.
Along with Lisa, other people started popping out of the woodwork. Great names like Debbie Grossman, Tracy Fitzpatrick, John Castrogiovanni, Diane Ceccarelli... they sprung out at me. Ghosts of the past are not always scary things.
As time went by, the reunion loomed and at some point either Chrissy or I mentioned that we might not be going to the reunion.
She would not take "no" for an answer. There was no way we were missing it, she said. I think she was prepared to show up at our door in full body armor, sword in hand, and ready to drag us there.
And as time continued, many of us old freinds began reconnecting in such a building mass that missing the reunion became an unheard of notion.
So, much to Chrissy's (and Lisa's) delight, we purchased our tickets and were a lock to go. As the countdown clicked away to the reunion's date, many of us made plans to after-reunion parties and hangouts and the such. We started stepping beyond the Facebook connection... Chrissy and I started hanging out with Tracy again. I talked to John, Diane and Lisa on the phone. We became parts of each other's daily lives again.
We built it up so much that it could not possibilly stand up to the hype.
So much for THAT theory.
This past weekend was beyond anything I really imagined. I'm not sure WHAT the heck I was expecting anymore. Everyone was excited for it, and we spent so much time talking about it that we were bound to have a let down.
But we not only avoided that let-down... things actually exceeded our expecations.
this was a whirlwind week for Chrissy and I. We had a wedding on November 23rd of two excellent friends that we met only last year. Two great people (Jason and Christine) who we love and cherish. Then came Thanksgiving. Then... the reunion.
Needless to say there was a lot going on.
I'm all over the place with this... just trying to get the emotion of the week out.
But from the moment we packed a crap load of alcohol into the van... to picking up Tracy... to knocking on the hotel door of a girl who is like a sister to me (Lisa) in so many ways and seeing her beaming smile in person for the first time in what seems like forever... to hearing the door knock of Debbie and seeing HER for the first time in forever... to picking up John at the train station and seeing the guy who was just about the best friend I had while growing into puberty for the first time in forever... the night started to morph into a barrage of feelings and emotions that I wasn't sure I was ready to handle. I held onto Chrissy tight that night... I needed her close to me... to be the beacon she's always been. To support the overload that my brain and heart was dealing with.
Then it got even more intense. Michelle Seigal, Tom Vesque, Steve Coffey, Lisa Elliot, Steve Fisher, Pat Bouton, Shaun Walters, Dominick Tinelli... the hits just kept on coming. Seeing everyone and talking about the past mingled with the present and... surreal and heartening. Seeing everyone and seeing the social cliques melted away and nothing but a bare desire to reconnect with our past was intense. Watching people slide easily into their old personalities, yet without any walls built up between each other was wonderful. The raw, honest joy we all took with seeing each other and catching up was pure. There was nothing phoney in it. The room dripped with sincerity. It was actually inspiring.
I looked at some of the people in that room... and I wondered.. how in the HELL did I let them slip away?
I have some amazing friends I have made over the years. After high school... in college... at work... I cherish them all.
There's room for everyone though. I'm not letting the old friends slip away ever again.
And on top of everything... we had new, wonderful people introduced into our lives. Lisa's husband, Brian... who Lisa was sure I would get along with... was like a brother I was seperated from at birth. After about 35 seconds, you would have thought we had known each other for 30 years. Lisa's cousin Fran, who I actually had met on a few occasions when we were kids fit in like she was just one of us (and she was), Debbie's husband, Dan, who was at a total disadvantage not having ANY contact with any of us was a great guy. Michelle husband, Mike, (whom we had actually met at the 10 year reunion) also was just one of the group.
There were people who did not make it. Jenni Sureda, Frank Harris, Mary McCabe... to name a few. They were missed. We'll make sure to give them other oppertunities to get together.
But... this weekend... putting it simply... this weekend was a mind blower.
The pictures only tell a small story... and it's a story that has no ending. At no point did anyone want the weekend to end. And for a lot of us... it won't end.
Hell, if it wasn't for the fact they'd miss their kids, we would have locked Lisa and Brian up and kept them in NY.
So, here's to our trip... from the past, back to the future and everywhere in between.
Miguel de Cervantes once said "Tell me what company thou keepst, and I'll tell thee what thou art."... well, I know what I am. I'm blessed. In love and in life.
Thanks all. Now... what the hell do we do for an encore?
Thursday, October 09, 2008
31 DAYS OF HORROR continues. I am still listing my 31 favorite horror films of all time and enlightening the masses of what to watch for this month of ghosts and goblins leading up to that darkest of days... no, not the Presidential Election... I mean Halloween!
Remember, I don't claim these to be the BEST horror films of all time... these are just the ones I enjoyed and remember the most. I recommend each one of these films (although some are not quite what you might expect) as great viewing leading up to and for Halloween. Some of these films will not be familar to the average movie-goer... but ALL of them (with the exception of one I think) is available on DVD. These are in no particular order, so take 'em as they come. Got it? Badges? We don't need no stinkin Badges!
NOTE: See postings below for previous "31 Days of Horror" installments:
INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS
Stephen King's The Mist (2007)
Directed by Frank Darabont.
With Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden, Andre Braugher and William Sadler.
Ok, let's start of by me saying that I love Stephen King. LOVE. An embarrasing type of a love I would normally reserve for my wife, my children, or David Wright.
His writing is always amazing. A chunk of my overall favorite books of all time are King's (The Stand and The Dark Tower Series, especially, The Gunslinger, The Drawing of the Three, and Wizards and Glass) . Even when he's off his game a little (The Tommyknockers, Dreamcatcher) I still very much enjoy the read.
However, I have not always loved movie adaptions of Stephen King movies. This is not King's fault however, but the fault of the directors and producers of films based on his work (well, unless you count Maximum Overdrive which King wrote and directed, but as bad as it was, I still liked it in the same way you like bad movies like Flash Gordon and have seen it at least four times... go figure) .
There have been some really bad adaptions of King stories, like The Running Man, Graveyard Shift, The Mangler, Dreamcatcher and Riding the Bullet). Oh, There have been good ones too... don't get me wrong... films like Misery, Stand By Me, The Green Mile, The Shawshank Redemption, Apt Pupil, The Dead Zone, Carrie to name a few.
However, only two made my list. The first is the single best short story King has ever written. Actually, The Mist is longer than the average short story.. it's basically a novella, but hey... that's just semantics.
Basically my point is, that some people get Stephen King... and some don't. Director Frank Daraboont? He gets King. Before taking on The Mist, Darabont directed The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, both critical and commercial hits and oscar worthy films. So when I heard Darabont was going to be helming the Mist, I had a massive geekasm. Seriously... it was messy.
When it came time for the film to open, I had built it up in my head that it was going to be an amazing and chilling film. I hate it when I do that because when I build something up so much, I totally wind up being disapointed. Rarely do films stand up to my internal build up.
So, when I sat in my seat on opening night with my friends Tom, Dave and Shawn (my wife wouldn't see it... she usually HATES horror movies) my expectations were high.
And boy was I satisfied.
The plot is a fairly simple one. The day after a violent thunderstorm, artist David Drayton (Jane) and his wife Stephanie (Kelly Collins Lintz) witness a thick and strange looking mist advancing across the lake bordering their property. Deciding to run into town to get some supplies, David and his neighbor Brent Norton (Braugher), along with David's five-year-old son Billy (Nathan Gamble), go to the local grocery store which, like the rest of the community, was left without power. While inside the store the mist spreads all over the town and soon it's impossible to see more than a foot or two in front of you.
An increasing amount of police activity in the streets draws the attention of the patrons, culminating with a man running into the store with blood on his face and shirt warning of something dangerous in the oncoming mist. Unable to see into the parking lot and hearing the screams of a man who ventures outside, the store patrons heed the man's advice and seal themselves within the store, which is soon shaken by a violently as if by an earthquake.
With the visibility reduced to near-zero outside and uncertainty surrounding the fate of the man heard screaming before, a siege mentality takes hold of the patrons and staff inside the store.
As time goes on, a small group winds up in the storeroom and while attempting to clear a blocked vent to allow the generator to run a stockboy is grabbed and dragged, bloody and screaming into the Mist. The realization that there are lovecraftian-like creatures outside in the Mist spurs Drayton to try and convince the patrons that no one should go outside for any reason. A small group of patrons (including Norton) does not believe Drayton and despite his begging, go outside to leave. What happens next starts a series of events that become more and more terrifying as time passes.
However, Drayton and a chunk of the partons have more than the horrible creatures outside to deal with. Inside, a deeply religious Mrs. Carmody (Gay Harden) suspects the onset of Armageddon and while at first her ranting and preaching to the scared people in the store got her nothing but jeers and shouting for her to shut up, as time goes on and things get worse and worse, she begins to convert a large stringent of people who start hanging on her every word in the belief that the world is ending and a human sacrifice is needed to save them from the wrath of God.
Between the monsters outside and the all-too human monsters forming inside in the increasing mob-mentallity that is forming, Drayton, his son and the small group of friends he's gathered are in danger from all sides.
This film is not just a horrifying film when it comes to the creatures that comes out of the Mist... and trust me... they are like nothing you have ever seen before and are beyond description... but also it's a facinating study of what happens to people when faced with terror beyond their comprehension and how it turns normally good people into a raving mob who will embrace any possible solution that could save them.
Darabont puts it perfectly himself: "The story is less about the monsters outside than about the monsters inside, the people you're stuck with, your friends and neighbors breaking under the strain."
He's right. However, trust me, the monsters outside are pretty fricking terrifying.
As things sprial out of control Drayton and his band are faced with a horrible and terrible decision in an ending that was absolutely gut-wrenching. Seriously... the ending is a mixture of horrible, ironic and mind blowing. If you see this film and are not affected by it's ending... then... well... you scare me as much as this movie should scare you. For those of you who have read the story... it is NOT the same ending... Darabont changed it much to the delight of King who thought the new ending was very chiling and unsettling. King said, "The ending is such a jolt... wham! It's frightening. But people who go to see a horror movie don't necessarily want to be sent out with a Pollyanna ending."
This is one the best horror movies I've ever seen. Think Lord of the Flies with horrifying monsters.
The Mist appeared in King's short story collection Night Shift.
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
31 DAYS OF HORROR: EVENT HORIZON
As was explained in the first "31 Days of Horror", I am spewing forth my 31 favorite horror films of all time. I don't claim these to be the BEST of all time... just my favorite. I recommend each one of these films (although some are not quite what you might expect) as great viewing leading up to and for Halloween. Some of these films will not be familar to the average movie-goer... but ALL of them (with the exception of one I think) is available on DVD. These are in no particular order, so take 'em as they come. The Captain has turned off the no smoking sign and you are now free to roam about the cabin.
NOTE: See postings below for previous "31 Days of Horror" installments:
INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS
Event Horizon (1997)
Directed by Paul W. S. Anderson. With Sam Neill, Laurence Fishburn, Kathleen Quinlan and Joley Richardson.
At first sight, Event Horizon seems to be a regular Science Fiction film. The year is 2047, and Earth's space command has just received a signal from the starship Event Horizion from the outskirts of the planet Neptune. The kicker? The Event Horizion vanished without a trace on it's first mission seven years before, in 2040.
A rescue mission is dispatched and the starship Lewis and Clark heads towards Neptune with Captain Miller (Fishburne), Dr. William Weir (Neill) who was the Event Horizon's designer, and a full crew. While traveling, Weir tells the crew that the Event Horizon's actual mission back in 2040 was to test a secret, experimental stardrive that would create an artificial black hole to bridge two points in space to significantly reduce travel time. While on this mission, it vansished without a trace. Since it's reappearance, just one single garbled transmission was received , which is a series of confusing screams and shouts, followed by the Latin phrase liberate me (which means "save me" for those of you not versed in Latin... I wasn't).
Once they arrive to the rediscovered starships decaying orbit, the Lewis and Clark can find no definitive trace of human life forms. With inconclusive sensor readings, the Lewis and Clark's crew decide to enter the Event Horizon to search for survivors. Inside, with the crew splitting up, Medical Technician Peters (Quinlan) discovers a frozen human corpse floating on the bridge, with both eyes gouged out. Engineer Justin (Jack Noseworthy) finds a blackish, liquid-like mirror within its core drive and stupidly reaches out to touch it. Obviously he had no idea he was in a horror film, or he might have thought twice about doing that. When he does, it sucks him inside and emits a large shock wave that damages the Lewis and Clark. Another crew member manages to pull Justin out of the core by his tether, but when he comes out he is catatonic.
Due to the damage to the Lewis and Clark, the remaining crew transfer to the Event Horizon, which only has a remaining 20 hours of air left on it. From there, things go from bad to worse. Justin emerges from his catatonia and attempts to commit suicide in an attempt to escape the memory of what he saw inside the black mirror. The crew begin to experience hallucinations of their personal fears and regrets and it becomes obvious that something horrible is on board the ship.
The knowledge that the crew is trapped and really has nowhere to run, or are even sure what they are running from is the real kick to this film. Despite the sci-fi setting, the film is an excellent horror story that mixes in both psychological and physical terrors. Once the Lewis and Clark discovers the fate of the Event Horizon's crew, things step up a notch. The scenes of what happened following the Event Horizon's testing of the new star drive is a mash of chaos and evil.
The movie follows a forbidding feeling throughout and there are some excellent twists and surprises as things go along. The ending is a little un-nerving as just when you think you have a grasp on the resolution, the film throws another quick and effective shock your way.
Highly recommended. The end will get ya, I guarantee it.
31 DAYS OF HORROR: INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS
Here at Rocket Ramblings we try to cater to our readership (all six of you) in new and exciting ways. First there was the "Did You Know?" feature which ran a whole total of one time (with more coming soon though!) and now we present you with "31 Days of Horror" which is basically a guide to the author's (that would be me) favorite horror movies of all time... all for you, the readers (all five of you, cause I think I lost one during this long winded intro) to use as a guide to picking some fine viewing for Halloween. Each day (actually more than once per day since I'm seven days behind on the list... today being the 7th of October) you will see a new movie listed throughout the month of October. I do not claim these are the BEST horror films ever made... just my favorite (in fact I will not even cover some of the more standard stuff people would think of like Friday The 13th, The first Halloween, Dracula, etc). There is no particular order to this list. Please fell free to comment and agree or disagree in the comments section, because the author (again, me) is a total comment whore and craves feedback like a junkie needs his "H"...' kay? Kay.
Now, without further adu...
Invasion of The Body Snatchers (1956 AND 1978 versions)
1956 Version: Directed by Don Siegel. With Kevin McCarthy, Dana Wynter and Larry Gates.
1978 Version: Directed by Philip Kaufman. With Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Jeff Goldblum and Leonard Nimoy.
Ok, this is one of the VERY rare instances that I love both the original AND the remake. Both follow the same basic storyline: A group of people discover that the population of their community is being replaced by seemingly emotionless exact duplicates. Both have an everyman main protaganist who tries in growing desperation to alert people to what is going on. In each case it is discovered that plant-like pods actually can grow exact replicas that look and sound like the original people and as time goes by, no one seems to 100% be sure just who is human and who is not.
Both have rather dark endings (I am TOTALLY discounting the lame 'tacked on' happy ending the original used briefly but thankfully rejected and returned to the original ending) and both do a fantastic job creating a mood of deep paranoia.
I don't really consider the 1978 version to be a 'remake' as much as it is a continuation. It's not an exact sequel per say... but it has a very distinct connection to the 1956 version by basically inserting the ending of the original as a scene early in the remake and using the same actor (Kevin McCarthy). While the 1978 version never actually give you the characters name, it's fairly obvious (to me at least) he's playing the same character.
The theme for both films is a chilling "Whom do you trust?" done in a very effective way. The feeling that no one you see is what they seem is an effective way to elicit a feeling of dread from the viewer and the somber mood the comes from the two films is much more of a horrific feeling than most slasher and monster movies manged to project to their audiences.
Not surprisingly, the popularity of both films sparked enough interest over the years to spir two addtional "remakes": Body Snatchers - Directed by Abel Ferrara and Starring Gabrielle Anwar, Billy Wirth, Forrest Whitaker and R. Lee Ermey came out in 1993 and The Invasion - Directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel and starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig came out in 2007. Both were fairly well done movies using the same ideas in totally different settings.
All of the movies were based upon the sci-fi novel The Body Snatchers, by Jack Finney.
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
Let me start this off by saying I have a lot of intelligent friends who are not on the same page as I am politically.
This is NOT aimed at them.
Some of my friends and I get into political conversations on a regular basis. My buddy Tom and I do it all the time.
Tom is as intelligent of a guy that I know. I respect him greatly. We also agree on a lot of polictical topics.
But sometimes the obvious differences in our political allegances is so extreme it's a wonder we don't draw swords and go at it.
We're like brothers though... so we'll never let that sort of thing come between us.
I'm a Republican. I'm a McCain fan and have been a supporter of his for a LONG time. Anyone who knows me well knows that I voluteered for McCain back during his last two election runs and have been pushing him for the Presidency since 1999. EDIT: As was pointed out to me by a close friend, despite the fact I am a Republican, I fit more into the "Maverick" camp due to the fact I hate all big business and rich people and am much more in support of programs that take care of the homeless and elderly than seems to be done by the GOP. That's another reason I love McCain. he's as close to a Democratic Republican as you will ever see. He seriously skirts both parties.
There's a lot I like about McCain. I like the fact that he's a true patriot. I like the fact that when he was told he was going to be released as a P.O.W. because he was the son of a High Ranked Admiral he refused to go because he could not abandon his fellow Prisoners of War and would only go if they released all of their prisoners. I like the fact that he takes pride in challenging party leadership and establishment forces. I like the fact he goes after corrupting influence of large political contributions and is a propent of campaign finance reform. I like the fact he took on the tobacco companies and went after them big time. I like the fact he was a leader in HMO reform. I like the fact he co-sponsored the Climate Stewardship Act (something that Barak Obama supported also). I like the fact he defended John Kerry's war record and refused to dismiss his military career during the 2004 campaign. I like the fact he is opposed to high salaries and lucrative severance deals for corporate CEOs and is in favor of 'Say on pay' laws that give stockholders a vote on executive compensation.
Do I dislike Barack Obama? No. Not at all.
He comes across as sincere and I agree with some of his views. I do believe he wants to take away the fat cat mentality from Washington.
His inexperiance does worry me. His wife's views do scare me.
But I'm not about to run screaming into the night if he's elected.
Ok, now that you have some insight to my political views... let's get to it.
Now... I've heard it all. All of the spouting and screaming and pointing fingers.
And I'm getting mighty sick of it.
Listen, I know this election is just variations on the same theme we've been seeing for the last Thirty-odd years. I get that.
I understand the way politics work. I really do. I'm a student of politics. I pay close attention and keep myself informed as much as possible. I do not rely on any one news source for my info since a majority of it is biased (Fox News anyone?) I get a large amount of my actual news from CNN and 1010wins. I don't feel pressured by either to form an immediate opinion. Both give me more actual facts and less propaganda.
Let's start with the recent bailout situation.
Why did it fail? Well.. it failed for two simple reasons.
The Republicans and the Democrats.
Listen, do I relish the thought of bailing out the Wall Street Fat Cats who live free and loose with other people's money?
No I do not... but this bailout is NOT a bailout of them.
It's a bailout of the American Economy.
Without this bailout, things will get worse and worse to the loint that no one will be able to get a loan. No mortages. No car loans. No credit cards. Nothing. Nadda. Nilch.
So... as much as it bothers me... I know we have to do it.
So... the GOP felt it had the proper number of votes to get the job done. In the end, they did not as 12 Republicans changed their minds at the last second.
They changed their minds thanks to Nancy Pelosi.
Now, it's it all her fault? No.
But did she do what she did on purpose to elicit the response from GOP members in order to help the vote fail? Yes, I believe she did.
So the charge is that a bunch of GOP members let their feelings get hurt and changed their vote becuase of it. Not quite the correct fact, but it's close enough to the fact that it's not a totally unfair accusation.
However, do you really believe that Pelosi didn't know that was EXACTLY what was going to happen... well... I'd have to disagree.
My point is that Pelosi gets up RIGHT BEFORE the vote and goes off sounding a HELL of a lot more like the ninty-five Dems who ended up voting against the bill than someone who was in support of it and was looking for it to go through. She goes off referring to the bailout as 'alarming,' and "is a number that is staggering, but tells us only the costs of the Bush Administration’s failed economic policies — policies built on budgetary recklessness, on an anything goes mentality, with no regulation, no supervision, and no discipline in the system." Whether she is correct or PARTLY correct or wrong or whatever (she IS correct about the '"alarming" and "staggering" parts for sure) that's NOT how you go into the vote when you SUPPORT the frigging thing.
She predictably lays all blame for the crisis at the feet of Republicana and their "anything goes economic policy," and goes off on a bizarre wondering on how the crisis was able to "sneak up on us so silently, almost on little cat's feet."
Not quite the call of duty and rally for support some House Democrats might have liked to hear from their leader as they prepared to vote on an extremely sensitive situation.
Hey, I'm not on the GOP side on this. I'm appalled at the freaking Republicans that changed their votes. They are weak kneed assholes who care only about themselves. This stupid situation was created by greed and it's going to have to be solved by this bailout because it's really the only way to stablize the economy.... and without a stable ecomony the rest of us are SCREWED.
However, do not think for ONE SECOND that Pelosi's speech wasn't well thought out and made for one reason and one reason only... to help facilitate the failure of the bailout. There was NO REASON for her comments at that point. She could have made all of those comments AFTER THE the vote and still got her points across. She KNEW there were members of congress who were reluctant to vote yes but were doing so. I believe she also KNEW she'd push them over the edge. Shame on HER. Shame on THEM. Shame on BOTH parties. I'm totally disgusted.
However, all I hear from most Dem supporters is how the GOP killed the vote. Not one person seems to acknowledge the fact that Pelosi and the Dems helped sabatoge the frigging thing... all so they could point their fingers once again and say "See? They suck."
The fact that Pelosi did nothing in her press conference afterwards but trash the GOP and praise about 42 Democratic members for their "non-partisanship" was quite ironic since her actions were NOT "non-partisan".
See? Hypocrisy. Just one example.
Then Eric Cantor gets up and completely blames Pelosi for the failure of the vote. While he does admit that some of his own party members changed at the last second, he does NOT take them to task on it or call them out on the carpet. He instead kills Pelosi on her "partisan speech".
See? More Hypocrisy. Why didn't you just call out your own party members who nixed the deal cause they were scared out of their bipartisan clothing by a floor speech?
But hey... the Republicans got to the microphones first which I'm sure is viewed as a tactical victory for them. Yay.
Next up... the supporters and their insanity.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
I've heard a lot of screaming about George Lucas and the handling of the Star Wars Universe other the years. Even more so due to the dismal reviews being handed out for the new Clone Wars CGI Cartoon released this week.
A question was raised by someone (Ok, Valerie D'Orazio on her Occasional Superheroine blog) wondering if Lucas actually OWES us (the fans) anything when it comes to concessions on how the Star Wars Universe is handled.
This is quite a dilemma... choosing between the obvious freedom a creator really MUST have with the worlds and characters he creates and the crowd demands that the path he/she leads those worlds down be what the crowd wants and expects.
I think ANY good creator needs to reconize how important fans are to ongoing success of a franchise and be willing to alter or adjust to keep those fans somewhat happy, but I also believe that the creator's own insistance that the worlds follow his/her desinated path no matter how anyone else feels about is a creator's right and even obligation.
When it comes to Star Wars, I'm not nearly as outraged as many other about how things have been handled over the years. It's been obvious to me that Lucas did NOT had as much planned out as we were led to believe back in the 1980s. Besides contridictions and seemingly changes in facts, timelines and events, things just feel different than we were led to beleive in the 80s when we heard about all the backstory.
The problem is, that we... as fans... feel that we OWN the aforementioned worlds and characters because of how much they touched us and meant to us as we were growing up. However, we tend to forget that the person who actually gave those worlds and characters life really should know their own creations better than us.
I remember when Thomas Harris' fourth novel HANNIBAL came out and there was an outrage about the ending (the novel, not the hollywood ending the movie put on it) and what happened with Clarise Starling. Peopole screamed about how Starling would never have acted a certain way or made the decisions she did or allow her to be lead in the direction that Lector led her in.
I remember thinking to myself "So after just one novel and perhaps spending a couple of hours with a character, the readers feel they know her better than the man who spent YEARS with her in writing and creating her?"
That's the problem... we all think we know better than the person who was the creator.
Lucas did a lousy job with a lot of the Star Wars mythos. I totally agree.
However, if HE is satisfied with how things turned out... maybe we should be willing to accept the fact that things went in the direction that was meant to be... in the creator's mind.
Not an easy thing to do, that's for sure.