Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Pick Up Scene/Baseball Dictionary Part III

Here is Part III of the Pick Up Scene/Baseball Dictionary. If you haven't read Part I or II, you might want to check that out first. I’d like to thank my buddy GS for contributing this portion of the dictionary. If you want some of your ideas posted, just shoot me an e-mail. Enjoy the last section of the trilogy!

Jim Palmer/Mike Mussina

Good looking, preppy guy who has scored a number of hot babes. For some reason, no one really likes him and he knows it.

Mark “the Bird” Fidrych

This guy who hooks up with a really hot girl and in the process earns himself a great nickname, but thereafter can never score again. The nickname remains forever, but he never lives up to it ever again.

Frank Viola

A Frank Viola has a great moustache and girls love it. Everyone has one of two reactions: (1) “how does this guy get so many chicks with that ‘stash’” or (2) “I wish I had one just like it.” A real diamond in the rough.

Jeff Reardon

A Jeff Reardon is the first guy in your class who could grow facial hair. He has bushy side burns and maybe even a goatee and the girls love it. He gets to hook up a lot because of it, but then a few years later, no one cares because anyone can do it, and most don’t because it is not very becoming. But a Jeff Reardon keeps the goatee and sideburns anyway and everyone makes fun of him.

Mike Maddux

A Mike Maddux is an average dude with a legendary brother. He keeps getting chances with chicks just because he is the brother of the cool guy, but even with great genes, he just can’t get it done. A poor man’s Johnny Drama would be a prime example.

Jamie Moyer

The classic late bloomer. He doesn’t get laid until he’s 25, but then he has a long and productive career and ends up with a pretty hot chick.

John Wasdin

The guy who throws a party and whose sole responsibility is to to entertain the girls so they stay most of the night. But he always does something stupid (like run out of liquor, offend a girl, smell up the bathroom and then leave the door wide open) and by the time his good friends show up, the girls are long gone. The friends kick themselves for having a Wasdin throw the party and immediately give him a fitting nickname like “Long Gone.”

Gaylord Perry

A Gaylord Perry has a pretty long career of just lying and scheming and doing anything to get laid and everyone knows it. He still has some success, though not on the Roger Clemens level. This guy will clean up on the girls that are 5’s and 6’s. Unlike the Roger Clemens guy though (who will always score the 8’s-10’s), he stays under the radar and never seems to get caught.

Rich Garces (El Guapo)

A Rich Garces was a great wingman, but too many nights of drinking and eating wings has left him fat and bloated, and none of his former crew wants him to even approach a chick, because he will blow it.

Juan Pena

A Juan Pena is the guy who moves to town, hooks up with two of the hottest chicks in school, and then simply vanishes never to be seen again.
See stats here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/p/penaju01.shtml

Bartolo Colon

He was that kid in high school that was a little chunky, but he still managed to hook up a good amount, and everyone was always a little jealous. But then you see him 10 years later at the reunion and he is a house, who has completely eaten himself out of dating shape. He will never be a threat again.

Aaron Sele

This is a kid who does okay with chicks and shows lots of promise, but lives in the shadow of the really cool guy who always hooks up. Then the really cool guy transfers to another high school and then Aaron Sele has a monopoly on all the hot girls in school, but he somehow can’t get it done and everyone will always wonder why.

Bob Gibson

A Bob Gibson is the kid who you steered clear of at all costs. If you even looked in his direction, you could have gotten a beating after school or outside at the bar. You need to give a Bob Gibson a wide berth. As a result, he faces absolutely no competition from anyone and can score with chicks at will.

Denny Neagle

A Denny Neagle is a guy who will only hook up with prostitutes and strippers. Everyone is baffled because a Denny Neagle should be better than that, but a Denny Neagle is his own worst enemy. He will never pose a threat to the regular guys and will be broke by the time he's 45.

Denny McLain

This was the guy in school who was a loner and not very cool, but always had great success with girls because he could always get them drugs. Years later he is doing 20 years for drug trafficking.

Phil/Joe Niekro

A Niekro is one of two twin brothers that has good success with women solely because he is a twin and because he can play tricks on girls and get them to hook up with his brother and vice versa without the girls knowing. A Niekro is very crafty and knows his arena well.

For Part I, click on:

http://thecorner33.blogspot.com/2008/07/pick-up-scenebaseball-dictionary-part-i.html

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Pick Up Scene/Baseball Dictionary Part II

Welcome to Part II of The Pick Up Scene/Baseball Dictionary.

If you haven't read Part I, you might want to check that out first.

Satchel Paige

Best known for pitching in the big leagues at the ripe age of 59.

A Satchel Paige is the old guy at the bar still hitting on 22 year-olds. He is balding, creepy, and has no business being there. He doesn’t realize that’s it’s weird for an old man to be partying with 20-somethings.

Walter “The Big Train” Johnson

He played 20 years all for the same team, the Washington Senators.

A guy who marries his high school sweetheart is a Walter Johnson.

Mark Prior

He was one of the top prospects in baseball. He had a great season, then he blew out his arm, and was never heard from again

A Mark Prior is a guy who’s amazing with girls in high school, and his potential is unimaginable. He should go on and do very well, but after graduation, everyone else moves on, and he inexplicably becomes a loser. A prime example is the guy at your 10 year reunion who was cool in high school and now looks terrible, still lives at home, and is unemployed.

Dwight “Doc” Gooden

Doc was one of the best pitchers in the mid-80’s until he got hooked on drugs.

This is the guy hooks up a ton in high school. But when he hits college, he gets caught up in the world of drugs, and is never the same again.

Rick Ankiel


Ankiel struggled as a pitcher. He was then converted as an outfielder where he is having an All-Star caliber season.

A Rick Ankiel struggles with the ladies until he overhauls his game and image, and then becomes successful. A prime example is the guy who’s a loser in college. He then studies abroad and comes back with a new style and lots of game. Or the guy who was a geek in college, but then gets a kick-ass job, makes lots of money, dresses real nice, and is suddenly a lot cooler than you.

Babe Ruth

The Babe was one of the best pitchers of all-time before he was converted to an outfielder. He then arguably became the best left hand hitter of all-time.

A Babe Ruth is a guy who has mad game and can pick up almost any chick. He then becomes famous (professional athlete, actor, president) and is pretty much unstoppable. Think Derek Jeter, Tony Romo, Vincent Chase, George Clooney, Bill Clinton.

Ramon Martinez

A decent pitcher who constantly struggled in the first inning. But if he got through it, he actually pitched pretty well.

A Ramon Martinez is a horrible opener. He can never approach a girl because he gets too nervous and says something stupid. But if he can recover, he actually has some game.

Eric Gagne (2007)

He pitched so poorly in 2007, Red Sox fans wondered if he was playing for the other team

So if you know someone that dresses very well, is an excellent dancer, and likes Bette Midler, they might be a Eric Gagne. Not that’s there’s anything wrong with that.

Anabel Sanchez

The one hit wonder; Anabel Sanchez threw one no-hitter and was never heard from again.

This is the guy who had one amazing hookup (a model, an actress, something good), but that’s it. After that, he can’t get laid, can’t get a date, can’t get a phone number. Nothing.

Sandy Koufax

A great pitcher who wouldn’t play in a 1965 World Series game because it fell on the night of the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur.

This is the guy who only dates within his own religion. Someone that’s deeply involved in Hillel (or a church group) would be a Koufax. They generally stick to J-Date and/or set-ups through their mother. They clean up at events like the Matzo Ball Dance.

Dave Speewack

The pitcher for the California Angels in the movie Naked Gun.

This is the guy who spends all night trying to get with the bartender, but never does.

Fernando Valenzuela

He won rookie of the year and the Cy Young pitching for the Dodgers in 1981. He stood out because of his unique delivery and personality. He became so popular that his emergence was dubbed Fernando-mania.

This guy uses gimmicks to be successful with women. He’ll try anything innovative or different to get attention and make himself stand out. This includes using an accent and/or wearing funny clothes/accessories (some call this peacocking.) He’ll even hit the karaoke circuit to get noticed. When he’s on, he can even start trends like Fernando-mania.

Scot Shields

Shields has been in the top 3 in Holds for the past 4 years which puts him as the best and most consistent set-up man in baseball.

If you’re a Scot Shields you are a proven and reliable wingman. He’ll meet the girl, get her excited, and then gladly pass her along to you. Then all you have to do is close.

David Cone

Despite pitching a perfect game, David Cone may be better known for his zany behavior and antics on and off the field. Apparently, he was a womanizer (with an eclectic taste), and was once caught “rubbing” one out in the bullpen. To quote Joe Torre: “David likes to live on the edge. It may not always be pretty, but the son of a gun finds a way to do it.”

A David Cone will hook up with absolutely anyone, anywhere, anytime. He has no qualms about anything, and you’ll never know what he’s going to do or who he’s going to do it with.

To Be Continued...

For Part III, click on:

http://thecorner33.blogspot.com/2008/07/pick-up-scenebaseball-dictionary-part_30.html

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Pick Up Scene/Baseball Dictionary Part I

It’s interesting how the pickup scene and baseball go hand in hand. As a kid, one of the first things you learn are the bases. (What base you got to on the 8th grade trip could alter your popularity forever.) Like it or not, we all partake in the “game.” We have our own styles, methods, ethics, and routines when it comes to meeting girls. Some of us are successful (the player), some of us are mediocre (the nice guy), and some of us are terrible (the awkward guy.)

So I’ve decided to create a pick up scene/baseball dictionary. I’ve used famous baseball pitchers as a way to define almost every type of guy. For example, Will Ferrell from Wedding Crashers would be a Roger Clemens. He’s unethical, a complete scumbag, but one of the best pick-up artists on the scene. He’ll do anything to win/hook up and usually does.

This will be a 3 part series for the next 3 days. I am looking forward to including your contributions so post comments or email me accordingly. My buddy GS is responsible for part III which will be posted on Wednesday.

Without Further Ado, Here is Part I…

Roger “The Rocket” Clemens

The Rocket is arguably the best pitcher of all time. But his legacy has been tarnished with being linked to steroids. Plus, his loyalty is in question after he spurned the Red Sox by playing and winning the World Series’ for the Yankees. Plus, he’s kind of a dick.

A Clemens is a complete scumbag. He will do whatever it takes to pick up women and is almost always successful. He’ll use any method, angle, and/or scheme to hit his target. Keep him away from your Mother and sisters. Prime examples include Will Ferrell from Wedding Crashers, Stifler from American Pie, and Barney from How I Met Your Mother.

Tim Wakefield

The knuckleballer can’t throw faster than 70 mph. It looks like he’s not doing anything, but somehow he’s been in the league for 15 years, and is a consistent and proven winner.

A Tim Wakefield appears to be nothing special. He is not particularly good looking, doesn’t dress very well, doesn’t have a great job. It looks like he has no game, but somehow he hooks up all the time. When people say: “How did a guy like him and end up with a girl like that?” That’s a Tim Wakefield!

Bret Saberhagen (1997-2001)

A great pitcher who could never get past the 6th inning late in his career because of a low pitch count.

A Bret Saberhagen can approach a girl at a bar and talk to her for a while. But for some reason, he rarely finishes what he’s started meaning he can’t get her phone # or take her home to seal the deal.

Mariano Rivera

Arguably the best closer of all time.

This is the guy who could come in 5 minutes before closing time and pick up a chick. He tends to steal girls from Bret Saberhagen’s who can’t close.

John Rocker

Had a couple of decent seasons, but is infamously known for his racist and vulgar comments in a Sports Illustrated interview.

A John Rocker is just an asshole; he’s always knocking into people, spilling beer, starting fights (probably because he hasn't been laid in a long time), and saying moronic statements that make everyone feel uncomfortable.

Rod Beck

A great reliever who was known for drinking and smoking in the bullpen. He also had an awesome mullet!

A Rod Beck occasionally hooks up, but he doesn’t give a crap just as long as he’s wasted and having fun. Or if you have a sweet mullet, you’re definitely a Rod Beck.

Orel Hershiser

A perennial All-star and all-around good guy. He even received the “nice guy” award on the Cleveland Indians in 1997.

So an Orel Hershiser is the nice guy of the group. He makes sure everyone is having a good time. Many times he apologizes to girls for the behavior of the Rod Beck’s and the Roger Clemens’ in his crew. (But not for the John Rocker's because nobody likes that guy.)

Mitch Williams

He had a great career but will only be remembered for letting up the game winning World Series clinching home run to Joe Carter.

So a Mitch Williams is the guy who hooks up a lot but is only remembered for one infamous, terrible, inexcusable hookup (possibly a heavy-set girl with an eye patch.)

Carl Pavano

A talented pitcher who is always hurt and can never play.

This is the guy who’s got game, but he never comes out. He always has an excuse: "I had to stay late at work, I’m too tired; I sprained my vagina." This can also be used for the guy with the girlfriend or wife. "I can’t come out because I have to redecorate the apartment, try on wedding dresses, go to dinner with the in-laws." Stop being such a Carl Pavano and come out for a night!

Anthony Young

From 1992-93, he set the infamous record of losing 23 straight decisions for the New York Mets.
This guy is disastrous with women. He is terrrrrrible. All of his stories are painful, embarrassing, and just awful. Think Mikey from Swingers when he leaves 9 consecutive messages on some girl’s answering machine. That would be an Anthony Young.

Curt Schilling


One of the most successful pitchers in the last 20 years; he’s helped Arizona and Boston win World Series. There’s a debate on whether he’s one of the most clutch pitchers of all time. But one thing everyone agrees on is that Curt is a loudmouth and always has got something to say.

This is the guy who hooks up, brags to his friends, and then never shuts up about it. He even keeps a blog of his latest conquests.

All-Star Game Pedro Martinez

He set a record for striking out 4 straight in the 1999 All-Star Game. But while doing so, he threw out his arm.

This guy is an amazing opener. He can approach anyone: models, 10s, porn stars, groups of hotties, but he uses up all his material so quickly, that after 15 minutes, he has nothing left to say.

John Smoltz

Smoltz has been a successful starter and closer for the Braves for almost 20 years. He has done whatever the team has asked him to do without a fuss.

A John Smoltz can hook-up in a number ways, but he’d be willing to drop a girl in a second to help out one of his friends. A real team player.

Don Larsen

The only pitcher to pitch a perfect game in the World Series

If you complete an impossible, like the coveted 3some, you’re a Don Larsen.

To Be Continued....

For Part II, click on:

http://thecorner33.blogspot.com/2008/07/pick-up-scenebaseball-dictionary-part.html

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Dark Knight

I woke up with great anticipation on Friday July 18th. It was like the excitement you feel when it’s the last day of school, the first day of camp, your 21st birthday, and Christmas. Well, Christmas (or Chanukah) came early this year with the opening of The Dark Knight. On Thursday night, I saw people flood the streets of New York in their Batman T-shirts and Joker make-up. One girl even carried a sign that read: “Will trade phone number for Dark Night ticket.” So when I woke up Friday morning, all I could think of was Batman. In the morning, I attended one of my post-grad school classes. Instead of taking notes, I poorly doodled the Batman symbol all over my notebook. Today was all about The Dark Knight.

I wanted to see the movie on IMAX, but of course it was sold out. Fortunately, I was able to sneak a ticket to the 1pm showing at the Union Square theatre in NY. I was surprised how easily I was able to get tickets. In LA, this would’ve been impossible. But then I remembered people actually have jobs in New York, and nobody works in LA.

The Dark Knight is a challenging movie to review because it is so complex, layered, intense, and lengthy. The Nolan brothers (Memento, Batman Begins) delivered so much that my mind overloaded in a good way. You could tell how much time and effort they put into this film. They should be applauded for taking pride in their work especially with so many superhero/action movies mailing it in with predictable stories, scenes, and characters.

The opening scene is a bank robbery which is clever, unique, and fast paced. It sets the tone that this movie is going to be unpredictable, fun, and scary. There are several other action/thriller type scenes that I’d never seen before. The best action sequence comes in the middle of the movie: the car chase topped off by a 16 wheeler flipping over (the one in the trailer) is voyeuristic bliss.

The cast is great, and Heath Ledger’s role as the Joker is extraordinary. In fact, I wouldn’t have known who played the part if it wasn’t advertised all over the place. It seemed like the Joker was a real person they found on the street, and then they made a disturbing reality show about him. What I mean is that he seemed absolute real: sadistic, horrifying, and creepy as hell. Sure, he’ll make you crack up a few times, but you’re still scared.

Choice

Throughout the movie, the Joker forces Batman and the city of Gotham to constantly make choices. To make things more complicated, there is no right decision. Either way, there will be a negative outcome. In other words, someone’s going down no matter what/who you choose to save. The Joker also tries to prove that we’re all a little evil inside. “Introduce a little anarchy... Upset the established order... Well then everyone loses their minds!” As a viewer, we are glued to our seats because we have no idea what’s going to happen: Who’s gonna live? Who’s gonna die? Who’s good? Who’s bad? The movie jerks us around and forces us to wait and see.

Conclusion

By the end of the film, I felt completely drained. The Dark Knight provides several complex and rich characters, a deep and well-thought out plot, some excellent action scenes, an intense musical score, and an unforgettable image of the Joker. When it’s over, you’ll feel like you just saw 2 or 3 movies at once.

There were not many flaws to the movie, but one included the length: 2 hours and 30 minutes. The last 45 minutes felt a little like a different movie, and stretched it out unnecessarily. Another complaint was that the people of Gotham were complete idiots especially the cops. They fall for the same tricks over and over again and as a viewer it gets a little frustrating. It reminded me of the horror movie when the soon-to-be-dead character goes into the dark basement. Don’t do it! Audience members kept shouting that as yet another character gets tricked by the Joker. Don’t do it!

I spoke to a lot of friends who thought this movie was amazing. But I put it in the very good category. It was hard to love it because it is so heavy, lengthy, a little confusing, and disturbing. Originally, I planned on seeing the movie 2 or 3 times (at least once on the IMAX.) But when I left, I was exhausted. It was kind’ve like watching a war movie. I saw it, it was very good, but I need a break from it because it was so intense. I could see movie buffs classifying this as an excellent movie because it is so layered and complex. But for me, it gets a very good. I still think the 1989 Batman with Jack Nicholson was more enjoyable, but give The Dark Knight lots of credit. Even though it was a sequel, it was still very well made, and it gave us a reason to love The Batman and fear the Joker once again.

On a Side Note, I hate People.

There were a few things that hurt my movie experience on Friday.

#1 The idiots at Union Square lined up people for the next showing just outside my theatre with 40 minutes left in the movie. People were literally 2 feet from the door, and I could hear them talking, shouting, and laughing. When I left the theatre, I said to the three 20 year-old girls with a volume control problem that I thought there was a party out here. They laughed not understanding that I hated them. Then one girl giggled: “Wow! You could hear us the whole time?” Then she paused for a second. “Wait a second…that must’ve been really annoying.” Exactly.

#2 I hate to bring up movie jail again, but this is killing me. Shut off your damn cell phones. DO NOT SPEAK ON YOUR PHONE unless you have a dying family member or something as dire. DO NOT check the time on your cell phone. Holding up your lit up phone is the equivalent of holding up a shaking flashlight in the middle of the theatre. And what kills me is that the same person checks the time (or for a text) every 20 minutes. Why are you even at the movies? Go away!

For those who haven’t read about my theory of movie jail, here it is again from a previous post:

Movie Jail

Mid-way through the movie, some random guy kept yelling out jokes. Two people chuckled which encouraged his tirade of hideous one-liners. It took 3 or 4 “SHUT UPs!” over a course of 20 minutes to make him stop. I don’t believe this should ever be allowed, but I guess if a movie is terrible, sometimes it’s OK. But not only was he distracting us from a good movie, but he wasn’t funny either. He basically ruined 20 minutes of the film for all of us except the two stupid people who laughed. So I have a theory to prevent this…the MOVIE JAIL. Offenders include the man from above, idiots on their cell phones, and d-bags that talk to each other throughout the movie. These offenders will be escorted to the lobby and imprisoned in a confined yet hospitable jail cell. I will neither encourage nor prevent abiding audience members from throwing popcorn and such at the perpetrators as they walk by the prison. Once the film ends, the offenders will be released, and hopefully will have learned a valuable lesson. Don’t ruin my movies! This might seem a bit extreme, but I feel it will improve the overall movie viewing experience for all of us.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army

Let me preface this review with the following: I know nothing about Hellboy, I didn’t see the first one, and I’m not a comic book geek.

I did not know what to expect from Hellboy II. I am shocked to say that this was one of my favorite movies of the summer. Hellboy II does not fit into a specific genre, and I truly didn’t think Hollywood made these types of movies anymore. It’s a sci-fi, action-adventure, romantic-comedy. It’s a throwback to the 80’s when movies could have a mix of themes, and were not formulaic (think Back to the Future or Ghostbusters.)

Hollywood tends to stick to basic formulas so the studios know they will make a certain amount of money. Why change things and take a chance on a box office bomb? The studio wisely trusted Guillermo Del Toro with his vision, and he rewards them (and us) with an inventive, creative, and fun movie. (Interestingly enough, the original Hellboy did mediocre at the box office and was dropped by Sony Studios. Universal then bought the rights to distribute the sequel.)

Guillermo Del Toro

He’s been working in film for years, but the casual film viewer probably recognizes his name from Pan’s Labyrinth. It won three Oscar’s last year including best foreign film of the year. Del Toro is daring, creative, and inventive—he is like a blend of Tim Burton (BeetleJuice, Batman) and Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings.) In fact, he will be directing J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit 1 and 2 which are due to come out in 2011 and 2012 respectively. (And he also kind’ve looks like Peter Jackson too.) Just to note, Del Toro tuned down the opportunity to direct I am Legend, Harry Potter 6, and Wanted so he could write/direct Hellboy II.

The Plot

At the start of the movie, the simple premise is explained comically. Hellboy was discovered as a youngster, and the government took him in and raised him. The first scene shows Hellboy as a little kid getting ready for bed. His father tucks him in reads him a bedtime story a la The Princess Bride. That’s when Del Toro sucks us in by revealing a detailed and imaginative underworld of machines, monsters, and royalty. We learn about the 3 piece crown and whoever acquires it can control the Golden Army, an unstoppable force. The movie then cuts to present day and we soon learn that the pieces of the crown are scattered across the world and someone very evil is hunting for them.

In the present day, Hellboy is part of The Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (think Men in Black) which is run by the government and organized by the very funny Jeffrey Tambor (Arrested Development, The Larry Sanders Show.) Their job is to protect the human world from the monsters that occassionally appear from the magical one. The BPRD are supposed to be a secret society, but Hellboy is bent on being famous and in the limelight. He poses for pictures and acts like a boy; he just wants to be liked.

The movie does a nice job of introducing the bad guys and actually developing them. We meet the evil Prince, his twin sister, and the rest of his family nice and early. Prince Nuida is a sword wielding psycho intent on world domination, and he’s actually pretty smart too. He is aided by some awesome monsters and weapons; things I’d never seen before.

Hellboy and the Prince are on a Lord of the Rings type chase for the crown. They battle along the way and we get to see the bag of tricks the evil Prince has to offer. Del Toro provides us with some spectacular, creative, and imaginative action sequences. Some of the characters are so original that I don’t even know how to describe them. It was so fun seeing such fantastic and unique characters/villains/weapons on the big screen. I loved it!

Star Wars

It’s strange to say, but a lot of the movie reminded me of the original Star Wars. Hellboy is a dead ringer for Han Solo. He’s a total wise-ass who smokes cigars, drinks beer in the shower, and has a love-hate relationship with his girl. Ron Perlman is amazing as Hellboy and it’s pretty hard not to like him.

Liz (Selma Blair), whose power is the ability to turn into a burst a flames, is a dead ringer for Princess Leah. She’s tough, sexy, and although she gives Hellboy a hard time, you know she loves him.

Their buddy is Abe Sapien who is an amphibian-type person with the super-high IQ. He fills in as C3PO (he also reminded me of Data from Star Trek: Next Generation) solving problems with his mind and occasionally making the timely joke with his sharp sense of humor.

And you remember the bar scene in Star Wars—unique looking monsters hanging out, chilling, occasionally fighting. Han Solo then comes in and kicks some ass. That’s Hellboy II in a nutshell. I’m not saying this movie holds a candle to Star Wars, but it sure is a lot of fun.

Conclusion

Hellboy II by no means is a perfect movie. There are 5-6 scenes (15-20 minutes) that you could do without, but that’s my only knock on the movie. I can understand why people might want to stay from it. They might say it’s too weird or they’ve never heard of Hellboy. (Or they might be my buddy EY who hates fantasy movies.) Well, I think they’d be missing out. This is one of the better sci-fi action-adventure movies I’ve seen in a while. It’s got a little romance, smart humor, wonderful characters, and exciting action scenes. Del Toro is an absolute genius. His ability to transform his unbelievable imagination on to the big screen is an absolute gift. Hellboy II lets you escape the real world and allows you to delve into the mind of Del Toro for 100 minutes which is definitely a fun, unique, and enjoyable experience.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Incredible Hulk

(The review is a little dated, but better now than never.)

Ang Lee’s 2003 Brokeback Hulk version did so poorly with the critics and the box office, we’re going to pretend it was never made. It joins Rocky 5, Star Wars: Episode 1, and Weekend at Bernie’s 2, as movies that never existed. Now that we’ve made that clear, let’s move on to the 2008 version of The Incredible Hulk.

The Hulk sets a nice tone by initiating some action sequences during the opening credits. We quickly see how Banner became the Hulk. This was smart so the movie didn’t have to waste the first act explaining a tiresome process that we’ve in so many comic book movies. There’s also a cool montage of clippings and news reports with subtle hints to Iron Man (Stark Industries, Nick Fury.) Comic geeks will definitely like this.

I was excited to see the opening scenes take place in Brazil. I spent some time in Brazil and absolutely loved it. The movie did a nice job of showing the country’s flavor (i.e. all of the women were smoking hot.) Edward Norton plays Bruce Banner and is hiding out as a gringo in a Guarana factory. (For those who don’t know it, Guarana is a natural caffeine and is served in your Energy Vitamin Water drink. I dig it. You also may notice the Americans pronounce it wrong, but only those who’ve been to Brazil will crack up about that.) The movie is light in tone and even makes fun of its famous catch phrase. Banner recites it in botched Portuguese to a group of hoodlums: “Don’t make me hungry. You won’t like me when I’m hungry.”

All is good until the government finds out where he is. That’s when the chase begins. This is the basic theme of the movie. The government (mainly General Ross) tries to bring down Banner using tranquilizers. They want to sedate him, and study him so they can build an army of controllable Hulks. Banner just wants to be left alone, but that’s not gonna happen. Every time the General and his main mercenary, Emil Blonsky, are close to getting him, Banner turns into a Green Barry Bonds and is unstoppable.

Banner is trying to find a cure throughout the movie and also wants to track down his former flame, Betty Ross (played by Liv Tyler), because she’s hot. He is successful on the latter and they go on the run together. There’s even a funny scene where Banner wants to “do it” with Betty, but can’t because of his Hulkness. (I’m sure Barry Bonds has the same “problem.”)

While he’s on the run, there’s a good handful of action scenes where the Hulk destroys everyone and everything that’s trying to hurt him. There’s a ton of CGI, but I liked it. The culminating scene is between Hulk and Emil Blonsky who has transformed into a mutated, freakish Hulk-type thing. I found it entertaining, but once again, without CGI, this scene wouldn’t have happened.

Overall, The Incredible Hulk is mildly entertaining and likable. The story and the characters are simple, but there is a lot of fighting and things blowing up. I’m glad I saw it on the big screen because it aided the CGI and action scenes. Lastly, The Incredible Hulk showed me how embarrassing it is when people lose their temper. I realize that sometimes I may act like the Hulk when I don’t get my way. (When I lose at sports, when Boston teams lose at sports, driving in the city, someone messes with my DVR, when a bouncer won’t let me into a club, when I bump into a table, when I drop the last bite of a cookie, etc.) Seeing these emotions on the big screen taught me a very valuable lesson. If I don’t start to control my temper, the government may hunt me down, shoot me with tranquilizers, study me, and then try to make more of me to fight in their army.

Sidenotes

For those who watched the television version of the Hulk, Lou Ferrigno has a comical cameo as a security guard. He lets Banner sneak into a restricted college building in exchange for a box of pizza.

There’s also a well-known actor who appears at the very end of the movie. I don’t want to give it away, but I’ll give you a few choices, and you can decide who it might be: Larry David, Scott Bakula, Robert Downey Jr., Fred Savage, or Gary Coleman.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Oh Camp Tel Noar

A few days ago, I received dozens of forwards because good old Camp Tel Noar was in the news. Before I post/respond to what happened, those who are unfamiliar with summer camp need to know the following…

I spent 11 summers (7 as a camper, 1 as a CIT, and 3 as a counselor) at a Jewish summer camp in Hampstead, New Hampshire called Camp Tel Noar (since it was in New England, you drop the "r" so it’s pronounced Camp Tel Noah.)

Summer camp was a very special place…it was where I saw my 1st Playboy (Penthouse, Perfect 10, Hustler, Swank, Chicks over 80, etc.)…it was a place where I had my 1st romances…a place where I made out with cute Jewish girls behind the library, in front of the infirmary, and on haunted mine rides…it was a place where I flourished as an athlete…although I was athletic, it helped that the competition was thin since I was competing against other Jews…it was a place where I was cool and could pick on those weaker than me…it was a place where I learned to stay up all night and gamble…to play trumps (a game outside of camp nobody else knows)…to compete in color war (and be bitter about not getting picked as a captain)…a place where I learned the brilliance of pranks (like nailing bunkmate’s drawers shut, dumping Ajax on someone while he was on the toilet, or swiping someone’s mattress and leaving it on the 3rd dock in the lake)…a place where I learned to be funny by pointing out other people’s flaws…a place that made me hate eggs…a place where I memorized hardcore rap music…and finally a place where I made some of my best friends.

Townies

But one of the things I never learned in camp was how to deal with townies. Townies were not the biggest fans of the suburban Jews who invaded their 03841 zip code every summer. But in our defense, we usually stayed within camp grounds, chilling by Sunset Lake, playing softball in the “big diamond” or getting drunk across the street (ATS.) We respected their domain. We left them alone. They left us alone. It was a simple non-verbal agreement. But there was one night where my friends and I broke the pact, and the townies responded swiftly.

Summer, 1995

It was my 1st summer as a counselor or a JC (Junior Counselor.) It was orientation so none of the campers had arrived yet. During the day, we set up the camp, did stupid team building games, and were lectured by a man named Morris not to touch children in the bathing suit area. Me and the other JC’s (guys I’ve been attending camp with since I was 8) were welcomed in as counselors, and bonded with some of the seasoned vets. They went over some of the basics, and called dibs on which female counselors they wanted to get with.

When darkness hit, that’s when the fun began. Since there were no campers, we were all free to leave camp grounds. Although we left numerous times for trip days to Canobie Lake Park and Water Country, we had never been out of camp on our own. This was a very exciting time for us.

The Cast of Characters

JW: Larry David meets Alfred E. Newman

EA aka Smurf: a nice kid who looked 13

ME: same as Smurf but I looked 10

MM: the cool guy; hooked up with lots of girls including one sans eyebrows, but that was just for practice

SW: a strange, scrawny kid who either made you laugh or made you want to kill him

(For the 2 guys above that are reading this; hope my descriptions were accurate and not terribly offensive.)

Big Night Out

The five of us hopped into EA mother’s gray 1988 mini-van. We blasted Ice Cube’s The Predator from the CD player and felt wicked cool. We drove to the local Chinese Food hot spot, Grand China. (This place was a dump, but when it’s all you have, it then becomes a hot spot.)

At Grand China, we found the older counselors drinking Scorpion Bowls (or as we called ‘em Tiki Bowls.) According to wikipedia, the Scorpion Bowl may be considered the "mother of all drinks" due to its size and presentation in a large volcano bowl, a 48 ounce vessel with a ceramic volcano in the center. I remember feeling a little uncomfortable because it was my first visit, I was not invited to join in, and I had a fear of lava. And even though Grand China was lenient with drinking, there was no way they were serving me because I looked like an infant. In fact, all 5 of us (except maybe for MM because he was cool) felt a little intimidated. We had some chicken wings, cracked a few jokes, and decided we would find our own hot spot.

We found an even crappier Chinese restaurant, ate some terrible crab rangoon, and proceeded to cruise the streets of Hampstead, NH. We were giddy over our freedom, and anxious because we really had nothing to do. That’s when SW noticed a familiar car behind us; it looked like Otter’s car, one of the older counselors. SW had an epiphany.

SW: Let’s moon them!

SW believed mooning them would earn us respect as well as give us something to do. JW, the paranoid guy, warned us of the consequences and even suggested that might not be Otter’s car. MM, EA, and I were indifferent. Whatever.

SW pressed his skinny ass against the window. We chuckled as we slowed down at the stop light. Good times. Little did we know, things were just getting started.

The horn blared from Otter’s car, and then a large tattooed, skin-head type creature unfolded from the car. It was not Otter. He shouted obscenities (mostly you’re dead and we will kill you type-of-things.) To quote the Ghetto Boys: “I swear he stood about 6 or 7 feet, now that’s the homeboy I be seeing in my sleep.” But my mind was not playing tricks on me. He was very real and so were the 3 other angry, giant townies in the car.

We shouted for EA to step on it. His mother’s mini-van peaked at 40 mph, and the townies were gaining on us. We all took turns screaming at SW and his hair-brained scheme. We were all gonna die.

And then JW came up with a great idea. EA followed his advice, and we pulled into a nearby police station. The townies coasted by and we were free.

We had our excitement. We had our brush with the townies and ended up victors. It was time to go back to camp and tell our story. We pulled into the camp lot which was located in the back woods. As EA slid into his spot, we noticed flashlights coming from across the woods.

The townies were not only angry people, but they were also pretty smart. They deducted we were going to the Jew camp, and knew exactly where we were parking. They parked on the corner, walked through the woods, and now were 10 yards from our car.

We saw them coming. JW panicked and spouted out absurd instructions which we all ignored. EA didn’t have time to re-start his car, and he thought about locking the doors, but feared that would just provoke the townies into smashing up his mother’s mini-van. I ducked in the front seat, and clutched a stack of CD’s that I prepared to hand over as a bribe. SW, and his skinny white ass, curled up in the fetal position in the backseat. MM sat calmly by the sliding door.

The skin-head guy slid open the door and was face to face with MM. Skin-head guy chewed us out and his comrades rooted him on. Something flashed from the side of his pants…it could’ve been a gun, it could’ve been a mag-light. We didn’t know, and we didn’t want to find out.

MM was in charge from here on out. He remained calm and apologized several times. The most memorable part was that MM kept calling skin-head guy sir.

MM: I’m sorry, sir. You were right, sir. We are assholes, sir.

It seemed to confuse skin-head guy. MM was not fighting back .That’s when skin-head guy went to Stage 2. He wound up his right arm and clocked MM right in the face. MM didn’t curl up in pain, shed a tear(an amazing feat considering he was the same kid who cried a few years earlier when he was not allowed to have ice cream on July 4th), or even flinch. Instead, he looked skin-head guy right in the eye and said:

MM: I deserved that sir. I’m sorry, sir.

This was a complete mind-fuck for skin-head guy. It was kind’ve like Gladiator when Maximus wouldn’t fight back. The other townies started to get antsy and convinced skin-head guy that it was time to go. They turned around, trudged through the woods, and vanished into the night.

We hugged each other in jubilation; we were alive. MM was declared the hero for the night. We didn’t know how he mustered up the courage to take on skin head-guy, but he did. How the hell did he do that?

The truth was revealed to me at the end of the summer. During our brief visit to Grand China, MM had snuck away from us for a moment and partook in some Tiki Bowls and some other "extra-curricular" activities. He was so “out-of-it” that by the time he was struck on his face, he didn’t feel a thing. So it turned out that MM's irresponsible actions actually saved our lives.

The five of us made our own pact after the experience. We agreed to leave the townies alone and to never moon another car in Hampstead, NH ever again.

I tell this story because, 13 years later, another counselor-townie battle ensued this week in Hampstead, NH.

The War Continues…

Police Taser Naked Camp Counselor

HAMPSTEAD, N.H. (AP) - A camp counselor in Hampstead, New Hampshire, has been charged with attacking a police officer after a resident found the man in his home. Police say it took several shots with a Taser to bring down 26-year-old Michael Feld of Brooklyn, N.Y., early Monday.

It all started when a resident found Feld in his house around 5 a.m., wearing only pants. Police said Feld ran outside, took off his pants and refused to stop when confronted by Officer Kathleen Boulter.

Investigators say Boulter zapped the naked man with her Taser and that he tackled her to the ground, breaking her elbow, and then tried to choke her.

The homeowner knocked Feld off the officer. Other officers caught up to Feld, and Tasered him again before getting him in custody.

Feld was an employee at nearby Camp Tel Noar.

In court on Tuesday, Feld said he had been awake all night before the incident and started having hallucinations. He asked for mental help.

Inside Man

I spoke to an inside source who told me this character was not a direct camp counselor, but was the head of the drama department which definitely explains something.

Some of My Favorite E-Mail Responses

That's what they get for hiring counselors from New York.

Feld stayed up all night playing Trumps, and while sitting in the Lerman, lost a huge pot, and was never the same again.

Yankees fan goes nuts after his team doesn't win the World Series for 8 years.

Feld was not related to Feldy, of Bunk 6/1991 fame. But coincidentally enough, Feldy was on the scene watching and hiding in the bushes. He said it was the best arrest eva'.

The article forgot to mention that Norma (the founder/great-grandmother of Camp Tel Noar) was also seen running from the scene pulling her pants up.

As a punishment, Feld lost lights and bunk activity for a whole month. He also lost trip day and will not be allowed to go to Israel.

And Finally, My Personal Favorite

Can't a naked man tackle a female officer while getting tasered anymore without having to worry about going to jail? America needs change.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Wanted and Hancock

The Double Feature

Movies are so expensive nowadays, I feel like we’re all entitled to at least two movies for the price of one. Rarely, do I leave a movie and think that was definitely worth 12 dollars. So my way to stick it to the man is to simply walk into another movie free of charge.

In order to complete this successfully, you need to find a theatre that is big, spread out and has inept employees that don’t care. It is helpful to know the times of each movie so you can strategize accordingly. The tools needed for the successful double feature are a bag of snacks and a cell phone. The bag of snacks: they will replenish you during the movies so you’re able to concentrate and be comfortable. The cell phone: as you walk from movie #1 to movie #2, pretend to be on your cell phone. Nobody ever bothers you when they think you’re on the phone; this make you look busy and important (just ask every girl and poser who’s on his/her phone at a bar.) Pretending to be on the phone is also very effective when trying to avoid people from Green Peace or when sneaking up for better seats at a ballgame. This will mask your fear, and give you the confidence needed to break the rules.

Backup Plan

Just in case a rogue movie theatre employee tries to save the day, have a backup plan. If they ask for a ticket, I show my credit card receipt because it doesn’t have the movie title on it, but is proof that I bought a ticket for something. My second plan is to explain that I wandered into the theatre to say good-bye to a friend. My third plan involves using the force. And finally, if none of these works, and they call for backup, I run like hell.

Wanted

I was psyched to see this movie. I’d heard comparisons to The Matrix; would this be the next movie to revolutionize the action genre? The answer is…not really. Wanted had some cool action scenes that will make you shout out loud. But after the main character tells off his boss and beats up his backstabbing friend, there’s not much left.

The formula is pretty basic:

1)a normal dude gets recruited to join the assassin club
2)training is too hard so he quits (repeat 3 times)
3)a hot chick convinces him to stick with it
4)he becomes an assassin
5)takes on the bad guys
6)learns a lesson

The main character is played by James McAvoy who is just awful. He makes you cringe in almost every scene, and he’ll make you yearn for Keanu Reeves. I hate to call this guy a d-bag, but he kind of is in this movie. I wonder how much better Wanted would’ve been if anyone else had played this part.

You get to see Angelina Jolie coming out of a bath which is cool, but I’m pretty sure, it’s a butt double and she’s looking a little worn out anyways. She has one monologue, but it’s unnecessary, and she is dressed, so it’s hard to show any true interest.

I was surprised to see Morgan Freeman playing a role usually reserved for Samuel L Jackson—the cool, ominous leader of a mysterious group who does nothing the whole time.

Overall, the movie is visually entertaining, but it's not very good. If you like dark, intense action movies with minimal plot/climax and a heavy metal soundtrack, then you’ll dig this a lot. But if you’re looking for a decent plot, developed characters, and clever dialogue, Wanted is not for you.

The Tom Cruise Rule

Will Smith is so cool that despite all of his successes, people still don’t hate him. He is a complete anomaly to the Tom Cruise rule which says: If people get too big and successful, the media and/or people will turn against him/her. (See Oprah, A-Rod, Britney Spears, etc.) Will Smith is the exception to that rule. He’s good with the media, a solid family man, and not a scientologist (at least not yet.) With Hancock, Will is attempting for his 9th movie in a row to rake in over a 100 million dollars. How do I know this? I just saw his true Hollywood story on the plane—quite informative. I also learned: in West Philadelphia he was born and raised, and on the playground that’s where he spent most of his days. Intriguing stuff.

Hancock

Hancock is a fun, harmless, action movie. Much like Wanted, the first hour is kinda fun, and the second hour is messy. Hancock keeps it light, plays with some cool special effects, and has some laugh out-loud moments.

It has a great concept—a super hero that doesn’t give a sh!t. But inevitably he starts to care and flexes his muscles for the people of LA. But unfortunately, he has no conflict in the end except for his own past. Although that might make for an interesting philosophical discussion, it’s not very satisfying for an action/superhero movie.

Overall, Hancock is not a great movie or a bad movie. It’s OK. Things blow up. You laugh a few times. Will Smith is cool. But in the end, you wonder why they didn’t do more with this cool story idea and character.

Where are the Bad Guys?

Hancock and Wanted suffer from the same problem. There’s no real villain. If you break down some of the best action movies of all time, the antagonist is almost as likable as the main character. Take Die Hard (Hans), the original Batman (The Joker), Terminator 1 and 2 (the terminators), The Matrix (Agent Smith)—these characters balance out the action movie. If the antagonist is brilliant, scary, and/or bad-ass, it gives the main character a challenge. And in the end, we get a climax where we actually don’t know what’s gonna happen. Wanted and Hancock spend so much time developing their heroes that in the end, they have nobody to fight against.

You can even take Iron Man as an example. I enjoyed it, but the reason it was only a good movie and not a great movie was because there wasn’t a brilliant, scary and/or bad-ass antagonist. It seems to be a theme with Summer 08 Blockbusters. Wanted and Hancock provide a fun story, with cool effects, but in the end, there’s not much for the hero to do. As a result, neither movie stood on their own and was worth $12. But put ‘em together for the 2 for 1 double feature special, and you’ll get your money’s worth.