• Ready Player One
    Ready Player One
    by Ernest Cline

    Seriuosly, one of the coolest books I've read in a LONG time.  If you are a geek that grew up in the 80s, you gotta read this book.

  • Okay for Now
    Okay for Now
    by Gary D. Schmidt

    This was gift from a dear friend.  Although it is a children's book, it was fun to read.


I sense a disturbance in the force...

September 16th is pretty big day.  What? You didn't think I was going to forget or not write something about it, did you?  What's funny is that I wrote something in 2001 for Echostation.com (scroll down to "Start Saving your Pennies") now doesn't seem to far from the truth.  Before we go any further and to answer your question, yes, I am going to be buying the BluRay release.  However, I'm not buying it for the reasons you think. But we will get into that later.

Like most Star Wars fans, I already have a version for home viewing.  In fact, I have several versions:

  • 1990 VHS Original Trilogy (PS) with the cool box art.
  • 1995 VHS Original Trilogy (WS) with THX remastering
  • 19?? LD Original Trilogy (WS) Japanese import
  • 2000 VHS Episode I (WS) with goodies
  • 2001 DVD Episode I (WS)
  • 2002 DVD Episode II (WS)
  • 2004 DVD Original Trilogy SE (WS)
  • 2005 DVD Episode III (WS)
  • 5005 DVD Original Trilogy (WS) the non-SE version

So yeah, I really don't need another version.  I especially don't need it if the rumors are true.  But you know what, I'm going to give Uncle George the benefit of the doubt.  I've been disappointed before (Episode I, Episode II, Episode III) so I guess I can't really be disappointed much more.  Then again, I might be forced to eat those words sooner, rather than later.

The reason I want the this new release is for the goodies.  I've been wanting to get documentaries made in 1977, 1980, and 1983 that were originally only available on Laserdisc (I may wrong on this, let me know if I am).  I'd also like to see some of the deleted scenes that all hardcore SW fans know about and have seen bits and pieces of, but never the whole thing.  I honestly don't have high hopes for this release.  I will probably regret getting this release but I've spent more money and less things I've cared about.

I haven't seen Episode I (or II and III) in years.  Nor have I really taken the time to sit back and really watch the movies.  I'm thinking now is good time to do that.  There haven't been any movies out that I've wanted to see, thus resulting in a lack of reviews.  So I guess I'll knock out two birds with one stone.  I'll be reviewing each disc in the set.  There are certain things I expect to see with these new HiDef releases.  There are certain video errors (SFX boxes, color-changing lightsabers, etc.) that better not be there anymore.  I figure Uncle George and his minions have had plenty of time and opportunities to fix this.  There are plenty of examples out there on how to do a release correctly.  The Lord of the Rings Extended Edition DVD is the perfect example of a complete and well done DVD release.  The Alien Anthology is the perfect example of a Blu-Ray release done right.  The Star Wars release should be somewhere in the same neighborhood.

I am a huge fanboy.  The lightsabers, TIE pilot helmet, posters, books and other goodies attest to that.  Am I going to gush all over these releases?  Maybe, but I doubt it.  I'm going to try to be as honest as possible.  Actually, I might be too brutaly honest after a string of disappointments.  We shall see...

This wouldn't surprise me at all...


Boom Boom Pow!

WARNING: May or may not contain spoilers! You have been warned!

Another twofer this week!

Cowboys & Aliens

I wasn’t sure about this one. I know comic book movies are all the rage, but the only thing this movie shares with the comic is the title.  Besides, Daniel Craig as a cowboy? Really? Harrison Ford is old, Olive Wilde is… I don’t know.  I just didn’t have high hopes for this one.  Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised.

If I had to describe the movie, I would call it a Western that just happens to have Aliens.  It doesn’t try to be more than it was meant to be (unlike ‘Skyline’).  Most of the actors do a decent job playing Cowboys and Indians Aliens.  Daniel Craig does a decent job of hiding his accent and Harrison Ford has got the old grizzled and haggard cowboy look down… oh wait, it’s not a look. He is old, grizzled and haggard.  Olivia Wilde is ok, she doesn’t do much acting and the whole “nude” scene was kinda worthless and unnecessary. 

I don’t want to delve too much into the movie.  It is fun, not overly long and definitely not over the top.  The Cowboys use guns, the Indians use bow & arrows, and the aliens use ray guns. Bad guys die, good guys die, and the townsfolk are saved.

Overall rating:  Matinée/DVD Rental – Take your pick.  It’s a fun movie that focus on story rather than special effects.

Captain America

To date, there have been 33 movies based on Marvel properties. Captain America is #34 and they have come a looooong way since #1.  There have been victories (Iron Man) and defeats (Howard the Duck) but I believe that with each new movie, they learn from their mistakes. 

Captain America, by itself, is a good movie. The biggest compliant I would have is that there is not enough action.  There seemed to be soooo much character building and background development.  However, if you look at it as what it is supposed to be, then you get the bigger picture.  There is a reason it is called Captain America: The First Avenger. Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past few years, you know that The Avengers is being released next summer.  Hulk, Iron Man, Thor and Captain America are all preludes leading up to The Avengers. Based on that, Captain America makes for a very good movie.

There are a few of easter eggs in the movie. Some obvious, some not so much. Look for Bucky Barnes along with Dum Dum Dugan and the Howling Commandos. Phineas Horton's original Human Torch is at the World's Fair. A classic comic book cover is seen during the USO tour with Cap delivering the knock out punch to the Fuhrer. Oh, and speaking about the Fuhrer, there is a reference to Raiders of the Lost Ark. It's subtle, but it's there.

Overall rating: Full Price/Matinée – Again, take your pick. The amount of detail scene on the costumes and in the sets must be appreciated on the big screen.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes review should be up in a couple of days.





Disney Done Did Dat Already.

WARNING: May or may not contain spoilers! You have been warned!

The Zookeeper

My niece calls me up and tells me she wants to see the movie The Zookeeper.  Not a movie I particularly wanted to see on the big screen but I have a deal with her* so we go.  Kevin James (KJ)  is a fine comedic actor. He’s not one of my favorites, but he’s not on the bottom of my list either.  Can he carry this movie? Sure, as long as you aren’t expecting much.  It’s your typical “boy gets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl only to realize he’s not in love with her but in love with his co-worker who’s been in love with him for years” rom-com.  Actually, just drop the rom, it’s a simple com.  One thing you need to realize, this is an Adam Sandler movie.  It has his signature all over it.  Not that it’s a bad thing. Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore are two of my favorite movies.  The problem is that everything in this movie has been done before, except this time you have talking animals.  Some scenes are very painful to watch (KJ and the blue chair, KJ and the frog stance, KJ in any scene without an animal or Rosario Dawson) while other really had me rolling (KJ and the Gorilla at TGIFriday’s).  Adam Sandler as the monkey was bit irritating about 10 minutes after he starts talking.  I kept expecting the Lion to yell “Yo, Adrian” and the Lioness to start singing a medley of hits (I Got You Babe, Half-Breed, If I Could Turn Back Time…).

The plot is very predictable and you see the ending coming a mile away (boy chase true love who is on her way to the airport).  Thankfully, the movie isn’t that long and is over before it caused an aneurism. 

Overall rating:  Wait for the Network Broadcast. It has its moments, but not enough of them to justify any type of viewing.

Well, I liked it.

Obviously there is no accounting for taste.

What's that supposed to mean.

Can you imagine what would happen if I let ou write these reveiws? I would lose my credibility. 

What you talking 'bout, Willis?

You thought The Fountain was the greatest movie ever made!

It was!

And you thought that Star Wars was, and I quote, "re-hashed, centuries old mythology regurgitated for the ADHD masses with no respect to the source material."

Yeeeeeahhh... I will never confirm nor deny that a possible error might have been accidentally made.  Until you integrate instant replay in these movie reviews, these movie reviews will never be 100% accurate.


Yeah, we want instant replay put into our next collective bargaining agreement.

What?!?!?! That's it, no more watching ESPN for you.  You want a CBA? Really? Seriously?  And who's this "we"?

What? You didn't think I was here by myself, did you?  Let me introduce you to Hidari.


Oh, I so don't need this right now.


*- Once a month, I take my nephews and nieces to a movie of their choice followed by some quality time hanging out.  Next month she wants to go see The Smurfs. Oh, will the pain never end!



It goes Boom!

WARNING: May or may not contain spoilers!  You have been warned!

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Show of hands, how many of you liked Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (T:RotF)? Uh-huh… 1, 2, 3,… Yeah. LIARS!  T:RotF was a lousy movie. It was victim to the typical sequel formula: Take whatever we had in the original movie and double it! More Transformers, more explosions, more jokes.  Guess what? That doesn’t work (e.g., The Matrix Reloaded, Ocean’s 12, Harold & Kumar: Escape from Guantanamo Bay).  I saw T:RotF only once, in the theater, because I had to (more on that later).   Judy Witwicky getting high off of a special brownie, a female Decepticon that looks human making out with Sam, and the whole “Don’t tell my mother” line are just a few of the ridiculously horrible parts of T:RotF.  I refuse to buy that movie. However, if someone wants to send me a copy…

Fortunately, certain sequels (e.g., Matrix Revolutions, Ocean's 13, Star Trek VI) realize that mistakes were made previously and were rectified.  T:DotM falls into this category.

Ok, so I was “forced” to see Transformers: Dark of the Moon (T:DotM)*.  My niece (not that one, the other one) is a mad, crazy Transformers fan.  So much so, in fact, that I (along with my other sister) took to see the first Transformers movie when she was about 2 years old.  Aside from a quick run to the restroom, she was so well behaved that we actually both enjoyed the movie.  After the movie, she wouldn’t stop talking about “Oppimus Prime” and that it was her “favorite movie of all time”… all two years of her life.  When the trailers for T:RotF started showing up on TV, I got a call from niece asking me when I was going to take her to the movies to see “Optimus Prime”.** So I (along with my other sister) took her to see it.  That was the first and only time we saw it.  Fast forward to 2011, my other sister calls me up and tells me that tradition demands that we take my niece to see T:DotM.  Well, since tradition demands it, who am I to mess with tradition…

Loved it!  Absolutely love it!  The NASA prologue (aside from the factual errors) was really a clever way to incorporate fact and fiction.  I love the way it explains why we went to the moon in the first place and, as seen later on in the movie, why we haven’t gone back.  And yes, that is a cameo by Buzz Aldrin. 

Yes, it is a fact. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley can’t act.  Is she as bad as all the other reviews say she is? No, but she is pretty stiff.  But let’s face it, she really isn’t there for her acting chops.  She’s there to make co-star, the MB SLS-AMG, look good. Personally, I would have loved to seen Gemma Arteton or… no, actually that’s it, just Gemma Arteton.***

There are a couple of nice surprises, although they didn’t seem so nice at first (or they were nice at first and then it surprised us when it turned into a not-so-nice surprise).   Patrick Dempsey (aka McDreamy) plays a low-key but, ultimately, big player and the guy you love to hate.  In fact, when he does get it, the audience began to cheer.  Leonard Nimoy joins voice greats Peter Cullen and Hugo Weaving as Sentinel Prime.  Mr. Nimoy has got a voice that rates right up there James Earl Jones, Morgan Freeman, Dennis Haysbert and Tony Todd.****  The fact that Brains (or is it Wheelie) says “this is the episode where Spock goes insane” while watching and episode of “Star Trek” should have been clue to what was going to happen.  I didn’t pick up on that till I saw the movie a second time.

The comedy, which was way over the top in T:RotF, has been toned and left to the experts, Ken Jeong (who is the only person I know that can see Deep Wang with a straight face) and John Malkovich (who can do just about anything with a straight face).

Oh, and look for Terry Tate, Office Linebacker (You know you need a cover sheet on your TPS report, Richard! That ain’t you baybee!)

In response to all the reviews stating that Optimus Prime has become a “sociopathic idiot douchebag” or blasting the slow motion, explosive style of Michael Bay I say…


Let’s remind you of something and make it perfectly clear… This is a movie based on TOY and CARTOON from the 80s!  Aside from Madonna, what other pop culture icon from the 80s is still making money?  That's a pretty short list, no?

So, is Optimus a “sociopath”? Well, let’s see:

  • You’ve lost your home planet.
  • You’ve lost countless friends on said planet.
  • You’re on a backwards planet where the natives are technologically behind and most don’t trust you.
  • You’ve lost friends (Jazz, most of the Autobots from T:RotF, and Ironhide) on said backwards planet.
  • You’ve been betrayed by someone you thought was your best friend.
  • Finally, you were asked to leave the backwards planet of bending over backwards to protect the idiot natives… only to get blown up as you’re leaving.

Does that make Optimus a sociopath? Nope. Does it make him really, really mad? Yep.  Should he have shown mercy to Sentinel Prime? Nope.***** Did Optimus really need to rip apart Megatron’s innards?  Yeah, he did!  I’m sure he got tired of taking out Megatron over and over again. Had to make sure he stayed dead this time.  Did he have to shoot Sentinel in the head when it was obvious he was dead? Duh! The dude had just ripped Optimus’ arm out of his socket!

As for Michael Bay’s particular style of filming… What were you expecting? The English Patient?  Seriously?!?!?  Let’s take a look at Michael Bay’s movies:

  • Explosions… Check
  • Slow Motion Action… Check
  • Lots of guns… Check
  • Explosions and Slow Motion Action together… Check
  • Crazy, ridiculous fighting sequence… Check
  • Slow motion, rotate camera around the heroes in their most desperate hour… Check

You know exactly what you are getting when you see a Michael Bay. Don’t slam him for it.  Although I do agree that they could have cut down the time a little. It is a solid two hours and at times it feels like it.******

This movie is a good way to the end the duology.  Yes, I said duology and not trilogy. You can actually skip T:RotF and watch T:DotM immediately following T:RiD.  In fact, I recommend doing it that way.

Overall rating:  Full-Price Movie.  You can’t fully appreciate the explosions unless it’s on the big screen.  I’ve seen it twice and will probably see it one more time in the next couple of weeks.

Here's the title card from Michael Bay's next movie:******* (Last one, I promise.)


*- Yes, I am going to add abbreviations for the movies. No way am I writing Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Transformers: Dark of the Moon a dozen times.

**- Actually, she had stolen the phone from her mom and figured out how to call me.  Imagine her mom’s surprise when she saw her talking on the phone.

*** - The ONLY redeeming value of “Clash of the Titans.”

**** - Hmmm, notice all the voices are of black actors? I wonder if that means anything.

***** - Did Spock show mercy to the Romulans in Star Trek (2009)? Nope.

****** - There is no point to this footnote. I just wanted to put a bunch more asterisks in here.

******* - I was originally going to photoshop Gemma into some kind of Transformers scenec, but the "Explosions" one just seemed right.


Stay on target... Almost there...

As of this writing, DJ (Derek Jeter for you uncultured ones) is two hits shy of joining Club 3K (3000 hits).  Think about that for a minute.... Done? Ok. Most people don't realize how exclusive of a club this is.  The other big hitters club, the 500 Home Run Club, isn't as exclusive as it used to be.  There are at least a half-dozen 'Roiders in there and, let's face it, the whole "Chicks dig the long ball" thing is so passé. 


Back to Club 3K, I found it interesting that some of the bigger names in the game are in the club. My all-time favorite player, Lou Gehrig, not in. The original HR King, Babe Ruth, not in. Junior? Nope. Mantle? Negative. Dave Winfield, Rickey "Run, Rickey, Run" Henderson? Well, yeah, but they didn't hit #3000 with the Yankees (Twins & Padres respectively).  The only blemish in the Club is Rafael Palmeiro.

So not only is going to join the Club, DJ isn't going to stop at 3K. I really think he is going to be one of the top 10 in hits (3315+).  He has a contract till at least 2014. That's another 3 full years.  According to Baseball-Reference, DJ has averaged 206 hits a year over his career.  Barring further injury and extended slumps, 160-175 hits this season is not out of the question.  That should put him at about 3170 at the end of this season.  Throw in one more spectacular season (he has one more in him) at 193 hits and two seasons of +/- average seasons at 171 and 157 hits, that would put him at... carry the one, divide by the square root of his shoe size... around 3690 hits for his career.   That is good enough for 4th on the All-Time list behind Rose, Cobb and Aaron. 

Yet, there are still people that will insist that he is not a HoFer.  Really?  Let's take a look at his other numbers.

If he keeps his career average going, he will also join the 300 Home Run Club. Yeah, I know, it doesn't have the same ring as the 500 Home Run Club.  However, take a look at the big picture.  Only 130 players have it 300 home runs.  Yeah, that sounds like a lot when you think there are 750 baseball players (25-man roster X 30 teams), about 17%. However, when you realize that it's not 750, but closer to 17,150 guys that have played baseball since the 1800s, that percentage drops waaaaay down to 0.75%.  All of a sudden, 300 home runs is kinda impressive.  Oh, and one other thing, DJ really isn't a home run hitter. Kinda makes that stat that much more impressive.

One of my favorite stats, simply because Jathniel gets to talk in the 3rd person like one of his favorite players (Rickey Henderson), is the stolen base.  One of the greatest strategies of the game, the stolen base can get a player from 1st to 3rd quick-fast, in a hurry, and totally disrupt the pitcher's concentration.  JD already has 330. He gets another 10 this year and average 20 the next three years and that will put him at 400 swipes.  That will put him at #70 on the all-time list. Good company considering 25 of those 70 are in the Hall.

Let's see what else is on the list... 400 away from 10,000 at bats (25 members of that club)... on track for 2500+ games played (that'll put him in the top 50)... 12x All-Star... 5x World Series Champ... 5x Gold Glove... All-Star MVP... World Series MVP...

Seriously, if those aren't 1st Year Induction stats, I don't know what is.

Just saying...


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