• 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.


Slow week...

Didn’t go to the movies last week.  I don’t know, Super 8 just didn’t catch my eye enough to see it on the big screen.   Didn’t go to any baseball games either. That couldn’t be helped, the 51’s weren’t in town.  Didn’t see much baseball either. Watching the sweep kinda killed my mood.  However, we did add a new member to the family.  Meet Yoshi.

Yoshi is a Blue & Gold Macaw.  We picked him up from a local breeder and store owner, Juan Anderson of E & J Exotic Pets.  Wasn’t expecting to pick him up for another two weeks but Juan said that it was eating well enough on its own to go home. 

Needless to say, it’s been an interesting weekend. The dogs don’t know what to do with it. Yoshi is still getting used to its new surroundings. I’m running around with a rag cleaning up poop.  Fortunately it’s not a lot and it doesn’t smell so I’m good.

On an interesting note, The MLB All-Star Ballot updates have been released.  Yankees in the lead are:

Catcher – Russell Martin

1B – Mark Teixeira

2B – Robinson Cano

3B – Alex Rodriguez

SS – Derek Jeter

OF – Curtis Granderson

DH – Jorge Posada (3rd)

See something funny there? The ENTIRE infield are Yankees. I don’t have a problem with this but really?  Where are all the other teams’ fans? Martin, Cano, and Granderson all have comfortable leads. But, how many of these guys are really All-Star quality this year? Martin? Nope. Tex? Maybe. Cano? Yep. Rodriguez? Maybe. Jeter? Not really… But I think this is more of a sentimental vote because, let’s face it, he is in decline and probably won’t voted to a starting team anymore after this season. Granderson? Oh YEAH! Posada? What in the world? How did he even get in the top ten is beyond me.

The NL ballot looks a lot more realistic.  Actually, it even looks stronger than the AL ballot.  Uh Oh, do I feel a prediction coming on? Yes you do.

National League wins the All-Star Game, 5-3. Albert Pujols named MVP.

There I said it. Done. I’m out.





In the beginning...

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

X-Men: First Class

Ever since the ending credits of “X-Men: Last Stand” I’ve been waiting for the X-Men’s return to glory.  Let’s face it, XM:LS was dismal, half-hearted, over-budgeted, lame attempt of reconciling at least three different storylines into one misshapen chimera that was blissfully short.

Really? Why don’t you tell us how you really feel?

I figured that with three more X movies on the horizon there was at least a 33% chance of a decent movie and return to glory.  Then came the Wolverine movie.  And they blew it again! Seriously guys, you don’t need to cram 30+ years of comic history into one movie.  Leave some for the sequel.  Anyway, let’s leave that one alone for minute.

Yes, please.  Don’t get him started on Wolverine!

X-Men Origins. If you can rise above certain errors and continuity issues, the movie is great.  McAvoy and Fassbender do an excellent job in portraying the tumultuous friendship between the Prof and Magneto.  The members of the First Class really give you a feeling of nervousness, excitement and awe of going to a new school and being part of something special.  Members of the Brotherhood… well, they really aren’t used enough to get emotionally attached to them.  Well, except for Kevin Bacon’s Sebastian Shaw.  Absolutely the character you love to hate.  They really need to use him again.

There are a couple of cool cameos (watch it, bub!) and one that didn’t happen (where’s the Man?) and a pretty strong and tight story.  I love how they used an actual historical backdrop and actual footage from the times.  Loved the fashion of the 60s (mini-skirts everywhere) and the costumes (blue and gold, yeah!).  There are a couple of disappointments (why Darwin? Rather it would have happened to Angel) and nods to the fans (Blackbird – coolest airplane of all time). They also lay the groundwork for the future (Azazel + Mystique =…).  Oh, and don’t even get me started on Emma Frost (eye popping wow!) Look for a follow-up post with more of a breakdown.

One more thing.  All the CG effects… can’t really tell they are CG.  Nothing looks fake.  Excellent, excellent job.

Bottom line: This is like the first X-Men movie all over again.  Solid groundwork has been laid for a secure foundation of future movies.  Hopefully they don’t blow on the third movie.

Overall rating:  Full-Price Movie. ‘Nuff Said!  


Ska-doosh mateys!

Sorry I didn’t post anything last week. It was a crazy week.  To make up for it, I’m posting a twofer.

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

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.

Gonna be totally honest here: I did not like Pirates of the Caribbean (PotC) Dead Man’s Chest or At World’s End.  Ok, let me correct that. I did like those two movie, until I saw them a second time.  I realized then that it wasn’t all that I thought it was the first time around… Kinda like watching Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, but that’s a rant for another day.

I went in to see PotC: OST expecting a lot of Jack Sparrow (there’s a captain in there somewhere) shenanigans and silliness.  Well, it does have that and a fun and somewhat engaging plot.  Absolutely loved Jack Sparrow, although a little more silliness would have been nice.  Penelope Cruz is beautiful, and she does a nice job of playing a pirate.  Ian McShane as Blackbeard… I would have loved to see more of him.  Loved him in “Kings” and “Deadwood” and he seems like such a refined actor… Anyway.

The movie is fun to watch.  The pacing does get a bit off a couple of time but it continues to move forward.  They did leave a gaping plot hole (Where’s Phillip?), or maybe an opening for a 5th film?  There is the obligatory post-credits scene.  Doesn’t really add anything to the movie, but it is cute.  There are no major SFX scenes like in previous movies (the massive Kraken) so there really is no need to see this on the big screen.  It is fun to watch (did I say that already?).

Overall rating:  DVD rental. If you can’t wait, catch a matinee.

Kung Fu Panda 2

When I saw Kung Fu Panda (KFP) for the first time, it was on DVD and not in the theater.  At the end of the movie I was so upset. Why did I wait so long to see such a funny movie?  When I heard there was a sequel I vowed not to wait to see it.  Not only did I see it opening night, I saw it again on Monday for good measure.  When you go see this movie, make sure you are sitting next to a little person under the age of 13.  I could not stop laughing at this movie and hearing the laughter of the little person next to me made that much more enjoyable. 

The quality of animation is equal to or superior to that of KFP. The voices… what an All-Star cast and some surprises (JCVD anyone?).  What I loved the most was the character of Shen.  Not only was he the most amazing animated creature in the entire film, he is voiced by Gary Oldman.  Gary Oldman!  That dude is the coolest bad guy this side of the Galactic Empire.  The only odd thing about the voices is that I kept see the State Farm logo every time a certain character would speak (bonus points if you can name the character and voice actor).  It’s kinda like watching The Lion King and trying not to say “Simba, I am your father” after Mufasa’s lines.

They did a great job explaining how a goose became the father of a panda. They also left open for a sequel.  The only thing I wish is that other of the Furious Five, aside from Tigress, had a bit more to say or do.

Overall rating: Matinee movie.  Make sure you go with a bunch of kids.

Well, that’s it for today.  I got a lot more to say, but I’ll leave that for another day.





I'll show you mine if you show me yours...

(Warning: I use the terms/words album, disc, and CD interchangeably in this post.)

Back in the day, about 2 decades ago, before the proliferation of downloaded music and at the beginning of the Rise of the CD, I used to buy records*, lots of records.  The best place to buy records in town was a place called Odyssey Records.  And yes, that is Queen Latifah on the album cover to the far right.  Yes, she was a rap artist before she was actress.  For the record, so were LL Cool J and Ice Cube.  What? You didn’t really think that those were “stage” names? Well, I guess they are stage names…

I digress…

So, I used to buy records. One thing I remember about Odyssey Records is that they would post these lists on the wall called “Desert Island Discs” (DIDs).  The basic premise is that if you were stuck on a desert island and could only take 10 discs (originally records, it morphed into compact discs) with you, which 10 discs would it be?  I loved this because by looking at the choices it gave you somewhat of an insight into a person.  I’m not a psychiatrist, but I’m sure you could have fun looking at the lists and trying to figure out the inner workings of a person.  Every so often I sit down and create a DID.  What’s interesting is that there are some selections on my list that always show up.  Wonder what that says about me?

Now, before I post my list, there have to be rules.  What good is creating a list if you don’t have rules?

1)      Ten (10) discs. No more, no less.

2)      It has to be available in the retail market.  Not sure if it available? Go to www.cduniverse.com

3)      It has to be available in physical form.  Digital only albums are not eligible.

4)      Multi-CD selections are ok as long as they come in a single, retail package.

5)      “Live” or “In Concert” albums are not eligible.

6)      Only 5 selections can be “Greatest Hits” CDs.

7)      Original issue CDs only. No “Deluxe”, “Ultimate” or “Anniversary” or any reissue editions.

8)      U.S. retail CDs only. No “Japan” or “Worldwide” editions.

9)      One artist per album.  No “Various Artists” albums.

10)   These are my rules. I have the right to change them.

For the record: Yes, I know that Desert Island Discs was originally a British radio program. Yes, I know it was 8 selections, not 10. Yes, I know the selections were single tracks, not complete albums.  I didn’t know all this until a few years ago.  But, whatever.  My blog, my rules so there.

So without further ado…

Jathniel’s Desert Island Discs

1)      Substance 1987 – New Order

2)      It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back – Public Enemy

3)      Thriller – Michael Jackson

4)      Breakaway – Kelly Clarkson

5)      Appetite for Destruction – Guns N’ Roses

6)      Desde El Principio/From The Beginning – Marc Anthony

7)      Star Wars Trilogy: The Original Soundtrack Anthology – John Williams

8)      The Ultimate Hits – Garth Brooks

9)      Minutes to Midnight – Linkin Park

10)   The Best of Poison: 20 Years of Rock – Poison

Yeah, I know. That list is all over the map.  What can I say? I have very varied tastes in music.  Now for the breakdown…

1)      Growing up, I didn’t have much choice in the music I could listen to. It was either Oldies (when I was with Dad) or Spanish (when I was with Mom). New Order was one of the first groups I remember listening to when I got my own radio.  It was so different from anything I ever listened to.

2)      Another album that made an impression on me when I was young.  The lyrics on this album are so deep and Chuck D’s voice so powerful, it was impossible to grow up where I did and NOT hear of this album.  Yeeeeeah Boyeeeeeee!

3)      There is a reason this is the greatest selling album of all time. If I need to explain it then you will never understand.

4)      Don’t judge.

5)      One of the albums I had during my brief “rebel” phase.  This was a tough choice because my favorite GnR song isn’t on this album.  Yeah, I could have gone with a Greatest Hits album right here, but that would have taken the spot away from…

6)      A tough choice here.  I would have gone with “Sigo Siendo Yo” because it has selections from “Libre” and “Mended”. The problem is that one of my favorite songs can only be found on this non-live album.  I couldn’t go with the live album because of Rule #5.

7)      Do I really need to explain this one? Didn’t think so.

8)      I’ve been into Country music for years.  It’s not your daddy’s country.  Garth is able to sing country, rock, and ballads without missing a beat.  There were other country albums I considered, but none really stood out as much as this one.

9)      This was the toughest choice.  At least half the tracks on all of their albums (4) absolutely rock.  The problem is that they don’t have a “Greatest Hits” album…yet.  When that happens I will have to redo this list.  I could have used the "LP in LV" but it breaks rules #5 and #3.

10)   Growing up during the Hair Bands/Glam Rock era, I was exposed to a lot of rock. This was a toss-up between this, Def Leppard, and Bon Jovi. Besides, the Bon Jovi “Greatest Hits” album doesn’t really have all the hits unless you get the “Ultimate” edition.  See rule #7.

Some honorable mentions (and why they don’t qualify)…

1)      Freestyle Explosion series – Various Artists (Rule #9)… Absolutely love freestlye music.  However, considering most freestyle artists only had one or two hits, it would have been a waste to put them this list.  Thank goodness for the Freestyle Explosion series from Thump Records.

2)      La Combinacion Perfecta – Various Artists (Rule #9)… The greatest Salsa album ever recorded. Period.

3)      Love – The Beatles (Rule #5)… Technically this really isn’t a live album, but it is the soundtrack to a live performance.  If you are a Beatles fan and you’ve never heard this album, you are doing yourself a disservice.  Download it. Now.

So there you go. What are your DIDs?  I’d love to know.

Oh, and have you figured out which songs I am referring to with discs #5 and #6?  Bonus points to those that figure it out.


*Records a big round things made out of vynil that we used to listen to music.  They look like"really big CDs" as a really young co-worker described them.


If I see one more broom...

Seriously, what a bummer of a weekend.  If I see one more broom, I’m going to hit somebody.  After a disastrous weekend, where do we stand?  In second place, 2 games out of first. But, more importantly, we are still ahead of the BoSox.  Funny thing is, the headline isn’t the sweep. The headline is Jorge taking himself out of the lineup after he found out he was batting 9th.

Do I blame the guy? Yes and no. Yeah, I think he should have pulled himself out of the lineup. He should have pulled himself out when he couldn’t get himself anywhere near the Mendoza Line.  He should have taken himself out and taken a “mental” day at the end of April when he went on that 0-for-14 stretch. But on the other hand, I can understand why you want to stay in. It’s the only thing you’ve done for the last 17 seasons. It’s not something you want to give up so easily.  You want to be a part of the game, not sitting on the bench. As a veteran, I gotta imagine he is thinking to himself that there is still something he can contribute to the game.  And as soon he busts this slump I’m sure he will be a key factor, a necessary cog in the gears, which will take the Yankees to another post-season.

Now, my problem with this situation is that he waited till he saw he was dropped into the 9th spot in the batting order to pull himself out.  Like I said before, he should have pulled himself out a long time before that. What he did was really poor sportsmanship.  He acted like a big baby.  He should not have taken the drop in the batting order as an insult but as a challenge.  Let me give you an example…

A few months ago I got invited to play in a softball challenge.  During the practice sessions I made sure that when I took my cuts I stated my case for position in the line-up.  I also made sure my fielding was up to par.  The day of the big game comes. I ask the “coach” where he wants me to play. Now, before the big reveal, I had been practicing in the outfield and at 1st base.  Also consider that this is a coed game. Nothing against my female teammates, but some of them had never played softball before.  That being said, the “coach” puts me in a catcher.  CATCHER!  Seriously?!?!  One of the better arms on the team and I am being regulated to backstop duty.  I was upset, but did I request out of the game? Nope. I simply stated my case by making sure to fire the ball back to pitcher and making sure his glove popped.  After two batters, I got put out in right field.  Not my ideal position, but definitely and upgrade.  End result… I got an assist at second when the batter was trying to stretch a single into a double.  When it came time for us to bat, I asked “coach” where he wanted me to bat.  Honestly, I am thinking he is going to put me 3rd or 5th.  I would’ve been happy batting 6th.  Where do I get put? 10th! Seriously?!?!  Dead last in the lineup?  Again, I was upset, but I didn’t walk off the team.  The team needed me. So again, I stated my case.  End result… 3 for 4 with three singles and a ribbie. One of those singles was a “sure” out but I hustled enough to beat the throw.

My point is, you feel you’ve been insulted by being dropped last in the lineup? Don’t get all booty hurt and leave your teammates hanging.  Get mad, get even, get out there and prove you are more than last in the batting order.

I’m done venting.  And I swear… If I see one more broom!



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