Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Movie Review : Cirque Du Soleil : Worlds Away

The movie is a love story but it is mostly an advertisement for the audience to see these shows live. Each segment of the story focuses on parts of the live shows that you can see in Las Vegas such as O, Ka and Love. Story starts with Mia walking into a circus and is intrigued by The Aerialist whose poster she is given to by a carney. She goes to the tent where The Aerialist is performing and as he is doing his routine he is distracted by her and falls towards the ground but instead of being hurt he is sucked into a sand hole and transported to a fantasy circus world. Mia takes a closer look into the hole and is also dragged into the fantasy world. Once there she goes from tent to tent looking for him and is shown performances while asking them if anyone has seen The Aerialist. Each show has its own distinct feel and look. One is water based with a floating boat battle, while another is a battle between good and evil on a rotating rectangle. There are fun ones such as a trampoline performance with Elvis music playing in the background and another with Beatles music being the theme. She finally gets to the final performance and finds The Aerialist and they are drawn to each at first glance and perform a one on one aerobatic dance on a rope.

Verdict : As a movie it is hard to review as its not in the traditional sense of a movie. Being someone that has seen Cirque shows in person I can appreciate the beauty and talent it takes to do something like this. I have not seen the shows that this "movie" is based on but it does show a good idea of what to expect if you saw it live. As a whole it is an adequate representation of the live shows but it does not compare to the actual show. So for me while enjoyable it is a take it or leave it if you want to see it on the screen but for sure you must catch one of them live as you can not fully appreciate what you see on screen to what you see in person.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Movie Review : The Hobbitt ( High Frame Rate Version )

The first film in a new trilogy which is a prequel to the Lord of the Rings Trilogy from a decade ago finally hits the big screen after years of starting and stopping. Being the first of the planned three films this one has a lot of set up not unlike Fellowship of the Ring from the other trilogy. Also just like that one the first 30-40 minutes of the film is set in the Hobbitts' homeland of The Shire. It starts with a scene that is set prior to the other trilogy and has an unexpected cameo by a main character from the first trilogy. The film things jumps back 60 years prior to that adventure as we see Bilbo Baggins as a young hobbitt meeting Gandolf the Grey for the first time. We see in flashbacks that the Dwarves were forced out of their mountain home by a great dragon and Gandolf wants to help them to reclaim it with the help of Bilbo. One by one a small groupr of Dwarves arrive at Bilbo's home to go over plans on how to defeat the dragon and take back what was once theirs.The group is small in number but huge in drive and determination to achieve their goal.

Once on the road to the mountain the group come across many of adversaries with the Ogres being the main ones that track and attack them every time they get a chance. One of the new "villains" if you can call them that are best described as enormous rock mountain creatures as they blend in with the mountains. Not truly enemies as they fight amongst themselves but the group are caught up in the crossfires. They also come across friends like the elves who help them with a map that they were having trouble deciphering. Towards the end with the Dwarves, Gandolf and Bilbo all separated from each other fan favorite Gollum pops up and has a very interesting confrontation with Bilbo where a certain little "precious" object makes an appearance.

Verdict : The movie plays like most first parts of trilogies as it mostly sets up the story and characters before the meat of everything comes up in the next two chapters. In my view unlike the Fellowship of the Ring this one had more substantial action for a first chapter. Like the Fellowship, the movie drags while in the Shire but picks once the group departs there. I saw this with the new technology being used, High Frame Rate (HFR), which has 48 frames per second instead of the usual 24 and thought it really adds to the visual. You can really tell the difference and with general special effects so much better now than last time we saw the hobbits all the creatures pop out at you with impressive detail. For fans of the first series there is no question you need to see this if just wanting a good action flick to escape to a THUMBS UP from this viewer. Enjoy and Merry Christmas.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Movie Review : Lincoln

The film focuses on the last four months of Lincoln's life. The story here is how Lincoln beginning his second term in office is in the middle of the Civil War and is trying to push an amendment through Congress to abolish slavery which the Democrats do not want to happen and the Republicans want but don't think it can happen due to they need at least 13 Democrats to flip and support the bill. Interesting how in current time that the Democrats who are supposedly the party of the people always forget that they didn't want slavery to end but say Republicans are the racists people. I will resist from getting too political here.

Daniel Day Lewis is Lincoln and as in most previous films he just dives into his role and disappears and he does that here as well. Sally Field is his wife who should be admitted into a mental institution but Abe holds out hope for his spouse. The movie is pretty straightforward as Abe and his party go about making sure his people support the vote and trying to persuade at least 13 Democrats to flip to their side. All this with the Civil War swiftly coming to a close which Abe has to balance that and the bill as if the war ends he knows he won't be able to get the bill past but if it appears he is holding up the war to get one of his objectives done he will come across as the bad guy. We all know how this ends up as our daily lives reflect what the result was back then.

Verdict : Steven Spielberg is the director, Daniel Day Lewis plays a historical hero, Sally Field is an unbalanced wife. All this together and you would think can't miss picture. I thought so and fed into the hype and the close to 100 million it has already taken at the box office. I was highly disappointed. This movie has a running time of almost 150 minutes and it felt like that and more. The actors do a fine job but the story just dragged on and with you knowing the ending it felt even longer. I'm sure on paper this looked great but it did not translate well to the big screen. I know I am in the minority of this view but unless you really love the principals in this movie or love the time period this gets a THUMBS DOWN from me to watch. Not a terrible movie just an unexpected disappointment.

Movie Review : Silver Linings Playbook

A romantic comedy of a different sort is probably the best and easiest way to describe this film. The movie's title takes from two different themes within the movie and life. People like to see the "silver linings" in hard times and "playbooks" are used in sports which football is a main subject here. So the title though confusing at first glance once you watch the film you understand why the title fits.

The story starts with Pat (Bradley Cooper) being released from a mental institution to the care of his mother. Once home at his parents home we see that he is highly bipolar and an incident with his wife and her coworker at the local high school Pat and they bother taught at is what caused Pat to be institutionalized for eight months. Pat starts on his road in his mind to get his wife back who left him after the incident which includes reading books that his wife used in her teachings. To say the least a lot of them rub him the wrong way which he takes out on his parents. His father ( Robert De Niro ) has his own issues as he is OCD and a major Eagles fan wife a start up bookie business which is putting a strain on everyone.

Pat is invited to a dinner party where he is introduced to Tiffany ( Jennifer Lawrence ) who recently lost her husband and is in her own downward spiral. The "courtship" if you call it that is intense and rife with hard one liners and unfiltered comments from both sides. Quite entertaining but if it was real life you could see them literally killing each other. Tiffany agrees to help Pat try to get his wife back by giving her a letter that Pat has written but can not be given by him due to a restraining order. What Tiffany wants in return is for Pat to join him in a dance contest which her husband always declined to do with her. Pat is torn by the fact that his dad wants to him to be around and watch football with him as he is good "juju" for the team. Tiffany is pulling him the other way for training for the upcoming dance and considering all the crazy personalities involved here they all make crude comments and mean gestures to each other.

The intersecting story lines come to the climax of Pat and his dad betting on the Eagles to beat the Cowboys in a winner take all bet with a fellow bookie and at the same time Pat and Tiffany are trying to have respectable appearance and not totally embarrass themselves at the competition. Pat's ex wife makes an appearance which complicates things even more with Pat and Tiffany and causes more strain for everyone.

Verdict : This was one of the better movies of the year and is in my top 5. Bradley plays against type and does it well and should be up for best actor in 2013. Jennifer looks and acts great while playing a crazy. Supporting cast does it's job and adds to the story. For some a confusing title but for all a THUMBS UP from me to watch this very enjoyable film.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Bobblehead of the Day : Ron Cey ( Signed )

I've met the Penguin a few times now and up til this year I had everything I needed already from but now since I collect bobbleheads I know needed his signed. He technically has two as the infield was honored this year with their own set but I was never a fan of that one as it is very hard to get a decent signature on their helmets and I have heard from a few collectors that Ron hates signing those as he takes pride in his signature and he can't what he wants on their legibly. His first bobble is perfect though for signing. I have been getting most of my bobbles signed on the helmets as that is usually the only place you can have them sign. Ron's bobble though comes with him standing at the plate and knowing how Ron can shrink his signature I knew he could put it on the plate.

The Dodgers are holding a mall tour to promote season tickets and mini plans. This past Friday which was also Black Friday the Dodgers were in my neck of the woods at Del Amo Mall in Torrance. The Dodgers had three scheduled to appear and they were Ron Cey, "Sweet" Lou Johnson and Maury Wills. I had Maury's on enough stuff and I wanted Lou's ( which I did get on a bat ) but Ron was who I really wanted. Problem was I had to work and Ron was scheduled to appear from 11:30-1:30 which was a problem. I was able to get off work right before 1 but I still had to travel 15 miles to the mall and thought it would be impossible to find a parking spot and then get over to the signing area. I arrived to the Dodgers area at around 1:24 and luckily Ron was still there and surprisingly there was no one in line which I assume is because since he was there for almost two hours already everyone that was going to see him saw him. Walked up and said my greetings and even though he seem to be not in the best of moods he wished me a good day and signed the bobble right where I wanted. Looks great to me. Thank you again to the Dodgers for hosting another great event and thank you to Ron Cey for signing the bobblehead. Enjoy the pics.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Movie Review : Rise of the Guardians

Another week and another cartoon picture. This film intrigued me when the previews first came out as I love cartoons that have an edge and seeing Santa all tatted up got me hooked. My youngest niece also wanted to see this so I had every excuse to see it now.
The big characters that we all know and love, Santa, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy and the Sandman are represented but are not the focus of the movie as Jack Frost is the main character. That is also his problem as he has for his whole life felt neglected and is not believed to exist by children so he always has a chip on his shoulder. The bad guy here is the Bogey Man aka Pitch. He wants to control everything just like in the dark ages where there is no hope or happiness and wants to bring those times back. The Man in the Moon chooses a new guardian to join up with the other four to combat the upcoming battle with Pitch. Jack is that guardian and he doesn't understand why and neither does the other four guardians but everyone except for Easter accept that the Man in the Moon knows what he is doing. Easter and Jack have a long history and have irritated each other over the centuries and they have the best back and forth in the film. The dialogue is sharp but tasteful.
Pitch infects Sandman and all his nice dreams become nightmares for the world's children and they all start to believe that none to the guardians exist which starts to make them all weak and slowly lose their powers. Jack is the key to all this but Santa questions his motive and ask what his "center" is. What makes him tick. Jack has no answer as he doesn't remember who his was before he became Jack Frost.
Jack and the guardians battle Pitch a few times but they are losing and every kid in the world ends up not believing in their existence til there is only one kid left who always believed in the Easter Bunny and wants him to prove that he exists or he will give up all hope as well. Jack steps in helps him keep the faith. Now with renewed hope and the guardians on their last legs they join together to take on Pitch in one last battle to reclaim what they lost. In the end after Pitch is beaten and driven away Jack is accepted and believed by all and he officially becomes a guardian.

Verdict : In typical "mature" cartoon flicks nowadays this movie surrounds lessons that should be learned by fun talk and entertaining battles. All it takes is to have one person have faith and anything can be achieved and that there is a purpose for anyone in this world and you just have to find it. Though not as good as most Pixar films this holds up as a fun escape for a couple of hours for kids and adults alike. A THUMBS UP from me.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Movie Review : Life Of Pi

I've heard a lot about this movie but considering that I expected to see a visually appealing movie with a story that would probably leave me wanting. In actuality the opposite happened. I saw the film in 3D as I expected to set hings pop out and enthrall me but other than the the whale scene which has been advertised on tv I saw nothing that ooh or awed me. Story on the other hand keep me interested.

The film starts our with a grown up Pi ( which means he survived his ordeal which is a good thing ) talking to a French Canadian who wants to write the story of the Life of Pi which has been described to make you believe in God. Pi tells him that he is a practicing Hindu Muslim Catholic. I wouldn't want that conflict within my head. Pi begins his story with trials and tribulations of growing up in India and how his full name sounds like "Pissing" which gave him much ridicule at school til he made himself a legend by writing out the "whole number" of the math equivalent of "Pi" and was never made fun of again and went by his new shorten name of Pi. His parents owned a zoo and he helped around and even had an close encounter with a Tiger named Richard Parker against his father's wishes. Later on his parents had to sell the zoo and his father decided he was going to move the family to Winnipeg, Canada to start anew which Pi did not want to go as India was his life and had just met a girl that stole his heart. Complaining did not helped and he and the family boarded a ship that would take them to their new lives.

After some time on the sea Pi was awoken by a terrible storm and he wanted to see it first hand so he ventured out to the deck while everyone else slept. Something went wrong and soon the ship sank and Pi was the only human survivor as he was forced onto a life boat by shipmates before it went down. We see Pi out at sea with a Zebra also on board the life boat and a Hyena also snuck aboard and shortly a Orangutan comes floating by a little raft made of parts of the sunken ship. After awhile Richard Parker shows himself to also have snuck on board. And after some conflicts among the animals Pi and Richard Parker are the only ones left on the boat. With Richard Parker being an untamed jungle animal Pi must learn to co exist with him as they are both starving and thirsty and the minimal supplies are still on the boat which the Tiger has proclaimed is his so Pi builds a satellite life boat from extra boards and attaches it the main life boat so he may be near but still a safe distance away. Days then weeks go by and Pi and the Tiger slowly realize that though they never will truely like or trust each other they must work together and Pi starts to fish for Richard Parker and Richard Parkers learns to allow Pi to stay on the main boat as they drift on the Pacific Ocean.

They make it to a small island where they are replinshed with some food and water in the nick of time as a little longer they probably and had already accepted the fact that were about to die at sea. Pi realizes they can not stay here and they must push forward and eventually they hit the Mexico coast after at least 100 days at sea and Pi is rescued by people noticing him laying on the beach passed out. Richard Parker walks into the wild and is never seen again. Pi makes a full recovery and Japanese insurance adjusters for the ship visit him in the hospital and after he tells his story he gives another story that makes you rethink a lot of things.

Back to the present the writer is amazed at the story and the many layers that it has and can't wait to get the book started. We see Pi has a wife and two kids and are living happly as Pi has moved on from his adventure and is doing quite well.

Verdict : If you are going for special effect driven movie then I believe you will be disappointed but if you are open to taken in a story of self discovery and an adventure that has to be viewed in different ways then you will enjoy yourself. A THUMBS UP from me to watching this. I didn't expect to overly enjoy this movie but it suprised me and I am glad I saw it. It shows that God is everywhere whether you "see" or "feel" him. This makes you have to believe that you must look at the whole picture and/or trip that you have taken after it is done to fully understand what happened and not just pick one thing and make a final decision on that one aspect as you could be missing something important.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Movie Review : Twilight : Breaking Dawn Part 2

The phenomenon of the Twilight saga finally comes to a close with this entry in the series. Part 1 came out last year which ended with Bella being turned into a vampire. I have gone to all these movies due to taking my niece to the very first one and even though these movies are not usually my cup of tea, since I saw the first I had to see them all as I have to see how the story would end as I had no intention to read the books.

The movie jumps right in with Bella getting used to being a vampire. Her blood lust though severe is kept in check which impresses Edward as newbies usually don't have that restraint. A relative mistakenly believes Edward's and Bella's child was turned by them and not born like which is a big no-no among the vampire higher ups. Edward and Bella then spend about a hour movie time trying to convince fellow vampires and have them as witnesses that their child is pure so that the higher ups do not come and kill them. Ultimately they come to see the child themselves and pass judgement on Edward and Bella. After some talking and tit for tat they part ways. Movie ends with Edward and Bella sharing their courtship of each other and now presumably live on happily.

Verdict : You are going to see it or you are not going to see it as if you have seen the other 3 in the series you will want to see the last one like me. If you haven't seen any of them then there is no reason to jump on now. The review is this short as there really is no action whatsoever in this flick. It is a lot talking and scheming. There is a 7-10 minute stretch of a battle. That's it. So for almost 2 hours there is just talking, more talking and then a truce at the end. Again, I am not giving away spoilers as almost everyone that will be watching probably already knows what to expect as they either read the books or know what is going to happen from friends and family.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Movie Review : Wreck-It-Ralph

Ah, nostalgia, how I love remembering and reliving some of the good old days from back when I was a young child. Cartoon movies have gotten more sophisticated over the years with the high water mark being Toy Story and Up. Like those and others this movie is made to appeal to young kids for mindless fun and us older people who appreciate inside jokes and little things that kids will miss or are too young to understand.

The film starts off strongly with Ralph ( villain in ala Donkey Kong ) and Felix ( hero ala Mario ) finishing another battle which as always is pre determined for the bad guy to lose out to the good guy. Only problem is after almost 30 years Ralph is tired of being the bad guy and wants to flip to the other side. He even goes to a type of AA for villains which includes a lot of classic characters with my favorite being Zangief from Street Fighter fame. We do get Bowser from Mario Bros but we do not get the actual brothers in the film. A disappointment from this Mario Bros player. Ralph decides to venture out and be a hero and in his view acquiring a medal will achieve that goal. He ends up in a Call of Duty/Gears of War hybrid of a game where he, by using his wrecking power actually gets a medal. On his way back to his game he is detoured into a game called Sugar Land where everything is visually bright and loaded with sweets. The game is a racing game ala Mario Kart/Need for Speed etc. The land is ruled by King Candy with a firm hand except for a little young lady that happens to a be a glitch within the game and is the only thorn in the King's side. She runs into Ralph and ends up with Ralph's newly acquired medal which in turn uses to try to win her "freedom" from the game as you need a gold "coin" to enter a race. The premise is if you are one of the top 9 racers then you become a selectable character for people to play in the real world. Being a glitch she has been forced to stay away from the races and is alienated from everyone. The next 30-40 minutes involves soul searching for Ralph and what is and isn't important in life. Typical fare for a cartoon nowadays. In the end everyone has grown and learned from their experiences.

Verdict : A THUMBS UP from this long time gamer. Though the movie is a good one and the two supporting characters ( Felix and a field general from the war hybrid game ) bring the most enjoyable parts of the film unless you have a young one with you or enjoy games you might want to pass on this. Growing up playing all these games, it was fun seeing them interact on the big screen but unlike other "grown-up" cartoons the movie drags about 50 minutes into it and sort of limps home at the end. A fun movie but maybe not one you need to see in the theater.

Movie Review : Skyfall

Bond... James Bond, shaken and not stirred for the 24th time on the big screen and unlike the last entry in the series ( Quantum of Solace ) this one delivers on most fronts.

Film jumps right in with a grand chase scene that is one of the best I've seen in a long time. Many different types of modes of transportation are displayed here. It ends with Bond being forced into a faux death which as you can tell and just know does not suit him. Doesn't last long as he is drawn back into the fray by seeing his former employers being attacked. Once back he is forced to show he is ready to get back into the field as he shows wear and tear from all his adventures. Once cleared he follows all the leads to the villain of this story which is Mr. Silva portrayed by Javier Bardem. With yet another bad haircut, Javier delivers the best performance of the movie. Just like in "No Country For Old Men" ( which he a sports worse hair day than here ) when he is on the screen the movie is better for it. The connection between Bond and his nemesis that pushes the storyline along is plausible if not original. The chase is on which takes us on a ride from Bond's present to his possible future back to his past where we learn some things that make him tick. Once the final battle ensues between the two men all bets are off as the body trail is littered with people left and right. As it reaches its climax with Silva and a captive M ( Judy Dench again with a fine performance as Bond's handler ) by his side the battle from my point of view abruptly ends. I feel how Bond handles Silva was fine but the outcome of the battle could have been fleshed out a tad more.

Verdict : Whether you are a Bond fan, action fan, drama fan, etc this movie gets a firm THUMBS UP from me to view. This movie washes the bad taste of the previous film out your mouth and sets up at least two more movies featuring Daniel Craig in the role. Other than a few slow moments in the middle of the film and in my opinion the semi anti climatic ending this movie delivers. Not as good as Casino Royale but better than most action films, Bond or non Bond, out there.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Harang to Zimmermann to Kemp to Victorino to Me


Bottom of the 2nd :

Dodger Pitcher : Aaron Harang
National Hitter : Jordan Zimmerman

Fly out to Center Fielder Matt Kemp
Tossed by Matt Kemp to Left Fielder Shane Victorino
Tossed by Shane Victorino to Me in the stands

.... and that is how I acquired one bucket list item and half of another. One bucket list for me is to attend a game at every baseball park and hopefully it happens to be a Dodger game. A secondary bucket list is to get a ball somehow ( not by buying one ) at the ballpark. The hard part of that is most of these parks I will only ever attend once. In Colorado this year I caught 5 during batting practice and then two tossed to me prior to the game. Kind of surprised it was that easy. Went to a game at Cii Field in New York and was lucky enough to catch a ball during batting practice as I was in the bleachers and it not being a Dodger game made it harder as I didn't have any sympathy from any Dodger players to toss me a ball. Well, the ultimate bucket list ball is to catch a home run ball and that may or may never happen for me as you have to be lucky and to be in the right place at the right time. Well "anyone" can get a foul ball during a game, which is funny since I never have gotten one, but there are only so many 3rd outs during a game and they don't always get thrown into the stands but I was lucky enough to get this ball and the lineage of the ball goes through Kemp which makes it all the more unique. I may never get a home run ball but this is the second closet thing you can get from a regulation game that isn't a foul ball. I hope to one day replace this in the case with a home run ball. Keeping my fingers crossed but not holding my breath.

Bobblehead of the Day : Andre Ethier ( Brooklyn Throwback / Signed )

Up next is a bobblehead that I won from one of the many contests that AngryAlbert runs during his trips to the city of sin, Las Vegas. Check out his blog for unfiltered commentary and said contests. This bobblehead of Andre was given out at Dodger Stadium back in 2011 when I wasn't collecting them at that time. One of my baseball buckets lists is to go to every park and catch a Dodger game and last year I got to go to Colorado and Washington. The trip out east was planned to see friends and go to New York City and of course catch the Boys in Blue. I thought earlier in the season that this series would be big for the two teams as they both would be trying to get into the playoffs. Sad to say the Dodgers were almost done at that time and you could read some of it with their body language. Nonetheless I was going to go and enjoy my time out there. I was only going to be in D.C. for a day and half so I bought tickets for the Tuesday the 18th game but it got rained out even though by game time there was no rain and none for the rest of the night. So I was given tickets for the next day which became a doubleheader but not the seats that I paid for originally because of some stupid rule but that is another rant for another day. Anyways, I headed down to the stadium for batting practice and was surprised that there were a lot of Dodger fans. Expected more in Colorado and there were minimal and expected less in D.C. but had a lot. Guess you never know. So I brought along the Ethier bobblehead in the hope that he would sign along the 3rd base side like he normally does and about 30 minutes prior to the game time he came towards the seats and started signing. I proceeded to walk over as I was finishing with a Kershaw signature which was also nice to acquire. Walked up to Ethier with bobblehead in hand and there were about 10 other people at the time trying to acquire a signature as well. What was funny/irritating was that he started signing everyone around me at occasionally would glance at me and my bobblehead like he didn't want to sign it. I figured he wasn't in the mood to sign figures and I was going to be out of luck but I stood patiently and started talking to him about his food blog and ASU days and I guess that helped and he finally took the bobblehead and signed on the brim of the cap. This is my first autograph on a bobble that was on the brim and I kind of prefer it there now but obviously you need to have a signature that would fit there as all are not as small as Ethier's can be. So mission accomplished. Saw a Dodger game in a different city, acquired an autograph and got a game ball which is another bucket list that I have going. Check the other post on that. Here are the pictures. Thank you again to Angry Albert and his contests and thank you to Andre for taking the time for signing for the fans.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Signed Ball(s) of the Day - Player Appearance Recap : Wally Moon and Charlie Hough ( ROMLB Sweet Spot )

This past Saturday Hall of Fame Sports was holding another one of their Dodgerfest events at Frank and Sons. As always it remains popular and has a fair amount of people attending. The big draw was Magic Johnson followed by the Dodger Infield ( Garvey, Cey, Lopes and Russell ) of yesteryear. But I was actually there Wally Moon and Charlie Hough who don't normally do public signings or at least I have never them do one in the past. Wally Moon made famous the homeruns called "Moon Shots" that went over the left field netting when the Dodgers played at the Coliseum. I knew he "wrote" a book about his career and I was actually hoping he had it there for purchase as most Dodgers that have written books always use these autograph appearances to help also promote their books. I wasn't disappointed as he in fact had it there so I ended up with two autographs and some reading material for another day. The one thing I usually love about the old timers are that they almost always are more cordial and talkative than current stars but that might because there is more demand for the present than the past. Wally was polite and talked to each person that came up and even posed for some pictures. Had my ball and book signed and shook his hand. Man still has a firm grip for his age. Good for him. I was pleased with my purchases and meeting of a early Los Angeles Dodger great.

Charlie Hough was up next. As with Wally he had a great personality and greeted me and others with a smile and hello. The one quirk with me is eye contact. I hate when you go to a signing and especially a paid one and they don't even look at you. Looking at you Tim Salmon. Both Charlie and Wally made the effort and it is appreciated by this autograph collector. Charlie signed the ball and I said my thank yous and shock his hand and I was on my way.

Yet another great Saturday at Frank and Sons for some autographs and hobby shopping. Thank you again for Hall of Fame Sports for putting on the show. The only thing they need to work on is its will call. It sucks and can't get much worse. Hour and half for tickets that were pre purchased and with literally only 25 people in front of me is unacceptable. I think I might put up a picture next time of the "man" that runs the register for a fair warning to others to make sure you are not in his line. I personally seem to be unlucky every time and get him. And no I couldn't chose which line I wanted. Anyways, other than that it was another productive day.

Movie Review : Flight

This movie is about a man that is the pilot on a plane that is traveling somewhere that has a bit of mechanical trouble as the title and previews imply right? A little yes but a lot more no. We are introduced to Whip ( Denzel Washington ) waking up from an all night bender in a hotel room still drunk. He has to head out to the airport for his schedule flight but before doing that he needs to do a line of coke to "level" himself so he can be the functionally addict that he is. His scheduled flight is only about an hour from Florida to Georgia and everything is fine even though there is severe turbulence. About to begin the plane's descent is when everything goes wrong. What follows is a harrowing ten minutes of Whip trying with all his know how to get the plane down without killing everyone on board. He ends up flipping the plane ( no spoiler as its been shown on tv previews ) and levels it off before crash landing in a remote area. Instead of 102 people dead only 6 perish. All things considered he did a miraculous job.

The movie moves from being a special effect/action flick to a human story about addiction and how it effects the person and everyone else around you. Whip ends up meeting a fellow addict named Nicole who is trying to get back on the straight and narrow. Whip tries to avoid all people and for a short time cleans himself up. But like most addicts he falls of the wagon hard and takes everyone down with him. The pilots union led by Charlie tries to get him cleaned up and covers all his mishaps as he has being doing for most of their friendship as they both flew in the war. The union's lawyer, Hugh, played by Don Cheadle is great in "killing" off reports and redirecting Whip's shortcomings to saying everything was either mechanical error or an act of God.

We see that Whip with his addiction has caused his divorce and the distancing of him and his son. Even Nicole who is a recovering addict sees that all Whip is doing is killing himself slowly and anyone that has if not love compassion for him leave. The story finally makes its way to a hearing where it has been arranged due to technicalities that all Whip needs to do is give some vanilla answers to a panel and he should walk away with no harm. His decision and answers will shape a lot of lives and more importantly his. Does he lie like he has his whole life and just live day to day or does he finally figure out enough is enough and he owns what he has done and deals with the repercussions of his actions? Either way is going to hurt a lot of people.

Verdict : Addiction and redemption, trials and tribulations of the actions of people are what the themes are of this movie and it delivers on all levels. Denzel does a great job of being an addict and killing off all love from people. I have and do see a lot of people suffering with alcohol and drug addictions and he comes up with a realistic portrayal of this struggles. The supporting cast is top notch and fleshes out the journey. This movie can be hard for some people to watch due to what is about. Addiction does hurt and possible kill the person doing it but the people around the loved one watching and seeing the decline of their loved ones are the ones that suffer the most and are left with the most heartache at the end of the day. Maybe an addict will watch this movie and have a vision and realize that their life needs to change. I give this movie a strong THUMBS UP. Denzel will probably be up for the Oscar for Best Actor and it would be deserving.

Bobblehead of the Day : Sandy Koufax ( Season Ticket Holder Limited Edition )

On to the next bobblehead in my series of signed and/or variant bobbleheads. Of all the variants I have gotten so far this is my second favorite of them all for various reasons. For one, at this moment he is arguably the best pitcher the Dodgers have ever produced ( Kershaw should exceed him if he stays at his pace ) to this day. He played his entire career in the Dodger uniform and I always love seeing a player stick with the team that he came up with. This is a dying tradition that I sorely miss. After Chipper Jones retired this past year there are not many players signed long term into their mid to late thirties that should stick with their team to the end. Kemp is one but I can't think of another.

It was announced at the beginning of the year that Koufax would finally get his own bobblehead and Dodger Nation was more than ecstatic and ready to get their hands on it and I was part of the crowd. Release date was August 7th and I marked it on my calendar to attend the game. Now the bobblehead that finally came out was nothing really special but it was great to add to the collection. It shows him getting ready to throw the ball to the plate. A pose we have seen on other player's bobbles. Pictures below.

The Dodgers decided to reward a limited amount of season ticket holders ( first come first serve ) as they announced in April that if a person was to order one pair of Baseline All You Can Eat seats to one game you can pick a bobblehead of either Sandy Koufax or Vin Scully of if you bought two pairs you could have both. It was revealed that the Vin Scully bobblehead would be the same that they would release in August as being visually the same but with a button that would play his famous Kirk Gibson walk off home run from Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. More on that bobble another day. The one I really wanted was the Sandy Koufax. We were informed that it would be a totally different pose than the SGA in August. First it would be numbered out of 1,955 which is a relatively small number. Second it would picture him with him standing with four balls in his hands representing his four no-hitters he tossed. It is a famous picture that all Dodger fans are well acquainted with. I've included the picture to show the reference. Well I decided to acquire these so I bought four tickets and resold them so there basically was no cost for me to acquire these two great variants. Finally got the bobbleheads in late July and this Koufax one is great. Not only does it show him in the picture pose with the four balls in his hands but it also has a locker next to him. The locker is a great place to get Mr. Koufax to sign if I am ever lucky enough to bump into him. He is very hard to catch in Spring Training and he doesn't do many public appearances anymore so this might be a long time coming if I am ever to get this signed. Signed or not this is a great looking variant bobblehead and unlike the Fernando blue base or Scully adding a button or some others this one is totally different from the SGA. A great item that I was lucky enough to add to my collection. Enjoy the pictures.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Bobblehead of the Day : Don Newcombe ( Signed )

Don Newcombe made an appearance once again at Frank and Sons in which he was part of another Dodger Day that they hold at least four times a year. I have met Mr. Newcombe before here and received his autograph on a ball but at that time I was not collecting bobbleheads. Since I do now I had to go look for the bobblehead and I am going to assume since it from 8 years ago that is why it is a tad pricer than other ones to acquire. I usually see them on eBay for at least $25 and sometimes ventures into the $30+ territory and this is before you include shipping. Well I kept my eye out and found this auction where it was not the featured item and I seller was nice enough to allow me to do a local pickup which eliminated the shipping charge. I ended up getting this bobble for just $12.50. Not too shabby if I do so say myself.

So off I went to Frank and Sons for Newcombe's autograph on the bobble and also was going to see Wally Moon and Charlie Hough for autographs on some balls ( see other post ).


Mr. Newcombe was cordial as always and shook my hand prior and post autograph. Love that he is still part of the Dodger family. Autograph came out pretty good. His "N" was a tad sloppy but it still looks great to me. Onto the next autograph....

Monday, October 29, 2012

Movie Review : Argo

Ben Affleck proves once more that he has moved on from the disgraced Daredevil and Gigli period of his life as he delivers yet another great directing presentation. This time though he steps in front of the camera as well to be the leading actor of a very talented ensemble cast.

Argo wastes no time in jumping right into the action. This movie is based on true events during the Iran hostage crisis back in the early 80's. We see how protesters finally take over the U.S. embassy in Tehran, Iran and Ben alternates between filmed footage and actual footage from news reports from the day. We witness all employees of the embassy being taken hostage except for six that literally slip through the back door and make their way towards the Canadian Embassy. The become hostages anyways due to them not being able to leave the house they escaped to. As the embassy is being run over the employees frantically try to burn all paperwork and any forms of communication so it does not fall into the hands of the enemy. How things have changed as a furnace and shredder were the go to devices for covering your tracks.

Canada is stuck in hard place as they want to help their friends in U.S. but can't harbor these people anymore as they are in danger as the tension rises within Iran. Back in the U.S. the government goes over multiple bad ideas to find the best of the worst on how to rescue the six. They decide on going with a plan of making a "real" fake movie which will have the six in the guise of a production crew on location for scouting. The U.S. sets up everything from a company that produces it, a reading in front of the media, passports and to the littlest things like the middle name for the hostages. The next hour shows how the tension mounts and all odds are against them as plans are changing hourly with the window of possible escape closing rapidly. They make it to the airport and must go through a few more hoops while trying to board the plane. Since most people that watch this movie know of the Iran hostage crisis it isn't a spoiler that they get out but unless everything fell into place at the right time this story would have ended much differently. At the time this happened Canada took all the credit for the evacuation as the U.S. could not be attached to this but years later it was declassified. Stay through the credits as we see pictures from the actual hostages and the actors that portrayed them. Most of them are dead on. We also get a voice over from former President Carter with some more insight of the situation.

Verdict : The movie moves briskly and doesn't stop til the end. Alan Arkin who plays the producer is the most enjoyable person on screen and deserves at least a supporting actor nod. Ben proves yet again that he has evolved and is flourishing as a director. Watch "The Town" for another of his directorial gems. I give this film a strong THUMBS UP. Also, if you don't like this film then you can go "Argo Fuck Yourself". Watch the movie and you will know what I mean when I say that.

Bobblehead of the Day : Fernando Valenzuela ( Silver Base Version )

This is the second post in a series focusing on my new hobby of collecting autographed and variant versions of bobbleheads. This post was supposed to be about the legendary southpaw Sandy Koufax but I went to the post office today and Fernando had arrived so Sandy will have to wait for another day while we discuss another lefthander.

Just like the Eric Gagne bobblehead I also do not own the "common" version of Fernando but like Gagne I will get it evidently so I can display them side to side.

Commn Version
This in my opinion is the best version of the multiple Fernando's that the Dodgers have produced ( please no more ) as it shows him in his classic "eyes to the sky" look prior to throwing the ball. Unlike the Gagne pewter variant which is different in weight, material, feel, etc the Fernando variant is only differed by the base being painted in silver rather than the traditional Dodger Blue. Many sources have stated that there are only 500 of these silver base variants in existence. Like the Gagne, I was able to pick up this Fernando on eBay at a reasonable cost. Cheaper than the Gagne which kind of surprises me as Fernando has more of a following than Gagne ever had and still has to this day. Anyone that knows Fernando's signature knows that is quite long which will make it very interesting to see how I can try to get him to sign the hat. I've seen a few and it comes out adequate at best. Not sure if I want to risk it. In my opinion and maybe because it is the base and not the actual figure this variant doesn't really stand out per se but I happily add it to my collection and look forward to getting that next variant. Enjoy the pics.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Movie Review : Silent Hill: Revelation

Annoyingly LOUD. This movie can be summed up in those two words either separately or individually. It is constantly loud which is always annoying but when it actually quiets down for a moment here or there for the most part is also annoying. It picks up after the first movie as we meet up with Sharon and her father ( Harry ) in a new city as they discuss new names as they are on the run from something or someone. Harry tries to shield her from the the truth but knows that she is tormented from what she experienced in the past. She ends up going to a new school and alienates herself from everyone except a young boy named Vincent who also happens to a new student. Sharon starts to see weird looking people all around town she senses she is being followed by someone that turns out to be a private eye. After an explanation of why he his being followed she makes it home to find out her father has been kidnapped by The Order of Silent Hill. It is there attempt to get Sharon back to the town as she must come back on her own free will and not dragged. The legend is that with her coming back she can "cure" the town of its evil and the little girl named Alessa who controls it. Vincent talks himself into accompanying Sharon back to town. As they near the town he reveals his true identity and tries to talk Sharon out of going back but she ventures on as she wants to rescue her father.

The rest of the movie involves her going through different parts of the town trying to find her kidnapped father and she confronts some interesting characters. The best being the faceless nurses that only move when they sense movement. A personal favorite of mine from the video games. All of this done though VERY LOUD with the cheap moments meant to scare you. Eventually she makes finds her father and after a battle she really doesn't partake in is rescued. There is a very anti climatic "battle" with Alessa. Once all is said and down the movie sets itself for another sequel.

Verdict : Comparing this to the recent Resident Evil movie, this one has more "depth" which isn't saying much for a horror franchise. I would have enjoyed this movie more if it was quieter and had more of an ending as they need to put this franchise to rest in movie land. A very slight THUMBS UP to watching it if you liked the first one but if you didn't, save your money and watch something a little less pressure on your ears.

Dodger Select-A-Seat Day

The World Series is still being played and yet the Dodgers had their annual Selet-A-Seat Day this past Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Normally they have this event in late January after they know who is renewing their seats and who isn't, but they will still do another one next January, I guess they wanted to get a jump on it and hopefully keep the team in everyone's mind.

I like most people assume have to work during the day on Thursdays and Fridays so like usual I could not go up to the stadium but I didn't want to wait til Saturday as that is open to the public. So instead I sent a proxy ( co-worker ) to go choose a seat that I would want to upgrade to. I've been a season ticket holder since 2006 and have always stayed in the Top Deck due to the low price ( I have actually never sat in my seats but that is another story ). Last year McCourt decided to make the front row in every section more expensive than the rest of the section so I changed my seats from Row A to Row B to save 6 dollars a game. One row, no biggie in my eyes. This year though it changed too dramatically. The new regime changed the Top Deck to having the first 10 rows being priced more than the rest of section. So my tickets went from 5 game to 8 a game. I could also choose to move back but lets just say resale value is highly diminished the further back you go. I decided to look around and saw that they are now offering a Loge Level Value section. And at 10 a game that is not that much considering I would be able to move all the way down from the Top Deck. I normally seat on the Loge or Baseline Seats so I thought I would see what might be available. I prefer to seat on the 3rd base side but not surprisingly there were none available and I think that is because the renewals are not due yet. So I went to plan "B" and picked out two seats on the 1st base side. I am now the proud owner of Loge Level seats and these seats I will actually sit in. Since they are holding another Select-A-Seat in January I will be back to try to change over to the 3rd base side but if for some reason I can't I have a great plan "B" in my eyes. I can't wait for the 2013 season to begin already and that's probably what the Dodgers want me to think. Go Blue.

Old Top Deck View

New Loge Level View From Acutual Seats ( 1, 2 )

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Bobblehead of the Day : Eric Gagne ( Pewter / Limited Edition )

So prior to this year I was never really got into bobbleheads. I actually went to bobblehead games and sold them to offset the cost of going to the games. This year had the special 50th anniversary bobbles and again it really didn't perk my interest. That is until sometime in April I started looking at my autograph collection and wondered what I would start collecting after I get all the signed baseballs I wanted. As Kemp is my favorite ( as alot of people are in the same boat as me ) active player on the roster I thought it might be cool to get a bobble signed by him. The following day the Dodgers sent out a letter to season ticket holders stating if you bought tickets to a game or two in the all you can eat baseline seats ( highly expensive ) you would be allowed to acquire two special edition bobbleheads. The immortal Sandy Koufax and Vin Scully. I thought that would be a nice thing to have in my collection considering the limited quantity of both of them. Then that same day, I read on Dodgerbobble's blog about the special edition bobbles that have come out over the years and low and behold one of them was of Kemp. I decided then to try to acquire all the special edition bobbles and if possible to get them signed by the players. So now I'm going to start a series of bobblehead posts. Well I did acquire the Kemp, Sandy and Vin and along the way some others. But more on those another day as today I want to discuss Eric Gagne...

Anyone that was a Dodger fan in the early 2000's remembers the sound of Welcome to the Jungle blaring through the sound system at Dodger stadium prior to the start of the 9th inning. It meant to two things, Eric Gagne and game over. Eric gave us a reason to stay til the end of the game instead of leaving in the 7th/8th inning like Dodger fans are notorious for. Which by the way, we do, but every other fan base does the same too we just did it first. Eric was given his first bobble in 2003 but the second one given out a year later in 2004 depicted him in the pose we all became familiar with. It was given out to commemorate him winning the Cy Young Award the previous year and it shows him with his mouth wide open and fist in the air as he records the final out in a save situation. A common occurrence for almost three years.

Now I don't actually own that bobble as of yet but I am sure I will pick it up shortly as I would want to be able to display the variant next to the common version.

So the search began and I saw the pewter one up for sale on eBay and thought why not as I waited for my Vin and Sandy to arrive to try to get another variant sooner. Well a week later I was the the high bidder and winner of this pewter variant of Eric Gagne.

From what I have read there are only 500 made of these. As you can see on the box it states limited edition. I've heard they were sold at the Top of Stadium store when the normal version was given out. When you first take the bobble out of the box you can tell a major difference from the typical bobbleheads. It is heavier since it is not made of resin like most bobbles and that makes it more sturdy and less likely to be broken while handled and it is cool to the touch as it pewter. Under the base is a felt bottom unlike the normal bobbles that have nothing. Now I am thinking of someday of getting this signed which would make it more unique but I don't know of a good pen. Oil base sharpie anyone?

So this came in right before I received my Vinny and Sandy special editions and I think it is a great way to start my collection of Dodger Bobbleheads and more specifically variants. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Movie Review : Paranormal Activity 4

So we have reached part 4 in the Paranormal series and like all franchises that reach this number and more so with the horror genre you can see where it is growing long in the tooth. We are now introduced to a new family that lives in Henderson, NV but before that we are given a refresher how we got here and we see Katie from the first two movies in the series as she leaves with her nephew Hunter and they have both been unseen since then. The family consists of the typical All-American version of father, wife and daughter and son. The daughter ( Alex ) and her little brother ( Wyatt ) are close as they watch from the outside their parents strained marriage. Alex and her boyfriend ( Ben ) witness a mysterious young boy ( Robbie ) around  neighborhood and find out that he lives next door with his mother who one night is taken away by paramedics and Alex's parents take Robbie in to help the mom out.

Now, if you have watched the first two movies ( the third was based in the past so not too tied into the other three ) this one follows the same recipe of the slow burn to the inevitable climax.  It is hinted that Robbie may or not be Hunter from the first two films as he states he is adopted. As Wyatt and Robbie become closer we see the relationship evolve more into a recruitment of Wyatt by Robbie but for what we don't know. Alex and Ben film everything that happens ( as the rest of the series as done ) and they bear witness to weird happenings within the house. One involves the XBOX Kinect which I found interesting and makes me wonder what mine does at home when I sleep. As the movie progresses towards its end the spirit(s) turn more violent as wee see what the true goal is of it/them. Is Robbie really Hunter? What role if any does Katie play in all this? And will people ever learn to leave a house if it makes noises when no noise should be being made?

The movie closes with yet another cliffhanger even though we see what could pass as an ending. If you have kept up with the series you know what they plan to do and branch off from this story so you need to stay after the credits to see that foundation being set.

Verdict : If you never saw the other one films you can pass on this but if you enjoy horror flicks or a completest in movie franchises then I give this a slight THUMBS UP to go and watch this but you can watch it at home and it wouldn't lose any of it's desired effect.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Stanley ( Cup ) and I

It took 45 years but our beloved Los Angeles Kings finally won the elusive Stanley Cup. Though I consider the Dodgers my one true love ( sportswise ) the Kings are a strong second. As with the Dodgers, us King fans have had to endure many heartbreaking and unsatisfying seasons. Year in and year out we had to see teams raise the cup when sometimes on paper it looked like we should have done so much better. Wait til next year finally became this year. We became the first 8th seed team to win it's sports championship.

Though I did not get to attend any of the Cups final I was attached to whatever tv was near that had the game on. The cup is a unique trophy as it has such lineage though the sports history. Unlike the other major sports, there is only one cup and it is passed year in and year out to the champion. Living in the South Bay area and most of the Kings players also residing here the cup made numerous tours but I either could not attend them or it was attended by literally thousands so I had no chance of getting close to touch and/or take a picture with the cup. I thought I would miss my chance to touch history.... til tonight.

L.A. Live was holding its first "Rocktoberfest" and Kings send out via twitter and email that you cold purchase tickets prior to the event and have your picture taken with the cup. I was not going to pass that up so I purchased my ticket and hoped that when I arrived that the line would not be long and to my delight it was not. I was finally in the presence of the Stanley Cup and I was going to have my picture taken with it.

Bob Miller and Jim Fox were on hand as well and I was fortunate enough to talk to both and have them sign individual pucks. Jim was having fun with fans jumping in and out of photos all night and Bob was a real class act and humble as can be. Reminds me of the great Vin Scully. May Vin be lucky enough to announce at least one more Dodger championship run before he retires from his hall of fame career.