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.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

. . . I'm Back . . . It's Been Awhile

A year has passed since I was last on the blogging scene and mostly that was due to me losing focus and direction on what the past blog ( our town our dodgers ) was going to be about. I will continue to do Dodger posts obviously but no more comic reviews which were not really reviews but more whole story retellings that were long and drawn out. I will do the major movie reviews still but will try to do those better as they also leaned more towards storytelling rather than non-spoiler reviews. Up first will be Paranormal Activity 4 that comes out this Friday.

The main thing I want to and will strive to focus on is the collecting side of sports. I am an avid autograph collector and go to tons of athlete appearances. I have now started to get into bobbleheads but I really only want the special edition versions and on top of that I want them signed by the athlete. I will be posting those up shortly.

Though I don't expect many followers/readers, any and all will be appreciated and I would love any input that you might have.