Saturday, July 31, 2010

Reds Beat Braves

The Cincinnati Reds finally beat the Atlanta Braves, 5-2. Now before I talk about today's great win, I'm going to rant. I've seen enough of Drew Stubbs as a starter. He simply doesn't make enough contact at the plate. He strikes out way too much. He has show little ability to adapt since it's clear every pitcher in the league is throwing every breaking ball known to man at him and he has not learned how to hit it. Start either Chris Heisey or Laynce Nix.

Okay, enough with Stubbs. After losing the last three games with the Braves, the Reds have finally beat the Braves. And it was a wild one. It didn't start too good with the Braves scoring two runs in the first. Winning pitcher Bronson Arroyo got out of the inning by inducing a double play with the bases loaded. The Reds took the lead in the seventh. It was capped off with Ryan Hanigan's two run double. He scored when the centerfielder's throw slipped off his hand and went into right field! That's the closest that Hanigan will ever get to an inside the park homerun. Here's the story with that highlight. Francisco Cordero (Coco) did his "Fullpack" imitation by letting two guys get on before striking out Jason Heyward for the final out. Coco is determined to kill everyone in Cincinnati with a weak heart. But a win is a win. Go Reds!

New Milestone for the Basement Blog

I've been sick for the last week or so. Yeah, some of you say I've been sick for the last thirty years. Ha. So, you're going to get an inane blog post, because I'm bored. Well, this is for the two of you who read this blog. We've reached a new milestone. Along with this blog being launched one year ago, this month we've averaged one post per day. First time in the history of this blog. What? You're not entertained? Well, just go to the Star Trek Post Categories and check out the links to top ten Star Trek Original Series shows. That's ten hours of great science fiction.

Hope for the New Green Lantern Movie

Okay, the news from Comic-Con and the Entertainment Weekly story about Green Lantern has rejuvenated my inner child. It's been some time since I've thought about Green Lantern since I read the comics. And recently seeing the excellent animated feature "Green Lantern: First Flight" has got me excited for the new movie coming out in 2011.

So far from what I can tell, the new movie has been cast well. Ryan Reynolds looks perfect as Hal Jordan aka the Green Lantern. (pictured right) The cast also includes Angela Bassett, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong as Sinestro (remember him in Kick Ass?), the beautiful Blake Lively, and Oscar winner Timothy Robbins.

Now let's hope for some real aliens as the other Green Lanterns. And I mean some non-humanoid or at least ones that are clearly not human. There's the bear like Kilowog. One of the cool looking aliens part of the Green Lantern corps is Tomar Re. (pictured) I certainly hope to see these cool looking aliens in the new movie. The only one I am not enamored with is the squirrel like Green Lantern, Ch'p. He looks kind of ridiculous. If the movie needs comic relief, they can get some of that from Kilowog.

And if it's not in this movie, I hope to see the conflict between the fascist Sinestro and Hal Jordan. It would be a great theme to see Hal fight Sinestro's desire for power and his need to use to control the universe. This need to fight totalitarianism is reflected in Green Lantern's oath.

"In brightest day, in blackest night,
No evil shall escape my sight
Let those who worship evil's might,
Beware my power... Green Lantern's light!"

It's the part about fighting those who worship evil's might that reflects the Green Lantern Corps battle against fascism. Anyway, the oath gets my blood going. Let's hope the 2011 movie is a good one.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Green Lantern: First Flight DVD Review

After reading about the upcoming Green Lantern film (2011), I ran into a Warner DVD from 2009 about Green Lantern, called "Green Lantern: First Flight." When I was a kid, I liked Green Lantern but forgot about him long ago. After watching this DVD, I was reminded why I liked Green Lantern. It was a cool sci-fi story.

Green Lantern: First Flight is an origin story. It's the story of test pilot Hal Jordan (Christopher Meloni) who gets a power ring from a dying alien, Abin Sur. The ring allows Hal Jordan to join the Green Lantern Corps, an interstellar police force. The Guardians led by Appa Ali Apsa (William Schallert, Star Trek "The Trouble with Tribbles" sweet, The Patty Duke Show) oversee the Green Lantern corps, and don't believe this human is qualified to be part of the corp. Fellow Green Lantern Sinestro (Victor Garber, Alias) volunteers to take Jordan under his wing and train him. The first mission? Jordan escorts Sinestro on the investigation of who killed Abin Sur.

Alan Burnett's screenplay respects the source material primarily by telling the details of the story of Green Lantern. Director Lauren Montgomery keeps the tale epic and heroic. Jordan may joke about his situation but he still comes off as a noble guy. The animation is a mix of CGI and traditional 2D. It's done in a refreshing realistic style. And unlike Warner's previous "Gotham Knight" DVD, the narrative is consistent, primarily because unlike "Knight" the animation is the same. Robert Kral's score will give you goose bumps and make you believe that a green ring can empower a man with superpowers.

The voice performances are outstanding. Meloni gives Jordan a modern spin. While Victor Garber really sells his fascist beliefs as Sinestro. If you thought he was a bad ass as the CIA operative in Alias, in this DVD, he's ruthless in his ends justifies the means of operation. Michael Madsen is bear like as the hulking alien Green Lantern, Kilowog.

The animated feature doesn't skimp when it comes to alien Green Lantern corps members. There are clear non-humanoid creatures. That's the cool part I remember as a kid. The film does have one problem. It's too short. We leap quickly into space without knowing anything about Jordan. But that's a small complaint. If you love Green Lantern, get this DVD. The two disc special edition is recommended as there are short documentaries on the Green Lantern, two Justice League cartoons and the funny Daffy Duck spoof, "The Green Loontern." Let's hope the 2011 movie is as good as this animated feature. The grade is A.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Oh No T.O.

Okay, the Cincinnati Bengals are going to sign Terrell Owens, possibly the biggest diva in the history of the NFL. He's been known to be a cancer in the locker room and routinely throws quarterbacks under the bus. Jeff Garcia. Donavan McNabb. Tony Romo. Sigh. Again, this is the same pattern of Bengals owner Mike Brown of signing guys who have troubled pasts. After getting burned by Stanley Wilson in the 1989 Super Bowl you would think the Bengals would have learned their lesson. No. Peter Warrick. Justin Smith. Odell Thurman. Jason Shirley. Tank Johnson. Oh,and don't forget a guy named Chris Henry. Now wide receiver Terrell Owens. Oh no, TO.

What's going to happen when TO complains that he's not getting enough passes thrown to him? Since QB Carson Palmer wanted him, I hope he's got one of those horse muzzles if he gets out of line.

Let's hope he looks this good for the Bengals.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Salt Film Review

You know the expression, "Art imitates life" or vice versa, "Life imitates art." There are times in cinema history where a movie comes out at a time when its subject matter is a headline in the news. This happened in 1979 when The China Syndrome, a film about a nuclear plant accident, came out and then the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster happened. Director Phillip Noyce's film, Salt, about Russian sleeper agents comes out right when the United States has recently uncovered real sleeper agents though not even close to the danger the fictional ones in Salt posed. The question for Salt is whether it's as good as The China Syndrome.

Angelina Jolie plays Evelyn Salt, CIA agent. She's happily married to German arachnologist Mike Krause. (August Diehl) Salt is ready to celebrate her marriage anniversary when a Russian defector named Orlov (Daniel Olbrychski) is brought in to be interrogated. Salt would rather run home to be with her husband but decides to question Orlov at least for a short period. Bad idea. Orlov announces that there are KGB sleeper agents in the United States and that Salt is one of them. Their current plan? Assassinate the Russian president in town for the funeral of the Vice President of the United States. The purpose? Start a war between the United States and Russia. It's kind of like the plan in the James Bond movie, "The Spy Who Loved Me." (1977) The CIA determines Orlov is telling the truth. Led by agent Peabody, (Chiwetel Ejiofor) the CIA arrests Salt. Unfortunately for Peabody, Salt and Orlov escape. How did we win the Cold War? But I digress, Peabody and now Salt's CIA partner (Liev Schreiber) hunt her down.

It's hard to follow this movie with all the plot holes. Screenwriter Kurt Wimmer trades exposition for kinetic energy. Director Noyce uses the hand held camera the same way the Bourne movies did. It moves all over the place, at times inducing nausea to the audience. The effect? The film is constant action. There's no room to breathe. That could be bad, if I weren't wondering why Salt was doing all the things she was doing. It was both intriguing and irritating. Once you get her motivation, you realize the problem of this movie. Wimmer handles it in a cold manner like the Potomac river in the winter. Hopefully, this won't give the story away, but this could have been solved if Wimmer and Noyce had given more time between Salt and Krause. Of course, that would require the film to slow down somewhere.

The action scenes are well done. It's clear the filmmakers wanted as much actual filmed action as possible avoiding CGI. Yes, there are some over the top pieces where you question that any spy can be that good. But overall, you can believe that a superspy like Salt could do most of those daring feats. Jolie is beautiful but in a kind of thin model way. She's a little too skinny. She does allow her face to be bloodied, so I commend her for setting aside vanity. Still, she gives a believable performance.

Evelyn Salt is different kind of heroine. Her motivations are not so clear. That is what makes this movie different from your hero wearing the white hat story. I would like to see further Salt movies. I can't say this film was better than "The China Syndrome", but it was an exciting ride. The grade is B.

The Geek Shall Inherit The Earth

I've come to the realization that geeks like me, are often made fun of. I mean check out the Onion video below about Trekkers complaining about the 2009 Star Trek movie. Yeah, we're not pretty and let's face it, we're nerds. And the biggest geek festival, Comic-Con just ended. Yet, Hollywood takes Comic Con very seriously. So seriously they introduce upcoming movies and lend their stars to generate buzz. How's that for irony? The cool and the beautiful coming to the geeks for approval. Check out Angelina Jolie at this year's Comic-Con.

Maybe the geeks need better public relations. After all, they are the ones who are the customers, and bestow excitement for a project. That means they have power over the success of Hollywood movies. So, how about a little respect? By the way, I can laugh at myself and so can many geeks because I love the Onion video.

Anyway back to Comic-Con, check out Blake Lively talking about her upcoming film, "Green Lantern." (2011) And take a look at some of the lovely geeks in Trek costumes from

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Keith Olbermann On The Shirley Sherrod Incident

Listen up President Obama. Here's Keith Olbermann on the witch hunt of Shirley Sherrod. Mr. President, note that Keith urges you to fight these right-wing idiots. Keith is particularly passionate, powerful and eloquent in this commentary.

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Right- Wing Conservatives Destroy Woman

You may have heard the story of African American Shirley Sherrod. She gave a speech on racism in which she told the story when she was working for Georgia twenty four years ago about not helping a white farmer as best as she as could. The whole point was to show how she overcame her feelings and reached an understanding on the plights that faced both white and blacks. She did help that farmer.

Well, right-wing conservative Andrew Breibart posted video of her speech. Of course, Fox News jumped all over it. However, according to Media Matters Breibart posted only a short portion to make it look like she did that to a farmer while she was working for the Obama administration. Obama and Agriculture Secretary Vilsack fired her because frankly they're gutless. Well, after everyone figured out the context of the speech and THE ACTUAL FARMERS DEFENDED SHERROD FOR HELPING THEM, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs says Sherrod deserves an apology. Vilsack later apologized.

Here's Media Matters story.

Rachel Maddow did a story demonstrating Fox News' hypocrisy over the issue. She uses Fox's own clips. Steve Doocy is such a two face.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Confused About Who Is The Tea Party?

Confused about who represents the Tea Party? Tea Party Nation. Tea Party Express. Tea Party Patriots. Oy! Well Rachel Maddow explains it all for you in this video or at least she tries. And she also reads more of Tea Party Express' Mark Williams racist parody letter which he removed from his site and which got him disavowed from the Tea Party Nation.

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Sharktopus Movie Trailer

Coming to SyFy (ugh) is this cinematic masterpiece from Oscar winner Roger Corman called Sharktopus. Check out the trailer below. Is that Eric Roberts? Oy. Just remember Corman launched the careers of Jonathan Demme, James Cameron, and Martin Scorsese.

Okay, I have to admit it. I can't take my eyes off this. It's so god awful stupid, yet .... I want to see it because it looks funny in a bad movie way. And you can guess the plot from the trailer. Crazy scientist Eric Roberts invents hybrid creature, half shark- half octopus. It goes crazy. But I bet you can't guess how Eric Roberts dies in it. Since the sharktopus likes eating girls in bikinis, I bet he won't like Roberts. He doesn't seem to have a hankering for ham!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Inception Film Review

I wrote that sometimes when a director films his own screenplay, disasters may happen. Well, sometimes when a director films his own screenplay, masterpieces can be made. See Citizen Kane. (1941) That's because the director is not forced to compromise on his artistic vision for commercial reasons. Director-writer Christopher Nolan has demonstrated the skill, originality and creativity when it comes to filmmaking. He is fearless. Memento. (2000) Dark Knight. (2008) And now he has created another great film, in Inception.

Inception is the story of corporate spy, Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) who with technology can enter a person's dreams to steal secrets. Now stealing secrets in a mind is usually imagined as going to a safe and stealing its contents. At least that's what it looks like in the dream world. Businessman Saito (Ken Wantanabe) hires him to do something far more difficult. He must enter a mind of Saito's competitor and plant an idea. He wants Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy) to break up his father's empire by selling it off. That's the idea to plant. Think of planting an idea as kind of a Jedi Mind Trick. You know, where Obi Wan Kenobi controls the actions of a stormtropper. "These aren't the Droids you're looking for." The problem with planting an idea is that the "target" must think it's his own idea.

Along with Saito, Cobb forms his team. The team consists of Arthur (Joseph Gorden-Levitt), Eames (Tom Hardy), Yusef (Dileep Rao) and rookie Ariadne (Ellen Page). Their impossible mission is to go deep into Fischer's subconscious and plant the idea. Not only do that, Cobb decides to base the idea on a positive, cathartic emotion. What that all means is that the team goes into three layers of dreams to complete the mission. The advantage? The team is aware in each dream of their whereabouts, allowing them to somewhat manipulate the environment. The disadvantage? You must be in a dream state to access another mind. Unfortunately for Cobb, that means his memories of his late wife, Mal (Marion Cotillard), who appears in missions.

There are some dream concepts in the film. The idea of falling and dying in dreams are featured. Nolan keeps the dream sequences grounded in reality. There are no gigantic white rabbits here. But expect an occasional freight train to crash the scene out of nowhere or see Ariadne bend half the city at a ninety degree angle. But keeping the dreams grounded in reality makes us question the reality of what we're seeing. Which is exactly what certain dreams feel like.

The actors who play Cobb's team give their characters a subtle confidence. Ellen Page is used for exposition but is so cute, that Nolan has an actor plant a kiss on her in a lighter moment. DiCaprio does an excellent job as a man who has secret buried within his own subconscious. As typical with Nolan, the actions pieces are well shot and done realistically. They feel as if there was an attempt to use as little CGI as possible. One of the dreams takes place at a well guarded mountain base. It feels real and also looks like a videogame at the same time. That makes it seem like a dream. It could be the lighting or the fact the scene just appears out of the second dream. If there is any weakness to this film, it is confusing. But it might require multiple viewings. I'm sure Warner who released this classic, is smiling about that.

Inception is an intelligent, exciting, thought provoking film. It will make you think about what is real and what isn't. It's not often you get this type of film released during the middle of summer. The grade is A+.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Sorcerers's Apprentice Movie Review

Producer Jerry Bruckheimer has mined various other genres of entertainment for movies. He took a ride from Disneyland, and extrapolated it into a movie, "Pirates of the Caribbean." (2003) He took a videogame and expanded that into a movie, "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time." (2010) What next? The teacup ride at Disneyland? Nope. This time he goes to the Disney classic, "Fantasia." (1940) Specifically, he takes Mickey Mouse segment called "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" with music from Paul Dukas and turns it into a full length movie.

The movie starts out in the past, eighth century England. Sorcerer Merlin has three apprentices, Balthazar (Nicholas Cage, Leaving Las Vegas), Veronica (Monica Bellucci) and Horvath. (Alfred Molina, Raiders of the Lost Ark) In a battle with evil Morgana (Alice Krige, Star Trek: First Contact), Merlin is fatally stabbed. Horvath has sided with Morgana. Morgana's plan? Unleash the Borg from the Delta quadrant to assimilate earth. Um, sorry that's when Krige played the Borg queen in Star Trek. Okay, her plan is to unleash the dead sorcerers to form an army to conquer the world. Veronica stops Morgana by sucking up her soul. Balthazar then uses a magic doll to capture Veronica-Morgana and Horvath. Before he dies, Merlin tells Balthazar that his descendant will be the only one who can defeat Morgana. Made immortal by Merlin, Balthazar searches the planet for the one.

We flash forward to the year 2000, where Balthazar is running an antique shop in New York. A young ten year old Dave stumbles into his store where Balthazar discovers he is the one. Unfortunately for the planet, Balthazar keeps the doll out on the showroom. Yes, he doesn't store the item that contains the greatest evil in a safe place! That's because Dave is a klutz and drops the doll which releases Horvath. Balthazar and Horvath fight it out before Balthazar uses an enchanted vase to suck them both in for the next ten years. Flash forward to 2010. Balthazar and Horvath escape. Horvath is looking for the doll while Balthazar is looking for Dave, now played by Jay Baruchel. Balthazar finds Dave and convinces him to be his apprentice and train for the upcoming battle.

This is the year of the Baruchel. He gets the blond babe in "She's Out of My League", the blond babe Becky (Teresa Palmer) in this movie, and the dragon in "How to Train Your Dragon." Okay, the dragon doesn't count. I mean he's part of my tribe, the geeks. Yet, in this movie he's the problem. I get that he's supposed to be a brilliant physics nerd. But unless you're Bauchel's mother, he's hard to like. He whines in a mumbling nasal voice. He's got that thick furry mop of hair. His performance was getting annoying. Nicholas Cage comes off kind of distant as if he doens't believe in the material. That's a bigger problem with Baruchel. During the times he must use magic, you don't really get the feeling he believes in it. That's deadly. Alfred Molina is good as always. That's because he believes in what he is doing. Maybe, it's because bad guys can be more interesting than the good guys. Spoiler Alert for Trekkers. Alice Krige seems to have trouble with plasma in her movies.

Director John Turteltaub (National Treasure) drives the action like Balthazar drives his car. No let up. The car chases are exciting. And this is how you do fight scene at night, with plenty of lighting and no confusion. Yet, the movie is cold. That goes to how well Cage and Baruchel believe in their characters. I didn't buy it. By the way, the resurrected sorcerers look like the Smoke Monster in Lost. So, that's what the Smoke Monster is.

If you're bored, you might like Sorcerer's Apprentice. And if you support Baruchel's career, see it. Because at the end of the credits, there's a hint of a sequel. But if you want a guilty pleasure at the movies, see "The A Team" before this time waster. The grade is C+. Here's a clip from the movie.

Glenn Beck Implies Jews Killed Jesus

Glenn Beck basically says on his show that the Jews killed Jesus. He also says that Fox News head Roger Ailes was part of the Civil Rights Movement. Oy Vey. Get this guy a psychiatrist. Keith Olbermann explains it all for you. This is from last night's show.

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Taliban is Training Soldier Monkeys

Yesterday, Keith Olbermann cites a New York Post story that the Taliban is training monkeys to be soldiers. He has great fun with it, on his "Worst Persons" segment. He also includes the obligatory Chinese re-enactment. Check it out.

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Tea Party Leader Implies NAACP Are Lazy

In a fake letter from NAACP Ben Jealous to Abraham Lincoln, Tea Party Express spokesman Mark Williams implies the NAACP wants bailouts and big government because they are lazy. This is the face of the Tea Party, the big movement in the Republican Party. I know Williams is claiming it's satire. But the letter is in the tone that he believes are the positions of the NAACP. Implying blacks are lazy, i.e. they want government to look after them is completely racist. Here's Williams post. At the bottom is Keith Olbermann's commentary.

Update: The Tea Party Federation has disavowed Tea Party Express and Mark Williams from the Federation for the letter. Williams has since removed the "parody" letter. In the Huffington Post link, NAACP Ben Jealous disavows the New Black Panther Party. By the way, the NBPP has about twelve members according to Jealous.

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Fox News Becomes a Fundraisng Tool for Angle

Last night's "Worst Persons of the World" segment by Keith Olbermann on Countdown, points out that Tea Party Republican senate candidate Sharron Angle stated that she doesn't go on mainstream media because they wouldn't let her ask for money. Yet, Fox News did. Keith makes a comment and joke that Fox is a fundraising tool of the Republican Party. The segment also includes the crazy video of the woman who wants Glenn Beck to run for president. She looks like Tammy Faye Baker's sister. And then he finishes it with Rush Limbaugh's stupid comments on race and George Steinbrenner's death. Check it out.

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Tea Party Spokesman Calls NAACP Racist

Here's another reason why I don't support the Tea Party. We've already seen an Iowa Tea Party group compare Obama to Hitler and Lenin. Recently, the NAACP passed a resolution to ask the Tea Party to repudiate racist signs and language. Instead of agreeing with that simple, just and good sentiment, Tea Party Express spokesman called the NAACP, a racist movement. Okay, that's like comparing Obama to Hitler. As I said before, Hitler killed millions of Jews and believed in Aryan superiority. And if you don't believe there's racists in the Tea Party movement, check out this NAACP post with photos.

And stop with the "The Tea Party is a libertarian movement." No. They're just another brand of conservative Republican. I've heard no one in the national movement support a woman's right to chose, the First Amendment etc.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Taranis, The New Unmanned Combat Jet

Great Britain has unveiled its new unmanned combat jet (Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle "UCAV") , designed to deliver missiles on targets where the Britain does not have air dominance. It's called Taranis which is Celtic for the god of thunder. Here's the news story about the plane. Without a cockpit, it looks like something out of a science fiction story. Unmanned jet fighter gets hit by lightening and goes all HAL 9000 on us. Oh, that's the 2005 movie "Stealth."

Tea Party Group Compares Obama to Hitler

An Iowa Tea Party Group is running a billboard with pictures of Hitler and Lenin and comparing them to President Obama. First, it just shows you how ignorant these right-wing yahoos are. Hitler was a fascist who slaughtered millions of Jews. Lenin was a communist. Okay, you right-wing yahoos, I've been a Democrat and have attended meetings and have never heard people asking to support Marxist-Leninist philosophies. And combining fascism and socialism is just schizophrenic and ignorant. Second, demonizing Obama could lead to violence. If you are going to compare him to the most evil man of the twentieth century, some right-wing whack job is going to commit an act of domestic terrorism. See Timothy McVeigh. Third, Obama is like Hitler? Really? Are you guys nuts? Oh, never mind. Hitler believed in Aryan superiority. Obama is half black! Here's the news article about the billboard.

Hope for the Second Half

My prayer for the the second half of the season for my beloved Cincinnati Reds.

Drew Stubbs make better contact.
Jay and Jonny start hitting again.
Keep it up, starting pitching.
Francisco Cordero stop doing the "Fullpack" routine.
Guys don't wilt during the August West Coast trip.

We can win this. And I mean all of it. You heard that. I mean the World Series. Go Reds! (Brandon Phillips pictured.)

Baseball Cincinnati Style

"That's what we do in Cincinnati! We go first to third." A miked Brandon Phillips at yesterday's All-Star Game on Scott Rolen taking third from first on a single. Go Reds!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Reds Have Too Many Arms

Yes, I know the Cincinnati Reds lost today. So what? The rookie Travis Wood threw nine innings of one hit, shutout baseball. He had a perfect game going into the ninth. Take a look at the rotation when guys start to come off the DL. Bronson Arroyo. Aaron Harang (DL). Johnny Cueto. Former All Star Edinson Volquez. (DL)Travis Wood. Homer Bailey. (DL) Oh, I forgot Mike Leake. Volquez and Harang will be here after the All Star break. That's six good arms. And what if Bailey comes back? There's an adage in baseball, you can never have too much starting pitching.

The Reds tried to get Cliff Lee this week and failed. Cliff who?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Despicable Me 3D Movie Review

The animated film Despicable Me starts out with the theft of the Great Pyramid by upcoming geek criminal Vector. (Jason Segel) Not to be outdone, super villain Gru (Steve Carell) hatches a plan to steal the moon. But he needs funding and in one of the funniest sight gags this year, he seeks a loan from an evil bank whose old name will have you in stitches. It goes by fast, so pay attention. Gru pitches his plan to the banker. It requires Gru to shrink the moon. The banker won't offer the loan until Gru gets a shrink gun.

Gru gets the shrink gun from a secret base. But Vector steals it from him and takes the gun to his well protected futuristic home. Gru finds that he can't penetrate Vector's home. That it is until he sees three orphan sisters, Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier), and Agnes (Elsie Fisher) gain entrance by making a cookie sale to Vector. Gru's gets an idea. Adopt the orphans and when they deliver the cookies, sneak in and steal the gun. Then fly to the moon and shrink it. Steal it. It all sounds good until the little girls melt his frosty exterior.

Steve Carell gives Gru a kind of Hungarian accent. And it seems the animators patterned Gru's motions around Carell. So his comic timing looks like Gru's actions. The girls are appropriately cute. Julie Andrews as Gru's mother is good but is wasted with little in dialogue. She really could have destroyed her nice girl image ala S.O.B. (1981)

Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul's screenplay is funny without the Shrek bombardment of pop culture references. Directors Pierre Coffin and Chirs Renaud give the movie a surreal look that breaks the mold. They also respect 3-D or 3D. What I mean by this, is that they realize that they are making the movie in this dimension. They fully utilize it or as they advertise it, in eye popping 3D. That means you the audience will get your money's worth. I hate it when filmmakers get snobby and deemphasize 3D. Then why make it in 3D? Here, they don't and it looks good. I also respect that they made a movie for the whole family, not just for little kids. The movie has a Looney Tunes vibe and will have adults laughing with the kids.

Despicable Me is one of the best animated films of the year. It's as funny as Get Him to the Greek , and a movie that the whole family will love. And by the way, his yellow Minions are a riot! Check 'em out in the trailer below. One last thing, stay through the credits for the Minions' jokes at the 3D craze. The grade is A.

Votto Voted In

Joey Votto was voted in by the fans for one of the final two roster spots on this year's All Star Team. Congratulations Joey and to you, Reds Nation.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Jon Stewart Shows American Hypocrisy

Yesterday, the Daily Show had a great show about American hypocrisy about Muslims. NASA administrator made an innocuous comment about outreaching to the Muslim world that was attacked by Fox News. Jon Stewart showed that President Ronald Reagan wanted to use the space program to reach out to the Russians, then our adversaries. Stewart then went out to show that Christians are upset because the Muslims want to proselytize unlike the Christians who are told by their Bible to do the same. By the way, I am a Christian. Thank you Jon for smart and funny commentary.

Here's his commentary. Sorry about not being able to embed. Blogger seems to have trouble with the Daily Show and Stephen Colbert. So, come back for more incisive views by Bernie the Basement Blogger. :)

Bonus: Here's his hilarious commentary about the Queen of England being forced to cut back because of the lack of state funds. USA! USA! USA!

Rush Limbaugh Says Obama President Because He's Black

This is why I'm not a conservative Republican. Rush Limbaugh who is basically the head of the conservative Republicans, said on July 6, 2010 that if Obama weren't black he'd be a tour guide in Hawaii or a constitutional law professor in Chicago. Here's the Media Matters' post. In a Worst Person of the World segment, Keith Olbermann also points out that Limbaugh also credits Oprah's success to her being black. With the GOP's southern strategy, designed to appeal to racism to win presidential elections, this is why I think many conservative Republicans are racists. Anyway, check out Keith's comments and his very funny spoof of a fictional Glenn Beck product.

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

New Mass Effect 2 Mining Patch

Last week, I downloaded an upgrade for my copy of Mass Effect 2 from XBOX Live. Don't worry, it was free. One of the things that I noticed was there was a change in the mining of planets. The target cursor now was much larger, perhaps twice the size as the original. Scanning now, there is none of that dragging the target through mud in the past. The planets spin rather quickly. What this does is that it is now much faster to mine a planet. And that was one of the biggest complaints for Mass Effect 2, the sleep inducing tedium of scanning, and minning of planets.

I applaud Bioware for improving a game after it has been placed on the market. That just shows you that the software company has been listening to the complaints. In my gaming experience, I can't remember a company improve a game after it was released. I mean I've seen patches for bugs but this is an attempt to improve a game. I've called Mass Effect 2 a masterpiece with flaws. I applaud Bioware for their efforts to seek perfection. Can't wait for Mass Effect 3.

Vote Votto

Look, Cincinnati Reds' Joey Votto got screwed by not being placed on the All-Star team. I won't go over his numbers since the song below does it for me. But look at this statistic. He clearly is a better hitter with runners in scoring position than Phillies' Ryan Howard who got on the team because his manager Charlie Manuel is the freaking manager of National League squad. You got one last chance, Reds Nation. Vote for Votto on the Reds official website. By the way, Votto blasted two home runs last night against the New York Mets, which was the margin of victory.

Votto: .311 RISP

Howard: .250 RISP

Monday, July 5, 2010

Lost Sucks, Part 3.

Okay, Rabid Losties, pop quiz. One of the big problems of season six is the failure to answer major questions. And before you Rabid Losties attack me, think about this. The Island was a major hook for the show. Yes, we watched the character study but the Island was practically a character. It drove all the action. And many of us watched the intrique with the goal of answering the mysteries. So Rabid Losties, answer the following questions. A correct answer must have a reference to the show, season, action or dialogue. No, theorizing off the top of your head.

1. Besides being a cork, what is the Island?

2. What causes the supernatural things on the Island, such as flying smoke monsters, curing paralysis etc?

Note I'm not asking how the crazy things happen. For example, if you answer invisible magic fairies, I don't care what type of spells they use.

3. How did the castaways survive the nuclear explosion (Jughead)?

4. Besides being the caretaker of the Island, who is Jacob?

I mean is he a demi-god, prophet, a Seven Eleven manager?

5. Besides being evil and the brother of Jacob, who or what is the Man in Black?

6. What is the Source?

7. Why and how did the Man in Black turn into a smoke monster?

8. When Jack entered the cave that contained the Source, how come he didn't turn into a Smoke Monster?

9. What is Charles Widmore's "War"? (This is from Entertainment Weekly, 2-15-10, pg. 31)

10. Why is it so detrimental to the world, for the Smoke Monster aka Man in Black aka Fake Locke to leave the Island?

11. Since Sideways World is purgatory, why did Sayid create such a miserable existence for himself?

According to "The End", Sideways World is a a place in which the castaways created so they could come together. Yeah, really. So why would you create a world that is miserable for you? If it were me, I would create a world where I'm rich, and married to Jennifer Aniston.

12. Why couldn't the castaways remember their past lives in Sideways World?

Okay, I got this one. It's because the writers had to extend this contrived gimmick for the whole year.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th of July!

It's America's Birthday. Happy 4th of July! How about Ray Charles singing "America the Beautiful."

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Happy Anniversary Basement Blog!

This Blog was launched one year ago. I want to thank my two readers for their patronage. :) How about an anniversary song from the Flintstones?

The Last Airbender Movie Review

I remember somebody telling me that a director who directs his own screenplay has a better chance to make a bad movie. Maybe it's because the director-writer isn't objective. Watching M. Night Shyamalan's The Last Airbender, I got that feeling about objectivity. It's not that bad but it certainly could have been much better.

The Last Airbender is based on the Nickelodeon anime "Avatar, The Last Airbender." Hmmm, I wonder why they dropped the "Avatar" part? The story takes place during the early history of man. And it has a distinct Chinese flavor. Man is divided into four tribes, Fire, Water, Earth and Air. Some members of each tribe can manipulate the element of their tribe, called bending. A person who manipulates an element does so with moves from Kung Fu and Tai Chi. With the remake "Karate Kid" about kung fu and not karate and this movie having many non-Chinese actors, I'd be kind of pissed off, if I were Chinese. Hold on, I am Chinese-American. Okay, I'm a little annoyed. But I digress. Bending is like using Star Wars' force manipulation, similar to telekinesis. The avatar is the one who can bend all four elements and bring harmony to the four nations. When the avatar went missing or was killed, Fire Nation rose to prominence and waged war on the other nations.

Our story starts with Katara, (Nicola Peltz) of the Southern Water Tribe and her brother Sokka (Jackson Rathbone) finding a frozen Aang (Noah Ringer). He's taken back to the tribe who look like Eskimos except for the WASPish looking Katara, Sokka and their mother. I'll get to the casting later. Anyway, Fire Nation's Prince Zuko (Dev Patel of Slumdog Millionaire) invades the tribe and takes Aang. On the ship we find Aang is actually the next incarnation of an Avatar. Aang fights his way out and escapes with the help of Katara, Sokka and Aang's furry flying bison which looks like a big furry beaver with the face of Gary Coleman. They flee to Aang's old condo where they find out that Fire Nation has wiped out his homies, leaving him to be the last Avatar. Fire Nation has conquered many of the other peoples including Earth Nation. During their travels, Aang starts a rebellion with the Earth benders. This leads Fire Nation led by Commander Zhao (Aasif Mandvi) to seek Aang and stop him. However, Aang realizes he has yet to master water. So, he and his entourage flee to the Northern Water Tribe to seek training. However, Zhao has discovered where Aang is heading and has amassed an army to attack the Northern Water Tribe.

The problems with this movie are many but let's start with the casting. Dev Patel is all wrong for the conflicted Prince Zuko. A weird haircut can't give him the darkness he needs to play this character. Noah Ringer, Nicola Peltz, and Jackson Rathbone all need seasoning. They're emotionally inert. But the biggest miscasting is Aasif Mandvi as Zhao. This is the guy who plays a faux correspondent on the Daily Show. His act is a reporter who says a bunch of crazy things. I can't take him seriously for this role. I keep waiting for him to look for Jon Stewart so he can trade zingers with. Check him out with this funny segment on the G20 protesters. He's hardly the evil commander who wants to subjugate the world.

M. Night Shyamalan. The writing. You get the feeling that this film was made with a strict rule to keep it under two hours. At a 103 minutes, a lot of exposition is left out. We miss any dialogue between Aang and his teacher at the temple. Sokka in the cartoon, is used for comic relief. In the movie, he's glum and hapless. There's no scenes fo how Fire Nation put down the other nations. Think about it. I mean what are the rules of the war? If this were rock, paper and scissors; fire has to be defeated somewhere. I mean both earth and water can put out fire. Which brings us to the howler of the movie. Aang is told that water can defeat fire by a spirit. You think? Last time I looked water puts out fire. If the other nations are that dumb, no wonder Fire Nation owns them.

The direction. Some of the lazy performances must be the responsibility of the director. I wonder how many takes he did of scenes. Because during some of the inert ones, you just wish Shyamalan directed the actors to use more intensity. Fight scenes are terrible. You get this feeling, there's another rule to make it look like nobody is getting hurt. Watching the fight scenes is like watching a martial arts demonstration on stage. There's no sense of danger. In one scene, Aang parts the fighting parties like Moses did with the Red Sea in The Ten Commandments, and that's all he does. It's just lame. I would have Aang throwing people all over the place like they do in the video game "Mass Effect 2." And I'm sorry if that's too violent. People die in war. The only good thing about this movie is the score. Composer James Newton Howard (Dave, The Prince of Tides) is an old master. He captures the majesty of the legend and the adventure.

If you're a fan of the television series, you might like this movie. There's no need to see this in 3-D. It's a conversion from 2D and you can tell no thought was taken while filming about 3-D effects. Plus, the movie is dark in 3-D. Save the two bucks. Otherwise, this movie is nothing more than a time waster. The grade is C +.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Another Turning Point

The Fighting Reds showed just how resilient they are. On June 29, the Cincinnati Reds lost a heartbreaking game to the National League champs to the Philadelphia Phillies. Joey Votto had just slammed a three run homer in the eighth to tie the score. But the Phillies scored three runs off Arthur Rhodes to win it in extra innings. Rhodes had gone 33 games without giving up a run. You know it had to end somewhere. But then came June 30, 2010.

The Reds faced Phillies ace Roy Halladay one day after that disappointing loss. Halladay, earlier this season, pitched a perfect game. I was at this Reds day game. It looked bleak to me. Halladay was Halladay. He was getting outs and keeping the Reds off the scoreboard. Meanwhile, Aaron Harang made a mistake pitch to former Reds top prospect Dane Sardinha. The result? A three run homer to give the Phillies a 3-0 lead. Then the Reds started the comeback in the sixth. They finished it off in the dramatic eighth when rightfielder Jay Bruce blasted a Halladay pitch into the right field bleachers for a two run jack. That gave the Reds a one run lead. When Bruce hit the ball, I was screaming, "Go, baby go. Get out of here baseball!" (The "get out of here baseball" is the late Joe Nuxhall's homerun call for a Reds jack.) I directed my enthusiasm to the Phillies fans who were in front of us. Okay, they were nice, but I was surrounded by them.

Yes, the Phillies were down Placido Polanco and Chase Utley. That's still a great team, with Howard, Victorino, Werth, etc. Geez. And the Reds took two of three. They could have swept them. That's why this is another turning point. The Reds can beat good teams. I predicted if the Reds do what they are capable of doing, they'll win it all. Here's the story for the Phillies' game with video. And just yesterday, the Reds beat the Chicago Cubs 3-2. Here's that story.

Olivia Munn is on the Daily Show

While watching the Daily Show, I saw G4 babe Olivia Munn playing a correspondent on the Daily Show. Here's her segment on the recent Russian spy case. She's such a babe. Did I say that already? Love her in the Princess Leia slave outfit.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Knight and Day Review

You have to set aside disbelief if you're going to enjoy Knight and Day, the new movie starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz. Crusie plays Roy Miller, a spy on the run who's hiding a new energy source. Diaz plays June Havens, a restorer of vintage cars. They meet on a plane which happens to have other spies who are crew members. June goes to the head and the spies attempt to kill Cruise in an entertaining action sequence in which Roy dispatches all of them. When June comes out, she finds everyone dead and Cruise crash lands the plane. Roy drugs June and returns her to her Boston home. This is where you've got to suspend your disbelief because Roy later kidnaps June for her own protection and she willingly decides to go with him. Yeah, like I get kidnapped everyday and believe my kidnapper's story about killing a whole bunch of people.

Okay, if Jennifer Aniston kidnapped me, I'll go with her. And that's what drives Knight and Day. Tom Cruise is at his absolute charming best. Still handsome, he has grown with age. He doesn't come off as a young jerk anymore. Cameron Diaz is cute as the women taken from her dull life and swept away in an adventure of international intrigue. Okay, it's a little like a romance novel. But so what? There's humor and fun for adults in this film.

Director James Mangold wisely films the actions sequences with as little CGI as he can. And it works. They come off as real rather than crazy and phony over the top set pieces. While Patrick O'Neill's script requires you to simply ignore the lack of logic, it still features nice touches of humor amidst all the globe hopping. There are some groan worthy parts, especially where Diaz is drugged and begs Cruise to express his affection for her in the middle of a gun battle. He goes over and kisses her amidst the flying bullets. Oy. But again, it's the winning chemistry of Cruise and Diaz which carries the film. And that makes it a perfect date movie.

Knight and Day is a fun action romantic comedy. The grade is B.

Star Trek Alert: In one scene, fellow Trekkers, I think Tom Cruise used the Vulcan neck pinch on Cameron Diaz to knock her out.