Tuesday, May 31, 2011

What was missing from the Gettysburg documentary

I've complained that History Channel's Gettysburg documentary focused too much time on lesser players in the battle. So much so that Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain wasn't even mentioned. Well, let's make up for it. Here's Chamberlains' heroic defense of Little Round Top from the movie "Gettysburg." (1993) Let me set this up. Chamberlain's Union troops are running out of ammunition. They are at the end of the rope. The Confederates are marching up the hill. Chamberlain calls for a bayonet charge. And the rest is history.

Gettysburg Documentary Review

I looked forward to the documentary Gettysburg for the History Channel because it was produced by Tony and Ridley Scott. Both are fine directors and I've especially enjoyed much of Rideley's work such Blade Runner and Alien. Both bring strong visuals to their movies.

What the Scotts bring to the documentary is that cinematic style. Professional actors were brought in to perform the roles of actual participants in the battle of Gettysburg. Director Adrian Moat pulls no punches in showing the horror of the Civil War. From hand to hand combat to troops getting mowed down by artillery to field hospitals doing amputations, this is the Civil War at its most realistic depiction for a documentary. The use of maps and CGI to elucidate the battlefield is also much appreciated. The obligatory talking heads also help explain the important events of the battle.

Writer Richard Bedser's script is not just about the battle itself. It follows the personal lives of the soldiers who fought this battle. And that is one of the weaknesses of this documentary. Too much time is given to the personal stories of the less important figures of Gettysburg. This creates a time problem that causes slights to bigger events or more important figures in the battle. For example, Union colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain's heroic defense of Little Round Top is not even mentioned. Perhaps this was done to avoid comparisons to Ken Burn's documentary The Civil War (1990) or the movie Gettysburg (1993). Still it's a big omission.

It's a welcome sight to see the Scotts producing historical documentaries. But more care must be placed focusing on the important events rather than spending too much time on personal stories. The grade for Gettysburg is B.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

It's Memorial Day, a time to thank those men and women who died for our country. I also want to thank all the active and retired military for their service to America.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Salute and Appreciation for Cincinnati Reds Pitcher Carlos Fisher

On May 25, 2011 Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Carlos Fisher (pictured) was forced to pitch 5 2/3 innings in Philadelphia. He threw a whopping ninety five pitches and eventually lost the game. The reason he was forced to pitch so many innings was that the Reds other two pitchers Sam LeCure and Matt Maloney were not available, they were injured. Eventually both would end up on the disabled list.

Last night due to Lecure's inability to get loose, Carlos Fisher had to pitch again. He threw one inning and could not get out of the twelfth inning.

This is an appreciation for Carlos Fisher. He took two games for the team. He did not deserve to lose. As a fan, I will remember what he did. I wish him well in his future endeavors.

As for the current situation, the Cincinnati Reds find themselves in, with pitchers going down, all I can say is "Hold on Reds fans." It's a long season. The Cincinnati Reds will endure and thrive.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Hangover, Part II Review

In 2009, "The Hangover" was a gigantic success. It was the sixth highest grossing movie in the U.S. Of course, that means sequel. So would the new movie be a small indie about the problems of married life? Guess again. The Hangover, Part II opens today.

The Hangover II begins with a frantic call from playboy Phil (Bradley Cooper) telling his friend's wife that "it" has happened again. "It" is that the guys, Phil, Alan (Zach Galifianakis) and Stu (Ed Helms) aka The Wolfpack have just woken up from a hangover and have a problem. You see Stu is getting married in Thailand. The Wolfpack and Stu's fiance's teenage brother Teddy (Mason Lee) are missing before the wedding. The problem? Teddy is gone. The gang must retrace their steps to find out what happened and find Teddy. Along the way they meet up with Chow (Ken Jeong), the Asian gangster, who had a memorable naked scene in the first movie.

What makes The Hangover, Part II work is the gags and the cast. With the success of the first one, the budget is larger and this one feels like cross between Memento, Inception and Animal House. Director-writer Todd Phillips, writers Scot Armstrong, Craig Mazin have absolutely no fear as to what they can come up with in order to make you laugh. Obscene, smoking monkey is okay. Mild mutilation. No problem. Strange sex acts? You got it.

As with the first one, the cast will do any humiliating thing for a laugh and it works. Bradley Cooper seems happy to be a bit of a cad even trying to steal Stu's prescription pad in his underwear. Ed Helms gives his dentist character a geeky charm while getting caught in some of the crazier moments. Zach Galifianakis, again plays crazy and childlike Alan. Ken Jeong steals every scene as the loopy gangster who at this point is so important to the plot, they should make him an honorary member of the Wolfpack.

The Hangover, Part II sets back Thai-American relations twenty years. It will not be welcomed by animal rights advocates. It is also one very funny movie. The grade is A.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Roswell Was A Russian Hoax?

Author Annie Jacobsen in her book Area 51 says that the alleged Roswell UFO crash was a Russian hoax. According to her sources, she says that the Russians recruited Nazi Josef Mengle to create alien like children to pilot a craft to America. The goal was to create mass hysteria ala Orson Welles' "The War of the Worlds."

Okay let me get this straight. First, the Air Force says it recovered an alien aircraft near Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. Then they change their mind and say it was a weather balloon. Then in the mid-nineties, the Air Force says it was top secret balloon to detect Russian nuclear tests. The Air Force then says that the alien bodies were really anthropomorphic dummies dropped from high altitude balloon tests. One problem with that one is that the tests occurred in the fifties.

The Truth Is Out There

So should we believe Jacobsen's explanation? I say no. Clifford Clift of MUFON points out in Christian Science Monitor, that if the Russians wanted to create mass hysteria, why crash this "alien" craft in New Mexico. Why not New York. He says crashing the craft near a big city would create more panic. I agree.

Jacobsen's version of what happened at Roswell is even crazier than aliens crash landing. Josef Mengle allegedly fled to Argentina soon after the war and died in Brazil. I have seen no proof he was captured by the Soviets. Second, why would the Soviets send over a flying disk with advanced technology to be captured by the Americans. Yes, I'm assuming that the craft was advanced because it was remotely piloted and could avoid radar. It makes no sense for the Soviets to do that. Third, if it was obvious that they were human and this was a Russian plot, why didn't the Air Force disclose this in the nineties? Look, we already knew that Japan was able to send balloons over American territory to start wildfires. So, the Soviets did allegedly did a crazy thing. Americans wouldn't panic in consideration of the Japanese balloon attack. And with the collapse of the Soviet Union, how come we haven't heard about this from anybody in Russia? Finally, this sounds like a stupid joke by Stalin. I mean how could a Welles like panic hurt the United States?

Annie Jacobsen is being used.

During World War II, at the time before the D-Day invasion, the Allies used Gen. George Patton to deceive the Germans that the invasion would happen at Calais. It was called Operation Fortitude. It was leaked that Patton was in charge of a fake army and photographed near its assets.

I believe Annie Jacobsen is being used the same way by the government. The government has had multiple explanations for Roswell. Alien craft. Secret balloon test. Dropped dummies. Now, it's a Soviet joke. With all these explanations, the government has something to hide. What? I don't know. Witnesses to Roswell like Jesse Marcel have no motives to lie. If aliens did crash at Roswell, it's one of the biggest secrets that the United States government is trying to keep under wraps.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Reds Win A Big One

Yep, it's just one game. But the Cincinnati Reds had just lost six games. The Philadelphia Phillies had owned the Reds. It was quite possible that the Phillies would take all four games in this series. But Reds starting pitcher Johnny Cueto held on and gave the Reds six innings, giving up three runs and keeping the team in the game.

But it was in the ninth inning and the Reds finally had a clutch hit. Now folks, the Reds have been known for late inning heroics and clutch hitting. It's just that the Reds have been struggling. Reds up. Two outs. Bases loaded. Reds outfielder Jay Bruce blasted a three run double. Francisco Cordero saves the game. Reds win 6-3.

It was a big win. The Reds stopped a losing streak. They are resilient. They will win the NL Central Division. Here's the story with video.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mass Effect 2: The Professor, Tips for the Environmental Control on the Insanity Setting

I found this helpful glitch for the mission, The Professor at the Environmental Control while playing on the Insanity difficulty setting. First, let me tell you about the configuration for this tip. I'm playing on a XBOX 360 and cleaned out the cache to remove "upgrades." I cleared the cache because I want to use the infinite talent trick while playing on Insanity. I am also playing offline. (Video below for infinite talents)

Now if you have gotten to the Environmental Control on The Professor mission, you know this is the boss level. Now I'm playing this on Insanity but I was able to install the cure and then clear the room once it triggered more enemies. You're next task is to turn on the fans. Fans are in wings on each side of the room. Once you head down the stairs of a wing, the doors open and you're attacked by Vorcha, some with flamethrowers. Okay, run back upstairs and kill these guys from an elevated position. So far so good.

Now that you've cleared the wing, you may get the temptation to turn on the fan. DO NOT TURN ON THE FAN UNTIL YOU CLEAR THE OTHER WING. If you do, you will get attacked by more Vorcha and charging Krogen! Then there will be multiple Vorcha with rocket launchers on the balconies overlooking the other wing. Yikes. Here's what you do. You've cleared one wing. Go to the other wing and engage more Vorcha with the strategy cited above. Now, both wings are clear. Turn on the fans. Guess what? No charging Krogans or Vorcha with rocket launchers. Hey this tip makes playing this last part much easier on the Insanity setting.

Missing Followers

Sometime in March, the followers of this blog have disappeared. That's the section down on this blog where you can see the various people who want to follow. I have not changed anything with the blog. Unfortunately, Blogger's only help is to direct the user to a forum where so far no solution has been offered. The interesting thing is that sometimes followers will occasionally appear for a very short period of time then they disappear. Now the followers are present on the Dashboard for users. Also, I've checked my blog on other computers and the followers are not present. It's frustrating.

If you're a follower or want to be a follower, I thank you. I ask all of you for patience. This problem is probably in the hands of Google and Blogger's engineers.

Update: 7-5-11. Today I lost YouTube. In my effort to get it back, I looked at YouTube by using Google Chrome, web browser. I could see YouTube again. I then checked this Blog and saw the followers back on the page. So, for right now it seems that Google Chrome will allow the followers and people who want to follow this Blog. I'm sorry for inconvenience.

Oh, oh. Bronson Arroyo Flew Back to Cincinnati

Lance McAlister is reporting that Cincinnati Reds Bronson Arroyo has flown back to Cincinnati from Philadelphia. Last night Arroyo got lit up for nine runs in three innings. His fast ball was down from ninety miles an hour to about 86. He looked more tired. From what I can tell, there didn't seem to be anything wrong with him mechanically. Could it be a lingering effect from the mononucleosis?

Bronson has been a consistent pitchcr for the Reds. He may not be a flamethrower but he keeps you in games. In 2006, Arroyo was a NL All Star. He has a solid arm. For the last six years, he's pitched over two hundred innings. Update: Good News. It's being reported by Lance that Arroyo was diagnosed with back spasms. He is not expected to miss his next start.

Too Big To Fail Review

The 2008 financial crisis might not seem to be good material for a film. After all, the causes of the crisis were complex and there were many parties involved. HBO has taken a bold step in making a movie about the crisis. It's based on Andrew Sorkin's book, "Too Big to Fail."

The movie starts out with the cause of the 2008 financial crisis. Using news clips we go back all the way back to the Reagan administration and up to the Clinton years. Those administrations loosened regulations on banks. What happened was that commercial banks and investment banks could merge, allowing commercial banks to participate in risky investments. The film then pivots to Hank Paulson (William Hurt), Treasury Secretary under President George W. Bush. Bear Stearns had failed and Lehman Brothers was in critical condition. Paulson sees and hears the credit crisis and realizes that banks are beginning to flounder. This domino effect would bring down the world economy. With his team at Treasury, he desperately tries to find solutions until the only one left was a bailout of the banks by the government.

The subject matter of this movie is complex. But screenwriter Peter Gould does a good job of using the characters to do enough exposition to explain but keeps the dialogue organic so it doesn't sound phony. Director Curtis Hanson has crafted a film that is cinematic and that's remarkable considering the subject matter. Camera angles are well thought out. Moving camera shots add to the film's momentum. And the movie has a tension as Paulson tries to avert disaster. The economy looked like a sinking ship with Paulson doing damage control.

The cast is top notch. William Hurt as Paulson, displays desperation, fear and frustration. James Woods who plays Lehman Brothers Dick Fuld gives the character a bull in a china shop demeanor. Bill Pullman, Tony Shalhoub and Matthew Modine play greedy heads of the banks. As the banks are being nationalized, Modine particularly does a good job by conveying his character's desire to protect his financial interests rather than be concerned about the welfare of the public. Paul Giamatti plays Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. He gives the role a sense of maturity and wisdom. That's needed since in real life Bernanke studied the Great Depression and knew the stakes involved.

Too Big to Fail is a fascinating look at the 2008 financial crisis. It's thrilling and disturbing. And the scary thing is that it could happen again. The grade is A.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Reds Will Come Back; Send Volquez to Bullpen

Today, the Cincinnati Reds got thumped by the Cleveland Indians, 12-4. Edinson Volquez was absolutely dreadful. He gave up seven runs in three innings. Volquez looked defeated after the first inning. His body language demonstrated he did not want to be on the field. It's time to stop this insanity. During the early part of his career, the Texas Rangers sent Volquez all the way down to single A because of his lack of maturity. Volquez is out of options so send him to the bullpen. The problem with Volquez and the first inning is his lack of concentration. And I've seen nothing to indicate that Volquez this year is consistent with his delivery or have the mental moxie to be a major league starter. UPDATE. Lance McAlister of 1530 ESPN says Volquez has options. So, the Reds should consider sending him to the minors.

It's beginning to look like the trading Josh Hamilton (2010 American League MVP) was a big mistake. Is it as bad as Frank Robinson for Milt Pappas? That trade was considered one of the worst in the history of baseball. The Volquez trade should now be considered a bad trade. It's not as bad as the Robinson trade because Hamilton won't go to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Next time, the Reds should heed red flags like maturity issues.

The Cincinnati Reds were resilient last season. The Reds are resilient this year. They will bounce back. But fix the Volquez situation.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

John Lithgow Performs Gingrich Press Release

On Thursday's Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert discussed the over the top press release that Newt Gingrich's campaign fired off to defend Newt's criticism of the Republican reforms for Medicare. The press release was so ridiculous that Colbert had actor John Lithgow read it. Hilarious.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides 3D Review

Let's get the 3D portion of this review out of the way. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (POTC: OST) was filmed in 3D, that is, it was not a conversion from 2D. That's a good thing since movies filmed in 3D will be able to be adjusted as they are being filmed for the darkness in 3D movies and also capture light and shadow better.

But is POTC: OST in 3D worth the extra bucks that the theater asks you to shell over? First, the 3D effects pop and that's because it was filmed in 3D. So far so good. But Director Rob Marshall and the writers Terry Rossio and Ted Elliot have staged too many night and dark scenes. Since 3D movies are dark to begin with, those dark scenes are useless in 3D. Add to that, the movie doesn't seem to want to take advantage of the 3D format. That doesn't mean I want things thrown at me but if you're going to watch a movie in 3D, you should have something in the film to remind you that you're watching it in 3D. As a result, 3D adds nothing to this movie. So, save your money if you want to see POTC: OST and go to the 2D version.

Based on Tim Powers' novel On Stranger Tides, finds Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) in London where he hears that a fake Jake Sparrow is trying to get sailors for a venture. Jack is brought before the King who wants him to lead Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) to find the Fountain of Youth before the Spanish can get to it. Jack makes a delightful escape from the King's men and eventually finds out who is the fake Sparrow. It's an old flame, Angelica. (Penelope Cruz) She takes him aboard her ship which is under the command of Blackbeard. (Ian McShane) Their destination is also The Fountain of Youth so Blackbeard can drink from it and live forever.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is supposed to be a break away from the convoluted plots of the last two Pirates movies. Depp wanted a more character driven piece much like the first one. (Entertainment Weekly, 5-13-11, pg. 26, 27) That's fine but this Pirates movie needs something interesting for the characters to do. Outside from the aforementioned escape scene there's very little going on as the ships converge on the island which contains the Fountain. Add to that you've got an ill advised subplot with mermaids. And these mermaids aren't like the Little Mermaid in Disney's previous cartoon hit. They're vicious and like vampires can flash sharp teeth. This mermaid subplot takes attention away from Sparrow-Angelica "romance." The movie is also devoid of fun. They bring back rocker Keith Richards as Depp's dad but his scene is just a cameo. What a waste.

Director Marshall (Chicago) turns out to be a bad choice for director. If you're going to have sword fights in the dark, you had better light them well. Almost all fight scenes take place either at night or are in the dark. Can't see a whole lot of what is going on. Another problem is that he films sword fights from the waist up. That's kind of surprising since he's filmed musicals and understands dance. A sword fight is like a dance sequence, you really want to show the body. At least Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, the second film, understood this. Those sword fights were shot with full bodies and well lit.

There are some good things about this movie. Depp is great again as Captain Jack Sparrow. Penelope Cruz is sultry. Both could have used funnier dialogue. Ian McShane is an excellent Blackbeard. He doesn't have to say anything to convey menance. Astrid Berges-Frisby is sexy and innocent as the mermaid Syrena. Hans Zimmer's score is the best thing about this movie. It's driving, heroic and features the swashbuckling themes of the series.

You could do worse at the cineplex this weekend than Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. It's an amusing time waster. The grade is C+.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

There Are No More Moderates In The Republican Party

On Sunday during "Meet The Press", former House Speaker Newt Gingrich criticized Paul Ryan's plan to gut Medicare as being right-wing social engineering. He got blasted by virtually almost everybody in the Republican Party. Why? Gingrich took a moderate position. There are no more moderates in the Republican Party. Stephen Colbert had a great take on it.

Here's Jon Stewart's take on "The Daily Show."

Ohio's Goofy New Gun Law Makes It On The Colbert Report

Last night on the Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert praises the ridiculous new carry and concealed weapon law which would allow concealed guns into stadiums and bars. Colbert's special brand of sarcasm in which he professes his love for his handgun is just great. Check it out below.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Jon Stewart Takes On Bin Laden's Porn Stash

Last night Jon Stewart of the Daily Show did a piece on Bin Laden's porn stash and the head of the IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn's rape charge. Then he takes on Fox News' hypocrisy over the outrage on Common being invited to the White House whereas Mike Huckabee has vulgar Ted Nugent on his show complete with the sexually explicit song "Cat Scratch Fever" performed.

The Three Stooges Play

A high school soccer team runs a crazy play in which two players run into each other to distract the other side on a free kick. The ball is then passed to a streaking forward who scores. I'm guessing the world is going to ask, "Is that how you play soccer in America?" As Sarah Palin would say, "You betcha." This is great American innovation.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Chad Ochocinco Rides Bull

Cincinnati Bengals Wide Receiver Chad Ochocinco rode a bull for charity yesterday. Yeah, he wore protection. So what? Considering he could have got killed, he's an idiot. Here's the video. Below is a longer version.

The St. Louis Cardinals Are A Bunch Of Whiners

The St. Louis Cardinals should just shut the bleep up. Here's why I say that. Remember the Cardinals have a reputation for whining not with the just the Cincinnati Reds but with other teams. Let's talk about today's game. It's the ninth inning at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati. The Cardinals have just scored five runs with a guy on second and have one out. The Reds are holding a 9-7 lead. At the plate is the Cardinals best hitter, Albert Pujols and one of the best players in baseball. The Reds have Francisco Cordero, their closer on the mound. Cordero hits Pujols in the wrist. That brings up Matt Holliday, who's a very good hitter. He grounds to Reds shortstop Paul Janish. Double play? No. Pujols takes out Reds second baseman Brandon Phillip causing the throw to go in the dirt. Cordero comes back to strike out Lance Berkman. Game over. At the end of the game Cardinal player Gerald Laird and coach Dave Duncan start yelling at Cordero claiming he intentionally hit Pujols.

It's simply ludicrous to make the argument that Cordero intentionally hit Albert Pujols. The Cardinals were about to make a miraculous comeback. Once Pujols reached first base, he became the tying run. At the plate is the dangerous Matt Holliday who has power. A three run jack and the Reds lose the lead. Come on Laird and Duncan, are you guys daft? It's simply stupid to put the tying run on first. The Reds were fighting to win the game. It would have been insane to hit Pujols. And by the way, the Reds didn't complain when Pujols took out Brandon Phillips with a hard slide.

Then acting manager Joe Pettini added his stupidity to the conversation. He acknowledged that Cordero was trying to come inside and didn't accuse him of doing it intentionally. But then he said you have to have a clue about doing it. What the? When Pujols was hit, it was an 0-2 count. Yes, a lot of times you should go outside on that count. But Cordero was trying to get under Pujols' hands. Jam him. Sometimes you should surprise the batter. Yeah coming inside is dangerous. You could leave one over the plate or hit him. Still, sometimes you have to surprise the batter.

And before I forget. Cardinals starting pitcher Chris Carpenter was upset with the "poor" condition of the mound and the smoke from the fireworks after Reds catcher Ramon Hernandez blasted a home run off of him. Look, Reds starter Travis Wood had to pitch on the same mound. As for the smoke, maybe we can get God to blow it away from you whiny Cards. Just shut up St. Louis Cardinals.

What about the game? Well, there was that hairy ninth with the Reds leading 9-2 and the Cardinals put up five runs. But the Reds held on. They beat up on nemesis Chris Carpenter and swept the Cards who came in with a game and half lead but left with a game and a half deficit. Here's the story with video.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Bridesmaids Review

I just saw Bridesmaid and it makes me say something that I don't think I'll ever say again. This is a chick flick that made me sick and laugh loudly at the same time. More on that later. Writer-star Kristen Wiig may say her film is not a chick flick (Entertainment Weekly, 5-13-11, pg. 32) but it is. And it's also a romantic comedy whose standard formula is the backbone for Wiig's character's love interests.

Kristen Wiig (Saturday Night Live) plays Annie, a broke and depressed woman. She's best friends with Lillian (May Rudolph, also a former SNL cast member) who has been her friend since childhood. Annie's love life consists of being a sex partner for the cold and rich Ted. (Jon Hamm) Annie's life is sent spinning when Lillian tells her she's going to marry Doug. Lillian asks Annie, Doug's rich boss's wife, Helen (Rose Byrne) , Doug's sister Megan (Melissa McCarthy), Becca (Ellie Kemper) and Rita (Wendi McLendon-Covey) to be her bridesmaids.

Helen who's rich, beautiful and seemingly perfect vies for Lillian's affections as best friend. This leads Annie to compete even though she has no money and goes overboard in trying to top Helen's plans for the wedding festivities. In the meantime, Annie gets pulled over by a charming Irish cop, Rhodes. (Chris O' Dowd) Their meeting leads to a relationship.

Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo have crafted a script that captures a woman's emotions. Annie is a three dimensional character. She has bouts of jealousy over Lillian's marriage, Helen's perfect life and Becca's happiness with her own man. Annie has feelings of sadness over the failure of her business and unhappy personal life. While the romantic comedy aspects of the movie are very conventional. Woman is in a loveless relationship. Woman meets Prince Charming. Something separates the two true loves. There are other parts which are fresh. Wiig and Mumolo also create the conflict within Annie's self imposed prison of depression. No black and white villains. Annie, Lillian and Helen are flesh and blood. Each has their own problems.

What makes this comedy funny is that ability of the cast to humiliate themselves for laughs. Director Paul Feig also knows how to stage a comic sequence with a good eye for sight gags. But the scene that made me sick and laugh at the same time deals with Annie taking Lillian and the bridesmaids to a cheap Brazilian restaurant. Later they go to an upscale dressmaker to shop for wedding and bridesmaids' dresses. Harmless enough, right? No. You see the ladies got food poisoning from the restaurant. And the rest is movie history.

Two performances stand out. Kristen Wiig is fantastic as the depressed Annie. Her face shows depression, jealously, sadness and her comic talents rivals Carol Burnett. Melissa McCarthy as Megan steals every scene she's in. She's a hoot as Lillian's crazy sister in law. And this movie is a fond farewell to the late Jill Clayburgh who plays Annie's mother.

Bridesmaids is a funny romantic comedy. It's also the most vulgar chick flick ever made. The grade is A.

Was President Obama Viewing Bin Laden's Death in Real Time?

By now you've all seen the photo (above) where President Obama's national security team are watching something while the mission to kill Osama Bin Laden was happening. Well, various news media sources such as CNN are reporting that the Navy SEALs wore helmet mounted cameras. Were they watching the video feed from the mission?

We're not told they were watching anything except monitoring the mission. But if you look at the photo, the team is looking in one direction as if they're watching something on a large screen in front of them. I believe it's a video. And by judging Secretary of State's Hillary Clinton and President Obama's worried expressions, I conjecture it's video feed from the mission. I won't go to say they saw Bin Laden get killed but something in front of them has the team very concerned. Regardless, I'm happy to say, their fears were allayed since we got Bin Laden and no SEALs were hurt.

The Cincinnati Reds Sent A Message

Last year the St. Louis Cardinals had the Cincinnati Reds number. Yeah, the Reds lost to the Cardinals twelve times and won only six games. But the Cardinals couldn't beat the bad teams and Cincinnati won the division.

So after losing two of three earlier this year, the Cardinals are here in Cincinnati for a start of a three game series. It didn't start well. The Cardinals got off to a 4-0 lead before the Reds scored in the sixth. The Cardinals made plays. The Reds didn't. Then came the sixth and the Reds pushed across two runs. In the seventh and ninth innings the never say die Reds scored three more runs to tie it up. In the bottom of the tenth with Chirs Heisey on second, MVP Joey Votto (pictured) smashed a single to score Heisey. Ballgame.

With the victory, the Reds sent a message to the Cardinals and their arrogant fans. You won't bully us this year. See you later, little bit... er, birds. Here's the story with video.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Obama Got Osama, Part 2

This is what drives me nuts about the former Bush administration cronies. They want to rewrite history and claim credit that they killed Osama Bin Laden. Yet how soon they forget, months after 9/11 (March 13, 2002), President Bush deemphasized the hunt of Bin Laden. And the worst part is when they criticized Obama for going to Ground Zero on May 5, 2011 as looking like a victory lap. Huh? Remember when Bush flew onto the aircraft carrier in his resplendent flight suite, and basically said the Iraq war was over. Remember the "Mission Accomplished" banner? Anyway, Jon Stewart of the Daily Show does a better job of explaining this than I. Check out his piece.

Monday, May 9, 2011

SNL GOP Undeclared Candidates Debate

On last week's Saturday Night Live, Tina Fey reprised Sarah Palin and Darrell Hammond played Donald Trump in a faux debate. SNL is not as funny as The Daily Show or Stephen Colbert but when the presidential elections come around every four years, SNL gets better. Still it's humorous. Check it out.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Thor 3D Movie Review

It's May and that means the summer movie season has begun. Opening today and leading the pack is Thor, a movie based on the Marvel comic book. In a bold move Marvel has made a big budget film on one of its least American tales. That's because Thor is based on Norse mythology.

Thor (Chirs Hemsworth) is the tale of the Norse god, heir to the throne of Asgard. While leading a risky and unauthorized raid on Frost Giants, Thor and his warriors must be rescued by his father, Odin, (Anthony Hopkins) king of Asgard. Upon their return, Thor questions the decisions of Odin. Odin realizing his son is arrogant and foolish, banishes him to earth, sending him there via a wormhole. He also strips Thor of his hammer Mjolnir, and sends that to earth. It gets stuck and only when Thor has earned it, can he wield its power. While on earth he meets scientists Jane Foster (Natlaie Portman), Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) and Darcy. (Kat Dennings) Meanwhile, Thor's brother Loki, (Tim Hiddleston) has plans to become king of Asgard.

This movie is being released in 3-D, IMAX and 2D. I saw it in 3D. First, be aware that this film is a conversion from 2D. An no matter what the producers say, about setting up shots and knowing the movie is going to be in 3D, conversions usually stink. Films in 3-D are dark because of the dual image. Add to that the use of the dark glasses, and you've lost quite a bit of light in the movie. And unlike shooting in 3-D, the director of photography can't adjust the lighting because she's shot the thing in 2D.

So is Thor in 3D worth your extra bucks? The answer is a resounding no. One wonders why director Kenneth Branagh (Henry V) has so many night and dark scenes. For example, the raid on the Frost Giants which is a thrilling sequence but is too dark to see what's going on. There's one swift camera pan going into Asgard that will give you motion sickness. There's little popping effects. The best I can say is that the end credits with the nebulas are the best 3D effects. So avoid the 3D version of this film.

That being said, the film itself is pretty good. Branagh is a fan of the comic book and he brings his Shakespearean sensibilities to the movie. The story does a good job of depicting a god becoming a man who learns humility. The action scenes are exciting and the Destroyer, a robot protector, is really scary. There are also nice moments of humor.

Chirs Hemsworth is fine as Thor. And his working out, has shaped his body into superhero proportions. There is no need for this guy to wear fake muscles. As the character Darcy mused, he's cut. Natalie Portman is given very little to do here other than to be spunky. The romance between the two is just okay. Anthony Hopkins is just masterful as Odin. This is perfect casting. He's powerful and regal.

Thor is an operatic comic book movie. It's fascinating when the drama is in Asgard. The action sequences are well done. As with Marvel films, stay through the end credits for an extra scene. The grade for Thor is B+.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Stephen Colbert Makes Fun of Fox News Delight On Bad Economic News

Last night, Stephen Colbert made fun of Fox News utter delight on rising gas prices since it will hurt President Barack Obama. Check out Fox News and Cincinnatian Bill Hemmer get giddy over high gas prices. And check out The Donald who thinks he can just cuss out the Saudis to get the prices down. Of course, Colbert also loves Donald Trump and points out its a little more complex than threatening people. Oh, by the way you right-wing conservatives, you do realize that Colbert is a faux conservative.

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Stephen Colbert Was Hilarious Joking About Bin Laden's Death

Stephen Colbert started his show with this joke, "Seth Myers did a great job at the Correspondents Dinner but I gotta say this weekend Barack Obama really killed." And away we go. Stephen Colbert did some very funny pieces on the United States shooting Bin Laden. Brilliant and hilarious. Check them out below.

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The Donald Really Can't Take A Joke

Remember how I commented that Donald Trump looked glum and didn't look like he could take a joke. That's because a bunch of jokes were directed at him. Wow, I was right. Sunday, The Donald called Fox News, and said comedian Seth Myers was a stutterer.

Anyway, below is Seth Myers routine. And check out the Bin Laden joke at the two minute mark. Watch President Obama laugh. Interesting because Obama knows tomorrow the United States is going to kill him. For that matter, isn't it remarkable that Obama could do his routine before Myers and act like nothing is going on even though a secret operation is commencing.

Favorite "Friday" Song Spoofs

Yep, Rebecca Black's "Friday" is the worst song ever written. Yet it has 127 million hits! Below are my favorite spoofs of the song starting with Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon and Taylor Hicks. Then pop princess Katy Perry does a short acoustic version. And finally we get the guy doing the song with a Christopher Walken impersonation.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Obama Got Osama

First, let me extend my gratitude to the American military and intelligence for killing the greatest terrorist in this century, Osama Bin Laden. And it's time to thank President Barack Obama. It was his goal to get Obama from the beginning. As a candidate he said he would act even if Pakistan would not. The President said that the top priority in administration's war on terror was to get Obama. (Last night's speech.) On May 1, 2011, President Obama kept his promise.

Courage and Competence

When intelligence was confident it had Bin Laden's location, President Obama had three decisions according to Time. Wait for more information. Bomb the compound. Or have ground troops go in and take him out. The last option was the only sure method of confirming his death to the world. Something that would convince other terrorists that he was truly dead. Obama chose the last option using Navy SEALS and CIA agents. And while Obama last night thanked Pakistan for its cooperation, one wonders how it could not know Bin Laden was living in one million dollar mansion in Abbottabad. So who knows what the Pakistanis would do if they knew the U.S. was going in to kill him.

It was a gutsy call. People accuse Obama for thinking too much when strategic decisions need to be made. Yet, that's what we need from our commander and chief. Obama was cautious about deploying more troops in Afghanistan. That decision was against the left of his party. He was deliberate in using American air power in Libya. Getting international support before he deployed the air power for a no fly zone. And while he carefully considered this Bin Laden decision, he made it right on time. It was a call fraught with risk. What would happen if the Pakistanis resist. What would happen if our troops accidentally killed civilians? What would happen if we endured severe casualties? It took courage. Obama has it.

Saturday, the night before the raid, President Obama and super rich guy Donald Trump were in the same room, The White House Correspondents Dinner. Obama had already authorized the attack. So there was Obama taking some shots at Donald Trump. Trump had challenged Obama's citizenship. On CNN, Trump called the President "incompetent." If you get a chance to watch it, check out the President. He does a pretty good job of acting because he knows tomorrow might be a terrible day. Yet, he has to maintain his composure. He can't cancel his appearance in front of a bunch of reporters. Can't let the world what's going on. This President can do more than one thing at a time.

So on the competence issue, is The Donald right? Let's see. Got a stimulus package that brought the country out of a recession and a near depression. Passed health care. Got Bin Laden. Donald Trump, you're completely wrong on this one. And by the way, you're fired.

Rachel Maddow- Obama got Osama.

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The mastermind behind the attacks on September 11, 2001 , Osama Bin Linden, was killed. The American military with help from intelligence killed him in Abbottabad, Pakistan. I thank the United States intelligence, the United States military and the President of the United States President Barack Obama. Here is the story.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Those Crazy Birthers, Part Fifteen

Yesterday at the White House Correspondents Dinner, President Barack Obama had a lot of fun with the birthers. During his speech, he released his official "birth video." What was it? It was a clip from "The Lion King" where Simba was born. The President then reminded Fox News, "I want to make clear to the Fox News table--that was a joke." The President was a hoot. Here's the story. Video below. Oh and by the way, Donald Trump can't take a joke. He looked annoyed when the barbs were aimed at him. Wow. I think the Donald really believes that Obama wasn't born in the United States.

Those Crazy Birthers, Part Fourteen

Jon Stewart of the Daily Show did another segment on the birther controversy. It's below.

The Cincinati Bengals 2011 Draft Grade

It's time to grade the Cincinnati Bengals 2011 Draft. Yes, I'll look at the Bengals draft and try to tell which of the new players will be arrested. I keeed. I keeed.

Let's get one thing out of the way. The Bengals were offered from the Atlanta Falcons, its first, second, fourth and next year's first, and fourth picks to move up. That's two extra players this year and two more next year. The Bengals said no. So should the Bengals have taken it? Walter Football says there's a formula. And if you add it up, the answer is no. But the Bengals need help everywhere. Instead they stood their ground and took Wide Receiver A.J. Green.

My view is that the Bengals should have taken the deal. The Bengals are not one player away. They need help everywhere. On the other hand, this is not the Akili Smith draft decision. That was where in 1999, the Bengals turned down the Saints offer of all their picks for the Bengals pick. Smith was a quarterback and had just one great season. We know how that turned out. Smith was a disaster. The difference is that Green will have an impact from day one. So, it's not a disaster of a decision but will effect the draft grade.

Let's take a look at the 2011 Bengals picks starting with Round One.

1. A.J. Green- (WR-Georgia) Will likely start. Catches ball at the highest point; keeping defenders away from the ball. Runs good routes. Will replace Ochocinco.

2. Andy Dalton- (QB-TCU) (Pictured.) Smart. Leader. Accurate. Will wear number fourteen which was Bengals great Kenny Anderson

3. Dontay Moch- (OLB-Nevada) Ludicrous speed for a linebacker. He can tackle. Remains to be seen if he can take on the big boys in the NFL.

4. Clint Bolling- (G-Georgia) Was a first round to second round talent. Bengals got him in the fourth. Can play all line positions except for center and who knows if he cant' play that position. Look for him to compete for a starting position. Fat Andre Smith should worry about his weight. For the Bengals, this was the best pick in the draft.

5. Robert Sands- (S-West Virgina) Bengals could use depth at the safety position. Sands, at 6-4 is very tall for this position. Will he be able to keep up with receivers? We'll see.

6. Ryan Whalen- (WR-Stanford) Definitely can catch the ball. He's kind of slow. Best fit for Jay Gruden's West Coast offense. Don't think he's going to beat Bengals Quan Crosby. This is probably a wasted pick.

7. Korey Lindsey- (CB-Southern Illinois) At 5-10 and 189 pounds, he's undersized. He was two time All American and has good speed. Will add depth to the cornerback position in light of Jonathan Joseph's free agency.

7. Jay Finley- (RB- Baylor) Finley is not a between tackles type of runner. So he's more of a Bernard Scott run around the end running back. So either the Bengals better sign Cedric Benson or find somebody on the free agent wire to replace him. If Benson signs, Finley is added depth.

Conclusion- The bad is that the Bengals should have taken the trade from Atlanta. The Bengals are not one player away from the Super Bowl. This is a team that has issues at every position. Since the Bengals kept the pick, I would have taken defensive tackle Nick Fairley. Defense wins championships.

The good? The Bengals didn't overreach. A.J. Green was best player available at a position of need. They didn't overreach for quarterback. The guy they wanted was there in the second. And while there were reports that the Bengals attempted to trade up to get him; they didn't panic and bet the farm. The Bengals addressed many needs. I predict getting Clint Bolling will pay huge dividends in the future.

The Bengals had a productive draft. Three of the picks in Green, Dalton and Bolling could start. And Dontay Moch will have an impact on defense. The grade is B.