Thursday, June 30, 2011

Transformers: Dark of the Moon 3D Review

As I was driving to the theater to see Transformers: Dark of the Moon in 3D, I was wondering if Director Michael Bay (The Rock) would do something different than his usual stuff. And that stuff is blowing things up and having overly dramatic visuals. Maybe he would have a deep rich, sophisticated, intelligent science fiction movie. And then as I pulled into the parking lot, I said to myself, "Am I nuts?" This is Michael Bay. You know the guy that directed the ridiculous Armageddon. (1998) As for Dark of the Moon being an intelligent film, all I can say in a New York accent, "Fuhget about it."

If you don't know already Transformers: Dark of the Moon is a movie based on the Hasbro toys. Yes, the toys that turn into robots from everyday vehicles. I always thought this was a bad idea for a movie but hey, the first two were gang busters at the box office. So, what's next? Slinky, the movie?

The the movie starts out with the war between the good Autobots and the evil Decepticons on Cybertron. It's a fantastic scene. The Autobots are losing so they launch a ship called the Ark with their last hope to save their race. The Ark crashes on the moon during President John F. Kennedy's administration. The United States finds out about it. Kennedy decides to find a way to get to the craft first before the Soviets, thus the beginning of the space race. This leads to real reason for Apollo 11 which was to recover the ship from the moon.

We flash forward to present day where, the hero from the last two Transfomers movie, Sam Whitwicky (Shia LaBeouf) has just waken up to his gorgeous girlfriend Carly Spencer (Rosie Huntington Whiteley). We find out that despite having saved the world and getting a medal from President Obama, Sam can't get a job. What? Let me get this straight, your resume says you saved the world. And nobody will hire you? Tough times. Anyway, Sam gets a job at a high tech firm in the mailroom It's there that Jerry Wang (Ken Jeoung) confronts him about a plot between humans and Decepticons.

Meanwhile, the Autobots and the U.S. government have been working together. Primarily, the Autobots work to keep man from destroying himself. Autobot Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) finds out that the humans have discovered the Ark. He goes to the moon to retrieve the contents which were Autobot Sentinel Prime (Leonard Nimoy) and the Pillars which would create a bridge between points in space. This bridge could not just allow transport but also allow matter to come through. The Decepticons want the Pillars so the can set up a base in Chicago and literally bring Cybertron to earth. That's probably because the Decepticons are mad at the Chicago Cubs for their early exits from the playoffs. Okay, that's not right. Anyway, its' up to Sam to save the world again.

Shia LaBeouf as Sam is cranky throughout the whole movie. Probably because he realized that nobody is going to take him seriously in any future drama.
Rosie Huntington Whiteley is cold like a mannequin. That's because she was a Victoria Secret's model and not an actress. In fact, they should have used a mannequin, it would have been cheaper. Frances McDormand (Fargo?!) plays a defense intelligence official. Her lines are so ridiculous that she'll probably never step out of a Coen Brothers movie again. Only Leonard Nimoy who voices Sentinel Prime does an excellent job. He's regal and for an actor who is eighty, he still has a lot of energy.

Writer Ehren Kruger has created a mess of a script. The story lines go wildly from crazy comedy to wild action. I mean Ken Jeong basically reprises his role of Chow from The Hangover. His scenes with LaBeouf are hilarious but when a Decepticon attacks him, it's too dark to be funny. And when you get to emotional scenes, you don't care because of the crazy swings of tone.

And speaking of The Hangover, that's the way you will feel when you finish seeing this movie. Bay can't keep anything still. Sweeping camera shots. You'll be hard pressed to find a scene which has more than two minutes of dialogue. And I'm sure he heard the criticism of the lingering shots of female eye candy Megan Fox because Bay doubles down. He starts our introduction of Whiteley by following her butt in a g-string as she goes to the bed of LaBeouf. A wink at the camera? Since Whiteley is English, does that mean the scene is cheeky?

Anyway, Bay keeps the action constantly going. There's no let up. And that's the problem. He pounds you in your seats. Sometimes it's hard to track which are the good robots and which are the bad ones. Some of the action is just ludicrous. For example, the Decepticons topple a building and as it's falling the humans jump out of the window. Okay, that should kill them. No. You see the building is brought down in parts and the humans slide down the slanted portion. What? There are also some hokey music cues. I'm guessing in an effort to appeal to the young adult crowd, he has to have rock songs accompany the action. There's one scene where the humans are beaten down after the Decepticons have taken over downtown Chicago. Bay uses a soft rock song that sounds like something that Trey Parker and Matt Stone would parody. All of this stupidity goes on for one hundred and fifty five minutes.

Okay, some of you liked the Transformer movies. Some of you voted for Sarah Palin. I keeed. I keeed. And at the theater I saw it, people applauded the end or maybe they were happy it was over. But this is a 3D review, and guess what? The 3D portion of the movie is the only redeeming part of the film. The 3D effects in one word are spectacular. That's because most of the movie was filmed in 3D. Effects pop. There are subtle effects where you can see depth and money shots where things are flung at you. If you want to see this movie, go to the 3D version.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon is a cure for narcolepsy. Instead of waterboarding terror suspects, we should show them this movie. It should be the favorite for the Razzie for Worst Picture. The grade is D.

P.S. For you Trekkers, there are Star Trek references. At Sam's apartment, two Autobots are watching an episode of Star Trek. They say it's the one where Spock goes mad. I'm guessing "Amok Time' since we don't see the screen. Plus at the end of the movie, there's a music credit for the episode. At Carly's workplace, Sam comments on the clean and high tech office by comparing it to the bridge of the Enterprise. Of course, Sentinel Prime is voiced by Leonard Nimoy. Later he quotes the "The needs of the many..." line from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan much to the dismay of this Trekker since Dark of the Moon is terrible.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Jon Stewart Exposes Fox News

On last night's The Daily Show, Jon Stewart discussed the victimization card that Fox News uses. He also explains to you what "fair and balanced" means. Check out his commentary.

The Cincinnati Reds Season Is Going Down The Drain

Last night the Cincinnati Reds lost to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, yes you right-wing freaks, I still call them "Devil" Rays. But I digress. The Reds lost a hard fought game when Reds reliever Logan Ondrusek gave up a ninth inning home run to Eve Longoria, er Evan Longoria. The 4-3 loss dropped the Reds to fourth place behind the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The loss ends the first half of the season at 81 games. So it's time to look ahead and see if the Reds have a chance. The starting pitching is coming around but today's starter Edinson Volquez is a disaster. Can't throw strikes and he's immature. Folks, that guy was the Reds starting day pitcher. The bullpen is good but the whole staff needs consistency. That by the way is the term for success for the Reds.

Defense. It's pretty good. The outfield is good with Drew Stubbs, Jay Bruce, and Chris Heisey. Infield solid except for one critical position. Shortstop. They're not terrible but they must be better. Shortstops Edgar Renteria and Paul Janish can't hit. So they better be great at defense. No such luck.

Offense. The Reds are a streaky team. There will be days when they can't buy a clutch hit. There are other days where the Reds will clobber the ball. The team must hit with runners in scoring position like last year.

The big problem with the Reds is consistency. When they get good pitching, they can't hit. When they hit, they don't get pitching. Hence, the Reds record of 41-40 and one half game behind the Pirates. If the Reds want to make the playoffs, they have to play up to their talents and consistently. Because it doesn't look like the Reds will make any trades to improve their shortstop position or get a number one starter.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Edinson Volquez trade was a disaster

As the Cincinnati Reds lost to the Baltimore Orioles, I was reminded of Frank Robinsion. Remember the Reds traded an "old thirty" Robinson for Milt Pappas and change in late 1965. It was the worst trade in major league baseball history. Robinson would win the triple crown, and help the Orioles win two World Series. Pappas would only last three years with the Reds.

So why am I thinking about Robinson for Pappas? Because at the end of 2007, the Reds traded outfielder Josh Hamilton to the Texas Rangers for Edinson Volquez and change. The result? Last year, Josh Hamilton was the MVP. Volquez had a good year in 2008. He was injured in 2009 and had some success in 2010. But the red flags were warning the Reds. The Rangers dissatisfied with Volquez's control busted him down to single A ball. Folks, that's a maturity issue. And the Reds were forced to send Volquez back to the minors this year because of control problems.

Edinson Volquez showed Reds Nation last night why he's a bust. He looked like he had mechanical problems. If he can't repeat his delivery, then he can't pitch in the majors. And at this level, it's a maturity issue. As usual, he got behind hitters. That leads him to groove pitches to get a strike. Reds Manager Dusty Baker went to talk to him in the fourth, but not to remove him. It was clear Dusty was unhappy. Anyway he gave up four runs in four and one third innings. Of course, the Reds lost. They lost 5-4. Reds GM Walt Jocketty must stop the insanity. It's time to trade Volquez. Think about bringing back Travis Wood or bring up Dontrelle Willis.

The Reds loss dropped them into a third place tie with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Yeah, the Pittsburgh Pirates! This season is melting away like a Graeters' scoop of ice cream on a hot Cincinnati summer day.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Colbert Makes Fun of Obama's Goal of Nation Building in America

Last night Stephen Colbert made fun of President Obama's plan to withdraw from Afghanistan and nation build the United States. Okay, he compares America to the problems of building Afghanistan. And get this when he talks about poorly educated, heavily armed and religious zealots here in America, guess whose pictures he uses.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cincinnati Reds Finally Beat the Evil Empire

Look after losing to the hated New York Yankees, 5-3 on Monday and then the first game of a double header, 4-2, the Cincinnati Reds pounded the New York Yankees. They won the night game of the double header, 10-2. Look, I was about to write off the Reds if they got swept. I would have called them a team that chokes against good teams. But the Reds in a commanding performance walloped the Yankees and kept their fans around for another game. Such is baseball. It' ain't over till it's over. Sorry about thumping your Yanks, Yogi.

As for the game, Reds starting pitcher Johnny Cueto was masterful. His fastball was moving and he kept it down. Good change up and devastating slider. And what about Reds outfielder Chirs Heisey? (Pictured) Yeah, I screamed for him to start. And he wasn't showing anyone that he should start. But then came today. Heisey launched his starting career today. He blasted three home runs and drove in five runs. More importantly, he showed the league he can hit breaking balls. The second homer came on a breaking ball. Let's hope that gets him and the Reds out of their funk.

It's time to make some hay Reds. Let's catch the St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers in a week. Here's the story about game two with video.

Only A Generic Republican Can Defeat Obama

On last night's Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert notes that named Republican presidential candidates are polling behind President Barack Obama. However, there was a poll that a generic Republican can defeat Obama. This is comic fodder for Stephen Colbert.

Fox News' Lies Are A Mountain to Jon Stewart's Fib

When Jon Stewart was on Fox News Sunday, he told a falsehood by saying that Fox viewers were consistently misinformed. On last night's "Daily Show", Stewart notes that PolitiFact caught him. Kudos to Stewart for admitting and apologizing for his mistake. He then goes over how many times Fox News been caught by PolitiFact in lies. And it's a mountain. Check it out.

Bristol Palin writes her memoir

Teen pregnancy star Bristol Palin, daughter of presidential tease Sarah Palin, has written her memoir. The book called "Not Afraid of Life: My Journey So Far" was written with help by Nancy French. This is again one of those "only in America" moments. I mean what has this woman done to merit interest in her very young life? Play virtuoso violin? Academy Award winning actress?

The only thing she has done was to get knocked up as as teenager. It was made a story because she's the daughter of former vice presidential hopeful Sarah Palin. When Bristol got on Dancing with the Stars, I questioned her "star" status. Then I surmised it must be teenage pregnancy star. That is obvious from the cover of the book as it features Bristol with her son, Tripp.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Cincinnati Reds Manager Dusty Baker Has A Brain Fart

Last night the Cincinnati Reds played the New York Yankees aka The Evil Empire. They lost 5-3. Before I discuss other aspects of the game, Reds manager Dusty Baker had a brain fart in the bottom of the ninth. With two out and two runs in, Dusty pinch hits for catcher Ryan Hanigan. Who does he choose? Edgar Renteria. Now Hanigan is batting .268. Renteria? He's batting .221. WHAT THE F......K? Really? I better hear that Hanigan wasn't feeling well. Yeah, it's not as bad as Jerry Narron batting Juan Castro for Josh Hamilton. Remember that one? But what is the logic here? Renteria is looking his age. And what was the result. Strikeout.

What about the rest of the game? Reds starting pitcher Travis Wood continues to demonstrate he doesn't know how to pitch WHEN HE'S AHEAD IN THE COUNT. With two strikes, he continually grooves fastballs out over the plate. Of course he gets hit. Before the first inning was done, the Reds were down by four runs. In the eighth, Yankees Curtis Granderson tried to steal second. Catcher Hanigan had him dead to rights with a perfect throw. Reds shortstop Paul Janish booted the ball and Granderson got to third when he eventually scored. Janish can't hit. His average is a woeful .227. If you can't hit, you better be able to field. I say it's time for the Reds to end this silliness and bring up Zack Cozart from AAA. Louisville.

The frustrating thing about last night's game was that the Reds can beat the Yankees. They're not better than the Reds. Well, Reds Nation today is another game.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Falling Skies Review

The problem with reviewing a TV series is that you don't know how it will turn up in later episodes or how the series will end. Lost was fantastic for five years, then year six hit and killed the whole series. Last night TNT premiered a new TV science fiction series produced by Stephen Spielberg called Falling Skies.

The TV pilot starts months after aliens have attacked earth. They've decimated the planet, killing millions. Tom Mason (Noah Wyle) is scavenging for food with his son, Hal Mason (Drew Roy) when they are jumped by an unseen alien which we find out later is an alien mech, a walking robotic tank. The alien has advanced weaponry. They lose the food they were carrying. But more ominously, they see the real aliens capture a civilian.

Tom and his son escape back to their home base. Tom is an "officer" in a resistance movement. His unit is called the Second Massachusetts as they had been living in Boston. Tom was formerly a history professor at Boston University. Porter, (Dale Dye) a former military officer, decides to split up the resistance factions and evacuate Boston. He gives command of the Second Massachusetts to an Iraq War veteran, Weaver. (Will Patton) But Porter values Tom's intellect as a historian and makes him second in command to Weaver. Tom is also torn between his duties to the unit and looking for his missing son, Ben.

But resistance units not only have to fight but they must protect civilians moving with them. The Second Massachusetts's doctor is Anne Glass (Moon Bloodgood), a former pediatrician, who due to the dire straits of the survivors has been forced to treat war wounds of the fighters. She also represents the concerns of the civilians which includes Tom's youngest son, a child named Matt.

During a search for food, the aliens are revealed in their full glory. That's a rule for any alien-monster show. The humans call the aliens Skitters. They're multi-legged creatures, and have a "The Fly" kind of vibe. The special effects are decent. The Skitters are also accompanied by bipedal mechs which have act like tanks. The humans can kill Skitters but must get close to do so. The mechs require more firepower to be destroyed. The aliens also capture humans and control them by attaching a insect like harness. Removing the harness usually leads to death. It's during this mission that Hal sees his brother Ben, with a harness, being led away by a mech.

The performances are dead on. Noah Wyle is excellent as the academic and father turned soldier. Drew Roy correctly makes his teenage character to be an immature but loyal son. Will Patton, at first comes off as a gruff stereotypical military man who only knows of the mission but there are times his character does show cracks. Colin Cunningham plays a nihilistic criminal named John Pope. He gives his character the right amount of menace yet there's some humanity. Moon Bloodgood gives her doctor a compassionate and empathetic performance. Now in old war movies, racial diversity would be a stereotype but in this show it's a current American reality. Plus it gives the resistance a metaphor for humanity. And while the younger women in the cast are good, they're just too pretty to be believed as part of a ragtag resistance force. For example, Jessy Schram plays Hal's girlfriend, Karen and she's still very blond. Really? After the alien apocalypse, there's time to bleach your hair? But I digress.

What makes Falling Skies compelling is the mix of sci-fi action, ideals and human drama. It's hard not to shed a tear when the refugees celebrate Matt's birthday with a cupcake and instead of a candle, they must use a match. The skateboard given to Matt is eagerly shared among the children. The intrigue about the aliens makes you want to discover more about what do they want. What is that large structure towering over Boston? It's reminiscent of the ship in District 9. The action is well done. The aliens are frightening. You root when they are taken down. It is war after all.

As with any television, the goal is to make you the viewer want to see the next episode. And Falling Skies does that. You will wonder what has happened to Ben. Is the John Pope character redeemable? How do the humans defeat the aliens? It's War of the Worlds (2005), only this time the refugees fight back. Falling Skies is thought provoking, action packed and emotional. This is must see TV. The grade is A.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Green Lantern 3D Review

As a kid, I liked Green Lantern comics because they had cool aliens. So last year when I found out about the new movie being made, I went to a store and picked up a copy of Green Lantern: Secret Origin. IMDB had reported that this graphic novel would be the basis of the new movie. I also picked up Green Lantern: First Flight (2009) , an animated movie released direct to DVD. The question becomes if you have no idea of the Green Lantern mythos, will you be able to follow it?

Green Lantern, which came out yesterday, is an origin story. It's how test pilot Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) becomes Green Lantern. The movie starts out when Parallax (Clancy Brown), an evil creature that feeds on fear, has escaped its prison. The person that initially captured Parallax was Abin Sur (Temuera Morrison), a member of the Green Lantern Corps, a kind of cosmic police force. This Corps was created by the Guardians of the Universe to keep the peace and ensure justice throughout the universe. Parallax manages to fatally wound Abin Sur. He crashes to earth. Dying he asks his power ring to summon an earthling to be his replacement. Okay, a quick thing about the power ring. It can create matter called constructs by the ring wearer willing such constructs into being.

The ring summons Hal Jordan. Jordan is test pilot who's such a maverick that he purposely defeats the jet drones that his company, Ferris Air, is trying to sell to the Air Force. His purpose was to demonstrate their weaknesses and get the drones to be improved. His boss, fellow pilot and love interest Carol Ferris (Blake Lively) is not so pleased with Jordan's actions and lack of maturity. Jordan is later transported to Sur's location. Sur tells him to take the ring. Jordan does.

After using the ring to defeat some thugs, Jordan is whisked to the planet Oa. It is where the Guardians and the Corps are located. Jordan is trained by Tomar-Re (Geoffrey Rush) and Kilowog (Michael Clarke Duncan) who's a little too urban African American for the role. The leader of Corps, Sinestro (Mark Strong) is disappointed in Jordan who returns to earth. Sinestro senses fear which the Green Lantern Corps are to be without. Meanwhile, Dr. Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard) does an autopsy on Abin Sur. However, part of Parallax's cells are in the body and infects Hammond. He gets the powers of telepathy and telekinesis. During a battle with Jordan, Jordan is able to mind meld with Hammond. Jordan now realizes that Parallax is coming to earth and then to Oa to destroy them. Jordan goes back to Oa to ask the Guardians to allow him to fight Parallax. Whew.

To answer the question first posed in this review, you are going to have a hard time following Green Lantern. Writers Greg Berlanti, Michael Green, Marc Guggenheim, Michael Goldenberg have created a script that has too many plot elements. I mean you've got Hammond, Parallax, the Guardians, Sinestro etc. All these elements causes the film to lose focus. It would help if the writers were more chronological. It might also help if the film were longer to explain some of the surreal parts.

Director Martin Campbell is competent but he doesn't seem to understand superhero movies. There's no goose bumpy heroic moment in the film. Whoever did the art direction must like caves. The planet Oa did not look like some advanced alien home. It resembled something out of Planet of the Apes. Add to that, the scenes were lit with little light. And James Newton Howard eschews the traditional orchestral heroic music for a lot of rock based stuff. That maybe the biggest problem. Because if the music was bold and orchestral, like Superman (1978), there would be those inspiring moments you get in a superhero movie.

Ryan Reynolds is charming but we miss the steel, and longing for justice that a Green Lantern needs. Blake Lively is beautiful to look at but she's not give a whole lot to do in this movie. Peter Sarsgaard as Hammond has the most fleshed out of the parts. And that helps his tortured performance. Angela Bassett gives a mature performance as a government scientist.

As for the 3D, this movie was converted from 2D. As with all 3D films, Green Lantern is too dark. This becomes a problem with scenes shot with less light such as night scenes and the planet Oa. That being said there was some surprising popping effects with this conversion. Most of those occurred with CGI effects but still other scenes looked like they were shot in 3D. Can't say that with close ups of the actors though. But the question becomes should you spend the extra four bucks to see it 3D. I say no because you're not going to get anything special. However, this conversion is probably the best I've seen, there are some cool scenes and absent the darkness factor, it doesn't hurt the film.

Green Lantern is a faithful retelling of the mythos of the comic book. It's always interesting if not inspiring. That might not be great praise, but I can say it's not boring. It's enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours. Stay through the credits for a hint of what the sequel is going to be about. The grade is B.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The worst song is no longer available for free

Yahoo is reporting that Rebecca Black's song "Friday" is no longer available for free on YouTube. Considered the worst song ever made, it had over 167 million hits. Aw, and the world weeps for the loss. Well, here are my favorite spoofs of the song.

Reds Thrive On West Coast Road Trip

Usually, the Cincinnati Reds flounder on the West Coast. Trust me, it doesn't matter how bad the teams they played were, the Reds would get killed. And after they split the series with the San Francisco Giants, I was ready to write off the Reds as a .500team.

But a funny thing happened when the Reds went to Los Angeles to play the Dodgers. The Reds swept them. The Reds won Wednesday, 7-2, with a lineup that included Jonny Gomes, Fred Lewis and Chris Heisey. That's right, Reds manager Dusty Baker gave Drew Stubbs and Jay Bruce a day off. It was a 5-2 road trip. The Reds win puts them just two games behind the Milwaukee Brewers and one game behind the sinking St. Louis Cardinals. Hold on Reds fans, it ain't over till it's over.

Cincinnati Bengals, The Worst Professional Sports Team

ESPN: The Magazine has rated 122 professional sports teams in the four major American sports. NFL, NBA, MLB and the NHL were among the participants. The categories used were bang for the buck, players, fan relations, affordability, stadium experience, ownership, title track, and coaching. The top team was the Green Bay Packers. The worst? The Cincinnati Bengals. The Cincinnati Reds ranked 15th.

The dead last ranking for the Bengals comes as no surprise to Bengals fans. During owner-GM Mike Brown's tenure, the Bengals have only had two winning seasons out of twenty. He refuses to hire a GM and his team has one of the lowest number of scouts. His arrogance that he knows what's best for his team has doomed the Bengals to be consistent losers. That's why last year, after selling out fifty seven straight games, the Bengals failed to sell out their game with the Buffalo Bills. The fans have had enough. And yet Mike Brown refuses to do anything. It looks like another long year for Bengals fans.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Two Years Ago Congresswoman Michele Bachmann Called For Investigations of Corngressmen

Michele Bachmann did very well at last night's Republican Presidential Debate. Let me put it this way. She sounded like a smarter Sarah Palin. But did you know in 2008 on Chris Matthews show "Hardball" that she called for investigations of congressmen to see if they had pro-American views. Sounds reminiscent? Yes. It reeks of Senator Joe McCarthy. Anyway, Matthews did a piece on Republicans failing to remember history. Those who cannot remember history are condemned to repeat it.

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More of Anthony Weiner's Weiner

Okay, there are more pictures of Anthony Weiner taking pictures of himself in the House gym. He's showing his pride in his um, well you know. Anyway, a Connecticut doll manufacturer is offering an action figure. And it comes complete with the proper, uh, attachments. Unfortunately, the interest was so high their website crashed. Here's the L.A. Times story. Yesterday, both The Daily Show and the Colbert Report did pieces on the Weiner scandal. Check them out.

Stephen Colbert Takes On The Classless LeBron James

Stephen Colbert went over LeBron James classless put down of his detractors, bribes in the soccer world and freestyle canoe dancing. It's funny. Check it out.

Tennessee may arrest you for posting frightening pictures

According to TG Daily, the state of Tennessee has passed a law that makes it illegal to "transmit or display an image" online that is likely to "frighten, intimidate or cause emotional distress" to someone who sees it. Violation of this law could get you almost a year in jail or up to a $2500 fines.

Now this is the great state that in the past that banned the teaching of evolution. Remember the Scopes Monkey trial? And how about the proposed "Don't say gay" law which prohibits teachers from talking about homosexuality. Check out George Takei's video below.

Let's post a picture sure to get those right-wing yahoos in Tennessee all fired up. First, how about a picture of a liberal? That should frighten those right-wing conservatives. Here's Rachel Maddow, she's to your left. And get this she's a liberal and gay. Scared you right-wingers?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Some Theaters Show 2D Movies With 3D Lenses

So I went to see Super 8 on Friday. When we finally see the "creature" or "monster" in the cave, I had to squint. I complained to some Trekkers at that the movie was badly lit as the "creature or monster" was hard to see. One Trekker, nameed Jonbec, told me that some movie theaters do not change the 3D lens when they run 2D movies. Not believing that, I saw Super 8 at another theater. At the second theater, the picture was crisp and clear. So, he was right. I did some research and here's what I found.

Boston Globe film critic Ty Burr did a story on movie theaters refusing to change the 3D lens on projectors when they show 2D films. Here's the story. At a Boston AMC, Burr describes 2D movies being shown with the 3D lens on. The problem? The 3D lens polarizing effect darkens the picture, sometimes as much as fifty percent. Trust me that stinks and that's what caused me to have a difficult time seeing the creature. The machines he notes that are causing this problem are Sony's 4K digital projectors. So why don't theaters just change the lens? According to Burr, the digital projector requires a special technician and costs money to change.

So how does a moviegoer avoid watching a 2D movie with a 3D lens and or get his money back. Here's what I would do.

1. At the box office, there will be a D next to the movie. That means digital. You can ask too. "Digital? Change the lens?" Digital doesn't mean bad because the theater owner could have changed the lens. Still that's a red flag. Also note that Burr names a particular chain that does not change the lens. I would take Burr's article with you. Seriously.

2. If so far they've satisfied you, then sit down. Now watch the movie. Look at the projection booth. According to Burr if you see two lights coming out of the digital projector, one stacked on top of another, it's running with a 3D lens.

3. Now you can see the results on the screen. A 2D movie with a 3D lens looks darker. It has a hazy feel almost as the director of the movie used a filter to shoot it. When I saw Super 8, the first scene with Joe sitting outside with the snow looked like it was shot with a filter to drain the light. Other outside scenes were okay. But night scenes were mud. And of course, when Director Abrams revealed the "creature or "monster" it was very difficult to see or view any detail. That's because of the 3D lens used to project a 2D movie.

4. Now if you're at the beginning of the movie, get up. Demand your money back. They might give you a pass but hey, it's better than nothing.

Movie fans, we need to know the problem. Then complain to the theater. Complain to your local film critic. Complain to any film industry professionals that you know.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Super 8 Review

In the June 17, 2011 Entertainment Weekly, (pg. 67) Producer Steven Spielberg says of Super 8, "I don't see homage when I see this film." Sorry, Steven. Or should I say Mr. Spielberg, Super 8 is one gigantic homage to you.

Super 8 starts with the funeral reception of pre-teen Joe Lamb's (Joel Courtney) mother. The year is 1979. We find out that Joe's father, Jackson Lamb, is a deputy in the town of Lillian, Ohio. Jackson blames Louis Dainard (Ron Eldard) for his wife's death since she had to take over a factory shift for Louis. Louis is also the father of Alice (Elle Fanning), a middle school classmate of Joe.

Months after the funeral, life goes on, as Joe gets back to middle school. His school friend Charles (Riley Griffiths) is a young filmmaker. He's trying to make a zombie movie with Charles and his other classmates. While filming with his friends at a train station, an Air Force train is hit by a truck causing it to derail. A creature escapes and terrorizes the town.

Writer-director J.J. Abrams (Star Trek) pulls out all of his fancy camera tricks. Whip pans. Check. Hand-held camera shots circling the main characters as they engage in conversation. Check. Lens flares. Check. This visual overkill maybe good to the ADHD crowd but it's not needed for this film. That's because Abrams has crafted a rich coming of age story that doesn't need such camera calisthenics. In fact, the story of the kids makes a good movie by itself without the science fiction part tacked on. Further, the lighting is too dark. Abrams almost violates the first rule of monster movies. Show the monster. In the movie, Abrams does but lights it so badly that the audience will have to talk to each other to figure out what they saw. And as I've stated before, this movie is an absolute homage to Speilberg. From the over the top dramatic close ups of the actors' faces, to the themes of pre-teen angst, to the young filmmakers using a Super 8 camera like a young Spielberg, this film could have been made by Steven Speilberg.

UPDATE; 6-11-11: A fellow Trekker, Jonbec, at told me that it's possible that I saw "Super 8" in a theater where they did not change the 3D lens to 2D. If that's the case then the picture would be much darker and lack resolution. I saw the film again at a different theater. The picture was crisp and I could see the "monster." Here's film critic Ty Burr's article on theaters misusing 3D lenses or attachments on 2D movies. If you're wondering why an employee just doesn't change the lens according to Burr, it's very technical and costs money. Anyway the article tells you how to avoid the 3D lens when watching a movie in 2D. I plan to blog about this at a later date.

But it's the performances by the young cast that buoys the film. Joel Courtney demonstrates the pain of losing his mother and his own growth into a young adult. Ellle Fanning displays the loneliness of having a barely there father and a mother who left the family. Their characters, Joe and Alice were made for each other. Abrams script and direction beautifully exhibits the young love that is universal to all.

Super 8 is a cross between E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial and Jaws. It's a rich film about growing up in America in the seventies. There are nice touches of warmth, and humor to go along with the thrills. Stay for the credits as Charles' zombie picture plays. Nice homage to George Romero, the creator of the zombie genre, as the chemical company that creates the zombies is called Romero Chemical. The grade is B+.

Here's the first teaser trailer. Note, you will see different footage in this trailer than the one in the movie. So consider this a deleted take.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

What People Do While Watching The Daily Show And The Colbert Report

Last night, Jon Stewart of the Daily Show and Stephen Colbert did pieces on the sexting of Congressman Anthnoy Weiner. We found out from transcripts of the sexting that Weiner and a woman had sexual fantasies of doing it while watching Stewart and Colbert. Colbert went further, reminding his audience of Blogger Andrew Breibert's hypocrisy and that Playboy's Hugh Hefner actually did have sex during Colbert's show. Check them out.

Why Congressman Anthony Weiner Should Resign

Last night Rachel Maddow did a piece on the hypocrisy of the Republicans demanding Congressman Anthony Weiner to resign. That's because Republican Senator David Vitter (La.) actually visited a brothel while he was a senator and the Republicans are not asking him to resign. Vitter actually had sex outside of marriage. What did Weiner do? He sent pictures of his junk to adult women. Was that illegal? Possibly not. But Vitter did break the law whether one believes prostitution should be legalized or not. Great piece by Maddow on what she calls the Vitter Problem. Good interview with Larry Flynt. Video below.

But I believe New York Congressman Anthony Weiner should resign. Here's why. Congressman Anthony Weiner is a fighter for the working man. He doesn't defend the corporate interests or the rich. Weinter's ideas on fairness are righteous. This sex scandal diminishes those ideas. It clouds them up for the rest of the nation, especially those who maybe listening . I am confident that Weiner's Ninth District will elect a person who has the same liberal ideas that Weiner has. Weiner's liberal ideas must survive and thrive. That may mean they need another voice.

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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Stephen Colbert Tries To Prove Sarah Palin Was Right About Paul Revere

Previously I posted the ludicrous comments Sarah Palin had about Paul Revere's famous ride to warn the patriots that the British were coming. She said Revere was trying to warn the British that they couldn't take out guns away, and he fired his gun and rang bells. cut Palin some slack but called her view of history badly twisted. Look, Revere's mission was to warn the rebels that the British were marching on Lexington and Concord. He was to warn John Hancock and Samuel Adams that they were going to be arrested. And while the British were going to seize an arms cache at Concord, Palin's Second Amendment fantasy is still stupid. Here's the FactCheck.Org story.

Anyway, last night Stephen Colbert tried to prove Sarah Palin was right. In this brilliant piece, Colbert shows how ludicrous it looks to ride a horse, while firing a musket and ringing a bell. Hilarious.

Stephen Colbert Looks At Anthony Weiner's Weiner

Yesterday, New York Congressman Anthony Weiner called a press conference to admit that he did indeed tweet a picture of his penis to a young woman. Again, the penis was covered by his underwear. He also admitted to sending other pictures to other women but denied having any sexual relations with them. Right-wing blogger Andrew Breibart who broke the story, almost stole the show by actually taking the podium before Weiner got to room where the press conference was held. Anyway this is all great comic fodder for Stephen Colbert. He notes that Breibart, who has reported on stories out of context before, got this one right. So Colbert says he's one out of four. Here's the video piece.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

What the Cincinnati Reds Must Do To Win The Central

Boy, did that hurt. The Cincinnati Reds were five runs ahead in the eighth inning when the Los Angeles Dodgers scored five runs to tie the game. The Dodgers eventually won the game 11-8. There have been worse games where I've seen the Cincinnati Reds blow big leads. Remember last year's blown eight run lead with a walk-off grand slam by the Atlanta Braves? The team is resilient so hold Reds Nation. But this is the time to go over things the Reds must do to stay competitive.

1. Read the riot act to Edinson Volquez. With Homer Bailey down and Bronson Arroyo's inconsistencies, it looks like the Reds will bring back immature Edinson Volquez. Now's the time to read this guy the riot act and tell him to straighten up. Throw strikes. Quit moping around the mound. Apologize to his teammates for the stupid line about needing to score more runs. We want the 2008 Volquez not juvenile we saw at the beginning of the year. And if he doesn't behave? Remind him it's his contract year if he wants to make the big money. Can't do that if you're in the minor leagues.

2. Rest Scott Rolen A Lot. Injuries and age have caught up with third baseman Scott Rolen. He's not driving the ball. His last home run was April 7Rest Rolen a lot, maybe even seventy games. Who would be his replacement? Bring up Juan Francisco. You can get the same production from Francisco but with more power. He's the future. Have Rolen groom him now. But if you bring up Francisco, who do you send down?

3. Designate for assignment, Jonny Gomes. He's regressing back to some of his bad years in the majors. He's never hit consistently. And right now, every pitcher is throwing to the outside corner because they know he'll try to pull it. That leads to a lot of strikeouts. Look, nobody is going to pick him up. He'll probably accept the assignment since he wants his paycheck.

4. Start Chris Heisey in left field. At one point Chris Heisey was at the top of the depth chart for outfielders outside of Jay Bruce. He's a better fielder than Gomes and can hit for power. He also makes better contact than Gomes.

5. Talk to Bronson Arroyo. Arroyo may have won the last game against the Dodgers but his previous two games he was throwing batting practice.
Mononucleosis may have weakened him. If he needs to go on the DL then do it. The Reds are better with somebody from the minors than somebody who can't last three innings.

6. Trade It's clear that shortstop Paul Janish can't hit or at least hit .250. So do you trade for a shortstop, say Jose Reyes of the New York Mets? Well, it all depends. It's too early at this time to contemplate where the Reds needs are now. I mean the Reds could use a starting pitcher down the road. Who knows? But I do know, I wouldn't give away the farm for a player like Reyes in the last year of his contract that you may not be able to sign. If the Mets want catching prospect Yasmani Grandal with Janish, then I make the deal. If they want too much, then no deal.

Reds Nation, you need to hang on. If they make changes like I have outlined this team can win the National League Central.

Anthony Weiner's Weiner

Okay, here in the basement, we try to be fair and balanced. And if you read this blog, you know I lean to the left. I like New York congressman Anthony Weiner. I like his views and the fact that he fights for the working man. So, it pains me to do this story.

I'm sure you've heard that Weiner claims his Twitter account got hacked. A photograph of a man's penis was sent to a young woman through Twitter. Now the photo is not as bad as you think. It's covered by underwear. In fact, you have to look pretty hard to make it out as a penis. I mean it could be a woman with a stack of quarters in her underwear. Anyway, the young woman who got the photo denies any improper relationship between her and Weiner. And Weiner denies sending the photo. So what's the problem? Well, Weiner went through a bunch of interviews and could not deny that the penis was his. Just say no, Anthony. Unless the penis is yours? Wait a minute, you got junk shots on your computer. Oy vey.

Here's Stephen Colbert's take.

Friend John Stewart of the Daily Show can't figure out what to do with the story.

Sarah Palin Messes Up The Paul Revere Ride

Somewhere Poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is spinning in his grave. You see Longfellow made famous the ride of Paul Revere to warn fellow patriots that the British were marching on the towns of Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts. His poem is one that every school child has heard and remembers the first famous lines, "Listen my children and you shall hear; Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere." Yeah, it's not totally accurate history but still the poem burned into every school child, the story of Paul Revere. Unless you happen to be Sarah Palin.

Sarah Palin was touring Boston on her family vacation, paid for by her PAC. Okay she says she's trying to "educate" Americans of our founding principles. At least she says that in the dialogue box asking for money on her PAC site. Anyway, when asked about Paul Revere's ride, Sarah Palin tried to "educate" the public about Revere by saying she was warning the British that they couldn't take away our arms and was ringing bells. What the ... ? Just check out the video of her below. Note to the Daily Show, this video doesn't need any jokes.

Friday, June 3, 2011

X-Men: First Class Review

I was concerned when I first heard about X-Men: First Class (XM:FC) because it was gong to be a reboot about the formation of Dr. Charles Xavier's school for mutants. I thought here we go again, another Hollywood attempt to get younger for the sake of a teenage demographic. Yes, some of the mutants are teenagers but I was pleased to see my concerns about XM:FC allayed. You see this is a mature story about the beginnings of the comic book superheroes.

The story starts out the same way the first X-Men (2000) film started out. We start out in Poland, 1944 where a young Erik Lensherr's parents are being taken away to a concentration camp. Only this time, we see what happens right after Erik is captured. A Nazi scientist by the name of Dr. Schmidt (Kevin Bacon) attempts to train Erik on how to use his power to manipulate metal. Dr. Schmidt surmises that it takes intense emotions such as rage for Erik to use his power. He brings Erik's mother in his office. He asks Erik to manipulate a coin. He can't. So Dr. Schmidt kills Erik's mother thus causing Erik to use his power.

We then flash forward to 1962, where Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender) is hunting Dr. Schmidt. At the same time, Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) is an Oxford University student completing his doctorate. His thesis? Human mutation. This younger Xavier is a bit of a playboy using his powers to pick up women. Meanwhile, CIA agent Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne) in Las Vegas stumbles upon a plot to encourage the United States to put missiles in Turkey. She spots her first mutants. She enlists the help of Xavier to help her. They are led to Dr. Schmidt's yacht, only now he is known as Sebastian Shaw. Erik attempts to kill Shaw but escapes with the help of mutant Emma Frost. (January Jones) Erik agrees to join Xavier and other mutants to help the CIA to figure out Shaw's plans. They discover the plan is to start World War III by planting Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba aka in real life as the Cuban Missile crisis. What is Shaw's motive? To unleash world wide radiation to create a mutant race.

The use of the Cuban Missile crisis is a clever plot point. It also gives this movie a mature tone. This is one serious but fascinating film. Credit must be given to the writers of the screenplay, Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz, Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn with a story by Sheldon Turner and Bryan Singer. Director Matthew Vaughn (KIck-Ass) keeps the action crisp and sharp. He gets great emotional reactions from the cast. There is a thankful lack of camp. My only complaint is that the bad mutants have motivation for their actions while it's hard to see why the good mutants will stay good.

Michael Fassbender is great as the tormented Erik. The same holds true for James McAvoy, first as playboy Charles then he becomes the mature teacher, Dr. Xavier. January Jones exudes a sixties sexuality. She comes off as a Playboy Playmate from the period.

You'll forget this movie is based on a comic book because it's one sophisticated tale. X-Men: First Class is one of the best superhero movies ever made. The grade is A.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Sarah Palin Gets It All Wrong In New York

Sarah Palin, presidential tease, was in New York. To all of those who gave her PAC money, you got buyers remorse yet? I mean she's using your money for her family vacation. And as expected she gets it wrong about topics of history and even, real New York pizza.

While visiting the Stature of Liberty, Sarah Palin said this and please forgive me for repeating her English, "It is of course the symbol for Americans to be reminded of other countries, cause, this was given to us, of course by the French, other countries warning us to never make the mistakes that some of them have made." (Hardball with Chris Matthews, video below.) What the? First she sounds like Miss Teen South Carolina. Second, that stuff about warning us not to make the mistakes they have made is absolutely nonsense. No, Sarah you get a F for history. The Statue of Liberty is a symbol of freedom, specifically it is the depiction of the Roman goddess for freedom, Libertas.

She also had lunch with another presidential tease, super rich guy Donald Trump. He takes her to Famous Famiglia which is an Albanian pizza chain with restaurants all over the nation. She later says they had real New York pizza. This of course caused groans by New Yorkers. Wrong again Sarah. It caused Jon Stewart of the Daily Show to go all out Italian. Check out his funny piece below.

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Reds Rebound

After six innings of last night's game between the Cincinnati Reds and the Milwaukee Brewers with the Brewers taking a 3-0 lead, I was ready to write about another Reds loss. And after the previous 2-8 road trip, I was going to write about the dire situation the Reds were in. And no question, the Reds need players to pick it up. But this is baseball and as Yogi Berra would say, "It ain't over till it's over."

Starting Reds pitcher Mike Leake kept the the team in the game. Reds outfielder Jay Bruce in the seventh inning launched a two run homer. Then in the eighth, Reds first baseman Joey Votto blasted another two run homer. Closer Francisco Cordero closed the game for his 300th career save. The Reds stay above the five hundred mark. I'm going to talk about some changes the Reds need to do to stay in the Central Division race in the future. But for now, it's time to smile and enjoy the win. Here's the story with video.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Stephen Colbert Takes On Sarah Palin's Bus Tour

Stephen Colbert did a piece on Sarah Palin's Bus Tour and notes it's done with her PAC money. There's something really wrong about using PAC money for a family vacation. I know she says its' about America but frankly I want my history from somebody who knows something about history. Anyway here's Stephen's funny take.

Colbert wants to know how his proposed PAC can pay for his family vacation.