Archive for April, 2009

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Random Shit

April 25, 2009

-Following up on my goal to gain weight: since mid-March I’ve gained 14 pounds (144 —> 158) via lifting weights 3x a week, taking creatine, and bumping my daily calorie intake somewhere around the 3000-4000 range. I’m still roughly 27 pounds off my ultimate goal, but I wanted to achieve that by October, so I feel pretty solid about my current progress. I can’t really say I can see the 14 lbs, but I definitely feel healthier and a bit more in shape… but most importantly, I feel good.

-Fuck poker. Honestly. I hate the game. I made it a goal to not play at least twice a week, but the actual result has been not playing roughly five times a week and the few days I do play are very limited sessions. I just don’t have it in me to devote hours and hours anymore to something I really don’t enjoy in the least. Here’s the problem: I don’t like playing cards nearly as much as I like making fast money–at least not on the internet. I enjoy the camaraderie of playing with actual people, but something about playing online allows the inevitable bad beats and cold streaks to just drive me completely fucking crazy; it makes me absolutely miserable sometimes. Despite cutting back on my playing time by roughly 90%, I have managed to eek out my first winning month of 2009 (assuming I didn’t just jinx myself). It’s admittedly a moderate pull so far, but it’s refreshing to know that I’m still capable of being a winning player.

-I’m recording a new album. Yes… I know I’ve said this before and it has been six years since I released Relationshits and I might as well be retired at this point, but I’m in a zone… the kind of zone I haven’t hit since I was recording Relationshits. I’m deep into the writing process and I’m just starting to record songs… Despite that, I think a summer 2009 release date is pretty likely at this point although that time frame doesn’t correspond with my trend of releasing my music on one of my famed “cursed” days (I’m looking at you February 14th, October 12th, and December 20th). Anyways, I’m far enough along with the project to know that it’s going to be called Leaving Las Vegas. That’s a reference to the Nicolas Cage film since my battle with and recovery from alcoholism is a central theme and gambling also played a rather large role in the downward spiral that was my life from 2005-2008. I should have some guests on the album as well, but I’ll wait a little bit before I air that information. Stay tuned.

-Eminem’s album Relapse comes out in roughly a month. So far I’ve heard four tracks from Eminem in 2009 and I’m not really sure what to expect from the album. Here are the four songs that have been leaked/released: 3 A.M., We Made You, Crack A Bottle, I’m Having A Relapse (Freestyle). Based on the quality of those tracks, I think Relapse is likely to be better than Encore, but still disappointment overall. I think it’s highly likely that the Eminem from 1999-2002 that was poised to be one of the best emcees of all-time is dead and will never come back. However, the lyrics and flow seem to be back–dude absolutely rips “3 A.M.”–but for whatever reason, Eminem seems incapable of rapping in a normal voice anymore. Every single one of those songs I posted has him using his Triumph The Insult Comic Dog/Arabian voice from “Azz Like That.” I don’t get that shit at all… it’s wack as hell. Hopefully dude can at least put it together long enough to be sincere when he inevitably touches upon Proof’s death.

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The New Freddy Krueger

April 19, 2009

Yes, that’s the man that will be playing icon Freddy Krueger in the upcoming A Nightmare On Elm Street remake. Jackie Earle Haley has been signed on to take over the role that Robert Englund made famous 25 years ago. I grew up on Jason and Freddy films, so I keep close tabs on anything to do with my favorite horror franchises and while the idea of remaking A Nightmare On Elm Street, and especially recasting Freddy, is kind of taboo, it’s also a little exciting and refreshing. I don’t like this casting as much as the Billy Bob Thornton rumor (who I thought would be great), but Haley played Rorschach in Watchmen, so it’s not much of a stretch to imagine him as Freddy Krueger. I don’t expect him to inject the humor that Englund did into the role, but that’s honestly a good thing in my opinion. Like the recent Friday The 13th remake, I hope this reboot takes the franchise back to its more serious and scary roots.

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Next Judd Apatow Film

April 17, 2009

I saw this trailer before “I Love You, Man.” It’s the next film from Judd Apatow (”40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up”) and is called “Funny People” starring Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen. Uhm… Judd Apatow + Seth Rogen + Adam Sandler + stand up comedy + touching story = sign me up

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I Love You Man Is Hilarious

April 17, 2009

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Yeah, I said it. I Love You, Man is greatness, possibly a comedy classic in the making. Time and repeat viewings will say whether or not that is true, but this was by far the most fun I’ve had watching a movie this year. Thank God for Judd Apatow and his buddies ushering in the era of the R-rated comedy. In general, ever since 40 Year Old Virgin was released in 2005, the quality of comedies has drastically increased over the past half decade. Though I thought some of the movies from this genre (i.e. Pineapple Express, Zack & Miri Make A Porno) were a bit overrated last year, I Love You, Man is a very solid step back in the right direction.

The film centers on Peter Klaven (Paul Rudd), a real estate salesman planning to marry the woman of his dreams, Zooey (Rashida Jones). After overhearing Zooey’s friends making fun of his lack of a social circle, Peter decides: “I need some fucking friends.” After a series of hilarious “man dates” with various guys, Peter finally comes across Sydney Fife (Jason Segel) at an open house he’s hosting and instantly finds Sydney’s honesty and blunt nature endearing. They become quick friends and it doesn’t take long for this new friendship to cause problems between Peter and Zooey.

The cast in this is really terrific. Paul Rudd and Jason Segel have both become legitimate comedy stars. Both Rudd and Segel have grown from supporting characters in the first couple of Judd Apatow films to being stars in their own movies. Both actors are phenomenal in this movie and Rudd really hams it up as Peter Klaven, doing an excellent job of showing how awkward it can be to try to meet new people and vibe with them. The way he blurts out random non-words (“Joben”) and repeatedly stumbles over his sentences show a complete lack of confidence in his surroundings and makes for good laughs throughout the whole film. Years ago, I wouldn’t have ever thought that Paul Rudd could be a regular leading man in a comedy, but I’m convinced of it now. Segel is another rising star, whose Sydney is played with confidence and an air of experience that doesn’t quite reach snobbery. Whether predicting if someone needs to fart or explaining the lubricant and condoms on his desk (“this is where I masturbate”), Sydney’s honesty and tendency for bluntness comes across as genuine.

The supporting cast is solid and funny as well, with a number of B-list celebrities taking on roles. Jaime Pressly and Jon Favreau are hilarious playing a dysfunctional couple that are friends with Peter and Zooey. Andy Samberg is pretty good as Peter’s gay brother and J.K. Simmons is great no matter what he does. Rashida Jones is absolutely adorable as Zooey in her first major film role. The gorgeous actress is quite talented and after proving her comedy chops on The Office and in this film, I wouldn’t be surprised if stardom awaits her. Sarah Burns stars as Zooey’s desperate friend Hailey and does such a good job of channeling Kristen Wiig that I actually thought it was the SNL star.

I Love You, Man is easily the most fun I’ve had at the movies this year. The actors were all great and funny and the pacing of the film was solid even through the inevitable conflict segments. I laughed throughout the whole film and really enjoyed all the performances. I can’t wait to see it again. It’s the first movie of 2009 that I’ve gone out of my way (*ahem* aside from writing on a blog, that is) to recommend to people. Go see it immediately!

Grade: 8 out of 10 (Must Own)

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Seattle Mariners 2009 Baseball Preview

April 15, 2009

Yes… I realize that we are over a week into the major league baseball season, but I don’t think it’s too late to give a preview of what to expect from the
Seattle Mariners this season. Here’s one thing I don’t think you should expect from the M’s this season: keeping up the hot start they have going at the moment.

First, I’m going to break this team down position-by-position:

Catcher – The only people that should be happy to see Kenji Johjima behind the plate for us are his relatives and personal friends. This guy is not an asset at all. After a reasonably good debut season in 2006, his numbers dipped noticeably in 2007 and then fell off the face of the earth last year. There’s no reason to expect him to turn things around this season and the M’s would be much better off letting Jeff Clement develop in the majors, with Johjima playing the roll of veteran backup. Grade: F

First Base – Is there anything worse than Richie Sexson? Maybe…. and his name is Russell Branyan. Branyan is pretty much a Sexson clone that hasn’t ever been able to hold down a regular job in the bigs. He could be making some new fans in Seattle with his current .280-.357-.520 line, but that’s pretty fluky. Like Sexson, Branyan has legitimate pop, but will always be a black hole in the line-up because of his inability to make consistent contact. It’s quite possible that he will hit 35 home runs this year, but expect that lofty total to come with a .230ish average and 200 strikeouts. Grade: D

Second Base – Jose Lopez is probably the brightest spot in the M’s line-up outside of Ichiro Suzuki. After hitting .297 with 17 HRs, 41 2Bs, and 89 RBI in his age 24 season, it’s unlikely that we’ve seen Lopez’s ceiling as far as power is concerned. While I’d like to see more patience at the plate and a bit more speed on the base paths, I do think Jose Lopez just might be the most underrated player 25 years old or younger in the majors. Grade: A-

Shortstop – I’ll say that I’m a Yuniesky Bentancourt fan, but I don’t think he’s much better than the average major league shortstop. He’s not really an asset or a liability. I like his range defensively, but he does make a lot of errors. Offensively, he is a solid hitter from the ninth hole, but I don’t think we’re going to see too much improvement from him in the future. Grade: C

Third Base – Okay, so Adrian Beltre is not a .330 hitter with 40 homer potential… us Mariner fans have learned that much during his tenure with the team. Beltre had one of the all-time greatest fluke seasons in 2004 and is yet to top 100 RBI, 26 HR, or a .300 average as a Mariner. With that said, if you can overlook the anomaly season in 2004, Beltre has actually been one of the most consistent offensive third basemen in baseball the last four years. On top of that, Beltre plays a real solid 3-bag defensively. Also, it’s worth noting that even though Beltre is off to a slow start, this is a contract year for him and we all know how he did last time he was in this spot. Grade: B

Left Field – Endy Chavez has been nice out of the gate this season… he’s got nice speed and is a good glove in left, but his hitting leaves something to be desired. In reality, no MLB team should be too excited to have this guy as a regular starter on their team. So far, so good though. Grade: D+

Center Field – The jury is still out on Franklin Gutierrez. I’m not really sure what to expect from him, but I think he has some good upside. Again, defensively, he seems solid and our outfield as a whole should be one of the better defensive outfields in all of baseball. Offensively, it looks like Gutierrez could have 15-15 upside, but not much else. Grade: C

Right Field – Ichiro Suzuki returns to the line-up today and won’t hurt a team that is already off to a solid 6-2 start. I don’t really need to tell anyone that Ichiro is the best hitter by a long shot on this team. On top of a being a guarantee for 100 runs, a .300 average and 40 SBs, Ichiro is a gold glove caliber right fielder. Grade: A

Designated Hitter – It’s easy for us Mariner fans to get excited about the return of Ken Griffey Jr. and that’s understandable. However, it’s important to remember that The Kid is in the twilight years of his career and his glory days are long past so we all need to temper our expectations. Regardless, Jr. still has that beautiful swing and the ability to knock the ball out of the park. The M’s need to keep Griffey off the field as much as possible and ensure that he stays healthy. If he can log 140 games or so, I don’t think 30 homers and 80 RBI are out of reach for the 39 year old. No matter the case, it’s awesome seeing the best player to ever rock a Mariner uniform back on the team and we will all pay money to see him play again. Grade: C+

Bench – Mike Sweeney is in a similar position as Griffey, albeit without all the nostalgia, nor was he nearly as good as Griffey during their primes. It’s been four years since Sweeney had a relevant season and there is no reason for M’s fans to expect him to make an impact this year. Ronny Cedeno and Rob Johnson are irrelevant back-ups as well. Matt Tuiasosopo is really the only intriguing reserve after ripping up spring training, but it’s quite likely that he will be sent to Tacoma for more seasoning to make room on the roster for Ichiro. Grade – F

Starting Rotation – Erik Bedard and Felix Hernandez have crazy potential. Bedard is only a 15 months or so removed from being the best pitcher in the American League, so his hot start is not all that surprising to me. I owned him in a fantasy league in 2007 where he didn’t lose a single game for a four month stretch. The question is whether he can stay healthy or not. If so, he can be a force at the top of our rotation. It’s easy to forget that King Felix is only 22 years old this season when you overlook the fact that he’s got three full seasons under his belt and broke into the rotation as an 18 year old. As longtime M’s fans that saw the early emergences of Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez, we might have a misconception of how rare it is for an 18 year old kid to be major league ready. Considering that, Felix has as much upside as any starting pitcher in the American League and is still a few years shy of the typical breakout season age. I wouldn’t be shocked to see both Bedard and Hernandez win 15 games a piece. The back 60% of the rotation is where things start to get murky. I don’t care if Jarrod Washburn threw a no hitter in his first start, I still wouldn’t be excited about his potential this season. He’s a #5 starter (if that) in a #3’s clothing. He sucks. Carlos Silva is similar to Washburn, just much, much worse. After those two, the #5 spot is up in the air… Currently Ryan Rowland-Smith occupies the slot… and while he’s put up impressive numbers in his short career (3.48 ERA, 120 Ks in 160 IP, 2:1 K/BB ratio), anyone that is slotted behind Carlos Silva is a scary proposition. Grade: D

Bullpen – Another weak spot for the Mariners. Although I like what we got back in the J.J. Putz trade, I don’t really understand it. Honestly, I think our rotation needs Brandon Morrow more than the bullpen does and considering that was the plan heading into 2009, the Putz trade makes even less sense. Who did they expect to step up and close games if Morrow was starting? Miguel Batista? Roy Corcoran? Outside of maybe Mark Lowe and Morrow, there’s not really an arm you an trust after our starters get ousted. Grade: F

Overall – Yes, things look great for the M’s after a nice 6-2 start, but I don’t think it’s realistic to expect this trend to continue. Our offense is merely mediocre and we’re going to be hard-pressed to keep on winning these low-scoring games. After Bedard and Felix, our rotation looks miserable and our bullpen can’t really be relied upon in close games. This not the kind of make up that a first place team usually has. If you take a look around baseball, you’ll also find the Baltimore Orioles, San Diego Padres, and Kansas City Royals holding down first place, respectively, in their divisions. All of those teams are projected last place squads. So yeah, the M’s are looking good right now, but it’s only a matter of time before the back end of the rotation implodes and this team shows it’s true colors. I would consider this season a success if we win 80 games. Grade: C-

MVP – Ichiro Suzuki
Ace – Felix Hernandez
Speed Demon – Ichiro Suzuki
X-Factor – Erik Bedard
Closer At Year’s End – Brandon Morrow

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New Eminem Video – “We Made You”

April 7, 2009

It’s always an exciting time when Eminem releases new music… but he’s been pretty bad for several years now, so who really knows what to expect from him anymore. Well, today, we get this gem. At first I was completely appalled by it… it’s just so corny and horrible.. but after digesting it a bit more, I think it’s funny and he’s rapping pretty good on it. The video also makes me smirk. Obviously, I don’t want anything else on the album to sound even remotely like this though. Thoughts?

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Twilight Is Not Harry Potter

April 3, 2009

So what is a 26 year old grown man doing reviewing Twilight? Well, for one, I fancy myself an amateur film critic and it would be folly of me to not post my thoughts on a film as big as Twilight. Secondly, the series of vampire novels from author Stephenie Meyer were getting the kind of buzz the Harry Potter franchise was getting back in the early 2000s. I originally made some poor assumptions about the HP series (i.e. children’s lit) and that has grown into one of my all-time favorite book series. Not wanting to make the same mistake with The Twilight Saga, I jumped on the bandwagon much earlier this time. With that said, I borderline hated the first book in the series. I’ll get into more detail on my problems with the script (a.k.a. the novel) later, but I just wanted it to be known ahead of time that I was not a fan of the original material for this film.

I figured this film was moderately doomed from the start. As soon as I saw Robert Pattinson wearing lipstick on the cover of Entertainment Weekly I knew the filmmakers missed the mark on this one and any chance the story had of being presented in a serious manner was being flushed down the toilet. Not that I expect a ton of realism from a film about vampires, but the presentation of the source material was looking pretty corny before the film was even released. Actually watching the film, the level of quality really dropped as soon as the rest of the Cullen family was introduced. Not only was the acting from the Cullen family unnatural and rigid, but the whole baseball scenario was horribly adapted. The creators of this film need to holler at the makers of “Smallvillle” for some advice on super speed special effects.

I don’t want complain too much about the acting in the film, but something about it did rub me the wrong way. Kristen Stewart seemed so focused on “acting” that she looked like she was trying to remember her lines half the time. She always seemed to have a confused look on her face. It doesn’t help much that she had to take on the role of one of the worst heroines in the history of fiction. Okay, so I guess I can’t help but dive into my problems with the book. One of the biggest problems I had reading Twilight was that I absolutely hated Bella. If I was supposed to hate Bella, I’d say “hey, great job with the character,” but I’m pretty sure Bella is supposed to be likable. Well, she’s not. She’s an uptight, reactionary bitch that doesn’t seem to have a clue what she really wants. I thought she was continually unfair in her treatment of Edward and her disregard for every other guy in the book made her seem like a snob. Reading the book, I couldn’t come up with any reason Edward would be attracted to her. Speaking of which, how likely is it that an 80 year old vampire would find his soul mate in a 17 year old girl? I’m almost 27 and I can’t hold a five minute conversation with the idiot 18 year old girls my roommate sometimes has over for his “parties.” I just don’t buy into the fact that someone with that much life experience would fall in love with a kid. It’s not only an unlikely pairing, it’s perverse.

The comparisons between Twilight and Harry Potter are ludicrous and unfounded. The level of writing in the two series are not even comparable. J.K. Rowling has a thousand times the imagination that Stephenie Meyer has. What about Twilight is so unique? Vampires have been done to death and the only truly original elements being introduced here are the baseball thing and the way the sun makes their skin turn colors. How exciting. I could go on forever about how original the Harry Potter franchise is. Perhaps I’m being overly harsh on Meyer since I’ve only read the first book in the series and the first HP book didn’t exactly blow me away… but I didn’t dislike it either. It’s possible that the series will grow on me as I read more of the books, but that’s the problem, I didn’t like the first book enough to want to read the rest of them. Anyways, the box office totals say it all:

Harry Potter & The Sorcerer’s Stone: $317.5 million
Twilight: $191.5 million

Score: 3.5 out of 10