Archive for June, 2017

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July Movie/Music Preview

June 30, 2017

Anticipation Meter
6 – Epic
5 – Very High
4 – Strong
3 – Moderate
2 – Low
1 – Nonexistent

As I noted last month, I’m going to make these previews a bit more succinct – no more box office predictions.

MOVIES

Spider-Man: Homecoming (7th) – One of the most popular superheroes of all-time finally comes home to Marvel Studios. Tom Holland and his new Spider-Man had a great small appearance in last year’s Captain America: Civil War, blending in seamlessly with the rest of Marvel’s Avengers and setting the tone for a much younger and mouthy Spidey. Early reviews for this film have been stellar, with plenty of stuff like “best Spider-Man movie ever” and “one of the best Marvel films yet” being tossed around. I love the casting of Michael Keaton as The Vulture. I expect this movie to be hilarious and lots of fun – it has long been one of my most anticipated 2017 releases. Anticipation Meter – 5

A Ghost Story (7th) – Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara in a movie about a deceased husband returning as a ghost in a white bed sheet. The cast here is strong enough to garner my interest, but the director’s last film was Pete’s Dragon, so… Anticipation Meter – 2.5

War for the Planet of the Apes (14th) – The Planet of the Apes franchise has had an incredibly strong reboot thanks to a phenomenal motion-capture performance from Andy Serkis, a great lead character in Caesar, and some very good screenplays. The first two films in this trilogy were wonderful and early word is this third entry is right on par. Anticipation Meter – 4

Wish Upon (14th) – Joey King stars as a teenage girl that receives a music box that grants her wishes to be wealthy, popular and desired – and then the people closest to her start dying. I like horror movies, but I haven’t seen or heard anything about this one that has made me want to see it. Anticipation Meter – 1

Dunkirk (21st) – Christopher Nolan’s latest film focuses on the Allied troops that were trapped in the French city of Dunkirk during World War II. Nolan regulars Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy are joined by Kenneth Branagh and Oscar winner Mark Rylance. After Inception, Nolan was easily my favorite filmmaker, but his last two movies, The Dark Knight Rises and Interstellar were relatively disappointing. I’m not a huge fan of the war genre and the footage I’ve seen of Dunkirk doesn’t have me particularly amped, but Chris Nolan is still on my short list of favorite directors so I’m cautiously optimistic. Anticipation Meter – 3

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (21st) – I don’t know much about this comic book adaptation from Luc Besson, the director of The Professional and The Fifth Element, but it looks visually ambitious. Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne are the stars in this sci-fi space adventure. The trailers I’ve seen look interesting enough and it seems like a movie that should be seen in theaters if you’re going to watch it. Anticipation Meter – 3

Girls Trip (21st) – R-rated comedy starring Queen Latifah, Regina Hall, Jada Pinkett-Smith, and Tiffany Haddish about a group of lifelong friends that travel to New Orleans and get into various high jinks. Sounds like another version of The Hangover and a pass to me. Anticipation Meter – 1

Atomic Blonde (28th) – You’d think a movie that has Charlize Theron playing a secret agent that’s kicking ass and making out with another woman in its trailer would be an easy sell, but I feel like I’ve seen the whole story already – the trailers have been playing in front of basically every film I’ve seen in the past two months. I will probably skip this unless it gets strong reviews. Anticipation Meter – 2

The Emoji Movie (28th) – Huh? How is this even happening? I’m not surprised though – everything’s exploitable these days. I just watched the trailer and it looks cut from the same cloth as Pixar’s Toy Story and Inside Out in that it creates a secret universe for inanimate/intangible objects – in this case, the emojis in our cell phones. On the surface, it looks like a kid’s movie made for kids, so it remains to be seen if it will have the heart and soul that can appeal to adults like the best animated features do. I’ve been surprised before though (i.e. The Lego Movie). Anticipation Meter – 1.5

MUSIC

Jay-Z4:44 (7th) – Technically, this is out already, but rumor has it that it will be widely available next Friday and that will likely be the first time that I hear it. Initially, I was skeptical: I hadn’t heard much from Jay recently that moved the meter, so a new album seemed like it could easily disappoint. However, word is this is pretty spectacular and is one of Jay’s most personal albums ever. At worst, Jay-Z is a top five rapper ever and there are very good arguments to be made that he’s #1, so any new album from him is a must listen, and early rave reviews have increased my excitement. The Ruler’s back! Anticipation Meter – 5

There’s a 21 Savage (7th) album coming out in July, but I can’t say I’m a fan. The only other names I recognize are Lana Del Ray (14th), Coldplay (21st), and Arcade Fire (28th), none of which I care about. Sounds like a good month to catch up on all the music I didn’t get a chance to digest in June.

Notable Netflix Additions

Best In Show (1st)

The Mighty Ducks (1st)

E.T. (1st)

Punch Drunk Love (1st)

Titanic (1st)

Castlevania, Season One (7th) – Haven’t looked into this at all, but love the concept.

Lion (9th)

Friends From College, Season One – interesting cast, featuring Keegan-Michael Key, Fred Savage, Cobie Smulders.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – kind of a big deal

Lastly, Netflix will be removing all Futurama content tomorrow which is some seriously disappointing news.

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2017 WSOP Trip Report – Part One (the not so good stuff)

June 28, 2017

With each passing year, I get better at doing the World Series of Poker. This goes beyond results – I’m talking about how to live in Las Vegas for weeks at a time. This year I felt I got a little bit closer to having the process mastered. I had a friend that let me stay in his time share for about ten nights for $20/night and then some friends from my high school days in Bremerton let me stay with them in their Vegas home (closer to Summerlin) for the rest of the trip for $20/night. Those prices would be 60% of just the resort fee at a strip casino! I also rented a car for about $23 a day and that proved to be about equal in cost and much more convenient than relying on shuttles and Uber to get around. Next year, I’m going to be even thriftier and just drive myself to Vegas and save on flight and car rental expenses. Finally, food is still expensive, but I did go shopping at Costco and bought some bulk necessities and I also bought a meal plan at All American Dave’s (a food truck outside the Rio). While AAD’s meals lack variety and are probably a bit overrated, you really can’t beat the convenience of ordering on Twitter and having someone deliver food directly to your seat at the poker table.

I flew to Vegas on May 30th and I flew back on June 21st and in the 3+ weeks I was there I played basically no cash games. In fact, I put in three total plays and none of them were serious sessions. I did put in an 11.5 hour marathon $4/$8 LHE play at Red Rock Casino, but I considered that a day off from the tournament grind while playing some recreational poker with my wife. I also put in a 1.5 hour $4/$8 play at Red Rock, while my hosts were playing slot machines after watching a movie at the casino. Finally, I had a successful (+$335), albeit very short (3.5 hours), $8/$16 Omaha 8 session at the Orleans. This is notable because the filterable data on my phone goes back to August of 2014 and $8/$16 Omaha 8 has been my absolute worst game (by a long shot) and the Orleans has been my absolute worst location (for cash games… I did win their weekly H.O.R.S.E. tournament a few years ago). Needless to say, cash games were not my focus on this trip. When I wasn’t playing a tournament, or I busted early, I just took time off to study or relax.

I played 11 total tournaments during my 2017 WSOP trip.

I’ll start with the six non-WSOP tournaments I played in since they were mostly uneventful. I busted $400 and $600 Omaha 8 tournaments at Venetian, both of which I went relatively deep in and didn’t cash. I busted 12 spots off the money in a $465 H.O.R.S.E. at Aria, another deep run but one in which I never had any real momentum. I went to defend my title in the $250 8-Game Mix at Golden Nugget and I did not bring my A-game that day. I was up and down in this one, but I felt like I wasn’t playing very good most of the day. My focus and patience just weren’t there. Still, the experience was notable because I had this kid named Michael Trivett at my table and you can read about my history with him here by scrolling down to this same event from last year. I saw plenty of evidence that suggested he hasn’t grown up much in the past year, but I also saw a side of him that suggests he isn’t a total dirtbag either. He had some friendly moments, so I don’t want to paint him as this constantly terrible presence at the poker table. Still, I can’t help but share an amazing exchange we had after a Razz hand we played. On 5th street I have 23-47A and his board is 92A and he raises my bet; I reraise and bet all the way after improving to a 6432A on 6th and win the pot, but then this magic happens:

Michael: I was a favorite when I raised (on 5th).
Me: Uh, I had a made 7.
Michael: I was drawing to a wheel.
Me: *speechless*
Michael: Check the math.

For those of you that don’t follow, not only do I have the best hand on 5th street, but I also have the same draw (to a wheel). I have now played with Michael Trivett twice and both times he has produced a classic moment attempting to berate me. I look forward to more encounters in the future!

I followed that 8-Game bust out with another O8 event at Golden Nugget and this time I got a min-cash by finishing in 16th, but it was really disappointing because I had double the average stack at dinner break and then came back and got scooped like four times in a row. I had basically no chips on the bubble though, so sneaking into the money felt kind of fortunate.

Finally, I played the $585 H.O.R.S.E. Championship at Binions and it was honestly kind of an embarrassing and humbling experience. First off, only 36 people entered. This wasn’t a bad thing since they had a $50K guaranteed prize pool and even with another Day One the next day, it didn’t seem likely they’d get enough entrants to meet the guarantee – so, a nice overlay. Secondly, the levels were long and the stacks were super deep. Thirdly, the field was incredibly weak – I knew I was the strongest player in room. I really felt like with the stacks that deep and the levels that long, I could overcome a lot of the variance and win that tournament way more often than my fair share. But I never had more than my starting stack and, despite the very forgiving amount of play, it was my second quickest exit of the summer. I thought I was going to print money and instead I couldn’t win a hand all day and I left frustrated and in disbelief. I don’t think my assessment of my skill level versus the field was incorrect, but it was still a good lesson in humility and I can admit that I didn’t make very good adjustments to exploit their weaknesses. I was kind of already feeling like I wanted to go home, but my performance in this event sealed the deal. I booked a flight home for the next day.

I was going to write one WSOP trip report, but in the interest of keeping my posts shorter (and thus, easier to publish), I will break it up into two parts. I played five WSOP events and I will talk about those tournaments in part 2 of my 2017 WSOP trip report.

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Wonder Woman (2017), Baywatch (2017), 47 Meters Down (2017)

June 23, 2017

In the interest of catching up, I’m going to keep these short and sweet.

Wonder Woman (2017) – I loved it. This movie made me incredibly happy. The DC film universe looked in grim shape after Dawn Of Justice but Wonder Woman was a huge win for them – both critically and in its record-breaking box office performance. Gal Gadot does a GREAT job. Not only is she absolutely stunning in the titular role, but she is convincingly HEROIC. I’ve seen the movie twice and the scene in No Man’s Land gave me goosebumps and a huge smile both times. Wonder Woman might have a slow build to this epic moment, but there’s no hesitation in Diana’s resolve: she says she wants to go where the war is and she doesn’t think for a second before jumping right into the line of fire. Chris Pine is a great addition to the cast, as he has plenty of chemistry with Gadot and adds a nice dose of humor. The script does a great job of infusing small bits of comedy into a serious war time setting, without taking anything away from the gravity of the situation. I do think the climax got a little bit… extravagant and silly… but the rest of the movie was fantastic. Wonder Woman is a great comic book film and the best superhero origin movie since Iron Man in 2008.

Replay Value: I saw it twice during opening week and I’d be happy to watch it again right now. It will be a must own in my movie collection.
Sequel Potential: You don’t make heaps and not get sequels. I’m sure DC will fast track another Wonder Woman movie, but first up we will get the two Justice League films and I’m still concerned about those movies, even with Wonder Woman‘s success and the involvement of Joss Whedon.
Oscar Potential: It’s a very good superhero movie, but not really Oscar bait. There is always a chance for technical nominations but most likely it will just whiff entirely.

Grade: 7.5/10 (highly enjoyable/must see comic book movie)

Baywatch (2017) – I was really hoping Baywatch would be a solid 21 Jump Street imitation, but it’s not nearly as clever or as smart. In fact, Baywatch is nothing more than your average stupid, raunchy comedy. The script is absolutely terrible, but at least Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron give their roles some life, as less charismatic leads would render this movie completely unwatchable. The supporting cast range from totally forgettable to borderline bad and while Jon Bass has some funny moments, his character really shows no indication he would actually make the cut in the stiff competition there is to become a Baywatch lifeguard. So the reason he makes it is so we can laugh at his ineptitude and misfortune. Baywatch is a stupid, silly movie that you can safely skip in the theaters and wait until Red Box if you must see it. For what it’s worth though, the three people I saw it with seemed to be pretty satisfied.

Replay Value: Once was enough for me.
Sequel Potential: Baywatch hasn’t exactly smashed at the box office and it got destroyed by the critics, so it’s sequel chances are pretty low.
Oscar Potential: I could see some Razzie potential for the script.

Grade: 4.5/10 (forgettable/watchable)

47 Meters Down (2017) – This is a movie that I probably would have never seen in my life under any other circumstances, but after All Eyez On Me got demolished by the critics, the friends I was staying with in Vegas decided they wanted to see this instead. I basically had no expectations for what looked like a B-level Jaws ripoff starring Mandy Moore, so anything north of horrible was going to be a surprise to me and, well, I was surprised. The plot is trite and silly: two sisters vacation in Mexico after one of them has a big breakup and they wind up on a sketchy-looking boat with a sketchy-looking crew and then go underwater in a sketchy-looking cage so they can go shark-gazing and prove how not boring they are. I have to admit, 47 Meters Down made me incredibly uncomfortable. I’m claustrophobic and watching these girls not only be trapped in a cage, but also submerged underwater with a depleting air supply really hit my weak spots. I seriously had thoughts of walking out of the theater – that’s how much the situation was making me squirm. Just thinking of myself in that situation was unbearable – I’d be dead in minutes because of a panic attack – but I detached and got through it. Oh yeah, there are sharks in this movie! And they are actually well used, with the dark and murky water creating some tense and scary scenes. 47 Meters Down isn’t groundbreaking or particularly good – and the ending was kind of questionable – but it made me uncomfortable enough to get a thumbs up from me.

Replay Value: Not much, but I suppose I could watch it again.
Sequel Potential: The Sharknado sequels won’t stop coming, so maybe?
Oscar Potential: None

Grade: 5.5/10 (watchable/recommended)

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Back From Vegas

June 22, 2017

Just landed in Seattle last night and I will get back to blogging as soon as I can. Likely, that won’t be until next week when my wife goes back to work. Here’s what I will be working on in the next couple weeks:

-2017 WSOP Trip Report
-2017 first half poker results
-New Poker Goals
-Wonder Woman review
-47 Meters Down review
-Baywatch review
-Brother Ali profile (start listening)
-my 2017 MLB All-Star picks (possibly)