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Monday, July 28, 2008

Daily grind

Don't get me wrong: i love relaxing and letting someone else drive, i love saving money, and love helping to save the environment. But losing an hour and a half of my day to extra commute time (over driving), feeling unproductive because my blackberry can only do so much, and watching disfunctional families abuse their kids while waiting at the bus terminal are all starting to wear on me today.

Today we do have the added entertainment of a Black Muslim evangelist spewing what i would call white-hate speech (about 'the man locking away kids' and saying that 'white Christianity ruined Africa') to anyone that doesn't immediatly tell him to go away. He hasn't tried me so far.

The funny part to me is that the buses are fine. i never see any trouble makers or problems on the bus, don't feel uncomfortable, and generally have a nice time. You'd assume from stereotypes that my buses should be the worst: i take the #4 past the projects in East Nashville, and the #15 past the projects off LaFayette. They are really nice though. But at the station... You have to spend too long here and it needs to be cleaned up (of trash) and monitored better. I really may start waiting a few blocks up each route from here on out.

I also need to get my Sansa working again (if Rhapsody would get their act together) and remember that i can use my BlackBerry with Opera to make blog posts like this one. Helps pass the time for sure, though my readers may have to suffer through more grumpy rants about my day rather than read mostly about the Preds. :-)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

How WALL-E was not an environmental movie

Ok, i mentioned this briefly in my last post (recapping all the summer movies i've seen), but this apparently needs to be addressed again.

My cousin-in-law just made a post about the movie and he has comments disabled, so you get to hear my rebuttal here. Be warned that this post will be as spoiler free as possible, but if you haven't seen the movie, just know that both Brian and I liked it and you should go see it. Then come back and read the article and participate in the discussion.

Brian starts off by taking issue with "the crystal clear liberal environmental objective."
Just gotta take that first and ask: Why does anything environmental have to be liberal? Christy and i are very environmentally conscious. Letting the left-win-liberal-politicos co-opt environmental responsibility is just as bad as letting the right-wing-conservatives co-opt Christianity. But then again...that gets us down the broken two-party system rat hole (see here for another example)... Moving on...
"The entire premise of the movie is that the earth has become overrun with garbage and taken over my big business."
Nope. Those are important facts, but that is not the premise of the movie - that would be the setting and set-up for the movie. The premise and plot of the movie... well...he actually gets close to it here in a second...
"...this is a really good illustration of how we have to be very sensitive to what messages our families - especially our children - are bombarded with...It is our responsibility to protect our children and shape a biblical worldview in their hearts"
Now we're getting closer to what the movie was actually about. The fact that the Earth was grungy and people had to move off of it wasn't the point at all. As Brian said "The hero of the movie is of course Wall-E [sic], a garbage compactor." And what is WALL-E's story about? A relationship. He is lonely and wants a relationship. Brian describes what he finds on the spaceship: "people are on a space ship, where they have been for hundreds of years, and are now all overweight and lazy." ...and...haven't seen each other face to face and interacted as people in generations.

The point of this movie was not that we trash the planet then move off, become even fatter and more lazy (and more commercial), and then WALL-E convinces them to go fix the Earth. The whole fixing the Earth bit at the end thing is what the industry calls a "subplot". It was EVE's motivation through the movie and helped provide conflict for the antagonist to give the movie some action. The point of this movie - the real message, is summed up very well by something i heard writer/director Andrew Stanton say in an interview after i saw the flick: "What would happen if the most human thing left in the galaxy was a robot". You could call this an anti-technology movie. A pro-social/relationship movie. A love story. But environmental movie it was not.

WALL-E reminded the people on board how to be human. He pushed through barriers and loves EVE. That message, together with a subplot reminding us that we were put on this planet with a specitic instruction from God: GEN 2:15 "The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it."

Both of those are messages i'd be glad for my kids to internalize one day.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Summer movie update

Way back on Valentines Day i listed all the summer blockbuster movies i was amped about seeing. Now that we're most of the way through the movie season, i thought i'd give a bit of a recap/update with mini reviews since i didn't make posts after seeing most of them. Don't worry, i'll warn and censor any possible spoilers.

First, i'd like to point out that unlike the summer before, this summer wasn't all sequels and remakes. There were several, but they were not nearly as dominant as last year. I'm not saying every movie was terribly original, but it was nice to be treated to more of the unexpected, and get introduced to new characters for a change.

Feb 14th - Jumper

Didn't see it. Heard it sucked. Will probably grab it on Netflix eventually.

April 18 - The Forbidden Kingdom
Didn't see it, though i heard it was decent. Still want to see, but is on my Netflix queue now.

May 2 - Iron Man
Great movie. Started the summer off right. Just the right balance of substance and just having a ton of fun. Special effects were awesome, acting was solid, script was tight. Not fine art cinema - no Oscars here - but really good movie that should be very rewatchable.

May 9 - Speed Racer
This one was ok. I was fairly disappointing that there was much more language and violence in this than i think should have been allowed as a PG movie. Having said that, if it had been rated PG-13 i would have enjoyed it more. I also think the acid-trip visuals worked for me after a while. It was much more of an art film in that regard than i expected - almost to the point of being avant-garde or experimental really. Once i got used to that, i think it was a good film. Middle of the road, but good.

May 16 - Chronicles of Narnia: Price Caspian
Excellent, but like Speed Racer this one should have been PG-13. It was pretty much in line with the first Lord of the Rings movie, but without blood. Literally. Same number of bodies falling. Same number of swords stabbing, etc...just no blood squirting when it happens. But like i said, very good. True to the book (almost too much - those who haven't read it might be confused) and well acted and written. I hope they keep moving through the books - at least make it a trilogy. These Narnia movies could have been drivel, but so far so good.

May 22 - Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
I went in with mid-level expectations and didn't bury myself in spoiler-filled coverage before it came out and i think it paid off. I really liked this one. I think what i liked best was that it assumed that Indy kept doing things for the last 20 years. [SPOILER ALERT - HIGHLIGHT TEXT TO READ IT] It referenced Young Indiana Jones Chronicles events, assumed that Indy was in the service during WWII (which of course he would be), etc. He wasn't just old, he had a life. The only gripe i had on this one was the scene with Mutt swinging from the vines with monkeys...and the truck/cliff/tree moment that was straight out of a Wiley Coyote cartoon. Otherwise the suspension of disbelief was within what i was willing to deal with, and loads of fun. I also think this one worked better because it tapped into a mythos that i was familiar with. Indy 1 and 3 were great because i grew up hearing about what they were after. Temple of Doom didn't reach me as well because i didn't care about the MacGuffin. In this one, it worked because i've heard about Rosewell aliens for years and mysterious temples in South America, so i was ready to see those fantasies played out on screen. [END SPOILERS] Wish i could see this one again, but i guess i'll have to wait for the blu-ray for a second go-round.

June 20 - Get Smart
Didn't see it. Might get around to this one eventually, but the closer it got and the more i saw about it, the more it looked like it wasn't my kinda movie.

June 27 - WALL-E
Great movie. I can see where most people are coming from with the reviews that the first act was great, but the later parts of the movie dropped off. While yes, the first part was fun and light and enjoyable, a whole 2-hour feature of that would have gotten boring after a while. I enjoyed this one thoroughly, though it still ranks behind A Bug's Life, Cars, and Finding Nemo for me in the Pixar pantheon. [MINOR SPOILER ALERT - highlight text to read] I also didn't take issue at all with the concerns some had with the message of the movie. Firstly i don't think it was that much of a message movie. On first viewing i definitely got a message, but on further examination, really this was a love story set on the backdrop of a humorously exaggerated extreme future. [ END SPOILERS]

July 2 - Hancock
Awesome. I really think people that didn't like this movie went in with too many expectations. This wasn't Pursuit of Happiness or Independence Day, but a wonderful balance between the two. [MINOR SPOILER ALERT - Highlight text to read] I also love that though this movie had a major 'twist' (which was by some miracle not spoiled in the trailers), the movie wasn't about the twist. It had a twist, then moved on to what the movie was really about. Kudos to the writers and i think they also thankfully avoided dealing the the alcoholic/tortured super-hero issue too much, which leaves room for those stories in Ironman sequels [SPOILER END]. Highly recommended.

July 11 - Hellboy II: The Golden Army
Haven't seen yet, but still hope to see before it leaves theaters. If i have to wait for blu-ray though, i can.

July 18 - The Dark Knight
Great movie but... It was a little too dark and a little too long for me. Good movie, but it needed to be tightened up. Many subplots that could have been cut (one in particular) and well...gonna have to go into spoiler mode: [SPOILER ALERT - Highlight text to read] All of the acting was spectacular, and the overall direction was good, but the script needed work. The entire Hong Kong sequence should have been cut, and overall it just needed a few nips and tucks. My only other major gripe was Two-Face. One that he didn't get enough time, and two that he looked ridiculous. He looked like Imhotep from The Mummy. He just had gas on his face which caught on fire. Batman was right there and put the fire out. Unless Batman put it out with a brick, Dent's jaw shouldn't have been broken and his face should have been burned, not missing! Then even at that...if his face was missing...he wouldn't be walking around and talking the same. His voice would sound different, etc. Normally i wouldn't nit-pick something like this, but Christopher Nolan has gone out of his way to make a very realistic world here. We can believe that what we are watching could actually happen - but not Two-Face. Overall though, the Joker was great, the increased role of Lt/Commissioner Gordon was great, and it was a very good movie. Just not as good as it could have been (read: over-hyped and not as good as the amazing movie it followed) [END SPOILERS]

Aug 1 - The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
Nov 21 - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Might checking out (or wait for video):

March 14 - Horton Hears a Who!
Saw the last 15 minutes of the movie at a showing in the park. Looked cute. Might get around to seeing more eventually.

June 6 - Kung Fu Panda
Haven't seen, but plan on it. A friend of mine said he liked it more than Ironman at the time, which says a lot.

June 13 - The Incredible Hulk
Didn't see. Not planning on it anytime soon. Just looked poor. Never been a big Hulk fan anyway.

June 13 - The Happening
Didn't see, but looked like it would be good. Still plan on catching on Netflix.

July 11 - Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D
Haven't seen yet, but would like to. Plan on seeing it before it leaves theaters just so i can see the 3D experience.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Preds owner speaks out on Ownership/Radulov

This afternoon, Predators lead owner David Freeman went on 104.5 The Zone with host George Plaster to answer questions about the latest on the Del Biaggio ownership mess, and even touched on the Radulov issue briefly.

Many thanks to 104.5 for having Freeman on, and i hope they don't mind me posting this. I guess i'll hear from them if they do :-)

(Sorry for the minor quality issues. I recorded this from my portable Sansa while riding on the bus, so you can tell when we went under bridges, etc.)

I made two versions. The first is the 12-minute "the good stuff" version (I tried to cross-fade it to make it obvious where i made cuts). The second is the full version, with only commercials cut.


In regard to Del Biaggio and Warren Woo:

"In some ways we're disappointed, in some ways we didn't have real high expectations of 'em"
In regard to the presentation Del Biaggio and Woo put together for potential investors:
"What's disappointing about the documents is how they misrepresented the financial condition of our club"

"They were trying to raise money...so, they took a few liberties with the truth and oversold their position"
In regard to the Predators:
"In an absolute worst case scenario, its just exactly the same as the deal we had when we went into this and the club isn't going anywhere."

"Boots and Warren didn't have any obligation to put any more money in the team. In fact we gave them a special deal that we would never ask them to put more money into the team"
On the Radulov issue:
"David Poile and I have a little side deal going. I take care of the situation out on the west coast and he takes care of the situation over in Russia."

"I think we will all stand back and let the NHL handle this one. This is obviously a much bigger issue than the Nashville Predators, and I think we'll all be pleased with how it plays out."
On the team's future in Nashville (attendance issues, etc):
"Honestly, we just don't think about it in terms of 'we have to do this or else'. We've made this commitment, and as crazy as it sounds sometimes in life you just do things and you don't think about the down side or listen to the negative. Sure, I guess there is a scenario where if no one ever showed up for a hockey game that it wouldn't turn out right...The same way the Titans have an unflinching belief that they're gonna sell tickets to Titans football games, we feel the same way about Predators hockey. We feel like this franchise and the city are on the way up and its a total waste of time for me to talk about what-if scenarios...It's important to us, but there is no doubt in our mind we're gonna make [the attendance requirement for revenue sharing]. If for some reason we didn't make it one year, its not the end of the world. It probably goes back to conversation of how much you have to spend on this or that, but again we think we're headed in the right direction"

The Question Not Being Asked

Much has been made about the Tennessean article from Sunday which detailed Boots Del Biaggio's plans for the Predators. Much of the media is talking about how its clear that there was (is?) a plan to move the Predators out of Nashville. Forechecker highlighted that Boots was pointing to expected expansion revenues in the coming years.

But here's the thing people: This wasn't created in a void. This PowerPoint deck that was somehow acquired by a Tennessean reporter (Kudos by the way, for the rare bit of good investigative reporting) was made by Del Biaggio specifically to present to possible investors in his NHL ventures. It was designed to make it look like he would soon be able to take control of the Predators, and that they would have a guaranteed revenue boost in a few years.

Del Biaggio made a living LYING to investors. That's what he did. He (apparently) went through he process of forging bank documents to show that funds were his that never were in order to secure loans. Do you seriously think that stretching figures and facts on a PowerPoint presentation is beyond this guy?

I'm not saying the Predators will be up with the Leafs in revenues this year. I know the franchise has a tough fight ahead. But i am very surprised that no one is questioning the information. I don't blame the Tennessean reporting, but cummon people. Consider the source of the stories source.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Thoughts from a show

Feeling especially contemplative at the Sixpence None The Richer show at 3rd and Lindsley, so rather than continue to clutter Twitter, just gonna run a bit of a random thoughts blog. Enjoy.

  • Many indie/rock musicians are still following the fashion (hair and clothes) example set by Nirvana (and to a lesser extent some punk bands from the earlier) nearly 18 years ago. i find that remarkable.
  • I know from experience, the stage at 3rd and Lindsley looks and feels small from the audience but is deceptively big. The whole venue feels like a tiny club, but the stage accommodates a 5-6 piece band with ease and the place must have 300-500 people in it right now. Good balance. Very good sound guys too. Unlike some venues in town (*cough*Exit/In*cough*).
  • Of course, the 8 person band (yes - eight people!) that Sixpence has on stage is a little cramped. Sheesh!
  • Apparently Sixpence None The Richer is still drawing pretty much the same people they used to. Not the same crowd - actually the same people. In the last 6-8 years they've gone from drawing 20-somethings (and a mixed crowd) to drawing 30-something women - almost exclusively. At least at this show. Not that that's a bad thing. Though this does feel just a little like the shows that the Hugh Grant character in 'Music and Lyrics' was doing, but less pathetic.
  • Really random thought: Blogger's examples for the types of words to use for tags have been "scooters, vacation, fall". One day I'm going to take a vacation in the fall and ride a scooter just so i can write a blog post about it. :-)
  • The electric guitar player for Sixpence (not Matt Slocum or the all acoustic all the time guy or the bass player - the other one) has dreads, a black shirt, s bandanna hanging out of his back pocket, and his guitar is slung low (resting on his knee from a standing position). He's very good, but looks like they found him behind the punk/metal stage at a festival and decided to keep him. He's now playing an electric mandolin. Image/sound conflict, but it works.
  • The keyboard player (edit: whoa, that's Sam Ashworth) on the other hand looks like he should be in a lounge on a cruise ship. A cool lounge, but still there's a big shift from stage right to stage left.
  • While we're on the topic of band dress: Christy and i used to comment how Leigh Nash was always really good at dressing very stylish, but very modestly. Tonight...let's just say i could describe an undergarment to you in detail. Distracting much?
  • The percussionist (not the drummer, the other one)(edit: whoa, that's Steve Hindalong!) is using two tambourines simultaneously throughout the evening. When one tambourine just isn't enough...
  • Aside from being an amazing songwriter, Matt Slocum is a deceptively good guitarist. Wow.
  • Seeing live music always makes me want to play more, and get a chance to play out. i got only a very small taste of it, and was never a good enough drummer (or took the time/money to do the gear like a pro) to do it in the past. Sometimes I think about selling my drum kit for the nice cash it would bring, but i still want to play sometime. As long as i have it there is a hope that I'll either play with Nick and/or Jamie sometime again. Someday it may be like my dad's old saxophone in the closet.
  • Before the show, the house mix played a pop cover of "Sit Down You're Rockin' The Boat". Love the song, but that one i wouldn't have called as cover-worthy. It worked though. (Looked it up after i got home and apparently Don Henley covered it. Eeww. I don't think that's what we were hearing tonight though.
  • Matt Slocum must know his pedal board and the floor of every venue he's ever played very well. He never looks up through the whole show. Not looking at his guitar or feet board most of the time. Just studying the floor.
  • 3rd and Lindsley's chicken tenders are surprisingly good. Their bathroom is also too nice for a bar/club like this. They need to take out the nice vinyl floor and stucco walls and replace them all with thinly painted plywood. That would fit much better. Thanks.
Ok, the show is wrapping up, so i guess i will too. Thanks for letting me spew random thoughts at ya for a while.

PS: i could see the set list- they planned an encore ("Eyes Wide Open") but the audience didn't ask for one, probably because it was broadcast on the radio and the announcer 'signed off' the air. Oh well. It was a great show.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Who says baseball should be the only sport with matinee games?

The Predators just released their pre-season schedule. I'm happy to see us continue the relationship with the Atlanta Thrashers and i hope we get to play them more often in the regular season as well. It's an obvious friendly-rivalry that would benefit both teams.

Most interesting here are the new rookie games - and one at 11:00am!

My guess is that these are in place of a few scrimmages that would normally happen during camp. No details yet on who will play in the games, but i think it is a safe bet to say the first 2-3 lines of the Predators won't be there. I doubt if they literally only play based on NHL experience an 'rookie' qualifications. The normal pre-season games are at or near full price for tickets. I'll be curious if the rookie games are open for free to the public, discounted, or something else (especially that mid-morning game). Could be very cool.

Date Opponent Site Time (CDT)
Mon., Sept. 22 Atlanta Thrashers (R) Sommet Center 6:00 PM
Tue., Sept. 23 Atlanta Thrashers (R) Sommet Center 11:00 AM
Thu., Sept. 25 Atlanta Thrashers Sommet Center 7:00 PM
Fri., Sept. 26 at Columbus Blue Jackets Nationwide Arena 6:00 PM
Sat., Sept. 27 Columbus Blue Jackets Sommet Center 7:00 PM
Thu., Oct. 2 Carolina Hurricanes Sommet Center 7:00 PM
Fri., Oct. 3 at Atlanta Thrashers Philips Arena 6:30 PM
Sun., Oct. 5 at Carolina Hurricanes RBC Center TBA