Thursday, February 9, 2012

Moneyball

The Wife and I watched Moneyball this past weekend in an attempt to see as many of the best picture nominees as possible before the Oscars. A fantastic movie in my opinion, but I’m not here to review it. I’m here to talk about baseball. Every time I see a great baseball movie it reminds me that, deep down, I actually like that sport. I then lament for a few days until realizing that I am a Reds fan and The Wife is a Pirates fan, so between us, our teams have one playoff appearance in the last sixteen years (2010 Reds, Swept in LDS). I then proceed to hate on the sport for a few days. I growl and complain about its over paid athletes and long season. I rip the league for allowing the rich teams to prosper and the poor teams to die. And fat pitchers, what’s up with that? Then I just forget about it; baseball. I can’t remember the last time I watched a full game. Even in 2010 when the Reds made it to the playoffs for the first time in fifteen years, I just shrugged it off. So why do I love baseball movies, but not baseball?

I grew up on baseball movies like Angels in the Outfield, Little Big League and the Sandlot. I also remember seeing Major League at a young age (probably too young). So what do these movies have in common? Underdogs. In every case they are about teams overcoming to achieve. I think this is at the very core of why I love baseball movies. The movies give hope that anything is possible. You know, angels coming down from heaven to help you win, eleven year olds going pro and Charlie Sheen wearing glasses so he can pitch without killing people; winning. Everyone loves a good underdog story and that’s what you get from baseball movies. Moneyball fits right into this mold with one notable difference; it is true. Moneyball made me love and hate baseball all over again. It reminded me just why the sport is great, underdogs and streaks and the history of them game, which is rivaled by no other sport. It also reminded me that the game is about the money. Spoilers follow. Despite the efforts of the characters in the movie, they didn’t win it all. The movie tries to be hopeful by suggesting that the Red Sox won a few years later using the Moneyball principles, but the fact remains that Boston is one of the rich teams.

Call me a fair weather fan all you want. My answer is that I am a devoted Browns fan; I think that pretty much kills the fair weather idea. Maybe I just don’t like baseball. I’ve never really played it (organized). But I think it’s my deep feeling that may team and in turn many teams have no real chance to win. The underdogs have no chance. They have been bled out. Of the past twenty World Series winners, only two have been out of the top twenty richest teams (Toronto and Florida). Half of those wins come from teams ranked in the top ten richest teams (Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies, Giants and Angels). Seven of the wins come from the top two teams (Yankees and Red Sox). The teams at the bottom just cannot compete with this. Sure every now and then a middle of the road team may do well and even win it all; but those are rare and become even more so. I think Moneyball gets it right and wrong. There is no romance in baseball, until there is, but even then, it’s all about the money.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Review: The Woman in Black

DISCLAIMER: These reviews were written separately without either of us knowing what the other was writing.


The Wife: You're a wizard, Harry! Oops, wrong movie! Seriously folks our beloved Harry Potter, or Daniel Radcliffe, as he is actually known, did not disappoint in the thriller film, The Woman in Black.

Finally, I convinced the husband, who is a scary movie hater (seriously don't let him convince you otherwise... he drinks the hateraid!) to see The Woman in Black. I am sure I won this battle because the movie starred "the boy who lived." Alright, I know the Harry Potter jokes are getting old. Despite Daniel Radcliffe having the lead role, I still thought that the trailer for The Woman in Black was quite intriguing. That being said, Daniel Radcliffe was an added bonus because I was itching to see him outside of the Harry Potter role as well as in a film of this nature.

The opening sequence of The Woman in Black instantly had me on the edge of my seat, and I would remain in this stance for the duration of the movie! I certainly felt uneasy throughout the entire film. Of course there were a few cheap "jump" scares, but as a whole the film did an excellent job portraying an overall creepy atmosphere. I was instantly captivated by the story of The Woman in Black and found myself eagerly, yet cautiously awaiting each scene! As for Daniel Radcliffe's acting I will say that it was a bit weird at first to see him on screen without the famous spectacles and not as my beloved Harry. However, he quickly became the Arthur character of The Woman in Black and I was able to stop seeing him just as Harry Potter. He did an excellent job, and while Daniel Radcliffe will probably always be known for his role in Harry Potter, it is evident that the guy can act.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Woman in Black. As I mentioned previously, the eerie atmosphere completely enabled me to immerse myself in the scary movie experience. The end of the movie also left me thinking, and of course, made me want to sleep with the light on!

Hobo Dan: The Wife believes I hate scary movies. False. I like scary movies; it just takes more than loud, unexpected noises to frighten me. Luckily, while The Woman in Black is full of these cheap scares, it also provides some more tangible creeps in the form of lighting, acting and setting. To be honest I wasn’t looking forward to this movie. The Wife even admitted the main reason she wanted to see it was because of Daniel Radcliffe. By the way Daniel, you are excellent and I will never refer to you as “the kid from Harry Potter”. What I found was a creepy little story set in the English country side. This isn’t going to blow anyone away, but it is a much better investment than the average scary movies of late with their 3D effects and gallons of blood.

Like I said, this movie is at its best when setting the mood. Be it the old haunted house which is situated on Nine Lives Causeway where the road floods over at high tide, or the excellent camera and lighting tricks, the film is constantly giving you a sense of dread. The moody setting allows the cheap “jump out of your seat” scares to have their intended effect, but it also sets you on edge, never allowing a moment to relax. The acting is very good, although for a large potion of the film of the film Mr. Radcliffe is alone and has very little dialog. He does an excellent job using his face to react to things happening, but these scenes are never able to hide the fact that this was a book before a movie. I’m guessing these parts of the book are filled with inner monologue, shedding light into the thoughts of the main character that are missing for the film.

I enjoyed The Woman in Black. I didn’t find it as scary as the teenage girls in the theatre did, but I enjoyed it for its quality acting, beautiful scenery and interesting story which, if strengthened, could have really improved the overall package. So if you really enjoy scary movies, go to the dark theater and see this; preferably without the screaming teenagers. If you don’t generally fall for the “jump out of your seat” tactic, I’d still recommend this for story, cinematography and the creepy as hell porcelain toys.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Loquacious

No wonder this country is only getting fatter and fatter by the day. We are training our youth to be lazy. I meet up with a school bus route on my way to work every morning. I follow it for about half a mile through town before we part ways. During that time the bus stops seven times! Seven times in half a mile, all to pick up a single child at each stop! Would anyone like to explain to me why these kids can’t walk down the block and stand with the kids from the other house? It’s called a bus stop. You know, you meet up and all get on the bus at the same time. It saves everyone time (and would help keep me off blood pressure medicine). This part of the route could be reduced to two stops easily. I’m not asking for these kids to walk an uphill mile in a blinding blizzard on a busy country road. I’m talking one hundred feet on a well maintained, in town sidewalk. I guess it’s too much to ask the parents to have to watch their kids walk down the street a few feet and stand. They are more interested in getting the brats off to free day care so they can go back to their meth.

I guess you could argue I just have too much road rage or I should just leave for work earlier to avoid said bus. I suppose that's all true but then what would I have to complain about? The weather?

Word of the Week

Well Spleenwort was an utter mess. I didn’t manage to work that into anything other than some cop out tweets. Fail. Better luck to me this week I guess. What do you have for me wife?

Word of the Week: Loquacious

Loquacious: talking or tending to talk much or freely; talkative; chattering; babbling; garrulous: a loquacious dinner guest.
Characterized by excessive talk; wordy

Challenge: Use the word while ordering snacks at the movie theater Friday night.