Monthly Archives: March 2013

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Movie Trailer – Girl Rising

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Richard Robbins
Starring: Cate Blanchett (voice), Anne Hathaway (voice)
Release: March 2013

I don’t know why I’m on a documentary kick right now.  I don’t even like them that much.  They annoy me because they are usually so selfish and overbearing.  If there is an issue that you strongly believe in and you want to make a film about it in order to educate the world, fine, good luck changing thousands of years of human behavior with a ninety minute movie.  It doesn’t even matter if you have a strong message and a good point, you just can’t expect magic from showing us some sad stories.  We see terrible things every day and we barely even flinch.  Documentary filmmakers may be trying to do some good, but they’ve got to know that they’re failing.

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Sports – Bracket Picks

Category : Sports

So here are my tournament picks.  I would say let’s remember the honor system and refrain from copying my bracket, but you know what, copy away, cause I have no clue this year.  I picked very conservatively, so there won’t be any shockers, but I did pick quite a few upsets in early rounds and I resisted the urge to be a homer and choose Duke to go all the way.  Let the Tourney begin!


1 Louisville
vs                                1 Louisville
16 N.C. A&T
                                    vs                         1 Louisville
vs                                9 Mizzou
9 Mizzou
                                                                 vs                          1 Louisville
vs                                12 Oregon
12 Oregon
                                     vs                         4 StL
4 StL
vs                                4 StL
13 N.M. St.
                                                                                                vs                          1 Louisville
6 Memphis
vs                                6 Memphis
11 St. Mary’s
                                    vs                         3 MSU
vs                                3 MSU
14 Valpo
                                                                 vs                          2 Duke
7 Creighton
vs                                7 Creighton
10 Cinci
                                    vs                         2 Duke
2 Duke
vs                                2 Duke
15 Albany


1 Gonzaga
vs                                1 Gonzaga
16 Southern
                                    vs                         1 Gonzaga
8 Pitt
vs                                8 Pitt
9 Wichita St.
                                                                 vs                          1 Gonzaga
5 Wisconson
vs                                12 Ole Miss
12 Ole Miss
                                     vs                         4 KSU
vs                                4 KSU
13 Boise/La Salle
                                                                                                vs                          1 Gonzaga
6 Arizona
vs                                11 Belmont
11 Belmont
                                    vs                         3 New Mexico
3 New Mexico
vs                                3 New Mexico
14 Harvard
                                                                 vs                          3 New Mexico
7 ND
vs                               10 Iowa St.
10 Iowa St.
                                    vs                         2 OSU
vs                                2 OSU
15 Iona


1 Kansas
vs                                1 Kansas
16 W. Kentucky
                                    vs                         1 Kansas
vs                                8 NC
9 Nova
                                                                 vs                          1 Kansas
vs                                5 VCU
12 Akron
                                     vs                         4 Michigan
4 Michigan
vs                                4 Michigan
13 S. Dakota St.
                                                                                                vs                          1 Kansas
vs                                11 Minnesota
11 Minnesota
                                    vs                         3 Florida
3 Florida
vs                                3 Florida
14 NW St.
                                                                 vs                          3 Florida
vs                                10 OU
10 OU
                                    vs                         2 Georgetown
2 Georgetown
vs                                2 Georgetown


1 Indiana
vs                                1 Indiana
                                    vs                         1 Indiana
8 N.C. St.
vs                                8 N.C. St.
9 Temple
                                                                vs                          1 Indiana
vs                                12 Cal
12 Cal
                                     vs                         4 Syracuse
4 Syracuse
vs                                4 Syracuse
13 Montana
                                                                                                vs                          2 Miami
6 Butler
vs                                6 Butler
11 Bucknell
                                    vs                         6 Butler
3 Marquette
vs                                3 Marquette
14 Davidson
                                                                 vs                          2 Miami
7 Illinois
vs                                10 Colorado
10 Colorado
                                    vs                         2 Miami
2 Miami
vs                                2 Miami
15 Pacific


1 Louisville
vs                         1 Louisville
1 Gonzaga
                             vs                       1 Louisville
1 Kansas
vs                         2 Miami
2 Miami

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Movie Trailer – No Place on Earth

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Janet Tobias
Starring: Chris Nicola, Saul Sterner, Sonia Dodyk
Release: April 5th, 2013

Documentaries about the Holocaust are always tough to watch, but this one looks quite different.  It’s told from an interesting point of view and seems to have some notes of happiness and hope.  Should be moving, educational, and original.  I’ll definitely be checking it out.

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DVD Review – Bath Salt Zombies

Category : DVD Review

Director: Dustin Mills
Starring: Brandon Salkil, Josh Eal, Ethan Holey
Year: 2013

As far as I knew, bath salts were something I bought for my mom for Christmas.  They smell nice, they look like rock candy, and they are a cheap & easy present.  I heard about “bath salts” about a month ago from a friend who works on a college campus.  Apparently this new drug is making the rounds and is causing quite a stir.  It is a substituted cathinone, with effects similar to amphetamine or cocaine.  The interesting thing about “bath salts” is that they are small white crystals, look like epsom salts, and are often packaged and labeled “not for human consumption”, which inhibits their legal prosecution.  Anyway, as Joe Friday would say, those are “just the facts”.  Bath Salt Zombies is less about science and more about drugs making people want to eat other people.

The Movie

The story begins with two plot points that set the scene: 1) after a “salts” crackdown in the south the movement has traveled north and has found a new home in New York City, and 2) a government strain of top secret super drug has been compromised and has found its way to the streets.  The top dealer in the Salts Market is a group called the Dragons.  Highly organized and professional, they have created a monopoly on the drug and stand to make a huge profit.  However, independent dealer Bubbles hopes to get in on the action, as he and his partner have created a brand new strain of “salts” that is both highly profitable and highly addictive.
In the background is Agent Forster, a DEA officer who has made it his personal goal to stop the flow of “salts” into the city and to take down the Dragons, with or without a SWAT team.  As he pits himself against this elite crime syndicate, a surprise emerges; Bubbles and his partner have unknowingly created a mutated version of this hip drug that has killer side effects.  Ritchie, a local junkie, becomes an unwitting participant in this deadly game, and must learn to control his new urge before he becomes something that no one ever saw coming; a Bath Salt Zombie!

First of all, lets lay it all out there.  This is a movie about drugs that turn people into zombies that desire human flesh.  It has numerous bloody decapitation scenes, faces are frequently torn off, two different women get naked and then get violently murdered, and various body parts are constantly being ripped off, eaten, and/or flung about.  It is not a film for the faint of heart, it is not for children, and it is in very poor taste.  That said, it’s a B-movie, what did you expect?  You either are or are not a fan of independent horror films that rely heavily on the gross-out factor in order to be even remotely successful.  Bath Salt Zombies is not World War Z or 28 Days Later.  It’s more The Toxic Avenger or Halloween Night.  You’ve got to know what you’re getting into if you want to have any chance of enjoying this very strange movie.
Now that we understand what we’re dealing with, let’s pick it apart.  The acting, for instance; it was not as awful as it could have been, but it wasn’t Oscar-worthy either.  Salkil was appropriately disturbing and whacked-out as a mile high zombie flesh-eater.  Eal played the part of a karate-chopping cop well enough to be entertaining.  And the amateur drug dealers stole the show as two nerdy wannabees in over their heads.  The set and effects were passable, but obviously low budget; fake blood sprays, silly mutant drug addicts, and what I can only guess were rooms in the director’s actual house.  But, again, it’s hard to judge the film too harshly because it never aspired to be Brokeback Mountain.  It was what it was, and what else can you expect when you probably asked your friends to be in your movie and you probably all got stoned right before shooting.
All that said, it wasn’t horrible.  I’m not saying it was great, but I watched the whole thing, I laughed a little, and I moderately enjoyed myself.  But then again, I like zombie movies, I like campy horror flicks, and I don’t mind a little gratuitous sex & violence.  This actually wasn’t Mills’ first project, and you could tell; it was as professional as a trippy slasher movie can be.  It was well made for it’s budget and was fun while it lasted.  I mean, it was short, which was probably a great idea, because I’m not sure how much more face-eating I could have watched, but it was good enough to not turn off.  And I actually liked the fact that they referenced “salts” correctly, up to a certain point.  It added a small amount of relevancy to what otherwise was a ridiculous plot.  I’m not saying that the majority of people will fall in love with Bath Salt Zombies, but it wasn’t as awful as it appears at first glance.


Video – Shot in 16:9 HD, the picture wasn’t a distraction, but it wasn’t amazing either.  Like I said, it was decidedly low budget, but did fairly well within those restrictions.  There’s no need to watch this on Hi-Def equipment; you won’t see anything special.
Audio – There are zero sound options with this DVD.  No language selection, no stereo choices, and no subtitles.  And the mixing during the film was quite bad; the voices were turned too far down and the music was turned way too far up.  That said, there was an interesting soundtrack of punk/rock songs, if you’re a fan.
Extras – Again, almost no options here.  You do get an extremely odd cartoon at the beginning of the movie featuring a slacker kid who makes a deal with the devil and then attempts to eat his own mother.  So there’s that.  Otherwise, your extras are a trailer for the film and a commentary version with Mills and Salkil, where they explain their reasoning behind various parts of the film.

Final Thoughts

Rent It.  Bath Salt Zombies is like a B-movie from hell, but one that somehow comes across as funny and watchable, if barely.  Don’t expect too much and you won’t be disappointed, but check it out if you’re a fan of zombies/slashers/horror.  The video is fine but not wonderful, the audio is poor, and the extras are almost nonexistent, so don’t spend top dollar on this DVD, as it’s nothing to write home about.  Just watch, enjoy, try to accept it, and you might have a good time.

✰ ✰ ✰ – Content
✰ ✰ ✰ – Video
✰ ✰ – Audio
✰ ✰ – Extras
✰ ✰ – Replay

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Sports – The Feisty Foxes

Category : Sports

So last night was my fantasy baseball draft.  I’m a part of my wife’s sister’s league, the Gold Hitters.  It’s basically my wife’s family, it’s a 14 team league now, and it’s a lot of fun.  I started in 2009, and although I’ve always liked baseball (and especially the Cardinals) it was then that I began to learn the game and its players.  I didn’t do so hot the first year, but I’ve been improving:
  • 2009 – 10th of 12
  • 2010 – 4th of 12
  • 2011 – 5th of 12
  • 2012 – 3rd of 14
But it’s the playoffs that always get me.  My guys are hurt, they go cold, or I’m just not prepared, because I always lose when it counts.  This year I hope to keep moving up and soon win the Championship.  Anyway, here’s my team this year.  I drafted last, but then I got two picks in a row, so it wasn’t too bad.
  • Ca – A.J. Pierzynski (CWS)
  • 1B – Billy Butler (KC)
  • 2B – Brandon Phillips (Cin)
  • 3B – David Freese (StL)
  • SS – Troy Tulowitzki (Col)
  • LF – Jason Kubel (Ari)
  • CF – Jon Jay (StL)
  • RF – Andre Ethier (LAD)
  • Uti – Michael Young (Phi)
  • SP – Justin Verlander (Det)
  • SP – Zack Greinke (LAD)
  • SP – Jordan Zimmerman (Was)
  • SP – Ian Kennedy (Ari)
  • SP – Hiroki Kuroda (NYY)
  • RP – Craig Kimbrel (Atl)
  • RP – Steve Cishek (Mia)
  • BN – Carlos Ruiz (Ca, Phi)
  • BN – Colby Rasmus (CF, Tor)
  • BN – Brandon Moss (1B, LF, RF, Oak)
  • BN – Jeremy Hellickson (SP, TB)
  • BN – Wade Miley (SP, Ari)
Usually I pick power hitters early (1B or 3B), but this year I tried to pick middle infielders and pitchers early, and then fill in the rest with second tier guys that are still powerful.  We’ll see if it works.  My pitching is strong, I just need guys to produce home runs.  Hopefully Tulowitzki is back to form this year, and Kubel’s power last year wasn’t a fluke.  I feel like I got a lot of good players cheap, like Ethier, Jay, and Moss, but again, we’ll see.  Should be a great season!

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Movie Review – Manhattan

Category : Movie Review

Director: Woody Allen
Starring: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Meryl Streep
Year: 1979

Woody Allen is a polarizing figure; you either love him or you hate him.  His films are extremely self-centered, always about tangled neurotic love, stuffed with Jew jokes, usually set in New York, full of harsh sexual humor, and often consist of him speaking very quickly for about ninety minutes.  However, he must be doing something right, as so many of his movies are considered film and cult classics: Annie Hall, Deconstructing Harry, Hollywood Ending, Midnight in Paris.  He does a lot right for a lot of people and nothing right for a few.  As for me, I’m a fan, and I have never seen a better Woody Allen film than Manhattan.
Taking place in, you guessed it, New York City, the story is exactly what you would expect; an aging Jewish man, Isaac, living in Manhattan, twice divorced, dating a high schooler, writing novels and for television, walking around in a self-loathing fog.  That is, until he meets Mary.  She is everything that annoys him and makes him anxious; confident, intellectual, beautiful, talkative, neurotic.  And as he begins to fall in love with her, he can picture himself having a happy future for the first time.  This love story is as beautiful and dysfunctional as NYC itself, enveloping many lives and breaking many hearts.
I knew going into it that I would like Manhattan because it’s classic Woody Allen.  I knew I would like the New York vibe, the quick wit, and the comedic anxiety.  But I didn’t know that Woody Allen as a director would shine so brightly in this film.  Scene after scene was perfectly shot, creating a cinematic masterpiece that should be shown in every Film 101 class in the nation.  Set all in black & white, there was a mood and a feeling that permeated the story, and allowed for some great acting against a wonderful backdrop.  The movie was quick, engaging, hilarious, and set a high standard for romantic comedies that has only ever been matched by When Harry Met Sally.  If you love film you have got to see Manhattan; it defines the term.

My rating: ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰

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Thought – Precise Play

Category : Thought

I have always been nervous around large groups of people.  I know that no one likes crowds (packed theatres, a busy zoo, frantic grocery stores), and that we all have different ways to deal with this anxiety.  Me, I refuse to go, and if I truly must put myself in those situations then I try my best, but if I start to feel overwhelmed I just shut down.  I go inside myself and tune out the chaos and noise around me.  That’s how I’ve always dealt with my own neurosis and I get along quite nicely.
When I became a parent it quickly became …apparent …that I would have to put myself in situations that might make me uncomfortable.  Crowded libraries, age-diverse playgrounds, museums; I want my kids to visit and enjoy these place even though they make me feel acutely crazy.  Thankfully, my wife loves to take the kids to festivals and the like, so I’m not put in these situations all the time, and when I am I can deal with it.
But a new problem has arisen, and it’s very troubling; the places that we want to investigate and enjoy are not only crowded, but actually seem to promote the things that make me nervous and inhibit the play of my children.  These places are noisy, busy, physical, messy, unsupervised, and surprisingly noneducational.  When I take my daughter to a science museum I expect to learn, play, explore, talk; basically have a nice quite time and leave having experienced science.  I don’t expect to need to protect her from obtuse 8-year-olds, yell to be heard, pick up after others, and leave feeling like I’ve just been bashed over the head with sounds & colors.
At what point did education become over stimulation?  Why is there no place to play in a precise manner other than my own living room?  My daughter wants to learn and I want to teach her.  But other people get in the way of that goal and ruin enjoyable experiences.  Perhaps it’s not the museum/playground/library’s fault, but more of a cultural problem.  Is that the only way to entertain today’s children, to let them run, scream, throw, and destroy?  I’d like to think not.  I’d like to think that other parents feel as I do; that it would be nice to find a quite place to sit down, learn, and leave feeling relaxed.  Does that place exist?

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Movie Trailer – Frances Ha

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Noah Baumbach
Starring: Greta Gerwig, Mickey Sumner
Release: May 17th, 2013

This trailer confuses me a little.  On one hand, I like Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Greenberg); he works with Wes Anderson and has that quirky New York vibe.  On the other hand, I’m not sure how well I’ll relate to the story of two female best friends trying to make it in the big city & following their dreams.  I just don’t know.  Rental?

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Sports – NFL Free Agency Update

Category : Sports

With Free Agency starting yesterday we have a lot of new homes for a lot of impact players.  And of course, there are a ton of key guys still out there to be signed.  Let’s take a look at what has gone down in the last week and how the teams & players are faring in Free Agency.
  • Mike Wallace (WR) – The talented receiver has left chilly Pittsburgh for the warm beaches of Miami.  So the Dolphins have a great receiver now, but who’s gonna throw to him, Ryan Tannehill?  I just don’t have much faith in that guy.
  • Tony Gonzelez (TE) – The Falcons will have a services for one more year, as he announced that he’s not retiring after all.  I think this is a good move for both team and player, as Tony still has a ton left and Atlanta is very close to a Super Bowl.
  • Anquan Boldin (WR) – In a surprise move the Ravens traded Boldin to the Niners for basically nothing.  SF has got to be very excited; he’s an impact player and a guy who always comes up big when it matter.  I understand why Baltimore did it, but tough loss.
  • Percy Harvin (WR) – Another marquee receiver to get traded was Harvin, from Minnesota to Seattle.  Russell Wilson has got to be very happy with this deal, as Harvin has speed and explosive ability, but like Wilson himself.
Miami – The Dolphins are making waves, adding Wallace (WR), Ellerbe (LB), and Wheeler (LB).
Buffalo – There’s a change of guard as the Bills lose Fitzpatrick (QB), Levitre (OG), Wilson (S), Barnett (LB), McGee (CB), and Merriman (LB).
Baltimore – The Ravens may lose their entire team; Boldin (WR), Lewis (LB), Ellerbe (LB), Kruger (DE), Birk (C), Pollard (S), and Williams (OG).
Cleveland – Helping their D by adding Kruger (DE) and Groves (LB).
Tennessee – Quietly adding nice players; Levitre (OG), Wilson (S), and Walker (TE).
Kansas City – Making big moves with new players Smith (QB), Robinson (CB), DeVito (DT), Avery (WR), and Fasano (TE).
Philadelphia – Changes is Philly, adding Chung (S), Casey (TE), and Sopoaga (DT).  Losing Asomugha (CB), Jenkins (DT), and Dunlap (OT).
Green Bay – Losing a lot of veteran; Walden (LB), Woodson (S), Saturday (C), and Driver (WR).
Arizona – Dropping a lot of pieces; Groves (LB), Gay (CB), Bradley (LB), Doucet (WR), Wells (RB), and Wilson (S).
There are a lot of big name guys still out there to be sorted through and signed; Avril (DE), Jennings (WR), Reed (S), Long (OT), Quin (S), Welker (WR), Amendola (WR), Bush (RB), Jackson (RB), and Mendenhall (RB).  Look for this weekend to be a big signing period, with some contracts being signed in the next few days.  The NFL season is one step closer!

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Movie Trailer – The Big Wedding

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Justin Zackham
Starring: Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton, Susan Sarandon, Katherine Heigl, Amanda Seyfried, Topher Grace, Robin Williams, Ben Barnes
Release: April 26th, 2013

This many big names together in one film that isn’t a four hour epic always frightens me.  And then I saw the trailer and I was truly afraid.  I would say, “Why do they keep making these horrible romantic comedies” but I already know the answer; because your average person isn’t very smart and will pay money to watch them.  Sure, everyone has guilty pleasures and some people watch movies for entertainment or escape, but find your happy place somewhere else.  Make the world a better place; stop supporting Katherine Heigl.