Thursday, May 29, 2008

Now I'm A Celebrity

I usually don't like to call attention to myself, but I happened upon the above picture on Black Stone Cherry's MySpace page. If you look really closely, you can actually see me in that picture.

It's not every day one ends up on the website of a major label rock band.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Greatest Player No One Cares About

It must be the Year of Apathy in baseball. First, you have Frank Thomas, the greatest player to ever call himself a DH gets shuffled around so much in a week that no one knows (or cares) what team he plays for. Then, Mike Piazza, possibly the greatest hitting catcher ever, retires, and no one notices. Now, Ken Griffey, Jr., the player with the greatest potential in the history of baseball, gets within two homeruns of 600, something only five (six if you care to count Sosa, and I don't) players have done, and no one outside of Cincinnati seems to care.

I think part of the problem may be that I don't think people realize that Junior is still playing. No one noticed when Sosa passed 600 for the same reason. And while these would appear to be similar cases of inflated number apathy, they're not.

Sosa is, well, frankly, a dirty player. You don't go from a guy who hit 60 homeruns in his entire tenure with the White Sox and Rangers to a guy who hit nothing but 60 homeruns a year with the Cubs without being dirty. When asked before Congress if he had used steroids, he replied, "FUCK GASPAR GOMEZ AND FUCK THE FUCKING DIAZ BROTHERS! FUCK 'EM ALL!!" (He may not have actually said that, but it's more entertaining than the "No hablo Ingles" bit he actually used.) This from a guy who, two years earlier, got suspended for using a corked bat. That is one shifty motherfucker.

Junior, on the other hand, has always had a clean record. He's never been named in any of the random gossip that seems to implicate players on a weekly basis. Everything Junior has done appears to be due to talent, not only as a hitter, but as a fielder, having won a Gold Glove every year of the '90s. Here's a kid who may legitimately have been the best player in baseball.

Then he got traded to Cincinnati...and hasn't played a full season yet.

He became so injury-prone that he makes Mark McQwire look like a picture of health. And he has not gotten healthier, becoming seemingly more brittle (and fatter) with each injury. This for a guy who's only 38 years old.

And it's these injuries that have been happening on a yearly basis for nearly a decade that make us forget what a great player Griffey is(/was). I don't think anyone knows when he's actually playing. Even though he played most of the season last year (having gotten his injury out of the way before the season started), I think most people forget that he's closing in on some milestones because they don't know if he's in baseball anymore. I myself had taken for granted that he might not be injured and didn't know he was playing until I heard about the "598" thing.

And I also think that, because it's been nearly a decade since Griffey was any kind of force in baseball, people forget how good Griffey used to be. Despite losing at least three seasons worth of games to injury, his numbers already make a strong case for the Hall of Fame. Nowhere near as good as, say, someone like Hank Aaron's numbers, but consider that while Aaron played three more years than Griffey currently has, he had 3300+ more at bats. Give Griffey that many more at bats and consider what his stats might look like. Yeah: Kid's a monster.

But, his stats being what they are, he is closing in on some milestones. He's 275 RBI from 2000, something only three other players have done. He's 395 hits from 3000. And he's got that whole homerun thing, too. Crossing my fingers, I'm hoping Griffey can make it through the rest of the year (and his career) uninjured. He's been healthy thus far. And, he is only 38. A lot of these records are within reach.

I just hope he can get to them.

Oh, and in baseball related post-script to this story, over at The Hall of Very Good, Jesus was quick to give out this year's Bo Diaz Award to John Marzano. But, I think he's going to regret his choice when hears about what happened to Geremi Gonzalez, the pitcher who broke Sosa's corked bat.

That's a Bo Diaz winner if I've ever seen one!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Lost Treasures & Guilty Pleasures: Deadbeat at Dawn

Last year, when it came out that Tarantino and Rodriguez were making Grindhouse, a tribute to Exploitation Movies of the '70s, I was pretty excited. Quite honestly, this is the absolute best genre of movies (if you like shitty movies, that is). They claimed they were going to be period authentic, with low-budget looks and vintage soundtracks, everything down to the heavy film grain that plagued all those well-loved prints. I was excited because I love those crappy movies.

Then Grindhouse came out. And it wasn't good.

Tarantino made...well, I don't know what he made, other than a masturbatory homage to things only he loves. And while Rodriguez did make a cheesy Zombie Movie, he used the whole "vintage" thing for dramatic effect more than anything. Basically, what you ended up with were two big-budget films that were dudded down to look cheap. (It's sad that the most "authentic" part of Grindhouse was the trailers that connected the two halves.) They pretty much failed at what they were trying to do by trying way too hard.

Enter Jim Van Bebber.

In the late '80s, Van Bebber, encouraged by the success of low-budget movies like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Evil Dead, decided he wanted to make a low-budget movie that would catch fire, as those other movies did. He found his inspiration in the really bad gang and biker movies of the '70s. He sought to replicate those movies, not only in feel, but, hopefully, in success, as many of them became cult hits when they hit the "grindhouse" circuit that Tarantino and Rodriguez are so enamored with.

What he came up with was Deadbeat at Dawn.

For first-time viewers, there is nothing to indicate that this movie was made in 1988 (other than the cars, and even that's a stretch). Van Bebber used vintage wardrobe, music, even going so far as to use vintage 16mm filmstock to replicate the grainy transfer of those old movies. He did everything right in replicating that period feel that Tarantino and Rodriguez did wrong.

And what is there not to like about this movie? Every character is an irredeemable asshole. They all do drugs. They carry nunchucks and throwing stars. They fight each other with ridiculous karate moves. Everyone does their own stunts. There are gallons upon gallons of blood. Literally everyone dies. This is a movie that you think would show up on Mystery Science Theatre, except I think it does so well as an homage that it actually classifies as a good movie (if that makes any sense).

If you like those grindhouse-type movies, Deadbeat at Dawn is a must-see. Unfortunately, Synapse Films, the film's distributor, no longer sells the movie. There is a copy of it included in the upcoming Films of Jim Van Bebber set, but that DVD isn't as good as the Synapse version. It's still out there, if you care to look for it. I really can't say enough about this movie, other that to say, "check it out."

Seriously, check it out.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The World's Hottest Divorcée

Earlier in the week, it was announced that music star Shania Twain and her producer husband Mutt Lange were busting up after 14 years of marriage. This comes as no surprise to me, as couples like this always bust up.

What's more interesting about this (to me, at least) is the whole money thing that usually follows a divorce, especially when one party is super-famous and the other is some ugly dude you didn't even know she was married to. Like Britney and K-Fed. K-Fed gets millions for ruining what used to be Britney Spears. Same with several of J-Lo's husbands. Same with Melissa Matheson, who took Harrison Ford for all he was worth and then some. It would appear to be the same here, because Shania Twain is Shania Twain and Mutt Lange is...who?

But I think it might be different in this case. Before Shania had even left Canada, Mutt was a pretty big deal as a producer. He produced the two best-selling AC/DC records, including Back in Black, the second-highest selling record ever. He produced (and co-wrote) four Def Leppard records which sold 27 million copies in the US alone, before "hair metal" ceased to exist. He wrote "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You," which is still "popular" to this day. He wrote "Do You Believe in Love," the song that introduced Huey Lewis to the world. Oh, and he co-wrote and produced Shania Twain's entire discography.

This all may not seem like anything, but, if you know how music royalties work, you make more money for writing a song than performing it. Mutt has hundreds of millions records sold with him as a songwriter; Shania's got about half that. Needless to say, Mutt's got his own money.

What it all comes down to is this: if Mutt doesn't walk away from this with a lion's share of the money, he should kill his attorney.

Actually...scratch that. What it really comes down to is: Shania Twain is on the market again.

Hooray for everyone!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Brewers Are Back To Being The Brewers

Had a chance to catch the Milwaukee Brewers last weekend.

Last year at this time, the Brewers had the best record in baseball. And then this happened.

This year, they actually appear to be doing it in reverse, starting out like a complete bag of crap. Only they don't appear to be getting any better.

The thing with the Brewers is that they're not a bad team. They're a very young team with a lot of talent. They have a big-time, legitimate power hitter in Prince Fielder (who wears a three-sizes-too-big uniform that don't make him look any skinnier). They have the reigning Rookie of the Year (whom they just signed to a steal of a contract). They appear to have let Geoff Jenkins go at just the right time. And, I say this with no irony, but they have one of the best pitchers (when he pitches a full year) in Ben Sheets.

All that being said, there a lot of negatives. They have surrounded Sheets with a rouge's gallery of washout pitchers. Most of their infield is terrible, particularly Rickie Weeks, who might pan out to be a career .230 hitter. (At least long-time Brewer Rob Deer had the courtesy to hit 30 homers a year while batting .230 (or less).) And sinking 12% of your payroll in the best closer (circa 2003) may not have been such a great move.

And, speaking of payroll, they may want to sink some of that into a better manager. Ned Yost did a decent job last year, but I think he might have been buoyed by the fact that his team seemingly hit home runs at will. I think now that they've lost that ability that we're getting to see Yost for the manager he is. They had a good manager in Phil Garner, but most of the teams he was saddled with were just shit. Hiring guys like Yost or whoever is next on the Brewers coaching staff might be a bad idea. Even Cecil Cooper, Garner's replacement in Houston AND a Milwaukee fan favorite, would be a better manager than Yost.

But, the season is barely a quarter over. Maybe the Brewers will pull a turnaround. Hell, the Cubs are leading the division, and the only reason they're there is because no one else is. Maybe the Brewers can finish up strong when the Cubs stage their yearly collapse.

But I'm not holding my breath.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Do Ya Like Black Sabbath...

Because "Iron Man" has been inevitably linked to this, the movie of the same name.

A while back, I mentioned that Iron Man might turn out to be pretty cool. (I've also mentioned that it might suck. I'm fickle like that.) Having seen it, I'm kinda in between on my actual opinion of the movie.

I was wrong about Robert Downey Jr. maybe ruining the movie; he was actually pretty enjoyable in it. And Gwyneth Paltrow was completely serviceable as Pepper Potts. All and all, I was pleased with the movie.

But I'm hearing some shit about how great this movie is; maybe the best comic book adaptation ever.


In terms of the origin story, they got that right. They even got a lot of the ancillary characters, like Jim Rhodes and Happy Hogan, in there. But in terms of story possibilities as a franchise? Well...there really aren't any more.

Iron Man butted heads with Obidiah Stane for, like, every issue for years. It was Stane who caused Tony Stark to become a drunken vagrant and Jim Rhodes to assume the Iron Man mantle. But after one movie, Stane's dead. (And why is it that comic book movies feel the need to kill the villains. Dr. Octopus has been a Spiderman villain for nearly 50 years, yet, one movie, and he's dead.) There really aren't any other Iron Man villains. I mean, there's the Mandarin, but...Hello, embarrassing Asian stereotypes! Basically, we're to the point where you have to make shit up to continue this story, which is what I suspect they'll do.

I guess we'll see in two years when the sequel comes out.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Trent Reznor: Officially Gone Nuts

Over a year ago, I commented on the fact that Trent Reznor had a new album (which turned out to be Year Zero) coming out a little less than two years after his previous album. For a guy who only releases an album every half decade or so, I figured that Trent must be on fire. I figured we wouldn't hear from Trent for a long time after.

That was a year ago. Since then, Trent has put out three albums, two of them in less than a month. For a guy who took 16 years to put out his first five albums, to crank out three in under a year is, well, a hell of a pace.

So, why is Trent nuts?

Going back to the With Teeth album, Trent has been slowly releasing the source material of his songs for his fans to remix. Giving music away for free is something that drives the record companies nuts. And Trent himself may be nuts, because he's giving away his new album for free.

The Slip, which came out today, is available for free download at No gimmicks, no catches, no right-protection. Just go and download it. You can even send a copy to your friends.

And while I appreciate the fact that Trent has decided to become prolific, I don't think he can keep up this pace. He's going back on tour (again) and I think he'll just be burned out once he gets back.

But...he's proven me wrong before. Maybe he'll do it again.

Or end up in an asylum.