Wednesday, January 30, 2008

My tale of the Virtual Waiting Room

Photo from BDD
Everyone seems to have a tale from the Virtual Waiting Room, so here's mine.

Red Sox single game tickets went on sale Saturday morning at 10am. Unfortunately, I was already committed to proctoring SATs (woohoo) and my sister was visiting from Boston - so I could only get briefly online at noon. No luck. So I settled in around 3 for the duration. I had six or seven windows open, and at 8:20, I got through. I picked out tickets for the three games I'd decided on, and, yes, and went back and forth to the seating chart several times. When I finally got ready to check out, punched the purchase button, and was told I had taken too long. My tickets were no longer available and I was back in the VWR. AARRGH! So, another 20 minutes in the queue, and finally got back in. This time, I was pretty quick about my choices, and they finally accepted my payment.

The results? Three games against the Angels from Somewhere at the end of July! Yeah!! 1 Grandstand, 2 Field Boxes.

So now I can relax. I have tickets for three games at Fenway, and two in Cincinnati. Now I've just got to work on Baltimore!

14 Days until Pitchers and Catchers report to Fort Myers!!

Labels: ,

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Netflixin: A Cactus and Some Shamrocks

I've been on Netflix for a month now, and I really like it. Their service has been incredibly quick - for example, I mailed a movie back yesterday (Monday) - and I had an email this morning that they'd received it and that I could expect a new DVD tomorrow! They've got a good variety - all the hits, of course, but some things I'd never find for rent around here! So that brings me to my two most recent rentals, which I highly recommend!

3:10 to Yuma is a remake of a classic 1957 western starring Glenn Ford and Van Heflin. Rancher Dan Evans (Christian Bale) is about to lose everything, and signs on to escort outlaw Ben Wade (Russell Crowe, above) to the prison train. The film follows their journey as they try to outrun Wade's gang (including the very creepy and effective Ben Foster as Charlie Prince). It was a gripping chase film, although it sometimes dips too far into psychoanalysis of the two main characters. It translates well onto the small screen. And Crowe makes a very charming villain.

In a totally different vain is the documentary The Emerald Diamond Self-financed by director John Fitzgerald on his own credit cards, it tells the story of the Irish National Baseball Team. Yes, they have played baseball in Ireland since the mid-1990s, and their team has gotten good enough to win the bronze medal in the European championships. It's a lovely little story about a group of baseball fanatics, determined to bring the sport to the old Sod, and determined to instill their love in the next generations of players. The team has toured the US a few times - the picture above shows them at Fenway Park, where they played a game. A really lovely little film - look for it!


Monday, January 28, 2008

Review: 27 Dresses

If you've seen the trailer for this light bit of fluff, you've pretty much seen the movie. The story: Katherine Heigl is a 30-something singleton, who spends a lot of time being a bridesmaid. She meets James Marsden (pictured above), the writer behind the weekly "Commitments" column in the newspaper. Complications, angst, heartbreak all ensue when Heigl's sister falls in love with Heigl's boss (on whom she has a secret crush) and she must now plan her sister's wedding. Predictable.

But, on a cold, damp wintry afternoon, when baseball seems ages away, when Spring Break is weeks away - it was a lovely diversion. It fulfilled all my expectations - a chick flick with a happy ending. And Heigl and Marsden elevate it above the level of a Hallmark or Lifetime movie offering. Like a piece of wedding cake, it's light, fluffy, forgettable, but immediately enjoyable.

Plus, gazing at the fellow above for a little while is oh-so-pleasant!


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Tom & Tedy celebrate

From Reuters

Labels: , ,

Super Bowl Bound

Photo from NY Times - Jim Rogash, Getty Images

YEAH!! The Patriots are still perfect 18-0. And headed to the Super Bowl. Awesome!!

Labels: ,

24 Days!

Only 24 days until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training! Yeah! And NESN made my week, with their announcement that they are increasing the ST coverage by 250%! They will broadcast the daily workouts live every day 10am - with a rerun later in the day.

In anticipation, here's NESN's preliminary schedule:

Feb 13 Red Sox Spring Training LIVE 6:30 pm
Feb 14 Red Sox Spring Training LIVE 10:00 am
Feb 15 Red Sox Spring Training LIVE 10:00 am
Feb 19 Globe 10.0 (from Ft. Myers) 5:30 pm
Feb 20 Red Sox Spring Training LIVE 10:00 am
Feb 20 Globe 10.0 (from Ft. Myers) 5:30 pm
Feb 21 Red Sox Spring Training LIVE 10:00 am
Feb 21 Globe 10.0 (from Ft. Myers) 5:30 pm
Feb 22 Red Sox Spring Training LIVE 10:00 am
Feb 29 Red Sox vs. Twins 7:00 pm
Mar 2 Red Sox @ Twins 1:00 pm
Mar 9 Red Sox @ Dodgers 1:00 pm
Mar 16 Red Sox @ Pirates 1:00 pm
Mar 17 Red Sox @ Yankees 1:00 pm
Mar 19 Red Sox vs. Blue Jays 12:00 pm
Mar 29 Red Sox vs. Dodgers (@ LA County) TBD

YEAH - it'll be back soon!

In the meantime, I've found a way to satisfy some of my baseball needs. Friday, my 8-DVD boxed set of the 2007 ALCS & World Series arrived.

I've only watched Disc 8 - the bonus features. Many of the clips are on the two other DVDs I have - but there are deleted portions of some player interviews.

The most awesome part of the set is the audio option. On the 4 World Series games, you can switch off the commentary by Buck & McCarver, and instead play the Red Sox radio broadcast (or the Rockies' radio team). Talk about a dream come true for this fan - all the glory of the games without the inane chatter of the two Fox idiots! Fox should consider this option for its live broadcasts!

Labels: , ,

Saturday, January 19, 2008

No-Pudge Brownies

I haven't made a batch of these in a long time. Today, cleaning out cabinets in the kitchen, I found a box of mix, and decided to make them up. You use a box of mix plus one container of vanilla no-fat yogurt (2/3 cup)

They are awesome. Dense, chocolatey....Yum! And only 2-points per serving. You can cut them so there are 16 or 12 - but both come out to 2 WW points each. So, why scrimp?! Cut them into 12 portions and enjoy!

Labels: ,

Favorite Picture of 2007

Here's my favorite non-Red Sox related photo from last year. I took it on our campus:


Friday, January 18, 2008


Enough about all the bad side of baseball. Here's a ray of sunshine - Mike Lowell being interviewed last night at the Boston Baseball Writers Awards Banquet.

He won the team MVP Award and the Nice Guy Award. Yeah!

Labels: ,

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Clemens - a history

Here's a great article in Esquire about Clemens. The intro:
During a quarter century in the public eye, Roger Clemens never met a truth he couldn't bend or a person he couldn't blame for his own failings. A timeline.

Some really good stuff here!


Movie awards

A friend pointed me to this commentary from last week's Time. Richard Corliss says that the reason no one is watching the Oscars is because they don't give the award to the movies people LIKE! Here's a great excerpt:

But the movie award shows won't increase their numbers by becoming like other TV programming. They should do it by returning to their original mandate: to nominate the year's best popular films. In the old days, the Best Picture prize went to box-office hits like Casablanca, The Bridge on the River Kwai, The Sound of Music. The mass audience had seen these movies, and they paid attention to the Oscars. Now when the nominations come out, people try to catch up with the finalists, but it's almost like homework.

I have to admit, when I look at the list of movies that the critics are lauding as the year's best, I DO feel like I've been given homework. Most of the movies aren't ones that give pleasure - they're designed to provoke thought and discussion. Not bad objectives - but not what Middle America is interested in. Why should I spend two hours watching "The Kite Runner" (don't get me wrong - I loved the book, but the idea of a film adaptation of it?) when I can chomp popcorn and watch a feel-good movie like "Enchanted." Look at the box office winners - Spiderman 3 was number one!

If you read this blog regularly, you know I see a lot of movies. Usually one a weekend - sometimes two - in addition to the stuff I get from Blockbuster and Netflix. There are times I enjoy being challenged by a film. But usually, I'm seeking an escape from my every day, boring life. Why see "Away from Her" - about a woman with Alzheimers - I've got a mom suffering from dementia and don't need to see that dramatized. I've lived it.

So, come on Hollywood. Start to recognize the popular films. The viewers are already voting with their box office dollars - and by switching off the tv on Oscar Night.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Piaf & La Vie En Rose

Last week, I got the chance to see a bio-pic from last year, called "La Vie En Rose." It's the story of French singer Edith Piaf, who had an amazing and amazingly sad life. The film features an absolutely incredible performance by Marion Cotillard, who should win a Golden Globe at tonight's "press conference." I visited her grave years ago in Paris - she's buried in the famous Pere Lachaise Cemetary, and her grave is always covered in flowers. She was that beloved in France.

Ever since I've seen it, I can't get one of the songs out of my head. No, not her theme song "La Vie En Rose," but one of her equally acclaimed themes, "Je Ne Regrette Rien" = I regret nothing. I love the way she trills her "r" in it, and the message behind the song, especially in light of what I now know about her personal life. It's very weird to have such an "ear worm" (a song you can't get out of your head) that is in another language, especially one in which you lost your semi-fluency years ago!

Anyway, here's a clip of the great Piaf, from YouTube:

I dare you to watch this, read the English translation of the words, and not get chills!


Friday, January 11, 2008

Only 33 days

...Until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training. Sigh.

And speaking of catchers:

Looks like Tim Wakefield will have his caddy -- oops, catcher back with him this year. Sources say the RS are close to signing Doug Mirabelli to a one-year deal. Yeah!

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Missed again

In my teen years, I was a huge Sox fan. I can't tell you how many hours I spent watching these three guys patrol the outfield of Fenway Park. Dewey and the Gold Dust Twins. You knew Dwight Evans would grab every ball hit into right - and gun the ball back into the infield. How many times did Fred Lynn abuse his body by snatching a ball off the centerfield wall. And every time Jim Rice stepped to the plate - well, it was over the Monster.

It's a shame that Rice has once again been denied admission to the Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers. What do we see that they can't? We see a power hitter, a clubhouse leader, a man who has continued his involvement with the Red Sox on the field (as a special coach in Spring Training) and off the field (his work on NESN). He spent his whole career with the Sox, and was a vital part of the organization. But all the Baseball Writers seem to remember is his surly attitude with them (and do you blame him?).

So, once again, he wasn't voted in - his 14th time on the ballot. Karma seemed to dictate that #14 would get in on his 14th try....but maybe next year, which will also be his last opportunity. Well, until the Veterans Committee can intervene - and THEY will surely add him to the Hall.

Better luck next year, Jim Ed. And here's hoping the Sox Front Office starts a campaign for you - NOW!

Labels: ,

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Rogah speaks

One quick note on Roger Clemens' "60 Minutes" interview: I'm more convinced of his guilt. He never actually say he will do a lie detector test. Repeatedly says he'd never do something like that. Why did he have to take B12 as an injection, and not as a pill like ordinary folks? This explanation from Alexis on SG:

An athlete or person with very active lifestyle would need an injection instead of a pill supplement because their body processes B-12 at a higher rate. A supplement form it wouldn't get the benefits necessary to continue the active lifestyle. Injections help you to maintain the lifestyle you are already living since your body and metabolism are moving so much faster. just like active people need electrolytes or carbs, etc.

Hmmm.. I can't wait to see him do the Palmiero finger-point to Congress.

Labels: ,

Review: Charlie Wilson's War

Okay, got this review all done, and hit the wrong button. So starting again...

This film, with an all-star cast directed by Mike Nichols, is a semi-documentary about the United States covert operations in Afghanistan in the 1980s, as we tried to win the Cold War via the Mid East. US Congressman Charlie Wilson (Tom Hanks) is moved to action after visiting refuge camps in Pakistan, and enlists the help of a wealthy Texan (Julia Roberts) and a CIA operative (Philip Seymour Hoffman). Through their efforts, the covert operation goes from $5 million in funding to $1 billion, leading to the eventual eviction of the USSR and the effective end of the Cold War.

The cast is fantastic. I particularly enjoyed Hoffman - the way he growls at Roberts is incredible. His chemistry with Hanks is great. Hanks is, well, Hanks - we expect him to be terrific and he doesn't disappoint. And Roberts is very good in a very different role for her.

It's a chapter in US history about which I know very little, so it was very informative. Yes, it sometimes felt like a PBS special, but worth seeing for the notable performances.


Friday, January 04, 2008

Review: National Treasure 2

Movies like this are perfect for school vacations: mindless, implausible, nonstop action/chase sequences...

This is a sequel to last year's film with Nicolas Cage. He plays Benjamin Franklin Gates, descended from a long line of historians. In the first film, he set out to prove his ancestors right about a long-lost treasure of the Knights Templar - which took him all over America, visiting various historical monuments. The key was a treasure map on the back of the Declaration of Independence!

In this film, someone produces evidence that another ancestor was part of the Lincoln Assassination - Ben must prove his innocence. Along again for the ride are his dad (Jon Voigt), girlfriend (Diane Kruger), and silly sidekick Riley (Justin Bartha). Again the action spans the globe - from kidnapping the President at Mount Vernon, scaling the Statue of Liberty, and hiking over Mount Rushmore. It's one long chase sequence, as they try to outrace the bad guy (Ed Harris).

You could drive a 747 through some of the plot holes, and much of the action is pretty implausible. Still, I found myself on the edge of my seat, urging Ben on in his quest. The performances are good, as one would expect with such a talented cast. And of course, the door is left open for the franchise to continue and, considering who well this has done at the box office, I wouldn't be surprised to see another in the series next year.

A great popcorn movie, perfect for a wintry afternoon.


Thursday, January 03, 2008

Review: The Golden Compass

Now when I say this movie is a mess, I do not mean it in a complimentary way! About halfway thru, I found myself saying, what the hell is going on in this movie??? It reminded me of David Lynch's adaptation of Dune, which also seemed incomprehensible.

The story - as best I can decipher: there is this alternative universe-England, in which the Magisterium rules all. The group is much like the medieval Catholic Church - trying to run all facets of life. A young girl, Lyra, is the incarnation of an ancient prophesy - she will oversee a major war and revolt. In this alternative world, each person's soul appears in a physical form called a daemon, and each person's daemon changes shapes until the soul is settled. You see each person walking around with some kind of animal nearby - which is actually kind of a charming idea. Anyway, the Magisterium is kidnapping children and surgically removing their daemons, thereby making them easier to control. And there's some bit about dust and traveling between universes...

Okay, I guess I can't decipher the story. I will say it is beautiful looking - the special effects and CGI work is breathtaking. They have truly created another world. And there are some fun performances - I adore Sam Elliot and he's terrific here in a supporting role. The daemons are cute and fun - and Iorek the armored ice bear is incredible.

The story ends unfinished - clearly they are hoping for a sequel. (The film is actually based on the first book in a trilogy by Philip Pullman). Here's hoping not.