Sunday, May 31, 2009

Review: X-Men Origins: Wolverine

The latest installment in the X-Men franchise was a sure slam dunk with me. First it stars one of my favorites, Hugh Jackman. Second, his dramatic foil is another fav, Liev Schreiber. Third, it's an X-Men movie, which means action! Perfect for a summer afternoon.

The story fills in the background of the character of Wolverine. I've never read any of the original comics - I've just followed the story through the film adaptations. I hadn't realized that Wolverine was immortal - but the story opens in 1845 with Logan as a child and follows him to the present day. Logan and his half-brother Victor Crede (aka Sabertooth) fight in many wars over the years, with Victor becoming more and more ruthless. When Logan steps away to try to find a quiet life, Victor kills his girlfriend - and Logan dedicates himself to revenge. Enter Colonel Stryker (seen in the other films) - he convinces Logan to undergo a radical medical procedure. Logan's skeleton is replaced by the experimental metal alloy adamantium, rendering him virtually indestructible. The result is havoc!

Jackman and Schreiver are terrific - they've got wonderful chemistry. The characters that surround them provide good support, and the story line is fun and full of action. A perfect "popcorn" movie - and another good addition to the X-Men series.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Summer is here!

I know that I promised a report on my RS trip of this past weekend. I'll try to get around to it in the next few days, because I'm headed off on my second Road Trip on Monday - this time to Detroit for the three game Tigers-Red Sox series. My first trip back to Michigan in a loooong time! I'm meeting some of my UofM gfs on Monday night for dinner - I'm so excited to see them and relive the "glory days"!

But, today is the first day of summer for me. School adjourned at 11:30 this morning with the last final exam given. YEAH! I celebrated by going out to lunch with "the girls," a nice leisurely lunch downtown. A rare treat! I got home just in time to see Jason Varitek hit his second homer of the afternoon game vs. the Twins - and before he and three others were ejected in the 7th inning. Fireworks in the mid-afternoon.

One of my favorite parts of summer is watching the blooming of my beautiful hydrangeas. My biggest baby became ill last fall, and half of it died. But the outer branches are thriving and blooming. I've doused them all with some sort of chemical that makes the blooms bright blue - just like the gorgeous versions on Block Island.

So I know the season is here when I see this:

Awesome! And I must show off my beautiful clematis as well:

It totally went berserk this year - I was afraid the trellis would collapse.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit to really doing nothing to contribute to these. I have no gardening skills whatsoever!

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Report to follow

In the meantime, a couple of pics from my Boston trip:

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Shipping up to Boston

When this is published, I will (hopefully!) be in a northbound jet - heading to the big weekend in Boston. I'll be humming this tune - and now you can too!

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Papi shines! And so does the Acer!

Globe photo by Bill Greene

So the long wait is finally over. Last night, in his 150th at-bat of the season, Big Papi's bat finally woke up. He hit a shot to dead "central" (from the Ecktionary), and suddenly the sun burst through. It was a huge relief to him - and to all of the faithful of RS Nation. The reaction of his teammates was awesome - they gave him the rookie "silent treatment" as he returned to the dugout, and then swarmed all over him. One of the most touching camera shots for me was Tim Wakefield with his arm draped around Ortiz, obviously congratulating him and just enjoying the moment with his friend. And the crowd rewarded him with a RARE Fenway curtain call. (Unlike the Yankees who hand them out when Jeter trims his nails).

As a Red Sox fan, Ortiz' performance last night - as well as the four other home runs in the game and Ellsbury's record tying defensive night - bodes well for the rest of the season. They're getting hot at the right time - while playing a series against the division leading Jays and before the Mets come to town. But I must admit to a selfish angle -- I'll be in Boston this weekend for two of the three games against the Mets, and I want to see some hot offense!

I will be in Boston - but I'll try to post updates. That should be easier than past RS road trips, as my brand new netbook arrived Tuesday - after a long, angst-ridden wait. Briefly, I had been coveting a netbook for a few weeks. I don't own a laptap, and this seemed the perfect way to have internet and email access when I travel. I thought it would be particularly great to have on this Boston trip. I researched my options, and finally decided on the Acer Inspire One - it was rated #2 this month in Consumer Reports and was right in my price range. Plus, they offer it in a very cute copper color.

So I ordered it May 11th on Amazon and chose the free shipping option. By Wednesday, the order was still pending. So I decided to go in and change the shipping option. Well, once you've placed an order, you can't change the shipping. Aargh. Next, I decided I'd just cancel the order and start fresh. Well, I couldn't cancel because the shipment was "being prepared for shipping." Yeah! I checked Thursday and Friday - and the order was STILL being prepared for shipping. Really? How much had to be done - it was the only item ordered and they literally only had to walk over to a shelf and stick the box in another box and send it! By Friday, I was feeling quite frustrated. So I decided, heck, I'll just order another one and return whichever one came later. Guess what? They were no longer available!! So then I began to panic - had they sold me the item and not had enough in stock? By Monday morning - still being told that the item was being prepared for shipment - I was getting panicked and pissed. Then, amazingly, I got an email Monday night saying it had been shipped that day - and I could expect it Tuesday! Hallelujah!

It is so cute. The keyboard is smaller than my desktop, obviously, but not all that hard to use. It came with a cute little mouse, so that I don't have to use that blasted touch pad. The picture resolution is terrific. And their latest version has a 6 cell battery (as opposed to the 3 cell) - my first run through the charge gave me over 8 hours! I've used it on a wireless network and off my home modem, and both were great! So I'm ready for this trip - as well as all my future trips!!!

See - "she's so pretty"
Next update from the Hub!! GO SOX

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Review: Star Trek (2009)

In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit to having been a Trekkie (Trekker?) for decades. I got hooked on the original series in the mid-70s when it was shown in syndication on our local channel - and I've followed most of the ensuing series. Although I never lived in parents' basement, I did once attend a lecture by James Doohan (got his autograph even! I wonder where that is....) My favorite episode? " The Trouble with Tribbles." I liked Next Gen, got bored with DS9, and loved Enterprise (mainly due to Scott Bakula). So, I was pre-disposed to like the latest incarnation, JJ Abrams' "Star Trek."

And I wasn't disappointed. Wow! They had me hooked from the opening moment. The special effects are fantastic, the story is compelling and pulls you right in, and the cast is fantastic. The casting agents deserve an award! They didn't try to clone the original cast, but instead caught their essence. Chris Pine as Kirk captures all his brashness - and sexiness; Zoe Saldana as Uhura is sexy, yet smart; I loved Simon Pegg as Scotty; Karl Urban is terrific as McCoy; the actors playing Sulu and Chekhov are terrific. A special thumbs up to Zachary Quinto as Spock. A fantastic capturing of Spock's character: torn between being human and Vulcan, trying to choose between two very different cultures.

The story itself is compelling: a group of Romulans (led by an unrecognizable Eric Bana) travels thru time to punish Spock for not stopping the destruction of their world. That's probably overly simplistic, I realize, but that'll get you started. There are all kinds of sidebars - the childhoods of Spock and Kirk; how the crew came together; how Kirk became a captain at such a young age. I love how they get Leonard Nimoy into the story, too.

Abrams did a great job of including some of the ST mythology. At my showing, people actually cheered when Bones said, I'm a doctor not a physicist"! Pegg's Scotty stole every scene - which Doohan often did. There's even a throwaway mention of "Admiral Archer's dog" (a salute to "Enterprise")

The best way to sum up this film is to use the words of my movie-going buddy. It is rare for Holly to be effusive about a film - she usually says, that was good or that sucked. As soon as the credits began, she turned to me and said, "That was f---ing awesome." I couldn't agree more!

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A happy day for Boston fans

It was a great day all the way around for Boston sports fans. The Celtics pulled out a great comeback win, to go up 3-2 in their best of seven series against the Orlando Magic. The Bruins pulled out a must-win, to tie their series with the Carolina Hurricanes.

But most importantly, the Red Sox opened their last West Coast road trip with a win over the Los Angeles Angels. Of course, I didn't get to see it. The problem with getting older and having to be at work at 7:30 am - it means no late nights for the Outlander. Instead, I have to rely on the post-game wrap up I get in the morning on NESN, with a little bit from ESPN and MLBN.

The good news is that this is the last time I'll have to contend with the sleep vs. RS battle this year. It's amazing to think that we won't go out the West Coast again until the post-season. A benefit for we East Coast fans, granted, but it does make you wonder about the schedule makers.

The piece de resistance for RS fans - and fans of a certain RS blog - is that Surviving Grady won the first New England Sports Blog Award for Best All Around Sports Blog. Congratulations to Red and Denton. SG is such a fun part of my day - I know I can log into the comments section and find a friend and a laugh. I'm really looking forward to our "gathering of the clan" next weekend in Boston - woot! Only 9 days!!

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Friday, May 08, 2009

RIP Dom DiMaggio

In 2005, I received a grant from my school - a "renewal" grant. It was an opportunity to study one subject for a period of time in the summer, a chance to pursue something fun in order to renew my professional and personal enthusiasm. I chose a week in Boston - 6 Red Sox games (plus a PawSox game) in 7 days. It was awesome!!

Part of the plan was to read from a rather lengthy list of books - to give me background on my subject and contribute to the overall learning experience. I read a ton of books, but the one that stands out to me is "The Teammates" by David Halberstam. It's the story of four Red Sox teammates - Johnny Pesky, Dom DiMaggio, Bobby Doerr, and Ted Williams. Halberstam accompanied the first three on their final journey to visit Williams, who was dying. I was really moved by the story - how their friendship survived war, injury and the Yankees.

So, I was so sad to hear about the passing of the second of the four friends, Dom DiMaggio. For the casual fan, he'll mostly be remembered as the brother of Joe Dimaggio. But he is a legend for Red Sox fans. "The Professor." One of the best centerfielders we've had, one robbed of true greatness because he spent 3 years serving his country in WWII. The Sox have saluted him tonight with a moment of silence, and with the #7 mowed into the outfield grass.

We mourn another member of the Greatest Generation. I hope you've found a great game up there, Dom.

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'Nuff Said

AP Photo

Last night, the Red Sox tied a modern major league record: they collected nine hits and three walks before finally making an out in the fifth! After being shut down by Pavano the night before, and with three of the regular starters sitting out with injuries, it was an unexpected evening at Fenway!

Let's just hope they didn't use up their bats - the Rays come to town tonight and I want to see some carnage!

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Thursday, May 07, 2009

Eck is NOT ick!

It was a little sad to watch the Red Sox game last night. Partly because they lost - and didn't look very sharp in the process - and partly because I missed the RemDawg. But if we have to do without Remy for a while, at least NESN was smart enough to put Dennis Eckersley in the booth. Listening to him dissect the pitches, to describe how they're done and what a batter sees as they fly by - really interesting stuff. And he's not afraid to shoot from the hip - listening to him rag on Joba for hitting Bay the other night with refreshing honesty was, well, refreshing.

But the best part is listening to some of his "Eck-isms." You find yourself scratching your head when he lets loose with things like: he just tossed a salad -- there was hair on that cheese - what a cookie.

So in readiness for future broadcasts, I dug out my library's copy of The Dickson Baseball Dictionary, edited by Paul Dickson - and was delighted to find many of Eck's phrases included! For example:

Cheese n. Contemporary player's term for the fastball. In The Wrong Stuff, Bill Lee translates Dennis Eckersley's "cheese for your kitchen" as meaning "a fastball up and in." Lee added that Eckersley also called himself the "Cheese Master." Alternate: cheddar

Can of Corn n. An easily caught fly ball.

Cookie n. A pitch that is easy to hit.

Broadway n. The middle of the plate (As in, "he threw a cookie down Broadway")

Moss n. Player's hair.

Hair n. Velocity as applied to a pitch. (As in "That cheese had hair")

I couldn't find some of the Eck-isms in the Dictionary, but the TBS site had an "Ecktionary" from last year's playoffs. So here's a few more:

Salad = Bad, soft pitching

Paint = Good control.

Johnson = Home Run

I'm beginning to wonder if Eck might have some food issues - many of his terms are food-related. If he needs a few more, I found these in the Dictionary:

Cantaloupe n. A pitched ball that looks big to the batter.

Coffee and cake n. Long-established player slang for low pay

Cuban Sandwich n. An especially tantalizing batting practice pitch.

Mustard 1. n. Velocity. 2. n. A fastball

Peacherino n. A sensational play or player

Tater n. A home run

Serve the cocktail v. To pitch

Take a drink v. To strike out.

I look forward to adding to the list!

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Get well soon, RemDawg (Part 2)

Every night during the baseball season, I invite two men into my television room. Now, now - I mean the two Red Sox announcers from NESN, Jerry Remy and Don Orsillo. I sometimes think I spend more time with them than I do some of my "real" friends. They are such a part of my Red Sox viewing experience - it's hard to imagine a game without them.

Unfortunately, NESN announced tonight on the pre-game show that Remy is taking an "indefinite" leave to recover from cancer surgery earlier this year. A lifetime smoker, Remy hopes “that disclosing my bout with cancer will reinforce the dangers of smoking to every member of Red Sox Nation, especially children.”

Many of us suspected all was not well when he missed part of Spring Training - and looked thinner when he did arrive. Then he missed some regular season games, and left the most recent road trip early. All pointed to something a bit more serious. It was sad to hear it confirmed tonight. And although I love Dennis Eckersley, and he's done a terrific job subbing, I still miss the Rem Dawg.

Hopefully he'll be well and back with us soon.

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"Analysis of Baseball"

One of my students was asking me about the poet May Swenson. I must admit, I'd not heard of her before, so I did a little digging. I found this poem - which I think really captures the spirit and rhythm of the game.

"Analysis of Baseball" (1971)

It's about
the ball,
the bat,
and the mitt.
Ball hits
bat, or it
hits mitt.
Bat doesn't
hit ball, bat
meets it.
Ball bounces
off bat, flies
air, or thuds
ground (dud)
or it
fits mitt.

Bat waits
for ball
to mate.
Ball hates
to take bat's
bait. Ball
flirts, bat's
late, don't
keep the date.
Ball goes in
(thwack) to mitt,
and goes out
(thwack) back
to mitt.

Ball fits
mitt, but
not all
the time.
ball gets hit
(pow) when bat
meets it,
and sails
to a place
where mitt
has to quit
in disgrace.
That's about
the bases
about 40,000
fans exploded.

It's about
the ball,
the bat,
the mitt,
the bases
and the fans.
It's done
on a diamond,
and for fun.
It's about
home, and it's
about run.

Just injecting a little literary fun into my little blog!


Saturday, May 02, 2009

Time to Wake things up!

Tonight we see the pitcher who is fast becoming our "stopper" - Tim Wakefield. He's really picked up the team in his last two outings - even pitching a near no-hitter in one game. We need him to hold down the Tampa offense tonight - they've been pounding our pitching the last two nights. But we also need OUR offense to click - and particularly David Ortiz. Big Papi has started slow this year - I'm not really worried yet, but it is cause for concern. He just looks lost at the plate. And this is not something we're used to seeing from him. This is not our Big Papi - we're used to seeing the big smile and the effortless swings. It's early yet in the season, but....

This is a great video from the ProJo. Fishing for autographs at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket. What a great tradition!

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Friday, May 01, 2009

The House of Horrors, etc.

So, tonight is game two of a four game series vs. the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays. We won't talk about last night's game. I wasn't able to watch it, so as far as I'm concerned, the game never took place. Suffice it to say that the game confirmed my feeling that the Trop is a stadium to be dreaded.

Instead of the game, I went to our school's production of "Death of a Salesman." It's been years since I read the play or saw it, so I was a little foggy on the details. I frankly expected to slip out at the interval. However, it was wonderful! We had a senior directing it, and he coaxed some wonderful performances from the cast. It was really riveting - and I was so proud of our students! (I did find the lead kinda funny, though - it was like watching Jimmy Stewart's Harvey character Elwood play Willie Loman!)

Today, I opened my mailbox to find my new Mike Lowell action figure!! I had seen in on the Clark Toys website - and knew I had to have it. Here's their photo of it:

So, I was a little surprised to open the box and find this:
They changed the design in two significant ways. First, he's now wearing the alternative red jersey. And you'll notice he's wearing the new "hanging sox" logo on the hat. Interesting....Look at those muscles, though. Yum.

This is actually my fourth McFarlane figure. I've got Beckett, Papelbon and the 1975 WS Carlton Fisk. I'm never sure if I should open them or not. I know they have a greater resale value if they're "mint in the box," but seriously, would I 1) sell them or 2) find anyone who'd buy them?! I guess I need to display them someplace...

The H1N1 virus (aka Swine Flu) continues to spread. Three schools in the Nashville area are now closed, and our school is preparing plans should we have to close. My only concern is the impact on my planned trip to Boston in three weeks. It better not be affected by this!!

Finally, I'm enjoying this drink this evening. The recipe was on months ago, promoted as a great winter drink. It was developed and served at the Foundation Lounge, and is called "The Cinnabon"

In a cocktail shaker, mix with ice:
1/2 oz. Goldschlager
1 oz. Bailey's
1 oz. Starbucks Coffee Liqueur.

Shake. Serve over ice with a cinnamon stick.


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