Saturday, January 31, 2009
* Ranks #1 in the NBA in Minutes Per Game(40.0)
* Ranks #2 in the NBA in Minutes Played(1839.0)
* Ranks #9 in the NBA in Field Goals Made(366.0)
* Ranks #7 in the NBA in Field Goal Attempts(852.0)
* Ranks #10 in the NBA in Three-Point Field Goals Made(89.0)
* Ranks #14 in the NBA in Assists(282.0)
* Ranks #10 in the NBA in Points(990.0)
* Ranks #7 in the NBA in Triple-doubles(3.0)
For the record, Sidney Moncrief made 5 All-Star game rosters and I consider him the greatest former Hog pro roundballer at this point. I'm talking about their post Hog careers too, not what they did at the university.
Check out the cool J.J. widget below:
Friday, January 30, 2009
Hello Super Bowl weekend!!
* Welterweight champ Georges St. Pierre vs. lightweight champ B.J. Penn (for welterweight title)
* Lyoto Machida vs. Thiago Silva
* Stephan Bonnar vs. Jon Jones
* Karo Parisyan vs. Dong Hyun Kim
* Nate Diaz vs. Clay Guida
* Jon Fitch vs. Akihiro Gono
* Manny Gamburyan vs. Thiago Tavares
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Nothing really original about this movie and it especially reminded me a bit of Tombstone with the incoming lawmen for hire trying to clean up a town, but the difference in some of the other Westerns it's comparable to is there's sort of a love triangle going on (I said sort of... it' really more complicated than that) and the chemistry between the main actors is really good. I don't think it's better than Tombstone mind you, that's one of my all-time favorites, but it's a notch above a lot of recent efforts.
I must say I wasn't crazy about Zelwegger's casting as I'm not really a fan of her acting and I didn't like her character in this film. She was sort of a downer. The way Ed Harris' bad-ass character completely wussed out when it came to her bothered me a bit too.
The movie is a bit more drama than action Western as well, so be prepared for that. There is some violence and action, it's just that psychology plays more of a role really. If you aren't expecting a character study in the place of gunfights (although there are some) then you might get bored with what could be perceived as a slow pace. I thought it really just made things more subtle.
All things told, it's well crafted Western that mostly walks quietly but breaks out the big sticks when necessary. I think it's a pretty good movie with memorable characters and place it among my favorite modern Westerns.
North Little Rock
Jan 28th, 2009
I can tell you from previous experience that going to an AC/DC concert you can pretty much know what to expect ahead of time. You're going to get a lot of anthems. Angus Young will amaze you with his energy level. There will be no ballads. And you will be hugely entertained. Once again, they delivered all this and more.
The lights go down and there's a huge video screen center stage and 2 smaller screens on either side of the stage. An animated video begins, which features a devilish train with the AC/DC logo being guided by guitarist Angus Young (with horns of course). There are lots of sexy ladies on it as well, some doing a few suggestive things (let's just say pleasing Brian Johnson in one of the cars) before the women take over the train and it ends up jumping the tracks. Suddenly a "real" train is on center stage in a ball of smoke and the band is blasting out to "Rock N Roll Train" as the place erupts with a deafening roar of approval. All around the arena people have bought these red, light-up devil horns and when the lights go out you can see just how brilliant the AC/DC merchandising department is as there are hundreds of them. It's a sight to behold.
Brian Johnson looks older (duh, he's 61 now) and a bit like he might be 5 months pregnant, but he sounds just as good as he always did... that is to say sort of like he just gargled some glass backstage as part of his warm-up vocal exercises. As the night goes on he reminds me a bit of that drunken old man at the dive bar that's dancing around and trying to get every one else to as well. All the while the impish Angus is prancing/hopping/parading around in his school boy outfit like a brat on Red Bull blasting out classic riffs that everybody on the planet recognizes. The rest of the band is pretty locked in to their positions, except to step up the mics for the background vocals (which really weren't that necessary since the entire arena was matching them on every song except a couple of the new ones). Drummer Phil Rudd didn't miss a beat and every time he was shown on the big screen he had a cigarette dangling from his lips.
They're not just bringing the head-banging either, but there are a lot of whistles and bells to keep people entertained. There are lights, explosions, smoke, fire, cannons, blow-up dolls, lifts, videos... all for your entertainment value.
After opening with the latest single, they launch into "Hell Ain't A Bad Place To Be" followed by a little chatter from Brian about being back before the place erupts again hearing the opening riffs of "Back in Black". Next is another new song, "Big Jack", and then a major sing-a-long with "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap". Speaking of sing-a-longs, they followed that with the jock-rock anthem "Thunderstruck" before finally letting everybody settle down for that beer run or potty break with the new title track "Black Ice". Next they played probably one of the better songs ever written about V.D., "The Jack", and Angus did a hilarious "strip tease" that back in the day ended with him mooning the crowd but on this tour mercifully ends with him exposing his AC/DC labeled boxers instead of his old man ass. By the time things were settling down from Angus' entertainment, a giant AC/DC labeled bell was lowered for Brian to swing on while "Hells Bells" began with the tone of the giant gonging... and we're rocking again. Next came the well-received "Shoot To Thrill" followed by back-to-back new tracks "War Machine" and "Anything Goes".
They made it clear that it's a tour that is supporting a new CD, playing 5 new tracks from it, as opposed to just a greatest hits/nostalgia type tour. There were plenty of classics of course, but room for plenty more and left lot of great songs sitting on the shelf collecting dust. I'll cover that at the end.
The 2 back-to-back new tracks may have settled everybody down a bit, but the next track caused jet-level decibels of noise as the first notes for "You Shook Me All Night Long" hit and I swear everybody was singing along so loud I never heard a single vocal from Brian's mouth. "TNT" followed that and everybody got to yell the "Oi-Oi-Oi!" part whilst pumping the party fists in the air. Next a MASSIVE blow-up doll of a "large" lady with "very large" knockers suddenly appeared riding the train behind the drum kit and tapping her foot to the tune of "Whole Lotta Rosie" as Angus and Brian play off each other. I guess we now know what Rosie looks like, and it's not pretty, but it's sure entertaining. Following that was "Let There Be Rock" and a video played with some career retrospective in the form of album covers and pictures then Angus went all the way to the end of the ramp through the crowd to the middle of the arena and was elevated 20 feet in the air for solo full of energy and the shredding of his Gibson guitar. He finished the solo on stage behind the drum riser (the train had been pulled back and replaced with 2 giants screens after Rosie's appearance) and once the licks stopped, they said good night and the lights dropped.
But oh hell no, you know they're coming back for some more and a few minutes later to a roar of the crowd they did just that with "Highway To Hell" and the rafters of Alltel Arena threatened to collapse. The final song of the night was "For Those About To Rock" and by this time massive cannons had been rolled up to the back of the stage behind the drum kits. You know what's coming, and you know when it's coming, but those cannons going off at their designated time just adds a bit to the fist-pumping anthem. Suddenly I'm 12-years-old again and pointing and screaming "CANNONS!"
So any complaints? Well you know I have to mention some songs omitted, and since they played 5 new tracks of the 18, that only leaves 13 spots for classics. I personally think they could easily add another 2 songs and give 10 more minutes or just drop at least 1 new song, but what the hell do I know? I'd love to hear "Who Made Who", "Problem Child", "Jailbreak", "If You Want Blood (You Got It)", "High Voltage" or "Rock 'N' Roll Ain't Noise Pollution." I think my favorite song they ever did is probably "Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock n Roll)", and it was left off. But when you have a catalog of tracks like these guys there's going to be a lot of great tracks left on the shelf, unless they play a 4 hour show.
What an awesome concert. An AC/DC show is still exactly what a rock n roll show should be; it's loud, it's raunchy, it's rowdy, it's campish, it's cartoonish, it's fun and it's sure as hell entertaining. It's full of classics, devil horns and rib-crunching riffs. These old men will still kick your ass for a night and you'll like so much you'll wish it continued for another hour or more.
Rock n Roll Train
Hell Ain't a Bad Place To be
Back In Black
Dirty deeds done dirt cheap
The Jack (Angus strip tease)
Shoot to Thrill
You Shook Me All Night Long
Whole Lotta Rosie
Let There Be Rock (Angus solo at the end)
Highway To Hell
For Those About To Rock
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Her Morning Elegance
Directed by: Oren Lavie, Yuval & Merav Nathan
Photography: Eyal Landesman
Featuring: Shir Shomron
Oren Lavie (born 1976 in Tel Aviv) is a singer, songwriter, playwright and theatre director.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
And since I can make it to the store today probably, here's what I'll be looking for in the new releases. Finally! New music coming out! It's been a boring year so far in the first 3 or 4 weeks so things pick up today:
* Crooked X ~ "Crooked X" CD (see more here)
* Bruce Springsteen ~ "Working on a Dream" CD
* Hoobastank ~ "FOR(N)EVER" CD
* Sepultura ~ "A-Lex" CD (based on the Anthony Burgess novel "A Clockwork Orange")
* Lakeview Terrace DVD (Samuel L. Jackson thriller)
* The Rocker DVD (comedy starring Rainn Wilson)
* Pride and Glory DVD (crime/drama with Colin Farrell and Edward Norton)
* RocknRolla DVD (Guy Ritchie action/comedy)
* Open Season 2 DVD (direct-to-video animated sequel)
Monday, January 26, 2009
I should probably preface this review with the fact that I grew up loving wrestling and watching it every Saturday morning as my heroes like Jerry Lawler, Tommy Rich and Bill Dundee pummeled each other for 90 minutes. You don't have to have a relationship with wrestling (or rasslin' as we call it in the South) but I think you'll enjoy the movie as much as I did if you do. Even more modern organizations like ECW and Ring of Honor (ROH) get recognized here. But that's not all the movie is about.
Rourke perfectly plays a wrestler who was once on top and is now trying to find himself and put his life together outside the ring and the spotlight of fame it brought him. There's an obvious parallel to Rourke's career here and I'm sure many others can relate, people of all professions and levels of fame. Thanks to Mickey's performance and the director's (Darren Aronofsky) it becomes an extremely emotionally-engaging character study of someone falling from fame. The Ram knows what he needs to do to not become what he sees other old wrestlers have become at a gut-wrenching autograph show scene, but he still is barrelling head-first right into just that.
And Aronofsky treats wrestling respectfully, a task that's not so easy to do and is rarely seen. There's a lot of backstage stuff and he shows the blood, sweat and love that goes into the "sport" for it's "competitors". It's sort of fun to try to name some of the wrestlers in the film if you are a fan, and there are lots of them. I noticed Ernest "The Cat" Miller (big role), Ron Killings and Nigel McGuinness as the easier ones but there are a lot of indy and small promotion guys like Johnny Mangus, Devon Moore, The Funky Samoans, Jay Lethal, Jim Powers, and Kid USA all through the movie.
What else is there to like? Well Marisa Tomei plays a role that calls for a lot of skin to be shown (she's a stripper) and I'll be the first to say this is the hottest 44-year-old woman on this planet. Somehow she still seemed graceful and sympathetic in the difficult role.
And do you like 80s metal? You know I do. The Ram comes to the ring with Quiet Riot's "Metal Health" cranking. The soundtrack also include songs from Accept, Ratt, Scorpions, Slaughter and Guns N' Roses. The characters have a conversation about Def Leppard, Motley Crue and Ratt and talk about how Cobain screwed up good music and Marisa's character even wears a Motley Crue shirt during the film's key moment. Maybe the best 80s metal scene though is the couple singing Ratt's "Round and Round" at a dive bar while Rourke dances. Instant classic.
Ultimately, this is a movie that transcends professional wrestling and is just one damn fine movie with one of the better performances I've ever seen in a film by Rourke. This is as good of a movie as I've seen in years. So why not a 10? I think the ending could have been a bit better. That may be my only complaint with the whole film.
This is one of my favorite songs on the CD and I like how the video is pretty simple; just cruisin' around in a bus rockin' out and stopping at a high school. Almost brings a tear to my eye when the kid climbs up on the bus for the rippin' solo at about the 2:30 mark. These guys are waving that old school metal banner... maybe the torch is in good hands now.
So check it out, Black Tide's "Shout" video:
* got off work Friday, got a hair cut and hit happy hour
* watched the movie Max Payne (reviewed here) and sampled a few beers in the hot tub
* on Saturday morning, went to an Upwards basketball game in Conway and watched my niece play great
* went to the Big Buck Classic that afternoon, met up with some friends and somehow got all the free beer, crackers and cheese I wanted while judging a chili tasting contest (plus all the free chili)
* bounced around downtown between Boscos, Willy D's, Sticky Fingerz and The Flying Saucer most of the evening
* watched the excellent Western movie Appaloosa (review soon)
* got up Sunday and went to Oaklawn with friends and played slots and bet on the horse races... proceeded to lose every horse I bet on, some still probably haven't finished
* went to The Rave and watched the excellent film The Wrestler (review soon)
Now we're only 1 weekend away from the massive Super Bowl weekend with a good UFC show on Saturday night and my Steelers on Sunday vs the Cardinals. Several parties going on so my plans aren't definite yet, but I plan on toasting the Steelers 6 title by the end of the weekend. Just a note... I noticed that NFL Network is showing recent Super Bowls all week to fill some time and tonight is the excellent 2000 match-up between Tennessee and St. Louis. That was a classic.
I also got my ticket this weekend for the AC/DC show on Wednesday night at Alltel Arena. My first show of the year, and this is gonna be big. Crank this:
Sunday, January 25, 2009
The Expendables is written and directed by Stallone and his muscles. It's about a team of mercenaries head to South America on a mission to overthrow a dictator and due out in 2010. I guess we'll just have to keep waiting for Rhinestone 2. Sorry Dolly.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
All I kept hearing about this film was how bad it was, even getting nominated for a Razzie Award last year, but I've got to say I didn't think it was that bad and found some things to like about it. Keep in mind though, I saw the unrated DVD director's cut and not the theatrical version.
The main thing to like is the lead actress, Mila Kunis, who I'm sure you know better as Jackie from That 70s Show (or maybe Meg's voice on Family Guy). She's all grown up and even more gorgeous and plays a tough girl role as Wahlberg's sidekick of sorts. It's quite a change from the roles I've seen her in and I thought she was believable and likable, hopefully enough to soon see her in some more films. I feel I should again mention how hot she looks to make sure you get that part.
If she wasn't enough you get a bit of the drop dead sexy Olga Kurylenko, who was a Bond girl in the latest James Bond film Quantum of Solace. Her part is way to small in this movie, but her 10 minutes on the screen are nice. She's got that exotic look to her that seems to cause me to lose conciousness for minutes at a time while she's on screen.
I was also pleased with the tone and action of the film, which was dark and the action was and violence were sort of stylish. Some of the action scens were actually classic. The special effects for the supernatual elements were well done as well.
The bad news? Well, there wasn't enough action and the story dragged along at times. It's not an action film as much as it's a story-driven mystery with some action scenes, and that's not what I wanted from it. It kept hinting towards going to a full-blown action film but never quite gets the ball rolling and keeps it there.
The plot itself was pretty weak also. With a bit of tweaking the story could have been a whole lot stronger. I didn't play the game so I'm not coming at it from that angle, I just thought it could have been "cleaned up" a bit.
So it has problems, but you get some good action (just not enough) and 2 smokin' hot ladies. One could do worse.
Friday, January 23, 2009
Weekend! I'm going to the Arkansas Big Buck Classic. What the hell is that? Well, it's huntin' hillbilly heaven and it's a lot of fun. Also going to watch UALR's hoops team put their 5 game win streak on the line versus Troy on Saturday night. I don't know Troy's last name, but the guy must have serious skillz to take on all 5 Trojans. Then off to Oaklawn on Sunday for more horse racing and winning. Yes, winning I say.
I'll probably take in a movie at some point as well. Several movies that came out earlier to get in Oscar contention go wider, but only 2 new major releases today in the theaters.
The Plot: A little girl rallies her friends -- both real and imaginary -- to rescue her father (Brendan Fraser), a bookbinder who can bring characters to life by reading aloud, from the clutches of an evil-doer (Andy Serkis).
My Thoughts: Based on a best selling childrens book series, it looks to me to be in the same line with Bridge to Terabithia or The Spiderwick Chronicles. Might be sort of fun for the family.
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans
The Plot: An origins story which reveals the cause of the centuries-old blood feud between the Death Dealers and the Lycans. A powerful and influential Lycan rallies his race in an uprising against the vampire king. Sonja (Rhoda Mitra)is a vampire who empathizes with the Lycans and looks to help free them from slavery.
My Thoughts: Eh, this series has pretty much run it's course. I still like it but it looks like more of the same old same old. I wouldn't be surprised if future films in the franchise go straight to DVD, where this one probably belonged.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
This movie is really 2 movies in one. It starts out a comedy/thriller but towards the last 30 minutes or so it becomes a horror movie. It's funny pretty often though, and even the horror scenes are full of over-the-top, campy gore (reminded me a bit of Hatchet in that sense) so I found myself laughing or cheering more than being grossed out. All in all it's just a fun film.
The acting is all passable but Andy Serkis (Gollum from the Lord of the Rings trilogy) is really good I thought. His angry man character had some hilarious moments interacting with the bumbling idiots he's teamed with. All the characters are sort of quirky and it adds to the fun. The kidnapped woman is pretty easy on the eyes and has a barbie doll face and killer body, but is rough around the edges and shows it with her toughness and foul-mouth. One brother is deathly afraid of moths (and his wife) and the other helper is just a dimwit.
So the first part of the film is a bit slow while it's spent developing the characters (moreso than the scant plot, which is frankly just muddy and confusing) and you become a bit emotionally invested in the fools. That's about the time the movie turns into a splatter comedy (as I've seen it described elsewhere, which that fits the last half hour perfectly).
It's a funny independent British comedy blended with some horror elements that's worth a watch if it sounds like your thing. The Brits would probably call it a bloody good time. I'd agree.
Now that it's finally been done, this video poses a lot of questions for me (but you have to watch it until the end for the classic payoff).
2. How freakin' long did it take to set this up?
4. How many takes?
6. Is this the greatest accomplishment in the history of mankind?
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
This video is a lot funnier if you're familar with the video for Brad Paisley's "Waitin' on a Woman", but either way it's still funny. Cletus is a hillbilly version of Weird Al pretty much.
Cletus T Judd's "Waitin' On Obama":
Monday, January 19, 2009
As if Super Bowl weekend wasn't huge enough now with my Steelers against old man Warner & Company... it also just happens to be UFC 94 on Saturday night. On that card is the massive BJ Penn vs Georges St. Pierre II fight plus Lyoto Machida vs. Thiago Silva, which also has fight of the night potential... although any fight better than Penn/Pierre is probably going to have to be unreal. I'm taking the Steelers, BJ Penn and Silva for the record as my picks.
Here's the quick preview running for UFC 94:
There were easily more brutal hits in the AFC Championship game yesterday than on Saturday night's UFC pay-per-view, a card full of questionable judging and guys not finishing guys. Not a good combination. Mark Coleman vs. Mauricio Rua turned out to be a snoozer and Rich Franklin got a 30-27 on one judge's card and somehow lost the fight to Dan Henderson. At least Marcus Davis vs. Chris Lytle was a war, and easily the fight of the night in my book.
So I had the UFC PPV watch party/beer tasting on Saturday, Sunday was the Steelers, and today I'm heading down to the horse track for some racing. Thanks MLK Jr for this fine 3-day weekend every year.
Here's some of my favorite pics from last night, especially the top one:
Sunday, January 18, 2009
What do I really want out of a slasher flick? Well, I need a brisk pace that's got a decent back story, some blood and guts, a bit of nudity and some fun kills. You get all of that here and more... you get it in 3-D. This movie delivers on exactly what it promises.
The 3-D effect (keep in mind it's not showing in 3-D at all theaters, but seek one out for maximum fun) is well done and used to enhance some scenes just as it should be. Just when you get sort of used to watching a movie in 3-D, you nearly get a tree limb or a pick axe right in your face. Even a dismembered jaw and a fountain of blood are seen blasting out of the screen towards your lap. It's great.
I love the cast as well, starting with Jensen Ackles (Dean on the show Supernatural) in a major role who trades a lot of lines with another decent young actor, Kerr Smith. There's also the sexy Jaime King (The Tripper) and knockout Betsy Rue (who spends a good 5 minutes totally nude).
The movie opens with a bloodbath and the body count in the first 10 minutes is really high. It slows down as the story moves 10 years forward and they begin to establish some characters and a storyline, but the pace picks back up pretty quickly with chases through mine shafts, pick axes flying, plot twists, chocolate boxes with removed hearts and general bloody mayhem.
This is a cheesy, mindless, formulaic slasher film and it knows that. It never tries to be anything more or less. It has a fast pace and a lot of gratuitous violence, which if you buy a ticket to see it that's probably exactly what you're looking for, and some cool 3-D. It's a throwback to the classic 80s slasher flicks and I think it's a bloody good time.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Based on the novel, this movie is about a couple who loses their son in a freak hit-and-run accident. Obsessed with finding the killer, the father (Joaquin Phoenix) seems to alienate his family and lose control of reality. As time slowly seeps by, he seems to remember more of the dark dreaded night, such as the SUV which hit and killed his child, and he begins to search for the killer himself. In the meantime, the driver of the truck that struck the child is dealing with his own demons and considering turning himself in.
This is really 2 stories in 1, as it follows the family of the boy killed as they look for closure and the man who hit him tries to see if he can live with himself. It's very well acted, as Joaquin Phoenix, Jennifer Connelly and Mark Ruffalo are all excellent, but it's pretty much just by the numbers as far as the script goes.
That's not to say I didn't like it and find it very watchable as there are a couple of twists in the story and it's kept at a good pace. It's not bad but not really remarkable. It's very sad, mature, thoughtful and even thought-provoking as I found myself being put in the place of the father of the boy and also the driver and wondering how I would handle each situation. It made me think a lot about the grief, anxiety and regret from split-second decisions.
I did find certain aspects of the story, let's just say the coming together of the characters, a tad bit convenient. I felt the ending could have been a bit more powerful as well.
In the end it's a pretty good story of very regular people who experience a personal tragedy that's very well acted and interesting enough to spend a couple of emotionally draining hours on.
Wednesday night I hit a bar that will probably go in my top 10 bars for the year by the end, Yard House. It's a chain, with stores mainly in California, but it's got an awesome beer selection. A big row of tap handles had me salivating as soon as we walked in. They had "world's largest selection of draft beer" on their menus and posted, but I'm not sure if that's true of just exaggeration. Could be true, they had a boat load. I tried Big Sky Moose Drool to get it started (decent), followed that with a Left Hand Sawtooth Ale (not bad) and ended with a beer I've had before but can't get around here and I just could pass it up, Stone's Arrogant Bastard Ale. It's a delicious big, bad beer. The prices there were pretty decent, the staff seemed to know their beer (the bartender I was talking to did at least) and there was lots of eye candy. If you're in Denver and love beer, go to Lakewood and hit Yard House.
On Thursday I took a trip out in the Rocky Mountains (one a chartered bus even) to a little mining town that is now just a bunch of little casinos, in Black Hawk, Colorado. It's got a great assortment of casinos and you can just walk down the street and go door to door. The view getting to the casino is awesome, with tunnels and high cliffs all around. You'll definitely want a designated driver if you plan to drink at all or you'll find the bottom of a valley on your way home I'd guess. Anyway though, the table games had $5 limits but they've just passed a law to get that upped to a lot more and they also passed to get more table games, so the place should get much better. I played a few slots, video poker and $5 blackjack at Fitzgeralds and had a lot of fun. Stared off immediately with a $50 payout on a quarter slot machine, then slowly lost all of it over a few hours, but recovered it all plus some on blackjack so it ended up a good night. I had $40 more on the bus ride home than I took so that's not too bad considering all the beer, food and tipping I figure.
Hit the New Belgium Hub in the Denver airport and had one of their good Abbeys to end the trip on the high note. There's a great brew pub with a really good selection in the airport, but it's before security for some reason, and security in Denver is always a long, annoying wait so I wanted to get through that before settling in for a beer. The New Belgium Hub is past security and has all of their beers so there's plenty to choose from.
I've been there 5 or 6 times but it's a great city with lots of great beer, beautiful scenery and I met a lot of cool people. My kind of city. I want to go back sometime on a non-work trip and just hang out for a week and explore. Maybe soon.
Here's a few pics. The first one is the view from my hotel window. The last 3 are in Black Hawk.