Archive for February, 2014

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OK, it’s confession time.  I hated Legos growing up.  For whatever reason, building something out of those little plastic blocks never interested me and it was always a process to clean them up.  When I first heard that they were making an entire movie about Legos, I quickly dismissed any idea of going.  But after seeing the trailer, I pulled a 180 and was excited to see the movie.  Seeing Batman, Abraham Lincoln, and Shaq all in the same movie is pretty damn rare.  The final straw was finding out the movie received a 96% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Another confession: I love animated movies that adults can enjoy.  The Lion King, Toy Story, and Wreck It Ralph are all very close to my heart.  My wife and I debate Woody vs. Buzz all the time.  I still can’t believe that the majority of my friends are bigger fans of Aladdin than The Lion King.  The Lego Movie is another example of how an animated film can be enjoyed by the older crowd.  It starts out with a highly energetic musical number and the action is high-paced for the next hour and a half.  There are memorable quotes, lovable characters, and references to classic movies.  Plus, can you really go wrong with a movie that has the voices of Will Ferrell, Charlie Day, and Morgan freaking Freeman in it?!?!  Trust me, go to the movie theater this week and see The Lego Movie.  Don’t wait for it to come out on DVD or make tentative plans to see it in the future.  Give it a shot, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Rating: 8.25/10

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Well the news just broke that Derek Jeter will retire after the 2014 season.  As a Mets fan, I obviously have no love in my heart for the Yankees fans.  Many are too loud and obnoxious for my liking (even though they root for the greatest American sports team).  But it has been very hard to actually hate many of the players on the Yankees the last 20 years or so.  Sure you would have guys like Roger Clemens and Gary Sheffield occasionally wear the pinstripes.  But players like Jeter, Mariano Rivera, and Andy Pettite were all highly respected and seemed like great people off of the field.  Anyway, here are a few thoughts on the announcement:

  • I am sure Derek is not going to love having the spotlight on him all season long, similar to Rivera.  But the Yankees will honor him the right way.  They always take care of their own.
  • The Yankees will also make millions of dollars because of this announcement.  They always take care of their bank account as well.
  • I wonder if teams will be making parting gifts for Jeter the way they did for Mo last season.  While Jeter seems like a great guy, Mariano seemed to be even more transcendent in regards to his personality than even Number Two, Derek Jeter, Number Two.
  • I actually do feel bad for Yankees fans (or at least as bad as you can feel for a fan base that has won 5 World Series in the last 20 years).  They are losing a once-in-a-lifetime type of player.  Jeter is a gritty leader who leaves it all on the field and made you proud to root for him.  He did his best to keep his personal life out of the controversy factor known as the New York tabloids.  And he is truly someone who loves his familiy and friends.
  • If you need further proof that everything always works out for Jeter, look no further than the fact that his last season will be free of having the A-Rod distraction in the locker room everyday.  Yeah, Jeets!
  • As a baseball fan, I’ll be sad that the game loses Jeter as a player.  He is a great ambassador of baseball and is a tremendous role model.
  • As a Mets fan, I will be very interested to see how the Yankees replace Jeter and Rivera.  After 20 years of dominance, maybe the tide will turn in New York and just the littlest slice of humble pie will be served.  Maybe.

Here is the statement Jeter made on his Facebook page earlier today:

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Yesterday, the wonderful people at HBO released a 15 minute video previewing the next Game of Thrones season.  Here are some quick hits from that glorious piece of Youtube heaven.  FYI, I have not read any of the books and do not intend to until the television series is over.

  • First off, whoa.  That was a lot to digest and kudos to HBO for making such a long, detailed teaser for the fourth season.  The show is hyped enough as is, so this felt like a nice treat for all of the GoT diehards out there.
  • We learn right off the bat that some of this season will deal with revenge for the horrifying actions of the Red Wedding.  Since I am a huge fan of the Stark family, it excites me that their story won’t fade away much.
  • It also appears that our boy Tyrion is going to be in some serious danger from the jump.  Since Peter Dinklage plays the most entertaining character in the series, especially when he is trying to outsmart his enemies, this should lead to a lot of fun.  The sibling rivalry between him and Cersei will probably be more vicious than ever.
  • I do not know who this Oberyn Martell character is, but anyone who hates the Lannisters is cool with me.  He seems like a Mack with the ladies and a hell of a fighter.  The “hand over the candle flame” move is legitimately bad ass.
  • Hearing Emilia Clarke’s British accent trying to politely say that Joffrey the character is an asshole is cuter than a litter of puppies.
  • I feel like Arya is going to start becoming a killing machine this year.  The team of her and the hound have some serious comedic potential ahead of them as well.
  • It seems as if the tide of popular opinion will continue to sway towards Jamie Lannister this season.  When we met him in Season 1, he seemed like an entitled and arrogant prick.  But upon further review, his character is one of the more layered and fascinating ones in the series.
  • Speaking of Jamie, it should be a blast watching him and Tyrion back together.  Those two characters and actors showed chemistry during their brief time together in the first season.  I hope to see more of the same going forward.
  • I have never been one to really notice how great the scenery and set design is in television shows.  But Game of Thrones changed all of that.  You truly feel like you are in a different world for that hour or so after the best opening credits in TV.
  • On that note, the Royal Wedding should be a masterpiece visually.  And I say that as someone who haaaates Joffrey.  But the setting looks great.
  • Natalie Dormer (the actress who plays Margaery Tyrell) is a straight up smoke show.  Nothing else to add, just thought I should mention that.
  • It looks like we will again have to wait a while before we see Khaleesi sail to Westeros.  I guess she still has business to take care of on the other side of the pond.  It’s a bummer, but I’m sure there is a reason for George RR Martin’s madness.
  • Dragons.  DRAGONS!  DRAGONS!!!  While I am sure the dragons will not get a ton of air time due to the tremendous expense it costs to make them, I do think they will have more of a presence this season.
  • The Jon Snow story started to get interesting at the end of Season 3, but it looks like we are back to the same old boring crap again.  Add in my least favorite character in the show (Sam), and I am going into this season with low expectations for the scenes near The Wall.  However, this show often zigs when you think it will zag.
  • The actress who plays Brienne sometimes seems to have a little bit of Hordor in her voice when she speaks.  Definitely reminiscent of an old Billy Madison favorite.
  • Bran is smack dab in the middle of his awkward years right now.  Poor kid.  It’s hard enough to go through that when you aren’t on the biggest show on television.  Hopefully his storyline picks up this season as well.
  • The actress who plays Arya seems to be funny and goofy in real life.  It is very cool to see the actors outside of the realm of this heavy, dramatic show occasionally.  Her Youtube reaction to the Red Wedding was awesome.
  • Even though he is only on screen for a short time in the above trailer, I am reminded how much I like Bronn.  He has a witty line for almost every occasion and plays real well off of Tyrion’s character.  I hope we see more and more of him.
  • Listing the saddest deaths of the series is basically the same thing as reading the Stark Family Tree.  This meme describes my feelings the best about this phenomenon.
  • Seeing that dragon in the last frame of the video definitely got more than a few fanboys to sit up in their seats.  Now the obsession can start again for the next (almost) two months.

I have been on the Bruno Mars bandwagon for years.  I used to call him the crooner of our generation, but I think he has evolved into more than that.  Instead, it appears he has a chance to be the best entertainer of the current era, a la James Brown, Michael Jackson, Prince, Justin Timberlake, etc.  Now that he has acquired countless fans after dominating the Super Bowl Halftime Show, I have decided to put together a list of his best songs.  These opinions are my own, but they are also the right opinions.

Honorable Mentions:

Count on Me: A fun, happy song that has a Hawaiian vibe to it.  It reminds me of Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s rendition of Somewhere Over The Rainbow.

Young Girls: Shorties break hearts and crooners sing about broken hearts.  Pretty solid start to his latest album, Unorthodox Jukebox

The Lazy Song: It is what it is:  A quirky way to explain a lazy day.  Some funny references in there.  But not Top 10 material.

Grenade: In all honesty, I’ve never been a big fan.  Granted it was a number 1 hit, but I don’t truly dig it.

10. Runaway Baby: If I made this list a week ago, this would have been in the honorable mentions list.  But after dominating the Halftime Show with this song, it bumped its way into the Top 10.

9. Natalie: Fiery song that is the “Hit’em Up” for scorned pop stars.  Every Natalie I have ever met was a great girl.  This one must have done a number on our boy Bruno.

8. Marry You: Any song that calls alcohol “dancing juice” and jokingly refers to getting married as “something dumb to do” is cool with me.  Bonus points for being in one of my favorite Youtube videos.

7. It Will Rain: Solid song that was never overplayed.  However, it loses points for being on the Breaking Dawn soundtrack.

6. Money Make Her Smile: A legit strip club banger.  I hope this one is going viral in gentlemen clubs around the world right now.

5.  Treasure: Definitely a little bit of 1970s Michael Jackson in this song.  LOVE the retro feel of this video and the dance moves of the best background band on the planet.

4. Gorilla: Please do not listen to this song around mixed company unless you are looking to conceive.  Straight up baby making music.

3. Just The Way You Are: Simply a great song that should be sang to that special someone.  Bruno hits all the notes here.

2. Locked Out of Heaven: If this song doesn’t get you jacked up, you are dead or have no soul (in both the living and musical sense).  Add in the live Victoria’s Secret Show performance, and you have a winner.

1. When I Was Your Man: Easy decision since this is not only Bruno’s best song, but the best song ever.  The only negative part of the song is having to hear the immense pain in his voice every time it is played.

Some people no longer watch Saturday Night Live because of the rough transitional periods the show went through the last 20 years or so.  However, there are still some real funny sketches and I will post the best skits after every episode.  This week’s SNL featured Melissa McCarthy and Imagine Dragons.  Here is the cream of the crop from Saturday night:

For the people who actually buy their Valentine’s Day gifts at CVS:

 

Melissa McCarthy is great in this wild women’s group skit:

 

A tremendous parody of the Georgians who experienced the winter storm last week:

Please note that due to the Winter Olympics on NBC, SNL will not be live again until March 1st.

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I know everyone is Super Bowled out after 2 weeks of hype and 4 quarters of one-sided football, but since that was the last meaningful game we will see until September, I wanted to add some of my own thoughts before we put the last bit of dirt on the 2013 season.

Game Thoughts:

  1. If they played last night’s game 100 times, I have a feeling that Seattle would win at least 80 times.  I don’t think many of the games would be blowouts, but Seattle is clearly the better team.  As I wrote a few weeks ago, certain teams just match up poorly against other teams like a Rock/Paper/Scissor game.  Seattle’s passing defense was going to be a problem for the great Denver passing attack regardless of the score.  When the Broncos got off to their slow start, it allowed the Seahawks to pile up some early points and force the Broncos to ditch the running game.  This fed right into Seattle’s hands, as they were able to focus on trying to get pressure on Peyton Manning and trust their defensive backs would take care of any balls that made it to the secondary.  With pressure in his face and the passing game laid to ruins, Peyton wasn’t able to put anything together until the game was well out of reach.
  2. It was apparent early just how much of an advantage the Seahawks had on offense against the Broncos defense.  Seattle was able to manage the clock and keep their 3rd downs in a manageable distance.  The Broncos secondary will have an entire offseason to practice tackling, as they were just throwing their shoulders at the Seahawks wideouts for part of the game.  Again, once Seattle had the lead, they were able to keep Denver on their heels with a balanced attack of run and pass, with their quarterback making plays on the ground and in the air.  Trying to stop an offense with one distinct strength is much easier than a multi-faceted attack like the one the Seahawks have.  Denver’s defensive line need to wreck havoc in the Seattle offensive backfield.  When that didn’t happen, it allowed Seattle to move the ball down the field at will.  They were a few red zone plays away from breaking the game open even more in the first half.
  3. Due to the Broncos turnovers and lack of scoring, we did not see much of Seattle’s return game.  But the little we did see showed the advantage that Seattle had over Denver on this side of the ball.  The Broncos came into this game as the 21st ranked special teams in the league, while the Seahawks entered as the 5th best.  Denver has been able to hide their weak kickoff coverage while at home, with the thin air allowing Matt Prater to kick the ball out of the end zone.  However, Prater received his “Welcome to New York/New Jersey” moment when Percy Harvin took the opening kickoff of the third quarter to the house, which put a real stamp on Seattle’s dominance right out halftime.  Meanwhile, Steven Hauschka was able to neutralize Trindon Holliday for much of the night by booting many of his kickoffs deep or out of the end zone.
  4. This game felt a lot like the 2002 Super Bowl between Tampa Bay and Oakland.  Tampa was the defensive juggernaut that went up against an Oakland team that had a great offense with an aging quarterback.  Oakland was simply outclassed in every phase of the game and it made for another boring blowout.
  5. Speaking of offense vs. defense matchups, Robert Mays wrote a great piece on history Offense vs. Defense Super Bowls.  Chalk this game up to another one for the defensive teams.
  6. The Seahawks are obviously built to sustain greatness for a good run here.  They have their three most important players still on their rookie deals (Wilson, Richard Sherman, and Earl Thomas) and are among the youngest teams in the league.  That is a scary thought.  While they will not have such flexibility in cap room once those deals are done, they still have one more year to load up on players who will take less money to play for a winner and increase their value (a la Michael Bennett this year).  I think Pete Carroll’s biggest challenge will be to have everyone in the organization avoid “The Disease of More”.  Carroll seems to be a coach that has the pulse of his team, but this next year will be a legit challenge to keep everyone focused in the best conference and perhaps best division in the NFL.
  7. The Broncos will have some big decisions to make this offseason on free agents like Knowshon Moreno, Eric Decker, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.  Add in that Manning has to have his neck checked out before deciding whether another season of NFL football is healthy for him, and there are some serious question marks about Denver making it back to this point next season.
  8. After years of discussion about the weather, it ended up being the mildest day of the last month or so in the Tri-State area.  I personally would have loved to see all the annual Super Bowl attendees (read: rich) people have to deal with snow before, during, and after the game.  Unfortunately that did not happen.  Instead, it is snowing out today and there is tons of snow in the forecast for the next week or so.  Goodell dodged a huge bullet last night.
  9. I will preface this with the fact that I am a diehard Bruno Mars fan, but I thought he was fantastic during the Halftime Show.  I loved the opening with the kids singing “Billionaire”, Bruno’s drum solo, the Hooligans dance routine, and of course Bruno just KILLING it with some James Brown-like dance moves.  While I thought Bruno could carry the show by himself, I understand why the Red Hot Chili Peppers were added to the mix.  I thought they should have played 1-2 more Chili Peppers songs if you were going to have them there, but it wasn’t that big of a deal.  Finally, the introduction from different members of the armed forces from around the world was really cool before Bruno capped the show with “Just The Way You Are”.  The more screen-time we can give our troops, the better.
  10. Finally, the commercials were not great as a whole last night.  Ad agencies know what type of commercials resonate with people (animals, babies, comedy, nostaliga, etc.), but they have not really been able to hit many home runs the last few years.  USA Today runs an annual Ad Meter that judges the best commercials for each Super Bowl.  Here is a link to this year’s Ad Meter.  Meanwhile, my 3 favorite commercials from last night were:

Goodbye NFL 2013.  We will really, really, really, really, really miss you.  Please let the 2014 season get here ASAP.