Monday, January 31, 2005
Without a Paddle
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
SOSA (FINALLY) TRADED
REGRETS AND REVIEWS
I donít know about the rest of you, but I really look forward to five oíclock on Friday afternoons. That is the time that I am able to punch out of the office and head home for the next 64 hours! Sixty-four hours away from work to do whatever I want to do. I can go out with friends. I can sleep in as long as I want (Well, I used to be able to do that before I got the puppy!). I can bum around, or I can be as active as I want.
Have you ever had a weekend that was so much fun that you donít want to go back to work on Monday? Maybe I should re-phrase because I know that most Monday mornings I donít want to go back to work. OK. Have you ever had a weekend that turned out to be so disappointing that you actually donít dread the idea of going to work on Monday morning?
I can now say that I think I have. I know when I left work last Friday afternoon I had high hopes for a fun-filled weekend. It actually started out great. I mean, I left work and drove home, played with Abby for awhile, ate some hot wings, took a quick nap and then went out. But from that point on, it was rather disappointing.
Donít get me wrong. Iím not really one to complain often even when I am disappointed. But normally my disappointment is in myself. I am used to be disappointed with me. I have done some things that have made me upset at myself. Some days I am disappointed in what Iíve become. Other days I am upset about decisions Iíve made, or at least, the results of some decisions Iíve made.
One of the issues that make me most disappointed in myself is that I have allowed the thoughts and opinions of others to affect my thoughts and opinions. Again, I donít want that to sound contradictory. I completely appreciate hearing opinions from people whose opinions matter to me; my friends, family and some others. But, I find it important to take all of those opinions, and with them, develop my own opinion. I have stated on numerous occasions that is one of the reasons for this blog. I have my opinions, and through your e-mails and other reading I do, my opinions can be altered. But there are also times when I hear opposite opinions to mine and continue to believe what I believe.
That is the one thing that I am most disappointed in myself about from the last few months. I allowed the opinions of others on a topic change my opinion on said topic. Granted, their thoughts and observations and opinions may have been (ok, probably were) completely accurate, and I knew it. But that is not a good enough reason for me to alter my opinion. Forcing an opinion on another person may cause the intended results short-term, however, until those opinions are made and truly believed in the other personís head, they donít disappear. To me, it is only through your own study and research and, if Iím being blunt, real life situations that a person can develop their opinion. (No, I wonít get into what the specific situation was, enough people know!)
OK, that is way too much information, but a blog is defined (in part) as "a personal journal", so I guess that is how we are going to start out today. (Note - there is other more typical information below, if you want to jump down to that.)
I wonít get into any specifics, but letís just say that this weekend, I was disappointed in some others as well. But from that, I also realized that I have probably disappointed plenty of people in my time as well, so I am now over it. I know there are a lot of you who come to this site daily, hoping to get something new and interesting about the Minnesota Twins, other Minnesota teams, sports, movies, tv or something. I know that the last couple of weeks, I have probably disappointed a number of readers. Having learned from my weekend experience, I will do my best to put forth the kind of effort that you deserve to get when you come to this site. I want to maintain the readers that do come here, and hopefully gain some new ones.
So, first of all, I do want to apologize for not being up to par of late. I appreciate all of your thoughts and opinions on what you read here, or even what you donít read here.
I am going to need your help in doing this though. So please, I want to know what parts of this site you like reading (Twins? All baseball? Minnesota sports? Basketball? Football? TV? Movies? Personal stories?). I also would like to know what you really donít like. And finally, I have asked this pretty much every day, but I am always looking for ideas for new, interesting articles. This is especially helpful in the offseason! I know that the Twins pitcher and catchers report to Ft. Myers on February 20th, so we are getting close!!! But please, feel free to e-mail me and let me know exactly what you think.
And finally, one more question for the readers. I have noticed that on a lot of other blogs, you will find a ĎPayPal Donateí button. When it is clicked on, you would be able to donate money directly to my PayPal account. I have been hesitant to do that. I hate to ask for donations, and even if I put that link on here, I would never ask for a donation. I just keep thinking that the option would be ok. What do you think? I certainly donít want to offend anyone.
So, what does one do when they are annoyed/aggravated/disappointed? If youíre me, you spend the weekend watching movies. I find that I like many different types of movies. I love no-thinking-necessary comedies sometimes. But other times, I want a movie that will challenge me and make me think. Sometimes I want to watch a sentimental movie that pulls the heart strings and other times a nice historical era movie is good too. Well, this weekend, I watched a few movies and covered all of the above categories. Here are my thoughts on the movies I watched:
This would be the historical, era movie of the weekend. Having grown up in a Lutheran family and gone to a Lutheran school from first through eighth grade (and then to a Lutheran college), I had heard the Luther story on numerous occasions. Man, Iíve written too many papers on the man. From his walk in the storm where he gave himself to God, to becoming a monk. From his questioning of John Tetzel and the Catholic churchís sale of indulgences, to the battles that ensued throughout Europe. Obviously there were many other issues that Luther had with much of the dogma of the Catholic church. His goal/purpose was to say that the church should follow what is said in scripture. As he said frequently in the movie, "Prove to me with scripture and I will recant." For what it is worth, it makes me completely appreciate the need for separation of church and state!
There are so many sides to the Luther story that a movie could take. This movie takes a fairly historically accurate look at Luther as a hero, a man who fought against authority (the corruption of the Catholic church at that time) for what he believed in until change was made. It shows Luther as a man who changed the world, literally, and that is accurate. And in that story, it was well done. And that was the goal of the movie. Was there any mention in the movie about just how anti-Semitic Luther was? Not even a mention.
Another interesting thought is this: Mel Gibson was bashed by some who felt that The Passion of the Christ was anti-Semetic. Of course, I didnít see that in the movie. If that movie was criticized as anti-Semetic, why wasnít Luther described as anti-Catholic? Because that is absolutely something that I can see. Actually, I donít even think it is hidden. That said, it is an historic movie, based on a man who was not only upset about the corrupt sale of indulgences, but a man who questioned every bit of the Catholic churchís authority. My guess as to why it didnít get as much negative publicity as The Passion of the Christ is because it clearly was not going to be a movie that the masses would flock to.
I really think that Joseph Fiennes did a great job of portraying Martin Luther. He showed anger, frustration and care all very well.
All in all, Luther is a watchable movie. However, when you watch it, you have to realize what type of movie you are watching and from what perspective the story is told.
This would be the suspenseful film of the weekend. It seems to me that people either like or dislike M. Night Shyamalanís movies (The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Signs). Personally, I really enjoyed The Sixth Sense and Signs. There is a consistency about Shyamalanís movies that is enjoyable in my opinion. I donít like scary movies, but I love suspenseful movies. I like the fact that the "creatures" in his movies are rarely actually seen. There may be some movement and sounds, but rarely do you see them, and if you do, it is a very quick view. Just enough to scare you! (ok, scare me!) So yes, I am an M. Night Shyamalan fan, and I can admit that!
In this movie, there is a group of men and women who have moved to a large area deep in the woods. They have had kids and added to their families in this village. No one enters the village and no one leaves the village. Why? Because the wooded area that surrounds the village are inhabited with some creatures. When the group started the village, they made a pact with the creatures that they would each stay out of each otherís locales. Lucious decides that he wants to go to the towns for medicines and other supplies, so he goes just a little ways into the woods. Each time someone treks into the woods, even just a little, the creatures skin an animal and throw it into the village, just to show that they are serious. If someone treks into the woods too far, a creature comes into the village. Residents must rush into their homes and not let the creatures in.
I have to admit that from a suspense standpoint, this movie does a great job. From a storyline, it is good, until the situation is resolves at which time I thought, "That is really dumb!" But the story then takes a new direction that keeps your attention again.
I thought the acting was excellent, led by Joaquin Phoenix. I thought the plot was good, even with the hiccup. How would I rank it in comparison to his other movies? I havenít seen Unbreakable, so I canít compare to that one. I would rank them The Sixth Sense, then Signs, then The Village. Now, that isnít to say it is a bad movie. I just didnít think it was as good as the other two.
WITHOUT A PADDLE
Here is the no-need-to-think comedy! It isnít hard to figure that out there. Look at the cast. Seth Green (Dan), Matthew Lillard (Jerry) and Dax Shepherd (Tom)! I mean, I see those names and Iím not looking for anything too deep or thought-provoking. And that is just fine with me!
The movie starts with four young boys who do everything together. They dress alike, build forts and tree houses, typical boy things. After high school, they all go their separate ways. One becomes a doctor. One becomes a businessman. One is just a really good liar and canít really keep jobs anywhere. The fourth friend went out and did many things, but at the age of 30, he dies. Dan, Tom and Jerry come home for the funeral. They drink a little bit and end up in their old tree house. They find a box that they are not to open until they find the buried treasure that was lost deep in the forests of Oregon. They decide that now might be their last opportunity to make such a crazy decision to go on a treasure hunt.
What ensues is a series of funny events involving the three characters and nature at its finest. There is a situation with a bear. Plenty of problems because of the river and the rest of the wild terrain. Of course, they encounter other unforeseen problems that put them in grave danger.
This is a very funny movie. There isnít a lot of deep plot, but as Iíve said, that isnít what you should expect from the movie. I think it is an excellent movie as I laughed frequently throughout. If youíre in a laughing mood, you will enjoy it.
I have actually heard mixed reviews for this movie. Some have told me that it is too weird and hard to follow. To me, that was a challenge worth taking. I have liked Josh Hartnett movies in the past, and heís from Minnesota, so I figured I would give it a look.
What did I find? That indeed, it was a weird movie that was hard to follow. I have to admit that throughout the first half of the movie, I was watching closely and asking myself what was going on. As the movie starts, Hartnettís character, Matthew, is kind of with Rebecca. But a series of visions and flashbacks of memories, encourage him to look for Lisa, an ex that he thinks is in town. OK, it becomes an obsession to find her. There seem to be clues and hints that she is leaving for him all over the place, and he takes the bait each time, hoping that it is her. There is another woman that plays a huge role in the movie, if only to completely confuse the situation!
Remember how above I said that when I think about Matthew Lillard, I think comedy. Well, he played the role of Luke in this movie. He does an excellent job in this drama playing, well, a man full of drama, yet a great friend to Matthew. I thought that Hartnett was good again, even though I donít think that he emotes as much energy as he should at times. Rose Byrne plays "Alex" and I thought her acting job was the best in the whole movie and as good as Iíve seen. Of course, she played a very interesting character, but I thought she pulled it off great!
Through more flashbacks and memories, eventually the movie resolves itself. I love movies like this where I honestly donít know what is going on for most of the movie, but by the end, all of the loose ends are tied up and it just makes sense.
I really enjoyed the movie a lot. It is fairly long, but well worth watching.
I have to admit. I find the whole concept of the paparazzi fascinating. To think that these people are paid to take pictures of celebrities. Sure, their attendance at a premiere or anytime a red carpet involved is expected. But seeing when celebrities are photographed on the beach when they are vacationing, or near their homes, or in other compromising positions, you just have to wonder how the photographer got in position for such pictures. You have to wonder about what steps they went through to get "the perfect shot", a picture of a celebrity in such a bad position that they will be paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for that picture by the likes of the National Enquirer or E! Celebrities Uncensored. I wonder to what extreme they will go to get a picture that valuable. (lets not forget how Princess Diana died)
That is the basis for this movie. Bo Laramie (played by Cole Hauser) makes his first feature movie in Hollywood after moving there from Montana. He instantly becomes a celebrity and does a red carpet premiere. At first, he starts thinking that all of the attention is great. However, soon a corrupt group of four paparazzi follow him everywhere. They take pictures of his son playing soccer. They take pictures of his wife relaxing by the pool. They take pictures of them while they are driving in their car. Basically, they go out of their way to make this celebrity look bad.
After awhile, Bo gets fed up with it and decides to take matters into his own hands. Thankfully I donít think any actual Hollywood celebrities have gone to this extreme level to rid themselves of the annoyance. But the movie is made in such a way that, no matter how dumb and wrong what Bo Laramie does, he is made out to be the hero of the movie, and you sympathize with him.
Why is that? Well, of course Hollywood is going to make a movie about the paparazzi in a positive light. That was my first thought as I was watching the film. Hey, even Mel Gibson was one of the producers (Along with having a brief cameo).
As far as writing, directing (budget?), I wouldnít classify Paparazzi as a great movie. I mean, Daniel Baldwin plays an important role in it. I really like Cole Hauser. He has been in a bunch of really great movies in the last decade! I do think that the story line is relevant though, and that is why I think it is a worthwhile movie.
ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND
I have read in numerous places that this movie was snubbed and that it should be up for Best Movie. I have heard nothing but great things about it, so I decided it was time for me to watch it.
Eternal Sunshine is definitely a movie that has you thinking deeply, right from the start. I was baffled when 17 minutes into the movie, the credits rolled. So much plot had already happened and I was completely confused. Now what? That is what I was thinking.
Jim Carrey plays a fairly quiet, shy character named Joel. Kate Winslett played quirky, Jim Carrey-like character named Clementine. In the beginning of the movie, they meet and hit it off. But for some reason, she decides to do a procedure that removes all memories of him from her brain. When he finds that out, he wants to do the same.
That is where the movie becomes absolutely fascinating. Although he is asleep while the procedure is being performed, we get a glimpse into his thoughts and memories. We also get to see them disappearing. But we also get to see that he doesnít want to forget about her and that he really does care about her. There is a huge struggle between the computer program that is removing his memories of her and his brain trying to keep her there.
To me, that is the story. A man realizes after looking back on the series of memories he shared with Clementine, and only in doing that does he realize that he really does love her and wants to be with her. They both realize that it may not lead to happy endings or marriage or whatever, but they are happy with the opportunity to know each other and to share experiences together.
Kate Winslett was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for her role, and deservingly so. The fact that Jim Carrey did not get nominated for Best Actor makes the whole thing a sham. And, of course, I have not seen all of the movies that were nominated for Best Picture, but to think that there are five movies better than Eternal Sunshine doesnít seem possible!
I really loved the movie. I totally want to see it again! I think seeing it a second time will maybe help me understand more. I would love to hear the thoughts of other people who have watched this movie. I have so many questions about it and think it would be fun to discuss! E-mail me.
If you'd like to discuss any of these movies, please e-mail me. I really wanted to rent Friday Night Lights, but it was never in when I was at the video store.
SOSA (FINALLY) TRADED
Late on Friday, it became increasingly clear that Sammy Sosaís time in Chicago was coming to an end. Well, I guess ever since he left the team on the last day of the season, it has been pretty obvious, but only on Friday did specifics become known.
What we know - Sosa will be taking a physical today, and assuming he passed it, he will become a member of the Baltimore Orioles. In exchange, the Cubs will receive OF/2B Jerry Hairston, Jr., 2B Mike Fontenot and P Dave Crouthers. The Cubs will also pay much of Sosaís $17 million salary.
Phil Rogers calls this trade a Ďdump.í And you know what? It is. But, it is a good trade for both teams. First, Sammy Sosa was not going to be happy with the Cubs. His incredible 13 seasons as a Cub were full of so many highlights and positives. But last season was completely different. Really, ever since the corked bat, Sosa has not been the same icon. Last year, he had the unfortunate Ďsneezeí injury. By the end of the year, he was being booed. Had Sammy stayed in Chicago, his presence would have been a distraction to a team that should contend in the National League in 2005. His disputes with manager Dusty Baker are well chronicled. Sosa will now fit into a lineup that includes Miguel Tejada, Rafael Palmiero, Javy Lopez, and Melvin Mora. Granted, the Orioles will still have to fight just to finish third in the AL East, but by making a move, it looks like theyíre at least trying to do something.
The Cubs receive a decent outfielder in Hairston. However, he has been a second baseman his entire career until last year when Brian Roberts was incredible and Hairston was moved all over the outfield. He should start in either right or left for the Cubs. Mike Fontenot is a highly rated 2B prospect just a couple of years out of LSU. The Cubs current 2B Todd Walker, another LSU alum, was signed for just one year, so Fontenot should be the Cubs 2B for years to come after that. And, you can never have enough pitching, so Crouthers could help out in the bullpen, or provide depth in the rotation should their starters face injuries again in 2005.
Now, as I understand it, Sosa had a clause in his contract that said if the Cubs traded him at any time, he would have his option for the 2006 season picked up by the new team at $18 million. However, as part of this deal, Sosa agreed to waive that portion of the contract. I am almost surprised that the Players Union would go along with that, but I really do think it is the right decision for Sosa. Here is why:
First, had he stayed in Chicago, he would have (likely) been miserable and at the season, he would have become a free agent. Now, he will play in Baltimore (With good friend Miguel Tejada), probably be happy, and at the end of the season, he wonít have the $18.5 million contract for 2006, but instead will be a free agent. So essentially the only difference created by waiving that clause is that he will play the 2005 season happy! If he hadnít waived the clause, the Orioles would not have traded for him.
What do you think of the trade, Sosa, the Cubs or the Oís? E-mail me.
The Twins held Twins Fest at the Metrodome all weekend. Fans were met by current, former and future Twins. Players were available at certain times for autographs and pictures. With their presence in town, there were plenty of quality articles in the local newspapers on the team.
Brad Radke to start opener - I like the move. The curious part is that Kyle Lohse will start Game 4, the home opener. I would have scheduled for Johan Santana to pitch that game!
Johan Santana Popular at Twins Fest - Surprise, Surprise!
Joe Mauer is Healthy - Great news!! We'll see once training camp starts, but our fingers will be crossed!
But Mike Redmond Will Be Ready - Well, he is better than Henry Blanco!! And, he's a friend of Dan Monson's!!
Apparently Blanco Isn't Sure What Happened - Curious! But... oh well!
Punto Leading Candidate for SS? - Or Bartlett, or Castro, or... We'll see!
Bob Casey Update - He's been in the hospital and may not be the Twins PA guy on opening day.
Also, it is curious that the Twins signed OF Armando Rios to a minor league deal over the weekend. The paper says that it is a controversial signing because Rios admitted to steroid use in 2003, when he was a member of the Chicago White Sox. He spent last season in the minor leagues. To me, it is a controversial signing because of what happened between Rios and the White Sox and the Twins, specifically LaTroy Hawkins in an on-field altercation. But then again, the White Sox now have AJ Pierzynski, so apparently things like that mean nothing anymore! Of course, you can also ask why signing Rios makes any sense for a team with four quality OF and Michael Restovich, Mike Ryan, Jason Tyner, Todd Dunwoody, Josh Rabe and others.
Be sure to vote for the Twins Hall of Fame!!
Have a great day and week! If you have any questions, comments, or ideas for future articles, please e-mail me. I am still checking my e-mail frequently.
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