Friday, April 30, 2010

MST3K Friday: What about Juvenile Delinquency?

"You're gonna miss the soup of the day, jerk!"
"Son! You have angel hair pasta on your shirt!"
"Life is hard when your 27 years old and still in high school!"

Part 1:

Part 2:

Thursday, April 29, 2010

2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Round 2

Well, now.  After going 5-3 in the first round, there's no way I can match last year's prediction record.  Am I going to let it stop me?  No.

Frankly, Montreal was a bit of a surprise (I figured Washington would make it to round 2 before their crummy defense and inconsistent goaltending were exposed).  Jaroslav Halak is a great goalie and he got hot at the right time.  Boston was even a bigger surprise considering all the issues they had this year.  On the other hand, I almost picked Philly in the upset because of their regular season record against NJ.  Maybe I should have.

(4) Pittsburgh vs (8) Montreal.  Pittsburgh looked better against Ottawa than they had the last month of the season, but still not the dominant force they were last year.  Sidney Crosby lead the team (naturally) with 14 points in the series, but the Penguins got much more balanced scoring than they did last year with a total of 12 different players scoring goals (2 of those scorers being defensemen).  Montreal beat Washington with special teams and goaltending (always key in the playoffs).  They had a 21.8 success rate on the power play during the regular season, and were close to that during round 1.  Their PK limited Washington to 1 goal all series.  And who can say anything bad about Halak after his performance in Games 6 & 7?  You always have to worry about a hot goaltender in the playoffs, and a hot MONTREAL goaltender is always extra trouble.  Pittsburgh was 3-1 against Montreal during the regular season, but that is no guarantor of success during playoffs.  Still, I'm going to pick Pittsburgh for the win in 6 games.

(6) Boston vs (7) Philadelphia.  The Big Bad Bruins vs the Broad Street Bullies.  The Flyers will be without scorers Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne and energy guy Ian Laperriere for the series.  The Bruins will be getting Marc Savard back.  The Flyers need Claude Giroux (who has been a playoff MONSTER in his 2 seasons in the league) and Brian Boucher to continue their hot play. This game is going to be physical and nasty and wear a rut in the ice near the penalty box.  I can see Boston winning this one, but I'm going to go with Philly in 7 to set up another Penguins-Flyers Eastern Conference Final match-up.

(1) San Jose vs (5) Detroit. This should be an amazing series.  The past couple years, San Jose has been the best team in the regular season but has failed in the playoffs.  Detroit is a playoff machine as everyone knows by now.  Both teams have solid goaltenders.  Rookie Jimmy Howard has supplanted Chris Osgood as the starter and has shown himself capable in every way.  Evgeni Nabokov posted a 1.76 GAA and .926 save percentage in the first round.  This is the year San Jose needs to show they can get it done.  Going up against a Red Wings team that was 20-6-2 since the Olympic break and just had an emotional seven game victory over Phoenix should give them ample challenge.  This one can go either way, but I'm going to pick Detroit in 7.
(2) Chicago vs (3) Vancouver.  Goaltending, goaltending, goaltending.  Luongo has long been one of the league's top goalies and this year proved himself by winning the gold medal for Canada.  Antti Niemi has had a great year, but is still untested in the playoffs.  In front of their great goaltending, Vancouver's defensive corps experienced several lapses in the first round.  Does coach Alain Vigneault have a counter for Chicago's offensive onslaught?  I'm going with Chicago in 6 to set up a Detroit-Chicago rematch for the West Title.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Justified: Blind Spot

A quick post on this week's episode.  I thought it was great.  Got some good movement on the serialized arc.  Some great scenes (especially for Ava, with Johnny Crowder at the beginning and Winnona at the courthouse).  Art finally yelled at Raylan for always disobeying his orders.

This week, Raylan, the man who's always in control, lost it.  Boyd's religious shtick has been getting under Raylan's collar, but this week it all boiled over.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Theodore Roosevelt Was The Man

There are many reasons why Teddy Roosevelt was the man.  Stories of his heroism abound in books and other popular culture.  I've read a couple biographies of our 26th President and I've always come away impressed.

Yesterday at The Corner, John J. Miller talked about his recent visit to Sagamore Hill, the home of Theodore Roosevelt in Oyster Bay, N.Y.  One thing he noted was the lack of anything dealing with President Roosevelt's faith (you can read more about it at the link above).

The reason I bring this up is a T.R. quote Miller cited from Theodore Roosevelt's History of the United States, a forthcoming book edited by Daniel Ruddy:

I have no patience with those who attack, who would destroy, a man's belief in religion—no patience with those who would convert the Jew en masse, or the Catholic. More likely than not, where they succeed at all they succeed only in destroying something—they take something real away and give nothing in return, leaving the victim bankrupt. I am always sorry for the faithless man, just as I am sorry for the woman without virtue.

Very powerful quote.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Justified: The Collection

This week we get more hints of the serialized aspect, but spend most of the time in our standalone story.  Raylan goes with Art to claim a rich criminal's property.  Rich guy then gets bumped off (awesome way to go to commercial) by his trophy wife and stablehand.  There's also a subplot about forged/non-forged paintings.

The murdered criminal was one of the least interesting weekly plots yet.  Though there was a nice moment at the end when Raylan realizes his quest to put his father in jail is a near parallel to the quest of guest star Robert Picardo (I won't spoil the nice reveal at the end of the episode).

Serialized aspects?  Raylan asks Boyd (Walton Goggins) to get some dirt to help him put Arlo away.  Always nice to see Goggins back in the picture.  He and Olyphant have some good chemistry.  Raylan relays the Crowders' threat from last week to Ava.  We meet the DA who is investigating Raylan's justified shootings.  Raylan's ex-wife Winona asks him to run some names and is shocked when they all come back clean (I wonder where this subplot is going).

I don't want Justified to become another mythology heavy, serialized show, but so far those seem to be the strongest aspects of the series.  They booked some great guest stars, so the writers just now have to give the story-of-the-week aspects a little more meat.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Mortal Stakes, by Robert B. Parker

Boston Red Sox management has heard rumors that ace pitcher Marty Rabb is purposely throwing games.  They hire Boston-based private eye Spenser to quietly investigate the allegations so they can handle the matter before it becomes a PR nightmare.  What Spenser uncovers is a years-old web of sex, lies, and blackmail.

This book, the third in the series, served as my introduction to Spenser.  Mortal Stakes had been on my radar for a couple years, but it took the death Robert B. Parker to finally buy and read it.  I especially liked the baseball setting (added bonus since I started reading it the first week of the season) and Parker's clean prose.  The Spenser series has been one of the most popular since the character's introduction in the 1970's.  Parker obviously borrowed heavily from his predecessors (Chandler and Macdonald) and influenced the entire generation of PI writers that has come since.  Probably because of this, I was a bit underwhelmed by the novel.

That is, however, until we get to the end.  After disposing of the bad guys and saving his clients, Spenser goes on a date with girlfriend Susan Silverman.  Here they have a discussion about the "jock ethic" vs the code of the pro.  The jock ethic is the system of behavior that drives people to follow the rules even if losing is the result.  The code of the pro demands that a person ignore idealism and do what needs to be done in order to win.  This philosophical discussion and the introspective moment of Spenser trying to figure out where he fits in is a moment not found with White Knight Marlowe or even in the psychoanalysis of Archer.  This, I thought, is what sets Spenser apart from the crowd.

With that said, I'm not going to run out tomorrow and pick up the rest of the books in the series.  But Spenser is a character I look forward to returning to in the not too distant future.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Don't Bother to Knock (1952)

Over at Sunset Gun, Kim Morgan has another fabulous post about the little known Marilyn Monroe gem Don't Bother to Knock. I saw it a few summers ago while in a "let's see every Marilyn Monroe movie we can get our hands on" phase.

Also starring Richard Widmark and Anne Bancroft, Knock is by turns drama, thriller, and a pinch of film noir. Monroe plays a disturbed young woman who catches the eye of pilot Jedd Towers (Widmark), who is stinging from rejection after the hotel singer (Bancroft) dumps him. Rather than the sexbomb/airhead role Monroe is known for, this movie shows what a tremendous actress she really was.

Read Ms. Morgan's piece and go rent the movie. You won't be disappointed.

Friday, April 16, 2010

MST3K Friday: Once Upon a Honeymoon

Guess what? Shorts are back! That's right, I found a couple MST3K shorts on YouTube that I haven't posted yet. The first of which is "Once Upon a Honeymoon" which was shown before the Season 7 episode "Night of the Blood Beast".

"What would Liberace do? Well, better not do THAT..."

Part 1:

Part 2:

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

2010 Playoff Predictions

It's that time of year again! Time for my annual playoff predictions. Let's see if I can even get close to last year's Awesome 13-2 record.

(1) Washington vs (8) Montreal -Washington's had an amazing year. They scored more goals than anybody. They have the best record in the league. It's kind of hard to go against them. Caps in 5.

(2) New Jersey vs (7) Philadelphia. This should be a good one. These two teams hate, hate, hate each other. The Flyers took 5 out of 6 matchups during the regular season, but they've been drifting the past month or two. On their third-string goalie and without sniper Jeff Carter, the Flyers have their work cut out for them. New Jersey in 6.

(3) Buffalo vs (6) Boston. Boston's offense has been lousy all season and extremely bad since Marc Savard got injured. Ryan Miller has been the league's top goalie all season. Defense wins. Buffalo in 4.

(4) Pittsburgh vs (5) Ottawa. The familiar playoff rivals. They've met 3 out of the past 4 years in the first round. The defending champs have looked listless at times since the Olympic break, sometimes not putting in a full 60 minute effort. They should be able to turn on the switch for playoff time, though. Pittsburgh's defense isn't as strong as last year's, but Ottawa's offense doesn't have too many weapons at this point. They do, however, have goalie Brian Elliott who can go on tears and stand on his head three or four nights in a row. If Marc-Andre Fleury can match or play better than Elliott, Penguins shouldn't worry. Penguins in 6.

(1) San Jose vs (8) Colorado. The Sharks went 8-1-1 in their final 10 regular season games. The Avs stormed out of the gate and shocked a few people early in the season. Is this the year the Sharks make it out of the first round? I'll pick them again. Sharks in 6.

(2) Chicago vs (7) Nashville. Chigago's the young and hungry team in the West. Kind of like the Pens and Caps have been in the East for a couple years. They took the defending champion Red Wings to 7 games last year in the Western Conference Finals and look poised to make another run. Blackhawks in 4.

(3) Vancouver vs (6) Los Angeles. The Kings have some scoring depth up front and can probably match the Canucks goal-for-goal. They've got two solid top-tier defensemen in Rob Scuderi and Drew Doughty. But Roberto Luongo is an All-World goalie. Let's see if he can put aside his reputation as a poor playoff guy. Canucks in 7.

(4) Phoeniz vs (5) Detroit. This is probably going to be the one to watch. Detroit has been on a tear going 16-3-2 following the Olympic break. They also have 8385734957 years of playoff experience which Phoenix is sorely lacking. The ways Phoenix can win? They've shocked quite a few people this year, especially with the play of Ilya Bryzgalov. The other way is Detroit's age and long postseasons the past couple years may have finally caught up with them. I'll go with Detroit in 7 for the upset.

There you have it. I picked a couple sweeps (which I didn't do last year), but only one upset. I feel pretty good about my East picks, but have a feeling I might have to eat one or two of my West ones.

Anyone else care to wager?

Justified: The Lord of War and Thunder

Another solid episode from "Justified". This one dealt more with the serialized aspects of the show than the standalone bad guy of the week format. Sure, there was a BGotW (a guy who may or may not be hiding out at his wife's), but that storyline was used more for comic relief. Raylan offering to do yard work for food was a great element.

The meat of the story dealt with Raylan's relationship with his father (guest star Raymond J. Barry, pictured above). Raylan gets a call from his stepmother asking him to bail out his father. Raylan reluctantly does so and we get a glimpse of the strained relationship between the two of them. By the episode's end, we see that there was an ulterior motive for calling Raylan, one with double and triple crosses that are the hallmark of Elmore Leonard's writing.

We also get a reminder of how big the Crowder family is, setting up (what I hope is) Walton Goggins's return next week as Boyd Crowder.

Friday, April 9, 2010

MST3K Friday: Soultaker

One of my favorite Season 10 episodes.

"I like fudge." "You don't mean that."