Archive | March, 2007

Game On!

31 Mar

Now that the last spring training game is over, I have just one thing to say: Batter up! It’s been a long, cold winter (as always) and there’s something about the start of another baseball season that gets me all excited. Sure, I was really pissed off last August when the team fell apart, but all is forgiven and this is going to be a great year, I can feel it. Sitting in the stands in Fort Myers I was reminded of just how much I love this game and how happy I am that it’s back. So I say bring it on. Monday can’t come soon enough. Let’s go Red Sox!

Dressing the Part?

31 Mar

I suppose if you’re going to apply to work for something called the “Geek Squad,” then you’re sort of asking for it. Still, while waiting for assistance at Best Buy today, I was struck by just how much the Geek Squad guys feed into the stereotype. All of them are forced to wear a dorky outfit of black pants, white shirt and black tie, and apparently it’s also a requirement for them to slick back their hair like they’re trying too hard (if possible). According to the photos, they also wear black shoes and white socks, but I had no actual confirmation of that.

As a customer looking for a repair job, I was trying to think if this look made me any more comfortable, or if I’d rather the guys wore more “normal” outfits that were less, well, geeky. When you need to have your computer or camera or whatever looked at, you want someone who knows what they’re doing, who can actually help and won’t give you a runaround. Maybe if the Geek Squad was wearing something slicker, I might feel like I wasn’t getting the legit service I needed. Then again, it’s hard to take these guys too seriously when they look like they’re wearing a costume (as opposed to a uniform, like the other Best Buy employees). And maybe that’s why, when I was told they wouldn’t/couldn’t fix my camera, I felt sort of empowered to argue back about how my service plan should cover the cost of a new camera. A losing battle, and I knew that going in, but it was partly that damned outfit that convinced me I was somehow superior and in the right, and could win. My mistake.

Point is, Best Buy does no service to its employees by making them dress up like geeks. It makes them look silly, and it only serves to frustrate customers.

Try the Veal

23 Mar

I’ve been asked by a couple folks why I still haven’t seen 300 yet, so I wanted to explain, because as your friendly neighborhood frequent moviegoer, I know you look to me for guidance on how to spend your hard-earned cash. The truth is, I just wasn’t all that impressed by the last two films in the series, 298 and 299, so I’ve decided to skip 300 entirely. I’m sort of hoping 301 is better, because at the peak of the series — 294 — it was really very good. Kind of like how Oceans 11 was a much, much better movie than Oceans 9 was. Same with Apollo 13; they almost stopped making those movies after Apollo 12, but somehow Ron Howard got back on his game for the 13th film in the series and then called it a day.

Similarly, I’m having a hard time getting excited about The Last Mimzy, seeing how I never did get around to seeing the first or second Mimzy movies. Does anyone know, were those two any good?

(Thank you, I’ll be here all week. Please tip your waitress.)
(And of course, this is posted with apologies to Todd, who thought of at least one or two of these jokes before I did. Though in my defense, they’re not really the kinds of jokes anyone should want to take credit for. But it’s alright, Todd can have all the credit he wants.)

Lock It Up

21 Mar

You may have noticed a week and a half ago that I mentioned something about my car having been broken into.

At the time, the cops from Brookline who took the report and dusted for fingerprints told me mine wasn’t the only one in the neighborhood that had been broken into, and in fact, mine was the rare one where the window wasn’t broken.

But now I’ve seen that there’s been a rash of break-ins all over the city.

So as a PSA, I’ll just say that if you have a car, make sure it’s locked and that any valuables are removed. Don’t be like me and not remove the faceplate from your radio.

You may just come to find that it and the rest of the radio are missing one day. Continue reading

Closing the Book

21 Mar

I have to say, it’s a real bummer when a magazine changes its positioning and you realize it’s no longer for you. It’s sort of like when you leave school for the summer and you have your good friends, but then when you return, you are the same but your friends have other interests and they leave you behind. (Don’t try to tell me you don’t identify with that.) Such is the case with Giant magazine, which is no longer a general entertainment magazine, one that I enjoyed reading.

I noticed something was up when Giant was redesigned pretty horribly in the middle of last year and the cover photos featured people like Beyonce, and P.Diddy. But those two, for example, are pretty mainstream, and the inside coverage still had a mix of subjects. I could say I was interested in about half of it each month. Then last month’s issue, with Jennifer Hudson on the cover, was lackluster and almost completely uninteresting. And when I got the new issue in the mail tonight, featuring Eve on the cover and the new tagline “Urban Entertainment,” I knew it was time to cancel my subscription.

It’s not that I had developed such an attachment to Giant over the years, but just 12 months ago, this was a magazine that had people like Katie Holmes, Owen Wilson, Denise Richards, Jon Heder and Mischa Barton on its cover. It was a fun, somewhat juvenile read about movies I watched, music I listened to, and TV shows I was interested in. Its target audience was clearly 18–30 year-old men. The “fanboy” demographic. I even knew a couple people who worked there. By contrast, the new Giant is geared toward young Black men, and the people I knew are no longer on the masthead. Not surprisingly, there’s almost nothing I want to read in the latest issue.

It’s just a magazine, I know. But in a weird way, this feels like a betrayal of sorts. Sure, you could say I should have seen it coming, and in hindsight, yes, it’s pretty obvious what direction the magazine was headed. But this is one of the most radical shifts of a magazine I’ve seen. And it comes in the same month that Premiere magazine is ceasing publication, so that’s two magazines I read regularly that will no longer occupy a space on my coffee table.

I work in the magazine publishing world, so I can appreciate why and how magazines change their focus or positioning. But when it’s this drastic — when a magazine totally turns its back on its readers and goes in a completely different direction — well, that’s just not cool. And though I got no satisfaction from asking for a refund of what was left of my subscription money tonight (an $8 check is on its way, I’m told), I knew that was the only way to save face in this situation. I’m not going to continue to support my “friend” if it’s not going to be loyal to me.

I’m So Predictable …

20 Mar

Something tells me I’m into something good: What a great performance by Haley Scarnato tonight! I think she might actually have a shot of lasting longer than a few weeks. And her singing was pretty good too! Actually, it was a much better show than I expected. By far. I even liked LaKisha’s performance, and I generally think she’s overrated (though I still prefer the song as a backing track for Kanye West). I thought Blake was bad, as were Stephanie, Gina and Phil. Chris Richardson did a pretty good job. Chris Sligh brought chubby back. Mindy Doo was very good, as usual. But best vocal of the night goes to Jordin Sparks. And Haley? Wow. I love that girl. If her fiancee doesn’t stick around, I’ll be ready and waiting. What an outfit.

Still, the best best best best best thing tonight was the girl that Sunjaya made cry. I mean, he was so awful and this girl was a complete waterworks. Too funny. You had to see it. Not hear it. See it. But the worst part about it? I think it guaranteed that Sunjaya will stick around another week. So, goodbye, Stephanie. It’s been nice.

What Becomes of the Broken Hearted?

19 Mar

In the years since 9/11 there have been only a handful of movies dealing directly with the subject.

Of those, most have dealt with the heroism and the survivors.

And of course, this leaves out a large number of people who also experienced the day, namely the families of those who died.

Well, with Mike Binder’s Reign Over Me, that void is over, and remarkably so. Continue reading

Dangerous Game

17 Mar

Unlike David Fincher’s other movies — say, Fight Club or Panic RoomZodiac is generally a straightforward, no-tricks, procedural drama. If anything, you can say it’s quick moving, because the film covers about 20 years in about two-and-a-half hours. There’ll be a one minute scene and then the action will jump forward two weeks, or a month, or a year. But maybe I’m getting ahead of myself.

Zodiac tells the true story of the Zodiac killer, who is alleged to have killed about a dozen people in San Francisco starting in 1969 and was never caught. Actually, the film tells the story of the efforts by cops, reporters, and a newspaper cartoonist to figure out the Zodiac’s identity. And like I said, they never did solve the case conclusively, but thanks to cartoonist Robert Graysmith’s (Jake Gyllenhaal) efforts, they got very close. Actually, the Zodiac killer has already inspired a handful of movies, including Clint Eastwood’s original Dirty Harry, which featured a bad guy named “Scorpio” who also threatens to kill schoolchildren.

As you’d expect, this movie features a big cast of well-known actors (Anthony Edwards, Robert Downey Jr., Brian Cox, Philip Baker Hall, Donal Logue, Chloe Sevigny, Adam Goldberg, etc.), but I thought only Mark Ruffalo was worth noting for his performance. In those rare moments when the film sort of drags, his energy keeps it going. And Sevigny actually has a pretty thankless role as Graysmith’s wife. But no matter. Zodiac is generally a solid, entertaining film that doesn’t really feel as long as it is. That’s because it’s well-paced and even has a few suspenseful scenes. So I’m going to give it a B+.

I Say Yes, Yes, Yes

17 Mar

Sorry to be so single-mindedly focused on Amy Winehouse this week, but I just saw this and had to share. Apparently, Britney Spears has covered Amy’s “Rehab.” Check it out. Ha ha ha.

‘Scuse Me While I Scold This Guy

14 Mar

Last night at the bottom of the stairs of the Hynes Convention Center T stop, there was a homeless guy looking for change, and singing to entertain passersby. The song was pleasant and appropriate enough — “I’ll Be There” — but when he messed up the words, I had a brief desire to go all Simon Cowell and call him on it. After all, the line is “Just call my name, and I’ll be there,” not “Oh don’t you worry, I’ll be there.” Alas, I kept on walking and headed for home … where I watched three, count ’em three, American Idol contestants flub the words, including my fair Haley Scarnato (poor girl). So maybe there was just something in the air last night.

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