Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Movie Favorites

I've already established that I like lists and this will be my third such post, again involving movies.  I'll just jump into it.  It begins with It's a Wonderful Life.  A classic that I didn't appreciate as a kid but after watching a thousand times during the period when it was shown on every channel, every day during the holiday season I got it.  Jimmy Stewart gives a great performance that really has you rooting for his character as he continually gets knocked down.  He gave George Bailey the perfect balance of humor and smarts to make him seem like the perfect guy to outduel bad guy Henry Potter played by Lionel Barrymore.  Donna Reed was a great opposite to Stewart giving another great performance and was beautiful to boot.  I enjoy everything about this movie and it is tops on my list to watch each year.

The Nightmare Before Christmas is the quirky animated film where characters from Halloweentown discover Santa Clause and cause havoc in their zeal to bring the spirit of Christmas, as well as Santa Claus, to town.  This movie works great as it is geared towards adults but will definitely keep kids entertained. 

After these two there are the rest and there are many.  Miracle on 34th Street and White Christmas are the classics that really are relaxing to watch.  Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer will never get old and is still the standard for animated movies of the era.  A couple of modern era comedies are great watches.  Tim Allen's The Santa Clause is a great story that hasn't gotten tiring yet though I think it is on twice a day.  National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation has so many memorable moments and has to be Chevy Chase's best work.  How the Grinch Stole Christmas in animated form is that movie from my childhood that I'll never tire of.  The re-make with Jim Carrey was a good adaptaion which I also really enjoy.  A Christmas Carol comes in more forms than I can count.  My favorites are those starring the Muppets and the 1999 Patrick Stewart version.  Great story, some ghosts, and redemption make them fun to watch.  Honorable mentions go to A Christmas Story, the Polar Express, and A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Christmas is one of those holidays that as a kid we looked forward to every year.  Once December hit we couldn't wait to see Rudolph and the Grinch in an era before cable and seeing movies played 60 times in a month.  So many of the older movies will always have that special place in my heart.  Those from more modern time still have a special place but will always have a high bar to meet.  Merry Christmas to all and I hope you are able to take in all your favorite movies during the holidays.  

Sunday, December 11, 2011

David Stern Blocks Chris Paul Trade

NBA Commissioner David Stern blocked the trade that would have sent Chris Paul of the New Orleans Hornets to the Los Angeles Lakers.  The NBA runs the Hornets team after they ran into financial problems and the NBA is committed to keeping a team in New Orleans and feared losing the star of the team when they are trying to build the franchise up.  The trade itself was a good one. New Orleans would have received Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, Goran Dragic, Lamar Odom and a 2012 first-round pick.  Now none of the teams involved have anything to show for their hard work and David Stern looks as though he caved to pressure from owners to stop the trade.

I get that the the league doesn't want the rich getting richer (LA Lakers) as small market teams contiue to struggle to keep their own.  This is even more important as the new collective bargaining agreement was thought to help the small market teams keep their stars.  This could be seen as a slap in the face of everything the league fought for.  True or not the perception now is that NBA owners pressured Stern into making a move.  True or not perception will probably not change and this'll be a blot on his tenure as commissioner. 

If this had been a bad trade I'd say this would have been a bad deal and the NBA did the right thing.  As is, it was a good deal for New Orleans and would have helped the franchise rebuild.  Now they must pursue other trades and there is a good chance they might not get as good a deal.  I will always champion the cause of the small market teams in any sport.  If for no other reason the fans deserve a reason to be excited about the chances of their team. 

But this was a bad move by Stern.  Chris Paul doesn't want to stay in New Orleans.  Even if the Hornets had managed to sign them there were still questions to whether or not they could be competitive with the team around Paul.  With the trade New Orleans would have had a decent starting lineup and could have been a player in the tough Southwest division.  While we've seen the collecting of star players by franchises lead to championships (Celtics, Lakers) there is still no promise of success.  This is a bad move by David Stern and a bad move for the league. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Super Committee Super Bad

I won't jump into the political ring often in my blog but I will from time to time.  I feel compelled now because it warrants not only my anger but that of every American.  I'm speaking of the failure of the super committee to enact cuts in the federal budget to keep automated cuts from being enacted.  Congress is paid to do a job.  They increasingly fail to do what is asked of them.  In this case they had to find cuts in the federal budget.  No easy task so the "Super Committee" was formed to take on the task.  All they did was fail.  They even admitted it.  Because of that $1.2 trillion dollars in automatic budget cuts will be enacted in 2013 whether good, bad or indifferent to the overall fiscal health of the country.   

I'm not opposed to our system of government at all.  But I am opposed to a system that allows those serving in the government to not do their job.  We see this every year as they threaten a government shut down when they can't come to an agreement on the annual budget and deadlines are pushed back with federal spending is put in limbo.  We again saw this with the super committee but without the ability to push back the deadline they failed. 

How can we accept this?  They said they failed yet they still work on?  If you or I, or even a group within a large corporation, are given a specific task and deadline and fail we could expect repercussions, serious ones at that that might include firing if we continue to do so.  You'll say congress can be voted out of office but waiting until elections only means they can continue to fail.  My bottom line is we shouldn't accept it.  They were given a job and failed.  There should be some way in which we can get rid of elected officials who continue to fail.  Our country pays for these inadequacies with no way of ensure congress is accountable.  I don't know how we continue this to go on.  Why this may have tipped me to speak out but the frustration has been growing for years.  I hope that at some point we can change the way business is done in congress but I don't see anyone championing massive overhauls in how business is done. 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

War Movie Favorites

Veteran's Day was last week and first I'd like to thank all those who have served our country in the military.  I'd also like to use this time to point out my favorite war movies.  Defining what a "war movie" is can be tricky in itself since pretty much any movie invovling two opposing forces fighting would meet the definition.  For my purposes I'll define a war movie as a movie set in a war starting with World War I through the present time. 
Black Hawk Down - This is a great movie that I can watch any day of the week and twice on Sundays.  For me the movie presents an accurate representation of how I think the events would have looked.  I find the movie very believable and not over the top while it shows how our military can fail.  I think this movie should be in everyone's library.  I've also read the book multiple times and could read it cover to cover if time allowed.
Saving Private Ryan - Could easily be my #1.  Great portrayal of how battle would have looked in WWII and it wasn't pretty.  Great characters, visuals and action.  A friend of a my brother-in-law allowed me to see this in his home theater shortly after it's release and I was blown away.  I really enjoy being able to plan out the three hours to watch this movie and give it all my attention.  I'm never dissapointed. 
The Great Escape - Circa 1963 this movie had a great cast to include Steve McQueen, James Coburn, and James Garner among many, many others.  Based on actual events this movie shows a massive escape effort by allied prisoners from a German POW camp during WWII.  The acting really makes this movie though they also did a great job with the visuals and and sets.
The Devil's Brigade - This movie shows WWII Canadian special forces pressed to join up with American forces who aren't up to standards. The resulting tensions as they train for their mission make for a very entertaining movie. Yes they finally get to go kill the bad guys, Germans in this case, but it is the interaction of the two very different troops that make this fun to watch.           MASH - This movie is just as funny if not funier than the TV series it spawned.  With an "R" rating it was also able to ratchet up the raunchy humor I'd expect more from the military. While all done for the joke I believe most of the situations could definitely happen in this situation.         The Green Berets - John Wayne was near the end of his career when completing this movie but he did a great job portraying a Colonel taking over an outpost while battling a tough North Vietnamese enemy.  While not the most accurate depiction of combat life during the Vietnam war it still depicts many of the issues that would come to define our militarie's issues in the war.

The Dirty Dozen - Another great ensemble cast that led to great movie showing military members who were in jail chosen for a harrowing mission behind enemy lines.  Just one of the classics you have to love.

Good Morning Vietnam - Robin Williams was at the top of his game when he played an Airman brought in to DJ for the military during the Vietnam war.  Way too many funny lines in this movie to pick out just one, the movie also shows the multitude of issues soldiers had to face on a daily basis.

Full Metal Jacket - This movie rocks from the word go.  Subtle humor to the dramatic plot lines it shows the war from the skeptical viewpoint of "Private Joker".  Another movie everyone should own. 

Honorable mention:  Patton, They Were Soldiers, Tora! Tora! Tora!, Stalag 17, Platoon, Operation Petticoat, Battle of the Bulge

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I really, really don't like homework...

I really, really don't like homework.  After an 18 year absence from college I recently jumped back into the fray.  I'd love to say I was all gung ho but really I just caved to peer pressure.  Ugh.  Not to say it isn't a good thing.  I already have two years of college completed so I'm two years from a four year degree which should be helpful as I look at possibly retiring in a few years.  So it is a good thing...I think.

I really, really don't like homework.  I just finished my first six week session.  What the heck was I thinking.  I'm taking online courses so not only am I having to adjust to school once again I also have to experience it in a completely different way.  And it sure isn't what I remember.  I had to apologize multiple times to my teachers for not getting something uploaded correctly or missing an assignment that I couldn't find.  So navigating the web to find my assignments, ensuring I get everything uploaded, coordinating group assignments with classmates around the country and keeping up with homework was enough to make me ready to pull my hair out.  And the homework!  Nothing like getting up for work at 5:30 in the morning and returning at 5:30 in the evening knowing I had maybe two hours of work to complete.  That was my life Monday through Thursday.  Did I say i don't like homework? 

I really, really don't like homework.  I'm not saying the classes were bad, the web design and user interface were poor or that there was too much homework.  Just the opposite.  I'm just saying it was an adjustment - a big one and it wasn't easy.  I'll definitely be more ready come January when I take my next courses.  So no matter how frustrated I was I highly recommend returning to college for anyone in need of completing their degree.  Online courses in particular allow for many different options that I think would appeal to older students.  But if you've been out of college for some time and will be looking at online courses be ready for some adjustments.  And good luck.  Did I mention I really, really don't like homework?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Left Turn: Tony Stewart Stays Hot

Tony Stewart won his fourth race in the Chase to get within three points of Sprint Cup leader Carl Edwards.  Stewart now has four wins in eight races in the Cup's version of the playoffs after not having any wins in the regular season.  That is amazing.  Now Carl Edwards isn't a slouch.  He is in first place for a reason.  Edwards has five top five finishes in the Chase and hasn't finished worse than eleventh in any Chase race.  In fact he finished second to Tony Stewart yesterday at Texas.  Still that isn't four wins in eight races.

He also isn't the man called Smoke who is known for being outspoken but is backing up his words this time.  After winning last week at Martinsville he said Edwards "better be worried".  After winning yesterday he said  "Do not count us out, I can tell you that.  But I don't think we have to say anything. Our performance speaks for itself."  On whether he needs to tell Edwards again he stated "Oh, he knows.  Trust me."  Nothing over the top, just understated bravado and it came across great as I watched the video.  Check it out if you get a chance.

When all is said and done I'll probably be pulling for Edwards in what is now a two man race.  Third place Kevin Harvick is 30 points behind Tony Stewart and has little chance to make a run.  Stewart  already has two championships on his resume and I'd like to see someone new atop the leaderboard come season's end after watching Jimmie Johnson hog that position for the last five years.  Still I love what Tony brings to the table.  He isn't afraid to scrape paint or talk it up but there is nothing better than backing it up and giving us one of the better races for the championship that we've seen in some time. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Cardinals Win World Series

The St. Louis Cardinals completed a historic run to win the World Series Friday night.  The Texas Rangers on the other hand have to be disappointed as they lose their second straight World Series.   Within the last six months I've moved to Illinois, within 45 miles of St. Louis.  First it is great to be near a big city again as I'm in sports overload between the sports coverage on TV, in the papers, and on the radio.  As I'm a huge sports fan that is all a good thing.  I also work with many Cardinals fans so I've gotten to ride this wave as it has happened.  There is nothing better than being able to root for your team on the big stage and it has been fun to ride this crazy train with the local fans.  I'm happy for my buddies and for the team as it was well deserved.

Tony LaRussa as a manager is a guy who catches some grief locally for some of his moves and tendencies.  That said, three World Series trips and two World Series titles in 16 years makes it hard for any fan to beat him up too much.  I too scratched my head all year at moves he made and how he coached but through it all his team was ready to play no matter who was in the lineup. 

I love seeing guys who have been around forever get their first World Series ring and St. Louis had not shortage of those who won it all for the first time.  42 year-old Arthur Rhodes, Octavio Dotel, Rafael Furcal, and my favorite Lance Berkman were among those who had been around for many years and finally won the big one.  There was also a big contingent of those who were young and won their first ring.  Jason Motte, Jaime Garcia, hometown hero David Freese, Daniel Descalso, Jon Jay and Adron Chambers.  And then there are the guys who are at the front and center of this team - Albert Pujols, Chris Carpenter, and Yadier Molina.  These guys won their second championship in St. Louis and they were all huge in getting this team to and through the playoffs as the leaders in the clubhouse.  I know I didn't name everyone and those I've omitted all played their part.  Some smaller or bigger than the others.   

So I give props to this team and to all their fans.  Counted out in September they roared back to make the playoffs and beat the "unbeatable" Phillies, dumped the Brewers and played a great series in winning against the favored Texas Rangers.  It was fun to watch. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Horror Movie Favorites

For me the definition of a horror movie or the horror genre is not very specific.  So when I talk about horror movies I'll lump in anything from a scary movie, monster movie, slasher flick or even a cartoon or comedy related to those topics.  As such I'll share with you my favorite horror movies.  It is Halloween after all.  It all starts with The Lost Boys.  As with many folks I relate more closely with movies I grew up with and this is a classic example.  For me it had everything - the cool vampires, pretty girl (Jami Gertz was oh so hot), great soundtack, great visuals, and sly humor.  I fell for it all hook line and sinker.  I obviously haven't grown up as it still tops my list.  Kiefer Sutherland was the definition of cool.  Did you see Tina Turner's saxaphone player in the band at the boardwalk playing I Still Believe?

Halloween is next on my list.  The classic 1978 version is a great story that would scare any kid to death...well in the 70's.  The simple look and story of Michael Myers is a great hook.  Throw in scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis and all is good in the world.  I also enjoy the 2007 remake by Rob Zombie so I put it right up there.  Looking at the movie in this list you'd think it might be a little more violent for my taste but all I can say is it works.  The back story really draws me in.
Scream was a movie in which I fell for the story.  I was one of those who didn't see it coming at the end.  Still there was much more to the movie.  The cool visual new visual of the villain Ghost Face and humor woven throughout the movie and the raspy voice that became synonymous with the movie were but a few of the attributest that stick out.  Best scene:  "There are rules!" - watch as the rules of horror movies are explained and played out on screen.  Great theater. 

Mad Monster Party is a Rankin-Bass cartoon utilizing stop motion animation.  It is about a party with monsters - duh.  One of those things you love as a kid and you never let go of it.  I've shown it to my kids over the years and I can't say it plays quite as well to youngins now days but that doesn't dampen my enthusiasm for the movie. 

All of the big three universal monsters are no brainers for me - Dracula, Wolfman, and Frankenstein.  I love these movies and don't have any issues sitting through all the spinoffs.  These are truly classics.  I own the legacy gift set which contains them all.  A must if you enjoy these movies.

The Fog has zombie like ghosts terrorizing a small town.  I think this movie is underappreciated for it's time (1980).  The Crow is that movie that has a great storyline and some cool visuals.  I also own the most awesome 18" figure with trenchcoat and the arms down and palms up.  That is such a cool pose.  The Shining isn't a classic horror movie but is very gripping.  You can see yourself going crazy just like Jack Nicholson's character did from a long winter of isolation.  REDRUM REDRUM

Munster, Go Home!, The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Young Frankenstein are all examples of the fun you can have with the genre.  These span everything from Frankenstein and his family living in American suburbia, to a sweet transvestite from Transexual, Transylvania, and a dancing monster.  All are great reimagings of classic monsters in a humorous context.  I never tire of these movies. 

The Legend of Boggy Creek - scared the heck out of me as a kid despite the low budget flick it was.  13 Ghosts - Can't say there is one thing that sucked me in but I'll watch it over and over.
Jeepers Creepers - Not sure what I like the most.  The sequel holds up well for me as well. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

2011 Topps Football Cards Review

I like many others was big into the trading card craze when it went nuts in the 80's and 90's.  I tended towards the sports genre but also enjoyed non-sports cards as well.  At this point in life I don't get to pick up too many cards or packs nowadays but do on occasion.  More often than not they end up as a bookmark.  The other day I picked up a pack of 2011 Topps football.  I must say I am very impressed.  The design was simple, the pictures very nice, and the back was the old standby of stats, bio and short write-up.  Adrian Peterson was the big grab with Champ Bailey also being a nice looking card.  The name of the plaer was at the bottom of the card curved towards a nice spotlight of the team's logo.  Also in the pack was a Super Bowl Legends insert of Jim Plunkett.  I really enjoy cards that tend towards retired players or past games/achievements but I thought it was somewhat plain and could have been done better.  Still that didnt' change what I thought of the pack I pulled.  A very good effort by Topps.     

Monday, October 17, 2011


I’m Roy and as the title of this blog states I’ll promise you one thing and one thing only - randomness. I say that because my thoughts are all over the place. I am a huge sports fan so you’ll be seeing much in the way of one of my biggest passions. I will also open up on my inner geekness as I’ll speak on things I enjoy that might just fall under the heading of nerdiness. Pop culture in general will also be a target of mine as will anything from politics, small town life, and the world in general. As stated, I promise randomness, nothing more, nothing less. I hope you enjoy.

Oh and the gal to the left?  It is October.  Supposedly this was done for a t-shirt as part of a fundraiser for breast cancer.  I just think it looks cool.  Would love to have the shirt.