Saturday, July 23, 2016

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review (Minor Spoilers)

I was really looking forward to Star Trek Beyond and I'm glad I saw it today.  The reviews were good so far and that made me want to see it that much more.  I enjoyed what they did in this installment as did our 24 year-old daughter.  It really harkened back to the original series in my mind. As she said it was like an adventure.  It was great to see them put so much emphasis on the all the characters and not just Kirk and Spock.  Not that they are lacking for screen time.  It was fun to see the other characters get more screen time as well as play such a pivotal part in the movie itself.

The movie stars out like a an old episode with the ship and crew headed out on a rescue mission. Of course that is where things go haywire as it is really an ambush by the new baddie in the universe.  So Kirk and crew get their butts kicked but and must find a way to fight back.  And it isn't enough to save themselves but then they must save the universe as a whole.  The new bad guy is a good character as is the new alien who helps them in saving the world.  But again this is as much about the individual characters as it is the entire plot. I think everyone should check this movie out and don't wait. 


Thursday, July 21, 2016

I Went to a Concert: Heart, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and Cheap Trick

I recently attended my first concert in many years with my daughter.  It was the “Rock Hall Three for All” tour featuring Cheap Trick, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, and headliner Heart.  We had a great time.  All three of the bands were great playing a mix of old and new songs keeping it interesting.   At the bottom are the set lists for each group.  Cheap Trick opened up and was a fun group.  I knew maybe half their songs but didn’t know their closing tune, Auf Wiedersehe”.  Even after looking it up at home I’m not familiar with this tune.  All good but I was surprised that they closed with a song that was at least somewhat familiar.  Again these guys put on a very good show.  Joan Jett and the Blackhearts were next and also were very entertaining.  I knew the majority of their tunes and Joan Jett sounded great.  They were also very enjoyable to watch.


The main event was Heart and they didn’t disappoint.  They played three songs released from their album that was released that same week amongst classic hits from their large library.    Ann and Nancy Wilson still bring a lot of energy and hard rocking music to the stage. I really enjoyed the entire set with new songs Two and I Jump, and classics Kick It Out, What About Love, These Dreams, Alone and the hard rocking Barracuda standing out to me.  Ann and Nancy sound great and thought they put on an excellent show. 

All of these bands skew older with the members of Cheap Trick and Ann and Nancy Wilson all in their sixties.  Joan Jett is right there at 57.  So any show they put on has to be in context which makes the shows they put on that much more amazing.  Their singing voices aren’t what they used to be but they still sounded great.  In fact I was very surprised to see how old they were when we looked up their ages after the concert.  I last saw Heart in 19XX, Cheap Trick in 19XX and Joan Jett in 2001.  Wow, that was some time ago. 

Going to a concert now is very different than what I remember.  I know the experience isn’t the same everywhere but this was definitely setup right. We were at a dedicated concert venue with the standard merchandise stands but there were also plenty of places to get food and drinks.  This included the ability to have it delivered to your box seat if you were lucky enough to be seated there.  The prices are astronomical but I guess that is to be expected.  You can upgrade your experience with things like special parking and the ability to enter the facility via a quick access line all at a price of course.  I did pay for both of those and it was worth it I must say.  There are also VIP options (special entrance, seating, and an exclusive covered eating area) and separate meet and greet packages with the bands that are available.  These are very expensive but if you have the money I understand why you would do it. 

Bottom line is I had a great time as did my daughter who was pleasantly surprised at how many songs she knew.  Next up is Journey, The Doobie Brothers and Dave Mason with another daughter. 

Wild Child
What About Love
Beautiful Broken
Bebe Le Strange
These Dreams
Straight On
Kick It Out
I Jump
Crazy on You
Magic Man

Cheap Trick
Hello There
Big Eyes
California Man
When I Wake Up Tomorrow
In the Street
Magical Mystery Tour
I’m Waiting for the Man
The Flame
I Want You to Want Me
Dream Police
Auf Wiedersehen

Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
Bad Reputation
Cherry Bomb
Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)
You Drive Me Wild
Light of Day
Love is Pain
The French Song
Any Weather
I Love Rock and Roll
Crimson and Clover
I Hate Myself for Loving You
Everyday People

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Legend of Tarzan Movie Review (Minor Spoiler Alert)

Saw The Legend of Tarzan this weekend.  This was a good movie.  Right off the bat it was different than what I expected. Most Tarzan movies start with him and his family in the jungle when he was a baby and it goes from there.  Here Tarzan is an adult and eight years removed from the last time he was in the there.  He reluctantly goes back to the jungle when he is told the tribes may all be enslaved by the bad guys.  Going back puts him directly in their crosshairs and cue the action. 

I just found the movie fun to watch. It incorporates all we know from the past Tarzan ethos while throwing a new spin on things.  The humor is fun as well and I think they did a good job casting the characters to help bring it all to life.   The plot is ok.  With all that goes into a Tarzan movie I think they did well.  Again it is very entertaining and if you like Tarzan or think you might you should give the movie a shot.  

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Tim Duncan Retires

Tim Duncan retired after 19 great years in the NBA.  Duncan was a great player and nothing short of one of the all-time greats.  I loved how he just went about his business consistently playing a great overall game helping the Spurs win five championships.  He was a two time NBA MVP, three time NBA Finals MVP, adding 10 time All-NBA first team selections (15 total), and 15 time All-NBA defensive team selections.   You can go on and on but it still wouldn't do him justice. 

Personally I enjoyed watching him play and was happy he was able to bring to the Spurs such a great run of success.  My favorite Duncan moment didn't happen on the court.  After the 2013-14 conference finals San Antonio returned to the NBA Finals in a rematch with the Miami Heat who had defeated the Spurs in the Finals the year prior.  That was a great series that will go down as one of the all-time greats.  When asked about playing Miami he stated that Miami is no doubt who he wanted to play still stinging from the tough loss.  He didn't shy away from the question and it was out of character but it showed you the competitor he was.  And the Spurs took it to the Heat winning the series easily.  I'll always remember that turnaround jumper that befuddled so many defenders but off the court it was that moment I'll always  associate with Tim Duncan.  I'll definitely miss him. 

Saturday, July 9, 2016

2016 Topps Stadium Club Baseball Cards

The 2016 Topps Stadium Club Baseball cards are sharp cards. They have great photos and not much to clutter up the front. Pretty simplistic approach that definitely works.  My favorite card is the Randal Grichuk card.  Awesome photo with the St. Louis Arch in the background.  Again the photos are very nice which is something you get used to with the Stadium Club brand.
The backs are nice if not spectacular designs that I also like.  I think Topps did a good job here as well  The negatives would be my pull and the price point.  Twelve cards for $4.99?  Ugh.  They are nice cards but I don't get it.  The pull was a little lackluster as well.  I wouldn't say I grabbed any stars.  While those two points are both disappointing I still think these are nice cards.  There are short printed variations that can be seen here.  I wouldn't mind looking for a few of those as there are some nice Braves cards among them.
BREAKOUT:  12 Base Cards (1 RC)

Friday, July 8, 2016

Dwyane Wade Signs With the Chicago Bulls

This was a game of chicken and the Miami Heat lost.  Dwyane Wade has signed with the Chicago Bulls for two years and a total of $47M.  Miami only offered $40M over two years.  Still this wasn’t as easy as dollars and cents.  Wade has been the heart and soul of this team since his rookie year in 2003-04.  He’s a 12 time all-star who helped bring three championships to Miami.  I would have liked to have seen Wade stay his entire career with Miami but that is becoming more and more of a rarity.  Just doesn’t seem right for him to be a Bull.  Again it is more complicated than that. 

Wade took less money to get Chris Bosh and LeBron James to Miami.  It paid off in the form of two titles amongst four Finals appearances.  Then LeBron hit the market as a free agent and Wade opted out of his deal to allow James to be re-signed which never happened.  That same offseason Bosh got a big deal after being wooed in free agency and the team signed Luol Deng while Wade again took less money.  Was Miami supposed to give Wade the big deals at the end of his career to make up for his financial shortcomings throughout his career?  There is a lot of chatter to that affect though it doesn’t seem like Miami is on board with that thought process.   The entire situation was detailed by here before he even signed.    
So Wade is now in Chicago with a new look roster that includes Rajon Rondo, Robin Lopez, Nikola Mirotic, and the star of the team, Jimmy Butler.  This should be interesting to see how this team works.  It could be really really good or really really bad.  If nothing else they are poised to be a top four, maybe even top three team in the East.  Again that assumes they can make this work.

Miami isn’t exactly in a great spot.  Chris Bosh’s status is still up in the air.  They did resign Hassan Whiteside but he has to be wondering if he made the right decision.  Deng and Joe Johnson are gone.  Goran Dragic and Justin Winslow are still there but I’m not exactly sure where the Heat’s offense will come from.   It will be interesting to see how good this team will be.    

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Kevin Durant Signs with the Golden State Warriors

Kevin Durant signs with the Golden State Warriors.   Wow.  This is a huge move.  While you never
know how chemistry will work with a team this seems like a good fit.  Durant doesn’t come off as a selfish player so I’d think he’ll fit in well with the Warriors.  His numbers will go down but that is to be expected with that many great players in one starting lineup.  Steve Kerr has his work cut out for him.  I don’t think he has to “keep everyone happy” but he does have to ensure he takes advantage of the great things Durant brings to this team.  If you don’t, you might as well had kept Harrison Barnes.  This is a great move by Golden State and by Durant who I’m sure is prioritizing rings over sticking with the only team he has ever played for. 

Free agency is a tough thing in any sport.  I love seeing great players who spend their entire careers with one team but those examples are getting to be fewer and fewer.  I don’t have any issues with Kevin Durant doing what he did.  This is a business and he has that right just as teams do when they make decisions on players.  I would have liked to have seen him stay but I get it.  He doesn’t deserve the hate he is getting for leaving.  He didn’t force his way out or go out on bad terms.  He just left for a situation that he believed to be more beneficial to him long term.  And who can argue with that at the moment.  Nobody but Russel Westbrook knows if he’ll be in Oklahoma City past next season so they may have been in flux whether or Durant had resigned.  I’d also like to see more teams competing for the championship but this seems to have taken one, OKC, out of the equation. It will definitely be interesting to see how things play out once the season starts. 


Atlanta Hawks Sign Dwight Howard - Al Horford Goes to Boston

Dwight Howard is signing with the Atlanta Hawks for 3 years and a total of $70 million.  This move meant there wasn’t any more room in the front court for Al Horford who took a max deal with the Boston Celtics.  I like Dwight Howard and for all the flack he takes he is a great center though I understand he isn’t the all-star he once was.  Still he averaged 13.7 points and 11.8 rebounds per game while shooting 62% from the field last year.  If your center’s name isn’t Dwight Howard you love those stats.  Bottom line here is I don’t think Atlanta made their team any better.  What they needed was a scorer and Howard is that guy anymore.  I think he can average between 15 and 17 a game in the right system but he isn’t that wing scoring guy they need.  I hope I’m wrong but this seemed like a very curious move to me but I know Atlanta has wanted to sign the local boy for some time.

Just as big in this is the loss of Horford.  He isn’t quite the big body Howard is and won’t put up the rebounding numbers but he was the most popular player on this team and regarded for being the “glue guy”.  Why wouldn’t you just give him the max contract he wanted?  Granted that didn’t necessarily mean you got better so maybe that is what the suits were thinking.  They had to try something.  There weren’t many dynamic wings (Durant excluded) available so maybe this was their best option?  Again I hope it works.  I’d hate to see the franchise lose a player like Horford in a gamble that doesn’t help the franchise.  Unfortunately I’m not sure if this was a good move and only time will tell.