Monthly Archives: March 2010

The Expendables Trailer Hits

Look at that.  Just look at it!  If you have ever enjoyed a movie starring men known for grimaces, muscles, and explosions, then take a gander at the trailer for Sylvester Stallone’s newest film, The Expendables, which comes out in August.

I’ve been known to employ my fair share of hyperbole in the past and this film may end up being awful, but look at the lineup.  In this flick, you get Sly, that other Handsome Rob, Jason Statham, the supposedly “retired” Jet Li, Mickey Rourke and a wealth of burly dudes with awesome facial hair-growing abilities, as well as a plot about overthrowing an over-the-top island dictator, played by Dexter’s David Zayas.

Plus, oh yes, the first ever on-screen meeting of the three ’80s action heroes: Stallone, Arnold, and Bruce Willis.  That’s right.  Rambo, the Terminator, and John McClane are in the same room.  It’s just a cameo, but it’s so manly it makes me want to grill a steak and lift weights even more than I already do.

So, come August, I’ll be first in line to get my fill of brawn and bombs.

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Gorzelanny and Silva Make Cubs’ Rotation: Nail Biting Time?

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t at least a little worried about the news that Tom Gorzelanny and Carlos Silva were named to the final two spots of the Cubs’ rotation today.  But then, I could see it working out well, too.

Here's hoping Silva can be un-bad this year.

The bigger surprise here is probably Silva.  You can’t go 5-18 in a two-season span and not raise some red flags.  Hell, his ERA last year alone was 8.60.  He looked like his career was done, yet the Mariners found someone desperate enough to take him in the form of the Cubs (thanks, Milton Bradley!).

Yet, he has looked solid this spring, except for his first start when he was lit up for six runs in two innings, exactly the kind of output I was expecting from him, considering the player he was traded for. But then something clicked. His sinker now appears to be working, which will definitely come in handy pitching in a small ballpark like Wrigley Field.  Hopefully he can revive his career–he had double-digit win totals three times with Minnesota–and have a solid year.

Gorzelanny: a so-so bet for a good year.

Gorzelanny is a less nerve wracking rotation candidate.  While not having an ERA to write home about the last couple years, he was on his way to stardom with the Pirates in ’07 before getting injured the next year.  After getting traded to the Cubs at midseason last year he seemed to start putting it together again.  Having seen him pitch when I was in Vegas, I can attest that he looks poised on the mound and he could be primed for a big year, as far as fourth starters are concerned.  I could see him winning 10 games maybe.

The best thing about the current rotation is that it allows Jeff Samardzija to return to the eighth inning setup role he excelled in during the 2008 pennant race.  He may want to be a starter at some point in his career, but his secondary pitches still need some work.  Being in the bullpen allows him to rely on his fastball and slider while occasionally tinkering with a changeup here and there.  Once he gets a solid third pitch, then we’ll talk about him being a force in the Cubs’ rotation.

This decision makes it seem a little like the Cubs are throwing some stuff at the wall to see what will stick.  Or they could just be looking for a righty-lefty-righty flow to the rotation without really worrying about the quality of the lefty starter.  After all, the guy who’s been the ace the last couple years, Ted Lilly, should be back a couple weeks into the season, right?  Right?  Gulp.

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TV Themes, Twins, Other T-Word To Complete the Alliteration

I was on Ain’t It Cool News earlier and their TV guy, who goes by the name of Hercules, posted this video.  He complained (as most nerds–myself included–do) about these two brothers not including enough classic themes.  I, on the other hand, think these guys are very entertaining.  I’m a big fan of their takes on the Charles in Charge, Cheers, and The OC (played with a faux seriousness that made me grin) themes.

On top of that, this got me thinking.  If anyone out there reading this is a twin, why on earth would you have the same hair cut as your brother or sister?  It’s hard enough to tell you apart.  If I had a twin, I’d get a mohawk and put tattoos on my forehead and stuff.  I’d be the cool rebel one that, like, plays loud music, wears leather jackets, and doesn’t live up to his potential.  Wait, I’m already doing those.  Damn you, YouTube, providing me with a case of angsty, existential woe!

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Cold War Kids Behave Themselves and I Couldn’t Be Happier

I did a Band Pimping on the Cold War Kids not too long ago and I mentioned they recently released a new EP called Behave Yourself. I’d been looking all over for the damn CD for weeks and couldn’t find it in stores–probably because I’m the only person that still buys CDs–so I ordered it from good ol’ and haven’t stopped listening to it since it arrived earlier in the week.

Cold War Kids just keep getting better.

The short song selection begins with “Audience”, which is already the leading contender for Rob’s Favorite Song of 2010, which is obviously much more important than a Grammy.  It’s a fantastic soul-inspired track about women and since I like me some ladies, it speaks to me.  Front man Nathan Willett’s voice, which can sometimes get a little falsetto-y, is in great form throughout the entire song.

“Coffee Spoon” is another soulful song with some good “woo-woo”‘s going on.  “Santa Ana Winds” is a bit of a return to form for the band, getting back to the Velvet Underground-meets-Dylan sound they had on their debut album, Robbers and Cowards.

Speaking of Robbers and Cowards, the ‘Kids reprise the hidden track from that album, entitled “Sermons vs. the Gospel”.  It’s a straight up gospel song and this version is a slower, fuller one than the original.  It’s haunting, it echoes, and it’s slightly political.  I’m a big, big fan of it.

The EP ends with a short hidden track called “Baby Boy” that seems to be the result of some studio jamming.

This minor album seems to be a bit of a shift in the band’s direction, but one I like a lot.  They’re smoothing out some of their edges, and guitarist Jonnie Russell, formerly the band’s weakest link, has improved tremendously since their early EPs.  His guitar is taking a larger role in their newer songs and is performing more than just a complementary role to the piano.  Drummer Matt Aveiro is very good and provides a CCR stomping backbone to the songs.  Matt Maust, the bassist, also does a great job.  Willett’s voice and piano work are again quite good and reminiscent of Jack White.  I hope this album is a glimpse of the future for the Cold War Kids and I can’t wait to hear what they do next.

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Post-Vegas Report; Cubs’ Vitters Looking Good

OK everyone, sorry about the late post here.  I wasn’t about to pay $14 for 24 hours of Internet at the hotel, and my apartment’s Internet has been wonky for the last couple days.

Anyway, Vegas.  Is.  Awesome.  Now, I’m not a big drinker, nor am I a gambler–I don’t even know how to play poker, actually–but both of those things were done by me.  A lot.  And since my sister is a speech pathologist, she is mega rich and paid for nearly everything. I even came out ahead, as the first slot I played–with a dollar, no less–payed out $52.40.

Number two prospect Josh Vitters is progessing well.

But that’s not what I’m here to talk about.  What I set out to do was write about my beloved Cubs in their spring training exhibitions against the White Sox.  In short, it was a success, with the Cubs winning both games by one run each.

Since these were split squad games, the entire Cubs roster was not represented in Vegas.  I did not get a chance to see Starlin Castro, the team’s top prospect, but those players I did see impressed me, particularly third base prospect Josh Vitters, who was integral to winning both games.

In game one, Vitters went 1-2 with a triple that scored the go ahead runs.  In game two, he had an RBI on a fielder’s choice that put the team ahead for good.

Vitters, the Cubs’ top draft pick in 2007, is progressing very well.  His biggest knock as a prospect so far has been that he never takes walks, as displayed by his .319 on-base percentage in the minors thus far.  He is still a free swinger, no doubt, but he definitely took some close pitches that fooled more experienced hitters in the Cubs’ lineup.

All of this is coming from a kid who is 20, several months younger than me.  He will likely start in Double-A ball this year, meaning his ETA for the majors is approximately a year from now.  If he continues lacing the ball to all fields and improves his eye at the plate, he could be pushing the incumbant third baseman, Aramis Ramirez, out the door.

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Vegas Ain’t Cheap (And I Haven’t Even Left The Airport)

I just landed in Las Vegas at the McCarran International Airport.  I’m waiting for my sister to land and decided to go to a bar in the meantime.  I waited in line while the bartender was shouting last call, and he was gracious enough to serve me.  I glanced briefly at the menu just to see the selection and figured a Bud Light would be cheapest.  I was probably right, but $8.57 later, I am questioning my decision.  The plan is now to persuade some drunken Twilight Mom into thinking I’m Robert Pattinson and buying me free drinks.

High prices and possible fraud aside, the journey has started.  To quote infamous Vegas patron, Hunter S. Thompson, I have “gone in search of the American Dream.”  As I’ve said before, tomorrow and Saturday I’ll be watching the Cubs play the White Sox in spring training games, so expect some updates.  I’m especially looking forward to seeing any and all of the Cubs’ fifth starter candidates vying for their spots, as well as getting a look at the rehabilitating Alfonso Soriano.

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Justified: Count Me In

If you’re anything like me, you like to indulge in “what if?” scenarios.  Personally, I like to wonder what would happen if talented writers took the reigns of Walker, Texas Ranger. Most of the time it ends with me sitting in my underwear wearing a cowboy hat and playing Super Chuck Norris Bros.

Seth Bullock back in the hat.

My odd personal habits aside, FX may have answered my original question.  Graham Yost, writer of Speed (if you claim that’s not a great action movie, you are insane) and executive producer of my favorite cop show ever, Boomtown, is behind Justified, starring universally acknowledged stud Timothy Olyphant as a U.S. Marshal transferred from Miami to his hometown in Kentucky to do something…  upholding the law, I’m assuming.

Either way, it looks good based on the trailers I’ve seen.  Deadwood’s Olyphant rocks a cowboy hat like none other, spouts Elmore Leonard–the show is based on a novella of his–dialogue with skill, and the tone of the show seems to be Dexter meets the aforementioned Walker.

It starts on Tuesday, March 16 at 10 p.m./9 p.m. Central on FX.  I’ll be there, eating jerky and thinking manly thoughts.

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