Friday, February 26, 2010

An Open Letter to Michela Simmons about Lost...

Dear Michela,

In an effort to both answer your text about looking up a certain website chock full of Lost theories as well as satisfy my own urge for disscussing, in some way, all that we've seen in 5+ seasons.  I've decided that an open letter (since what I have to say is massive) may be the best approach... or at least a good starting point.

What I've decided to do is correlate all my ideas by first addressing certain facts and how they relate to what is currently going on and then we can get to the fun by listing our theories and possible endings.

Here we go...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My friends, my readers...

Since I've been on blog-hiatus for almost three months I've decided that the best way to kick start this page would be to follow a schedule where new content would be posted about three times a week.

As it stands I'm looking to fill Mondays with Sports. (Which I've been writing a bit frequently over at SB Nation under the non de plume: The Brain Part II, most of it deals with baseball and statistical analysis. Fun stuff.)

It's my plan to to devote Mondays (and possibly Tuesdays) with write-ups dealing with football and baseball from both a statistical and fantasy perspective - and complete with charts like this:

And this:

Fun stuff, I say!

On Wednesdays I'm looking to fill that spot with Politics and other matters of state. In all honesty, I'm not looking to get too political since I have found myself becoming increasingly fatigued by political discussion. Those who know me or have read my early posts know where I stand in this rat race but in today's highly divided, post-Rush Limbaugh/Christian Coalition atmosphere debate seems almost irrelevant which I find sad; yet since this is my blog and I still find myself following blogs that offer smart political and financial writing (some can be found here and here) then I'll do the same if I find what I want to discuss to be somewhat new or interesting (to me, at least).

Finally, on Fridays I'm looking to do a cultural write-up. This is a broad subject so everything from movies to food to comic(book)s will be on display. I actually have quite a few ideas for this part so filling this slot should be no trouble.

That's all. Hopefully I'll keep to this schedule; however, a few days next week may be stretching it since I'll be out of town but I figured I'd get this re-introduction out in the open and go from there.

Until then... my readers... my friends.

Monday, June 29, 2009

This Week on The Auteurs 2...

Because you demanded it, I'm posting a second round of Auteur debating for all of my cinema loving readers to again enjoy...


Enjoy readers!

Best Film to Watch on Father's Day:

What about that horrible movie starring John Travolta as the jilted dad who has to put up with his son and ex-wife shacking up with the villianous Vince Vaughn? I think it was somewhat recent.


In fact, scratch that! I got it. The 1980’s classic starring Peter “Robocop” Weller and Teri Garr….. “First Born”

Rate the Woody Allen Films You've Seen:

@ Fredo This is tough:
Crimes and Misdemeanors
Hannah and Her Sisters
Annie Hall
Husbands and Wives
Sweet and Lowdown
The Purple Rose of Cairo
Match Point
_______________________________________ (great movies)

Stardust Memories
“Oedipus Wrecks” from New York Stories (in fact this was the first Woody Allen film I ever saw)
Bullets Over Broadway
Manhatten Murder Mystery
Anything Else
Broadway Danny Rose (although I do want to see this one again)
Take the Money and Run
Vicky Christina Barcelona
_______________________________________ (his okay movies)

Everyone Says I love You
Mighty Aphrodite
Deconstructing Harry
Radio Days
Cassandra’s Dream
Another Woman
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex*
Small Time Crooks
Melinda and Melinda
Shadows and Fog
Love and Death
Hollywood Ending
Curse of the Jade Scorpion
_________________________________________ (his horrible movies)

Marie Antoinette: Yay or Nay?:

@ Berjuan
The more I think about MA the more I like it. I’ll admit I found myself very underwhelmed after seeing it for the first time. Of course the bad reception it received when it debuted at Cannes may have tarnished my intial feelings (along with every other movie reviewer) but Coppola’s decision to avoid politics and concentrate on the aesthetics actually makes sense when dealing with such a vapid character/historical figure who probably found politics and sociology to be rather boring.

Instead of making an overtly political film or presenting MA as a victim deserving of complete sympathy, I think Coppola was more interested in celebrity culture and how the trappings of being born famous can be corrupting. It’s a theme and attitude that still resonates even if its just the clothes and music that changes.

Favourite Films of the Decade (So Far):

In no particular order:

The Dark Knight Returns
No Country for Old Men
Mulholland Drive
Fog of War
Casino Royale
Kill Bill (vols 1&2)
Let the Right One In
Lost in Translation
Freaks and Geeks (First and only season)
The Wire (entire series)
The Office (original UK version; both seasons)

I know I added a few TV series but to me this decade was a boon for television in its ability to really transform itself into a viable medium in terms of storytelling and direction – a lot of which began in the 90’s where TV creators/showrunners became famous and found respect as “auteurs”

This is F***ing Ridiculous:


Notable First Films:

Charles Laughton’s Night of the Hunter
Terence Malik’s Badlands
John Huston’s Maltese Falcon
Rob Reiner’s This is Spinal Tap
Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali
Nicholas Ray’s They Live By Night
Michael Moore’s Roger and Me
Francois Truffaut’s 400 Blows
Steven Spielberg’s Duel (if we’re not counting student films and TV episodes)
Quentin Tarantino’s Reservior Dogs
George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead
Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Accattone
Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane

Regarding acting performances here are a few off the top of my head:

Brigitte Helm in Metropolis
The Marx Brothers in The Cocoanuts
Gene Wilder in Bonnie and Clyde
Anna Karina in A Woman is a Woman
Natalie Portman in The Professional
Eddie Murphy in 48 HRS

I’m sure I’m forgetting a lot more, so forgive me…

A Note to My Dear Readers...

If anyone is interested in the fundamental concept of baseball, especially the fragile and combustible dichotomy that exists between pitchers that are deemed "starters" and "closers" then I suggest you follow this link that I published over at Pinstripe Alley analyzing Philip Hughes brief career as a Yankee reliever.

I promise the piece is both brief and so very rewarding!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

This week on The Auteurs...

For those who don't/refuse to follow me on The Auteurs, here is a little something that I auteurized on their forum this week:

In regards to the Dead Trilogy:

@ Josh
I agree on it being entirely subjective. That’s the beauty of zombie films; they work under any kind of sub-genre and topical commentary because to us death can symbolize many things – from the fear of its finality to the death of an idea or the sense of feeling powerless to a force more powerful than one can imagine. It’s something both frightening and absurd.

For me, NIGHT still resonates as a tightly told and completely subversive horror movie. To this day I still find it very horrifying in its simplicity and its ability to transcend the time it was made (sorry, Josh, although I agree with 99% of what you said I don’t agree with the notion that NIGHT is dated. Most of the metaphors are still very relevant today).

Regarding DAWN, I’ll always admire Romero’s bravery in his attempt to top his 70’s horror colleagues by creating the ultimate horror expression of 1970’s America. It has Nixon’s paranoia and Carter’s admirable yet failed optimism and the humor and manic sense of action devolving into ambivalence is perfect.

Finally, DAY is probably the most densely layered and for that many fans consider it a classic. When Romero made this one he wasn’t praised in the same manner he is today and I think it was this lack of acclaim that allowed Romero to take further chances. We all know the production of DAY was littered with budget battles since the process of American filmmaking was much more restrictive during the 1980’s (if you were making a horror film not immediately marketable to teenagers you’re probably looking at a major uphill climb). However, the chances Romero took i.e. the satirizing of America’s hero worship of Rambo and the military complex, the progression of zombie sympathizing (the portrayal of Bub was perfectly funny and tragic and made me wish Romero would further this by making a Dead film completing told from a zombie(s) point of view), the inclusion of the “gay” couple (I know it was never said but I always got the sense that the two men living together and represented sanity from the male perspective were gay), as well as the final shot of the survivors on the beach living in perfect peace almost immediately after the zombie attack (?)… I had a discussion with a film professor of mine that made the argument that this shot represented the human POV of life after death and that we should take it as Romero offering us the idea that life as a zombie isn’t necessarily negative since if one believes that our consciousness is separate from our body who knows where that could take us after death. It’s an interesting theory and one I’m not sure Romero ever addressed.

In regards to Horror on Criterion:

I would love for a really good edition of the 1932 Rueben Mamoulian version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I also think it would be a lot of fun if Eclipse would release a set of essential Hammer horror films.

@ Robert
Yes!!! On Martin being included! I’m kind of on a Romero kick and I rushed over here to say that Martin (quite possibly the most un-vampire of all vampire films) be included with all the bells and whistles.

In regards to Top 20 Horror Films:

@ Fake Shemp
Horror movies do not blow and here’s why:

Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Night of the Living Dead
The Thing (1982 Carpenter version)
Friday the 13th Part 2
It’s Alive
Day of the Dead
Let the Right One In
Silence of the Lambs
The Fly (the Cronenberg one)
Halloween (original, obviously)
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (the sexed up pre-code Mamoulian version)
The Bride of Frankenstein
Cabin Fever (sorry film snobs)
Rosemary’s Baby
Island of Lost Souls (1932 version)
Dawn of the Dead (original version; although the remake wasn’t bad either)
Near Dark
Helter Skelter (the Manson documentary from the 70's that scared the shit out of me as a kid)
The Exorcist
Horror of Dracula
Curse of Frankenstein

In regards to Which director NOT currently represented in the Criterion Collection do you want to see included:

Nicholas Ray – Bigger Than Life
Pedro Almodovar – Talk to Her
Satyajit Ray – Apu Trilogy (Eclipse)
Alejandro Jodorowsky – El Topo
Leo McCarey – Make Way for Tomorrow (strong rumor of this happening)
Michael Cimino – Heaven’s Gate

Stay tuned for more...

Monday, June 8, 2009

Another 2009 MLB Mock Draft Part III: The Brief Update

Yesterday I slightly revised my draft and had it posted over at Driveline Mechanics. Here is the link.

Looking over what I posted here I decided to tweak a few things before I publishing over there. First, I included Kyle Gibson (despite his recent injury) since his status shouldn't be too downgraded compared to earlier doom and gloom reports that he damaged his elbow or shoulder.

The other possibility that is gnawing at me are reports that Matt Purke will be demanding Josh Beckett and Rick Porcello type of money come draft day. I like Purke but his status as a raw LHP puts him nowhere near the talent of either of those guys. This demand is ridiculous and definitely moves him out of the first round (unless the Yankees think of grabbing him with the 29th pick but - despite their desire for left-handed pitching - I don't think Purke is elite enough to waste a compensation pick on). The only team I could see taking him would be the Dodgers in the supplemental round but with his commitment to TCU thrown around as leverage - it's not like the Dodgers will get any value by grabbing him late.

Anyway, I'm excited for tomorrow.... can't you tell?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Another 2009 MLB Mock Draft Part II: The Supplemental Round

This post will focus on the supplemental round, a round that is in "limbo" as the insiders of baseball see it. This isn't the first round nor is it the second, it just sits there between the two and serves as compensation for teams who lost important and vital players via free agency.

Editors note: to avoid any confusion please note that the names in parathesis immediately following the team name are the last names of the free agents lost.

33. Seattle Mariners (Ibanez) – Tyler Skaggs, LHP Santa Monica HS (CA)

After taking two offensive players in the first round it would only seem logical that the Mariners dip into pitching and Tyler Skaggs, a prep LHP from California, would make sense. Skaggs has a projectable body and has a quick arm with a decent fastball (around 92 mph) that could see an increase in velocity as he further develops. On the negative side, his curveball has excellent break but it is slow (72-74 mph) and he does have the tendency to slow his arm down a bit when delivering it.

Scouts cite his delivery as being erratic and this can affect his control from time to time (causing his fastball to elevate). Skaggs is an attractive commodity for teams looking to grab a high upside player that can be easily signed.

34. Colorado Rockies (Fuentes) – Slade Heathcott, OF Texas H.S.

After investing in two quality pitchers in the first round and not having selection until 25 picks later, I think the Rockies would benefit by taking a high upside bat. Slade Heathcott is another high ceiling 5 tool capable player. He’s considered an above average hitter left-handed hitter while projecting above average power to all sides of the field. Defensively, Heathcott possesses an arm that is above average from the outfield and despite recovering from ACL surgery last season but has shown no signs in decreased foot speed.

He also projects as a quality LHP with a two-seam fastball clocking in between 88-91 mph and a four seamer that has touched 95 mph. He also throws a curve and changeup that grades as average. The only negative surrounding Heathcott is his commitment to football and if he is ready to give up his status as a two-sport athlete. He is currently committed to attending the University of Texas in the fall.

35. Arizona Diamondbacks (Hudson) – A.J. Pollack, OF Notre Dame

With another pick coming later in this round, Arizona would be smart to grab the best available bat. A.J. Pollack is an excellent option for a team looking for a polished college bat. Scouts have praised his good approach to the plate along with his ability to recognize pitches well. Pollack does, however, struggle with power and some think at best he’ll be a 10-15 HR guy. Those power numbers shouldn’t scare off a team looking to develop a prototypical leadoff hitter and Pollack does fit that scheme since he is graded as a very fast runner and should be a base stealer in the pros. He is adjusting to CF well and is athletic enough to stay there. Scouts think he has the ability to play 2B which would make him more attractive to speculating teams.

36. Los Angeles Dodgers (Lowe) – Colton Cain, LHP Waxahachie HS (TX)

The Dodgers love to draft and develop young pitchers and with their first pick in the draft they may dig into their pocket books and grab Colton Cain, a young lefty out of Texas. Cain is not as polished as the other prep LHPs but he is tall and does have a solid frame (but at 220+ lbs he could run into weight issues in the future) along with an excellent 94 mph sinking fastball.
Scouts find that he has good command of his fastball on both sides of the plate but it’s his additional offerings that are very interesting. Since learning how to pitch last year, Cain has been developing his curveball that some scouts say have plus potential as well as having a plus slider in his future. He has a “feel” for a changeup and if that pitch takes off, he’ll be something special. Cain has committed to U. of Texas for football and baseball and it will take a lot of bonus money to sign him. High risk/high reward and I believe worth the gamble.

37. Toronto Blue Jays (Burnett) – Keyvius Sampson, RHP Forest HS (FLA)

Without another pick until the middle of the second round, taking a pitcher here would benefit the Blue Jays. Keyvius Sampson is an athletic pitcher with a solid frame and a quick arm that produces a fastball that has touched 96 mph and power curve that projects as a plus, Sampson also has a feel for changeup that will be critical to his development.

The drawback to Sampson is his arm slot that differs with each pitch. To be effective Sampson will need to learn a consistent arm slot or learn to throw other pitches with varying arm angles in order to gain command. Regardless of his positives and negatives, Sampson will be a project that could pay benefits in a few years.

38. Chicago White Sox (Cabrera) – Rich Poythress, 1B Georgia

Chicago might take a flyer on last year’s first rounder Gordon Beckham’s teammate. Poythress is a big burly guy who resembles a Matt LeCroy or Sean Casey type, his swing isn’t very pretty and is more strength-generated – a good power pitcher should handle him well. He has below-average speed and is not much of a defender. Although the video below can argue otherwise:

He is currently putting up monster numbers in the SEC and it’s his approach at the plate that draws his fans. Poythress can also be valuable in terms of pitch recognition and his ability to draw walks should attract a good number of teams. But his status as a pure power bat will be debated and decided in a few years.

39. Milwaukee Brewers (Sabathia) – Alex Wilson, RHP Texas A&M

As much as I wanted the Brewers to grab a bat like Brett Jackson I decided after looking over their prospect depth chart that another pitcher would serve their organization better. Alex Wilson would be an intriguing pick if still available. He is coming off his first year after TJ surgery and his prognosis looks good as, this season, scouts have reported that his sinking fastball can hit 95 mph while riding in on lefties. He also has a plus slider as another out pitch and has a changeup (which he admits still needs work) in his arsenal along with good command. What keeps him back is his laborious delivery (hip rotation is a bit off) and ¾ arm slot could point to more potential problems in the future – some teams have flirted with the idea of making him a closer.

40. Los Angeles Angels (Teixeira) – Matt Davidson, 3B Yucaipa HS (CA)

Looking over the prospect depth chart, the Angels could benefit by adding another bat and (again) as much as I wanted to type Brett Jackson’s name here I couldn’t avoid the fact that Matt Davidson would make so much more sense. Davidson looks mature for a high school player, he stands at 6’2” and weighs a solid 225 lbs and has the plus power potential which has intrigued scouts during his last few HS seasons. What keeps him away from Borchering-status is his tendency to be overpowered by quality pitching, it’s a weakness that needs to be addressed but it’s not a consistent problem and many scouts blame it on him pressing and opening up his swing too early (has a slight uppercut in his swing).

His glove at 3B is so-so (his range is good but his arm is below average) and will probably move to a corner OF position or 1B in the future. Another negative is his below average running speed and a verbal commitment to USC which could slightly drive up his asking price.

41. Arizona Diamondbacks (Cruz) – Brad Boxberger, RHP USC

In this slot I’m expecting the Dbacks to grab a safe college pitcher, Boxberger has long been praised for having excellent velocity (95 mph fastball) but stamina issues have haunted him in the past. He has shown some progress working deep in innings but control and command can be an issue (giving him a high frequency of walks). Boxberger is considered a good “polished” college pitcher and repeats his delivery well and changes speeds well with a good slider and curveball.

Right now scouts think his cutter is a capable major league ready “out” pitch. He is improving as a pitcher and at worst he would make an excellent reliever.

42. LA Angels (F. Rodriguez) – Brett Jackson, CF University of California

The Angels having another pick in this round sold me on them taking Brett Jackson. Scouts praise Jackson as one of the top college bats and shows excellent power for a leadoff hitter. Hitting from the left side, he does swing more slap-heavy and shortens his swing for contact but his size (6’2” 210 lbs) points to someone with more power in his future. One troubling aspect of Jackson’s game is his propensity to strikeout – he has fanned 58 times out of 206 ABs. Jackson is an excellent runner and has good instincts for base stealing. On the field, Jackson shows good range and an average arm but some scouts question how long he’ll stay in CF – if he moves to a corner he’ll have to show more power. He is usually compared to Aaron Rowand.

43. Cincinnati Reds (Affeldt) – Chris Dwyer, LHP Clemson

I know the Reds have placed a premium on left-handed pitching but with Matzek gone by the time they selected eighth I figured they would take Alex White over Matt Purke. I could be wrong so with this pick it would be obvious they’d grab the best LHP available. Scouts don’t know what to make of this 21 year old freshman genius; he obviously has the athleticism but book smarts? I don’t know. It’s been reported that Dyer is a regular Daniel Desario, with news that he was held back a grade in elementary school and was “talked into” adding another year of high school to his already impressive academic transcript. On a side note, I wonder if Dwyer was ever faced with taking a big test and resorted to doing this.

Anyway, enough of me being a smartass – besides he’s getting the last laugh since he’s set to receive a high six-figure bonus while I’m sitting here, like a schmuck, blogging about it…

But on a professional and serious level, Dwyer’s delivery looks clean but he has struggled with his command causing his fastball to elevate and become hittable. He can dial up his fastball to 95 mph but it does come in rather straight but his curveball is decent and has plus capability and comes in between 78-80 mph. Dwyer has been up and down this year at Clemson struggling with command during big games but as a lefty to two capable pitches some team will grab him early.

44. Texas Rangers (M. Bradley) – Madison Younginer, RHP Mauldin HS (SC)

In terms of raw talent I like Younginer a lot. He has been recruited by Clemson as both a pitcher and offensive player so it may take a little more money to pry him away. Most scouts like what they see but they still consider this kid to be a bit unknown in terms of projectability. He has been used mainly in the bullpen but he can get his fastball consistently in the mid-90’s with a power curve that projects as a plus. Younginer is very raw and tends to be a bit of a "head-jerker" in his delivery but he has lots of upside. Concerning his delivery, he needs work on repeating his slots and watching his arm action. He also tends to throw long which can be attacked by good hitters. Scouts have said he does work on a changeup on the side but hasn’t found the need to use it in games.

45. Arizona Diamondbacks (Lyon) – Aaron Miller, LHP/OF Baylor University

The more you read about Aaron Miller the more you like. He probably has the best swing among all college bats but his progress as an LHP the past few seasons has made teams think pitcher first, hitter second (if he fails to develop or gets injured a la Rick Ankiel).

Miller has a fastball that sits between 91-94 mph and has an excellent slider which is devastating against left-handed bats. Miller has the size that can house more muscle (currently he is listed at 6’3” 200 lbs) and most scouts think his command will improve once he focuses on pitching full time. At this stage, Miller is a solid pick.

46. Minnesota Twins (D. Reyes) – Victor Black, RHP Dallas Baptist

Minnesota can afford to develop a few starters in their organization and Black should be an easy sign. This season, Black made a big jump by improving his velocity (can top off at 96 mph) and command. His fastball could use a little more movement but it is consistent and his stamina allows him to throw it deep into games. Black also utilizes a good slider and his changeup has shown signs of being effective this year. Scouts love his durability and his size (6’4” 204 lbs) and should develop into a capable starter for the Twins.

47. Milwaukee Brewers (Shouse) – Drew Storen, RHP Stanford

Storen is too good to pass up at this point and with two consecutive picks in the middle of the second round, the Brewers can afford to take a fringy bat then. Storen was used primarily out of the bullpen in college due to command issues. He has a fastball in the 91-94 mph range with good movement along with a hard breaking ball. Scouts say he has a feel for a changeup even though he hasn’t used the latter pitch much out of the pen.

Storen believes he can still start but he will have to work on his command and possibly tweak his delivery. The team that takes him will probably develop him as a starter and then go from there.

48. Los Angeles Angels (Garland) – Jiovanni Mier, SS Bonita HS (CA)

Except for Heckathorn it’s been all bats for the Angels but with a scarcity in middle infielders and the Angels own lacking of quality SS prospects – it only makes sense for them to take Mier. Scouts are high on the lanky Mier due to his solid approach at the plate. He has quick hands and a tight swing but right now he lacks power. Scouts see him developing into a #2 hitter with 10-15 HRs per year when he fills out a little bit. On the defensive side, he has excellent instincts and a strong arm to stick at short.

49. Pittsburgh Pirates (Scheppers) – Nick Franklin, SS Lake Brantley HS (Florida)

Sure, the Pirates could use a serviceable catching prospect but with another early pick in the second round they should have a number of choices available by then. Franklin has the ability to go earlier but with Mier already taken, Franklin becomes all the more valuable. Scouts praise Franklin for his potential to be a five-tool talent, but the only problem is: he isn’t blowing anyone away with his skills. He is a solid defender with a strong arm and good range. He makes contact well and has the potential to develop excellent power. He stands at 6’1” and is a bit lanky but his speed and “solid” baseball skills and athleticism show promising potential.